Frontier – Act03 Chapter09 – Higher Ground

Chapter 9: Higher Ground

Venus

“I shouldn’t have to say it again.” piped up Vatyr.

“I’m betting you will anyway.” groaned Telemica.

“Indeed I will!” feigning indigence this time with a slap on the knee. “This is a bad idea.”

“Pray tell, which part of the plan you are referring to?” asked Solas. “The concept of stealing a huge interstellar ship filled with Fallen elite? The fact that it is just the three of us alone and with no backup attempting this madness?”

“Nope. None of that bothers me in the slightest.” corrected Vatyr. “It’s the halo drop. I hate drops.” The small transport shuddered slightly to flavour his comments as it broke through the highest layers of the planet’s thick atmosphere. Before the Golden Age, Venus was covered in a dense fog caused by a runaway greenhouse effect. Terraforming efforts over hundreds of years made Venus hospitable to life of a more human variety. While you could now see the surface from orbit, that didn’t ease Vatyr’s nerves at all.

“I’ll never understand how an Awoken could be afraid of heights.” teased Telemica.

“We don’t make a habit out of jumping out of our ships and dropping tens of thousands of meters.” rebuked Vatyr, checking his armour’s seals for the fourth time. “It’s bad for your health.”

The ketch’s location was originally discovered via an old mine entrance, but subsequent incursions have forced the Fallen to heavily fortify that route. There was no chance for three guardians to pass through undetected. Stealth and speed would be key, as the target could literally fly away at any moment. While the idea for a low-orbit drop directly to the hull was Solas’, Telemica was all too eager to enact it. Optical camouflage would hide their decent from upward eyes and Solas would utilize some intricate arc light to catch them on landing.

A blinking yellow light in the hold notified them that the air was being vented out, which changed to a solid red as the rear door opened. Fireteam Warden stood in single file as Venus filled their view, her curvature and terminus proclaiming her majesty. Telemica wanted to take point, but as Solas was the only thing keeping this trip from ending prematurely, he stood in front.

The red light began to blink. Once. Twice. Thrice. Green light. Training took over and three guardians gave themselves to gravity.

Being exactly on-target was beyond critical for the team’s survival, not to mention the mission’s success, so each ghost took over the body positioning and micro-controls of each guardian’s armour. Wisp, Glitch and Squire had to put them down mere meters from each other, which was a task not possible without their immense computational capabilities.

Vatyr and Solas couldn’t hear it, but were certain of the terrifying grin that must now be on Telemica’s face.

As soon as the trio broke through cloud cover, small strapped-on packs on their chests opened up and thin meshes of optical filaments deployed to cover their fronts, mimicking the view of the sky behind the descending warriors and rendering them at least partially invisible. Vatyr could have used his armour’s cloaking systems, but as he was now unable to see himself falling faster than the speed of sound, he found he actually calmed a bit.

Of course, Solas could see through the mesh. Wisp gave him the landing target that the three ghosts would put the guardians down on through their neural interface, but it was up to the warlock to land them safely.

5000 meters. 4000 meters. 3000 meters. Solas began to form arc light bubbles around his team, weaving magnetic lines through them and the metallic body of the ketch below.

2000 meters. 1000 meters. The team screamed past the point where parachutes would have worked if they had them. The bubbles began to coalesce. The camo mesh burned away as the shells became nearly opaque, but Vatyr still got a quick view of the rapidly approaching landing site, sending his heart into his throat.

500 meters. 100 meters. The guardians could feel their skin ignite with arc light as their armour did all it could to keep them from blacking out due to rapid deceleration.

  1. 10. 1. Three solid balls of lightning touched down like feathers on the hull of the massive ship, then vanished quickly as they grounded out along the hull. Touchdown.

No time to think or breathe. The three ghosts materialized and quickly cut a hole in the hull as the guardians ran quick diagnostics, made sure they were not spotted and armed themselves.

A round slab of hull was silently levitated out and Vatyr bent down inverted into the hole, Heaven Can Wait hand cannon raised. As expected, they were right over a service gantry. No guards. Vatyr dropped in silently, followed by his team.

Glitch zoomed over quickly to an interface panel and hacked in. “No alarms triggered. I’m tapped in, but I can’t take control from here.” The other two ghosts replaced the hull plate so the intrusion wouldn’t be obvious. “I’ve got the layout.” she said as she displayed it holographically for the team. “Command and control is in the centre of the ship, engineering is closer to the engines and the hangar is on the ventral side.” Icons appeared to represent their locations.

“The Pra-Kell will be in C&C and the subprime servitor will be in engineering. If either one tips the other off to the attack, we’re finished. They’ll need to be attacked simultaneously, which means we’ll have to split up.” said Telemica as icons for those targets were placed. “I’ll go after the Pra-Kell. Solas, you can match any servitor. Vatyr you’ll need to back him up.”

“Sure thing, but what about the Pra-Kell’s guards and other Fallen” asked Vatyr.

“I have a plan. Take control of engineering as quickly as you can, then come back me up.” said Telemica with calm confidence as she summoned her Suros Regime auto rifle.

Vatyr nodded. The three ghosts reintegrated into their guardians, and with a quick nod between them, the fireteam began their journey deeper into the Fallen ship.

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