The sound of gunfire split through the trees below. Sweat dripped from the brow of a slender man as he wiped the inside of his helmet with the tattered corner of his grey cloak. Setting the helmet down on the seat of his sparrow, Garret Cole began to tie his long black hair at the top of his head when a loud crash came from just west of his position. Garret tugged at the hand cannon clipped to his belt. The piece was bright red with black tape wrapped around the grip. The paint had faded mostly around the muzzle of the gun and there was a slight fracture in the trigger guard where it looked to have been hit on something. Garret’s grip on his pistol loosened as he watched a tree begin to fall in the distance. The crack of wood splitting echoed loudly across the clearing Garret had chosen for his break. A small sigh of relief came as he realized another fallen ship had just gone down. It looked as if the humans might actually be able to secure this area for long enough. Muffled screams from below jolted the hunter back to his senses. Realizing he had no time to lose, he quickly put on his helmet, black with a gold visor that held a display area for his vitals. Hurriedly mounting his sparrow, Garret shifted the long rifle that was hanging on his back to his hip and rested it on the handle of his bike. Pulling back on the ignition the engine whirred to a high pitched hum and propelled the machine forward. Weaving through the wooded area garret could see the wall up ahead. Although massive in size, he knew it would not hold the survivors for long. Going over his mission in his head, Garret remembered the commander telling him that the wall would have to hold until e-vac could bring all of the people to the nearest civilian city. The humans had fallen back to the wall during the past week. The complex was large and easily defensible, but not for long. The fallen would definitely overrun this area before the end of the month.
As his sparrow skidded to a stop just outside the wall, Garret could see abandoned cars left by the people who had made it to the wall on their own. The people were told to evacuate to the Cosmodrome weeks ago, when the attacks had just begun. The last remaining civilians had to be led there by the guardians. “Your job guardian is to be the first man to the wall and the last man left outside. You will cover our retreat.” Garret recalled the commander’s words as sharp and resolute. “Scout ahead. Reach the wall and find a place to set up a nest. By my estimation we will reach you by midnight. Be ready, and don’t fail us guardian”
“I won’t fail, you bastard” Garret mumbled under his breath as he dismounted his sparrow. He knew the Commander had a distaste for hunters, as most guardians did. Cole’s previous conversation with his higher up had not been so pleasant. “You hunters are all in it for yourselves” his voice boomed, “I will not leave the success of my mission in the hands of some goddamn gunslinger!” The large man slammed his armored fist on the table in front of him. The table shook violently causing a few of the items atop to roll off on to the floor. One of these items was a white titans helmet, covered in dirt with a large ashy stain across the side where it looked to have been hit by an explosive. “The Survival of Humanity is my first concern sir! And honestly I’m the best shot you’ve got and you know that!” Garrets words rang out inside the command tent. The other guardians in the tent stared in disbelief. Most were in agreement, they wouldn’t deny Cole’s prowess as a sniper. The rest just didn’t want the job to fall on their shoulders.
Unlatching his helmet from his armor, Garret began to scan his surroundings. Directly to his right he noticed a car parked halfway up a narrow hill. “That could make for some good cover” he thought. At the top of the hill was a large rock. Garret got back on his sparrow and slowly advanced it past the car leaving it hidden behind. He made his way up to the rock and sat with his back against it to prepare for the fight that would come.
As nightfall approached a dim green glow began emanating from the inside of Garret’s helmet. Taking it as a sign to start his final preparations, the hunter adorned his head gear. With the night vision active he could see the area very clearly. Moving to the top of the rock, Garret mounted his sniper pointed at the clearing at the bottom of the valley, where he had stopped to rest only hours earlier.
Just as he finished adjusting the scope, Garrett could see a large space craft hovering low above the tree line just past the clearing. A loud voice could be heard over the radio “Get these goddamn people to the wall” Just then the commander burst from the tree line with a guardian over his shoulder. “Move!” he shouted. Static from Garret’s radio signaled that someone was about to speak… “Hunter! Those fuckers are on our six; give us some goddamn cover fire.” As if to respond, a shot cracked through the foliage striking a fallen dreg in the head. The lifeless body fell to its knees and crashed to the floor. The commander looked up to the source of the shot to see a trail of smoke leaving Garret’s Rifle. A large group of civilians following the commander could be seen in the clearing now. A very short distance behind were a small pack of guardians that looked worn from the fight. Only meters behind them a group of fallen could be seen violently advancing on the clearing. Garret shifted his body weight and immediately began firing on the pursuers. One by one they fell. A small pack of hovering turrets dubbed “shanks” dropped down from the skiff that had been resting above. Garret was able to send a round flying into one before it could detach from the hull. The rest of the pack began to fly past the group of humans in order to turn around and halt the escape. Garret put one round into each forcing him to reload his weapon. Just as he released the empty magazine Garret noticed a shank had slipped past his vision and had its gun pointed directly at the commander. Fumbling to put a new clip into his gun Garret looked down to reload. Once he looked back up and trained his sights on his leader he could see the commander holding a bright white hand cannon at his side now. The shank fell to the ground and exploded with a “pop.”
“Halfway up the edge of the valley now, only a few minutes to go” garret whispered. Out of his left eye he could see the commander put the guardian he was holding against a small boulder. “We make our stand here!” he shouted. The civilians continued up towards the wall as the guardians knelt down behind any cover they could find. Mostly Titans, the guardians white armor looked dirty and dark. Garret could not help but think to himself, “Does he have a goddamn death-wish? Just keep moving for fucks sake.” One of the guardians hurried to place a large box at his commander’s feet. The commander kneeling down to open a latch yelled, “this is it boys, we fight until the civilians are secured!” The commander then pulled out a large rocket launcher from the container and aimed it at the skiff. With one click a rocked propelled forward and smacked into the hull of the aircraft. The impact knocked the ship to the side, just as its thrusters recovered from the momentum an explosion sent it plummeting to ground just at the edge of the clearing. The following explosion was so massive that it knocked the trees back around the entire clearing and caused the closest ones to fall with cracks onto the fallen below. Still they kept advancing, some even climbing over the wreckage of the fallen ship. Firing at the guardians, while not bothering to take cover, the enemy crept closer and closer. The Guardians were pinned and at this point another skiff flew in from over Garret’s head. He was forced to pay no mind as he continued pumping bullets into the horde of fallen advancing on his comrade’s position. The skiff opened its hatch just above the guardians and began preparing to drop. With the Civilians almost at the wall Garret spoke loudly into his comms., “RUN! Get to the wall!”
The commander pointing his auto rifle skyward began firing on the ship and its occupants attempting to escape. The rest of the guardians made a break for the wall. Garret had to act. He stood, running forward still attempting to fire on the fallen advancing on foot. Grabbing is sparrow from behind the car and simultaneously mounting his rifle on his back, Garret revved the engine and blasted forward straight for the commander. Passing on his right and spinning around, Garret beckoned for his leader to jump on. The commander reluctantly got on the back of the sparrow. They began racing toward the wall and the fleeing guardians as the drop ship finally unloaded. First a group of foot soldiers and a few larger enemies jumped from the open gate, and then a loud hum could be heard followed by a robotic screech. “Servitor!” one of the guardians yelled, just as a large mechanical creature dropped slowly from the ship. Garret looked back just in time to see a purple flash and then an explosion smacked into the commander obliterating him on impact. The force sent Garret flying forward finally impacting the car that was supposed to be his cover.
Garrett could not see. The Impact left him dazed and his vision blurred. He lay in front of the car clutching his chest attempting to breathe. With a loud whistle ringing in his ears garret could hear the faint yet familiar screams of his fellow guardians. Explosions were raining down from the skiff above on the civilians and the guardians. Garret could hear the sound of boots running past him and the loud clambering of the fallen climbing over the cars that had been left. From very close by he could hear a comrade yelling “They won’t open the doors those bastards! We are too late!” another voice came from much closer, “Take his rifle, we’re going to need it more than he does.” A young boy crouched low at Garret’s side, barely able to make out his silhouette Garret slowly turned his head to look into his eyes. Hidden from the boy’s sight by a cracked visor, Garret tried to move his mouth to form words but could not muster the strength to utter a sound. The boy picked up the rifle from the ground by Garret’s feet and then motioned toward the Hunter. “Thank you for your bravery, we will all remember what you did for us” he said.
Another barrage of explosions could be heard followed by a hail of gunfire. Garret could make out the sound of his own rifle being fired, and then finally silence. The hunter turned his head toward a low thumping sound moving closer to him. Just as his vision began to clear he could see a Fallen captain standing over him. Brandishing a large blade, the captain snarled and mumbled something in a language unknown to the hunter. Garret began moving his arm toward the hand cannon at his hip only to be stopped by the weight of the Fallen’s foot crushing his wrist. The behemoth standing above him held his sword with two arms over Garrets covered head. Garret looked through the spider web of cracks at the tip of the weapon. The only thought running through his mind was fear, the fear of failure, the fear of death, the fear of extinction. Just as the sword began to drive downward Garret gathered the last of his strength to release a loud cry that was cut short by the tip of the blade passing through his brain. And then darkness…
Garret could hear a faint noise buzz through his mind and then a meek voice jolted him awake. “Guardian? Eyes up Guardian…”