southernisms: (Asseylum)
[personal profile] southernisms
There had only been so much circumventing that Asseylum had been able to do before she was unavoidably faced with more violence-minded Fallen. Even then, she still hesitated.

Though she had no way of knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt, there was something in how they reacted and chattered frantically with one another that suggested insanity. It was as if her Ghost had only scratched the metaphorical surface with her declaration that they had become slaves to the Darkness, erasing their volitions and controlling them from within.

But then again, she considered as she navigated the death-filled, twisting pathways which had once been city streets bustling with life, would insane beings possess this level of intelligence? Are their minds truly gone?

If the insect-like aliens truly were beyond help, her actions might have very well been a mercy. Yet, the flaxen-haired Guardian remained uncertain. Something tugged at the corners of her mind, but it retreated quickly when she tried to focus on it. Even as it eluded her, there was the unknown sense that this feeling – she could only describe it as a feeling – was, in a way, wrong. There was devastation around her, and if it was anything to go by, the Fallen had no such qualms about leaving death and destruction in their wake. If they were responsible for it, this naive hesitation was foolishness, and it made her uncharacteristically angry.

Asseylum could not look away. She could not afford to look away.

Red sections lit up on her helmet's LIDAR, and when she turned the corner around what had once been a convenience store, she cast aside her hesitation and opened fire on the screaming Dregs. Some fell with the strange white gas escaping their armour, others simply fell, but they each fell regardless.

"It looks like you found your resolve," her Ghost remarked softly, even kindly. "There's a time and a place for pacifism, but I'm afraid this isn't it."

The Guardian's voice sounded distant to her own ears, resigned and yet…determined. She suspected that, even once they made it to the City, she would have no choice but to return. "I know."

"We're not out the woods yet, so to speak," the AI reminded her. "We should keep moving in case more arrive."

The jade-eyed Warlock nodded as she continued on their way. She could only hope they wouldn't encounter any more hostiles on the way to their destination as she picked her way over rubble and ruined streets. It demanded all the agility she could muster, especially given that she couldn't afford to dawdle. Unfortunately, her hope was dashed the moment the narrow path opened up into the ruins of a spaceport.

As if waiting for their arrival, there was a Fallen inexplicably and considerably larger than those surrounding it, as well as the ones she had previously encountered. Its armour was much more elaborate, with an intricate headpiece adorned with spiky protrusions. The creature possessed the same four arms as the Vandals; the upper arms wielded a massive heavy rifle. Naturally, it stood unmoving in front of the only ship in the area which seemed capable of flight.

"Not good…that's a Baron up ahead," the diminutive machine murmured before her voice – considering the device had a feminine-sounding one – took on a confused note. "But what's a Baron even doing down here? They hardly ever leave their skiffs."

Asseylum blinked, her confusion of a different sort. "Baron? Skiffs?"

As if to answer her question, a sizeable ship loomed overhead, throwing shadows across their path as fresh troops of Fallen dropped to the ground below.

"That's a skiff."


As minuscule as it was, the Guardian felt some relief as the ship itself moved off once it had deposited a platoon of five onto the ground. However, that left several other obstacles in addition to the looming form of the Baron; the fresh troops bringing the total number up to nine. They were in trouble if they couldn't figure out how to deal with them, and she wasn't confident at all that she was currently capable of fighting off that many. Should she attempt to lure them away, somehow cause them to lose their trail, and backtrack to the airfield?

The solution that presented itself was unorthodox, to say the least.

Asseylum felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end beneath the protective layer of her helmet, as if warning her of a nearing presence. She readied herself to move – perhaps draw off some of the Fallen troops before finding an alternate pathway back to the spaceport – when she could have sworn she heard the strangest sound possible on what had become a battlefield.

As bizarre as the notion was, there was little mistaking the a capella strains of an unfamiliar song in a mezzo-soprano voice, originating from above and behind her somewhere within the husk of a half-destroyed brick building.

Midnight lonely whisper cries,
"We're getting a bit short on heroes lately."
Sword snap fright white pale goodbyes in the
desolation of Valhalla.
And join with us please --- Valkyrie maidens ride
empty-handed on the cold wind to Valhalla.

Stars above, is someone actually singing? The Guardian wondered. Yet, as strange as it was, it was also mysteriously beneficial to her, successfully drawing the attention of the Fallen. That, and it was her only alert to the other's presence before that same voice enthusiastically called out only moments later.

"Fire in the hole!"

Her Ghost sounded mildly amused. "Good to know that someone has an appreciation for the classics. And we'd better move back..." she warned her, though it wasn't necessary as Asseylum leapt back as far as she could. Moments before an incoming rocket all but evaporated most of the Fallen milling around the Baron.

The blonde couldn't help but look up at the source of the voice; fortunately, the remaining Fallen were as equally distracted, screaming and firing wildly up towards the source. Perched on the caved roof of the brick building was a lone figure in heavy armour, with a tattered calf-length green cape suspended from a thick leather belt. The woman – to judge by how the armour fit the figure as well as the voice – stood hefting an elaborately-wrought rocket launcher.

And the enigmatic woman seemed to have noticed the neophyte Guardian below, if the friendly wave was anything to go by.

"Hey, kiddo!" the woman called out, resting her rocket launcher on her shoulder and planting her free hand on her hip. "Up to making a House of Devils Baron have a very bad day?"

With that, Asseylum's own day took a turn for the decidedly stranger.

February 2017

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