Deep below the surface of Seattle, there remained an old prison; once, it had belonged to the likes of the Cursed Brood, a Hive sect that experimented heavily on their own kind. Now, the House of Veils used it as a means to further fuel their sadistic tendencies. The hour drew ever closer, as Fireteam Black would be fated to encounter the Veil Warden. He was the key of escape, and the only way out of that infernal hell in the depths. For now, Syrakis and Arxus ventured further into the prison, seeking out the torture chambers. The corridors were long and winding, carved from damp rock and passing far into the earth. It was an imposing place to be sure.
“How much further?” Arxus had asked. Syrakis seemed to have a great deal of knowledge of the prison’s layout. Likely, he was moved around from cell to cell, and frequented the torture chambers. His missing leg greatly suggested it.
“Not much longer… Syrakis knows the way.” The Houseless Vandal trudged along a rather narrow passageway, carrying tight a Shock Rifle pilfered from the armory. Upon his character, he was draped in the colors of a long-forgotten house, being of a faded red.
While they made their way to the torture chamber, Arxus decided to ask Syrakis a few questions. “You never told me what happened to your House.” Being locked up for an indeterminate amount of time was more than enough reason to harbor contempt, but Syrakis seemed to have much more deep-seated hatred.
Syrakis seemed to growl at the thought of the Kell. “Bad, bad memories… All started with attack on City. Devils, Kings, Winter and Veils all united… my House refused.” Syrakis descended down a metallic staircase, with his peg leg tapping against each individual stair.
“Twilight Gap, you mean. It was one of the worst battles in our history. The House of Veils was there too?” Arxus commented.
“Yes and no… Veils operated from shadows… slaughtered many Guardians. You call it “guerilla warfare”. Untold casualities, much suffering caused by Kell of Veils… he is called Arkanz. Ruthless, sadistic… evil.” Syrakis ambled forward, crossing into another corridor. “Arkanz infuriated by our refusal. When Fallen lost, we were imprisoned… moved from place to place not as Fallen, but slaves.”
“That’s terrible.” Arxus genuinely seemed to feel bad about it, considering Guardians had become so used to treating Fallen as the enemy. While true and how many were nothing but pirates, Syrakis was different. It made Arxus wonder if there were other Fallen who didn’t want to fight.
“Arkanz enjoys pain… tortured my kin, for fun. Forced to watch him mutilate and maim… Syrakis is all that remains. Do not know why Arkanz keeps me alive… perhaps as trophy, or example to others.”
“I’m sorry, Syrakis.” Arxus walked alongside of the Vandal, as they reached the furthest depths of the prison. It seemed like they were coming to a dead end now, and likely closer to the torture chambers.
“No apologies needed… House will be avenged when Kell is dead.” Syrakis stopped, turning his gaze towards the Titan. The Vandal’s eyes were a pale blue and they seemed to hold no emotion, as if any notion of his former self had gone numb from being forced to watch the torture and death of his entire House. “You will kill Arkanz, yes?”
“We will. We’re not leaving Seattle until he’s dead.” Arxus responded.
“Syrakis feels… hopeful with your words.” The Vandal turned away, reaching the end of the hall. There at the end was a large metal door, blocked off by a laser fence. “In here.”
“I’ll take care of it.” Aside of the door, there was a Fallen control console, which beeped as it maintained its function. “Grim, you think you can hack this?”
A small Ghost popped out from nowhere, hovering over Arxus’ shoulder. Syrakis seemed to be somewhat amazed by the small contraption, as he had never seen one up close. He didn’t do anything though, and allowed Grim to do his business.
“It would be my pleasure, Mr. Essal.” Grim responded, and the Ghost began to busy itself with the console. A conical font of light projected from Grim’s eye, as the Ghost interfaced with the Fallen technology. “I’m surprised. This is hardly encrypted.”
“House Veils not expecting Guardians… prison built for… other reasons.” Syrakis replied.
“The place does look very old. Arkanz could have just walked in and taken it over.” Arxus stood by and waited for Grim to complete the hack.
“Once belonged to Hive… Cursed Brood. Mad scientists… Arkanz slaughtered them like rats.” Syrakis continued.
“Huh. That’s foreboding.” Grim commented. The console started to beep seconds later, and the laser fence powered down. “All done. That was easy.” The Ghost promptly disappeared after that.
“Now, let’s get inside.” Although there had been a laser fence, there was still a door behind that. Of course, it was easy to get past. Arxus threw a weighted punch and easily knocked the door off the hinges, sending it sliding across a tiled floor.
The torture chamber was familiar grounds for Syrakis. Many painful memories happened here. He consciously stepped inside, wary of his peg leg more than ever. The metal leg tapped across the tiled floor, which was stained with blood in places. Arxus followed in, noticing the ghastly scene. Bodies were placed in haphazard positions, some missing limbs and others being just a torso. Some were Fallen of various Houses, others were actual humans. Likely, it was people from frontier towns, apprehended by the House of Veils. They didn’t last long down in the prison. All the bodies were hastily stuffed into ditches in the ground, likely to be disposed of at a later time. It was a sickening view, one that left Arxus with a knotted stomach. It wasn’t a torture chamber; it was a slaughterhouse.
“What the fuck is this…?” He found himself mouthing the words, but they were louder than he had intended.
“Sadism personified.” Syrakis seemed to respond in a rather absentminded manner.
“How could anyone be this vile? I would have expected this kind of behavior from the Hive…” Arxus summoned all his strength to prevent himself from vomiting. The scene was horrid but the smell was way worse. Fetid corpses produced a rancid odor, strong enough to permeate the filtration unit of his helmet.
“House Veils have been busy… hm.” Syrakis didn’t seem bothered by the odor. Whether his filtration unit was better, or he was simply used to the smell was entirely unknown.
Arxus navigated his way across the room, trying to avoid eye-contact with the bodies. He felt ill just being in their presence. On the other end of the room, there was someone strapped to a chair. It was Sylus.
Arxus reached him and saw the condition he was in. His helmet was missing and his face was bruised and bloody, with a black eye and a busted lip. Nothing else was worthy of note, as it seemed like he had not been tortured for very long. The Awoken Titan was unconscious however, likely unable to take the pain. His stark white hair fell across his face, disheveled and frayed.
Arxus placed his hands on Sylus’ shoulders, and tried to stir him awake. “Boss… boss! Come on, wake up!”
After a minute of trying to wake him up, Sylus finally came to. He groaned, his eyes tightened before opening. Those sharp orange eyes softened as they saw the first friendly face in what seemed like days. “Arxus… you’re okay?”
“Yeah, boss. I’m more worried about you, though.” Arxus responded.
“Don’t worry about me… I’ve been through worse.” Sylus spoke in a pained voice, likely having more than visible injuries. “Can you break me out of these restraints? I’m too weak to do it by myself…”
“Yeah, boss. I’ve got you.” Sylus was bound to a chair by metal restraints, and he seemed to be far too wounded to summon the strength to break them. Gladly, Arxus did it for him. Taking the end of his shock rifle, he smashed it down against the bindings, snapping off the ends which fastened them shut. He did this for both, and Sylus collapsed into his arms.
“I… thanks, Arx. My God, that foul smell was making me go nose-blind.” Sylus muttered, trying to make light of the situation. After a few seconds, he managed to stand on his own.
Syrakis stepped forward. “You are Guardian leader, yes? Syrakis would stay to introduce, but Warden must be dealt with immediately.”
“Who’s this..? A Vandal?” Sylus asked, weakly.
“He’s a friend. He wanted the House of Veils dead just as much as we do. Plus, he knows the way out.” Arxus made sure Sylus was able to stand properly, before leaving him to it.
“Good… we can use all the help we can get. You said something about a Warden? He was the one who did this to me. You probably just missed him leaving.” On a nearby table, there were a bunch of tools used in various torture methods. Among those tools was Sylus’ helmet, the Helm of Saint-14. Sylus clasped his hands around it, and set it upon his head. As the helmet locked and pressurized, Sylus inhaled and breathed filtered air.
“Arkanz picks followers wisely… all mirror his desires.” Syrakis responded.
“Arkanz is the Kell of Veils.” Arxus continued. “Syrakis used to belong to a pacifistic Fallen House, but the House of Veils captured and tortured his fellow members after they refused to participate in the Battle of Twilight Gap. Now, he’s the only one left.”
“All the more reason to put the House of Veils out of commission. If they do this to their own species, imagine what they would do to us.” Sylus tried to ignore all the corpses, but it was difficult to. He remembered having a similar reaction to Arxus, after he had first been brought to the chamber by the Warden. “Let’s get out of here.”
Fireteam Black finally rendezvoused back at the elevator. While Arxus and Syrakis had sought out Sylus, Providence and Vandyn located Brian and Emperor. The latter four now waited for their comrades to return, so they could make their daring escape from the prison.
“I would bring this whole prison to flames were if not made of rock.” Emperor commented.
“Yeah, yeah. You try to burn a rock, grumpy. Just take it easy. Be glad we’re all still intact.” Brian replied with a rather optimistic attitude.
“You cannot claim to know my thoughts, fragile Hunter. You do not know why I detest these parasites. You will never know.” Emperor certainly had a hatred for Fallen. Little did he know, he was about to exercise it.
From one of the lower levels of the prison, Sylus and Arxus returned. Sylus had a bit of a limp to his step, but he still managed to walk on his own.
“Sy, you’re okay! Shit, I thought they were going to kill you for sure.” Brian ran over and threw his arms around Sylus, giving him a big, friendly hug.
“Please no, Brian… I’m wounded, you’re hurting me…” Sylus groaned.
“Oh god, sorry.” Brian backed off, but he helped Sylus reach the docking platform for the elevator.
“That torture chamber is horrible. We need to stop them from hurting anyone else.” Sylus commented, staring up towards the ceiling of the prison. “We need to destroy this prison.”
“How are we supposed to do that? The entire thing is made of rock.” Arxus asked, slowly approaching the flank of Sylus and Brian.
“It appears to be made from an old cistern, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before. Perhaps we would be able to flood it entirely? I’m sure the Fallen have some sort of counter-measures in case of a prison riot.” Being a Warlock, Vandyn knew quite a bit about history, specifically anything that may have come out of the Golden Age. “If anything, the controls would be above ground. We could flood the whole place and make sure they never use it again.”
“Killing a shit ton of Fallen in the process. I like it.” Providence remarked.
“What about the prisoners?” Brian seemed concerned.
“Only kin down here… humans dead… never last longer than a week.” Syrakis had brought up the rear, and walked much slower because of his peg leg. It was his voice that tried to convince Fireteam Black to flood the prison; he wanted it to happen. He wanted the House of Veils’ sins to wash away in a cleansing flood. The horrors he had witnessed would never be repeated again.
“You parasite!” Emperor shouted, and he immediately ran after Syrakis. Instantly, it was obvious that Emperor was going to have a bit more of a violent reaction to Syrakis than Providence did.
Arxus had to force himself between Syrakis and Emperor, holding his forearm beneath Emperor’s chin and blocking his advance. “Calm the hell down, he’s a friend!”
“The Fallen can never be trusted, they are the enemy! What will stop him from betraying us?” Emperor was ready to burn something.
“Emperor, calm down… if Arxus trusted Syrakis, so do I. We need him to get out of here.” Sylus tried his hand at getting Emperor to calm down, but he was already about to explode.
“If you would rather side with this thing, then you’re the enemy too!” Emperor immediately swung out his other hand, and caught Arxus by surprise. His open palm smacked Arxus’ helmet and burned a scorch mark upon it, and tore through the Titan’s shields. He hit the ground hard.
“You’re overreacting!” Arxus held his face and stared up at Emperor, who had that mad look in his eye. This was a Warlock who held a grudge against the Fallen, and he was a pyromaniac to boot.
“This is what parasites deserve!” Emperor was about to land another blow onto Arxus. Emperor seemed to hold no contempt towards the other members of his fireteam, only those who had sided with Syrakis. He was going to kill them. As Emperor was about to smash his palm into Arxus, Sylus caught his wrist and slammed Emperor into the ground.
The Titan groaned with pain, most definitely irritating his already wounded body. “I am your fireteam leader and you will listen to me. This Vandal is an asset. I’m not asking you to like it, but you will tolerate it.”
“Fuck you, Sylus. You think you hold authority over me because you’re a hero of Twilight Gap? I could burn you to ash if I felt it… I wouldn’t feel bad at all.” Emperor laughed, but shouted in agony as Sylus held his knee over the Warlock’s throat.
“That’s enough, Emperor.” Sylus replied.
The fighting would have most definitely continued from there, were it not for the timely intervention of a distinct sound; a sound that Syrakis was very familiar with. The elevator sprung to life, exposed cogs spinning rapidly and cables becoming taut as a platform rapidly descended from above.
“What sort of mockery is this now?” Emperor spoke with irritation lacing his voice.
“Warden Iviks… he comes.” Syrakis said.