Chapter 11: Dead of Winter
House of Winter Ketch Simiks-Fel
As Telemica charged through the ship’s corridors, she didn’t stop to engage the Fallen crew she encountered. The titan simply ran through them, letting them break upon her like calm waves on a beach, forgotten a moment later. When she found her path intersecting the engineering section across a high-up gantry and spotted the ritual far below, she didn’t think that the other members of Fireteam Warden were nearby. She only thought how truly epic a story she would tell when she annihilated a Kell, a Servitor Prime and an Archon Priest in one meteoric strike. Without a moment’s hesitation she vaulted from the walkway and fell to her glory.
It was five minutes after impact, and she was still surprised that her daring maneuver had barely injured the enemy. She grappled with the kell named Plasis, whirling with him in a violent cyclone of close-quarters combat. Her advanced knowledge of strikes, locks and holds was surely being tested by the four-armed giant.
Immediately after the titan’s drop, Mehsor and Suviks-2 attempted to get to a more secure location. Already perched in a perfect sniping position, Vatyr fired a few shots at them in an effort to block the escape and separate them. Suviks-2 began to blink-teleport rapidly away, hoping the Archon would follow but knowing its first concern was its own safety. Unfortunately, as Mehsor began to hunt for the hidden sniper, the Servitor Prime found itself face-to-face with Solas.
Telemica and Plasis traded blows and evaded each other’s attempts at takedowns. The fight was too close and too fast to make use of any weapons other than those of their own forms. Plasis had tried to use his long blade, but Telemica had caught the edge between her palms and snapped it in half. Both knew Plasis had the advantage with two more arms and at least twice the weight of the guardian. The titan had already taken some serious blows and her armour was telling her of broken bones and internal bleeding while it tried to keep her moving.
The Kell grabbed his opponent and lifted the titan over his head with the intent of either throwing her across the room or breaking her spine across his knee, but a massive hammer-fist to the back of the head disoriented him enough for Telemica to drop down on his back, wrapping her arms around his neck and her legs around his upper torso. Plasis vaulted stories high into the air, coming down on his back and crushing Telemica thunderously underneath, but limbs augmented with field drivers and myofiber muscles continued to tighten around the Fallen. Armour began to crack and ether began to escape, causing the last thoughts of the Kell to be of panic before his head popped off and his lifeforce fled his body. A few minutes later, a hearty laugh came from under the dead armor of the Kell, still heavy enough to pin the injured titan.
Solas and the servitor blinked in and out of existence so rapidly, one could be excused for considering them tricks of light. Blasts of void light fired from the synthetic lifeform’s eye at Solas but never came close to finding a target. Solas was smaller and much faster. He knew the Servitor Prime was still weak from the evolution that just took place and would want to escape in order to recuperate. Solas cut off escape paths that Suviks tried to use, while also herding it into a boxed-in section of engineering and keeping it on edge with flashy but random attacks.
As soon as the Servitor Prime found itself caged not just by walls but with its own terror, it lashed out with a mechanical scream as its body opened. Ten metal spears, each almost as long as Solas was tall, launched from its inner workings and flew into the cavernous room, quickly sweeping thin rays of arc light from their tips and attempting to slice Solas into small pieces. The Exo moved as fast as he could, creating dozens of afterimages in his wake. These spears were almost as fast as the warlock was but only just. In minutes the room began to fall apart after getting shredded by the servitor’s arc beams and the shockwaves that Solas left in his wake.
Suddenly Solas vanished entirely. Minutes passed. Suviks couldn’t figure out if it had sliced the guardians into bits, buried him under rubble or scared him away. The spears returned to the main body just as Solas blinked into existence a step away from its huge eye. His hand charged with light and shaped like an arrowhead, he impaled the huge construct, driving himself into it up to his shoulder. The servitor wailed and thrashed as its internal balances of energy were sent wild, tearing itself apart from the inside out. The warlock drew out what energy he could in order to keep the Prime from recovering, but they both knew it was too late. Violent torrents of ether and light tore Suviks’ body apart, ending in an explosion that obliterated what was left of that section of engineering.
Solas appeared on a nearby platform, having blinked away at the last moment. The warlock had absorbed what he could of the Prime’s own ether, and with it, some of its knowledge. It was officially a forbidden technique among the arcane orders, but the more praxic guardians were known to bend the rules as often as they bent the universe. The encounter had left him disoriented, however. His body surrounded by a mote of ether as his mind dove into new resources, Solas simply didn’t have the capability to notice Mehsor behind him.
The Archon was in a blind rage after seeing the Servitor Prime destroyed, ready to bring the pandemonium of energy he held up in his hands down on the Exo. Vatyr had evaded the Archon a while ago and was watching Solas’ back from afar when the saw the Archon appear. Never taking his eyes from his scope, he formed a void shell of a bullet in his hand and filled it with as much solar light as he could before placing it in the breach of his sniper rifle. The hunter closed the breach and fired the light-bullet at the back of Mehsor’s head. The shot echoed through the entire ship and off the walls of the cavern it sat in.
When the star-bright bullet encountered the helmet of the House of Winter Archon Priest, the energy within expanded and encapsulated the entire target in a huge ball of blue-white plasma that resembled a chaotic star several meters in radius. The event was so explosive that it sent Solas flying, tumbling to another platform. If one could listen past the deafening roar of the plasma ball, one would have experienced the last screams of the priest as the matter that made up his body was turned into fuel for nuclear fusion, sustaining the mini-sun and melting anything nearby for a few seconds before vanishing like an extinguished candle.
Vatyr made his way over to help the dazed Solas, then the pair freed an injured but still giddy Telemica from under the remains of her foe.
“Now what, fearless one?” asked Vatyr, aiming the question at Telemica. “We’ve accomplished the near-impossible.”
“Now? Now we collect our prize. Squire?” Telemica called her ghost into being.
“Yes, my goddess?”
“You and the other ghosts take control of the main engineering controls. Lock out all other control access on the ship and lock down every compartment. Give me control of this ship. I’m taking it.” commanded the titan.
Glitch was already in the process of dominating the ship’s systems. Wisp materialized and followed Squire to Glitch’s location.
“I hope they can pull this off.” murmured Vatyr.
“A little faith goes a long way.” offered Solas, who sat on the ground to rest. “Our little lights will come through for us.”
All over the ship, screens went dark and doors slammed sealed. Amazingly the battles that the guardians had initiated had not damaged the ship enough to keep it from flight. Engines roared to life as anti-grav generators came online. The ship tore itself from the moorings anchoring it to the cavern and lifted into the sky.
“Set course for the city. Send word that we’re on route.” commanded Telemica with arms crossed and head held high.
“My lady, we have ships incoming. Fallen. Skiff-class. They’re locking weapons on us.” said Squire. A nearby screen offered the view of several dozen of the small ships coming in as quickly as their engines could manage.
“Word must be out. The Fallen on the ground are firing everything they’ve got at us, but it’s nothing that will damage the hull. Those skiffs on the other hand…” mused Glitch.
“Remove them from my sky!” she commanded with a wave of her hand.
“Love to. Problem is we’re already occupied hacking and controlling a few other major systems. As it’s only the three of us doing all the work, adding one more high-priority system to break into and use probably isn’t the best idea.” suggested Glitch. While the ghost’s tone annoyed the titan, the advice was sound.
“Spinning up FTL. We can jump to just outside the City’s defense lines.” said Wisp, bringing up hyperspace telemetry readings in order to solve the equations that make it possible to move matter without moving it. Squire took over the other systems while Glitch assisted Wisp in controlling the technology that would rip a hole in spacetime. Generators came to life and engines whined as the universe swallowed the ketch up here and spit it out there.