southernisms: (Inaho)
[personal profile] southernisms
Inaho had been reluctant to simply test one of his new abilities without engineering an optimal situation, but clearing out a bay of Fallen had produced, admittedly, not a bad result. The grenade had, rather than simply incinerating the hostile forces, instead forked into several seeking projectiles. That presented far more options than he had previously.

It was also worth it just for his artificial companion's reaction alone, rendering it speechless for a moment before sputtering in astonishment. "You can do that already?"

From behind his visor, he glanced blankly at his Ghost. Not that he understood what he'd actually done exactly. "Make it do what?"

"You should only have a single vortex grenade," it attempted to explain. "Not an Axion Bolt!"

The Guardian felt like sighing, though his expression remained the same as it had when he first awoke. If only everything was as simple and straightforward as physics. Somehow, he doubted this “Axion” had anything to do with the Peccei–Quinn theory...he shouldn't be able to manipulate cold dark matter in that way...that is, if it even was cold dark matter. At the moment, his strictly logical mind struggled with these seeming contradictions.

Then again, he shouldn't be alive at all. If the natural laws of biology had been subverted, it stood to reason that those of physics had as well...and dealing with that paradox was already taxing his mind well beyond his assumed limitations. He decided to ask the obvious instead. "What's an Axion Bolt?"

"I had...better let Ikora handle that question, not to mention how you can even do that right after a revivification. I didn't fully read up on all the abilities each Guardian type is expected to have."

Why would a machine need to read something? He quickly decided that it was a waste of precious time to ask; answers would not be forthcoming unless he made his way out. And the longer he was out here in this wasteland of scrub brush and ancient ruins, the further his chances of survival dropped. He needed to get through to the ship this Ghost claimed was waiting for them – assuming it was functional or at least could be made flight-worthy before the Fallen's reinforcements arrived – and find this safe haven long enough to prepare for wherever the future decided to lead him. That meant acting on his plan, however low the possibility of success. It was either that or a near 100% chance of a more permanent death. He certainly wouldn't have the answers his logical mind was demanding if he died again.

Fortunately, finding useful items had been easier than he had expected. Investigation of an intact locker produced a rusted pair of wire cutters and a plastic pole which, if he had to guess, had likely once been part of a mop. Upon further inspection, the locker had produced a utility knife with oxidation similar to the wire cutters hidden among the rubble at the bottom. But he would need to find insulated gloves to directly handle the wire, unless the gauntlets he had been resurrected with were sufficient enough to insulate without suffering electrical breakdown. And if they were a carbon weave as he suspected, he would have to find some suitable alternate way of handling live wires.

"What is the electrical resistivity of these?" Inaho inquired, holding up his hands to indicate what he was asking.

"I don't know the exact ohm⋅centimetres," the Ghost admitted. "But it wouldn't make any sense for them not to be able to resist high voltages, considering how there are a handful of Warlocks who specialise in harnessing the raw power of electricity...but that's neither here nor there right now. Short answer: probably enough for whatever you have in mind, but better to be safe than sorry. I can always revive you if that turns out not to be the case, but I'd rather not be shot at in the meantime."

It was just as well; Inaho was reluctant to test the limits of the construct's erstwhile resurrecting abilities. He opted to rig a marginally-safer way of handling the wire using the plastic pole, gradually widening the hanging notch with the utility knife. Under normal circumstances the task would have simply been frustrating, but the ever-present danger of Fallen potentially stumbling upon his location added a sense of urgency to the already painfully-slow task before the Warlock finally deemed it ready. Now all he had to do was carry out his plan without electrocuting himself.

This all assumed his plan would proceed as he envisioned it, given that there were countless variables involved. As unlikely as the possibility was, the water might not be sufficiently ionised or otherwise free from contaminants, or the water pressure or electrical current would turn out to be insufficient. These were only a few of possibilities which would render his careful plan useless, but he wouldn't know until it would be too late to correct for them.

A stray thought passed through his mind: Adapt your plans to fit the situation! If you have to, trust your gut and make the call! For some reason, his inner voice had a feminine quality to it, as if it had been a woman who had given him this advice long ago. Yet, whatever memory the voice had been connected to remained elusive when he tried to focus on it. The Guardian decided to file that train of thought away for a later time when his life wasn't threatened, and simply followed the mysterious voice's advice.

Steadying himself on the most stable metal crate he could find before cutting the electrical cables with the wire cutters, he maintained a careful distance as they dropped to the ground. As the currents sought their way to the ground, he had visual confirmation that they were indeed live; he would have to proceed even more carefully from this point on.

After bracing the plastic pole with concrete rubble, the russet-eyed Warlock slowly threaded the cable through the widened notch, leaving enough slack on the feed to manoeuvre the end of the wire to the water pipe. From there, he carefully positioned the pole so that the exposed ends of the cable touched the pipe with the expected results. With his chances for survival now within acceptable parameters, Inaho was thankful that – at least for the moment – things were progressing according to plan.

The AI wasn't catching on immediately, however. "What in the world are you doing?"

While he wasn't annoyed precisely, his answer would have likely been interpreted as a curt one given that nearly all his concentration was focused on his task. "I hope to increase my chances of survival, and therefore yours."

The diminutive machine fell silent then, likely understanding that this was probably the most elaborate answer it was going to get as the Guardian had busied himself with his work before deeming it completed. It was more than a little disconcerting to hear an artificial life-form – if indeed that was what this Ghost was – accurately duplicate the average human response of a resigned sigh. Somehow, Inaho felt as if he got that response frequently.

Gradually inching towards the end of the corridor, the Warlock stopped just short of the entrance to what seemed to be a receiving dock, hiding behind a section of wall. His Ghost hadn't piped up with any declarations that the ship they sought was inside, so it was likely safe to assume that it wasn't there. Either that, or it had learned from their previous experience to be more discreet when there were enemies less than ten yards away from the pair. Whatever the case was, its silence was greatly appreciated given the surprise attack Inaho readied to unleash upon the six Fallen congregated within.

Silently shifting back away from the doorway, he got into the necessary position, crouching down behind a metal crate. Its cover was minimal, but it would be enough for his purposes. More importantly, it was low enough to allow him to steady his dominant arm on the top, carefully training the auto rifle's cracked sights on a joint-in water pipe as it curved up across the corrugated ceiling of the bay. The tell-tale pop of gunfire alerted the Fallen to his presence, but by that point it was too late...for them.

His unlikely idea seemed to pay off for the most part; all but two of the hostiles had been directly under the pipe and were quickly electrocuted by the charged water as it poured down on them. The remaining two deftly avoided the deadly spray only to dodge directly into his gunfire. It had been a relatively tidy way of dealing with them, but there was little chance of being able to use the same tactic twice. The Fallen might have seemed panicked at times, but they were clearly intelligent.

The Ghost seemed impressed. "You're definitely smarter than you seem. That actually turned out to be a pretty good plan."

This time, Inaho did feel a subtle sting of annoyance. "Yes, it was a good thing that you didn't give away our position this time," he remarked with a blandness at odds with his retort.

He felt a slight bit of satisfaction as the construct seemed to huff in indignation, but before it could reply, he moved onto a more pressing matter as he reloaded the Khvostov and circumvented the charged water, making his way to the doorway at the other end of the open area. "The ship you mentioned is in the next bay?"

The Ghost likewise seemed to abandon whatever retort it had been forming. "Yes, but the Fallen around it are still there."

He glanced back at the broken water pipe; the spray was – as expected – beginning to taper off. While the Guardian had anticipated that he wouldn't be able to use the same tactic again, it would have been something useful to have as a potential backup. As it was, he remained uncertain how reliable his mysterious new abilities were, and so was reluctant to rely on them too much.

Likewise, he wasn't entirely certain how reliable his artificial companion was. Once they were out of the current life-or-death situation, it might be possible to figure out better ways of coordinating their tasks, but for the present, the Ghost remained a random and mostly unpredictable element. Human beings were unpredictable enough as it was: an artificial intelligence with some computer-like but largely unknown capabilities and apparently human emotions lay well beyond the parameters Inaho was confident in. He had only himself to rely on...though something told him that this was his standard way of doing things.

Putting nearly all his effort into keeping his footfalls as silent as possible, he kept as close to the walls as he could manage, manoeuvring to keep himself out of visual range of the remaining Fallen. That precaution paid off when he had a clear glimpse at what he would soon be up against.

The machine was unlike anything within the confines of his imagination, and he was reasonably certain that such a sight was absent even within his hidden memories. Its body – a massive sphere easily triple his height in circumference – levitated just above the wreckage of what appeared to be a small, largely-intact ship. Violet energy peeled off it in glowing, ethereal waves which illuminated the entire area and cast the Fallen nearby in a cloak of similar energy. At its centre, an empty maw seemed to peer out over its domain like a blind eye, and it issued strange echoing electronic sounds as if it was issuing orders. In its own twisted way, the thing reminded him subtly of his own Ghost.

"So," said Ghost remarked softly, conscientious of its previous blunder. "Remember when I said that if we encounter a Servitor, we run?"

That would probably be a Servitor. What a pain. "Yes."

"You were right: We can't run because it's sitting right on top of the ship we need. Oh, and even better, that's no ordinary Servitor...that's an Ether Runner. They supply Ether to Fallen troops and are better armoured and equipped. In short: we're screwed."

Inaho frowned. There wasn't any other possible way to escape the wasteland. He had no other choice but to destroy the Servitor. "But it's in our way."

Minutes seemed to go by before he was answered with a resigned sigh. "I can't decide whether you're an absolute genius or a complete madman."

Note: Still far from done, but this way I have this up. Whooo. Going live once I'm done re-editing these posts to reflect the final edits.

February 2017

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