Alright, so my cycle seems to be working so far. The last chapter of Talia got great attention – far more than I'm used to – so that gave me far more incentive to get my school-work squared off – even though it meant working straight for nine hours with math(notfunny) – and thus I had the time to piece this thing together by grabbing every chance I had at writing. Everything from sitting on the bus, breaks in school and especially the 1 hour break I have when I've been riding and waiting for my mom's team to also be done so I can drive us home.
Driving a car in riding boots = More 'not funny'. Seriously, it feels like I don't even touch the damn gas and suddenly the car just goes full DeLorean minus the time-travel, while I'm stuck at the wheel, screaming like a little girl…Okay, so the part about me screaming isn't true. I just swear a lot and tell the car – which also contains my somewhat distressed mother – 'chill, chill, Hakuna Matata, chill, chill, I've got this!' until the car's back under legal speeds.
Aaaaaaaaanyway, this chapter was rewritten quite a few times, mainly because I as a person do not really know how to carry a grudge. As Sid would say it "You know me, I'm too lazy to carry a grudge", which is also why Sid is the one I identify with the most in Ice Age. Plus he's the smartest one in the movies, considering he made fire. Okay, going off track again.
Thomas and Stevens' interaction is more or less how I imagine two people who do not like each other would behave around said one-another. This is probably the only lack of personal experience I am not sad to…well, to lack. That and recovering from having your leg blown off. If you read the Remastered, you'll know what I mean.
Damn though…looking back on it, it really does seem like I love tearing people's arms and legs off…Maybe I should get a role in the next reenactment of 'Braveheart'?
Tau Volantis, Coral System
Unitologist base, corridors.
"How do we deal with these guys?" Stevens snarled, leaning into cover behind a support-strut as the Templars down the hallway shifted fire towards him. They fired in complete unity, meaning that while it did leave the operative scrambling for cover, it allowed Thomas and Hillary to lean out and dish it back; "And how did they get those barriers? That's our designs!"
It just so happened to suck that the Unitologists could hide behind deployable barriers. There was an irony there that Thomas would have otherwise enjoyed, had the technology not been used to block bullets. Apparently even the prototype rounds from the CAR could penetrate the damn things.
"Just goes to show how trustworthy your organization is." He didn't even bother biting down on the venom in his words.
"I thought those drug in you worked only because someone in the Alliance sold you out?"
"Go fuck yourself." Yet as much as he hated it, Thomas knew Stevens was at least correct on that one. The fact remained that someone in the Alliance had somehow smuggled data to the Church on how to more or less neutralize him; "Hill?"
"I thinking, okay?" the corporal growled, leaning from cover to squeeze off a high-powered slug from the Dragunov. It smashed against one of the barriers, sending ripples through the hexagonal shields but not much else. The Templar closest to the point of impact turned towards her, bringing an oversized Revenant to bear. The torrent of slugs forced her back into cover; "Either of you happen to have a Cain?"
"Do I look like I have a Cain?" Thomas snapped. The stress was getting to him, more than it already had been when he was floating in a stasis. Danik was somewhere on this base, maybe making his escape since there was no way in Muspelheim's fiery pits that man didn't know they'd escaped.
"Okay…Okay, I think I have an idea then."
"I'm ears." Stevens called, taking advantage of the shift in fire to vent his Phaeston towards the emplacement. Really, it wasn't even anything fancier than a set of deployable barriers set up around a check-point at the crossing of two corridors, reinforced with a portable turret – one of those capable of being carried around like a freaking backpack – and half a dozen Templars in rip-off Bulwark armor; "Because clearly this isn't working."
"Thom, I need one of your ammo-clips, the ones we got from Boss' armor." Hillary called, even as the turret seemed to focus primarily on her, and her alone. The only times it stopped firing at her cover was when it was forced to vent heat. The support-strut keeping the corporal alive looked very much like Swiss cheese already. Wordlessly, he obliged and tossed her one of the clips for Boss's DC-15; "Alright, so I have no idea if this is actually going to work…"
"…Hill?" Thomas wasn't sure he liked her actually admitting to that. It was like saying you didn't know if the grenade would go off the second you pulled the pin.
"Hey, I improvise, okay?" she retorted, unsheathing and activating her blade in one fluid motion. Thomas then watched her with a snap of horror as she carved into the canister of contained, ionized gas. Gas that, if he understood the science behind it correctly, needed that containment in order not to kill whomever carried it around; "Alright, you may wanna cover your eyes."
Thomas didn't. Instead, having something of an idea of what was going through her head, he lowered the brightness of his visor's sensory input by enough that he could barely see his own feet. Timely too, as she threw the leaking clip in that same instant. While he couldn't see the small object sailing through the air, he didn't particularly mind.
Especially because, when it landed and came into contact with something of a remotely higher temperature than the air around it, in this case as it bumped against the barrier, what was essentially compressed plasma-in-the-making became actual plasma, and flash-boiled everything in a radius of ten feet.
The temperature was so high, and the field of its detonation so concentrated, that when the plasma dissipated into the air, it left behind a vaguely spherical hole in the checkpoint. Half the Templars were gone altogether, while those who yet remained physical weren't exactly intact.
"Jesus on stilts…" Stevens breathed, moving from cover to better view the aftermath. Only two Templars had survived the plasma-blast. One was now a pair of legs shorter, the other lacking his right arm. They both received the mercy of a slug through the foreheads. Neither tried to surrender, and nor were they asked as Thomas drove his Vibro-blade through one's visor, while Hillary did the same on the crawling torso; "What the fuck was that?"
"Me." she grinned through her voice-filter; "Innovating."
"…and here I though Val was scary."
"I'll take that as a compliment." The corporal offered a mock-bow, to which Thomas frowned. Mainly it was because Hillary didn't seem to despise Stevens at all. Had she forgotten what Cerberus was doing? Then again…she's been asleep for a long time.
"I…don't think a compliment from a terrorist organization is a good thing, Hill…"
"It's a compliment from the person who saved our asses, Thom." She gave him a stare so flat that he could see it through the polarized visor. Gods, was she taking their side now? "'Sides, he said he was sorry about Ashley."
"He shot her."
"And then you punched him across the sidewalk."
"Hey, listen-" Stevens offered meekly.
"Because he broke Jane's nose!"
"And then you chased him down and nearly killed him. Again."
"He kicked me in the face."
"Maybe that was because you threatened to burn his innards?" Hillary offered casually; "I was on comms, you know?"
"Look-" the operative tried again, only to be ignored.
"Then he shot me six times and kicked me out of a speeding car."
"Wasn't that kind of in self-defense too?" the corporal offered with a shrug as she rummaged the ammunition from the dead Templars; "Honestly, Thom. It's done with, Ashley is fine and nobody died. So just, you know, stop being such a prat about it, m'kay?"
"…you…are taking his side in this." He muttered, aghast and slightly more pissed off; "Gods…"
"Hey, can I just-"
"WHAT?" When he couldn't yell at Hillary, the only other outlet for Thomas' mounting stress and frustration was found in Stevens. Despite being significantly bulkier, the Cerberus operative still seemed to wince at the anger in his voice; "What do you possibly have to say that can excuse you opening fire on my fiancé, whom, if I might add, is currently five months pregnant?"
"Thom, for fuck's sake, we're done with that already!" Hillary hissed, grabbing his arm. He shook her off, almost throwing her back as he did so; "If you jeopardize the mission because you couldn't act like a fucking grown up, Jane will rip off your balls with a meat-hook."
Thomas, however, had worked himself up too much to just stop. In retrospect, this was hardly one of his finer moments, but the combination of lingering drugs, frustration at the current company, aching wounds and having to realize that someone they'd trusted in the Alliance had sold them out to the Church…it was all threatening to crack open his skull.
"And how about when you stole hundreds of children from their homes and tortured them on Teltin?! 'Humanity's Advancement' my balls! Did you ever actually take a look at the mirror at some point? Did you ever try erasing bar-code from a little girl's shaved head, like she was some kind of fucking convict?"
"I didn't do any of that shit!" Stevens yelled back, stepping forward; "I wasn't even in Cerberus until last Christmas, okay? I didn't partake in the assassination on Kahoku, you or the abduction of those kids. I didn't do anything wrong! So pull that stick out your ass, because I'm pretty fucking sick of you treating me like a criminal!"
Lacking a reply, Thomas was instead left staring at the operative. Had he…had he been wrong?
"And thus, we can agree that you do not agree." Hillary called once more, getting in between them; "And can we then now, for the love of God, get a fucking move on? Thomas, you're acting like a vengeful little brat, and it's not becoming of you. Ashley would cringe if she saw you right now."
And now Hillary was yelling at him too. Shit, this wasn't going the way he'd thought it would. At all. First Stevens started shouting back, and then Hillary tore them both apart. And now she was berating him, like a fucking child. Fuck…Ashley would cringe? Am I really…I don't even know anymore. Shit!
"And you, Stevens." The corporal growled, turning her ire at the operative; "While I am grateful that you and Val saved us, I still trust you about as far as I can kick a Mako. Your organization's as rotten as any merc band, so if you even look like you're about to pull some sort of shit, I won't even hesitate to shoot you in the eye-socket."
"Are we clear?" she snarled, cutting the American off before he could finish his swear. Both men, even as she looked between them, nodded affirming; "Good. Now you kids behave, and we stick to the plan, which is quite fucking simple. We kill the Bad Man."
"…who the Hel are you and what did you do with Corporal Moreau?" Thomas, in spite of the severe and scathing admonishing she'd just dished out, found himself more proud of her than ashamed of himself. Not to say he wasn't ashamed – not of his hatred for Stevens and Cerberus, but the way he'd gone about it – but somehow, Hillary had matured in the blink of an eye. And somehow, that meant far more to him than wanting to snap Stevens legs and leave him to die.
While Hillary might find it odd for him to address her with Joker's last name, it was entirely deliberate.
It was also worth noting, at least he thought so, that while Hillary didn't immediately react to her middle-name instead of her surname being used – Thomas didn't dare give Cerberus her surname since they only knew his – , Stevens seemed to snap from whatever stupor he'd been in, and visibly stared at her. That much at least was clear, even through the polarized visor.
"Moreau?" he hesitated before asking; "Your surname is Moreau?"
"Yes, what, why?"
"It's…just…never mind, it's not important, I just thought…" the man trailed off, looking at his feet. This, to Thomas, more or less indicated that Stevens knew of Joker. Whether that was because of Cerberus' spies in the Alliance, or because the pilot had actually went and joined Cerberus – if the latter was true, he'd have to break the bastard's legs – he wasn't sure. But it was a bad sign, regardless; "Forget it, I'm just…a bit tired."
"…Yeah, I'd bet." Thomas heard her mutter, even as they continued forward. The corridors ahead were exact copies of each other, and only the different signs gave any indication that the trio wasn't just walking in circles. Otherwise the place was a damn maze of hallways, corridors and stairwells.
And Templars lying in wait around almost every corner.
The first real ambush had happened when they'd passed through a garage for snow-vehicles. Most of them seemed meant to hover above the snow instead of actually plowing through it, but a few also looked like beefed-up Mako's without the middle pair of wheels, or just tank-treads instead of them altogether.
The entire room had been basically empty, devoid of any signs of human life whatsoever. This, of course, was in retrospect a clear indication that something was wrong, yet it wasn't until grenades started going off around them that the ambush was actually revealed. Up above, on the catwalks, Templars and technicians were lobbing grenades and firing launchers at the kill-zone down below.
And then it just…stopped. Thomas had been prepared for a fight, but when he'd aimed up at the cat-walks, the entirety of the ambushing group were already dead. They all lay slumped against the railings, necks twisted around or holes punched through their torsos. There hadn't even been screaming.
"What…the fuck?" Hillary gave voice to his thoughts; "No, seriously, what the fuck? What just…happened?"
"I think…maybe we're not alone in here." Thomas muttered, scanning the room. Aside from the mutilated templars, nothing was to be seen. A panicking note in the back of his mind kept imagining Necromorphs appearing from nowhere, yet, again, there was no sign of anyone or anything else moving in the garage; "Scans aren't showing anything else either…"
"This is seriously fucked up…" the corporal grumbled, taking slow steps through the room as she swept the upper walkways with Boss' DC; "But…as long as who- or whatever did that doesn't do it on us…"
"Let's hope." Stevens muttered uneasily, hurrying ahead. He wasn't even aiming his rifle at the upper levels or the corners of the room, as if he already knew beyond a doubt that nothing would be there.
"He soooooo knows something." Hillary muttered as soon as the operative was out of ear-shot.
"And why'd you call me 'Moreau' earlier?" she asked, her voice somewhat edgier now; "You know I hate using the same name as Jeff."
"I have some suspicions…" Thomas replied as vaguely as he could. Hillary had never really come to terms with the part of his story where he knew roughly what would happen in the future, and besides, so much had already changed that he might as well be wrong. Maybe Joker had gone to Omega instead; "Nothing more."
Hillary chose not to comment or bite him for explanations – a rare thing for her to neglect – and instead just jogged along, no doubt as eager as him to leave behind the room of unexplained carnage.
"So, we find Danny-boy, and we kill him a few times. Shoot him in the leg first, if I might suggest." She rehearsed as if for a play when they caught up to the waiting Stevens. It still felt wrong on so many levels to see the Bulwark, a piece of military hardware he had brought to the Alliance, be used and modified by Cerberus; "First, however, we have to actually find him."
"Shut it." she snapped, not appreciating Stevens' snark. For Thomas, seeing her this determined to kill someone was…uncanny. He wasn't sure he liked the 'mature' Hillary anymore if this came with the upgrade; "Now, I managed to hack through and download a map of the base's interior from one of the dead goons…"
From her raised arm, a projection sprung onto the wall. It was a plan over the entire facility, which turned out to be pretty fucking huge. As far as he could see, it involved outdoor transition-areas, bridges and even lifts. There also seemed to be an overtly large amount of security-checkpoints, secured bulwarks and decontamination-zones, as well as a grayed-out zone simply labelled as 'Authorized Staff Only'.
"Okay, so we're here." Hillary used a small target-painter to point out their position on the plan. It wasn't actually all that far from the entrance towards the cliffside they'd fallen from; "Which means we'll have to go through quite a few of these checkpoints. We're not going to win anything by trying to find another route outside the facility, because there's bound to be Necro's running around out there."
"Necro's?" Stevens mused, scratching his helmet.
"Undead, simplified." The corporal explained with little evident interest; "It's kinda like a Husk, only they're entirely organic, reanimated corpses. Far as we know, the Church somehow controls them. They can range in sizes from human infants to a fucking elephant-sized monster. Imagine a Husk twice as fast, strong and hard to kill as the usual, and you'll have the humanoid Necro's."
"Yeah…That's kinda the common reaction. Problem is, these things don't need Dragons teeth to spread. One of them can mutate into this…flying thing, and infect every single corpse it comes across. Abraca-fucking-dabra, and where you had ten corpses you now have ten Necro's."
"So…they're like zombies, then?"
"'cept they don't die when giving your shotgun a blowjob."
"…Fuck me sideways." Stevens groaned; "And…how do you know all this?"
"Ever heard of the Ishimura-incident?" Hillary didn't even bother trying to conceal the malice as she spat out the ship's name.
"The Planet-Cracker that crashed, right?"
"Crashed?" the bark of laughter Thomas let escape was anything but happy; "That's what they're calling it now? Crashed?"
"I suppose they did aim it at the colony before putting a brick on the accelerator…" Hillary mused; "But the damn thing didn't just crash. It was infested with Necromorphs shortly after we arrived to escort a repair-crew to fix the comms of the ship. Then in less than six hours, a few thousand people were slaughtered like cattle and transformed. We…barely escaped, really. Hardly any crewmembers did."
Kaidan. They'd lost Kaidan on that ship, and Thomas could still hear his agonized screams whenever he thought back, as clear and ravaging to his ears as was he back there in person. He'd been unable to save his friend and superior officer. Kaidan had died, pleading him to save him. And he'd failed.
And what had it all been for? Arresting a captain who ended up accidentally killed by a fucking syringe to the eye-ball. They'd lost Kaidan for that. And hadn't even had a fucking body for his parents to bury.
"That was…and…and you thought we were working with these people?" Stevens exclaimed with clear disgust and disbelief.
"We're always suspecting a lot of things." Hillary answered off-handedly. Thomas realized with a start that she was watching him. What for, a reaction to her mentioning that mission? "Come on, we need to get a move on if we wanna kill Danik anytime today."
As it turned out, even as large as the map made the facility appear, it was even bigger in person. Thomas honestly couldn't see how the Helheim those bastards had managed to get something this massive constructed without the Alliance finding out about it.
"How old do you think this place is?" Hillary mused, breaking the silence that had fallen over the trio. Thomas still suspected Stevens of knowing more than he let on, and hoped that the operative would forget Hillary's threat and fuck something up. Anything as an excuse, especially if he was hiding something from them.
"Dunno…maybe like, ten, fifteen years?" the American muttered with little interest. He seemed a lot more focused on the hallway ahead, and his helmet kept doing tiny, almost impossible-to-spot jerks, as if he was talking to someone. If he was, the comms didn't detect anything.
"Why are you asking, Hill?"
"'cause of that." She gestured at an old, almost erased insignia on the walls they passed by. It looked a bit like the Alliance insignia, and then again, different. The Earth was there, alright, but instead of the Alliance arcs and stars, a white eagle hovered at the center of the image, carrying a downwards-pointed dagger. Or, maybe it was a sword. The letters S.C-F were still somewhat readable. There seemed to be maybe an 'A' in there as well, but he wasn't sure.
"…what is that, then?"
"Looks like this was an old SCAF-base, but…Shit, that'd make it at least, what, seventy-eighty years old?"
"SCAF?" Stevens, for the first time since the ambush, seemed openly curious; "What's that?"
"Honestly…Thomas I could understand not knowing this, but most people should at least know their military history. S.C.A.F, Sovereign Colonies Armed Forces?" even through the helmet, it was clear to all that Hillary had put on an irritated scowl; "I swear, if this is how it's gonna be, I'll end up chucking a grenade. The two of you might be on opposite sides, but you're equally fucking dumb."
"That's not a very nice thing to say." Stevens grumbled, walking ahead. Thomas honestly couldn't give two shits if the man was insulted; he was grateful that Hillary took some piss on the asshole too.
"Deal with it, I'm not here to be nice." He scoffed, holding her rifle at the ready as she followed Thomas after Stevens. Personally, there were still moments where he imagined pulling the trigger on Stevens. It would be easy to just say it had been the Unitologists who shot him, and he doubted Hillary would tell on him. After all, Cerberus were terrorists, weren't they?
He doubted anyone would have snitched on the Seal who shot Bin Laden. And wasn't Cerberus really just a non-religious version of the old terrorist-groups? They bombed, took hostages and assassinated innocents. And they abducted children.
There was no way in Helheim's deepest, coldest plains he would ever forgive them for that. Muspelheim would freeze over, and Garmr become a lapdog before he would make friends with those people.
Hillary leading the way, the trio slowly worked their way through the base. Reluctant as he was to overuse it, Thomas had found that the Compact Assault Carbine delivered far more devastating punches than the Mattocks used by the Templars, or the Phaeston Stevens used. Such as in the current firefight, where shield-bearing Templars filled the corridor, advancing with a mix of shotguns and drawn Vibro-swords.
"Demon! Make a hole!" Hillary yelled, leaping to cover as the first spread of pellets bit into her shields. His HUD displayed the status of her shields as having dipped to 75% from that one shot alone. It meant getting close wasn't an option, especially considering the bastards carried swords as well; "Those guys really adopted the name, didn't they?"
He had long-since stopped bothering to remind her of the chain of command. Really, there wasn't even a point anymore. Plus, it was what he was going to do anyway.
Leaning out of cover as the guns were drawn to Hillary and Stevens, Thomas took aim and allowed his Carbine the second it needed to ionize the interior of the canister, then pulled the trigger the moment his HUD gave him the go. The recoil would have sprained an unarmored shoulder – which his luckily wasn't– as the weapon vomited out a burst of ionized gas-turned-plasma the rough size of a human thumb.
The shot raced across the corridor and impacted before he'd even registered it leaving the barrel. When it did, there was no sound of a projectile hitting metal. Instead it was like flash-boiling water as the plasma boiled and ate its way through the shield. Despite being more than bullet-proof, the shield barely stopped the attack from eating its way through both itself and the man behind it. He fell back with a strangled scream, a clean hole evaporated through his chest. Another immediately took his place, and the firing shifted towards the Service Chief instead.
"Oh…" Thomas couldn't quite contain his grin. He had just killed another human being, but never before had it been done with such…tidiness; "Oh fuck the Hel yes!"
"I want one of those!" Hillary exclaimed, even as she fired her Dragunov from the hip, clearly using her HUD to aim at the feet of the approaching Templars; "Wanna swap with my gun?"
"Not on your life, Corporal!"
"If the two of you are done feeling all awesome over killing someone, could you maybe keep doing it?" Stevens yelled, evidently less than exhilarated. To be fair – even if Thomas hated being that with anyone affiliated with Cerberus, much less the man who had shot Ashley – the operative was taking a fair deal of firing, and he was closer to the Templars than any of them; "I'd like it very much not to get killed over here!"
"Yeah, that'd be…bad, I guess…" Thomas groaned, charging the Carbine again; "What happened to that super-strength you seemed to have on the fucking Citadel?"
"Are you serious?" the American yelled back; "Those shields are reinforced fucking titanium! If I can't shoot through, what the Hell makes you think-" a spray of pellets dug into his cover, and the top of his helmet got caught in the blast. His shields flared and he hit the ground; "Fuck! Just fucking use that Blaster and shoot them!"
Thomas obliged, but not because Stevens told him to. It was a simple matter of having to clear out the entrenched, yet mobile Templars. He charged a fresh burst and aimed at who he suspected was the leader; a Templar with a bright, white shield and the symbol of a twisting Marker emblazed on it. Huh…he's gotta be the first I've met to call these things blasters…
When he fired the shot, the leader seemed to have known he was being targeted. It wasn't all that hard to figure out, really, seeing as the heavy dust in the air made the ionizing laser quite visible. Even as the shot hit his shield, he'd angled it downwards, and some sort of shimmering film appeared in the split-second contact was made, before the sphere of plasma instead ricocheted into the floor.
"Oh fuck me…" so apparently, those shields could also reflect plasma. In hindsight, that was almost a given, seeing as the technology more or less came from the Church weapons found on the Ishimura. Thomas didn't even know if the DC-84 Anna had presented to Parliament was reverse-engineered from the DC-15 or the plasma-cutters they'd found there; "Okay, don't try to shoot the Markers."
"I kinda fucking noticed!"
"What's the plan, Chief?" Hillary more or less demanded over the comms, her voice brimming with mounting uncertainty and frustration. She slung the Dragunov over her shoulder and yanked out the DC-15 instead, then leaned from cover and hosed an entire clip into the approaching shield-wall. Only two Templars fell, the rest having managed to activate the same kind of shielding as their leader; "Because that shield-thing's not really limited to their leader!"
"Can't you throw a fireball at 'em?" the operative yelled, copying Hillary's attack with his Phaeston. Slugs pinged and ricocheted back from the impenetrable surfaces, only a few managing to even crack the glass-slits. Thomas snarled, more at the Unitologists than at Stevens, and only because he wasn't the one who'd drugged him.
"I can't!" he yelled back over the comms, unwilling to let the Templars listen in. Or maybe they already were, and it really didn't matter at all; "The drugs haven't worn off yet."
"Well fuck all kinds of Duck!"
"I'm not really into that!" Hillary yelled back, sounding as if her reply was more adrenaline than anything else; "Guys, I might have an idea…Follow my lead"
"I'm- shit! – I'm ears!" Stevens yelled back, wincing from where a spray of pellets caught him in the face. He only kept said face because the shields managed to absorb the damage before shattering. He didn't seem to panic, however, which was…sort of worth respecting, Thomas supposed. He himself was more surprised when Hillary simply switched her speakers to out-of-helmet.
"RUN AWAY!" she screamed, very real-sounding fear in her voice. Thomas only had half a second to process what was happening before she took off, sprinting back down the turning corrido; "We have to get the fuck out of here!"
"Thors' testicles!" it was the first swear that came to mind, even as he realized – he hoped – that this was what she had meant by a plan. Retreating wasn't going to get them where they needed to go, but…then again, neither would being dead. Besides, Stevens had already taken off as well, running faster than Thomas could even hope to mirror without his powers.
And now he was alone, with the Templars closing in. As the sole remaining target, all firing had shifted to focus on him, meaning the pylon he was covering behind was quickly losing its integrity. And then he'd be fucked regardless of whether he ran or not. I seriously wish I'd tested this thing sooner…
Keying the mental commands for his left arm – and praying to the gods that it hadn't been permanently damaged – Thomas leapt from cover even as the holographic field of red hexagons unfolded from his left arm, forming a shield of suspended omnigel and carbon-fibers. In less than a second, the non-Newtonian fluid came under fire, soaking the bullets meant for him as he backpedaled the best he'd learned.
It wasn't big enough to cover his entire body, and his own shields dipping with a near-constant rate was evidence that the Templars had found this out as well. They were deliberately aiming anywhere but at the suspended barrier, even if it meant targeting the tips of his boots. The pellet-spread was still furious enough that they'd hit no matter where they aimed those fucking shotguns.
The moment he rounded a corner and escaped the all-consuming fire, Thomas found himself yanked into cover by Hillary. Stevens, next to her, was busy pouring some sort of lube up and down the wall. Its gun-metal grey color made it look just like any kind of piping.
Probably knowing the Templars could be listening in, Hillary put a finger before the mouth of her mask, gesturing for Stevens to, as she herself would likely put it 'hurry the fuck up'. Thomas took the chance to deactivate his shield and let it recharge, while preparing the Carbine to fire again. Charged, all he would have to do was to point and shoot, not having to wait for ionization again.
Being back in action like his, fully aware that people wanting him dead were approaching with the means to fulfill said desire, while also being in the company of a comrade and…a person, made Thomas realize how much he'd actually come to rely on being neigh-invulnerable. It was a sickening realization, that without his flames he might just end up dead here, today, because of that.
When Stevens stood from the job – and to his credit there was actually very little to see – Hillary simply legged it, not even bothering to signal for it or resume her screaming. Actually, this time she seemed to do it as quiet as possible. Beginning to understand her idea – he hoped, otherwise he had no clue at all what her plan was – Thomas followed, allowing Stevens to run past while he himself had the CAR aimed at the corridor. Already he could see the shadows on the opposite wall, yet it seemed as if the Templars weren't even in a hurry. Why aren't they running after us? Why aren't they pursuing us with guns blazing? I don't get it, I don't get it!
Still, the doubt didn't stop him from opening fire. At this angle, the plasma-bolt managed to strike its target in the side, killing the man before his shield had even been shifted around for the new course. Naturally, this was the only such luck Thomas had, as the rest all activated whatever made their shields impervious to the plasma, and he could only watch as it ricocheted off angles or simply dissipated when hitting the shield head-on.
They were more than ten meters from him, yet when the entirety of their arsenal unleashed on him, even distance stopped mattering to a shotgun. His shields were screaming, even as he launched himself into the nearest cover, only to find Stevens already there, holding a tiny cylinder with a red switch at the top. Hillary was next to him, peeking around the corner before clapping the American on the helmet.
"I see dead people..." he whispered, then flipped the switch.
Codex Entry: Templars of the Church
The Templar-soldiers belonging to the Church of Unitology make up the private security force of the organization, and consists of an unknown number of men and women, most if not all themselves belonging to Altman's Church. Entirely devoted to Unitology, these soldiers protect the properties, interests and territories of the Church from anything and anyone who would so try to take it. Declared 'Heroic Protectors' by the Church itself, those less affiliated with the religion have instead compared them to Cerberus or simply common mercenaries, noting that while their equipment is certainly superior to what one would find in the Terminus, their ethics are entirely akin to that of the Eclipse – a claim that has been vehemently denied by the Church itself.
Making up the armed branch of the Church, these soldiers are as well-equipped as any group of PMC's, and can more often than not be seen wearing Alliance-grade hardsuits and armor, as well as high-tech weapons usually reserved for Alliance Special Forces.
While rumors have it that the Alliance has lost its appreciation for the Church, the Templars themselves are commonly viewed as protectors and a show of positively spiritual force, whenever and wherever they appear.