Several hours later, in an unknown location...
It was cold and dark. Nothing of the sun that once was permeated this place. Tiny footsteps rattled across metal surfaces, and piles of bones were the only decoration. Foreign crystals which glowed with a dim light sat upon spears and staffs, serving as a solitary illumination. It was cold and dark, and alone.
Tiny drops of water continuously fell from a broken pipe in the ceiling. As they fell, they splattered across the faceplate of an unconscious Guardian. It was this repetitious noise, this disturbance that eventually roused them to wake. The first sight was of an unfamiliar location, likely deep underground.
Arxus slowly rose to sit against the cold and hard rock. He had felt like he had been hit by a train, or an equally large object. All he knew was that it was making his head throb something fierce. As he slowly rose to his feet, he wondered where he was, and where the rest of his fireteam was, for that matter. The Titan stumbled forward, colliding into thick, metal bars that had him separated from the outside. He had been imprisoned, somehow.
“Hello?” He called out. The only voice that would have responded to his plea was his own echo. Arxus smashed his fist into the bars out of frustration, but even his mighty strength failed to make a dent in the metal. A grunt came from nearby, seconds following the loud bang that resulted from Arxus punching the cell bars.
“… would not advise that. Veil prison very, very sturdy.” It was a voice, deep and hoarse that came from the darkness, likely in an adjacent cell.
“And who are you supposed to be?” Arxus asked the voice.
In the cell across from him, the Titan witnessed a silhouette stirring about the darkness of nearby cells. From what faint movements Arxus could discern, the figure was standing up and sluggishly moving towards the cell bars of its own jail cell. As the figure finally came into the light, Arxus saw who it was. Rather yet, what it was.
“Member of dead House. Prisoner to Kell of Veils.” It was a Vandal with faded House colors, and a peg leg in place of its right leg. The being’s features were scarred, suggesting it had gone through a lot of battles or a lot of torture, or some mixture of the two. Nevertheless, it seemed complacent and unwilling to be aggressive towards Arxus.
“You’re Fallen. Aren’t all Fallen supposed to get along?” Arxus said with a hint of naivety.
“Not all Houses wish to fight… Kell of Veils disagrees. Kell of Veils thinks Great Machine is our birthright. If House Veils cannot have it… Kell thinks no one should.” The Vandal moved away from the cell bars, and sat cross-legged right in front of them. Arxus noted that it made a similar posture as when it was just a silhouette.
“You mean the Traveler?” Arxus replied.
“Yes, your… ‘Traveler’ once bathed us… now Kell of Veils filled with hatred.” The Vandal let out some sort of hissing groan as it eased itself into its seated position.
“That’s probably what the Kell is after… I need to tell Sylus.” Arxus mumbled to himself.
“Kell took your friends elsewhere. You will not find them.” The Vandal responded.
Arxus quieted down for a moment and paced about to muse on the situation. After what seemed like a few minutes passed by, Arxus returned back to the cell door and pointed a finger at the Vandal. “You’ve been here a while. You must know a thing or two about this prison.”
“Syrakis know many things… Kell of Veils kept me prisoner for many, many years.” The Vandal stirred again.
“If I help you break out, will you help me find my friends?” Arxus asked.
Syrakis seemed to ponder the thought for a moment, giving no immediate answer. “Syrakis supposes this is agreeable. Grow tired of dark and dreary prison cell…”
Arxus nodded. Now, he just had to find a way out. The Titan looked about his prison cell for some notion of an idea, but then it hit him. Another drop of water splashed across his visor, which he promptly wiped off. The Titan reached up and grabbed one of the broken pipes that ran along the ceiling. It took a few good tugs before it finally gave way, wrenching out of the ceiling and causing Arxus to collapse onto the ground with it. Arxus grabbed the pipe and stuck it between the cell bars.
“What does this Guardian plan to do..?” Syrakis asked.
“These bars seem rusty but my fists can’t punch through them straight-on. If I can put enough leverage between the bars, I might be able to bend them far enough to get out.” Arxus had placed the pipe and began pushing forward. Titans were known for their strength and Arxus had been surprised that he couldn’t just punch his way through. The situation called for a more indirect method. Sure enough, as Arxus created leverage with the pipe, the bars began to bend under pressure. Arxus continued to do so until the pipe broke; it snapped right in two and fell on opposite sides of the cell door. By then, the bars had been pried apart and weakened enough for Arxus to force them open by hand. Peeling apart the bars further, he escaped his cell.
Doing so must have created quite a lot of noise, however. Voices could be heard at the end of the hall, likely the House of Veils catching on to their little escape plan. Arxus didn’t have time to do the same thing to Syrakis’ cell. So he tried something a bit different.
“I’m going to need you to stand back, Syrakis.” Arxus said, watching as tall shadows were cast across the distant corridor.
The Houseless Vandal said nothing in response and stepped back, all the way to the back of the cell. The cells were pretty spacious, all things considered; the living conditions were horrible, though. It was a testament to Syrakis’ fortitude that he managed to live under these conditions for several years.
Suddenly, Arxus clasped his two hands together to form a tight, combined fist. Electricity arced and bolted through every inch of his arms, dancing between his fingers like a laser light show. The Titan lifted his fists overhead and smashed them down upon Syrakis’ cell door. All the electricity discharged at once and tore through the metal, blowing it off the hinges. The smoking metal landed right at Syrakis’ feet, leaving the Vandal rather surprised.
“Let’s go.” Arxus said, inviting Syrakis to leave his cell.
“Yes, yes, I’m coming…” Syrakis departed from his cell, walking in a fast limp as it seemed like he still had to grow used to his peg leg.
Arxus and Syrakis headed down the hall and hid out in one of the many alcoves across the prison; they waited for the Veil guards to pass before proceeding. Syrakis began to explain all there was to know about the prison.
“House Veils loves to capture and torture for information, and for fun… Kell is very, very sadistic. He will torture your friends, too… we will stop that.” Syrakis guided Arxus out to the main area of the prison, and it was massive.
Arxus stood in awe of this scene; it was a multi-tiered basin filled with similar corridors to the one that Syrakis and Arxus had just left. Crystal braziers were set up all over, with Fallen squads patrolling the various tiers. Everything else was illuminated by outside light, as what seemed like a large storm drain composed the ceiling; the various run-off channels at the very bottom suggested that flooding was a common issue.
“Where do we go first, then?” Arxus asked. “We don’t even have weapons.”
“Syrakis knows where prison guards keep their armory. Very, very useful in event of prison break.” The Vandal motioned for Arxus to follow him, as he crouched down behind the outer railing.
Arxus and Syrakis had to avoid many various patrols and descend several levels before reaching the aforementioned armory; Arxus couldn’t help but wonder what sort of prisoners the House of Veils kept down there. It was unlikely that human prisoners could survive very long due to the mustiness. The fact that their Kell would even capture members of other Houses seemed to bother him, though. It was as if there was no honor to be had in their species.
“Shhh.” Syrakis whispered. “Guardian must be quiet. Armory occupied.”
Surely enough, the armory was occupied. A Vandal and a Dreg were conversing to one another about some unknown topic; Arxus couldn’t tell because they spoke their language.
Syrakis motioned for Arxus to follow, as the Houseless Vandal snuck into the armory room and hid behind a pillar.
“I had heard those light thieves managed to kill Uriks.”
“Impossible. Uriks was the best of us. Our gracious Kell even entrusted him with his own Walker.”
“Disgusting light thieves. They destroyed the Walker as well.”
“Never thee mind. We shalt rebuild what we lose.”
“Ah, surely. It matters not. Warden Iviks will have his way with them. None escape the prison and live to tell about it.”
“Wait but a moment. Did you hear of that? It sounds like rumbling...”
Suddenly, a loud explosion rocked off from elsewhere, shaking the entire prison; the guards immediately became alerted to this possible threat. While they charged out of the armory to deal with it, Syrakis immediately took the opportunity to attack. As the Dreg ran forward to investigate, Syrakis caught it by the ankle; before the Dreg could react, Syrakis grabbed the Dreg’s shock dagger and handed it off to his upper left hand. He quickly impaled the Dreg through the neck, quieting its screams with his upper right hand.
The Vandal saw this and shouted, preparing to attack with a shock rifle. Arxus swiftly ran in and ducked underneath the Vandal’s line of fire; using his own body, he tackled the Vandal and threw it onto a table, causing the table to crack in half.
Syrakis gently let the Dreg down, hiding in within the shade of the room. “Syrakis impressed… has not seen combat for too long.”
Arxus slammed his fist into the downed Vandal before it could get back up, sending lethal amounts of electricity through it. “You certainly have a way with a blade. Any idea what that explosion could have been?”
“Syrakis thinks some of your friends have broken out… perhaps, we should meet them.” The Vandal ascended to his tall stance, and perused through the armory now; he grabbed a shock rifle and held onto the shock dagger he had looted from the Dreg. “House Veils likely stored your equipment elsewhere. Maybe with Warden.”
“He must be the head honcho around here.” Arxus commented, grabbing a shock rifle as well.
“Yes, yes… terrible creature. As sadistic as Kell.” Syrakis stepped back towards the door, hearing footsteps and gunfire echo from the exterior. “We must face him before we leave. House Veil prison must never operate again. Syrakis seen awful things happen in the dark.”
“We’ll take care of him.” Arxus responded.
“Syrakis thanks you, Guardian. Will hope you keep that promise.”
The two now headed back into the main area of the prison, and all hell had already broken loose. Several patrols had engaged a target located on the lower levels, and couldn’t seem to get a proper shot off due to height difference. Arxus peered down to see who it was.
“Vandyn! That was you!?” Arxus shouted.
The rather eccentric Warlock was at the bottom of the prison, desperately trying to fight off the patrols. “Mr. Essal, yes! Hello, it’s so good to see you! Yes, I decided to force myself out of this dreadful place, but it appears I’m in quite a spot of trouble. If you could lend any assistance that would be most appreciated!”
“Warden will be here soon. Must act now.” Syrakis commented, aiming his shock rifle down at the patrols that were attacking Vandyn. With a few well placed shots, Syrakis was able to fully utilize his height advantage and take out a few of the attackers. Ether hissed out as Vandals and Dregs dropped to the cold, dank floor of the prison, dead.
“Don’t worry Vandyn, we’ll be right down there!” Arxus shouted.