Chapter 48: Sacrifice
The clock ticked, and the world became darker.
Telemica and Vatyr continued to engage Virulion, The Infecting Mind. At least, they attempted to engage him. Virulion’s focus remained solely on The Traveler. The Vex monster refused to acknowledge either the guardians or their attacks.
Solas hung back and applied himself to the puzzle before him. He poked and pulled at Virulion’s being from every angle and dimension he could access doing everything he could to open up some sort of gap in the defense.
The clock was ticking. While the City beyond was slowly being retaken by guardian forces, comm channels were beginning to take interest in the rapidly changing sky, as it was clearly not Vex-related. Solas refused to explain the truth of the situation. What purpose would it serve? There was nothing anyone could do. Virulion’s infection was progressing at an alarming rate, and his barrier made of the essence-light of The Traveler was unnervingly effective at negating any incursions the guardians tried to make. It made perfect sense to Solas. The guardians got their power from The Traveler. It was insanity to think that The Traveler’s gifts could be used against it. The warlock’s expanded mind raced to find a solution.
The clock ticked, and The Traveler began to slump in the air.
“You’ve become so strong since you first came to me, but this is beyond madness… even for you!” The Speaker pleaded to his young apprentice at the other end of the commlink. The Speaker was at the helm of an old Arcadia-class jumpship and bringing it in alongside the stream of sickly corruption that connected Virulion to The Traveler. Angela was crouched on top of the jumpship, holding on for dear life as the inexperienced pilot at the helm maneuvered into position.
“This is the only way either of us can think of to break the Vex’s connection to The Traveler and turn the tide of this battle. Warden can’t do it themselves and we’re running out of time! There is no other way to dissuade Rasputin from leveling this entire mountain range.” Angela reaffirmed. “I’ll be able to give them the opening Warden needs to end this!”
“You could die! You simply do not understand how important you are to us!”
“We’re all going to die if I don’t!”
The Speaker wanted to argue her out of this plan. He wanted nothing more than to turn the ship around and find another way. He wanted to protect her, but he knew it was impossible. Angela was far too headstrong and tenacious. He adjusted his course to bring Angela directly under the stream. “I’ll hold position right under you. After you’ve broken the connection, I’ll catch you. I promise.”
She wanted to tell him how much he meant to her, but she needed to stay focused. She could feel the stream of sickness sap her strength from a few feet above her head. Was this what The Traveler was feeling? The effect intensified as the ship inched closer, as if the spectre of death was breathing down her neck. Every cell in her body was demanding that she escape, but she forced herself to reach up and let herself be absorbed by the riptide of energy.
Angela’s scream of anguish seemed to carry along the stream like an echo down a metal tube and slam into Virulion with enough force to slightly stagger him. Warden’s full attention turned to the girl suspended in midair, but only Solas knew what she was trying to do. Her connection to The Traveler allowed her to act as a graft over the wound torn open by Virulion’s infection. A boost to The Traveler’s natural defenses. Her hope was that The Traveler would then be able to break the connection itself, but that didn’t happen. Virulion refocused its efforts, causing the contagion to rip through the young girl.
“Angela! Get out of there!” The Speaker pleaded. She couldn’t respond. Looking though a camera, The Speaker could see that she was clearly unconscious, but still pouring out massive amounts of light. Her arms were spread wide in the air as if she were trying to block Virulion’s efforts with her tiny body. Slowly, pure light crept from The Traveler through the stream and into Angela’s back, brightening her already radiant aura.
For the first time, Virulion appeared to be set upon. The barrier around him seemed to flicker and dim. The infection stream thinned.
“Whatever she’s doing, it’s working.” Vatyr noted. He fired off a few rounds from his rifle, but even though Virulion’s barrier was weakened, the projectiles still bounced off harmlessly.
“Fall back, Warden. We need to regroup and come up with a new plan before Angela’s light is exhausted completely,” ordered Telemica.
“No! You will not diminish her sacrifice! For the City!” The Speaker bellowed at Virulion. Gritting his teeth and throwing the throttle forward hard, he sent his jumpship on a collision course with The Infecting Mind. His old lungs launched into a dead man’s defiant war cry as he poured all of his light into the ship itself.
The clock stopped. The world turned on its head as The Speaker’s suicide attack found its mark.