The Gate Lord has been destroyed. The legendary Fireteam Argus is mere moments away from facing the head of the Lupo Prohibitive, the Repetitive Mind. But as close as they are, they are still so far away; what is to come will prove to be the greatest obstacle in the war yet. Aided by a newly reformed Cult of Osiris, the Guardians will have to go toe to toe with the endless legions of the Vex to reach their adversary.
Will they prove to be the victor again, like they were on Europa and Ceres? Or will Mercury finally be the end of Fireteam Argus?
Either way, it's showtime.
Right lads, this time we've got the rules on here. Break them at your own risk.
First and definitely foremost: you are not to make your character carry out actions considered to be overpowered. Slaughtering the hordes of the Darkness isn't something anyone but the Destiny Protagonist can do without assistance. Also, no fridge magic. You're not invincible.
Killing and/or permanently injuring player characters without permission of their owners or of a GM (read: someone who carries authority in this RP, since we don't have an actual GM) is not allowed. Attempting to do so will either result in out-of-character backlash or in-character retaliation; it is not unlikely that your own character will end up dead instead.
That said, anything non-lethal cannot simply he ignored or avoided all the time. If someone dishes out several attacks at you, at least some of them are going to hit. You're not a god.
Take the RP seriously! If you're bored, go find someone else to bother, don't go goofing around in here.
"We're not sure," Arxus replied to Avori. "Thus far, we've been lucky enough to have all our problems be solved through bullets. I can't say that this luck will last forever."
Grim popped out of transmat, hovering over the Titan's shoulder. "The latest Vanguard reports say that the Vex are renewing their assault on the other planets. It seems like they're trying to build something... the scouts don't know what."
"No. Whatever the Vex build, it can't be good," Arxus agreed. "For all we know, it could be some kind of doomsday weapon or history scrubbing machine." He held silent for a moment, contemplating their situation. "If that's the case, maybe coordinating with the other fireteams might buy us some more time."
"Avori, I hope you are familiar with the Caloris Basin, where you all oddly set up a fighting ring." Pariah noted, "The Cabal were there first. And now? Who knows what happened to them. All enemies of the Vex, is a bit ambitious."
"What do you recommend, then?" Avgust asked, as he stared directly at her: "Unless we find this Mind, we have nothing."
"There needs to be something." Sara commented.
Pariah seemed to glance around the room as this was said, as she paced around back and forth. Eventually the Huntress paused, before she placed a gloved hand at the chin of her helmet: "Building something..."
"All enemies of the Vex isn't that ambitious when the Vex are currently invading their territories," Avori replied. "They'll want to stop this as much as we do. If we send out a message on open channels directing them to attack the structures, I'm sure they'd at least consider obliging. They're already fighting an all-out war, after all."
"The Vex are focused on us. The only way the Fallen or Cabal would take advantage of this would be to attack us," Arxus commented, breathing a deep sigh. "Look around us. We're backed into a corner and the Vex are assaulting us on all fronts. They'd be stupid not to captialize on this situation."
"Best we can do... hell, all we can do is hope to find the Mind before things spiral even further out of control."
"That's not true," Avori replied to Arxus, speaking from experience. "On Mars, the Fallen were getting it just as badly as my fireteam was. Worse, even."
"From what I was able to gather from Cabal communications before we... left," Avori's Ghost said. "They were also under attack from multiple fronts by Vex units. Not sure about the Hive, but I'd wager the same is true."
"Might work, might backfire horribly." Scythe muttered. "Fallen'll show up anywhere there's loot to be had. Or taken. They're just not too keen on sharing scrap or territory, even temporarily." With that, he climbed out of the cockpit and jumped to the ground. "Going dark for a while, guys. I'll still be listening, though."
"This is a risky venture," Arxus added. "We don't have much choice, however. We're going to need all the help we can get." Placing his hands down against the table, Arxus laid out their plan.
"We'll see if we can contact the House of Flames. Given our previous track record with them, I'm sure they'd be willing to lend a hand, seeing as what's at stake here. On the same coin, we could try with the Storm Juggernauts, but I feel that the Cabal may be less than amicable, despite our previous alliances. Scythe, see if you can contact Jacqueline and the Blades; they might cooperate when they realize that we're all going to die if the Vex aren't stopped."
"We'll give the Vanguard the full play, and make sure they're in the loop. We're going to crush this, here and now. In the meanwhile, the rest of us are going to coordinate with the Disciples and try and pinpoint the Mind's location. Any questions?"
"Really, Arxus?" Scythe facepalmed. "You want me to risk contacting a homicidal ex-girlfriend and see if maybe the House that she took over is willing to help?"
< Yeah, I think that's pretty much it. >
"Shut up, Light Bulb." With that, Scythe switched channels, opening a heavily encrypted one to the Blade Ketch. "Scythe 6-2 calling Blade Home. Do you read me?"
"Oh, I read you, Scythe." a smooth feminine voice said with no small amount of malice. "Do you really think it's a good idea to contact me? There's still a price on your head, after all."
"Look, Jackie... Jacqueline." Scythe began nervously. "Argus is in trouble. They're facing some Vex Mind that can alter reality itself. Since there's only so many of us, they want me to put the word out, see who would be willing to come and help."
"Hmm... Let me think about it. I'll get back to you." With that, the line went dead.
< I take that as a no, then? > Virgil muttered from over Scythe's shoulder.
"Alright, give Cayde my regards, Avgust," Avori replied. "Shall I get the word out on open channels too? So that even if they don't ally with us, the rest of the Vex's enemies will know to attack the structures?"
"Send out the word, Avori. It'll help, even if just for a little while. While the rest of our allies, temporary or not, focus on the structures, we can deal with the real threat. The Mind must be pissed off at this point, so it's kicking things into high gear. Enough setbacks as it is," Arxus said, overlooking what information they did have, which was minimal.
"Consider it done, boss," Avori replied, before turning to his Ghost. "Send this out on all open channels, unencrypted. Bounce it off of everything in range, ships, warsats, whatever. Make sure everyone hears it. Ok, here goes..."
"This is Guardian Avori-48, speaking from Mercury to, well, everyone but the Vex. They're are building something, here and on every other planet in the solar system. We don't know what it is, but we think they're going to use it to wipe their enemies out of history, and that includes you as well as us. Fireteam Argus is going to kill the structures' architect here on Mercury - any help would be appreciated, but if you can't make it to the party, don't let them complete those structures, yeah? Avori out."
Armor: Eclipse Maw VI, Endling Gloves, Purifier Robes, Samsara I (boots), Bond of Guardians. (Shader is Predawne)
Appearance: Tan skin with a rugged closely shaved beard. Brown eyes with a buzz-cut. (The average white soldier-guy)
Backstory: All Kei has ever done was to increase his standing in the Vanguard as well as in Dead Orbit. He is thoughtful and will attempt to find ways of achieving his goals without confrontation. His backup plan is his Radiance (the ultimate mcguffin for when you want to look cool after failing horribly).
Until recently (until getting the transmission) Kei busied himself with the war against Oryx and his Taken in the Cosmodrome.
P.S. -In order to avoid a situation like last time where I could just come back whenever I want. I will only be able to use A self-res once every thirty posts. That way there is an opportunity for you guys to kill me if you do please without me coming back and us not having the same problem as last time.
...don't let them complete those structures, yeah? Avori out.
Kei lowered his rifle as the last of the Taken he was hunting teleported away.
"Did you get that?", his Ghost spoke into his head.
"Yeah I did. Y'think this is a Vanguard call or..."
"This is a message to all Guardians. It appears that the Vex have begun to construct confluxes around the system. As commander of the Vanguard I make destroying these confluxes your top priority. Good luck Guardians. ", Zavala's voice cut out.
Kei nodded, "Ghost-"
"Already on it", the Ghost spoke as a jump ship appeared overhead.
"Venus here we come", the guardian said as he trannsmatted.
(There were still stragglers left behind. The Taken didn't just vanish into thin air just because Oryx died.)
"If I remember correctly, the Cabal commander you allied with on Europa gave you a dataslate with information.", Fenrir suddenly said, turning towards Avgust. "Which you then handed in to the Vanguard. If we were to retrieve that, we could call them in."
(Ok then ReD. What do you suggest I do? Since you seem so keen to point out everything wrong with whatever I do. How about we mix things up and have you say something constructive for a change. Cause that would help a lot more than whatever it is you do now.)
(Can we please refrain from any more arguments and carry on with the RP? I find it plausible that Kei could see the large amounts of fighting on Venus, decide it's too much for him to handle, and carry on to Mercury instead. That's all I'm going to add to this.)
"The transmat system has been up and running ever since we brought Aello down. That includes the local sensors set up around here. Just another thing we need to ask Orkrim to get done for us."
("hey, maybe those guardians on Mercury need help, before they get their asses kicked by an angry Vex Mind")
"They're smart. They might know how to get around it," Arxus added. "The Repetitive Mind has been planning this entire time. All of this could have been foreseen already. They do have a pretty large handle on time travel, after all."
Kei stood with his back to a stone Vex structure. He peered around the edge to get a glimpse of the raging battle that had begun on Venus. Armies of Fallen clashed violently with seemingly endless waves of Vex at every turn.
All in all, it was a bit too much.
His ghost piped up as it fizzled into existence, "I take it that you wish to reconsider your decision to land here?"
Kei only nodded, "Y-yeah. I think the Fallen have this... uh... Planet... Covered. Let's just head to Mercury..."
"We'll sweep over the surface of Mercury and look for any concentration of Vex. Chances are, if what I think they're doing on the other planets has any correlation to their end game, then they may already be starting to enter their final stages."
"Ideally," Arxus responded. "Provided we aren't shot down immediately." Upon the table, there was a hologram of Mercury; previously routed areas like the Reverse Citadel and the Maw were marked with X's. There were other areas that were hotspots for Vex activity. All that mattered now was picking the right one.
Pariah froze as she considered something, snapping her fingers she pointed to a Warlock Disciple before she asked: "There were quakes not to long ago, correct?"
The Warlock merely nodded his head: "Minor, yes. Not along fault boundaries, intraplate. But stranger yet, at the locations of Vex facilities."
"Just as I thought." Pariah muttered, "Any reconnaissance? No, of course not... Reina wouldn't permit it. Line up the activity and bring me the results, they must be connected to the Vex if these quakes occured right under Vex structures."
"The Maw had a complex cave system. It wouldn't surprise me if other Vex structures were well connected through underground tunnel networks," Arxus began to mutter to himself. "Pariah does have a point, though. Maybe there's some kind of pattern to this."
"You're about to land amongst a group of Guardians that actively despise the Vanguard rather than work for them," Avori pointed out to Kei over COMs. "Anyway, you'll need to get their permission to land, as this is their territory, not ours."
Kei grit his teeth and groaned, "That's right. Osiris..." he sighed, "This is Kei Dragdoul of the- uh... Tower... Disciples of Osiris do I have permission to land? I am here responding to your transmission concerning the Vex."
"You're right... it's a machine world," Arxus spoke, beginning to overlook what little data they had, mostly based on Vex activity. "They converted Mercury long ago, both inside and outside. It stands to reason that their more secretive operations might not be out in the open." Shifting the hologram, Arxus pointed dead center. "We haven't found the Mind, because he's right underneath us."
Avori looked at Arxus quizically, before thinking it over for a moment, when a look of realisation dawned one his face.
"Yes, of course! It's been staring us in the face this whole time," Avori exclaimed. "Where else in the solar system would be better for a Vex unit that doesn't want to be disturbed than right at the heart of their strongest fortress?"
"Assuming you're right, there's just one thing to consider," Avori's Ghost posed a question. "Do any of you have experience fighting in a zero-g environment?"
"Quite the opposite," Avori's Ghost replied. "At the core, there would be an approximately equal amount of mass on all sides, and so the force exerted by one side of the planet pulling us towards it would be cancelled out by the force of the other half pulling us away. Essentially, weightlessness, although our bodies would actually be being pulled in all directions at once (just not with enough force to do any damage)."
"Unless you become a minuscule particle, then that does not play out," Solis said. "We will likely be crushed into a ball of flesh, which will then suspend itself in the centre of the gravity well. The Repetitive Mind has created quite the safehouse."
(Think of our own core, it's entirely hard despite being fluid, because the gravity well is so strong down there)
(The reason the inner core is solid is the immense pressure on it due to the tonnes of rock and magma above it which is pulled towards the centre by the gravity of the core and of the mass of the rock and magma on the opposite side of the core. However, because it's surrounded by more-or-less equal mass on all sides, the core feels no gravity besides that of other celestial bodies. On Earth, the acceleration due to gravity actually peaks around the boundary between the mantle and the outer core, because the core is where all the mass is. See this graph.)
"We would be crushed if you considered the planet's as a particle at the core, which is a reasonable assumption of we're considering forces at the surface," Avori's Ghost responded. "But since the planet is actually a large sphere, that model doesn't work well once we go significantly deep underground."
"Regardless," Avori said, shushing his Ghost before he continued. "It certainly is an effective safe house, and one which will likely prove very hard to infiltrate. Anyone have any ideas?"
"We really don't have the time to discuss this," Arxus responded. "If the Repetitive Mind is in Mercury's core, it's probably the most defensible position on the planet. There might not even be a proper entrance to the place. They could just teleport themselves down there."
Kei's Ghost turned to look at him with its single eye, "No response? You'd think that they'd be quick to reply to any help they could get. I mean, I can't see any other ships arriving to assist."
Kei sighed, "Well whether they want our help or not. They need it. Nobody can go up against the Vex without backup, and even if a single Warlock is all that answers their call I guess that'll have to do..."
Kei's Vacuum Diagram decended to the planets surface.
"That means we need to find a timegate that leads down there," Avori replied. "But we should probably make sure it is down there first. It'd be a huge waste of valuable time if this assumption proved to be untrue."
A pair of Disciples approached Kei's intended landing zone, and waited for him to touch down and disembark. They did not seem overtly hostile, but they were holding their weapons, just in case.
"There's timegates scattered across Mercury. It could take days to find the right one; we don't have days to waste," Arxus retorted. It was true, that they really didn't have the time to waste on a wild goose chase. They could be wrong, and being wrong right now was one of the worst possible outcomes.
As soon as Kei opened the hatch his hands shot into the air, "Don't shoot! I'm here responding to your transmission about the Vex. I tried to contact you previously from orbit but it appears as though it didn't go through."
Kei laughed nervously, "Hey, um, don't mean to be rude or anything... But if I don't have my weapons how am I going to fight the Vex. Just having me stand there unarmed wouldn't do much good in my opinion."
"You can retrieve your weapons when you go off to fight the Vex," the more hostile Disciple snapped. "But you are a stranger in our home, and we will not allow you to stroll in touting a heavy machine gun," he continued, motioning to Kei's weapon, Bonekruscher.
Dab1001 wrote: "You can retrieve your weapons when you go off to fight the Vex," the more hostile Disciple snapped. "But you are a stranger in our home, and we will not allow you to stroll in touting a heavy machine gun," he continued, motioning to Kei's weapon, Bonekruscher.
"Not as far as I know," Arxus was quick to respond. "We didn't get much off the radiolara, if anything at all. Though..." Arxus began to stroke his chin in contemplation. "With all the Vex data we've gathered, and 'ascending' our Ghosts, we might be able to discern something useful out of their network. Maybe even backtrace their original message."
(Just dug up the reason why Argus killed the Gate Lord in the first place. They should just be able to locate and teleport to the Mind's stronghold.
"My proposal is this; using the data we pulled out from the Maw, we can try to locate points of heavy Vex activity. I imagine that several Gatelords should have been activated in order to coordinate the invasion. We find one of them, we bring it down, and then we use its core to access the stronghold directly.")
The two Disciples led Kei through the innumerable passages and staiwells of the Lighthouse until they reached the top, where they simply nodded at a doorway which led into the war room. "Your friends are in there."
"Good idea... Anyone got his number?" Avori replied to Solis, before turning to the new arrival. "Alright, new guy. Long story short, the whole Vex invasion has been coordinated by an Axis Mind called the Repetitive Mind. We're gonna find and kill it."
"Theoretically, we could walk right into the Vex stronghold," Arxus began, mostly ignoring the new arrival because he was focused on battle strategies. "They might be expecting it. They probably would be expecting it. That stronghold would be fortified up the whazoo."
"You can retrieve your weapons when you leave the Lighthouse," Pariah replied, while still devoting her focus to the holographic map in front of her. "No offence, but the Disciples of Osiris don't know you, which means we don't trust you - yet."
"No," Solis responded to Kei, not wasting any more words on a response than necessary.
"I will contact Orkrim." With that, he left the hall to make the call.
Orkrim made haste towards the Second Tower's hangar bay. The call he had received from the front was most urgent. Fortunately for Argus, he had recently managed to locate the Flames again - they had been off the radar ever since their last encounter, back on Europa. This time, they proved to be far closer to home, however.
<You're sure they're willing to help us?> Ghost asked, not so trusting of the Fallen as Orkrim was. <What if they don't want to, now that they don't need us?>
"The Flames have no quarrel with us," Orkrim responded, as he Transmatted into the cockpit of his Jumpship. "And besides, Phokass is wise - wise enough to know that our relationship is mutually beneficial, especially against the Vex. He'll listen."
Orkrim set the course, and the Jumpship flew off, destination: the Himalayas.
(I feel like it's worth mentioning that RPers and their characters are seperate. An RPer having his/her character(s) act hostile/dismissive towards your character is not indicative of that RPer being hostile/dismissive to you.)
Dab1001 wrote: (I feel like it's worth mentioning that RPers and their characters are seperate. An RPer having his/her character(s) act hostile/dismissive towards your character is not indicative of that RPer being hostile/dismissive to you.)
(Exactly. Scythe may be an uncaring sociopathic, sarcastic asshole, but I'm just sarcastic)
"All right... so, theoretically, they already know we know where their stronghold is. Theoretically, they'll be waiting for us when we pass through the Vex Gate, and they'll kill us on the spot." Arxus made a faint grunting noise, as he was still deep in contemplation. "Theoretically... we could send them a house-warming gift."
"I'm sure we can make something. We have enough materials scattered around here as it is," Arxus said, gesturing at the Lighthouse around him. "We make the bomb, shove it through the Vex gate, and pow." Arxus slammed his fist into his palm. "No more Vex ambush."
Pariah gave Avori a scornful look in response to his question, as if to say "You know that we don't". Avori merely smiled in reply.
"The bomb would have to be on a short fuse, or it'd have to be disguised - as a Sparrow perhaps," Avori's Ghost pointed out, before explaining. "If the Vex ID'd the device before it detonated, they'd simply teleport out of there. But... It could work."
(I probably should have announced this sooner, but I am leaving today to go back to Uni. I will no longer be able to post. Thank you all for these past few years, it has been great getting to know you all. Do whatever you would like with my characters. Keep being great, comrades. До свидания.)
FireDrag1091 wrote: (I probably should have announced this sooner, but I am leaving today to go back to Uni. I will no longer be able to post. Thank you all for these past few years, it has been great getting to know you all. Do whatever you would like with my characters. Keep being great, comrades. До свидания.)
( It's been an honor knowing you, Fire. I wish you the best of luck in Uni. You're really a great guy and a great roleplayer, too. We'll take good care of your characters. See you around, friend. )
FireDrag1091 wrote: (I probably should have announced this sooner, but I am leaving today to go back to Uni. I will no longer be able to post. Thank you all for these past few years, it has been great getting to know you all. Do whatever you would like with my characters. Keep being great, comrades. До свидания.)
(Aw, good luck! I must say, your English skills have improved quite a bit since you first started here. I hope you can continue to use them in the future)
While Argus and the Disciples were planning their next move agains the Repetitive Mind, Scythe was formulating a plan to take back what was rightfully his. He had spent the better part of a week sneaking towards Phoenix while avoiding Blade sentries. While they might still follow his orders, he couldn't take the risk. His Fallen were loyal to a fault, but Jacqueline could be very convincing when the situation called for it.
"Virgil, how much farther until home?" Scythe whispered from inside a sewer pipe below the ruined city.
< Just a few more klicks, boss. > Virgil chimed in from transmat.
"You said that three klicks ago..." Scythe muttered as he drew his Shrapnel Launcher and crept through the pipe.
"A Sparrow could work, actually," Arxus replied. "The Sparrows already tend to explode when reaching critical damage. We could probably fix it up to create an even bigger explosion."
"It shouldn't be too hard," Grim interjected, as he floated around the table. "Attaching any sort of explosive to the Sparrow would inevitably cause a chain explosion whenever it does detonate... Provided we get that fair, anyway. I don't think the Vex are just going to let us walk up and do this."
Kei stepped up to the group as he slid Susanoo into a large holster at his side. "If I may", he addressed the Guardians and Disciples alike. "Could we maybe use Vex explosives? In my opinion it would be easier to sneak Vex past Vex instead of Guardian tech past Vex."
When Kei's Ghost brought up the idea of taking apart a ship, Avori mentally thanked the fact that his was still on Mars. "Would it have to be a Guardian's Jumpship?" Avori's Ghost asked. "Because we don't have a lot of those, but we do have several Hawks..."
After what seemed like ten kilometers, but was really only 500 meters, Scythe finally emerged from the Phoenix storm sewer. About a kilometer away, Bladeship Teriks-Fel hung in the air, floating over the Blade weapons foundry. "Virgil, scan their comms. Any indications that Sparrow Contingency has been compromised?"
< Scanning... > Virgil chirped from transmat. < Hmm... doesn't look like it's been tampered with. We should be able to get in. >
"I'm not worried so much about getting in." Scythe growled as he scanned the area through the scope of his Wire Rifle. "It's what we'll find inside that worries me."
"My own ship lies in a wreck not far from here. You could go scavenge whatever you need from it." Fenrir said, as he fiddled with a datapad he'd seemingly obtained from thin air. "With that said, I'll need to borrow one of your ships, Pariah."
"If the ship's already wrecked, we might as well scrap it," Avori replied. "I'm sure that if we make it out alive, Holliday will happily replace it with the newest model given that we'd just have saved the human race."
"For this.", Fenrir said, throwing his datapad onto the table. From it, a hologram of a Cabal Warship was displayed.
"A Warship with Storm Juggernaut colours was sighted orbiting Europa one month ago. Give me a ship, and I'll attempt to establish communications with them. As for my own Jumpship, go ahead and scrap it. I can afford a new one."
"As long as you bring it back in one piece," Pariah replied. She nodded to the pair of guards who'd escorted Kei in. "You two, get a jumpship fuelled and ready. Come and inform the Hunter when you're done."
"As for the chassis of our Trojan Sparrow," Avori added. "What's left of mine is embedded in a sand dune nearby the time gate I was first brought here through. That's about 500m from where your lot picked me up, Pariah."
"Right, so," Avori's Ghost said, running through the plan. "Locate the Repetitive Mind? Check. Ask everyone for help? Check. Ask specifically the Flames and Juggernauts for help? Check. That just leaves making the bomb and locating a time gate that either leads to the planet's core or that we can reprogram."
"The time gate system is complex," Grim added onto Avori's Ghost's words. "Any gate could have any destination and it's entirely possible they can program them at will. Not to say that we can't do the same."
"So... we could just find any of them and program it to take us where we need to. I doubt it'll be that simple." Arxus sighed. "This'll work out. With everyone running distraction out in the system, at least we have more time to figure things out here. I doubt a Sparrow will provide enough of a delivery method that we need to breach through the front lines of the Vex temple. But..."
"Believe me, the Fallen are soldiers to the core, but they're far from mindless." Scythe grunted over the comms. "Yeah, that's right, I can hear you." From his vantage point at the entrance to the storm sewers, he had a clear line of sight on the Ketch and a handful of Blade sentries. "Virgil, you here?"
< Where else would I be? > Scythe's Ghost snarked from over his shoulder.
"Oh, I don't know... maybe spelunking through the remains of an AI that controls the city's traffic systems?" He waved his hand. "Anyway... activate Sparrow Contingency, authorization: Scythe 6-2."
"It's entirely possible that the core from a Cabal ship could very well produce a necessary explosion enough to destroy the forward fortications... if the Storm Juggernauts would be willing to part with one of their ships. Pretty sure they said they'd kill us if they saw us again."
"How are we going to fit that through a timegate, though?" Avori frowned. "Finding a timegate that could fit a sparrow or jumpship? Easy. But the core of a warship?"
"If we had a warship, we wouldn't need a timegate," Pariah replied. She tapped in coordinates into a keypad in front of her, and the hologram of Mercury zoomed in, showing the Maw. "Remember I said to be careful not to fall? Here was why." When viewed like this, the Maw looked like the trunk of a pine tree but inverted. It bored deep into the planet, spawning dozens of branches in the form of tunnel systems and tapering off as it did so, until it finally reached the core, where it ended in a spherical hollow chasm - the Repetitive Mind's safehouse.
"In all honesty," Scythe muttered over the comms, "that is the craziest, dumbest, and yet coolest idea I've ever heard."
< While overloading the core of a Cabal warship would likely work, > Virgil began, < The logistics of it all would be a nightmare. >
"Hey, Macarn, can we borrow a ship and blow it up?" Scythe snarked. "Like he'd actually let us do that." As he surveyed the landing site from his perch in a drainpipe, he added "My money's on either a Sparrow-bomb or a jumpship-bomb."
"We just drop a bomb into the Maw and hope for the best," Arxus remarked. It made a lot of sense that the Maw burrowed directly into the depths of Mercury. It seemed like there was two places with bottomless chasms: the Maw and the Reverse Citadel. Both had been immensely fortified. "If we're able to secure one... that's a big if, we can rig it on a timer and drop it down. The resulting explosion will certainly make the Mind pretty unhappy."
"We aren't really one for logical solutions," Arux replied to Vigil. "The Cabal have as much to lose as we do. When we cease to be, which we will if the Vex win, the Vex will just go after everyone else until they convert every planet in the solar system."
"There are a few hitches we'd need to iron out, though," Avori's Ghost mused. "For one thing, we'd need to find a foolproof way to make sure that if it hit anything on the way down, the bomb wouldn't be destroyed or get stuck."
"We don't know how far down the Maw goes... or rather, if it's straight down or winding," Arxus was quick to correct himself. Immediately, the Disciples of Osriris and what little forces remained of the Frames and Guardians got to work in preparation; they had their way in, but all they needed now was a method of delivery.
"We could use a jumpship. Or just step into the Maw ourselves and drop it in. We could probably avoid the worry of it being destroyed if it's reinforced enough... although." Arxus began to tap his chin with his forefinger, in thought.
"If it was a Defender Titan, then they could hide in their bubble if they got far enough away from ground zero," Avori responded to Kei. "Alternatively, someone agile - like a Hunter - could fly as far out as possible, then run far enough into one of these tunnel systems that branch off of the main chasm. Since the explosion will mainly travel up the main pit, they'd be safe if they made it deep enough in."
"Or, we could not take a stupid, unnecessary gamble, and just send a Sunsinger," Avori's Ghost interjected.
"It wouldn't be that hard to rig up a remote-control module for your little ship-bomb." Scythe muttered over the comms as he hid near the Ketch. "Apparently, we did that stuff all the time back during the Collapse."
< So now we're close to the Ketch. Now what? > Virgil commented from transmat.
"We wait for a Skiff to come by, sneak aboard, and we basically hitch a ride up to the ship."
"Scythe's right. No need to send anyone in," Arxus commented. "Just need the necessary parts now."
It was a full effort; everyone in the Lighthouse was scrambling to get this done, and decide their fates in the process. It was as an old saying went; Guardians make their own fate. They would make theirs today. Scrap metals were salvaged from Vex hulls, including those left over from the battle of the Lighthouse. The more mechanically-inclined Disciples began to piece together what would be the foundation for the core bomb; all they needed was the explosive now.
Out in the Lighthouse courtyard, a metal foundation had been built up; it was lightweight and small, for the time being. Of course, they'd continue to build upon it as they recieved more parts; scavenged parts, from their previous battles. Arxus stepped down from the meeting and joined with the engineers, mainly some intelligent Warlock disciples, and Frames handling the precise calibrations needed for such a delicate project.
"By my calculations, it'd take a decent explosion to wipe out the Vex hiding at Mercury's core. If they're even down there," Grim popped out and began to speak. "There's too many risks involved."
Just as Scythe finally found a less uncomfortable position behind a comms array, a Blade Skiff roared in overhead and moved to dock with the Ketch. "Looks like Jackie kept the old schedule for scrap runs." he muttered as he surveyed the situation through the scope of his Wire Rifle.
< The problem is, we're down here, and that Skiff is way up there. > Virgil pointed out from transmat.
"I can see that, Light Bulb." Scythe snarked. "Good news is, if they're still keeping to the old schedules, the ship should be entering drydock within a day or two." He settled into a nest he'd made for himself between some nearby crates. "Now, we wait."
"You can't honestly be okay with this," Grim was quick to reply to Avori. As ever, Grim was cautious; perhaps overly so. He was the one who was always taking risks into account.
"Drastic times call for drastic measures. I think the Vanguard will understand," Arxus responded. He personally went to inspect the bomb; the foundation was complete for the most part, and it was large enough that it could be mounted onto a jumpship for easy delivery. For now, it was inert; no explosive, no boom. Frames operated welding tools, putting the finishing touches on the exterior.
"Oh, what's the worst that could happen? It's just a really big bomb that we're dropping into a planet's core.", Fenrir commented as he raced past the Blades patrolling the outer parts of their stronghold. Some of them tried taking shots at him, while some seemed to let him through without incident. It was easy to see which groups were still loyal to Scythe. Eventually, the Hunter came to a stop at a large apartment complex, just outside the area below the Ketch. Fenrir soon found himself at the top of the building, waiting for the klaxons of the inevitable alarm to sound.
Hearing the alarm sound throughout the entire base, Fenrir saw his chance. From the Ketch, a number of Skiffs were deployed in response to this unknown threat. The Hunter immediately broke into a sprint towards the edge of the roof. Then he leapt. Hitting the rear Skiff hard enough to dent its plating, Fenrir dug in with his knives and hoped that the crew hadn't noticed him.
"What in the sphincter of hell was that?!" Scythe grumbled as he got to his feet. Alarms were sounding all over the compound, and occasional small arms fire was coming from an access road not too far away. "Virgil, what's going on? Any chatter?"
< Aside from the usual Blades stuff, there appears to be a Guardian here. Another one. >
"Friendly?" Scythe growled. "Or at least non-hostile? Try to raise them on the comms."
< This is Virgil, Ghost of Scythe 6-2, calling the unidentified Guardian that is currently attempting to infiltrate the facility. We are not hostile, over. >
Suddenly, a Skiff swooped into view, with a certain Hunter clinging to the rear hull. "Wait, Fenrir?! What the hell are you doing here?!"
"Well, think of it this way," Avori responded to Grim, grinning somewhat manically. "If the planet does explode, Fireteam Argus will go out in a blaze of glory, having just vanquished the largest Vex stronghold in the system. Not a bad way to go."
"You are not helping," Avori's Ghost chastised him.
"Really not helping," Grim joined in on the chastising.
Alarms suddenly began to blare through the COMMs, causing Arxus to flinch from the sudden loud noise. He leaned to the side slightly, before moving back into place. "Whatever you're doing, make it quick. We don't have much time over here."
The Skiff slowed to a crawl through the air as it began to release its occupants, and Fenrir prepared himself for the next part of his plan. The cockpit doors slid open, and a Vandal armed with a pair of Shock Blades came charging out. Before Fenrir had a chance to react, the Vandal brought its swords down and pierced his helmet. With a satisfied laugh, the Vandal let Fenrir's corpse slide off the Skiff and turned back towards the cockpit.
The Vandal's Ether tubes ruptured in a chaotic mess as Fenrir fired The Last Word point-blank into its head. With the body in the process of collapsing, Fenrir stepped into the cockpit and unloaded the rest of his magazine into the pilot. Not soon after, the Skiff came swooping down towards Scythe.
(I can fly a Pelican, but a Phantom? It's been years since I even did a simulation)
"Can I fly a Skiff?" Scythe muttered increduliously. "I've lived with these guys for years, of course I can." With that, he walked into the clearing, Super Good Advice at the ready. Hearing gunfire from the cockpit, he shouted "Hey, easy does it on the bullets in there! The last thing we need is a Skiff with damaged controls." With that, he turned to the mob of Blade Fallen that surrounded him. "Thine move."
"Guardian!" One of the Disciples had shouted, being one who was placed up on the wall. "There's something out there!"
"Not again," Arxus responded. "What do you see?"
"Nothing! Proximity alert went off but there's nothing out there!" The Disciple turned around to face the Fields of Glass again, only to be met by the feminine shape of a Siren. The Siren immediately plunged its forearm blade right through the Disciple's chest, dropping him dead within seconds.
The Siren stood up straight on the wall, staring down at the Disciples and Guardians. Behind it, more came; Sirens began crawling over the wall and flooding into the courtyard, in a wave of bronze and blue.
"Thou who remain loyal to thine rightful Kell, step aside. At once."
Fenrir's voice boomed over the assembled mass of Fallen, amplified by the Skiff's comms system. A fair few of the Vandals backed off and holstered their weapons, but the Jaqueline-loyal soldiers still had Scythe surrounded.
"Scythe," Fenrir whispered over the comms. "Please tell me you equipped your Skiffs with a transmat system."
"Pariah, we've got company down here!" Avori practically shouted into the COMMs. "'bout a million Sirens. We need some backup!" He made a vain attempt to save the Disciple by laying a few bullets into the Siren. However, the unfortunate warrior was dead before he hit the floor.
Clearly angry at not having been able to save the Disciple, Avori mumbled something about "fighting fire with fire", and "whether he still remembered how to do this". The Exo allowed the tide of Sirens to almost engulf him, before drawing his Arc Blade in a storm of electricity that disintegrated the surrounding Vex.
"Thanks, Fenrir." Scythe whispered over the comms. "Most Blade Skiffs do have one, but this looks like it'll be more fun..." Switching channels and languages, he continued. "As much as I hate to do this to thee, I will do what I must."
With that, the Bladedancer activated his invisibility and opened fire with Super Good Advice.
"We're not sure," Avori had to raise his voice in order to be heard, as he cut a swath through the Vex attackers with his Super. "Some kind of Vex CQC unit, but we've only seen it used by the Lupe Prohibition."
"Sirens! Watch the blades!" Arxus shouted, as the Lighthouse went on full alert; said alert could clearly be heard through the COMMs channel. The Titan jumped into action, shifting his stance and shoving his hands forward to deflect an incoming swipe from a Siren.
The Siren forces swarmed the inner courtyard, overwhelming the bomb crew; unarmed frames were shredded to scrap by the razor sharp edge of the Siren's blade. From there, they would go no further; Disciples and Guardians alike held down the Lighthouse for as long as possible.
"Wait, did you say Sirens?" Scythe growled over the comms as he shredded one of the traitorous Vandals with rounds Super Good Advice. "Shit, I hate those things!" He ducked to avoid another Vandal's Shock Blade, then riddled the Fallen's torso with more machine gun rounds. "When I fought one near Old Phoenix, explosives seemed to work pretty well. Just takes time is all."
At the precise moment that Avori's super was exhausted, he launched himself into the air and blinked to safety, atop of the unfinished bomb. He began to ready his Rocket Launcher while opening COMMs with Argus.
"I think they've known!" Arxus shouted in response; his body arched backwards, narrowly avoiding another lunge from a Siren. The Titan reached behind him and yanked his shotgun away from the maglocks on his back; he was able to roll sideaways and unload upon the Siren's flank. Electrified buckshot tore through the lightly armored hull, causing the Siren to explode.
As the Sirens continued to flood over the wall, the fortications were quickly overrun. Disciples on the forward emplacements found themselves outnumbered 100:1; the Sirens passed over them like a wave and easily sent them to the afterlife. Overhead, the all too familiar hum of a Cetus passed over, with the portable Vex gate brimming alive, waiting to drop in more Vex troops upon them.
Kei gasped and leaped into the air, using his solar abilities to hold him in place as he stared down the scope of his fusion rifle at the Vex crowding the bomb site. "Can we really fight that many? We seem to be a bit overrun!"
"Traveler damn him! We don't have time for this. Sanctus, bring him in."
As Scythe began to be enveloped by the transmat, Fenrir jumped into the co-pilot's seat, activated the Arc Cannons, and began blasting away the remaining Vandal crew on the ground. Soon enough, Scythe had materialized in the cockpit, and the traitors were little more than electrified corpses.
"I don't think we have a choice, Kei," Avori's replied as he loaded a rocket into his Launcher. He hefted the Launcher onto his shoulder and took aim at the tide of approaching Vex, hoping to blow a hole in their ranks. However, he saw the Cetus in the air and realised it was the larger threat, so he adjusted his aim towards the flying unit.
As Scythe blasted away at another Vandal, he was suddenly engulfed in a transmat stream. As he was deposited in the co-pilot's seat opposite Fenrir, he groaned. "Why'd you have to go and do that? I was just getting started. Besides, most of those schlubs were Dregs only yesterday."
At that, Virgil popped up from transmat. < So... now what? None of those Vandals had time to call for help, but we should still be careful. >
The Sirens were close-quarters combatents, who used speed and numbers to overwhelm their foes. They were lightly-armored, however; it was easy for Arxus to blast them away with his shotgun, but limited ammo and infinite forces didn't paint a pleasant picture.
"Retreat! Back into the temple!" Arxus shouted over the roar of gunfire. The courtyard had already been overrun; the Disciples on the wall had been killed, and Cetuses above threatened to drop Vex troops behind them, which would effectively leave them trapped. What few Frames left remaining from the bomb crew hoisted up the bomb and began carrying it towards the temple behind them.
Avori's aim was thrown off balance when the Frames hoisted the bomb into the air, and his rocket sailed harmlessly passed the Cetus he'd been aiming at. He attempted to adjust and reacquire his target, but the unsteady movement of the bomb as the Frames marched it into the Lighthouse made that impossible. Instead, Avori fired his remaining three missiles into the crowd of swarming Vex, then blinked off the bomb onto a ledge on the Lighthouse. He began to scale the building, his sights set on a Cetus.
"So, just fly us up there?" Scythe growled as he took the controls. "While we are in a Blade Skiff, they'll have us on visual. Us, not the ship. The second they see two Guardians basically carjacked it, they'll blast us out of the sky."
< Unless... > Virgil trailed off as he illuminated the two dead Vandals with his spotlight.
"Idea!" Scythe chimed in. "Fenrir, this is gonna get a little odd, gross, and morbid, but I have a plan. Ever seen the old movie Weekend at Bernie's?"
Since Avori had missed his first rocket, it gave the Cetus a chance to pop in the first set of reinforcements. Flying over the temple mouth, the Cetus dropped in a pair of Minotaurs, whose large frames unfolded, Torch Hammers at the ready. The Minotaurs immediately blasted away the defenseless frames hoisting the bomb away, turning their lightweight frames into scrap; without anyone to hold the bomb, it dropped and started rolling down the stairs.
Arxus immediately threw himself against the bomb, preventing it from falling the whole way down. Sirens began swarming at his rear flank; the Titan flipped himself around and pressed his back to the bomb. "Don't worry about the Cetus! Take out those Minotaurs!" Arxus shouted, as he began to slowly ascend the steps, and gun down the incoming Sirens.
"If we don't take down that Cetus, we'll have a lot more to deal with than a couple of Minotaurs," Avori replied to Arxus, although he still complied with the order. From his vantage point, he had a good view of the two Minotaurs assaulting Arxus, and so he pulled out his LDR and crouched down to take a shot.
Fenrir grabbed the second Vandal and wrapped what was left of his torn-up cloak around its neck, forming a makeshift scarf to cover the ruptured Ether tubes. With the mixture of blood and Ether wiped away with the very last pieces of the cloak, the corpse was soon propped up in the pilot's seat.
"I know that! Kinda hard to roll this bomb up a hill when I'm being-..." Arxus ducked behind the bomb, as a Torch Hammer blast sailed right over him. It missed, and the swarming Sirens quickly vacated the blast radius, as if anticipating it. "Kinda hard when I'm being shot at!"
(If you haven't seen Weekend At Bernie's, basically a few guys that are house-sitting accidentally kill the rich owner, and have to basically rig him up like a puppet during a party so people don't think he's actually dead)
< Ready? > Virgil chimed in from transmat. < Synchronizing remote-control system... > With that, the Skiff slowly moved forward towards the Ketch. Within seconds, it was starting a climbing turn in line with one of the hangar bays. With the course set, Virgil began playing a peiced-together Fallen script. < This is Whiplash 1-1 to Bladeship Teriks-Fel. Requesting clearance to dock, over. >
"Whiplash 1-1, this is Teriks Control. What is your cargo, over?"
< Parts and supplies. Transmitting clearance codes now... >
Avori fired off all four of his bullets at one of the Minotaurs. All but one struck their mark, although its shield absorbed the first two, and the third lodged in its gun arm - far from any vital functions. As Avori reloaded for another volley, the Minotaur looked up at him and began barraging his position with Torch Hammer rounds, turning its attention away from the Disciples and other Argus members as it did so.
Fenrir let out a slight sigh of relief as the positive response crackled through the comms. While the Skiff slowly made its way inside the Ketch, he began to form a pair of smoke grenades in his palms.
With the Minotaurs distracted and the Sirens temporarily relenting in their assault, Arxus turned around and quickly shoved the bomb the rest of the way; when he reached the mouth of the temple, Disciples were there to catch the bomb and take it inside.
Now, the Titan peered down from above. They were overrun, and there was no way they'd be able to stop them all. It was like the forces they had encountered during the first assault on the Lighthouse; multipled by 10. A sea of Sirens approached from the ground, with a Cetus overhead and another on the way. Hobgoblins took sniper placements in the distance, taking precise shots at anyone who was out in the open, including Arxus and Avori.
Arxus was quick on the move, using his body to charge into the Minotaur closed to him.
"Ready enough." he grunted as he drew a Shock Blade and readied his invisibility. Turning to Fenrir, he continued. "Hang onto those smoke grenades. They can't see me, so I'll try to do most of the out-in-the-open sneaking." With that, the whine of the Skiff's engines finally began to fade. "Just one problem. How do we get from here to cover? You know, without raising the alarm."
"Oh. That might work." Scythe muttered. "Virgil, look out. There's about to be smoke in the cockpit." With that, the Hunter closed his eyes and opened his mouth to equalize pressure. The grenade went off with a soft pop, and soon the cockpit was filled with purple smoke. Scythe quietly opened the cockpit door and snuck out, completely invisible.
< Heh heh, Purple Haze. > Virgil muttered from transmat.
Having reloaded, Avori continued laying into the Minotaur, sinking three bullets into its torso. However, as he lined up his fourth shot, a Line Rifle struck the Vex metal right at his feet. He dived to the side, as another two Hobgoblins' shots sizzled through the air where he had just been. Raising his LDR, he quickly silenced the first of the Hobgoblins to fire, then discarded his empty weapon on the ledge, and continued to scale the Lighthouse from the outside.
"I'm going for that Cetus," Avori said over COMMs. "Cover me!"
Arxus rammed himself into the Minotaur, knocking it off the upper platform; he wouldn't deal any lasting damage, but at least the damn Vex would have to hike it back up if he wanted his revenge. Line Rifle fire sailed by and narrowly grazed across the reflective surface of Arxus' helmet. He was quick to duck behind cover. "I'll cover you, Avori. Make it count," Arxus replied, switching his shotgun for his scout rifle to lay down covering fire.
"Will do, Arxus," Avori remarked, between blinks. "I've got an arc blade with its name on."
Avori was nearly at the height of the Cetus now, but the higher he climbed, the more exposed he became. Of the nearly two dozen Hobgoblins, at least six were focused on him, as well as one of the Minotaurs. His shield was already dwindling from the bombardment, and once he reached the height of the Cetus, he had no choice but to leap for cover, lest one of the Vex get a lucky shot.
"Alright, I'll be ready soon as my shield recharges."
Arxus did his best to cover Avori as he could; rifle fire bore down upon the invading Sirens, and kept the Hobgoblins in cover. The Cetus rounded over again, ready to make another drop of Vex troops. It was close enough now for Avori to easily mount the thing and do whatever it was that he intended, but he would find that his support dwindled as well as his shields.
Arxus kept the Hobgoblins at bay, killing what few he could; he managed to down two before he ran out of ammo. Dropping out the magazine as hastily as possible, he couldn't even find time to reload before he was attacked by a Minotaur. Arxus fumbled and dropped his magazine, only to narrowly lean back and avoid a swipe of the arm. In the time it took him to reach for his shotgun, he took a Torch Hammer round, dead center on his chest. The concussive blast was enough to knock him off the stairs, down into the courtyard and out of sight.
At precisely the moment the Cetus came into range, Avori launched himself into the air towards it and blinked onto its metal carapace. Once he'd found purchase, he activated his Arc Blade in his spare hand, and plunged it into the casing. The Cetus immediately jerked forward, obviously trying to shake Avori off, but was only successful in dragging the blade along its back, creating a long scar.
Avori felt his feet hovering near the timegate embedded in the aft part of the Cetus, and so placed them on its rim, so as not to fall in. He used the extra maneuverability he'd gained to push his blade to the side, in an attempt to get under its armor plating.
For his part, Scythe was a bit more flashy. Thanks to his invisibility, he was completely hidden from view. As such, he gleefully ran over to the wall and eyed the fire alarm. "Hey Fenrir, should I pull this?"
< On one hand, it would clear out the room. On the other, it might draw attention to us. > Virgil commented from transmat.
Hearing Fenrir's suggestion, the Bladedancer nodded towards one of the hangar doors. "The throne room is through there. A few turns, but pretty easy to find. Heavily defended, though. I was thinking maybe stop by the armory first?"
The Arc Blade dragged wide across the hard exterior of the Cetus, exposing a multitude of wires and an Arc Core, likely powering the thing. The Cetus began to sluggishly rotate on a horizontal axis, intending to throw Avori off.
Meanwhile, as Sirens flooded the Lighthouse, the Disciples continued to hold them at bay. From the temple, the entrance was held off with impressive tenacity. Machine gun fire lit up the doorway, creating an ever-growing mound of Vex corpses.
"First of all, we don't know where she is." Scythe growled as he opened a door on the other side of the hangar. "Second, I didn't build this ship. I helped the Blades steal it."
< You should've seen it. > Virgil chimed in from over his shoulder. < They had a giant wooden rabbit and everything. >
After a few turns, Scythe and Fenrir arrived outside the armory. The halls were surprisingly deserted, but most of the crew had problably gone planetside in anticipation of drydock. "Hey, Fenrir? When I open this door, try not to shoot first, ok?" Noting the Hunter's quizzical expression, he explained. "Varis runs the armory, and he's very loyal to me. Shouldn't be a problem."
< It's unlikely that She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named would kill him. If he's not here, he's probably in the brig. > Virgil suggested.
"Gotcha," Avori grinned, once he caught a glimpse of the Arc Core, before opening COMMs. "Arxus, I think I've got a shot at whatever's powering this thing. Is it safe to bring it down?" He waited a moment, not recieving any response. "Arxus?"
Without another option, Avori resolved to destroy the Cetus regardless. He began to pull himself in, ready to take a stab the core, when the Cetus suddenly began rotating more rapidly. The centripetal force ripped Avori's hand from his blade, which remained jammed in the casing, and the Hunter tumbled into the timegate mounted on the Cetus' back.
With no apparent response, Avori was left on his own; left to tangle with the Cetus that was completely vertical now. With such force, it caused the Hunter to spill into the timegate, landing whoever knows where.
Meanwhile, down in the depths of the Lighthouse, Arxus was just beginning to regain consciousness. He had found himself deep inside, having been knocked down some narrow crevice or something of the like. The low hum of machinery accompanied him, with distant gunfire.
"Argus?" He questioned over the COMMs, but found nothing but static.
"Hey, I'm cautious, not stupid." Scythe muttered as he drew and shouldered Super Good Advice. "Virgil, the door?"
With that, the thick door slid open, revealing rack after rack of Fallen and City weapons, all behind security barriers. Strangely, the trigger happy Captain that normally slept in the armory was nowhere to be found.
"Well... shit." Scythe muttered. "There go Plans A and B. Should we check the brig?"
As he fell through the timegate, Avori was suddenly plunged into darkness and fell awkwardly onto his front. His eyes slowly adjusted to the dark, and as they did so, he began to make out several distant white lights, amidst an otherwise grey, brown and black environment.
For a moment he wondered whether he'd somehow ended up at the bottom of the Hellmouth; this place seemed to match the descriptions passed around in the Tower in hushed tones. However, as his vision finally cleared, these white lights revealed themselves to be the radiolara capsules of dozens, if not hundreds, of Vex units. He was standing in front of an army.
"Damn it," Arxus muttered. "Grim, re-establish contact. I want to know what's going on up there."
"I'm on it, sir." Grim replied.
"And turn the damn flashlight on." As Arxus said this, his Ghost popped out and illuminated the surrounding area; it seemed to be a crypt of sorts, beneath the surface of the Lighthouse. About a dozen Vex corpses sat around what appeared to be an inactive Vex gate. Arxus shined the flashlight over the room, slowly panning across the figures of broken Goblins. "What is this...?"
"If they're still alive, they'll listen to me." Scythe growled. "I just have to get to them." Hearing Fenrir's attempt to force the lock, he turned around. "Hey, careful with that. Some of us live here!"
At Fenrir's comment about their weapons, Virgil popped up. < Yeah, we've made some tweaks on standard City designs. Rigged them to use Fallen munitions, compatible with Fallen optics, stuff like that. >
"As for where she is?" Scythe grunted as he turned to leave, "Most likely in the throne room. Take the main corridor to the bow of the ship, throne room is directly below the bridge. As for me? I've got a crew to rescue."
< I'll try not to let that happen. > Virgil commented from transmat.
"Let's see... bridge and throne room are that way..." Scythe muttered to himself as he walked out of the armory and turned left. "Brig is this way." With that, he activated his invisibility, drew his Shrapnel Launcher, and crept off through the corridors. "Fenrir? If you can hear me, I'm trying to get some party crashers together. Watch your six."
"Some kind of crypt, or antechamber. I'm not sure what I'm looking at," Grim was quick to reply. "I've been able to repair the COMMs somewhat... it's audio only, though. Seems as though the Vex have already installed a jamming frequency."
"At least we can hear that's going on." Patching through into the audio channel, the worst had already come to pass. It was silent. Either the Vex had backed off, or... Arxus didn't want to imagine the alternative. Closing out the channel, he pulled out his Hung Jury and loading in a fresh mag. The liquid display quickly replenished. Looking back up, Arxus shined his flashlight where they had fell in at; they were deep, and the light didn't even reach the surface. "No way to go back."
Avori scrambled for Lance's Point, which had fallen off his back and lay on the ground in front of him. Once he had the rifle in-hand, he aimed it at the nearest Vex unit, a Hobgoblin, and pulled himself to his feet, careful not to let his guard down. He backed towards the time gate, perplexed at why he wasn't yet dead. The unit just seemed to stare at him, almost quizically.
Still with his weapon raised, he surveyed all the other Vex units in the vicinity, who each seemed to be in the same state. They were clearly aware of him, but were not attacking.
"Interesting," Avori almost jumped when his Ghost began speaking; he'd forgotten that he was not entirely alone. He allowed himself to relax somewhat as his Ghost spoke. "Until they enter the timegates, they must not be in a combat subroutine. So they're harmless - just like they were you-know-when."
As Scythe crept through the deserted corridors of the Ketch, it struck him as odd that no alarms had gone off. While he was invisible, the Fallen had ways of tracking their own cloaking technology, lest they misplace it and be unable to find it again. "Virgil, any signs of internal scans?"
< Nothing coming from the Ketch or the ground. The only things I'm detecting are Fenrir's Ghost and some Servitors making their rounds. >
"Keep checking. Something's not right here..." the Hunter growled as he approached the brig. Two Vandals were standing guard, armed with Shrapnel Launchers. Getting past them would be easy, but opening the cells would definitely draw their attention. With that, Scythe drew his Shock Blades and readied himself.
With one hand on the stock of the auto rifle and the other spinning a knife, Fenrir looked at the Vandal guards that were in his way. A quartet, each armed with a shock staff which revealed their rank as Kell's Guard.
"Not a single patrol until now. Not one. Yet here the Kell's Guard are standing in the middle of nowhere."
Before Fenrir could continue his report to Scythe, the door behind the guards slid open. Another duo of Kell's Guard stepped out, their arms firmly wrapped around those of a Captain. As they came closer, it became apparent that the captive had been tortured. Blood was oozing out of several large gashes in his forehead, and one of his lower arms were missing.
"Scythe? I think I've found your missing quartermaster."
"There's nowhere to go down?" Grim said in a puzzled manner.
"That's a Vex gate. No idea why there's one underneath the Lighthouse, but it must go somewhere. And we have nowhere else to go now." The Lighthouse had been overrun, and Arxus only prayed that the rest of them had made it out safely. With no way to contact anyone, he had to focus on himself for now. "Let's find a way to turn this thing on."
"I'm not seeing anything. This gate has been off for a very long time." Grim twisted his small body, shining his light across the gate's chasm. "There, on the other side. Maybe something we can interact with."
"Lemme guess. It's a trap?" Scythe growled as he stabbed the first Vandal in the back. He then used it as a sheild against the other Vandal, absorbing fire from its Shrapnel Launcher until he coul get close enough to decapitate it.
"Wait, you found Voriks?" He looked around at the other cells. Fariks and Rakik were there along with several other Vandals and Dregs, but some Captains were missing. "Is he ok?"
< If she got to him first, probably not. > Virgil chimed in.
"Take him to the cells. The Kell shall decide his-"
The Kell's Guard was abruptly cut off as Fenrir's knife sailed through the air and dug itself into its neck. With the Vandal's gasps for air quickly being replaced by the gurgling noises of it drowning in its own blood, the other Guards wasted no time activating their weapons. Voriks was dropped to the floor, where he remained lying unconscious.
"Show thyself, coward!", the Reaver of the group called out. In response, Fenrir emptied the magazine of his auto rifle into the hallway, and one more Vandal dropped dead.
Scythe darted through the corridors of his Ketch, past the occasional Dreg or Vandal carrying something somewhere. If they were aware of anything unusual, it didn't show. The most they felt was a gust of wind moving past them--unusual inside a spaceship, but only alarming when actually in space. "Virgil, activate Reaper Protocol." he growled as he approached a turbolift.
< Sure thing, boss. >
With that, the cells in the brig were unlocked, and the armory was sealed off. Scythe's loyalists would be able to escape and arm themselves, but the other Blade Fallen wouldn't be able to reach their weapons.
As the turbolift doors opened, Scythe came face-to-face with a Vandal carrying a broken Shrapnel Launcher. Since he was invisible, the Vandal didn't react, and was taken completely by surprise when the Hunter stabbed him throught the chest as soon as the doors closed.
Navigating across the wide gap, Arxus situated himself in front of the old console; it seemed to have gone unused for many years, considering that it had gathered a layer of dust across the surface. Propping his scout rifle against the side of the console, he quickly wiped away the dust to see the readings beneath.
"It's definitely Vex technology, but... the designs seem so archaic." Grim flew down and began to scan the console.
As the turbolift descended, Scythe took the time to strip the Vandal of any useful equipment and stuff the corpse through a maintenance hatch in the roof. < Not much on him. > Virgil commented from over his shoulder.
"Nope. Just a broken Launcher and some ether seeds. What's weird is this..." The Hunter held up the Vandal's cloak. It bore a design far different from the usual Blade skull, shock sword, and lightning bolt. This cloak was in far brighter colors, with a stylized crown in the center. "Looks like the power's gone to her head." he muttered nonchalantly as the lift slowed to a stop at a lower floor.
"Thou speak of cowardice, but send thine men to their deaths?"
Fenrir rammed Void Edge through the first Vandal that blindly charged at him, instantly killing it. Upon seeing this, the next Vandal hesitated. The hesitation cost it its life, as a few rounds from Fenrir's auto rifle splattered Ether across the walls.
"Face me and die with honor, Reaver of the Kell's Guard."
The two remaining Vandals exchanged a look. The Reaver laughed as he slowly stepped forward, spinning his shock staff while his subordinate backed away.
"Notify the Kell, Rekis. I sha-"
The gloating Reaver didn't have time to finish as a hail of bullets shot past him and killed the Vandal he had adressed.
"Thou speak of honor, but slay those who are no threat to you?!" The Reaver furiously growled in anger at Fenrir.
"Correct." The Hunter's rifle clattered to the ground, and Void Edge sprung to life, now imbued with Light.
The turbolift came to a halt and the doors dinged open, only for Scythe to come face-to-face with a Captain that he didn't recognize. To make matters worse, his invisibility went down and began recharging. In such tight quarters he could only hope that the Fallen wasn't using close-quarters weapons.
"Who in the seven hells art thou?!" they both growled as the doors shut again. With that, Scythe drew his own Shock Swords and launched himself across the room. "Fenrir? Any progress?" he grunted over the comms.
The Reaver lunged through the corridor, shock staff raised high into the air. On his end, Fenrir calmly stood still with both hands on his sword's hilt, holding it just above his waist. As the Reaver came closer, a small hint of doubt formed in the assailant's mind. What was this enigmatic Guardian doing? The rage-filled Vandal didn't get to formulate an answer to this question, as in a single perfect arc, Void Edge split his shock staff in two and cut cleanly through his Ether tubes. The Reaver collapsed, half in shock, half in pain. Leaving the dying Vandal to uselessly grasp for his tubes, Fenrir walked over to Voriks, who was now beginning to regain consciousness.
"Voriks of House Blades, can thou walk? Guardian-Kell Scythe is here and will reclaim his throne. He needs you."
"Who art thou who maketh such bold claims? A lackey of the traitor-Archon?" The Captain looked at Fenrir, coughed, then continued with a slight tone of amusement in his voice. "Heheh, I had thou there for a moment. Give me a sword, and I'll behead the traitor-Archon myself. Where is the Guardian-Kell?"
"He is on this Ketch, gathering those of you who are loyal to his cause."
Fenrir helped Voriks stand up, then activated his COMMs.
"Just get it working." Arxus lifted up his Hung Jury once more, gloved fingers clutching tight on his weapon.
"I'm working on it... Don't rush me." Grim analyzed the data patterns that the console gave out; everything was similar to what they'd come to expect from the Vex, though there were some consistent differences. Mainly, it wasn't as advanced. A minute passed, before the entire room was bathed in a blinding blue glow.
"What did you do?" Arxus asked.
"It wasn't me-" The Vex gate at the center whirred to life, crackling with energy as it tore a portal into space/time. It hummed with a low noise.
"What do you mean, it wasn't you?" The implications weren't good. Before Arxus could do much of anything, or even think, a massive Vex hand clawed itself out of the portal, grabbing the Titan by his torso. It quickly dragged him inside.
The traitor-Captain raised his own Shock Blades in response, but when he pressed the button on the hilt, nothing happened. While Scythe's crackled with Arc energy, the Captain's were little more than sharp sticks, with no real armor-peircing capability. "Wow son, you're having the worst day with weapons malfunctions." Scythe growled as he buried a blade in the Captain's neck. Ether hissed out, filling the lift as he pressed the button to open the doors again. After relieving the Captain of anything useful, he activated his invisibility and stepped out into the corridor leading to the throne room.
"Just finishing up here. Ran into some complications. I'm outside the throne room now." Scythe paused. "If Voriks is with you, see if your Ghost can help heal him."
"Would thee accept my assistance in healing thine wounds?" Sanctus carefully asked as Fenrir picked up his auto rifle and thrust it into Voriks' hands.
"I am afraid not. These wounds were inflicted by the vile Devouring Essence, a chemical weapon forgotten for good reason, and reinvented by House Wolves." Voriks used his remaining lower arm to point at the lifeless stump that hung on his left side. "Not even Fariks' arts will help."
Having listened to Voriks, Fenrir practically jumped onto the comms.
"Jaqueline is in possession of Devouring Essence. Wait for us to get to you. Do not enter the throne room under any circumstances!"
(Sorry for not posting in a few days. The combination of A level results day and the release of SPV3 (whose wiki I help manage) had me busy. Anyway, I'm back now.)
Reassured by his Ghost's assessment, Avori slowly lowered his weapon and examined his surroundings. He seemed to be standing on a concave surface, which curved upwards on all sides, until it met directly above him, forming a sphere. It didn't take long for Avori to realise where he was; this was the Repetitive Mind's lair.
"Arxus? Solis? Kei? Does anyone from Argus read this?" Avori asked, through COMMs, doing his best to hide the fact he was completely spooked. "Hell, I'd even go for a Disciple right about now!"
(Yes, it's a debuff mechanic for the Skolas boss fight in PoE. It has appeared a few times before in the RP and in some of the side stories. It is essentially anti-Light acid in the context of the RP.)
After a few minutes of running through corridors and slicing the throats of any unfortunate patrolling Dreg or Vandal that stumbled across them, Fenrir and Voriks eventually found their way to the hallway leading up to the throne room.
"Stay here and gather any loyalists you can find. The Guardian-Kell and I will confront Jaqueline."
With that, Fenrir activated Void Edge in his right hand and drew The Last Word with his left hand.
"I released Fariks and the others from their cells about five minutes ago. They're either in the armory or the med bay." Scythe growled as he examined the door. It was thick and airtight, so he couldn't hear anything through it, nor could Virgil's scans penetrate it. Just then, he heard a clicking of mandibles behind him. With that, the Hunter slowly turned around. "Fenrir, we may have some uninvited guests..."
"Fariks? Is that you?" Scythe growled as he looked down the sights of his Shrapnel Launcher. With that, the air in front of him began to shimmer until it took the familiar shape of a Fallen Captain.
"Greetings, Guardian-Kell!" Rakik chittered as the last of his invisibility wore off. "Couldst thou use mine assistance?" The Captain and cheif engineer's armor seemed dirtier than usual, as if he had just escaped from the brig.
"Um, yes, I could actually." Scythe muttered in surprise as he lowered his Launcher. "The door is tightly sealed. Codes have been changed, and there is probably some sort of Devouring Essence on the other side."
Unknowing of what would become of him, Arxus was thrust into the Vex underworld; Vex gates lined the ceiling, throwing him out and down towards the ground. He tried his best to slow his descent, pulsing his lift until his speed came moderately under control. Still, when he landed, it hurt.
Pain shot through his legs and he winced, gritting his teeth; shields recharged momentarily, and he was fine, albeit a bit sore. Arxus arose to take in their surroundings. "Where is it? Where is that thing?" Hung Jury out and aimed, Arxus scanned the area but saw nothing that would match the description of what he saw... or what he thought he saw.
"I don't know what that was," Grim was slow to answer. "But it doesn't seem like we're on Mercury anymore... or anywhere, for that matter."
As if awakened by his transmission, the Vex surrounding Avori suddenly all trained their weapons on him, although they did not fire despite having the upper hand. He scrambled to raise his weapon, but as he surveyed the two dozen Vex surrounding him, he knew that it would not serve him any good.
While backing slowly away from the Vex units, his attention was drawn to something large moving in the middle distance. In his brief examination of the surroundings beforehand, he'd passed it off as simply part of the environment, but now he watched in awe as a huge centipede-like Vex construct ripped itself from the structure surrounding it.
"We might not need the door.", Fenrir said as he lowered his gun. He glanced over the higher parts of the walls, before stopping to focus on the object he was looking for. A vent grate, and from the looks of it, a poorly maintained one. The Hunter immediately set off, jumping up the wall until he had reached the vents.
"Keep working on the security. I'll see what I can do from here."
Fenrir then grabbed and twisted the rusted metal apart, and soon enough he was beginning his crawl towards the throne room.
In the infinite halls of the Vex underworld, something stirred in the abyss. Thousands of feet skittered across dark nothings; metal scrapes against metal and stopped and started in unknowable patterns. What was unknown would soon be known.
Arxus hurried himself to the front lines, joining on Avori's flank; his scout rifle was clutched hard in his hands, and if he gripped it any harder, he might have broken it. Titans were known for breaking things. He was much less concerned about the multitude of Vex surrounding them; more so, the thing that was before them.
"That's it," Arxus said, in a hushed voice. "That's the Mind."
"Stop blowing holes in my ship!" Scythe grumbled as Fenrir began to spelunk through the air ducts. "First the armory, now an air vent. What's he gonna do next, muck up the reactor?"
< Don't give him any ideas. > Virgil cautioned from transmat.
"Guardian-Kell! I have managed to override the security measures on the door. Resetting the passcodes should allow thee access to the throne room. Dost thou remember the default password?" Rakik shouted from over by a console.
"The default passcode is still 1-2-3-4-5, correct?" Scythe grunted back. "And keep thine voice down. We are not alone on this deck." Hearing Fenrir's somewhat nervous transmission, he groaned. "Well that's not good. But then again, how often do transmissions get interrupted mid-op?"
< Either way, we'd better hurry. >
With a sudden hiss-pop sound, the doors to the throne room unsealed themselves as Scythe tapped in the default passcode. "Ready when you are, Fenrir. Rakik, get thyself to the engine room. Check on Teriks Prime and warm up the engines. We may need power in a hurry."
Slowly, Fenrir slid the throne room vent grate to the side. He then nimbly dropped onto an abandoned railing, shadowed from view. The throne room was a surprisingly modest construction, with little but Blade regalia decorating it. The standout part was the gigantic throne in the far end of the room, adorned with various trophies and spoils of war. Flanked by a quartet of Kell's Guard Captains, a slender humanoid figure was seated in the pompous creation.
"Engage Wraith Protocol."
Fenrir dropped down from his hightened position. As he fell, the Hunter was enveloped in smoke, yet this time, it did not conceal him. Fenrir loudly hit the ground, and while the Guard grabbed their weapons, Fenrir was covered in black flames, giving him a demonic appearance. Only the purple fire of the void remained on his faceplate and drawn blade.
"Jaqueline, false Kell of House Blades!", Fenrir shouted, his voice considerably louder and deeper. "Thine reckoning hath come!"
At mention of the package, Arxus shook his head. "After you jumped into the Cetus, the Lighthouse was overrun. I don't know what happened to the others."
The massive shape of the Repetitive Mind twisted in the distance, crawling across Vex-made pillars; thousands of tiny metal legs came into view, only seen by the sparks produced as they scraped and brushed against the misshapen forms of columns that towered towards the ceiling above them.
Scythe didn't charge blindly through the now-open door to the throne room; rather, he activated his invisibility, hung back, and waited to see where the clouds of Devouring Essence were.
< Someone certainly knows how to make an entrance. > Virgil nodded toward Fenrir.
With Fenrir's flashy entrance, several of the Kell's Guard seemed unnerved. Scythe used this momentary distraction to take up position behind a pillar and ready his Wire Rifle. "Which one do you think'll move first, Virgil? I'm going for the one on the front left, but the back right could be just as stupid."
Suddenly, the Gunslinger on the throne stood and faced Fenrir. "I'm sorry, who are you?" She paused, then laughed. "Oh, you're one of Scythe's friends! Did my ex tag along, too?"
" 'Jumped in' implies it was intentional," Avori pointed out. "But regardless, we can't fight them all alone like this. We need to find a way out of here."
"I suggest go back, round up whatever survivors are left and find a way to deliver the 'package' to the Mind," Avori's Ghost interjected. "Only then would we have a chance at coordinating an effective resistance."
"Whatever we do, we need to do it soon," Avori quickly replied, in alarm. If the Mind was anything like the other Vex Axis Minds Avori had encountered in the past, the two Guardians would be within its weapons range in a few seconds.
As if aware of what the Guardians intended, the Repetitive Mind abruptly dropped from the pillars that it scaled; a thunderous force shook the entire complex as it impacted the ground, practically belly-flopping against the smooth metallic surface of the floor. Cables hanging off the wall shook violently, as did Vex that remained in a non-combat subroutine. The gargantuan Vex Mind rested upon the ground, using two oversized front arms to hoist itself into a proper, semi-upright position. Turrets dettached from the main body, only to grow more intense with solar energy in the passing seconds.
"I don't think he's happy to see us..." Grim remarked, with a ill-veiled attempt at humor meant to guise his anxiety.
Arxus quickly darted his gaze around, looking for a way out; Vex gates covered the walls and ceilings, possibly connecting the Vex underworld to locations all across the system. "Okay... we just have to pick a gate and hope for the best."
Avori looked back at the time gate he had travelled through, but it was deactivated. Evidently he had done enough damage to the Cetus to bring it down.
"Alright," The Exo broke into a sprint toward a group of time gates. "Eeny, meeny, miny- Fuck it." He made a beeline for the nearest of the gates, forgoing the process of randomly selecting one.
Once at the gate, Avori skidded to a halt to wait for Arxus. The Mind's attention was fixed on the Titan. Its weapons flared in preparation to fire, so Avori hefted his rocket launcher onto his shoulder to cover Arxus - not noticing that the weapon was glowing.
The Repetitive Mind continued to charge; four solar cannons at the ready, the first one let loose a blast similar to what Aello used back at the Battle for the Lighthouse. It was a single beam of solar energy that easily cut across extended distances, vaporizing whatever it touched. Luckily, Arxus had moved away enough that the beam missed him; instead, it blasted a collection of Vex pods, dunking them into the Radiolarian fluid below.
Arxus rushed to Avori's side, while the Mind was readying another shot. "We got no time to search every one. Just pick one and go," he spoke aloud. "Grim, get one of these open, ASAP."
"I'm on it," Grim replied. The Ghost then gently floated down to the console, interfacing with it so they might get out of there already.
As Jacqueline began her monologue, Scythe dropped the first Captain with a Wire Rifle round to the skull. Ether streamed out as the Gunslinger dove for cover and the Bladedancer lined up another shot. From behind the throne, he could hear his ex shouting orders.
"Get Walkers up here NOW!"
"Fenrir? We might have company..." Scythe muttered as he stunned another Captain with a shot from his Wire Rifle. By now, the others had his position zeroed, and return fire soon peppered the column that he was taking cover behind. With that, the Hunter shimmied up the pillar to the ceiling, where a set of maintenance walkways gave him ample room to maneuver and cover Fenrir.
(Sorry about the absense, I've been busy with school stuff.)
The shadowy fire encasing Fenrir flared up and intensified for a moment, before the Hunter abruptly vanished without a trace. One of the Captains decided that he'd had enough, and turned tail. The terrified Captain hadn't taken ten steps past the throne before a bullet from Jaqueline's hand cannon buried itself in his head.
"I will not tolerate insubordination! Find them, and KILL them!", the furious Huntress roared.
Then, as if on demand, Fenrir materialised infront of the previously dazed Captain. Before either Jaqueline or the last Captain had a chance to react, Void Edge had been thrust into the Captain's throat.
"Fight me like the Kell you are, Jaqueline!" Fenrir immediately took opportunity of the confusion he had created and struck towards the Huntress. While it missed, it cleaved a straight path through the throne's supports, leaving the trophy-heavy creation dangerously unstable.
"Killing your own troops? Brilliant plan!" Scythe snarked from his perch up by the ceiling. As the last Captain fell, the Hunter summoned his Ghost. "Virgil, have Voriks and Rakik seal the doors. I don't want any of her loyalists able to get in here."
< Alright. > Virgil muttered from over Scythe's shoulder. < Think your Captains can handle an angry mob? >
"They don't have to, just seal the doors and get the others to safety. It would take a whole platoon of Walkers to breach that door. And I still have a few tricks up my sleeve." Hearing Fenrir's challenge, he taunted her further. "She's not the Kell, I am!" As the Bladedancer's sword carved through the throne, he shouted even louder. "STOP BLOWING HOLES IN MY SHIP!"
As Grim continued to work furiously, the Repetitive Mind lurched forward. Its entire body pulled itself along the ground, thousands of tiny feet scuttling across the floor and large arms digging into the metal, clawing at it for leverage. Another turret began to power up; a slow orange hum filled the creases of the deadly solar cannon.
"Hurry up... he's coming around again," Arxus said, with his gaze constantly watching the Vex Mind.
"I'm working as fast as I can here, don't rush me!" Grim worked tirelessly on opening up the Vex gate, when at last, he did; just as the Repetitive Mind fired off another shot towards them.
"I'll cover you," Avori said, taking aim with his rocket launcher at the charging turret. As he did so, he noticed out of the corner of his eye that the Vex units that had stayed their hand earlier were now encroaching upon the trapped Guardians clearly ready for combat. "One problem at a time, Avori," he murmured to himself.
As soon as he had a lock on the turret, Avori pulled the trigger and was greeting with a familiar sizzling of Arc energy around the weapon's barrel. The projectile it fired initially glowed with a blinding white light, but fizzled into nothing long before even getting close to the Mind. He squeezed the trigger again, several times, but the weapon did not respond, despite the fact it was still glowing. For whatever reason, it refused to harm the Repetitive Mind.
Then, it all suddenly clicked into place in Avori's mind. He was but a piece in a perfectly played game of Chess. The purpose of the artifact he'd discovered in the Vault of Glass; the 'untimely' activation of the timegate that brought him to Mercury; his meeting with Fireteam Argus. None of it was his 'destiny', as Fenrir had conjectured. It was the Mind's plan.
The Vex gate opened at just the opportune time; with an incoming blast from the Repetitive Mind coming in from the other direction, the blast passed into the gate rather than striking Avori and Arxus, thus saving them from an untimely demise. Unfortunately, the gate shut off seconds later, leaving an empty gate.
"The gate's dead! I'll try to open another one!" Grim shouted, shifting over to another console.
Noticing how the Vex units began to approach, more of a slow trod rather than a full attack, the Titan trained his aim elsewhere. He noticed too, how Avori's weapon wasn't firing. The longer they lingered, the more trapped they became; the Repetitive Mind lurched ever forward, with its heaving mass coming closer into focus.
"Arxus, you need to go, now!" Avori said, frantically disarming himself of anything that could be used as a weapon; his knives, scout rifle, sniper, even his empty hand cannon. While he threw his weapons out of his own reach, he could feel the power that the artifact wielded over him as it began to be exerted.
"I'm- The Vex, they- I can't-" Despite his best efforts to explain to Arxus what was about to happen, Avori was unable to finish speaking, compelled not to by that familiar-yet-alien presence in the back of his mind. "Look, Arxus, trust me; just go. Leave me!"
Arxus noticed now as Avori hurriedly discarded his weapons, before demanding the Titan to abandon him. "We're all getting out of here, don't give me that shit!" He responded quick, keeping the Vex at bay with his shotgun. Behind them, another portal opened up, thanks to Grim; it was their last chance out.
Sirens began to climb up over the platform that they were on; Goblins unfurled their Slap Rifles, slowly taking aim as if to build the suspense of the moment. They were backed into a corner. Before long, there was the gargantuan frame of the Repetitive Mind, bearing down like a threatening presence upon them. A single blue eye gazed deep, staring towards the two Guardians. Rather than attack, the Mind spoke; it was this grating, metal voice, and something only Avori could hear. "Do it."
With her support cut off and her cover blown away, Jaqueline seemed to be on the verge of panic. Fenrir kept his distance, waiting for her next move. Slowly and with careful movements, Jaqueline bent down and opened a case hidden behind her throne. When she rose, she was wielding a pair of Shock Swords coated in a thick, sickly green substance. The Huntress winced as a few drops spilled down on her gloves and burned a hole through them, but quickly shook it off.
"Incredible what the Fallen were able to accomplish in their Golden Age. A counter-agent to their own Light.", Jaqueline said with a sense of twisted admiration in her voice. Before she could continue her monologue, Fenrir leapt towards her, Void Edge raised high, leaving the Huntress barely able to parry the blow.
"Really Fenrir? Really?" Scythe muttered as he lowered his Wire Rifle, the Hunters now too close together for him to get in a shot. "Closing with a hostile who's using enhanced CQC weapons. Great idea..."
< For that matter, Jacqueline's use of Devouring Essence when she's powered by Light seems kinda foolish, too. But what do I know? > Virgil snarked from transmat.
"Screw this." Scythe muttered as he shouldered his Wire Rifle and stepped off the catwalk. He fell for what felt like a hundred feet, only to break his fall with a well-timed Blink. As he hit the floor behind a trophy case, he groaned "My knees. I gotta stop doing that..."
"You don't understan-" Avori began, before being transfixed by the Repetitive Mind's order. The words seemed to be everywhere at once; painfully loud and piercing all corners of his mind. Despite his very best efforts to remain in control, he could feel himself slipping, losing his own mind to the Vex.
As he expended the last of his willpower resisting the Mind, he mentally thanked himself for discarding his knives, before lapsing into the control of the Repetitive Mind. Wasting no time, the Exo launched himself at the Titan standing beside him.
"Gate's open! We have to go now!" Grim shouted, before quickly vanishing away into transmat.
Just as Avori was about to explain, he abruptly cut himself off mid-sentence; something Arxus noticed immediately. The Hunter launched himself at the Titan, likely in some brazen attempt to inflict an easy deathblow; Arxus narrowly evaded, his eyes wide with surprise over the sudden betrayal. "Avori, what are you...-" The Titan cut off his own sentence, as he realized what was going on. The Vex had stopped moving, including the Repetitive Mind that now sat, its massive frame overlooking the two of them. None of the Vex attacked, as if they were already aware of what was supposed to transpire.
Fenrir didn't reply as he continued to trade blows with Jaqueline. With every strike Fenrir made, a little bit of the Essence was vaporized. With every attack Jaqueline parried, a little bit of the voidfire surrounding Void Edge was nullified.
"Why did you come back, Scythe?! I'll just kill you and your friends, and I'll be Kell! As it should be!", Jaqueline mockingly shouted, stepping away from the fight to taunt Scythe. Fenrir took the opportunity to strike as she let her guard down. Far too late, he realised his mistake. Jaqueline immediately brought up her blades into an X, stopping Void Edge dead in its tracks. This was followed by Jaqueline twisting the sword out of Fenrir's grip. Finally, a kick below the belt brought the Hunter to his knees.
"Now watch as I kill your companion, coward-ruler of House Blades.", the Huntress called out as she pushed her left-hand blade against Fenrir's neck.
Thanks to Arxus' timely evasion, Avori's lunge went wide and he tumbled on to the ground behind the Titan. Seeing a brief window of opportunity, Avori's Ghost materialised between the two Guardians.
"Arxus, he's not in control. I think it's got something to do with that thing," the Ghost began, nodding towards Avori's discarded rocket launcher. Behind the Ghost, Avori was already climbing to his feet. "But please, whatever you do, don't kill him. I don't think I'll be able to revive him down-"
Avori backhanded his own Ghost out of the air as he strode towards his target. The construct sailed for several meters before slamming into a wall, and then dematerialising. The possessed Guardian did not appear to bat an eye, being entirely focussed on Arxus.
"Don't kill him... got it." Arxus nodded slowly, realizing the extent of Avori's affliction. Whatever that object was, it had some connection to the Vex; through that, the Mind took control. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, but that was common for him. All Arxus had to figure out now was how to destroy it, or at least get it away from Avori... without Avori killing him first.
"Come on now, Avori. We've been through enough," Arxus spoke, in a futile attempt to get through to him. His gaze settled on the brainwashed Hunter for a few seconds, before he abruptly dived aside, reaching out to grab the Vex device.
Once the Hunter realised Arxus' intent, he suddenly moved with more urgency. Avori threw himself at Arxus to prevent him from reaching the Vex-infused rocket launcher, managing to grab the Titan's leg and drag him a few inches back.
Now within striking range, Avori clasped his hand into a fist and drew back for a punch, while attempting to pin Arxus down with his knee and other hand.
Arxus was caught by his leg, stopped inches away from seizing the device; overextending his arm, he wiggled his fingers in an attempt to grab at it, only to be yanked back by Avori. Pulled onto his back, the Hunter was readying a punch, with the intent to strike hard and fast. Weighing his options, the Titan quickly came up with a plan, even if we wasn't going to like it.
"I'm sorry about this, Avori." Arxus drew back his fist and let it ignite with solar energy; his knuckles crackled and burned, producing light in the darkness of the Vex underworld. With that, he loosed his fist up and towards the Hunter's face; were he to make his mark, it might leave the Hunter dazed. One didn't take a Titan's fist up close and walk away unharmed.
"Actually," Scythe began, "I was thinking that you would finally get the chance to kill me." As Jacqueline's Shock Sword sliced through Fenrir, he muttered "Or not." and dove behind the nearest column. "Virgil, think you can revive him?"
< ...Maybe? I don't know if we're in a Darkness Zone or not, and I have no idea what effects Devouring Essence has in a situation like this. For that matter, where's his Ghost? >
"Fuck fuck fuck..." Scythe growled as he frantically drew his Shrapnel Launcher. While it didn't have the reach of his Wire Rifle, it still offered some distance from Jacqueline's poisoned Shock Blades. "Anywho, I'm guessing that your plan was to take over the Blades." he shouted. "Then what? Profit?"
"It's a meme!" Scythe shouted before he activated his invisibility and stepped out from cover. As the occasional Shock round whizzed past him, he crept from pillar to pillar along the outside of the room. As he moved between another set of pillars, a Shock round struck him and negated his invisibility. "Well, shit." Scythe growled as he opened up with his Shrapnel Launcher. "Virgil, can you open the doors?"
< Why would you want to open them? The halls could be filled with Walkers for all you know! >
(Gah, Wikia and its glitchy notifications - I didn't get a notification about these new posts, and didn't think to check the thread until now. Sorry, Das, for keeping you waiting.)
Avori's head was launched backward by Arxus' punch with speed that would have given any organic creature whiplash. Luckily - or perhaps unluckily, given the situation - the punch didn't do any long-term damage to the Exo. However, in spite of that, Avori was clearly no longer in a position to put up a fight, try though he might.
The Hunter fumbled onto his front and struggled into a disorientated crawl, not toward Arxus but towards his weapons, which lay in a pile behind the enemy lines. Meanwhile, the Vex, realising their double-agent was out of the fight, took aim at the Titan.
The punch was enough to leave the brainwashed Avori disoriented for a time, which left Arxus with enough time to enact his plan; or whatever notion of a plan he had managed to concoct within a few minutes. The Vex began to take aim as the Titan dove for the Vex launcher, and in one seamless motion, picked it up and threw it with all of his Titan strength.
The Repetitive Mind even tried to reach out and grab it, but with the way it had been thrown, it was out of said reach, even for such a massive Vex creature. The Vex-made rocket launcher found its final demise when it sunk into a pool of Radiolarian fluid beneath the thousands of Vex pods. The device cracked apart as it disappeared below the surface.
Moments before the Titan lobbed the launcher away, Avori finally reached his weapons. Though his body ached painfully, he was unable to stop, driven on by the Repetitive Mind. His first move was to grab one of his discarded throwing knives and spin onto his back.
Two things happened then: the Hunter launched the knife in Arxus' direction, and the rocket launcher vanished into the pool of radiolara. Less than a second after the launcher had broken apart, Avori surfaced within his own head, suddenly regaining control from the Mind. He attempted to call a warning to Arxus, but only managed a grunt before collapsing into unconsciousness.
Arxus was slightly surprised that it had been that easy; at this point, he had no plan and was mostly winging it. It was sheer luck that the Repetitive Mind hadn't attacked yet, but there was no telling that the luck would continue. However... a sharp gasp left him soon after. Unable to anticipate the brainwashed hunter's final move, Arxus found a hunter's knife lodged into his shoulder, right on the edge of the pauldron. The shield readout on his HUD dipped immediately, signifying dropping vitals.
The blow, despite winding him from shock, didn't deter him. With what speed he could muster, Arxus swiftly caught Avori in his arms and threw both himself and the Hunter through the open Vex Gate.
Avori's Ghost materialised immediately after the two Guardians emerged from the other end of the time gate. Its shell was visibly cracked from the blow its Guardian had dealt it, but it otherwise functioned fine. After casting a concerned look toward its Guardian, the Ghost turned to the injured Titan.
"Arxus, are you alright? Can you move? Fight?" Avori's Ghost asked.
"Yeah, but only one Walker can fit through at a time, and we need to get Fenrir out of here." Scythe whispered as he stepped forward with both Shock Swords drawn. "So, what's it gonna be, Jackie? You gonna surrender and come back to the City, or am I gonna have to kill you?"
"Sanctus, you there? Sanctus?" Scythe whispered over the comms. Seeing the renegade Huntress disarm herself, he took a step back. "As tempting as that sounds, no." He paused. "Ok, not right now. First, I'm going to find out the why of all this." At that, he drew his Wire Rifle and continued to walk backwards.
Unnoticed by either of them, Virgil had slipped away and now hovered over Fenrir's mortally wounded form. < Think you can handle being transmatted? > he whispered to the Hunter.
As they emerged out the other end of the time gate, they seemed to be back on Mercury. Broken circuitry and low hanging wires decorated the immediate vicinity, suggesting a bunker of some sort. Arxus tumbled out, dropping Avori from his arms as they both hit the floor. The Vex gate closed immediately, not allowing entry back into the Vex Underworld.
The Titan heaved, panting more from diminishing adrenaline levels instead of his own wound. "I'll be all right," Arxus grunted, pushing himself off the broken tile floor. He sat himself upon his knees, catching his breath now. "What about Avori? Is he okay?"
The Ghost pivoted in place to face its Guardian. After briefly scanning the Exo, he surmised: "He'll live. He's got a hell of a headache waiting for him when he wakes, but he should be up in a minute or so."
A moment of silence ensued, during which the Ghost simply looked at his Guardian mournfully. "It's my fault, you know," he said, sadly, "Avori - he couldn't say anything. Whenever he tried, to talk to someone about it, the Vex would just seize control. But me? I never did anything much about it. I should've seen this coming..."
Reaching back, Arxus grabbed the knife by the handle; yanking it upwards with a pained grunt, he tossed it aside and watched the weapon clatter against the floor. The brief intensity of his pain caused the Titan to hunch over, though tension eased as Grim adminstered painkillers.
"Trying to pit us against each other... sounds like someone else we knew," Arxus commented. "The Mind could have had control this entire time. Everything up to this point could have just been another one of their simulations." The Titan paused for a second, before he tried to stand up. "No one could have seen it coming. Don't be so hard on yourself."
(So, Das, Death of the Outsider releases tomorrow. Are you going to get it?)
"He's had that thing for three months now," the Ghost replied. "Jules and Cayde looked at me as if I was mad when I tried to mention it, and after that I just gave up. I should have at least done something myself..."
At that moment, Avori suddenly awoke, instantly clutching his head with a pained expression. He seemed groggy at first, but slowly regained his bearings.
"What... happened?" he groaned, before his eyes widened, and he adopted a much more alert tone. "Shit, Arxus, I'm sorry! I didn't mean to... I wasn't in control."
( I haven't even finished Dishonored 2! I'm so behind right now- but yeah, I'm going to get it eventually. )
"Whatever it was, it's gone now." At least, Arxus hoped it was. He wasn't too sure if dropping that thing in Vex milk would do much of anything, but he had to act fast regardless.
Seconds later, Avori stirred awake, confused and then alarmed soon after. Arxus waved his hand dismissively; he seemed awfully cavalier about, quite literally, being stabbed in the back. "Believe me, I know."
The Titan carefully trudged over towards one of the exit doors; it was a heavy duty door, one that would only open through a control console. Unfortunately, the console was currently sparking; a foot-wide gash had cut through the circuitry with ease.
(Ah, well I'll refrain from spoiling either of the games then. How far are you through Dishonored 2?)
Avori stopped to consider for a moment, but he was still clearly rattled. "Alright, we need to find a way out of here. Then, I'm finding a way off-world and getting as far away from Mercury as I can. I'd only jeopradise the mission if I stayed."
"It isn't going to be that easy. Whoever was here last slashed the door controls." As Arxus said this, he gestured towards a console adjacent to the door, and it looked as though it had been ripped through by a steady swing of blades. The Titan placed a hand to his chin in thought now, contemplating other ways out of the room.
His gaze was brought upwards eventually, noting how light was filtering in from the ceiling; sunlight.
(Nearly finished, then. Are you playing low chaos? And have you played the DLCs for Dishonored beforehand?)
"Hmmm," Avori said, inspecting the gashes. "Sirens. Musta been - none of the others use blades. Why would they mark up their own tech, though?"
"You're assuming it was the Vex," Avori's Ghost pointed out. "We've got no reason to rule out the other races."
Ignoring his pedantic Ghost, Avori traced Arxus' gaze to the ceiling, where sunlight seeped into the room through cracks in the Vex stone. "Where there's light, there's a way out," Avori noted. "We're going to need to widen that gap if we hope to squeeze out, though..."
Eerily calm, Fenrir turned his head to face Virgil and silently acknowledged the Ghost's request with a nod. He continued by pointing towards a nearby roof ledge and gesturing towards his back, where Stillpiercer was strapped in place. The Hunter finished his little charade by throwing his arm in Jaqueline's direction, who in turn was now wildly shouting.
"There never was a why! A poor leader needed a replacement. For the Traveler's sake, you taught our Prime to watch some centuries-old TV show!"
(High chaos, no powers. And I bought the Definitive Edition of Dishonored a few months before I got Dishonored 2, so I played through Knife of Dunwall and Brigmore Witches.)
"Could have been Hive Knights. Cleavers could make the same marks." Arxus quickly dismissed the thought, seeing as it didn't matter what caused the damage. "You got a rocket launcher on you-... right. Nevermind."
Stamping the ground, the Titan lifted himself from the floor and up onto the rafters above them. The hole was only a foot wide, enough to allow sunlight to bathe the otherwise dark interior.
"So?" Scythe grunted. "He asked me to find him a boxed set. You don't say no to a Prime Servitor!" He paused a beat. "Screw this." he muttered as he quickly lined up a shot with his Wire Rifle and pulled the trigger.
< If you insist... > Virgil muttered as he warped Fenrir into transmat. Depositing the Hunter on the requested ledge, he began to tend his wounds. < Sanctus? You there? >