Chapter 6: Battaglia
Old Italy, Western Sicily
“We’ve got incoming!” hollered Telemica. Vatyr and Solas could sense the familiar excitement in her voice. Of course Telemica’s focus was the safety of the refugees, but she savoured combat like others enjoyed fine food or drink. She quickly posted herself by the front doors as others created whatever barricades they could. The sleek form of a Suros Regime auto rifle formed in her hands.
Vatyr leaped up on to a thick wooden beam in the centre of the ceiling. Taking a crouching position, he motioned for his A.1F19X-Ryl scout rifle to appear in one hand and Glitch to materialize in the other. “I’m going to need as many swarm grenades as you can give me. Devote all the armour resources to it except for the cloak.” he commanded as he faded from sight. Glitch began to zoom around the open space of the hall, depositing exploding nanobots that would swarm upon any Hive in proximity. In a few short seconds the space was filled with nearly a hundred of the small buzzing points of light.
Solas readied his hand cannon Heaven Can Wait and took up a defensive position behind the altar and pulled the mysterious girl under it. “Stay here.” He said shortly.
“I can help!” protested the girl, even as the sounds of approaching Hive intensified.
Solas paused for a moment. “Yes. You can. Just not here or now. For now it is my place to protect you. Will you allow that?” he asked with a hand on her shoulder. Solas didn’t yet understand the intricacies of it, but he knew this little soul was at the centre of all this, and had been for a longer time than just this night.
“Yes.” The girl sighed in resignation. “Please. Thank you.”
The screams from outside stopped as the front door suddenly bucked hard. Trigger fingers applied pressure. Muscles tensed. Breathing stopped.
Stained glass and wood exploded from the sides of the room as thralls leaped into the chamber. Their cries were short lived as they were shredded by a cloud of buzzing swarm grenades. Glitch continued to zip around the air, replenishing what she could.
The front door bucked again and a sense of panic began to rise. “There are far more demons out there than other nights!” cried one of the armed men, his flight instincts overpowering his fighting sense. Another slam against the door. It would soon give out.
“Look to the guardians, my children! They will keep us safe!” announced the Matriarch to her kin. Telemica took the queue and raised a fist into the air, charging it with a burst of solar light that spread over her body as she let out a bloody roar. She knew many of these people would die tonight, but if any were to survive, they needed to have hope first. Giving her troops hope was something Lady Magna was renowned for.
The door exploded into tinder as the hulking form of rage known as a Hive Knight entered the chapel, leading a flood of acolytes and thralls. Telemica leaped out from behind the battlements and sundered the knight’s armoured skull with a massive light-charged flying haymaker punch. The knight crumpled and evaporated as Telemica landed and began to unload on the others.
“Fight! The night will be ours!” bellowed Telemica. A hail of bullets joined hers as more Hive poured through the doorway. Squire materialized and began pulsing charges of arc light into the wall of enemies, hoping to impress his goddess of war.
Vatyr supported Telemica with precision fire from his perch, but he knew Glitch’s efforts to cover the area with swarming nanobots would give out soon. Thralls entered the fray via blown windows as fast as the holes would allow.
From the rear, Solas’ massive hand cannon rounds helped to hold the space as his warlock mind raced. He could see that the Hive were being attracted to something, but he couldn’t sense what. Normally his sight, which pierced the veils between this reality and others, could spot such a thing instantly, but he could find nothing. The only oddity was the child, who seemed to be encased in a cloak of nothing. Not invisible, but a vacuum of existence. No light or darkness seemed to interact with her.
Before Solas could continue that train of thought, a Hive Wizard ripped its way into the spacetime above the altar and dove down. At Solas? No, he realized. He dropped his weapon and brought his hands up, slamming his void light against the darkness of the intruder. When a wizard and a warlock dueled each other, it was a battle of titanic minds wielding the essences of universes, rather than tools throwing bullets and explosives. They didn’t attempt to simply destroy each other, but unexist their foe.
Solas had engaged in such duels before, but this wizard was different. Its mind was deeper and blacker than anything the warlock had encountered before. Massive. So deep and cold it appeared limitless. Energies spiraled between the two but the wizard was closing in. A skittering laugh came from the monster, as if to taunt the Exo’s inevitable failure.
Knights burst through the walls that once held the main doors and slammed into forward barricades, forcing Telemica to throw up a barrier of light. It would hold but not for long. The refugees cowered within the bubble, expending the last of their ammo. Vatyr’s swarm grenades had been used up and Glitch had retreated back into the hunter’s armour, exhausted. Vatyr switched to his Defiant Gravity-A machine gun, and used an ammo synthesis module, but his reserves would not hold long.
“Enough!” screamed the little girl. Solas suddenly noticed she was bravely standing beside him, holding the hand cannon he dropped with both her hands. As she pointed it at the wizard, the gun appeared immense in her small hands. Surely firing it would snap her wrists, but before Solas could protest, she pulled the trigger.
Everything went white.