Fireteam Black had finally rallied, though mistrust among the group left them to fight one another. Emperor-19 held massive hatred for anything of the Fallen species, and his hate grew upon discovering the presence of Syrakis. This led Emperor to attack his fellow Guardians, striking down Arxus and nearly killing him. Were it not for the intervention of Sylus, he most certainly would have. Though, Fireteam Black would soon find out that they needed to gather their strength again. A new foe was about to appear; one who held more hate and malice than one could possibly comprehend.

Exposed cogs and gears whirred, rapidly spinning in the wall. The elevator cable pulled taut, and a loud noise broke the foreboding silence of the prison. It was clear now that someone had activated the old elevator, which sat centralized in the prison complex. According to Syrakis, it was the only way in and out of the prison; though, Syrakis knew already who it was.

“Warden Iviks… he comes.” Syrakis said.

Sylus narrowed his eyes after hearing what Syrakis said. To his understanding, Iviks was the boss of the prison, perhaps even a close lieutenant to the Kell. Fireteam Black would not only severely cripple the House’s operations, but remove one of its key players as well, were they able to kill Iviks. Sylus removed his shin from Emperor’s throat, allowing the Exo to stand.

“Foul things… all of you.” Emperor grasped at his throat, feeling any sort of pain that an Exo might feel. Synthetic nerves or whatever it may be, it wasn’t pleasant to be pinned by a Titan. “Be happy there are threats larger than you.” Emperor referred to Syrakis.

“Syrakis cannot help quell Guardian’s anger… will just prove worth through battle.” Syrakis knew that he wasn’t going to stop Emperor from hating him, and he couldn’t blame the Warlock for how he felt. Suffering under the thumb of his own people, Guardians had every right to despise them. “We must hide… Warden will be here soon.”

Fireteam Black then decided to find some sort of applicable cover from which to take vantage; Providence and Brian hid themselves upon the higher levels of the prison, with Vandyn and Emperor on the lower. Arxus, Sylus and Syrakis took cover in a nearby cell, keeping the door ajar at most. Without proper weapons and in a foreign environment, Fireteam Black was forced to rely on Fallen technology and their own Light. Syrakis had told enough about the horrors that the Warden had committed. He was expected to be some sort of monster. Little would they know, Iviks was far worse than that.

The elevator continued its descent, finally reaching the bottom of the shaft. The platform docked, alarms whirring and buzzing before shutting off entirely. Warden Iviks had made his presence known; he was a towering Captain, roughly just a head below an Archon. Arkanz provided his most-trusted Warden with plenty of Ether, inflating his growth to impressive, albeit intimidating levels. Warden Iviks was draped in purple, carrying with him the honor of his demonic House. In his hands, he held tight a Shrapnel Launcher, ready to tear the Light from the Guardians and their puny bodies. Joining him were a pair of Veil Captains, both looking just as vicious as Iviks.

“Spread out. Find the interlopers.” Iviks held a commanding tone, loud and threatening. The Warden stepped off the elevator platform, with a foot stepping on and breaking a human skull. Bone fragments exploded outward, landing a couple feet away.

By his order, his entourage of Captains began their search for the Guardians. Something about these Captains seemed somewhat unique; they cloaked just a few short seconds after obeying their Warden’s request. Iviks remained at the center of the complex, idle until a familiar voice reported over the loudspeaker system.

“Have you dealt with the Light thieves yet?” It was Arkanz, though he still spoke English. Perhaps he didn’t even know his own language, or a more likely scenario was that he wanted the Guardians to feel intimidated by his overbearing voice.

Iviks kneeled quickly, bowing towards the nearest loudspeaker. Though Arkanz was not present, Iviks still desired to respect his Kell. “Not yet, my Kell.” Though Arkanz still spoke English, Iviks spoke in Eliksni.

“I would have expected your particular methods to see them to pieces by now. Unless my Veil Warden has gone soft?” Arkanz expressed dissatisfaction in his voice.

“No, my Kell. The light thieves have managed to escape their cells, but they will not escape my prison.”

“I would hope so, Iviks. Take care of them, or they won’t be the only ones locked up.” The loudspeakers cut to static.

“Do not worry, my Kell. I would pull their bones from their body for you.” Iviks rose to his feet. “Hurry thyselves! Locate these fools before I cast you into the hole myself!”

The Stealth Captains doubled their efforts, searching high and low for the hidden Guardians. Though, even if Fireteam Black were to defeat them, they would still have to contend with Iviks. In his House, he was considered an interrogator and a butcher both.

“It seems like Arkanz doesn’t have much faith in him.” Arxus whispered.

“He is desperate. Behind on quota.” Syrakis answered. “Still very, very dangerous.”

“We have to take care of these Captains first, then Iviks.” Sylus added. “Brian, Providence, you think you can take care of them?”

Up on the upper level of the prison atrium, Providence and Brian were closely monitoring movement. Providence had an unnatural eye for detecting the Stealth Captains, but there were a few moments where he lost sight of them. The House of Veils seemed to enjoy their stealth technology. It was what had ambushed them in the library, and what had ambushed them on Main Street. Maybe it was time for some karma.

“We got it, boss. Don’t you worry your pretty little grey hair.” Brian watched the Warden, who didn’t move all too much. The Hunter crouched down, and seconds passed. What sounded like a short, mostly silent spark of electricity made his stealth field kick in, rendering Brian invisible. “Providence, can ya tell me where they are?”

“I got it.” Providence replied, bluntly. One Captain ascended, while another descended, intending on searching every layer of the prison complex. While the atrium was certainly the first of the list, they would likely go on to search other areas as well. “Two’o’clock. Right there.”

Providence could see one of the Captains ascending up towards where he and Brian were. Were the Captain to reach there, Providence would surely be found. Brian wasn’t about to let that happen. Providence had been a dear to point out where the Captain was, so Brian made a lunge. Still invisible, he snatched the Captain up by the throat and pulled it down into cover, choking the creature out with a rough touch. His arm was slung around and Brian crushed the Captain’s throat, squeezing it until every last exhalation escaped. While the Captain constantly struggled, it eventually succumbed and fell unconscious.

“Not how I would have done it.” Providence remarked, as Brian sighed and let the Captain drop to the side. It seemed like Iviks was still unaware of their presence. At least, for the time being. “Another one moving towards you, Vandyn.”

The second Captain moved towards where the Fireteam’s resident Warlocks were hiding, all the way at the bottom of the floor. Lacking the proper stealth measures, they were forced to make do with what they had. While Vandyn wished to conceal their cover, Emperor wasn’t so inclined.

Rushing forth from his hiding spot, he slammed his palm into the Captain’s face, lighting it ablaze. Grasping the Captain, the angry Warlock easily threw it over the railing and down into the abyss below. It was worthy of note that these Captains didn’t seem as durable as other sorts; Emperor absolutely manhandled his target, leaving it to a fate of broken limbs.

Of course, this drew the attention of Iviks.

“Found you!”

“Fireteam Black, get in there!” Sylus shouted, knowing their cover had been blown. They were unarmed and mostly overpowered, but they would find a way to beat Iviks. They had to, to ensure their escape.

“Fuck you, foul parasite!” Emperor didn’t care for orders. His recent outburst showed his true colors. The Warlock rushed in and tried to deal with Iviks himself.

“Emperor, no!” Sylus shouted, but he couldn’t deter the Warlock.

Emperor had already shown how he felt about Sylus, and Arxus and Syrakis. He was a being with a one-track mind. Perhaps it was his desire of power that moved him to take this mission, or simply a hatred for Fallen, wherever they burrowed. It had already gotten him killed once on this mission. Emperor ran at Iviks, before bursting into flame.

“I am the sun!” Fusion grenades generated within his palm, as he began to effortlessly and continuously chuck them towards the Warden.

Iviks shielded his face and growled as fusion grenades stuck against his body, blowing up mere seconds later and inflicting nasty burns on him. The constant barrage of grenades seemed to anger Iviks more than it hurt him, and it wasn’t long before he decided to retaliate.

Emperor continued to run, while the rest of Fireteam Black sprung into action. Arxus and Syrakis were the only armed ones, and took shots at Iviks with Shock Rifles. Brian pulled a Shrapnel Launcher off the Captain he had choked out, and soon joined in with the rest of them. The sustained attack against his character only served to further his anger. Iviks lashed out.

Emperor was nearest, and even though still in Radiance, Iviks quickly grabbed the Warlock into his hand. He squeezed the Warlock within an iron grip, pulling Emperor to his face just as his Radiance expired. “Do you think I care of your mission? Do you think I care what you are, who you are? You are an insect. A miserable speck of dust in the cosmos.” What happened next was sure to shock everyone. Within his hand, Iviks easily crushed Emperor’s body, snapping him in two. Satisfied, Iviks threw the body aside.

“Emperor!” Sylus shouted with a distressed voice. The Titan watched as his comrade was thrown to the wall, being a mangled mess of metal and cloth. He wasn’t moving, and his Ghost popped out thereafter.

“Guardian down.”

“You see now, Guardians. You see the futility of your ways. I can break you just like any other creature. You are not immune. You are not immortal. Your life is in my hands.” Iviks laughed. He had sustained enough injury, though reveled in crushing one of their allies so easily. He would gladly do the same to the rest of them. Iviks had begun to reach for Emperor’s Ghost when Providence stopped him.

Providence raised his hands high, summoning as much solar light as he could muster. The light of his being manifested into a gun, so golden that it rivaled the sun itself. He aimed it towards Iviks, and loosed a first shot, hitting the Warden in the shoulder.

Iviks roared in pain as concentrated solar light ripped through his shoulder, burning him further. It distracted him from Emperor’s Ghost, but only pissed him off further. “Enough! You have been a thorn long enough!” Iviks charged, quickly circling around the atrium of the prison.

Providence took his second shot, and burned a sizable injury into Iviks’ kneecap. This caused the Warden to briefly stumble, but it did not stop him from charging. Providence fired another shot, this time into Iviks’ torso. He still charged.

Providence and Brian were both forced to move as the Warden came after them, but Brian was too slow. The Warden managed to grab him as he tried to Blink away. Providence looked back in anger, watching as Brian was snatched out of the air by the Warden. He closed his tight grip across the Hunter’s torso, staring him deep in the eyes with a set of menacing lavender optics.

“Hey, lemme go, big ugly!” Brian struggled in the Warden’s grip, before realizing he was about to crush him too. Though, Brian was going to make the most of it.

“How my Kell ever saw trouble from you is astounding. You are so tiny and feeble!” Iviks taunted Fireteam Black.

“Nah, that’s fine. I’ll just make you let me go.” A quick surge of electricity shot through Brian’s body, and he was soon covered with it. The Warden was shocked in the hand, causing him to quickly pull back his hand and release Brian. The Hunter held with him an electrified knife, and started cutting away at Iviks’ feet.

“Worms!” Iviks was about to stomp right upon Brian’s puny little head, but he staggered after suffering excessive damage. Brian managed to send painful shocks through Iviks’ legs, rendering him weakened further.

“You must deal with him now!” Syrakis shouted, telling Fireteam Black that in his weakened state, Iviks had to be dealt with before he had a chance to recover.

“Leave it all to me, gentlemen! I’ll put a swift end to this rather bothersome fiend!” Vandyn replied, and took the charge. Iviks had been brought to a kneel after having his ankles and heels ripped apart from a razor-sharp, electrified knife. Vandyn swiftly came in from Iviks and his blind flank, leaving the Warden most vulnerable. As Iviks struggled to stand back up, Brian quickly backed off and blinked away.

Vandyn jumped into the air, and cast his left palm back. Void light quickly collected into his hand, generating at an alarming rate, with what only seemed like seconds of time. A large ball of void energy collected at that spot, ready to be let loose. Vandyn did throw it, forcing forth his palm at Iviks’ direction. The Nova Bomb collided onto the Warden’s chest, undoubtedly causing internal damage but mostly throwing him back. Iviks was forced over the railing, catching himself by just a hand.

He felt weak. He could barely hold himself up. He had finally failed his Kell, and many thoughts raced through his mind in these brief seconds. How could he have allowed himself to be defeated by puny Light thieves? Iviks felt his body shiver with rage as he saw a familiar figure enter his view. It was that of Syrakis.

“You… this is your doing. I know I should have slain you with your kin.” Iviks growled with anger and pain, feeling the Light eat away at his skin.

“You had known this from the beginning. You could not expect me to be complacent, after destroying my House.” Syrakis peered down at Iviks, one of the sources of great anguish for him and his House. Many years of suffering had left Syrakis a broken Vandal. It left him worthy of the name “Fallen”.

“It does not matter… Arkanz will kill you. He will kill all of you, and then he will take the Great Machine. This changes nothing…” Iviks growled again.

“Let the Kell come. He will not be able to stop what is coming.” Syrakis took the Shock Dagger he had pilfered from a Dreg, and swiftly stabbed it into Iviks’ hand.

Iviks felt his grip loosen and with that, he plummeted. Down, down, into the murky abyss of the prison. He fell into a hole that disappeared into the darkness. He went out screaming, cursing Syrakis and his dead House.

Finally, Syrakis seemed to be at peace. He watched at his torturer, a source of great pain, disappeared into the depths of the prison. Instantly, the burden of those countless years lifted. Though, he knew that many else would suffer were Arkanz allowed to live.

“That’s it. The Warden’s dead.” Sylus remarked. He felt it justice to see Syrakis land the final blow, for it was his revenge to seek. Were it worth it in the end, he could not quantify. Simply put, Fireteam Black still had a mission to complete. Sylus ventured over towards Emperor, seeing that broken, mangled mess of a corpse. He sighed, and lifted his hand over the Warlock’s Ghost. Sharing his Light allowed the Ghost to do its business.

In a flash of white, Emperor’s body disappeared, only to be reconstructed as it was before. The light faded and left only him behind. Emperor gasped, remembering only the final few seconds of his life, as he was crushed by Iviks. Realizing that Iviks had been defeated, he calmed himself and stared at Sylus. “Then… it is over. The parasite is dead.”

“It is over, but we still have a mission.” Sylus responded, and Emperor nodded.

Fireteam Black and Syrakis decided that it was time to leave the prison behind. Returning to the elevator platform, Sylus’ Ghost hacked through the Fallen console needed to activate the elevator. The hack only took about a few seconds, and they were ready to leave the prison behind. Gears and cogs suddenly sprung to life, spinning rapidly anew. The elevator pulled the platform along, thrusting it upwards through the elevator shaft. It had felt like days had passed since their capture. Who could know what sort of schemes Arkanz had planned in the meanwhile?

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