rekindledtitan: (Fist of the storm)
[personal profile] rekindledtitan

   The tinny bellow resounded through the wrecked hulk, ringing off square edges and dull grey metal. Blaze looked up, then to her startled Ghost as it swept its blue gaze around the hold. “What’s that?”
    “Cabal language. I’m not familiar with the vocalizations but I’ll track the origin…” It dipped back down to the main terminal.
    She waited, checking the casing on the container she was trying to crack. Typical Cabal work: everything in here was armored to excess, the terminals and containment units encased in bulky housing. No cargo better secured than this, though.
    “There’s still some activity in the main computers. I’ve found what looks like a manifest, but I’m having a hard time translating, or parsing the rest of the systems. The Cabal don’t build anything to patterns I recognize.


    “Huh. See, that one was different.”
    How can you tell?
    “Pretty sure, Ghost.”
    I know. I was kidding.
    “Sorry. Kinda distracted.” She knocked rust-red sand off the casing before she tried to open it. Couple of hours after impact, and it was already sprinkled over every surface. Thrown in by the crash, seeping in through every crack and rent. Around them, the settling hull groaned gently. Broken pipes leaked foul-smelling fluids and sparks showered from damaged power conduits. Some life in the ship yet, ebbing slowly. “Found what this is yet?”


    No, but- what’s that tapping?
    “Me.” She didn’t break her count as she answered. “I’m thinking, Cabal ships don’t just fall out of the sky. Takes a lot of effort to punch through a hull like this. Lot of trouble to take out one Cabal transport.”
    You think that cargo is why?
    “You see anything else locked down so tight?”
    I wouldn’t make my top-secret cargo so obvious. But… these are Cabal.


    “Hnh. Damn. We’re on a countdown.” Two minutes forty-six seconds per interval. The hell kind of units did Cabal use anyhow? She dug her fingers into the metal frame housing the suspicious container and started prising it off bodily. Might be trapped, but it wasn’t like she could damage the prize more than a Cabal demolition job.
    What? Oh- oh no. I must have tripped something. The engines are cycling up. They’re headed for self-detonation all right- wait! Guardian!
    “What?” She was already frozen.
    Detecting active circuitry around that container! I don’t think the Cabal wanted it tampered with.
Her processor raced through the calculations: the odds of her Ghost deactivating the Cabal self-destruct versus disarming the booby traps on one piece of cargo; the value of trying either. She stepped back from the housing, gestured to it. “All right. See if you can get it free.”
    On it.


    I’m detecting more incoming Cabal. They’ll be here any moment.
    “I’ll take care of them.” She laid hands on the pieces of wreckage around the hold, planting them in front of her Ghost, hauling a battered section of Goliath tank into place as cover. The speakers roared again-


    -almost covering the bellow and thump of legion troopers hitting the deck. They were coming in from the far end of the hold; same door she’d used, probably dropping through the same hull breach amidships.
    She moved up with her rifle raised, picking them off as they charged through the door. Easiest to catch them before they power-jumped up to the walkways above. Not hard for the slow and trundling legionaries. But a minute later the nimble shapes of psion sharpshooters darted among them, nipping into cover before she could take them all out. As soon as her kill rate slowed, the return fire came thick and fast, explosive rounds heating the air.
    //Can’t they hear the count?// her Ghost wondered.
    //Guess collateral damage doesn’t concern them.// She sighted on a crested helm, changed guns. The beam of her fusion rifle lanced out with golden light, stripping the shields from a centurion as he landed. She threw a grenade his way and followed it-


    She hit their ranks hard, punching past the stunned legionaries. Targeting the psions. Couldn’t let them past her. They wanted a shot at her Ghost. The flash of their energy attacks slapped at her armor; she pushed through, found them one by one. The little ones broke under her hands and she rounded on the heavies about her, the Arc surging in her fists and Light filling her circuits. They bellowed at her, at one another, their voices deep and gurgling. Blaze didn’t stop to snort. She kept moving, ducking past or shrugging aside the crushing blows of heavy fists; laughing under the plate-rattling blasts of their fire.


    //Just promise you won’t use the Fist of Havoc. The last thing I need is that much Arc energy poured into the deck this thing is sitting on.//
    //Spoil all my fun, Ghost.// The Cabal’s explosive rounds were shaking the unsound wreck. She was too close to care much about precision aiming anyhow. Punch a good hole in their armor and the high pressure inside sent gas and gore alike spraying outward.
    //More Cabal on the way. I know that will cheer you up. The good news for me is that I’ve freed this container. The bad news is I’ll need a few more minutes to lock it in for transmat.//
    //You’ve got them.// Fine. No Fist, but she had the Light and she had the grenades to halt the next squad in their tracks.


    Somewhere a support finally collapsed - were those explosions below? Second demolition or precursor to the main self-destruct? The thought darted by, was logged for later as the deck beneath them started to tilt. Seemed like the whole ship was groaning beneath the guttural bellows of the Cabal and the bursting of their fire.
    Blaze jumped for the nearest Centurion before she could slide. Titan mass slammed into a solid ton of Cabal bone and muscle. The blue aura of his shields collapsed from the sheer force. He was roaring in her audios, trying to grab her as they slid downslope. She blocked, used him as a handhold to plant boots on the deck for just a moment and throw him onto his back. A couple of rapid hits shattered his helm. She booted him on and downward as he flailed. Almost fell to her knees trying to keep her footing.
    //You’d better get back here! We’re cutting this close!//


    Part of her mind was still counting down the seconds in parallel, but there’d be no more warnings now. If they’d started from ten. If Cabal thought even a little like humans.
    //Ghost?// she queried urgently. Hurl a grenade down at the Cabal, climbing back up to her Ghost in arcing powered leaps. Land, kick off and boost. No chance to slip. Could use the container mounting as a handhold while she fired. If she reached it in-
    She met the container as it started to slide from its housing, Ghost’s Light brilliant in her periphery. She closed a hand on the grips, pulled and caught it with the other. Now they were slipping, and she wasn’t going to stop-
    Got it! We’re out-
    Everything went white. Safe-


    -and they caught the briefest roar of Cabal vengeance and explosive fury, turned loose upon their own soldiers and the dying ship.

((OOC: this was originally drafted for the February writing prompts over in nexus_sages, but it's taken a while to finish. Which is what happens when you have the bright idea to invent fancy alien time units and then realize they are long enough for things to happen in them.))

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