"Eyes up Guardian!"
The first words she'd hear in her new life. Glowing blue eyed fluttered open, hurt at first by the bright light of day as she struggled to focus on her own hands. A small machine hovered before her but before she could say a word it explained that they were in danger and they needed to move.
"I don't understand," she began, taking in the world around her from the rusted cars that cluttered the crumbling bridge, to the wall that stood to her right.
"It worked, you're alive! You don't know how long I've been looking for you. I'm a Ghost. Actually, now I'm your Ghost. And you... Well, you've been dead a long time, so you're going to see a lot of things you won't understand."
In the distance an alien scream echoed across the sandy plains, reverberating from the walls of dilapidated buildings that surrounded them. A chill ran through her body at the sound, a fleeting memory passing too quickly for her to catch it.
"This is Fallen territory, we aren't safe here. I have to get you to the City. Hold still," he said, disappearing before her eyes. "Don't worry, I'm still with you. We need to move. Fast. We won't survive long out in the open like this. Let's get inside the wall."
Together they ran for the wall, crows cawing loudly as they scattered into the sky. Black feathers and sand kicked up as the guardian passed, stretching her legs for the first time. Had she not been confused and disoriented she might have relished the feel of stretching her muscles.
"Okay, I need to find you a weapon before the Fallen find us."
They passed through a broken door into what she thought was safety, only to be hushed immediately by her Ghost.
"Quiet they're right above us," the Ghost said in a hushed tone.
Overhead she could hear heavy footfalls and voices talking in a language she didn't understand. She glanced back to where they had come in, every fiber of her being wanting to bolt for the light of day but it wasn't an option. They had to keep moving.
Further into the darkness she walked, the Ghost floating over her shoulder and lighting her path as they wound through the facility. Rusty, broken steps groaned beneath her and sometimes she could swear she caught a glimpse of something moving just outside the light.
"Feels like a trap," she said quietly, her voice barely a whisper.
The narrow hallway opened up to a larger area and her Ghost materialized once more.
"Hang tight, Fallen thrive in the dark. We won't. We need more light, I'll see what I can do," the Ghost said. "Another one of these hardened military systems, and a few centuries of entropy working against me," he muttered moments before the lights flashed on one by one and alien creatures, she assumed the Fallen, scattered like roaches into the darkness.
"They're coming for us! Here I found a rifle. Grab it!"
The guardian snatched it up, feeling much better to have a weapon in her hands. Something about it felt so familiar and yet, as the memory before, it faded like a dream and she couldn't pinpoint why there was a sense of familiarity.
"I hope you know how to use that thing," the Ghost said.
"I think I do," she replied, her tone not as certain as she'd hoped it'd be.
"Eyes forward. Watch your tracker," he reminded her.
There didn't seem to be anything ahead but still she gripped the rifle tightly, preparing herself for battle.
Quickly but cautiously the guardian made her way through the wall, jumping back as a chain supporting one of the overhead lights snapped, sending the heavy metal fixture swinging toward her. She took a moment to catch her breath, listening into the darkness for enemies before stepping around the flashing light and moving toward a bridge. Red fabric with strange symbols hung around the opposite wall, framing the end of the bridge like a tunnel but before she could inquire about them, a monster jumped out at her from the shadows.
In mere moments the creature lay dead at her feet, it's knife falling loose from it's strange hand. Her heart beat furiously in her ears as she stared down at the thing, rifle still pointed at where it's head had once been but now was nothing more than flesh and bone protruding from its shoulders. Bile rose in her throat, but she swallowed it as her Ghost spoke.
"There's more ahead! Keep it up!" he said, expanding in confidence. At least one of them thought she'd make it through alive.
The guardian passed under the strange banners and onto a platform but before she got too far her Ghost stopped her again. His voice in her ear pointed out a chest but she was wary of opening it. In her mind, everything could be a trap.
"A loot cache! Let's see what's inside..."
Overall it was a good call. She found a shotgun and a few shells for it but not much else. She didn't want to waste any time rifling through the rest of the Fallen junk in the chest. Cautiously she eased into a hallway lit by a strange red glow. Lasers crisscrossed down the length of the hall, stopping her in her tracks.
"Tripmines! Don't touch them," her Ghost warned.
Down the hall she could see shadows moving. "I'm guessing that's more Fallen?" she whispered, glancing over at her Ghost. It nodded once, and she took a few steps back around the corner. "Look out," she warned, taking aim at one of the trip mines.
Her ears rang loudly as the mines exploded, sending shrapnel flying past her. The Fallen screamed, then it all fell silent. Slowly she peeked around the corner into the hall, dust and debris settling from the blasts. Two bodies lay motionless and she knew her plan had worked but it wasn't the end to them. The further she went into the wall, the more Dregs and Vandals there were. She couldn't say she was getting used to killing them, but it didn't give her the sick feeling the way the first one had. It was them or her, and she couldn't pity creatures that wanted her dead.
"The Fallen have a tighter hold on this place than I thought. Just a little bit further. Let's hope there's something left out there...," the Ghost said, zooming ahead down a huge tunnel where giant fan blades spun lazily in the breeze. Water splashed with every step the guardian made toward the light, but she no longer cared about the noise. Light was ahead, and she was going for it.
"This was an old Cosmodrome. There's got to be something we could fly out here."
Her hand blocked the harsh sun as she stepped out into an area very much like the one they had just come from on the other side of the wall. Abandoned buildings, rusty barrels, and an old tank adored the small field but before she could step out all the way a flare launched across the way.
"Incoming!" the Ghost said as Fallen ships appeared overhead. "Fallen ships! This close to the surface?! Move!
The guardian didn't have to be told twice. She ran as fast as she could across the field, Fallen flanking her right size, forcing her into another building far to her left. Dregs and Shanks clogged up the doorway, taking shots at her as she approached. She gritted her teeth and fired, bits and pieces of the Shanks raining down around her, pelting her as she ran past.
An arc round from a shock pistol slammed into her shoulder, sending her to her knees. Pain flashed through her body, pushing her adrenaline to the limit. She stood shakily once they were all dead, rolling her shoulder until the shock subsided enough to continue.
"I'm picking up signs of an old jumpship. Could be our ticket out of here.," the Ghost said as they rounded the corner into a small hanger. "There's a ship! Clear them out!"
A Fallen Captain stood on the wing of the ship, Dregs pacing the floor beneath him. When they notice the guardian they began yelling to each other in their language, rushing to take cover behind crates and debris. They opened fire on her, arc rounds crackling in the air. The Captain raised himself to full height on the wing of the ship, it's four arms raised in a challenging stance. The guardian wasted no time firing at the Captain, bullets sinking into its body. Black blood spattered across the wing of the ship and the alien roared, falling to the ground below.
The guardian dodged behind a column as the Captain opened fire, chipping away at the concrete formations edges with his shrapnel launcher. She could hear him charging toward her and she took her chance, rolling away from the column and firing at the Captain's head. Shrapnel lodged in the armor of her boots and bolts of arc energy sent clods of dirt up all around her.
She took cover behind a crate, leaning out to shoot Dregs while also avoiding the Captain who had retreated toward the ship. The creature was heavily wounded, blood pouring out into the earth and metal at his feet but he wasn't giving in and neither was she.
Dregs fell one by one but he ammo was getting low. She only had a handful of bullets left to down the Captain once and for all. She exhaled shakily, pushing her breath between her lips in an attempt to calm herself before spinning out from behind the crate and firing on the Captain. He dodged out of the way, teleporting several feet away.
The guardian shifted her aim and pulled the trigger, but nothing happened. The rifle was out of ammo and useless to her. At first a sense of panic boiled up into her throat but her adrenaline kept her moving. She tossed away the rifle, her fingers wrapped around the handle of her knife and she charged the weakened Captain, slicing the Fallen open in one swift movement.
She stood panting over the dead body, black blood dripping from her blade to be soaked into the earth at her feet. Hands shaking she wiped the blood off on a tuft of grass before sheathing it while her Ghost inspected the ship.
Alright, let me see if I can get us out of here. It's been here a while. Hasn't made a jump in centuries. We're lucky the Fallen haven't completely picked it clean," he admitted.
"Will it fly?" she asked, picking up the discarded rifle and slinging it over her shoulder.
"I can make it work. Okay... it's not going to break orbit, but it just might get us to the City. Now… about that transmat... Bringing you in!"
"The city?" she asked, tilting her head. The Ghost never got a chance to answer. Behind her a Fallen even bigger than the Captain emerged from a tunnel in the wall. She backed away from it, pulling her knife out once more. Killing a weakened Captain with a knife was one thing, but she wasn't so sure she could hold her own against this new enemy. Luckily, she didn't have to. Her Ghost pulled through with the transmat just in time.
"We can come back for them when you're ready. Let's get you home," he said, taking control of the ship to take them to the Last City. She peered back from where they had come and the shrinking Cosmodrone behind them. Whatever she was, whoever she was, lay behind her now. Something new was coming and she didn't know if she was ready for it.