War Without End
— Eksori’s Ambush —
His foot pressed hard to the sun-cracked ground. Beneath it the Vandal’s neck gave; a hiss of ether burst free before dissipating.
Rezyl turned. Three Dregs charged. Their Captain raised his shock blade high, unleashing a battle cry to fuel their courage.
Focused fire spit from the muzzle of Rezyl’s full-auto. The Dregs fell.
To the Captain, Rezyl was a trophy that would buy unmatched respect among his Devil brothers.
To Rezyl, the Captain was already an afterthought. As ether leaked from the pirate’s broken body with each blow of Rezyl’s heavy fists, Rezyl’s attention had shifted to the unknown, but inevitable, battles to follow.
This was the state of things; conflict as common as breath.
— The Tescan Valley Encounter —
A Ketch with unfamiliar markings hung low between two peaks. A rare sight. Fallen flagships weren’t known to linger so close to the surface, preferring constant motion, like sharks on the hunt.
Skiffs circled below the Ketch as their crews prepared to plunder any treasures the facility held.
Rezyl leveled his rocket launcher. A digital ping signaled a lock, and a trail of smoke shot toward the lead Skiff.
Two more rockets followed in rapid succession.
The lead Skiff took two hits, lurched and retreated back toward the Ketch above.
The third rocket caught a trailing Skiff as the craft turned to engage its attackers.
Rezyl looked back. “Go.”
“You can’t take a Ketch alone,” Hassa laughed.
“The ship isn’t my target,” Rezyl had a plan. Hassa hated Rezyl’s plans with equal parts envy and concern.
“Lead the Skiffs away,” he continued. “We’ll meet— ”
“Can’t meet if you’re dead,” Tover shot back.
Rezyl smiled beneath his helm, “Go.”
Hassa and Tover throttled their Sparrows and disappeared into the heavy woods. Rezyl watched from cover as the Skiffs gave chase.
The Fallen below had taken defensive positions. The rocket attack caught them off guard but they were ready now, and there were more of them than he had time to count.
Rezyl raced down the slope, weaving between the thick growth of brush and pine, on a direct path for the Fallen clustered at the mountain’s base, his Ghost at his side.
“I need you to hang back.”
“How quick can you light my spark?”
“You expect to die? Can’t say that’s the best— ”
Rezyl’s Ghost slowed as the Guardian hit the valley floor.
The Fallen opened fire.
Rezyl leapt from his Sparrow as it transmatted away, his rifle spraying lead at the entrenched pirates.
The Fallen’s Arc bolts peppered Rezyl. Eager Dregs rushed and were met with death as Rezyl marched forward.
A massive blast cratered the ground a few feet from the Titan. The Ketch had turned its guns on Rezyl.
Another blast impacted to Rezyl’s left and he stumbled. A third exploded directly in his path...
...and Rezyl fell.
From the treeline, his Ghost watched as the Fallen celebrated and a Skiff drifted down from the Ketch above.
The circle around Rezyl’s body parted and the imposing figure of their Kell stepped forward to admire his prize.
The chittering excitement quieted to a steady drone as the Kell lifted Rezyl’s limp body by the neck.
A chorus rose among the crew, growing louder as the Kell hefted Rezyl over his head for all to see.
Rezyl’s Ghost darted low through the crowd. He didn’t like Rezyl’s plan, but now he understood it.
Distracted by their Kell’s triumph, the Ghost’s presence went unnoticed until a beam of light swept over Rezyl’s body.
The mood shifted instantly, cheers turning to ravenous shouts.
The Kell’s gaze fell to the Ghost as the beam faded.
The circle began to collapse — the Fallen set to pounce.
As the Kell moved to toss Rezyl aside, cold steel met the underside of the alien marauder’s jaw, followed by a red flash as Rezyl pulled his cannon’s trigger.
Ether spewed in an angry geyser and the Kell’s grip loosened. Rezyl hit the ground and unloaded five more rounds into the Fallen leader’s torso. The monster dropped.
Frenzied, the Kell’s crew closed in like a flood.
Rezyl’s Ghost lifted above the fray, frantic, “Now! Now! Now!”
In one motion, Rezyl rose from a crouch, his fists clenched and raised high as a storm of Arc Light built within him, his full might raining down on the Kell’s chest. The shockwave of Rezyl’s attack hit like a meteor, shattering
the Kell’s body and any Fallen within the Havoc storm’s radius.
The remaining Fallen staggered, knocked back and dazed.
Rezyl triggered his Sparrow.
His Ghost flew to his side, “We leaving?”
“Before that Ketch opens up on us.”
Rezyl punched the throttle as the Fallen crew opened fire.
“Let’s never do that again,” his Ghost pleaded.
Rezyl didn’t have to reply. If war was a constant, “never” was just an illusion.
— In Defense of North Channel —
Winds from the south caught the smoke and began to clear the thick air.
Slowly, the citizens of the small, snow-covered settlement came out from their hiding places.
Rezyl surveyed their faces — each weary, but flecked with hope.
Living in the wilds was all they had known. Surviving. Fighting. Hiding. These people had heard stories of a safer place, but tales of a better life were so rarely true.
Rezyl and his companions had been tracking these Fallen for weeks. Had they caught them sooner this town would have been spared. That any survivors climbed from the rubble to see another day marked this as a victory, but Rezyl
was growing tired of small wins, however meaningful.
That evening, Rezyl and the others led a gathering of survivors on the long journey to the growing city beneath the Traveler. Some settlers remained behind, choosing to stake their claim in the untamed wilds.
Rezyl admired their resolve, but never looked back. He knew whatever death these brave pioneers avoided that day would come to them... someday... in one form or another.