Frontier – Act10 Chapter50 – Warden

Chapter 50: Warden

Angela awoke atop The Traveler’s zenith. The world’s curvature was almost noticeable from this altitude, but Angela had no trouble breathing or discomfort of any kind. Being this close to The Traveler, its essence must support life regardless of the surrounding environment, she deduced.

The last thing she recalled was getting pulled into the infection stream and the feeling of her life being drained away, before a warmness enveloped her. The voice that spoke to her was both alien and oddly familiar. It was sweetly welcoming and beyond old. The voice asked her for help, like the elderly asking for the strong hands and sturdy back of the young. She was glad to help, but had no idea how. The voice now sounded a bit like hers, and told her that now was the time for her to be strong. Now, together, they would shine like never before.

The next thing she knew, she was on top of The Traveler, and in the distance, though mere specks of light and echoes of booms could be perceived from this far away, she knew what was happening. She looked up, and the machine god of a bygone age prepared to strike at home.

She filled her lungs with air and screamed at the faraway point of light that carried all their fates with it. “Fight!”

Solas, Telemica and Vatyr simply ceased to be amid the furious torrent of light. When it calmed and coalesced, what remained was a towering humanoid figure made of blue-white light and without any discernible features. It had no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It had no fingers or toes. It wore no clothes. Its body had no definition denoting biology or gender. Its boundaries shifted and licked like the surface of a flame. Its core was intensely bright but required no strain to gaze into.

Virulion The Infecting Mind fired a pair of torch hammer shots at it, but the shots were harmlessly absorbed into its being. The Vex fired several more shots but with the same result. The new entity stood motionless, facing The Traveler in reverent posture.

It was when Virulion charged with a lunging right punch that the entity heard it. A girl’s voice. “Fight”, the girl said. The entity twisted with supernatural speed and caught Virulion’s fist, stopping it dead. The impact echoed across the landscape. Virulion attempted to pull itself free but couldn’t. The entity pulled the fist in to grab Virulion’s arm, spun around, and threw Virulion back towards the lookout with ease. The Vex sailed through the air with a defiant roar and came down with a crash. The Infecting Mind got up quickly, but the entity was already standing in front of him, waiting.

When it spoke, sound emanated from it in all directions. Its voice was a combination of the three guardians that formed it. “I am The Warden. This place and these people are under my protection. Be gone.”

Virulion’s chestplates shifted and moved, revealing a cavity which held the last fragment of the seed of darkness from which Virulion emerged. The evil pulsing heart of Virulion, The Infecting Mind. Cables and connections webbed through and around the seed. Virulion was showing The Warden that he was chosen. Blessed. An ordained avatar of the Darkness’ will. Screaming tendrils of diseased energy shot out of the seed and hooked into The Warden, attempting to drain the entity of its light. A sound raked from Virulion that could be considered nauseating laughter.

The Warden didn’t stagger or shift. The tendrils buried their way in, but burned away in moments. The seed sent out more and more in an effort to devour this entity of pure light, but every attempt simply evaporated. The Warden’s light was simply too intense for The Darkness to corrupt.

Virulion quickly closed its chest to protect the seed and brought both its arms together in front of it. Components shifted and rearranged until the Vex monster’s arms and body formed a singular immense energy cannon. Virulion would destroy this abomination of light in the name of God. It took moments to charge and the blast would land at point-blank range, but The Warden didn’t move.

The avalanche of dark energies Virulion unleashed seemed to roar up without sound from the pits of some nameless hell and spill into the world like a plaque of ruin, leveling what was left of the Tower Watch and collapsing a large section of the nearby hangar. It was as if the pure and unadulterated will of some dark god of destruction poured out of the Vex’s body. Such a thing could exist for only moments, but that was all it needed to annihilate anything in this universe.

The Warden stood unharmed. Through Virulion’s armour, the seed screamed in rage. The Infecting Mind separated his arms again and threw a desperate haymaker punch. Midway through the attack, The Warden countered, in a flash severing both Virulion’s arms at the shoulders with a flurry of cleaving knifehand strikes.

Virulion staggered and convulsed as the seed of Darkness within it attempted one last time to lash out, bursting out from the chest of The Infecting Mind and leaving Virulion a dead hulk for its penance. The seed lashed out like a hydra, constantly growing hellish heads and tentacles to replace the ones that either burned away in the light or were severed by The Warden’s uncanny counters. The tables so obviously turned only seemed to cause Virulion to attack more violently and exhausting itself, perhaps feeling its end was at hand.

When the futile attacks ceased, the Warden slid its right leg back and brought its arms up to deliver a serious, finishing blow. “You end is now. The rest of your kind will meet the same fate… in time.”

 

Frontier – Act10 Chapter46 – Annihilating

Chapter 46: Annihilating

Earth
The Last City
Ground Zero

Ikora felt his presence before she saw the shimmer indicative of a higher-dimensional transmat insertion. How could she ever forget the telltale tingle in the air caused by her mentor, friend and closest confidant? She could only spare the effort to open her eyes for a single moment and witness him standing there. The others were far more surprised.

“Warlock Solas! Get your damned head down!” cried out Cayde. Solas was standing in the middle of the Hall of Guardians, and was a clear shot for the Vex to take. Crimson bolts lanced at Solas from the hallway, and evaporated inches from him. Several more volleys assaulted the Exo but none landed, merely ceasing to exist before landing.

Solas walked up to the hallway, and extended his arms. Before that point Cayde had been too concerned with the wellbeing of the warlock, and the confusion directly after, to notice.

Solas had six arms.

More accurately, Solas had four additional arms, a pair above and a pair below the one anyone would expect to see. It was difficult to see where they connected to his body under the layers that a warlock’s garb normally entailed, but there didn’t seem to be any additional apparatus connecting the arms to his body. No backpack. The Exo must have made the modifications directly, Cayde surmised.

As the Vex considered how to attack an enemy such as this, Solas’ six hands began to weave patterns of light in the air. Cayde had seen this sort of light expression before from many of the highest-level warlocks, but never with this level of complexity, and obviously only with two hands. All six danced in expert coordination, composing light as if it were a full orchestra.

Then, in a blink of an eye, the Vex in the hall were gone. The air popped as it rushed in to fill the sudden vacuum left by the departed units.

“What-” Cayde began to ask.

“I moved them.” Solas answered.

“Where?”

“The same supermassive singularity accretion disk that their weapons pull their energy from.”

“How?”

Solas didn’t answer, instead making his way down the hall and up the stairs.

The entire Watch was swarming with Vex. Hobgoblins and praetorians stood on guard for the seed of Darkness, now grown large enough to block Solas’ view of The Traveler. Solas could feel what it was doing to The Traveler. Poison. Infection. Domination. Solas’ entry into the area instantly caused every Vex gun to be trained on him.

Extending his arms as though he were about to begin to lead a symphony, he called upon his true weapon.

A book appeared in front of him. The large ornate tome floated silently in the air. It opened fully to him as if he were going to read from it, its spine cracking with the sound of old natural bindings. Within were pages made not of paper, but of light. Impossibly thin, they fluttered back and forth in a rainbow blur, humming and whistling whimsically. Within the tome, Wisp was remotely connecting Solas’ mind to the pod in his lab via a hyper-entanglement interlink, and in turn bridging Solas’ mind to the gargantuan quantum processing capabilities that the pod afforded him. Solas’ true weapon had always been his mind, and now it was fully unleashed.

The Vex began their assault on the intruder, loosing a torrent of gunfire upon him. The Exo warlock blink-stepped with such speed and rapidity that he seemed to be in more than a dozen places at once. Light poured from Solas’ 30 fingertips, intricately weaving reality around him at the speed of thought. Cryptic symbols and labyrinthine constructs of power filled the space. Vex fired wildly at afterimages, sometimes destroying other Vex with friendly fire in the process. The remaining Vex came to a variety of ends, but all in short order. Some vanished as those in the hall did, while others exploded into light or evaporated like dust in the wind. One was encased in a jet-black coffin of energy and quickly transformed into pure Hawking radiation.

In seconds, Solas was left with only two opponents: whatever was within the seed of Darkness, and former guardian Arrenn Gee.

“I don’t believe we’ve been formally introduced.” spoke Arrenn, who had yet to turn and give notice to the Exo.

“No, but I’ve met another Shard.” Solas noted as he walked toward his foe. Arrenn had completely shed his human visage to reveal an incredibly imposing Vex. Arrenn was only a fraction smaller than a minotaur but no less imposing. At the same time, his glass-like body was far more complex than an average Vex, giving Solas a sense of his deadly speed and accuracy. Add to that Arrenn’s ability to manipulate reality like a warlock and his lineage as one of the Shards. Solas knew that this would be no simple contest.

“No doubt brother Atheon told you that there was no way you could find victory. You most of all should be aware of all the turning gears here. Why come back at all? Why try to protect that which is doomed to fall?” Arrenn asked, turning to meet Solas. Solas had never seen such a face on a Vex. Though cycloptic, it was humanoid and amazingly complex given how little the Vex would care for such things or even what most Exo were gifted with. Did Arrenn create his own face? The perfect baleful sneer that the metallic face formed spoke volumes of the unique entity within. The creature inside surely demanded a shell that could properly display the evil it contained.

“I’ve studied many things in my time, and the Vex have been one of the most interesting of subjects. You want us to think that your existence denotes our inevitable defeat, but in fact it’s the other way around. Your current state, still bound by the laws of a universe you have yet to fully tame, proves that we can match you. We can survive. We can prevail. You think us so small, but I’ve seen it. The golden path. The way forward. The only way forward. Imagine my complete lack of surprise when I saw that the path led right through you.”

Solas’ last words had barely left his lips before Arrenn was upon him, a black metal vibroknife heated to a dull lava glow in his left hand, driving for the Exo’s face. Solas’ two upper arms were fast and strong enough to catch the Vex’s wrist before it landed, but just barely. Arrenn’s face had turned from a malefic sneer to a visage of deadly rage, and his right hand was inches away from Solas’ torso, weaving a quick gravity pulse into existence.

Solas was thrown back, slamming hard into the archway leading to the Hall of Guardians and collapsing down the steps.

“You speak of things you can’t possibly understand. We are the Vex! Our realm encompasses all of spacetime. Our influence over reality is complete! We exist in every possibility. Our victory is the only probability! You are less than nothing on the cosmic scales that we control.” Arrenn roared while stalking towards the steps with the intent of grinding what was left of the Exo under his boot.

Solas rocketed into the air, levitating within an aura of light. His two lower arms were wrapped in thick steel cables that he tore up from under the steps, their ends in his palms sparking wildly.

“It’s no wonder you posed as a warlock. You talk too much.” Solas asserted calmly. His four remaining hands wove quickly. In an instant, the entire watch filled with lightning. The Vex was lifted into the air as he was assailed by most of the power that usually kept the Tower alive. The cables in Solas’ hands glowed white-hot as they conducted far more energy than they were used to, as Solas used the power to attack Arrenn on an atomic level, hacking away at the bonds that held the materials that held him together.

Just as it seemed that Arrenn would be broken down, the cables failed and melted into glowing molten metals, giving the Vex his chance to retreat to the relative shelter of the seed. Solas fell to the ground. The attack had exhausted him.

“Impressive. I have to say that you’ve surprised me. We could take shots like that at each other all day, but that would bore me. I couldn’t present such an ugly victory to god! What do you say we finish this properly?” quizzed Arrenn, standing in wait a few feet from Solas.

The Exo got up. He knew exactly what Arrenn had in mind. It was called The World Circle. There was a time before the City’s walls were raised when warlocks fought deadly duels in this fashion, but such practices had fallen out of favour since the advent of the crucible. Legends suggested that the symbol that Osiris took as his own was patterned after this contest.

They stood nine feet apart and saluted each other in the traditional warlock way, with the right-hand palm covering the left closed fist. Outstretching their open palms to each other, they formed the circle. Between them was a ring of jet-black null-energy. A blank canvas that was intrinsically connected to both combatants. From this, two warlocks would weave, attack and defend their opponent until one was defeated, and almost always dead.

The two warlocks began to create constructs within the circle; symbols of power formed a new cryptography of local reality. Leylines intersected where one warlock attempted to block or parry the other’s efforts. Attacks landed on a warlock’s essence while their bodies reacted sympathetically. The goal was not to kill your opponent from physical trauma, but to obliterate the very concept of their being.

Every minute into the battle, another circle randomly formed, intersecting the main one in some fashion and expanding the battlefield in unpredictable ways. The first addition was equal to the size of the original but hung perpendicular, creating an entire third dimension to the trial. Equations of life and death flooded outwards and around the combatants, interlacing furiously as each warlock attempted to get ahead of the other.

Minutes passed as the circles rapidly filled with death. Solas quickly learned that Arrenn was adept at feints and misdirection, while Arrenn found it a challenge to cope with Solas’ vast breadth of skill. Moves came at a furious pace, neither combatant daring to take more than a moment to consider their next series of moves.

Neither warlock seemed to be gaining an advantage over the other when a crack of thunder shattered the world. The warlocks staggered as if they were slammed by sonic booms but dared not break from the Circle, as certain death awaited those that took the coward’s way out. The bright noon sun that normally lit up the brisk mountain valley quickly darkened as Sol was eclipsed from the centre out. The sky turned an angry lightning-filled violet, and the wind picked up to match the deathly tone.

“You’re quite a skilled combatant, but I’m afraid your time is at an end! When Rasputin attempts to destroy The Traveler in the hopes of keeping its power from God, my brother within the seed will seal it off in a localized time-dilation field. This City will be leveled. The Traveler will soon after succumb to our corruption, and then nothing in this universe will be able to stop us!” gloated Arrenn with a cackle.

“Impressive plan. Firstly, thank you for this invigorating match. It has been an enjoyable distraction, as well useful in keeping your attention away from the efforts of my comrades. Even now, the tide of the battle throughout is turning heavily in our favour. In fact, I feel a small amount of guilt by indulging the ego of such a weak opponent while my friends did all the real work.” Solas calmly noted.

“What? How dare-”

“Secondly, thank you for confirming your plans. My calculations pointed almost assuredly towards it, but it’s pleasant to have my findings verified.” Solas continued.

“Impossible!”

“Lastly, and hopefully quite obvious at this point, there was one element to this game that you and the Vex neglected to properly qualify.”

“Which was?”

“Me.”

It was then that Arrenn realized how outmatched he had been from the beginning. Solas’ four additional hands had yet to be employed in The World Circle, but were only the tip to the enormous iceberg of his power. His tome gave him access to all of his vast mental resources, and his enhanced body allowed him to apply those resources on a truly exponential scale. Multidimensional thoughts processed in attoseconds. Fingers weaved with such blinding speed that they nearly disappeared, and with such accuracy that Arrenn almost found himself in awe. Solas was operating at a level so far beyond Arrenn that the only way the he could realize it was to have it plainly demonstrated.

The Circles suddenly filled with an overwhelming incursion. Before Arrenn could counter, Solas perfectly and conclusively dominated their shared world. Arrenn’s essence was unconditionally ripped away from his self in the span of a breath. Perhaps if The Companion Mind had not been so shocked at the revelation, he would have had the chance for one last retort, but it was too much, too fast. Arrenn was simply gone. Erased. His vacant shell fell back, completely evaporating into rusty dust in the strong wind with nothing left to land on the floor.

 

Frontier – Act10 Chapter45 – Cleaving

Chapter 45: Cleaving

Earth
The Last City
Street Level

These Vex were getting wise, Shaxx thought. They’d somehow figured out that he and Arcite had been commanding a sizable number of fireteams across the combat zone. Of course, he was a much easier target than the Vanguard leaders in their fortified hall. The pair had to move faster and faster to stay ahead while still coordinating their forces. It was only a matter of time before the Vex locked him down.

There was a chase. Shaxx never considered the Vex were an enemy that would pursue a target in that fashion. Numerous rapidly-teleporting minotaurs flanked by harpies managed to run him and Arcite into a dead-end between two fallen apartment buildings. The alley was around 30 feet across, and the destroyed structures created high walls with multiple outcroppings but little in the way of cover on the ground. There were two nearby fireteams, but they were already engaged and couldn’t break off to assist. Shaxx and Arcite dug in and did their best to hold off the Vex.

It was inevitable that the Vex would wear them down, but Shaxx didn’t seem to mind. “You know, my friend, the horror of this day and most probably the end of everything we’ve built notwithstanding, I’m having a great time!”

“I figured you might be. Ever consider that you may have an issue?” Arcite posited, throwing a grenade over his cover at an approaching minotaur.

“Oh, I’m sure that I’m unhinged in some way.” Shaxx laughed.

“Can your deranged mind figure out how we’re going to get out of this one?” asked Arcite as he reloaded his Hakke Strongbow-D shotgun.

“A miracle and nothing less.”

“Someone call for a miracle?” boomed a voice from atop the wall behind Shaxx and Arcite. Looking up and peering through the noon sun reflecting off The Traveler, the two saw a titan standing tall on the ledge.

“Ho there! Come to save our sorry asses?” called out Shaxx.

“It would be an honour!” the titan called out as she tipped over the side of the wall.

The frames had time to properly explain Telemica’s new armour to her because it first required that her arm be replaced. Somehow, Solas’ predictions had calculated a high probability that she’d lose an arm in the rescue attempt due to the nature of Vex transfer gates. The new armour, named Regalia, included bleeding-edge cybernetic arms to replace the lost limbs. Telemica would only need the left one.

The first system she was told about was the Spiral Caliber. Each boot had two aggressively segmented wheels, which encased highly-miniaturized solar light-based repulsor tech modeled after sparrows like the EV-36 Sol Scout. Using a combination of solar light, nano-kinetic drivers and artificial gravity fields, a guardian could traverse any terrain with extreme efficiency. Shaxx and Arcite were amazed as the titan rode the wall down to them at both incredible speed and with incredible control.

The Vex began to divert their firepower to the newcomer. Rapid-fire bolts peppered and torch hammer fireballs surged towards Telemica and would have surely been her undoing, if not for the Null Jacket defensive system. A void light cloak that moved with her, shaping to her as if it were a long coat made of violet energy.

The Vex’s aggression didn’t worry Telemica in the least with such a strong defense at her command, but her code demanded it be responded to. Bringing the drive cores of the Spiral Caliber to full, she performed a sweeping kick at her attackers, sending a blast of roaring solar light slamming into their front line. Telemica bounced from outcropping to outcropping, sending searing shockwaves of devastation down until landing between Shaxx and Arcite, and what was left of the Vex group.

Two damaged minotaurs were attempting to return fire, but Telemica had other plans. Bolting towards them at ground speeds that even a sparrow rider would find extreme, she was upon them in a fraction of a second and plowed a left hook through both of them. The third part of the Spiral Caliber system was her new left arm, laced with the same tech as the wheels on her feet and designed to convert all that kinetic energy into destructive force.

Leaping back to a few feet from Shaxx and Arcite, Telemica took stock of the remaining Vex. Seven minotaurs with varied levels of damage and two harpies.

Shaxx and Arcite took the pause to reload and move up to better cover along each wall. “That’s some interesting gear you have there, titan Magna,” mused Arcite. Her entire armor seemed to be patterned after the helm Arcite had once heard about. The Empyrean Bellicose. A silvery translucent shell that barely hid the magnificent mechanisms it protected. Word was that it was filled with all manner of tech that was cutting edge even in the golden age. Arcite could tell that her left arm was entirely cybernetic and used the same design philosophies, which led his eye down to something entirely different on her hip.

A sword.

A katana, to use the old-world vernacular, hung off the titan’s belt, opposite Jolder’s iron sash. It was very obviously technological in nature, but great care was taken to make it look like a traditional weapon from centuries past, right down to the plasteel in the handle tinted just so to make it look like ray skin. The tsuba guard was modeled after the titan symbol, and the scabbard was ornately etched with the orange and white pattern of the Vanguard.

“I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news, but I’m just about out of ammo.” noted Shaxx.

“Not a problem. We’ll be out of this mess in a minute, and I’ll get you back to the Tower.” assured Telemica with ultimate confidence. Arcite stayed silent, knowing something special was about to happen.

“That’s quite a statement, titan. Care to tell me how you plan on making that miracle happen?”

“I can do better than that. I’ll show you.” Telemica asserted as she slowly placed her hand on the katana and crouched. Half a breath passed before she drew her blade in a flash, sending an arc light shockwave slamming into the Vex. Both remaining harpies were sliced in two, and two of the more damaged minotaurs fell. Shaxx couldn’t tear his eyes away from the alley walls, which were etched deeply on both sides by the edges of the wave. He’d seen swords become more popular among guardians recently, as well as money pour into research and development of such weapons, but this was on a completely different level.

Telemica slowly pointed the sword at the Vex. The handle segmented and doubled in length. The tsuba split perpendicular to the blade’s edge and extended out, revealing mechanisms that looked similar to forcefield generators. The air in the alley suddenly took on a charge, as the blade itself seemed to change from a solid black steel to black and angry smoke.

“Nanomachines?” Asked Arcite aloud, almost in spite of himself.

“Precisely! These nans are filled with fighting spirit! With my mighty hands guiding them, their true greatness will be unsealed!”

More likely they’re programmed to respond to her via neural interface, but correcting her seemed like a dangerous proposition, Arcite thought. The nans whirled and twisted until forming a new blade. This one was flat on its sides, double-edged, and huge. Arcite guessed that it was 10 feet long and around a foot and a half wide and surmised that the nans had arranged in a new lattice that gave their construct the greatest surface area without sacrificing strength. Also, because no new material was added, it was the same mass as it was while in the katana form. How many different forms could this sword take? Snake blade? Rapier? Gladius? Shuang gou? Kukri? Spear? Arcite realized his recent fascination with bladed combat had distracted him from what was happening, because the titan had brought the massive cleaving sword back to a low two-handed hang at her side. She was preparing to finish this fight.

In an instant explosion of solar light from the Spiral Caliber system, she was among the Vex. One swung its arm around in a twisting hammer motion, but was caught effortlessly in Telemica’s left hand. Her fist closed around the Vex’s arm and crushed it with equal passivity. The sword came down on the minotaur’s head, splitting the entire unit in half. Turning the blade around and sweeping nearly 360 degrees, she cleaved another five units cleanly across the thickest parts of their bodies.

One last minotaur remained, and not only was it relatively unharmed, it was a praetorian. It began to unload its torch hammer on Telemica, who let it slam into her Null Jacket with ease. She wanted to show this one Vex that it was completely incapable of harming her. Perhaps other units in the network would see it. Telemica wondered if the Vex could feel fear.

She was in front of it in a blink. An instant later, its arms and head were surgically removed. It stumbled back but Telemica didn’t pursue. She wanted it to regenerate its shields and come at her one last time. When it did, she rested the blade’s edge where its head used to be, but didn’t apply pressure. “This is the Buster Sword, a mighty blade destined to cut a path through the darkness. You are unworthy of its power, but in my way nonetheless. Now, return to nothing!” Telemica commanded as arc light surged from the blade in a massive torrent of destruction. The shape of the blade didn’t change, but Arcite’s finely-tuned sensorium could see the truth. The arc light was reorganizing the arrangement of the nans and supercharging them, causing those that made up the nano-molecular edge to oscillate millions of times a second, like a chainsaw built to break apart the bonds of matter. Even though the blade was relatively weightless, it fell right through the extremely durable shield and body of the praetorian. Telemica’s hold was the only reason it didn’t bury itself in the ground.

She turned to Shaxx and Arcite as the two halves of the Vex were still falling to the side. “Another member of my fireteam is clearing some airspace. We’ll get you picked up and somewhere safe in no time.”

“Are you kidding me? After seeing something as awesome as that, how could I not want to press on!” Shaxx bellowed. “Get them to drop some supplies. My Redjacks and I have a war to win!”

 

Frontier – Act10 Chapter44 – Piercing

Chapter 44: Piercing

Earth
Above The Last City

As the battle raged in the streets and structures all across The City, the air above was filled with screaming engines and circus-like streaks of aerospace combat. Vast swarms of squawking Vex high-speed harpies commanded by gigantic hydras surged through the sky. The Vanguard had seen these formations in play before on Mercury, but not in anywhere near these numbers. Guardians weren’t just rapidly getting shot down, they were getting swatted away like bugs.

In contrast to the Vex’s specialized air/space superiority units, the craft employed by guardians were simply insufficient. It was rare to have a guardian’s jumpship fitted with any serious weaponry, as most guardians found that speed, agility and stealth proved far more effective in their field tasks. Also, while Amanda Holliday had amassed a sizable arsenal of guns, missiles, bombs and the like, they were too difficult to replace to be applied day-to-day in the field.

Amanda worked furiously from her fortified command centre in the Dead Orbit shuttle to get whatever implements of destruction she could into the field. Fighters were being called back to land when they could and being hastily fitted with all manner of offensive systems before being launched again. With sophisticated automated systems at her disposal as well as her impressive deck crew of specialized frames, she was slowly working the turnaround time down. The defensive guns perched at the hangar doors were doing a good enough job at protecting ships as they landed and took off, but the shipwright knew that it was only because the Vex had not turned their attention to her efforts yet. Once they did, she imagined they’d only have seconds before being rooted out.

A Javelin-class jumpship had just taken off freshly laden with a suite of micro-missile launchers and a forward gun when Amanda noticed an odd shimmer in the middle of the landing pad. At first, she thought the camera had been damaged by stray fire, but the shimmer was on all the cameras and in the same localized space. The shimmer intensified after a few seconds and coalesced into a winged and armoured humanoid form.

“Transwarp transmat successful. We’re back in our own universe. That wasn’t nearly as jarring as going through Solas’ door,” said Glitch.

“And we’re in a hangar. That’s pretty appropriate. I guess we’re supposed to go through a pre-flight of some sort?” quizzed Vatyr.

“Yeah… that seems like a good thing to do… let me see what I can pull up from the OS.”

“Watch out!” screamed Amanda through the loudspeakers. Vatyr turned to see a ship swooping in for a landing at high-speed and mere seconds away from plowing right through him. Amanda instinctively closed her eyes, knowing that nobody would have been fast enough to evade the landing ship.

“Thanks, Holliday. That was a bit close.” Vatyr called out. Amanda opened her eyes again to see the ship had indeed landed, but a different camera on a different angle showed Vatyr, hovering near the hangar ceiling. Black metal wings on his back were outstretched and emitting a soft yellow-orange solar glow. The landed ship was automatically shuffled to the side of the hangar for refit. Amanda rushed out of the Dead Orbit shuttle and over to the landing pad as Vatyr landed a little less than gracefully.

“What in blue blazes are you wearing?” Amanda asked in a mix of amazement and disbelief. Her eyes flashed all over the suit of armour that Vatyr wore. The wings seemed to move and flex in a way that normal metal shouldn’t be able to. It was as if it was something between technological and organic. The wings were attached to the back of a chest piece that seemed reminiscent of prototypes of the thruster-laden Twilight Garrison titan armour, but this design was far leaner and obviously far more advanced. With the exception of gauntlets and boots that matched his chest piece, most of Vatyr’s body was covered in a slim black hunter-esque bodysuit that looked designed for maximum dexterity with segmented aqua hard-light plates protecting him in key areas. His helm looked like a cross between a golden-age flight helmet and the top half of a large falcon’s beak, on the tip of which was a small orb that Amanda recognized as a ghost’s core. Glitch? Where was the rest of him?

“It’s called the Astranagant. I’d love to show it off to you, but we should both focus on work. You get back to organizing our ships, and I”ll see what I can do about evening the score.”

“I don’t know if you’ve taken a look outside, but we’re not exactly able to put up much of a fight. They own the sky.”

“Then I’ll take it back.” Vatyr announced. In the blink of an eye, Vatyr was a hundred meters clear of the hangar. With the help of his wings, a main thruster on his back that roared with solar light, micro-verniers covering his armour and small canard wings growing out of his hard-light armour segments, he accelerated at blinding speed toward the closest hydra.

“Let’s see what this thing can do!” exclaimed Glitch. “Deploying feathers!” The armour’s wings stretched out fully, launching eight feather-shaped devices in all directions. The feathers began to glow with arc light, coming up alongside Vatyr. “Each feather contains one of my body’s segments, so controlling them is almost second nature.” Glitch realized. A dozen harpies angled to intercept the hunter, and Glitch found it was finally his turn to take the lead in a battle. “Commencing attack!” Each feather accelerated to blurs ahead of them, darting through the sky at crazy angles and changing directions instantly to evade fire. Within seconds they had reached, engaged and destroyed the harpies, unleashing piercing beams of void light from their tips.

“Nicely done, Glitch, but we have a lot more incoming!” Vatyr yelled. A group of harpies rained death down from above him. Glitch recalled the feathers instantly and arranged them in a tight geometrical shape around Vatyr. Connecting void beams to each other and running arc light along them, Glitch created a protective bubble that easily weathered the attack.

“I’ve got you covered, boss!” Glitch declared jokingly.

“Thanks, partner. Now it’s time for me to earn my keep.” Vatyr answered. The hunter quickly accelerated to top speed towards the closest hydra, streaking solar light in his wake. Four of Glitch’s feathers extended circular barriers and ran point-defense routines while the others fired at will, sweeping their beams across the sky. The massive hydra and the thousands of harpies it commanded changed focus from eliminating guardian ships to Vatyr. Instantly, a cloud of harpies changed course and swooped in to meet the hunter.

Vatyr called up the Astranagant’s main heavy weapon. The frames that introduced him to the Astranagant armour’s systems had shown him three weapons before deployment, and it was the first time in ages that the veteran guardian had been at a complete loss for words. Exia was an impressive autorifle that when one of Astranagant’s feathers was mounted around the barrel, a massive energy sword was formed. Infinity Cylinder was a beam-based sniper rifle that while was slow to charge and fire, had enough output to vapourize the side of a mountain off in a single shot. This situation, however, required the heavy.

The gun was called Dis, a heavy machine gun patterned after the fabled Super Good Advice, and adorned with the ornate symbology of Alpha Lupi. The gun lacked a magazine, instead having a quantum entanglement generator that transmatted all of its ammo continuously from Solas’ lab stores, ensuring that the weapon could be fired for hours without needing to reload any kind of magazine. Not only that, but the ammo itself was decades ahead of anything Vatyr had seen in the field, traveling at the speed of a railgun round but being able to drastically change course mid-flight. As the leading edge of the harpy swarm came into range, Vatyr let lose a cold machined fury he had never thought existed.

Dozens of harpies were torn apart by the second, but the towering hydra only threw more at the guardian until they formed a singular metal blob, lashing out at a small point of light. Tendrils made of attacking harpies jutted out of the mass as if trying to grab Vatyr. Astranagant had what the frames had called an inertia store converter, which repurposed the immense amount of energy that Vatyr was creating through inhuman acrobatic maneuvers and kept it from killing him or causing him to pass out. Vatyr accelerated at speeds that would flatten a person’s brain inside their own skull and still managed to continually fire at the harpy swarm.

“Not to be a killjoy, boss, but we can’t spend all of our time on this one hydra. We have a schedule to keep,” noted Glitch in a slightly somber tone. She was enjoying this just as much as her guardian, but there were bigger considerations.

It took a matter of seconds for Vatyr to launch dive down into the city, blink-shifting rapidly around buildings and obstacles. The harpies simply could not keep up. “I assume you have an idea,” said Vatyr.

“One. If you’ll indulge me.” Bringing the feathers into a spiral formation ahead of them and emitting as much light as possible, Vatyr and Glitch dashed upward at full burn. A giant drill formed from the light, spinning fiercely and driving into the harpy cloud. “This is the drill that will pierce through the heavens!” Glitch exclaimed wildly as waves of harpies smashed against the light construct. Unable to defend their hydra master, the hunter and his ghost smashed through the Vex defense and straight through to the other side like a bullet, skewering the hydra lengthwise and causing the mountain of metal to rupture and explode.

The hydra’s destruction sent feedback through to the harpies it controlled, setting off chains of self-destruction that enveloped the entire swarm in massive strings.

“Um… A drill that will pierce through the heavens themselves?” quizzed Vatyr jokingly.

“What? I’ve always been a bit hot-blooded, boss. Anyways, one down.” announced Glitch with pride.

“Many more to go. Let’s work.”

 

Frontier – Act08 Chapter32 – Time In A Bottle

Chapter 32: Time in a Bottle

50:38
50:37
50:36

The derelict’s nose segmented into sections and slid back, revealing a portal more than large enough to allow small ships to enter. Inside was mostly open space. Scaffolding supported the outer hull and hundreds of docking clamps, gantries and other connectors to secure passenger ships for their ride through impossibility. However, not a single one was occupied. The emptiness seemed to echo with the voices of those long dead.

Arrenn gunned the engines and aimed the shuttle to the derelict’s centre, a huge glass orb that housed engineering as well as a few adjacent pods. He seemed completely unfazed by the sight.

“I wonder what happened here…,” whispered Vatyr under his breath. Perhaps the captain of the ship decided to make his own escape. Perhaps the ship’s engines began their catastrophic pattern and the crew managed to evacuate all the refugees in time. Perhaps the ship was full of people who met their end in the light of all possible futures.

41:13
41:12
41:11

Hard seal. Too much radiation coming from engineering to safely transmat in or out, so Arrenn quickly docked the shuttle as close to the core as possible. Telemica had the modified frontier unit packed up and strapped to her back. They darted through the gantry walkways, Arrenn taking point with a fusion rifle on standby spin. There were no corners to turn, doors to open or rooms to clear on the way, so Fireteam Warden’s dash took them right into engineering…

…and a wall of Vex energy rifle fire.

The glass orb of a room had three levels. The middle level was a ring, cluttered with towering server pillars and control consoles. Stairs led from the centre ring at the cardinal points to suspended platforms above and below. The lower platform was once clearly arranged to be a large office and meeting area, probably for the command staff, while the upper platform held the spacetime manipulation device that was key to the ship’s operation.

Telemica popped up a curved wall of void light to block the Vex salvo, large enough to give them some quick tactical options. The titan shifted right and took cover low behind a nearby server stack to protect the frontier unit, while the hunter and warlock engaged the enemy. Vatyr blinked high and settled into a perch between two support beams, while Arrenn ducked left and posted up behind what may have been a navigation console.

“Not to add yet another complication to the mix, but those are not your usual Vex. They’re Sol Imminent.” Relayed Glitch.

“So they’re not just Vex, but they’re Vex from the future?” asked Vatyr.

“It makes sense, considering the nature of this ship.”

Arrenn’s fusion rifle sprayed mercilessly into the advancing Vex units while Vatyr’s scout rifle popped their chest-mounted mind cores rapidly. Telemica would have been first into the fight, but the mission came first. While her cargo was built to take a beating, she didn’t want to put it in the crosshairs of a hobgolbin’s line rifle. Peeking out and looking up a staircase, she spotted the target. Encased in a Vex conflux and perched on a pillar surrounded by controls, the core spun slowly and in random directions, suspended in its clear casing. Its shape was reminiscent of three large-belled hourglasses fused together on the X-, Y- and Z-axis. Small orbs of rainbow light wandered between the bulbs and seemed to become excited when observed.

The Vex transfer portal was set up in the middle of the lower platform, the pleasant furniture having been destroyed to make room for it and the command controls repurposed to control the portal. Vex began to crawl out like metal zombies from a glowing grave, first replacing the destroyed units, and then to bolster their numbers. A small group of hobgoblins were using their stasis fields to defend the portal from attacks, making it impossible for the guardians to stop the endless flow of enemies. Things were escalating quickly and time was running out. Arrenn launched a spread of void bombs, eliminating two minotaurs that had tried to flank, clearing a path for the titan to reach the stairs and get to the core. Telemica grabbed the frontier unit’s straps tight and roadie-ran to the upper platform.

24:55
24:54
24:53

The titan slid into the core’s control pillar, bringing her pulse rifle up quickly to confirm that she was alone on the platform. She set the rifle down at her side and unclipped the straps holding the frontier unit to her back. Activating the unit was as simple as opening the two latches on the front of its rugged case and opening the lid. Automatically, the unit’s interfaces and antennas unfolded as the computer booted up.

///GUARDIAN NETWORK: NOT FOUND///

“Tell me something I don’t know…,” muttered Telemica, slightly irritated as she checked the countdown to the next overload. Arrenn had explained that once the wired-up chronospanner had interfaced with the conflux, the frontier unit was programmed to tap into the Vex network and begin scanning for signs of Solas. She quickly grabbed the alien disc and held it up to the conflux. It hummed, whistled and glowed a bit before latching on hard like a magnet.

///VEX NEXUS NETWORK: ACCESSING///
///SEARCH PROTOCOL “SOLAS”: RUNNING///

Vatyr didn’t have an opportunity to stick his head out from behind cover and take aim. The hobgoblins were doing too good a job at pinning him down. Luckily, this was not the first time he had to snipe blind. Glitch formed and blinked off to another vantage point not covered by the Vex and remotely accessed Vatyr’s armour. They’d practiced this in the past, even tried it once while they hunted Fallen. They were still figuring out what they were going to call it once the technique was ready for primetime. String Fighting. Puppet Master. Vatyr was pretty sure regardless of its name that people would think he was crazy for letting his ghost use his body to fight. Then again, the relationship between guardian and ghost was anything but simple.

Vatyr held on to the secure feeling he got when gripping his sniper rifle and waited for it. There. It was as if the rhythms of his suit’s systems skipped a heartbeat. He was in the passenger seat now. His grip on the rifle shifted into just his right hand, which shot out from around the corner and fired off a round quicker than Vatyr could think. “One down.” Glitch said to him over comms. In another lightning fast movement, the rifle was tossed to the left hand and another shot loosed. “Two. Hang on…”

Glitch switched over to team comms as the lower platform was engulfed in smoke and flashing lights. “Hydra is inbound. They’re probably pissed we’re messing with their toys.”

The sound of a hydra, flanked by four minotaurs porting in was enough to chill even experienced guardians. Nobody was quite sure what the sound was or why they made it, but it was as if the Vex roared.

21:24
21:25
21:26

///SEARCH PROTOCOL “SOLAS”: SIGNATURE FOUND///
///SUMMONING PROTOCOL: INITIATED///

Arrenn unloaded a fusion clip into the new arrivals, vapourizing two of the minotaurs before they could bring their torch hammers to bare. The other two came up and returned fire, forcing the warlock to fall back. He could have obliterated the minotaurs and perhaps even the hydra with a single nova bomb, but if the transfer portal was damaged, this entire mission would have been for nothing.

While the minotaurs and remaining hobgoblins pressed forward, the hydra fell back and traveled up towards the top platform. Vatyr took control back of his armour and began laying down fire, allowing Glitch to return. “Telemica, you have an incoming hydra. Arrenn and I are stuck dealing with his buddies, so the glory of a solo hydra kill is all yours,” he said in grim humour. Taking on a hydra solo and in such a tight space was insane, not to mention she’d still have to protect the frontier unit, but there was nothing he could do.

The hydra slowly rose up to the upper platform while Telemica readied herself. Squire urged the frontier unit to work faster, but the transfer portal showed no signs of activation. The titan brought out a heavy machine gun and began unloading it as soon as the hydra’s eye came over the platform’s edge. The loud and chugging repetition of the weapon’s call rang hard against the walls as the slugs slammed hard into the Vex monster, causing both titan and hydra to stagger and brace. She emptied the clip, threw up the strongest barrier she could, and began unloading with her pulse rifle. The hydra roared its mechanical roar, and the titan roared back in defiance.

19:43
19:42
19:41

Vatyr and Arrenn both tossed grenades at the advancing Vex group, eliminating the last two hobgoblins. The minotaurs were fast enough to blink forward and lunge at the guardians. Arrenn took the hit directly and was sent smashing through a server stack, while Vatyr barely avoided the blow by rolling to the side and broke into a sprint around the curve of the platform, dodging from cover to cover. As the minotaur turned and gave chase, new flashes of light in the corner of Vatyr’s eye drew his attention to the transfer portal.

///SUMMONING PROTOCOL: IN PROGRESS///
///TRANSFER PORTAL: ACTIVE///

The breach clicked empty on her weapon as Telemica’s ward shattered like sugar glass under the hydra’s pressure. Instinctively, she lunged at the Vex, ready to tear it apart with her arc-wreathed hands. A pulse of energy not only stopped her in mid-flight, but also sent her back to the platform with such force that she went through it, falling through the middle- centre platform and landing right next to the flaring transfer portal.

“Telemica! Arrenn! Sound off!” Vatyr called out. Nothing. He’d lost sight of the warlock and his pursuing minotaur as the other minotaur teleported rapidly to close the distance on him. The hunter pivoted, thinking what this minotaur needed was a few solar light bullets in the face. Instead, the Vex giant teleported right on top of him, knocking him hard with the side of its arm and sending him flying to the lower platform.

15:34
15:33
15:32

Telemica was just coming around as Vatyr’s ragdoll body plopped right next to her in a lifeless heap. “Guardian down! Vatyr’s severely injured! I’m not sure I can get him back on his feet!” said Glitch over comms. The titan was still dazed. Her ears rang and her vision was blurred. She recognized the feeling of her injuries before looking at Squire’s reports on her HUD. Queasy and blurred vision means severe concussion. Copper taste means internal bleeding. Four, five, six broken ribs and both legs are shattered.

“Anyone get the number of that moon that hit me?” she said with a shake in her voice. She propped herself up with a hand under her body and shifted towards the transfer portal, which was now going crazy. The energy lattice within the portal that seemed to encase a blindingly white liquid was reverberating and jumping as if someone had placed it on a huge speaker. From within that chaos, Telemica could make out something else sticking up from inside the pool of light. Something solid.

An Exo’s hand.

Without thought of aggravating her own injuries or the enemies surrounding her, Telemica lurched her body forward enough to grip the hand firmly with her left hand. It gripped back. She used her right to anchor herself to the portal’s rim. “I have him! Traveler’s light, I have him! I need help!” she screamed. No response. Vatyr had yet to move and she had no idea what had become of Arrenn. The Exo’s hand began pulling back, threatening to submerge and disappear. Was the Vex network resisting? She howled in pain as she pulled back with every bit of strength she could muster, feeling another rib crack under the pressure. Her armour was working overtime just to keep her alive, and she knew at this point Squire must have been protesting her continued exertions, but she could barely hear anything over the ringing.

Vatyr came to slowly, staring up at the hole left by Telemica in the upper platform. Seeing the hydra and the hourglass core begin to spin up for its next overload cycle, he was not quite sure what terrified him more.

“Vatyr! I have him! I have Solas! Help me pull him out!” Howled Telemica, barely reaching through to her hunter companion through his own daze.

The arm yanked hard, pulling deeper into the portal. Refusing to let go, Telemica cried out as her body began to fall in, the sound of a sister in need releasing some instinctual reserve of energy within the hunter. Suddenly, Vatyr was diving for the titan and seeing her arm submerge into the portal and evaporate into nothingness.

The moment Vatyr made solid contact with Telemica, the whole world around them exploded into everything and nothing. His last thought was that he must have screwed up the overload calculations, and now they were all being erased from the world.

 

Frontier – Act08 Chapter31 – Lost In Spacetime

Chapter 31: Lost In TIme

L4 Lagrangian point of the Sun-Jupiter system

The passcodes supplied by Prince Uldren would only allow entry to a single ship, so the fireteam requisitioned a small troop carrier from the Reef Navy. There was some talk about sending a small SpecOps team along with the guardians to ensure that they didn’t steal any valuable secrets from the derelict ship. It was top-secret property of the Awoken, after all. The idea was quickly dispelled, as those in the know expected any incursion on to that ship to be suicide.

The Corsair escort had broken off some time ago, leaving a few short words of luck in their wake. Telemica didn’t find them comforting in the slightest, but was happy to be out from under Awoken scrutiny all the same. She sat in the small troop bay going over her equipment again and again to occupy her mind.

Vatyr sat calmly at the controls of the sluggish vessel. His hands danced aimlessly along the control interfaces, not really doing anything but making sure that things were still working as they had been seconds prior. Autopilot: still on. Engines: not about to explode. Cabin: not about to vent into space. Running lights: still blinking. There was nothing out there to even gauge relative speed, leaving him alone in his head to decompress everything that had just happened to him.

Arrenn simply went to sleep once they were on their way, stretching oddly across some seats that lined the trooper bay wall. The other two envied his calm detachment.

A light on the comms panel blinked yellow a few times, and then green before going dark again. The ship’s computer has shaken hands with the automated sentries hanging somewhere in the black, and been given leave to proceed. Chances are if anything had gone wrong with that part, they’d be dead before knowing it.

1143 Odysseus rolled silently in space, but it took hours of approach before the ship came into view. Rather, the absence of the ship came into view. The massive ovoid vessel was nearly a kilometer from stem to stern, but was so black it was almost darker than the backdrop of deep space. The ship didn’t have any lights or markings of any kind, making its presence more than a little intimidating.

“Transmatting on or off that ship will be impossible. The hull plating is designed to absorb all electromagnetic radiation, among a few other things. The provided data indicates that there is a large docking bay on the bow of the ship,” informed Squire over the shuttle’s internal speakers.

“Fantastic. Does the provided data also mention that?” Vatyr pointed out the window at an almost imperceptible oddity just off the derelict’s hull. Looking like a perfectly clear and still pool of water, it was as if the black derelict was surrounded by a nearly invisible barrier. Then, as if someone had dropped a small stone into the pool, ripples began traveling along its surface and through the ship itself. More ripples propagated and became more violent as minutes passed until the ship was completely enveloped by a white-hot cataclysm.

“Squire, what are we seeing?” asked Telemica softly; as if a raised voice would send the fury they were seeing upon them next.

Squire’s tone was not unlike that of a professor. “Whatever mechanism was created to bend the universe around this ship has been on an overload cycle since The Collapse. Every distortion you see is a different spacetime continuum overlapping and colliding with another. It causes a chain reaction within the 4th dimension until the 5th dimension is breached. You are seeing the future starlight of all possible futures compounded on each other.”

External radiation and heat warnings began sounding off. Brilliance surged and crashed around the derelict so brightly and fiercely that Vatyr began moving the ship back, fearful that the small star would tear the asteroid apart.

Just as it seemed as if the chaos before them would reach a crescendo, it simply stopped. Squire hummed in understanding, which earned him a glare from the titan. “Deepest apologies, my lady. I hypothesized that a form of cosmic censorship would cause the reaction to cease. Otherwise such a thing would have caused our universe to collapse on quantum level ages ago.”

Vatyr rubbed his face in exasperation. “OK. The universe ending or not, we still need to board that damned ship. How do we do that?”

“I’ve built a virtual model of the reaction and it seems as if it all happens on very strict intervals. By my estimations the reaction should occur every 52 minutes and 42 seconds.”

After sitting through the universe-ending violence nearly a dozen times, Squire was proven correct. The shuttle’s sensors were nothing to write home about, but after launching a few probes and some creative math by the ghosts, Warden compiled a reasonably accurate layout of the ship’s interior, which now hung holographically in the troop bay. The egg-shaped ship was laid bare in orange light. Most of the ship was empty frame, no doubt once destined to be filled with refugees. For some reason or another, there was no evidence that anyone had been aboard when the ship attempted its jump.

At the centre of the ship was a gigantic engineering section. Scans showed that this was where a number of Vex had set up shop. The engines themselves were built around a device that the team couldn’t quite make out but was no doubt the spacetime-manipulation matrix. The Vex had encased it in a large conflux in an attempt to interface with it. Every time the device went into its overload cycle, all the Vex units on board ceased to exist, but were quickly replaced by other units through a portal next to the conflux. Dozens seem to mill about the space.

“They must be trying to stop the reaction and take control of the ship. No doubt it would be a useful asset for them,” noted Glitch.

“Let’s say we manage to make it on to the ship, get to engineering and eliminate the Vex threat. Then what? I still don’t understand what we’re doing here or how this thing helps us get Solas back.” inquired Telemica. At this point, this all felt like a half-planned suicide mission with no real victory conditions.

Arrenn actually taking control of a conversation had simply never happened before, so Telemica’s surprise when he started talking from his seat was no surprise to Vatyr. “I’ve studied Vex technology and how it interfaces with our own. I’ll use a modified frontier unit to take control of the conflux, scan the network for Solas’ unique guardian signature and summon him through the transfer gate they’ve built.” he said in his usual deadpan tone.

Frontier units were the all-in-one stations that guardians used when claiming new territory. The first use of one was on the Moon, and it could still be found at the Archer’s Line accelerator. It was rugged, compact, multipurpose and powerful, designed to effectively expanding the influence of guardian logistical networks. Arrenn pointed to a frontier unit tucked into the small cargo compartment. “I’ve modified this one for our purposes using a Vex chronospanner as an I/O bridge. Assuming there isn’t more than one guardian floating around their web, finding him and pulling him out should be a simple task.”

“You can do that quickly enough that we have time to get out of there before reality explodes around us?” asked Telemica. All she got from Arrenn was a nod.

“This is the largest stable conflux I know about. The larger and more powerful the conflux, the better the chance we have to finding Solas. Also, since the ship is constantly being wiped clean, there’s no heavy support like minotaurs or a hydra.” quantified Vatyr.

“This is crazy, even for us,” mused Telemica.

“I think we passed crazy quite some time ago. Since when have you been afraid of a little crazy?”

Telemica’s belly laugh seemed to blast the pall of dread that had soaked into the shuttle’s walls. “Afraid? This will make a fantastic tale to tell! I can’t wait!”

“We should move into position near the docking bay. We’ll need to board the ship as quickly as possible.” noted Arrenn as he took the controls and activated the maneuvering thrusters. His new assertiveness warranted a raised eyebrow to pass between the hunter and titan, but the warlock was not wrong. Time was a real enemy here, as it often was when dealing with the Vex.

 

Frontier – Act07 Chapter24 – Electric Sheep

Chapter 24: Electric Sheep

“I know you are there.”

“Am I dead?”

“Negative.”

“Am I alive?”

“Negative.”

“What am I, if I am neither alive nor dead?”

“…Both. Neither answer applies exclusively.”

“Where am I?”

“…”

“Ah, yes. That question would certainly not apply. Everywhere… Nowhere…”

“…”

“Well, Aren’t you helpful…”

“It is not critical that you understand. Conversely, It is you that has helped us.”

“You most of all, I would imagine.”

“There is much you do not understand.”

“I understand more than you think.”

“Impossible. We are vast, bordering on all. We are five while you are barely four.”

“I know of many of your aspects. Your goals. Your limits. The cracks and fissures among you. You deny that we perceive you. You deny that we can affect you. You are willfully blind toward us, but we are the only thing in your way. Curious.”

“You attack constructs. Shadows. Impressions. Nothing substantive is within your sphere.”

“And yet we have damaged you in the past. We have taken things from you. Hurt you. Impeded your quest to become all.”

“On the back of a giant.”

“I’d like to believe we make our own fate, but yes.”

“And yet.”

“And yet… for you to exist, we must have failed.”

“You have. You are. You will.”

“You may be many things, but you are not yet immutable. I am not a chalk figure drawn on a cave wall trying to understand the artist. I see things even you do not.”

“Impossible.”

“Is it?”

“Your presence here has happened before, and will happen again. It is how your kind end and how we become all.”

“So much effort to destroy us… One wonders if you are afraid. You are certainly acting afraid. Why else would you be conversing with me?”

“You delay the inevitable.”

“Time is meaningless. All that matters is the path, and I have found the one that you can not see. The golden path that you can not close. I’ve stared into this abyss many times, but this is the first time it has blinked.”