Frontier – Act05 Chapter16 – Weapon of Choice

Chapter 16: Weapon of Choice

Vatyr slowly roused from a deep slumber and into a world of pain. His tiger-orange eyes blinked slowly and dryly at his surroundings while his sluggish mind attempted to recall the events of the previous evening. He pieced it together, step by step.

He was horizontal. A couch. He’s woken up on couches in the past. Nothing new. His left hand hung over the side, weakly hanging on to a large and empty bottle that at one point must have been full of something strong and promising. His right arm was pinned under something warm, smooth and sweet-smelling. Though the sunlight flowing in through the window was like daggers in his eyeballs, he could make out the lithe and naked form of a woman. Right. Blonde. Red dress. She was wearing a red dress last night. They danced. They drank. They did everything they could do to feel alive.

It was hard, these days. Life was a precious and tenuous thing. It could all end at any moment. It almost did, and what made that happen was coming back. So, what did people without the power to fight beyond the walls do? They fought the darkness within. They laughed. They loved. They lived as brightly as they could.

He slowly unwrapped himself from her sleeping embrace and rolled off the couch. He massaged the back of his neck where the sigil of the Cryptarchs was tattooed. After letting the room stop spinning, he took a more detailed look at his surroundings. An apartment. Ultra-modern and utilitarian, there was very little in the room. There were other people, strewn around the floor. All sleeping the sleep born of a raucous night that was slowly coming back to Vatyr’s memory. A clicking over in the corner told him there was someone else awake. Slowly turning, he pieced together who owned the space.

“Look who’s back from the dead.” Cayde-6 said softly as he filled out reports on his terminal, knowing anything even remotely loud would be like taking a hammer to Vatyr’s fragile head. “It’s over there.” he said as he pointed to something in the corner.

Vatyr smiled weakly. He slowly gathered his clothing and redressed in the scents of the nightlife. Liquor. Smoke. Perfume. Sex. Walking over to the corner that Cayde pointed to, he picked up a large, long case. Within was Vatyr’s most devastating weapon. His most powerful tool. Glitch swooped over from Cayde’s desk, no doubt after a full night of talking to Cayde’s ghost about whatever ghosts talk about when their guardians slumber. Vatyr made it over to the desk to quickly down a cup of strong tea that awaited him, put a thanking hand on the Exo’s shoulder, and found his way out the door.

The sun was already high in the sky as Vatyr’s boots found pavement. Many veteran guardians had private residences in the City, and Cayde’s was high above the City’s largest bazaar. People were already deep into a normal busy day, pushing past carts, pushing their wears, pushing to survive. The sounds and sights and smells were almost too much for the hungover Awoken, but the fog and pain was rapidly lifting as Glitch tweaked his chemistry.

Winding his way through the throng of life, Vatyr browsed, purchased and just breathed it all in. These people were the blood of the city, coursing through its busy streets. Hunters often cracked under the weight of their self-imposed exile, and veterans like Vatyr found that reconnecting to the people and places that they were protecting kept them sane. A cup of coffee. Some fruit. Buttered bread. A raw egg and some smoked meat. By the time Vatyr found his destination, his belly was full and his head was clear.

Vatyr found this corner years ago. The Traveler hung overhead but never fully blocked the summer sun. Buildings carried echoes of the City through some sort of acoustical leyline. A wooden crate sat there for what seemed like forever, not labeled and seemingly full of nothing. He leaned his weapon’s long case on the mortar wall, sat on the crate and drank in everything his senses could catch.

People noticed Vatyr pass through the crowds and followed him. When he reached his corner and paused, they paused with him. They stood still, or sat on anything they could to be comfortable, awaiting the guardian to unleash his devastating weapon upon them. In time he picked up his case, sat on the crate and opened it on his lap.

The six-string lute was a deep lacquer and glowed like fire in the warm noon sun. There was an almost audible inhale as the people saw it, knowing what it could do in the guardian’s uncanny hands. Vatyr tuned his weapon, the sound drawing more people in until the alley corner was impassable. They knew Vatyr not for his skill in battle or the brightness of his light, but for his work in rediscovering the music of ages past. While others logged and studied in dark rooms, he gave music to the air, stones and people. This was his corner. This was his crate. The most powerful and devastating weapon of the Awoken guardian known as Vatyr S’Jet was a simple wooden lute with six organic strings.

He played. His songs told stories to the people. Some songs were happy tales that inspired the audience to sing along and dance and laugh. Other songs were ballads filled to bursting with sorrow, driving some to weep openly with broken hearts. Glitch offered some slight accompaniments at times, but often she simply listened and embraced the music along with the people.

Vatyr played all day and into the night made bright by candle and moon. He took breaks. Time to stretch. Time to talk. Time to eat and drink with the people. Time to enjoy the sight the full moon above with the people he loved and the people who loved him in return. He reminded them that life was not worth the effort if it was just about survival. One must feel everything possible to make everything worth anything. It amused him in a melancholy way to think that a dead man who saved the world on a regular basis reminded the living why life was worth the effort with music from a lute, but deep in the throes of a heart-tugging performance, it didn’t seem silly at all.

In time, morning came. The crowd had dwindled to a memory, and the bard made his way home to rest and reflect.

Exotic Concepts #4: Double Dragon

Here’s another exotic weapon picture that comes from the bowels of the interwebz:

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Ah, yes. Dual-wielding. I still remember the crowd’s reaction when Bungie showed the Master Chief holding two SMGs in Halo 2. It was a palpable excitement over really nothing at all when you break it down. People love it. Dual lightsabers in Star Wars, dual pistols in Hard Boiled… it’s just cool. Why not have a dual-wield exotic?

Firstly, I love the idea that the dual-wielding option is not something you get right out of the box. Then I started thinking about all the steps people had to go through to get Necrochasm, and regardless of how panned the final weapon has been, people were eager to work hard towards that goal. Not wanting to delve into how RNG fails at Bungie’s intent that armour and weapons would show off achievements, how could we make the procurement of the Double Dragon unique?

Double Dragon would always be found as either one of two legendary hand cannons: Ball Lightning (arc) or Flare Thrower (solar). You’d get them as randomly as you would any other legendary and would have normal but solid legendary stats. Ball lightning’s static perk would be Hip Fire while Flare Thrower’s would be Firefly. Again, they’d be very good legendaries (the kind that make top 5 lists) but just that.

Things would get interesting once you’ve leveled one hand cannon completely up. Oh, look. Something is waiting at the postmaster for you. What’s this? An exotic bounty? Seems this awesome gun I just finished upgrading has an equally awesome counterpart out there, and this bounty will lead me on some grand quest to reunite them!

You’d go on this quest, acquire the other hand cannon at some point during it, fully upgrade that weapon and then complete the bounty in some grand fashion that involves using them both in an up-leveled Dust Palace strike to kill the light-corresponding Mind Flayer.

Suddenly, you get a new exotic. Double Dragon. You’d retain the individual weapons as legendaries because it would be silly to keep you from using them individually if you wanted to. A good legendary weapon is by no means something to just throw aside, especially after you went through all the trouble to upgrade them.

So you’ve got Double Dragon. What does it do? First and foremost, it would be the only weapon to do two kinds of damage in alternating shots. As two guns, one still shoots arc and the other still shoots solar. I think it would have a pretty fast rate of fire since it’s really two hand cannons for the price of one. In fact, the stats would obviously get a general boost to line it up with other exotics.

There’s also the reload. Why would this be of interest? Well, your guardian uses his/her free hand to reload a hand cannon, so what do we do when there’s another gun in that hand that also needs fresh ammo? Games in the past have just dropped the guns from view, but that’s pretty lazy. I think Double Dragon’s revolver mags should snap out as they do now, but the left hand gun would snap in the opposite direction, so both mags would be towards the chest. Then, instead of a physical mag being swapped out, the mag could vent out energy before being snapped back home.

Perks. The primary perk would be “Third Eye” as homage to Inspector Tequila and other great scenes where the hero spins around with pistols in each hand. I’d also like to see the “Lightweight” and “Field Scout” perks make appearances to keep with the theme. The unique perk, “Double Dragon” would combine the two static perks from the formative hand cannons (“hip fire” and “firefly”) which I think would be pretty potent but not overly so for an exotic.

Thoughts? I got a lot of people poking at the last Exotic Concept I posted over various social media and I loved all the interaction (though if it were centralized in this blog’s comments you guys could interact with each other as well)! Keep it up!

Next concept? Armour!

Exotic Concepts #3: Phobos Buster

Here’s an exotic rifle concept image I found:

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I’m actually looking forward to a Cabal-themed raid, and this has all the markings of a big raid exotic ala Vex Mythoclast. Scout rifles are pretty popular and they’re my favourite primary weapon type.

My concept for this weapon is something you’d find in the middle of a venn diagram between scout rifles, sniper rifles and fusion rifles. It would spin-up the same way as a fusion rifle, fire a single hard-hitting shot like a sniper but be classified as a scout due to primary status and usefullness at closer ranges. Firing rate would be akin to a very fast fusion rifle (a hair faster than FWC’s The Calming). This would all add up to a unique weapon that would be built to melt bullet-sponges right out of the box.

That’s about all I’m going to get from the pic. Frankly the Surplus perk is fairly useless at the best of times. “Psion Buster” is obviously the artist’s idea of a raid-specific perk, but you wouldn’t find those on exotics. Armour-piercing rounds would be great if the weapon we were dealing with fired faster. Void damage makes no sense for a Cabal weapon. We’re outside the box already, let’s stay outside.

My favourite strike mission is The Dust Palace, as it has the most exciting final encounter, a lack of big singular bullet-sponges and the main targets use all three types of polarized shields. That last point requires some unique loadout thinking for a strike. In honour of that strike, I’d like this very unique weapon to be able to put out all three damage types. That alone will make it a must-have.

Beyond optics and secondary perks which I don’t really like to specify, we’re left with the primary and unique perk. The pic calls the unique perk “Bust A Move” which sounds like a movement perk and the icon tells nothing. We’re not going in that direction.

For the primary perk, I’d like to add another circle to the aforementioned venn diagram. Rocket Launcher. “Quantum Munitions” will act much like an enhanced firefly or Ice Breaker, as well as explosive rounds. Hits with this weapon cause a 3-meter kinetic explosion around the target, while kills will trigger a 7-meter explosion dependent on the damage type in use.

With the unique perk, it’s best to look at why this weapon is called the Phobos Buster. Phobos is the Martian moon that the Cabal have wrangled much closer to the planet. The warlocks believe it’s being held there by the Psion Flayers who intend to use it as a weapon. In the strike mission where you encounter them, the three Flayers each had a different polarized shield, so why not give Guardians the same option? The perk “Quantum barrier” would apply an overshield after each kill, polarized to the damage type in use.

The usefulness in PvE situations can’t be understated, but its effectiveness in the Crucible requires a lot of skill and observation, specifically observing what weapons one’s opponents are using and tracking any common damage types. If you notice that your foes are using more arc light than anything else, switching to arc light and getting a barrier up will give you a sizable defensive advantage.

What do you think? Would you use this weapon? Does it balance out?

Always looking for more exotics ideas from readers. I’d specifically like to get some armour items suggested!

Reign of Terror!!! 10.5 K/d!!!

Wow! Both firsts for me. I just had to share it. I tried to record a commentary with ShareFactory but the stock PlayStation headphones didn’t pick up enough for it to work.

This time you see me rock a Suros Regime. Perhaps my favorite weapon in the game.

How did I pull this off? Check out my tips HERE!

Frontier Update #4 – Trials and Tribulations

First update of 2015! Today I turn the ripe old age of 32 and I’ve gotta say we’re chugging along nicely. I figured it’s as good as time as any to connect to my readers and share.

First and foremost, THANK YOU!!!

Thank you for the reads, clicks and subscriptions. I put a few hours of my life into this blog every week and while the process is its own reward, I can’t be more thankful for your readership and dedication.

Blogs like this are kind of a bygone medium in gaming culture since everyone famous in the Destiny fanbase is on Youtube and Twitch. I’d consider doing the same but my rig died on me a few months back and I have not had the change to rebuild so video editing isn’t possible at the moment.

That all said it’s been a challenge getting the word out about this thing. I’ve found what groups I can on facebook and I’m bugging who I can over Twitter (even going so far as to use Hootsuite to schedule tweets). I’ve also been copying Frontier chapters over to FanFiction.net for those who read stuff there (dug up my old account and found a Naruto fanfic I once worked on. Nostalgic…).

Let’s talk about the fiction! We’ve got acts 03 and 04 out in the wild and the response has been generally positive.

In a fashion, these two acts are meant to play off each other and push at the boundaries of the world. Act 03 was engineered to show fireteam Warden in a win scenario while 04 has them defeated. While I’m sure Bungie wants you to believe that your personal character in the game is capable of saving the world all on his/her own, that’s just not reasonable or feasible from a storytelling perspective like mine. You’ll find that I’ll be taking great care to balance virtue with flaw, ability with limitation.

Act 03 was born out of perhaps the hundredth time I ran the Winter’s Run strike. It’s one that I enjoy more than others. As my friends and I were chatting and we came around that corner to see Winter’s ketch just sitting there it just dawned on me that after we kill this Archon Priest that Cayde-6 seems so concerned about, maybe we should swing back and take the ship! I mean, we did kill off a sizable chunk of the crew as well as their Kell in a story mission, right? The story just snowballed from there.

I wanted to expand not on the guardian powersets, but on their use and implementation. It’s beholden on me to see what limitations the story imposes versus what limitations the game mechanics do. I think that’s very important to differentiate going forward, and play a bit with concepts. My understanding of the lore, science and fantasy/superhero storytelling lets me do this easily.

There was also a Vault of Glass run where everyone in the party screamed “GUARDIANS MAKE THEIR OWN FATE!” during Time’s Vengeance, which is an in-game message you get telling you basically to hit Atheon with everything you got. That inspired chapter 08, which was purely a lead-in to the rest of the act but needed to be interesting on its own. Lastly, some creative feedback I got from some friends let me know that it may have been difficult to get a grasp on Telemica’s character, so during this act I let her sensibilities shine through as much as possible.

Act 04 was definitely the hardest act to write thus far. Writing action scenes is certainly not something I feel proficient in yet and I surprise myself when things actually come out somewhat coherent. Small scenes I can handle, but I needed this scene to feel big and chaotic. Supplying enough detail without it getting verbose was a delicate balancing act that required me to reference some other works. Chapter 14 took a lot longer than usual to draft and even longer before I felt comfortable posting. Oddly enough, I’ve gotten some feedback that it was my best chapter yet, so perhaps all that fretting counted for something.

At this point we’re fast-approaching a multi-act story arc that I have planned which will compose the core story I want to tell. I have three more acts to get out there and then you may not see anything for a while. Consider it a sabbatical of sorts. I assure you that I will be working on stuff, but for my own sanity I need to take the time to make it right. I hit the ground running when this blog launched but I feel that if I rush through this next phase of the story chapter to chapter, it’ll suffer for it. I’ll do my best to post other stuff along with updates and I hope you’ll understand.

Speaking of the other stuff, we started two new segments on the blog! Exotic Concepts and (soon to launch) Lore Breakdown (title may need some work).

Exotic Concepts is a fun little exercise where we come up with new exotic weapons and armour. I say “we” because after I posted the first one, I got great responses from readers who had their own ideas for exotics and wanted me to give those ideas a full and proper treatment. I have quite a few of them being drafted and they’ll be coming out soon.

Lore Breakdown will involve me basically decoding grimoire cards into lore that can be easily digested. Is Crota really the “son” of Oryx? What makes the Vex so much more dangerous than the other aliens? I have not quite figured out exactly how I want to present these, but while I do, please let me know what parts of the lore you’d like explained. The segment will be that much better if I’m answering questions you have, rather than questions I think you may have.

There are also the random other posts I throw up. Some are actually about the game and what’s going on with that. Others are videos of Cap and I playing in the Crucible. I try and present a variety of content if possible. If there’s anything you’d like to see, let me know and hopefully I can make it happen. I try not to do the same news as everyone else (supposed leaks, patch news and such) because I get the feeling you don’t need or want yet another source of that stuff. Still, if you’re looking for my personal take on such things, I can be easily compelled to start covering news.

There’s also Twitch gameplay. I’m curious if any of my readers would be interested in playing and engaging with me live. I can put out notifications over Twitter and maybe record and post the sessions if I can figure out how to get the voice to capture. Let me know if you’d like this to be a thing.

PAX East is coming up at the beginning of March. I don’t expect anything Destiny-related to be there but I’m hoping there will be. I may just go completely off the rails and become a general gaming blog for that weekend.

Oh yeah, I still play the game from time to time. I try and complete all the weekly content and I’m still seeking a Hawkmoon, Vex Mythoclast and a MIDA Multi-tool. I’ve mostly focused on my lv31 warlock due to time constraints and I’ve just bought a FWC bond for him.

I don’t get a lot of links from search engines and such, which means this blog’s humble popularity is mostly thanks to word of mouth. If this was Youtube I’d ask you to like and subscribe for free stuff, but that’s not really possible for me in this format. Still, I’d really appreciate it if you spread the word about this thing that I do. Hopefully someday I can figure out how to give back in a more tangible way. I may not always openly ask for feedback, but it’s always more than welcome. Each and every comment fills my heart with joy and gets my utmost attention, so please feel free to engage me.

That should be pretty much it. Fingers on triggers, keep moving.

Frontier – Act04 Chapter15 – Consequences

Chapter 15: Consequences

Earth
The Tower

Solas stood oddly rigid at the foot of a long holo-glass meeting table. The room was mostly empty except for the table at the centre of the room, 12 simple plastic chairs around it, and a few monitors on the three otherwise stark walls. The fourth wall along the long side of the table was a window which looked out over the city. Ikora Rey peered out through the window while Zavala Tzu gave Solas a full dressing down.

“In all my years of command I’ve never seen such an astounding disregard for objectives. Your mission was to protect the assets! Scientists and site. Now all we have to show for all those months of work are bodies to bury, lost guardians and perhaps the most important location on Mars just handed over to the Cabal!

“Sir.” Solas said. Ikora was not sure if he was agreeing, trying to interject something or simply proving he was still listening. The last option put a bit of a grin on her face, which grew ever so slightly each time he said it.

“Do you have any idea what you simply handed to the enemy? I sure don’t, because all of our best minds were still trying to crack the place!” Zavala growled. Commander Tzu was a lion. Normally a calm and collected creature, his roar put a primal fear into most beings that prized their own survival.

“Sir.” Solas wondered if Cayde was similarly laying into Vatyr or if they were just sharing drinks and stories again.

“We’re still picking up stray guardians from the surface as they pop up, and each time we have to engage the Cabal inside a new exclusion zone that we have yet to crack. You’re the one who told them to scatter and fend for themselves. Do you think that was a good call? Do you think that puts us in a good position? We’re still cleaning up your mess days later, warlock!”

“Sir.” Solas hadn’t heard about Telemica surfacing yet, but he’d been in debrief almost the entire time.

Zavala slammed his fist hard on the table. In front of him were reports depicting the details of the defeat. Before he could continue, a message popped up on the glass just under his still-clenched fist. The commander let out an audible deep breath and got up. “They’ve found Telemica. She’s in critical but Squire kept her alive.” he said to neither warlock in particular before exiting the room.

Solas’ stance relaxed an almost imperceptible degree at the news. The warlock pair let the news hang in the air for a few minutes, neither moving, neither needing to.

“Even if she died, Squire would have been able to recreate her.” Solas noted.

“Titans see death as equal parts insult and defeat. Pulling back from the brink of death is an important state of being for them. It shows their tenacity. Their elan.” Ikora said as Solas joined her for the view. “You did the right thing, my friend, and in the right way. Zavala knows that, but when control of the situation breaks down so much and so quickly, he sees it as a personal failure. When the exclusion zone shifted and cut him out of contact from what he knew would be a dire situation… He’s not angry at you so much as he’s angry at himself.”

“Suspension.” Solas said. He didn’t have eyes, but Ikora knew him well enough to know he was looking far below at the life down on the street. He was looking at the reason for his existence.

“Yes. Fireteam Warden is suspended pending the completion of the investigation and any further reprimands or punishment, which I am sure won’t be needed. Just give it a few weeks to blow over. Consider it an unscheduled sabbatical. ”

Ikora put a hand on Solas’ shoulder, “I’m glad you made it out, old man.”

Frontier – Act04 Chapter14 – Death From Above

Chapter 14: Death From Above

Mars
The Black Garden
50 minutes later

Unlike Fallen houses that often warred against each other, Cabal formations all served the same empire. While their specializations and differing missions gave the impression that they were isolated from each other, you need only give them a target big enough to know your dire error.

50 minutes ago, the entirety of the Black Garden expedition was beginning to evacuate. Vatyr was just greenlighting the first transports to lift off when dozens of hypersonic booms shattered the sky. Leaving quickly and while under fire was always something the scientists and soldiers had in the back of their head and were prepped to do, but they probably didn’t expect to be doing it while the sky was falling.

Siege Dancer orbital drop pods descended well beyond terminal velocity thanks to heavy heat shielding, acceleration thrusters (as opposed to the deceleration thrusters one would sanely expect) and fanatical soldiers inside. The jet-black pods slammed into the ground and walls within the Black Garden, incinerating some and burying others under synthstone debris. Almost all of the Cabal survived, much to Vatyr’s surprise, and were all too eager to climb out of their metal tombs and kill anything that was not one of them.

Shock and awe. That’s all Vatyr could think of as he loaded another magazine into his scout rifle. Hunkering down behind a chunk of broken wall, he tried not to be too impressed with the creatures trying to blow him up with volleys of micro-RPGs.

They may have had the element of surprise, but it’s difficult to surprise a group of super-powered soldiers that have all died a few times. Guardians engaged the Cabal shock troops head-on, allowing the regular military forces to extract what scientists and equipment remained. Fireteams worked together to isolate the hulking aliens and create avenues of escape to reach the transports in other sections of the Garden.

A pair of warlocks slowly advanced, wreathed in solar light and lashing at the heavy shields of the Cabal intruders with solar flares. Long whips of plasma extended punishment with sweeping waves of their hands, cutting their foes to ribbons. A small group of hunters took up residence within a small cave in a high moss-covered wall, firing sniper rounds and tossing out swarm grenades to keep the Cabal harassed.

More booms from above. Another wave. More shooting stars bringing fire and death. Their landings obliterated whatever was in their way, friend or foe. A mighty titan thought he was protected under his dome of void light, and probably didn’t have time to feel regret as the defense of his armour barely slowed the incoming projectile. A Cabal colossus roared as he poured death into the hunter’s cave with his heavy slug thrower.

Vatyr could see the last transport lift off once the drop pods subsided. As he signaled for the other guardians to take up more defensive positions and dig in, cannons thundered from over the high ridge behind him, sending huge tracers along the bow of the last personnel carrier. Shields buckled and armour sizzled but the pilot at the stick kept his head, pulling the ship away from the anti-aircraft fire.

Jumping to a higher perch, Vatyr could just make out where the shots came from. The Blind Legion imperial land tank had arrived. No reinforcements would make it through now.

“Sorry I am late. We ran into some Vex along the way and had to take an alternative route. The crew I was guarding was on that last transport.” spoke Solas over comms. Vatyr turned around just in time to see a massive void light explosion rip apart a handful of Cabal soldiers molecule by molecule. “Sitrep.”

“The main Cabal force is here! Where’s Telemica?” asked Vatyr as he scanned the skies.

“We will have to locate her later. For now we have to take control of the situation.”

Vatyr made it to ground and cut a path to Solas. “Take control? The Black Garden is lost to us, Solas. We have to get everyone out of here! We can’t hold against a land tank and a few thousand elite Cabal soldiers!”

With the processing speed of an Exo and the unfathomable depths of a warlock, Solas’ mind quickly assessed the situation. The rolling superfortress was an extinction-level weapon in its own right and would be fully on top of them in minutes, not to mention the dozens of other armoured assets and most of the Blind Legion, one of the most dangerous Cabal formations. There were only around 20 guardians in the Garden with no anti-armour backup, and were having enough trouble with a few dozen Siege Dancers. “You’re right.”

He tied into the communication frequency that all the local guardians were using. “Break. Break. Break. Guardians, I am Solas-3. I am assuming command of this operational theatre under authority code TYR and initiating a code BLACK planetary evac order. I’m transmitting a map to all ghosts. Encryption Aleph-1056. Decrypt for fortified escape routes accessible on foot. Evacuate the Black Garden. I repeat, evacuate the Black Garden. Get outside the new exclusion zone and return to Tower for debrief. Immediate action on receipt. I will take full responsibility.”

Solas received pings of compliance from every guardian on the channel as they made their way to several uncovered passageways that will leads them out of the danger zone. Most ghosts were rescued to later revive their charges, but a few were lost to Cabal bombardment.

———

In the middle of the endless Martian desert, Telemica was a still, crumpled mess.

The land tank had used a repositioned exclusion satellite to triangulate her flight path and shoot her down. She’d barely managed to keep her shattered craft together, but the ship desintrigrated in the crash and she was thrown into the side of a dune like a ragdoll, knocking her unconscious and pulverizing her body.

Squire built an anti-grav stretcher out of the ship’s remains as quickly as possible, took over Telemica’s armour controls and slowly got her on to the rig so he could get her clear, using the last of armour’s life-support systems to keep her alive. After finding a cave for shelter, he sent out a coded distress beacon and worried himself sick over his injured guardian through the night before help arrived.