southernisms: (Inaho)
[personal profile] southernisms
Whether the Fallen milling about the compound were inattentive due to the presence of their Ether Runner, some yet-to-be-identified ability which allowed him to move around undetected, or simple luck, Inaho managed to climb up a skeletal support far enough to reach the highest catwalk surrounding what had been a cooling tower. He silently admitted that his odds of reaching his current position had been abysmal, so a matter of luck was unlikely, and not simply because he hated to rely on chance. No, it appeared that the Fallen were inattentive in their sense of security, and that was something most definitely beneficial to him.

From his vantage point, the brown-haired Guardian could make out the enemy's scattered positions undisturbed, not to mention it gave him a much better view of the compound's layout. He was thus able to make out at least three Vandals with long-range wire rifles who would easily make nuisances out of themselves should they spot him. Their habit of staggering their shots meant they were at least clever enough to know their weapons' limitation – the brief lag between firing and the bullet's impact – and compensate through their tactics. He found himself wishing for a brief moment that he could obtain one of those wire rifles to study before he turned his attention back to more pressing matters. Simply waiting for one of them to err seemed inefficient, so he would have to figure out a way to force a window of opportunity to methodically take them out. Creating a distraction would most likely do just that.

Lowering himself back down the ladder and retracing his steps, Inaho retreated back into the building he had wound his way through to get a better look at the exposed pipes and wiring. His element of surprise was nearly compromised, however, when a small group of Dreg stragglers appeared from behind an adjacent exit. Dispatching them quickly, he threw a glance over his shoulder in case the noise for the brief firefight had drawn the attention of the Fallen outside. It hadn't, possibly having been too far away and the sounds muted by concrete structures. But since he had a precious few moments to spare, the brunet checked their corpses for any equipment he could use. Aside from a few of what resembled stick grenades and even some ammunition, there was nothing particularly useful.

Standing up, he looked up once more and studied the various pipes threading across the buildings, some made from a different material than the water mains he had made use of earlier. Likely, those were the gas lines he had hoped to find earlier. If gas was still running through them, they could serve as an ideal distraction without blowing himself up in a spectacular fireball right along with his enemies.

Returning to the outside and climbing up onto the catwalk again, Inaho ducked to make himself less visible as he made his way to one of the pipes mounted a foot above the railing. Further examination proved his earlier supposition correct; this was indeed a gas main. If he could keep an ignition source small, it would effectively keep a gas explosion under the necessary control. Rust-coloured eyes fell on the odd grenades in his right hand. They resembled Model 24 Stielhandgranate from an ancient war, but with no discernable payload. Instead, the device appeared to have a small motor encasing what could only have been an electrical core. If they could be hacked so that their charge was kept miniscule, he could set them to go off at points while he closed the distance enough to disable or eliminate the servitor before dealing with the Fallen.

"Hack these so that the induction motor produces only a spark," he commanded, holding out them in his right hand extended out towards the Ghost without looking away from his work as he felt along the underside with his left. The technology was too fine-tuned and alien to attempt it himself, which left him with the task of how to secure them to the mains. The more pressing concern was the a risk of discovery while he worked. He would have to be careful. "Also, some way to activate them on a signal."

For all its obvious artificial nature, the Ghost seemed put-out at his abrupt order. However, it wisely remained silent all the way up to the point when the Warlock moved down to the stop valves and began trying to shut the smaller ones off. "Thank you for finally trusting me with something," the AI remarked sardonically. "Let me guess; you're planning on making a cannon from scratch out of this...assuming the entire place doesn't go up."

"No," Inaho corrected, not looking up from his work. "That would be impractical as well as dangerous."

"Well then...mind filling me in on what you're doing? I can do more than bring a dead body back to life and store things, you know." The Ghost seemed to be filled with pride as he said, “I also have access to a plethora of weapons systems, from old powder-propellant pre-Golden Age weapons to the latest-model pulse rifles. For instance, did you know that there are currently six different models in Hakke’s Psi family of pulse rifles?”

As difficult as it was for him to understand just what kinds of other emotions the AI might have been feeling – that is, if it wasn't an elaborate simulation – the exasperation was plain enough. In all likelihood, that understanding came from the nagging suspicion that he was well-accustomed to it for the same habit of his. At least...was it a habit? The brown-haired Guardian didn't feel the need to delve into it, nor waste time explaining his plan; he only needed the Ghost to perform certain tasks when he needed them done. He really didn't want to soothe hurt feelings when the current situation was a struggle for survival.

"Guardian?" the Ghost prompted, sounding for all the world like a person trying to physically poke him to get his attention.

"I require concentration if we're to make it out alive." Silently, he was glad his flat, monotone voice gave nothing of his own exasperation away.

He could swear he heard his Ghost sigh. "Fine, you win. Just so you know, a lecture's on the horizon with that attitude. Not from me, but Commander Zavala's going to rip you a new one no matter how talented you are."

"Rip me a new what?"

"...Nevermind. Just hurry up with whatever it is you're doing," the AI complained as the grenades disappeared from his hand.

Inaho refrained from pointing out that the Ghost's distraction had already delayed him by some necessary seconds, resuming his rapid work. The longer it took, the more chances increased that his presence would be noticed. While perhaps complacent, the Fallen were certainly not completely oblivious, he would be discovered if they dawdled.

Fortunately, the peculiar construct wasted no further time with sarcastic, annoyed comments as they both worked. The reward came when moments later, it announced it had completed its work. "That part's done," it commented with a note of satisfaction.

The Guardian did not so much as reply as accepted the hacked grenade and attached it to the underside of the pipe with half-shredded plastic fibres before gripping the shutoff valve and giving it a hard turn. It was more physical exertion than he had wanted to be subjected to, but it was necessary if he wanted to avoid sending up the entire complex.

Hurrying to the second point along the second main, Inaho repeated the process. Grunting with satisfaction at his handiwork, he descended the ladder to the ground once again as quietly as possible. With his slight stature it shouldn't have been too difficult, but the heavy protective clothing he had been resurrected in likely weighed several extra kilograms. Troublesome, he thought.

Even more troublesome was having to skirt the large open area in order to reach the gas mains rimming the buildings on the other side. For all their seeming obliviousness, the Vandals at least had good eyesight or else equipment which extended their natural range of vision. The Voidwalker suspected the latter; the aliens appeared to have the advantage in darker places, so it stood to reason the bright light of open areas made it more difficult for them to see. He would have to observe them carefully for such weaknesses even as he fought; the information would be valuable later on.

The lack of stairs or a catwalk similar to the one he had used earlier had meant Inaho had to get creative in short jumps among crates and miscellaneous rubble until he managed to reach the pipes. Once the necessary hacked grenades were in place and the appropriate valves shut off, all that remained was making his way up to the top of the rusting remains of a water tower and avoiding being spotted. The climb itself meant more physical exertion, but he had found that, to his surprise, such activity was not as irksome and tiring as he had expected it to be. In fact, it was somewhat disconcerting how effortless it seemed to be. What required more effort was moving into position without alerting the hostile forces below.

After holstering his rifle at his back and hoisting himself up to the top of the tank, the russet-eyed Warlock drew his rifle and flattened himself against the top before looking down the sights of the Howa. "Detonate the first grenade," he ordered his Ghost as he shifted to aim down at the massive spherical machine glowing in smoke-like trails of violet.

At the first explosion of ignited gas, the Fallen panicked and started firing wildly at the distraction as Inaho carefully studied the Ether Runner. Large blasts of violet-hued globular light disintegrated obstacles in front of it, originating somewhere within its core and firing from the empty maw at its centre. Cold dark matter. Axions, not very different from the ones he himself had somehow harnessed. An equal reaction should efficiently destroy it, but there was no way on hand and no time to compare their respective outputs. He would just have to whittle down its defences until the seekers from his grenade – which had the benefit of tracking whatever it was thrown at – could finish the job.

Aiming for the dark “eye” of the massive servitor proved simple enough at first, especially with the Fallen around it constantly distracted by the periodic gas explosions ignited by the remaining three shock grenade placements. That was, until the machine was alerted to where his shots were coming from, swivelling around to begin returning fire. Not only was the Guardian forced to roll out of the way, but the direct line-of-sight that his vantage point gave him in turn provided nothing in the way of cover. Soon enough, that problem was no longer an issue, replaced with a bigger one; the constant barrage had weakened the already disintegrating structure. Metal beneath him groaned as if in protest as the water tower began collapsing.

It was a rather daring move on his part to leap from the falling tower directly up, but Inaho was left with little choice at that point. It was hardly the ideal time to throw an axion bolt at it, but it would deal at least some damage and buy him the necessary time to find cover. Once more, things had not gone exactly as he had planned.

Without knowing precisely why, he found himself drawing his arm back as the same tingling sensation he experienced when he first threw the axion bolt overtook him. Fortunately, it was not enough to distract him as he suddenly thrust the same arm forward, and a subconscious command released the building Light. Yet, it was not the same grenade he had somehow formed previously.

This missile was not the almost lazy arc of the grenade. Instead, the sudden straight blast of violet energy took less than a second to reach its target, blossoming into a large dome when it struck the Ether Runner. Motes of light drifted through it as the Fallen caught within the radius disintegrated immediately.

The servitor, on the other hand, was not instantly evaporated. With a violent series of shudders, its shell began cracking with dozens of glowing fractures before the machine exploded, shrapnel flying a short distance before disintegrating entirely.

"I...can't even be surprised anymore," his Ghost quipped. "As you've probably figured out, that was decidedly not your grenade."

His Guardian, by contrast, was nonplussed. "What was it?"

As poor as he was at discerning reactions, the smug reply from the diminutive machine was nearly impossible to miss. "Remember when I said that you had the potential to wield the Traveller's Light as a weapon?"


"That was your weapon. Which you should have been able to use yet, but as I said, I don't think I can be surprised at you anymore." It “blinked” at him, its movements somehow conveying being pleased with itself.

A final explosion went off beyond a distant wall, as if to emphasise the Ghost's point. "See, I knew I made the right choice in making you my Guardian!"

February 2017

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