Chapter 38: Advance
Vatyr crouched low against a corner, a found Suros WSC-17 scout rifle at the ready but only a handful of rounds left in the mag. A hand signal told the others behind him to hold as he cloaked and darted around to make sure the way was clear. Pain reverberated in a dull throb throughout his body, adding half-seconds to all of his movements. The ghosts had equipped the two guardians and Angela with rudimentary armour made with available reprogrammed matter, but it was worlds apart from Warden’s usual loadout. The life-support suite barely put a dent in Vatyr’s aches.
Angela clutched a Häkke Thalestris-C sidearm tight in her two small hands, doing her best to look confident with it. The armour helped. She’d never worn anything like it before and was still getting used to how it reacted to her moves and thoughts. She’d received basic combat training by her aides, but never been terribly comfortable with the tools of war. There wasn’t time for ineptitude here. Everyone was counting on her.
Telemica held Solas’ unconscious body in a one-armed fireman carry, clearly annoyed to be the only unarmed person in the group and not making any real effort to hide it.
Vatyr reappeared in front of them. His face a mask of concern.
“Did you find it?” whispered Angela.
“Not sure, but there are a lot of Vex between here and there. How is that even possible? How can they be here?” asked Vatyr, confused as to why The Traveler’s protection was suddenly ineffective at keeping hordes of Vex from porting in and wreaking havoc.
“The seed of Darkness is suppressing The Traveler’s power like a disease suppressing an immune system. The City is nearly defenseless, and this is only the beginning.”
“More are coming in every minute. I can’t get us through.”
Angela held up her pistol in confidence as Wisp, Glitch and Squire materialized to join her.
“My lady, we must prevail,” stressed Squire to Telemica.
“We’ve got this!” assured Glitch to Vatyr.
“This is the path we must follow,” asserted Wisp to the group.
“Trust us. We can make it,” resolved Angela, probably to herself just as much as to anyone else.
Telemica and Vatyr had to say something, they thought. Of course they did. They were the adults, and combat was not a place for a child, especially for one as important as she was. They had no idea if The Speaker was dead, making her the single most important person on the planet. They tried to say something, but no words came. There was something in their eyes. There was something about how their own ghosts hung solidly in the air next to this girl who showed a confidence beyond the innocence many would attribute to her.
Before the two guardians could force a halting sentence from their minds to their mouths, the hallway that Vatyr had just scouted was instantly flooded with thick smoke laced with lightning. The group slunk back, already detecting the sounds of Vex units porting in.
Cloaking again, Vatyr peeked around the corner after the fog cleared. “The hall is full of them! They’re almost shoulder-to-shoulder in there. There’s no way we can fight our way through that.”
“Why are they here? Why not go where the rest of the fighting is?” Telemica asked Angela in a whisper.
“They’re here to find the same thing we are. It’s the only thing that could stop them. If they find it first, we’ve lost everything. Humanity’s time will be over and the light will be gone from the universe soon after.”
“Whatever we’re here to find, I don’t see how- Hey!”
Angela and the ghosts had darted around the corner before Telemica could finish her thought. Dozens of Vex Descendant units turned from probing walls and rooms to see a little girl, holding a little gun, with three little ghosts floating with her. The Vex didn’t hesitate to open fire on them.
But the firing didn’t stop, and light began to pour out from the hall, growing brighter every second. Bringing his rifle up again and fearing the worst, Vatyr peeked around the corner.
Ghost bits whizzed around Angela almost faster than the eye could see, their brilliant orbs of light combined around the girl and held her a few feet above the ground. Every shot the Vex loosed entered the light, curved around her small frame and exited the orb to unerringly strike the same unit that fired it. The small cores of the ghosts rapidly tracked each shot with their little eyes from their perches above her head. Angela brought her gun up and unleashed tremendous bolts of searing light from its barrel, incinerating several units at once. The angelic figure gritted her teeth, holding on to the pistol for dear life as she fed her power through it and the ghosts. Her eyes flared in determination as Vex units were obliterated.
Telemica and Vatyr couldn’t afford the luxury of believing their eyes or not. Vatyr started loosing his precious few shots, taking his time to aim and make each pull of the trigger count. Each bullet demanded to count for a kill, and did. Telemica would have cussed up a storm for not being able to join the fight, if not for the innocent ears nearby. These four little lights were pushing back an enemy force that would cause any fireteam to fall back.
More Vex continued to port in, replenishing what units they could.
It didn’t take long for the breech on Vatyr’s rifle to clack empty. Angela and the ghosts expanded their orb, allowing the guardians to take shelter inside. Slowly, Angela’s sphere moved forward, advancing into the space left vacant by the destroyed Vex and progress to their destination. Bolts of death buzzed around them, almost whimsically in how they angled in order to accommodate Angela’s passengers.
The weapon in Angela’s hands began to glow hot, being brought well past the breaking point. Angela’s will was holding it together, but there were limits. Another wave of Vex reinforcements rushed in from both ahead and behind them when the piece simply evaporated in her hands.
“Don’t worry, sweetheart. We’ll take it from here.” Vatyr roared. Awash in so much light that it was almost viscous, the hunter and titan surged with power. Vatyr channeled his light through his empty rifle much how Angela had done with her sidearm, unleashing a solid beam of annihilation from its barrel and carving out the path forward. Meanwhile, Telemica focused on the enemies to the rear, stomping on the ground with her feet and sending decimating Arc waves through their ranks.
The Vex didn’t let up. The machines poured in from every direction, unloading all their firepower into the sphere of light as if they hoped at least one bolt would find purchase in their targets. Harpies, hydras and minotaurs had also been added to the mix, filling in every inch of the hallway with metal death. The full concentration of the three ghosts was on redirecting the walls of beams and projectiles, and Angela was nearing her limit when she saw a familiar mirage.
“We have arrived.” Wisp exclaimed over comms from inside Solas’ unconscious body.
“Where?” Telemica asked. All she saw was blank walls with some doors further down the hall beyond a sea of Vex.
“Everyone, hang on!” Angela announced, reaching her hands towards the portal only she knew how to see and activating it. The sphere of light and all those inside were pulled in instantly.