A/N: Well this has been a long time coming, sorry for the delay. I hit a hard wall of writer's block after once of my scenes. Hopefully you can forgive me, cause I mean, so far I'm at an average of 4,400 words or so. By how my last story was, that is a huge improvement in size. More time, more words and hopefully better quality. So first off, remember. Bungie and Activision own Destiny, not I. Secondly, enjoy.
CH 3: Sacrificial Paradise
Vast snow covered mountains covered the distance and it was a breathtaking sight to behold. Even Erunan could appreciate the view through the view port as the Skiff lazily made it's way over the mountains into the territory of the Thunder. Two smaller ships had intercepted them as soon as they had entered the mountain range. It was comforting and terrifying at the same time. The power that their vassal House held was astounding.
"You know I could have handled this all on my own, and with you of course." Teira's voice broke him out of his musings and his head swiveled to the flight station to see her looking out the front with the pilots. She had clearly been talking to him and about the dozen or so heavily armed warriors as an escort. "I know I've only ever met them on my Ketch, but they still are part of us." Her head turned and she met his eyes, any argument he previously had quickly went out the proverbial window when he stared into her eyes.
A very distinct cough knocked his thoughts loose again and he turned to glare sharply at Kalyvaaz who could be seen inspecting his weapon idly. Erunan broke his gaze to look back at his mate.
"The Thunder serve the Kings, but like most Houses indentured so, they may despise us." Looking back out the window he spotted an old satellite facility and several hovering Skiffs patrolling the area. He could also make out a few Walkers, modified and advanced more than anything they even had. It seemed they did not part with all their technology. A shame.
"I still don't like how that is, I do hope to change that." Teira commented as she approached Erunan. "If we can change how our status is with them, then we all could benefit. Don't you agree?" Erunan couldn't exactly argue with her logic, there were several holes in it and many things she didn't understand. But seeing the massive turret of one of the Walkers track them, he understood. He clearly understood where they would be if they were more allies, or enemies.
Distant howls could be heard echoing through the corridor and several cavernous doorways. These echoes did nothing to distract Avarek during his hunt. More of the Hive had appeared since he had gone through the chamber of the dead and were intent on impeding his process. It didn't matter, they had been struck down easily with his spear. Nothing would keep him from his prey, claiming his bounty. From killing this thing.
The haft of his spear cracked against a Thrall as he spun it around him. The spear's tip slicing down another as he turned his focus to a pair of charging Knights with a group of Acolytes. Avarek growled as he ducked beneath a swing from one of the Knights. Running his spear through the one who left itself open, he quickly spun to the side. The dying Knight howled as the armor on it's chest shattered with the spear's blade tearing out through the side.
An Acolyte's fist crashed into the Knight's chest plate and to it's credit the smaller Hive recovered quickly enough to duck underneath the spear swing. Two others were too slow as they were both beheaded in the single swing. As the Acolyte prepared to charge at the Fallen again it was battered to the side by the remaining Knight who blindly swung his sword at the Captain. The Fallen easily raised his spear and deflected the strike and placed two of his free hands on the Knight, shoving the larger being far enough away for him to throw the spear and impale the Knight.
The last Acolyte hesitated as it's eyes took in the recently killed group it was with. The Fallen hadn't even taken a full minute to kill all of them. Clenching it's jaw it raised it's head to watch the warrior pull the spear from the dead Knight and shake the weapon slightly to dislodge any blood. The act alone showed that the Fallen was arrogant and did not fear any of them. This thought alone enraged the Hive and it charged the large Captain.
Stepping over the corpse of an Acolyte the Eliksni took stock of the hallway he was currently in. This one caused him to pause, this seemed different than most Hive structures. A single hallway with multiple doorways lining the walls and one massive door on each end. He emerged from one end and was making his way down to the other side, his gaze sweeping any and all of the shadows.
The side doors were mostly closed, but a gut feeling told him that they would not provide him with his goal. So he ignored them and moved down at a slow and steady pace until he came across an open door. Peering inside he saw very little. Not because it was dark, but because the room was small. The only furnishings were a small slab of black rock that was reflecting what little light was in there and a small table with all assortments of tools of torture.
Avarek counted himself lucky as he peered into the room. His quarry, Thakji, was leaning heavily against the slab and had it's sword planted into the cracked floor. It's back was towards him and it was breathing heavy, providing an easy kill.
"Very Good! Show no mercy!"
The slightly elated voice of Lord Shaxx crackled into Jo's ear. She didn't acknowledge him, knowing he was monitoring all of the Guardians in this Crucible match. Her eyes swiveled to the side and watched as a Warlock dove behind cover. He was clearly winded and needed a moment. To take pressure off of her teammate she popped out of cover to lob a grenade and fire a few rounds at her closest enemies. They weren't close enough to be downed by the spread of buckshot but it drove them back into hiding.
With a brief reprieve she settled back onto her position on the wall and flipped her shotgun to load it with fresh casings. Racking the weapon she looked back at the Warlock.
The man was edging closer to the goal, energy from the spark he had snagged earlier wreathed around his body and making true stealth meaningless. He had obviously regained his breath as his darkened visor swung from the ground towards her and the other Guardian stacked up behind her. He sat there watching her for what seemed forever.
That was when she felt it. The need to kill. Now she knew why he was watching her instead of trying to advance.
Without making a sound she whirled around and cracked the butt of her shotgun across the top of the Hunter's head. The man dropped his hand cannon and grasped at his head in pain as he dropped to his knees. Her rage towards the Hunter drowned out almost all the sounds around her. Everything was muffled and seemed to slow as adrenaline pumped through her at an accelerated rate. She was solely focused on the man kneeling before her.
"The fuck was that for?!" The man howled at her in outrage. "I'm on your side!"
"The fuck you think you are doing back there!" It was more of a statement and less of a question. Jo had stopped paying attention and had failed to notice the clear lack of gunfire in the match. The Warlock across the clearing sat behind his cover watching the events unfold from his position of safety.
"I'm reloading and trying to cover Bean so he can make it to the goal!" The Hunter yelled back. There was a distinct and clearly offended call from the Warlock about how his name wasn't Bean. But that went ignored as well. There was even less gunfire in the area as less of their team was firing on the opposing team so they could watch this unfold.
"Does my ASS look like a bandolier to you!?" Jo shouted at him before kicking him in the groin with a void encased boot. All gunfire had ceased in the match as the opposing team was now listening in to see where this went. The Hunter dropped to the ground clutching his now throbbing junk and whimpering in pain.
Jo turned from her downed teammate to silence and nearly bumped into the imposing body of Lord Shaxx.
"Care to repeat that?" The man had his arms crossed and was glaring at her, as far as she could tell through his helmet. Jo's anger immediately dissipated at the imposing man before her. She had broken one of his cardinal rules, no friendly fire. Her shoulders sagged as her head dropped.
In the fading daylight the Traveler managed to look like quite the centerpiece for a beautiful backdrop. Jo's eyes traced the view with her eyes and flickered at the occasional transport or jumpship that crossed her line of sight. The peace that had settled over her she knew was only temporary here in the Tower. The normalcy of the situation calmed her even more from the situation in the Crucible earlier.
That had been a disaster for her and the Hunter, whom she called Squeaks now, having to meet with Lord Shaxx. The topic had changed multiple times as he berated the both of them for actions unbecoming of Guardians and inappropriate for a battlefield. Not even Cayde attempting to intervene had helped, in all honesty it had made the nightmare last longer and with Cayde sitting sullenly next to them as Shaxx expanded his topics.
The thought of the Veteran Hunter trying to help was nice and very appreciated. But it did nothing to improve her mood. Reaching both hands up suddenly she started rubbing the palms of her hands against her temples and her fingers through her short hair. Her anger flared slightly and she growled as the slight rubbing turned into something vigorous and frazzling her hair.
"Damnit! What is wrong with me?" Her voice was low but it was still loud enough to draw attention of a few Guardians who were lingering in the main plaza at the main Tower.
"Well I could make a few guesses." The sudden entry of a new voice startled her and she whipped around to see Raz standing not to far away with an Exo Titan. "But I prefer not to get beaten up by you." A smirk graced his face and she smiled in return.
"Get down here and we'll see about that." She crooked a finger while planting a hand on a cocked hip.
Raz nodded to her and said something quietly to the Titan before the Exo nodded and turned to leave. The man approached her and he took her extended hand. Turning her back to the railing and looking over the expanse with her. After a minute or so of silence Jo looked up at the Human's face.
"That Exo, I recognize her. Isn't she assigned to the Initial Training Unit from the Vanguard?"
"Yeah, that's Divisional Commander Saer. She was the one who trained me, remember? I ran into her when I got a call from Zavala about picking you up from what he described were supplemental lessons. What happened?" Raz looked down at her and she only stared into his eyes for a moment before remembering that he had indeed asked a question.
"Well, about that." She hesitated as she gripped his hand tighter and turned to place her back against the rail. Pulling him in front of her and grabbing his neck to pull him down to her level she placed his free hand on her rear. "Just remember that you are the only one that can touch this."
"Umm, ok?" Raz's face was flushed and he was rightfully confused. "But I don't see how that-"
"It answers everything." She cut him off. "Now what were you two talking about? I'm sure that was more interesting than what happened to me."
"Well she asked if I could get a team to investigate some missing Guardians, trainees." Jo tilted her head to the side as she looked at the man. "The Vanguard thinks that the newer Guardians are coming out too inexperienced against the Darkness, so they send them out as Strike teams into relatively controlled areas. One team went missing and she ran into me and asked if I could handle it."
"Let me guess, you are taking Sushi?" She grunted, expecting the answer before she could ask if she could go with him.
"Well, yes. I'm also taking my team, so go find Archivia and I'm going to grab Sage and Entity." Jo nodded at his comment but grabbed onto Raz before he could turn away.
"You better go change too." Her eyes went to the dark leather jacket he was wearing and Raz only chuckled.
"You know me, I change fast." He leaned in and kissed her before she let him go. Raz turned and took off, putting an extra skip in his step as he went to get ready and find the other two for this mission.
If only he was after an easy kill, but no warrior ever gained any skill from an easy kill. Avarek let a low growl escape from his throat. That would make this fun.
Thakji held his sword tightly as he leaned against the slab. The damned Fallen had bested him, and he barely escaped. After he had enough time to regenerate he would hunt down the problem alien and torture him personally. Thakji's breathing came out in a raspy chuckle to the thought, how the thought of him dominating the lesser creature made him feel elated.
He was never prepared for the spear tip to explode from his shoulder and a set of boots land on his back. Pinning him face first to the slab as the Eliksni recovered from his leap. A howl of pain escaped his mouth as the warrior roared in triumph. Thakji could feel his strength ebb as he tried to unsuccessfully free himself from the spear and the still mounted Fallen.
Avarek crouched low as he had his boots still planted on the Hive Knight. A throaty chuckle filled the air as it passed the helmet filters. He didn't revel in his gloating for long as he drew the Hunter's knife from before with his lower arm and with a roar he drove it into one of the hands of the Knight. The slab cracking under the sudden strike as the blade lodged itself deep within the solid substance. Thakji growled again as the pain exploded from his hand and into his arm, but he would no longer yell out for his new would-be torturer. That satisfaction would be reserved for him when he got out of this and had his way with the Eliksni.
Seeing that Thakji wasn't going to be leaving anytime soon, Avarek dismounted from his target and made his way to the torture tools. Grabbing two, he made his way back to the weakly struggling Knight and relished in the vain attempts. Pushing his pleasures aside, he looked at what he had grabbed. In one hand he held what looked like a spike, or a peg. Solid and pointy. In his other hand he held a wickedly toothed saw, he knew what he wanted to do.
Silently he rammed the peg into Thakji's free wrist. Unable to keep his own mouth closed, Thakji howled in pain. Echoing through the chamber and out the door. Too bad it sounded like all the other tortured yells of the Hive in this Hell. The Knight struggles were sluggish and not what the Eliksni was hoping for.
"Do not drift into the Storm just yet." Avarek drawled in his own tongue as he leaned closer to the struggling Knight. "The great Thunder has yet to call your name." Hearing no response, even if he didn't expect any, prompted him to quickly reach out and trigger the Arc generator on his spear.
Arc energy exploded into and all throughout the pinned Knight. The pained howl elevated a few octaves as the Knight's body was energized. The pain continued for a few more moments before Avarek toggled the switch again. Leaving the Knight pinned and wracked with spasms from the leftover energy.
"Now." Avarek gripped the wicked saw in his lower right hand. "We don't want you getting away, now do we?" He was murmuring mostly to himself as he placed the blade's teeth at the soft flesh behind the Hive Knight's left knee. Thakji grew still as he tensed for the incoming pain.
It started with the light tap of the teeth of the blade against the soft joint, followed by the scraping as it tried to pierce the chitin. Pain lanced it's way through Thakji's leg and he tried to thrash out of his impromptu bindings again. The knife and the peg tearing into the meat of his hand and wrist as he struggled. Tearing apart the muscles and forcing him to jerk back.
His reactions to pain only caused more as the spear held fast and tore more into his collar, spilling more of his blood on the experimental slab he was pinned to. His howls turned into pained shrieks as the sawing on his leg intensified and made it through the chitin. Severed muscles and tendons snapped and snaked back into the protection of his body. Rocketing fire up through his leg and causing his pain sensors to go into overdrive.
Avarek stopped shortly after a vessel burst and splattered the Knight's blood across his arm and part of his helmet. He didn't want his prey to die too quickly, or become numb to the pain. Straightening slowly he looked at his work. The left leg was limp, and all the weight was spread between the right leg and the three points pinned to the slab. Slowly dragging the Knight down and tearing away the flesh while in the process.
With a nod he looked at the remaining tools on the small slab and grabbed small cutting instruments. Looking at the saw one last time he roared before slamming the toothy end into right thigh of the dying Knight. It only elicited a groan of pain, that would never do. He quickly reached up and toggled the Arc generator again and energy lanced throughout the Knight and amplified at the conducting points made from the three objects sticking into the Knight's body.
De-energizing the spear Avarek took one of the small tools and jammed it into the exposed wound of the Knight, he would need that for later.
Many of the Thunder warriors were anxious as they watched the King's Skiff slowly come to a halt and lower to the landing platform at their research facility. They all held their weapons lowered but ready to raise in a moments notice to gun down any threats to them and their territory.
Baron Grutek huffed at the smaller Eliksni around him as he rested two hands on his hips and crossed the other two. He appeared to be bored and not even impressed, but the Watcher knew better. From his vantage point on a far away ledge with several other Thunder sharpshooters he could see Grutek tense slightly as a hatch opened up.
He also knew that the platform was rigged to explode in a moments notice, and Grutek held the detonator in one of his hands covered by folding his arms. Watcher hoped it would never have to come to that, as the blast would like wipe out the mountain and possibly the one he was on as well. The Thunder were that paranoid about other Houses trying to steal their technology.
Extensive countermeasures aside, he himself was nervous as well. He had only seen holo-pics of this Kell that had been ruling over the Kings and by extension the Thunder. In all these years she had never deemed them fit for a personal visit before, what changed it now? Surely she hadn't caught on to their scheming yet? His eyes peered through the scope again and noted the first of her guards to disembark onto the landing platform.
Baron Grutek watched with a masked distaste as heavily armored and armed Dreggs and Vandals left the Skiff and spread out on the landing platform. Not even asking for permission to disembark onto their territory. He knew it was a lot to ask of the King's to change their superiority complex, but he assumed that working so close with the new Kell would have changed that somewhat. Seems like both Houses had a long way to go in terms of respect.
That was when he saw him, a nervous wreck of a Captain, the one named Erunan. He had seen the Captain before, but never spoken with him. He never had a need to and doubted he still would either. He would deal with the other Baron or even the Kell directly, not the Kell's lapdog mate. He huffed again in disappointment and a scattered chortle let loose from the gathered Thunder. Several of the King's froze, Erunan especially, he seemed to pick up on the message.
He made a terrible first impression at the Thunder base.
Erunan growled and several King's slowly raised their weapons into a ready status. But he gave way to let Teira disembark. Her armor clearly that of a Hunter, but emblazoned with the mark of the Kings. She was still as small as he remembered, but she was growing. He could sense it and he gave a snort before he tucked away the detonator and made his way towards the King's landing party.
Teira had taken a quick look around after she had gotten off the Skiff. She could only look around in wonder and awe as she took in the picturesque view the base was located. But she also noted many things with her look. The Thunder were everywhere, and they were expecting trouble. She decided she needed to take a frontal approach and passed Erunan and several of her guards to reach the Baron that was more or less stalking towards her.
Habits had to die hard, right?
Eliksni were warriors and hunters, like it or not, she knew she was being sized up like prey. It was a game of cat and mouse, just that there were no mice and it was between a cat and a tiger. She had faced worse odds before, and she would do so again if she had to.
"Baron, I am glad your House agreed to host us on such short notice." She kept her hands open and in plain sight as she moved closer to the Baron. Trying to appear as non-threatening as possible.
"But of course, Kell of Kings. We live to serve your House." The Baron bowed his head as she drew closer. He turned to the side and swept an arm out to gesture towards the stairs leading to the main entrance. "We hope that what meager amenities we have are to your liking."
Teira hesitated and wanted to say something, but she could imagine Erunan shaking his head at her thoughts. She nodded and fell in step with the large Baron who led the group away from the platform.
"I know it is sudden, but I have been putting this off for far too long, and I do wish to know more about what your House does." She took a sidelong glance towards the Baron who nodded and gestured at several Thunder Captains who started disbanding the armed guard.
"We will do as you ask, shall I take you to our Archon Priest who resides here? Or a brief tour of the facility?" Teira could tell he was trying to be polite, she could sense the tension in the air. Anyone could.
"We can begin with a tour, but if I may ask." She hesitated and the Baron slowed to acknowledge he was ready to answer. "Where is your Ketch? You think with a facility as important as this you would want as much protection as you could get for it." Grutek chuckled darkly.
"Well, the Ketch is the House's sign of power. We don't have it here for the safety of our work. If an… experiment goes out of control or a rival House raids the facility. It can be scuttled easily without threatening or Ketch." The Baron paused as he thought of how to go on. "Like the reports we send you, all our information is sent back to the Ketch so we never lose any progress in any of our programs.
"I see." That was clever.
Post A/N: Whelp... I hope you all enjoyed this, I know I'm taking longer with the whole Avarek thing, but I like him and am dragging it out on purpose. So if it bother's you, let me know and I can wrap up his little arc and move him into the next one I have planned. I had to rewrite his scene where he started the torture probably eight times, first one was borderline psychotic and a few of them after that didn't make any damned sense. So this is a watered down version, to start. Let me know if I should kick it up next chapter for the gore fans. Eeuugg... I myself have a weak stomach. Also, Entity and Avarek belong to Reilly. Archivia, Teira and Erunan belong to RC. I can't remember who Kalyvaaz belongs to... But I will investigate. So until next time! Keep on keepin' on Guardians!