The Vanguards of Dead Orbit – Chapter Five

 

As the titan goes as fast as he dare down the rusted stairway he hears the sound of a massive explosion, the stairway shakes underneath his feet. He hangs on to the railings hoping that the aged steel continues to hold.

As the vibrations cease he continues to make his way towards his team, with each step down a sense that something is wrong consumes all other thoughts in his mind “What was that explosion? Why is it silent all of a sudden? Whats happening?” these questions bounce around the titans mind as he descends.

The titan reaches the hangar floor, after carefully making his way out of the stairway he is shocked by what he finds. Over half of the Fallen are either unaccounted for or dead on the floor, the rest are huddled near the carrier, seemingly cowering. The titan looks to his left and notices a pile of fallen corpses stacked up against the collapsed deck, before them stands a horrifying sight, his leader, covered in blood from countless gunshots and numerous knife wounds and yet still standing.

The titan rushes over to his leader “Sir, what’s happened?”

The hunter slowly turns to the titan “Cassandra, she’s gone.”

The titan understands immediately “May the traveler guide her”

The hunters legs buckle.

“Sir, we need to get you out of here” insists the titan, not fully convinced his leader can hear him.

The hunter looks over the titans shoulder “Look out!”

The titan spins one-eighty and fires his shotgun, the colossal fallen before him blocks the shot with his two swords and begins circling the vanguards. The titan gets to his feet and charges at the Fallen General, forcing him back, away from his gravely wounded leader.

The Fallen slashes wildly at the titan, the titan ducks underneath the swords and fires a shot into the Fallens chest, the shot burns into the generals armor and causes him to stumble back, the titan charges and jumps at his adversary,  headbutting him and taking the Fallen to the ground, he then proceeds to fire shot after shot downwards into the Fallens body. The Fallens armour is a smoking ruin, his cloak is torn to shreds and he is struggling to stand. The titan moves in to deliver the final blow when the General springs back to life and grabs the titan with all four of his arms, the General begins to raise the titan off the ground.

Just as the titan thinks his neck is about to be crushed he hears a familiar roar, the hunter had recovered his sniper rifle from the ruins of the observation deck and proceeded  to shoot off the Fallen generals right arms, it only took a single round thanks to the titans shotgun weakening the armour.

The titan hits the ground hard.

The Fallen grabs at the stumps of his arms with his two remaining hands while screaming in a way that sounds almost human, filled with rage and hatred.

The Fallen general limps away towards the carrier, leaving a trail of thick dark blood behind him. The hunter goes to fire on him but he’s out of ammo and the titan isn’t yet able to stand. The rest of the Fallen go to converge on the remaining Vanguards but the General shrieks an order at them, they form up and follow their general into the ship. The carrier powers up, sending a torrent of sand and dust towards the vanguards, the titan stays low to the ground while the hunter shields his face with his now empty rifle.

Moments later a loud grinding noise resonates within the hangar. The hunter looks up to see the gears on the ceiling start to turn, the thick darkness of the hangar is cut with a thin ray of light.

The chains and gears begin to move faster and the ceiling slides back with a downpour of orange sand.

“They’re leaving Sir!” shouts the titan, trying to speak over the dominating sounds of the hangar doors and the carrier. “What should we do?” shouts the titan again.

The hunter, now suffering from blood loss and exhaustion shakes his head “What can we do?”

The ceiling completes its separation and the carrier begins to rise.

The Vanguards watch on as their mission departs through the ceiling, unable to do a thing to stop it.

The hunter begins to feel deaths warm embrace slide over him, he decides to make it wait just a few moments more. The hunter turns to the remaining member of the fireteam “Screwloose, come here”.

Screwloose stands and moves towards his leader “Yes sir?”

The hunter manages a short blood stained laugh “I think we can drop all that now. Besides, we just failed our mission, I doubt I’ll be a Sir for all that much longer.”

Screwloose takes a moment “Yes, Daemon?”

Daemon smiles from behind his scouting helm “I need you to take this to Lyanna, We had a disagreement just before we departed from the city.” Daemon hands Screwloose his Revolver …With Good Intentions and then begins to laugh “She wouldn’t even take my call, I tried to get in contact with her for half an hour, hence why I was late to the hangar, I’m going to miss that temper of hers.”

Screwloose holds the revolver in his hand, the deep black metal gives the appearance of a heavy object and yet the revolver is as light as a feather. “I can get you out of here” interjects Screwloose, not liking Daemons tone.

Daemon turns to Screwloose and looks at him for a long time before speaking “Screwloose, My friend. This is my final resting place, I’ll sleep peacefully alongside Cassandra. You have a different task, you need to get out of here, get to the ship and warn the city. We may have wounded the General but that will only buy us time. That cruiser wasn’t just stopping for a picnic, the Fallen are planning something and the city has to be ready”

Screwloose nods his head “I’ll see it done Daemon.”

Daemon smiles “I know you will. Now this other task might not be so easy, look out for Lyanna for me? She’s got a hot temper that can get her in trouble.”

Screwloose had only met Lyanna a few times, he wasn’t one for social gatherings “I’ll do my best.”

Daemon places his hand on Screwlooses’ shoulder and thanks him.

After a few moments Daemons head lowers and his hand falls to his side, The Hunter passes.

“May The Traveler guide you my friend.” Says Screwloose as he kneels beside the Awokens body.

When the deck had collapsed underneath Daemon, both Screwloose and Cassandra were lost as to what to do. Upon hearing the doors of the Fallen carrier open Cassandra didn’t hesitate for a moment, she vaulted off the walkway, confident in her gliding ability. Screwloose possessed no such skill, he ran frantically along the walkway in a hope to find a way down.

The amount of ash and burn marks across the floor and along the walls tells Screwloose all he needs to know about Cassandras death, she’d overcharged her magic in an attempt to buy him enough time to get to Daemon. A valiant act, worthy of a Vanguard.

Screwloose comes to the far end of the hangar, with the ceiling open it was easy to find a staircase that would take him to the surface.

As he plants a foot on the surface of mars he takes a quick glance behind him, although he’s too far up to see Daemons body he makes a short salute and then proceeds towards the ship.

It takes Screwloose twice as long to reach the ship on his own. He takes his usual seat and attempts to make contact with Dead Orbit HQ “Commander, this is Vanguard team Alpha, do you copy?”

“I hear you loud and clear Alpha, what’s the status?” replies the commander, straight to the point as always.

“Sir the mission is a failure, we have two Vanguards KIA and the fallen carrier has left the Buried city.” states Screwloose.

The commander is silent for a short time “Return to the city, you are to come to my office immediately for debriefing. Is that understood?”

“Understood Sir, plotting a course to the city now.” confirms Screwloose. A sense of nervousness creeps into his mind, a feeling a hundred fallen couldn’t give him, he looks down at the revolver in his hands and begins to understand why.

 

The door to the commanders office is slightly open, through the gap Screwloose can over hear a one sided discussion between the commander and one other.

“I understand it’s a major disappointment, we all hoped that we could be rid of the Fallen Terror once and for all but you need to see the impact this incident has had on Dead Orbit, we just lost two of our best.” explains the commander.

“We, the city elders came to you with this because we were under the impression that Dead Orbit housed the very best the city had to offer, judging by this complete and utter failure I see that our faith was misguided.” states the city elder.

“I’m sorry you feel that way sir. I cannot at this time offer you any reason as to why this has happened, I shall forward on my report after I have debriefed the surviving vanguard.” replies the commander, a faint tone of sadness present in his voice.

“See that you do commander, the city elders will review the incident in detail and see if there was any negligence at play. Good day.” with that the city elder stands and walks through the door. With his white gown and shrouded face he looks more like a harbinger of doom than a leader of the city. He passes by Screwloose without even a glance and heads straight up to the roof to his personal transport.

“Come in vanguard” orders the commander.

“Yes sir” replies Screwloose, he stands to attention in the center of the room.

The commander sits back in his chair and looks at Screwloose in silence for a few minutes.

“What happened vanguard?” asks the commander, his voice was professional, without a hint of emotion.

Screwloose gave his report on the events that transpired after Fireteam Alpha landed on mars.

“I see, we had no knowledge of any kind of hangar within the city limits. if we had we probably wouldn’t have needed to send in a team at all. It would have been an obvious place for a carrier to land.” explains the commander as he shakes his head. “They fought like true vanguards, they will not be forgotten. Thank you for your report vanguard, that will be all.” the commander turns towards the window, a drained expression on his aged face, he seems to have aged by ten years over the course of the debrief.

“Yes sir” replies Screwloose with a salute, he takes two steps back and then leaves the room.

As Screwloose steps into the main corridor of the Dead Orbit HQ he’s faced with one of Daemons last requests. Daemons partner Lyanna, a tall elegant awoken female, current leader of Fireteam Bravo and a Vanguard of Dead Orbit stands at the far end of the corridor, not yet aware of Daemons passing.

Screwloose walks towards Lyanna, unsure how to tell her about what had happened.

“Screwloose right?” asks Lyanna, taking the wind out of him.

“That’s correct Sir” confirms Screwloose, suddenly dumbstruck.

“Where’s Daemon? Is he being marched about by Cassandra again? I swear, I’m not sure who is in a relationship with who sometimes, I know they’ve been friends forever but still, he needs to be harder on her, he’s supposed to be Fireteam Alphas leader after all.” jests Lyanna.

Screwloose decides to be as honest as he can “They didn’t make it back.”

Lyanna turns the full force of her eyes onto Screwloose “What do you mean?”

“We were on a scouting mission to mars to investigate a possible threat. While investigating we stumbled into the enemy’s position and were ambushed, Cassandra and Daemon didn’t make it. I’m sorry.” replies Screwloose with as much detail as he’s currently allowed to share.

Lyannas face drains of colour, her hands begin to tremble by her side “How did he die? what killed him? where is his body?”

Questions come pouring out of Lyanna faster than Screwloose can decide how to answer, he decides to give her the answers she needs.  “He fought against a carriers worth of fallen, he went down fighting. I wasn’t able to bring his body back from mars, he said he would sleep peacefully beside Cassandra and that I should  inform the city about what happened as fast as possible. He asked me to give you this.” Screwloose produces the revolver …With Good Intentions from his side holster.

Lyanna blankly looks down at the revolver and slowly takes it from Screwlooses’ hand, she gives Screwloose a quiet thank you and walks out of Dead Orbit HQ.

 

The months following the deaths of Daemon and Cassandra were hard for Dead Orbit. With the failure of such an important mission, the City Elders turned to other factions for assistance with high value missions. The decline in Dead Orbits fighting ability meant that their Faction War success plummeted resulting in the funding and missions that kept the faction afloat all but disappearing.  New recruits used to flood into Dead Orbit HQ with the hopes of one day proving themselves worthy enough to join Dead Orbits ranks. Following the incident that number has dwindled to a small trickle of it’s former glory. Lyanna was promoted to Daemons former rank of Leader of Vanguard Fireteam Alpha, Screwloose remained a member of said Fireteam. Entire squads left Dead Orbit in hopes of joining other factions, many were taken in by Future War Cult, the new favourite of the City Elders.

It’s during this decline that Dinnerbell, a promising graduate fresh from the tower walks through the doors into Dead Orbit HQ, he has an interview with the commander which both are eagerly awaiting.

“Welcome Recruit, I am the Commander of Dead Orbit. I’ll be showing you around and telling you your posting and introducing you to your fireteam.” informs the commander while showing a wide smile.

“Thank you Sir, it’s an honour to meet you.” replies Dinnerbell, genuinely pleased to have had his application accepted.

“Do you know much of Dead Orbit?” asks the commander as he shows Dinnerbell the mess hall.

Dinnerbell takes in the sight, many of the tables are empty in the hall, the atmosphere is quiet and close. Along the walls fly the banners of Dead Orbit, the crest in black against the light grey black ground. The pictures of former commanders and high ranking members line the walls underneath. The latest additions still sporting flowers. Dinnerbell had heard about the incident, he wasn’t sure if anyone hadn’t, he knew better than to mention it.

“A fair amount Sir. My family has a long history within the Faction, the men from my family since my great-great-grandfather have joined and served Dead Orbit. I hope to make them all proud.” answers Dinnerbell, hoping to make a good impression.

“Ah yes, I noticed your family history. I’m sure you’ll get your chance to do just that.” the commander leads his fresh recruit back into the main corridor “Please wait here.” asks the commander.

“Yes Sir.” replies Dinnerbell.

A few minutes later the commander returns alongside an Awoken Female, she stands nearly half a foot above both Dinnerbell and the commander “Recruit, this is Vanguard Lyanna, Fireteam Alphas Leader. She will be your new Superior.”

Dinnerbell had heard the name countless times while being a student at the tower, she was one of the most skilled and deadly hunters The City had ever seen. Seeing her in person was an honor in itself, being in her squad however was something else entirely.

“Uhm Sir? I don’t understand. Vanguard Lyanna leads a Vanguard Fireteam, I’m just a recruit.” questions Dinnerbell in a tone thick with confusion.

Lyannas eyes don’t move from Dinnerbell.

“Don’t worry Recruit, you will be instructed and trained in preparation for your Vanguard exam, it will be held in three months time. Lyanna will see to it personally.” explains the commander.

The information washes over Dinnerbell like boiling water, he holds his tongue and simply nods. The commander smiles and makes his way back to his office. Lyanna and Dinnerbell remain in place until he moves out of sight.

“Get a good nights rest and meet me back here tomorrow morning, we’re going to participate in the first wave of Faction Wars. Dismissed” Lyanna then turns and strides away before Dinnerbell can say a word in reply.

Dinnerbell arrives at his small Faction given accommodation, it consists of plain white walls and ceiling, one medium sized kitchen, a small bathroom and a large lounge and bed area. An improvement on the shared bunks at the tower so he can’t complain. He removes his unsullied attire and lays down on the bed. “I guess I’m in for a hell of a time tomorrow then” he jests to himself just before he falls asleep.

 

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5 Responses to The Vanguards of Dead Orbit – Chapter Five

  1. Jim Stitzel September 16, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Plenty of stuff happening in this installment. You definitely need to work on your punctuation, though, putting commas in where they need to be, apostrophes on contractions and possessives, and replacing commas in some places with full stops. I’d also recommend dropping some sort of visual marker — three hash marks, for instance (# # #) — in between scene changes. Other than that, a pretty good read. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.

    • WM September 16, 2013 at 11:03 am #

      Thank you for taking the time to read my fifth chapter. I’ll try to take more care with my punctuation. This chapter has been sitting in my draft tab for weeks, I had a free moment so I quickly skimmed it to see if it made sense and pressed review.

  2. WM September 16, 2013 at 11:07 am #

    Due to various reasons, this will be my last chapter release for a while. I hope I can find the time to write the remaining chapters soon. Thank you again to anyone who has enjoyed the story so far.

  3. Ragashingo August 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm #

    I liked seeing the story come back around and meet up with the beginning of the first chapter. If I could give any advice it would be to slow down just a bit more. You’ve got interesting characters and relationships in mind that you didn’t take quite enough time to tell me, the reader, about. I never felt Cassandra and Daemon battling for control in their relationship, for instance. More like Cassandra was insubordinate and Daemon had to continually chastise her for it.

    But, for all that, you’ve told a good story with a nice sense of continuity despite skipping around to dates in the past. That’s always nice to see. :)

    • WM August 8, 2014 at 11:23 am #

      Thanks again for taking the time to read all five chapters, I really appriciate your feedback and advice, I’ll be sure to put it to use for the Original piece that I plan to write in the future.

      I perhaps took Daemons and Cassandra relationship a bit too far, upon reading through some the chapters again it can sometimes come across as a tad annoying haha, I’ll have to put some more thought into how my characters interact from now on and also why they act they way they do towards each other.

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