Ambition's End // Chapter 21, Four Armed Nightmare
Rest of the story (there is a tag too): https://docs.google.com/document/d/15ew1g89oxjEj5mZRFvv94Ht2Td6lVWkc-Lk7nwplUgg/edit
“We have a hit, Phoros. Fallen spotted near a Hive colony, Tangled Shore.” The ghost hovered in front of the warlock, covering most of his vision. “I’m guessing they’re harvesting Wizard poison.”
“Perfect. We’re going.” He set course on his ship, and immediately began transit.
“Are you sure? I mean, we’re not one hundred percent on this yet, are we?”
“As I explained earlier, we know enough of his methods to counteract them.” He fiddled with a strange weapon in front of him, tightening a large barrel. Its length filled most of the -blam!- of the warlock’s ship. “The earlier we are, the higher chance we have of surviving. For the careful planner, there is only success. If only more people would understand that.” The ship stopped, and he relaxed. “It’s time.”
“If you say so…” The ghost trailed off as he transported his guardian down below.
Phoros crouched low, surrounded by dull green Reef shrubbery on an asteroid overlooking the breeding ground.
“This is weird. The Hive weren’t even here when the ping was set off. They’ve… just arrived.” His ghost looked over to an incoming fleet of tombships screeching through portals and surrounding the cave, spilling countless troops at its entrance.
“Strange indeed. I’m guessing he’s baiting out a certain Hive target. He’d have no reason to attack an empty pit.” Phoros descended from cover. “Nevertheless, this is our chance. We just have to intercept him when he arrives.” The Warlock crept up along the field, avoiding contact with incoming Hive. Stopping at a cave entrance, he brought his rocket launcher-like weapon out and loaded strange looking ammunition into the tube. “This had better work.” He mumbled, stowing it once more. He entered to meet a surprised patrolling Acolyte, who was dispatched with a palm before it could make any noise.
“Still no Fallen aircraft coming in. Wouldn’t he need a lot more than whichever Fallen set the bait? I mean, there’s a ton of Hive spilling in. This breeding ground might as well be labelled active.” The ghost examined the sky, searching for vessels.
He ran, looking left and right at the rooms his ghost scanned. “That room! Do you see any Fallen in there?” He moved toward a locked door, aiming a hand cannon.
“N-no, I don’t. There’s not a single Eliksni soul in there, and these runes… they’re not like any other Hive locks I’ve decoded.”
“Not a single one? This is the most secure room here. I’m sure Fallen would be here, if any.” Phoros looked inside the now unlocked room to see no lumbering Hive nor skittering Fallen. He only saw a hole in the rock made recently by a welding tool, and a Vex teleporter sitting in the center of the room.
“I don’t understand. Is he… trying to trap a Hive target? Is this how he sends his troops in? No, he’s always sent skiffs to do his work. A single Vex teleporter is far too inefficient.” Phoros circled the device.
“No way.” The warlock froze. “Is this how he…”
“You are correct. That teleporter,” A silent voice whispered from behind Phoros. “Is for you.”
He jumped and fired his hand cannon at a blank wall, drowning out the mysterious whisper. “Did you not scan that?”
“I can’t read anything! He’s completely invisible!”
“This must be a member of Tivik’s crew. I knew they were specialized, but this is…”
A web mine detonated at Phoros’ feet. The warlock struggled to move out of the corner he was in, slowed considerably by the trap.
“Unfortunately, your work was for naught.” Dreliks appeared in front of Phoros’ path out of the web mine. His cloak melted down, revealing the Eliksni’s waiting form. Before lightning could be struck, a grenade could be thrown, a bullet could be fired, Phoros was flung into the portal by the Vandal.
“Tivik, a guardian is through.” Dreliks called, as the room descended into silence once more.
“Zahir, urgent transmission from the Shore, addressed to you.” Eltanin looked over a notification on her tablet, puzzled.
“Just now?” Zahir walked over, looking at the report from behind.
“Yeah, from the ghost of an unnamed guardian. There’s a single word here, just… “Fallen.”...”
“Patch me in. Now.”
“On it.” Eltanin handed a headset to the titan as she tapped him in.
“Guardian? Guardian! You need to get out of there now! You have no idea what you’re dealing with!” Zahir looked over the map on the tablet frantically. His eyes darted over text and intel speedily. “Guardian? It seems that area’s just now become a Hive hotspot. You said there were Fallen there? I don’t think this is what it seems.”
There was no response. Zahir threw the headset off and began to dash for the door. “Tivik’s crew is there fighting Hive, and a guardian as well. They must be harvesting wizard poison.” He flung the apartment door open, stopping to turn around and address his roommate. “I refuse to see another grave. I’m going. Eltanin, keep an eye on the situation.”
“If I’m late, there’s leftovers in the fridge, and definitely call the others as well. I’ll see you.”
She smiled through her fear. “See you.”
Phoros fell on the floor, his brief transport over. He felt the oppressive energy of a blight crawl around his entire body.
“Of course… they weren’t targeting Hive, they were counting on a guardian investigating the Hive and stumbling upon that teleporter.”
He stood up and took note of his surroundings. Lime green and yellow stone surrounded the tight room that housed him and the blight. He began to run for the exit, but a canister of poison rolling to his feet took his attention away. It burst, causing him to scramble back.
Tivik’s heavy footfalls thundered through the warlock’s ears. The warlock fired his hand cannon through the seemingly pitch black opening that separated the cave rooms, but there was no indication of a hit.
“Of course he wouldn’t be directly behind that.” Phoros reached for the strange rocket launcher on his back and took aim, waiting.
Another canister burst. He began to feel the venom attack all sides of his body, but he had to make sure the shot would count.
One more cloud of gas appeared, and Phoros shot the ground with a projectile filled with compressed air. It blasted the poison clean out of the room, and even caused the blight beside him to shudder. He ignored its slow, crawling edge and dove out of his prison.
“Who is this lightbearer?” Tivik -blam!- his head in intrigue, watching Phoros stumble out of the cave. Two web mines sprung up on either side of the him as Tivik began to charge his wire rifle. Phoros disabled one with his palm and shot the other with his hand cannon, but, to his dismay, their removals only showed more mines.
“I see. You’re a careful planner as well.” Phoros covered himself in arc energy. He grunted as a wire rifle round struck his now reinforced helmet. He blinked forward and out of the webs. Tivik snarled and struck the warlock with his arm, flinging the warlock back toward the blight.
“Change of plans, then.” Phoros stuck his arms out toward the Taken anomaly, stinging it with tendrils of lightning. He continued to channel the arc through his arms, willing his trance into the blight until it fizzled into nothing. The weight that it had brought onto him lifted, but he was reminded of his threat as a line of arc energy pierced his shoulder. He stumbled over and took another shot to the leg, toppling him to the ground. He grunted as he heard another canister roll up to his torso and envelop him once again in poison.
The Guardian Killer approached the weakened warlock, assured of victory.
“An admirable struggle, lightbearer, but I am afraid it was not enough. Hopefully, my next victim will be anybody you have withheld any information about me to-”
A collection of arc energy at the warlock’s chest caught Tivik’s eye. A burst of arc fusion rifle bolts zoomed up the gap between the two, but they dissipated harmlessly against Tivik’s purple shields.
(CONT IN COMMENTS)
Phoros gasped in despair. “Void shields… you changed your… shield-“
Tivik stepped on the warlock with his massive foot. His shadow added to the already dark atmosphere created by the poison.
“Since you’ve made it so far, allow me to complete the puzzle for you.” The Eliksni clicked in amusement, pushing down harder an causing the guardian to gasp.
“I seek an empty outpost of Hive, Cabal, whatever it may be, and attract attention to it. A lightbearer comes to investigate, and they are unaware that I, Tivik, have already secured a point of interest inside of the enemy stronghold that the lightbearer will inevitably seek out. You knew much, but not nearly enough.”
“No Fallen has any right to be that clever…” The warlock choked.
Tivik’s eyes narrowed. “I am the apex of assassination. I destroy my weaknesses. I will not be contested. Every murder I carry out is calculated and set up perfectly. I adapt. I stay hidden. My attacks are sporadic. You have earned the privilege of learning it all, warlock. You have my utmost respect.” He charged his wire rifle for a final blow.
Phoros saw a glow of blue beyond his fading vision. He had no final words, for there was nobody to hear them. His ghost had already clattered to the floor, battered and drained of light. Dying. The last thing he saw was his hopeful, loyal companion. The one who had stayed with him to the end, no matter what he had done. The last thing Phoros did was drop his hand from his fusion rifle, now resting on his chest, and feel at the pocket on his robe for the crumpled photograph of his old fireteam.