The two stood in silence for quite some time, the mix of bitter cold and searing heat beating against the Titan and Hunter. Avgust tensed, trying to analyse any options he still had. If he were to drop the Thunderlord and turn to grab the weapon, there was a chance that within the half-second it would take him to move he would be able to disarm the Heinrich—but it was a fifty-fifty chance. Heinrich had just about the same time to pull the trigger and fire the weapon from point-blank range into Avgust's head.
Additionally, slamming his elbow into the chest with Heinrich would offer enough force to cause the Hunter to reel back in surprise. All he had to do was muster the strength all Titans had and hit Heinrich with a strong force. However, Heinrich could just as easily move out of the way with the speed of a Hunter and fire back.
But then something happened that Avgust wasn't quite expecting. He heard the sound of a Guardian moving through blink, as Heinrich sounded with surprise. The sound of a force slamming the Hunter saw that Heinrich was tossed over the railing onto the top of the recovery vehicle in the garage below. Turning back briefly, Avgust spotted Orur as the Warlock raised his Pulse Rifle and fired wide upon the Hunter as Heinrich rolled away.
Avgust lifted his Thunderlord over the railing as well, firing at Heinrich as the Hunter moved out of sight. The Titan looked to his Warlock compatriot, finding that the shoulder of Orur was bleeding red through the white snow. Avgust quickly spoke: "You hurt?"
"Yes," Orur grimaced, "but the cold froze it over. I'll be fine."
"You'll lose your arm if you keep it cold, you need to let it heal." Avgust replied sharply.
The Warlock shrugged, rolling his icy shoulder as he made a sharp sound of pain before he replied: "It'll heal when we get back to the City. But now, we need to make sure Heinrich doesn't do anything we will regret."
"There is a Walker within the boundaries of this camp, that must mean there is a Skiff as well."
"You saying we should destroy both?" Orur asked.
"Of course. Then the rest of the House can't leave and we have Heinrich trapped. We could then negotiate with him, or terminate him depending on what happens next."
"Let us hope we can negotiate, then."
Avgust drummed his fingers across the barrel of the Thunderlord, tapping the COM on the side of his helmet to try to detect Heinrich. Getting nothing off the radio end, Avgust summoned Svarog as he looked at his Ghost. "Can you find Heinrich?"
Svarog beeped before it turned its blue eye towards it's Guardian, replying in a solemn voice: "He is making his way to what I can see to be a landing pad of sorts. Of course, he can't really make his way towards it very fast in this weather. It is however likely he has already summoned his jumpship to this location."
"It would fly." Avgust replied, "Cloud is too thick and too cold for the engine to run properly. It'll crash before he even has a chance to get into it."
"Perhaps, but perhaps this is for the best. If his jumpship crashes, it means that he isn't going to be getting out of here very quick."
"Also means he doesn't have any other way out of here other than the Fallen Skiff." Orur added. Avgust and Svarog fell silent when this was said, realising that really left one option. The Titan looked towards his Ghost, before commanding: "Keep communications open with Heinrich, tell him we are willing to help him—but if he continues he won't have a way out of here, and he will end up dead."
"Of course, Avgust." Svarog beeped.
The Titan turned his attention towards the Warlock, as he brushed the snow and ice away from the shoulder of Orur. Placing his hand back onto the Thunderlord, Avgust spoke: "We can't lose each other again. If Heinrich has a chance, he will take us on alone. Two against one for him is undesirable, especially in these conditions. We work together, find him and take him down."
Orur nodded his head, as he placed a fresh magazine into his Pulse Rifle. He nodded his head slowly, mentally preparing himself for what was to happen next. Avgust could sense the Warlock's reluctance to do anything that would mean putting an end to another Guardian. Orur acted out of defence of Avgust, never did he anticipate that there was a possibility that he would have to kill Heinrich. And the Titan understood why, hell—he would rather have Heinrich snap out of whatever has seized his mind and atone for his crimes.
But at this stage, it didn't seem likely. They would need to prepare for the eventuality that they would be killing the Hunter. Avgust pushed past Orur—back through the door as he entered the snow once more, raising the Thunderlord as he he dropped down to ground level again. The snow had really begun to pick up now, blinding the Titan from further than three metres. He kept the Thunderlord raised, as he looked back to Orur as the Warlock fell in behind him.
Orur tilted his head forward, informing Avgust that he was ready to press forward through the snow. At alert, the two pressed through the snow. The Titan was beginning to doubt the possibilities of actually being able to find either the Walker or Heinrich. Svarog must have detected this doubt within the Titan, as the Ghost opened a navigational marker to where he last detected the Hunter.
"I've marked Heinrich, should be easier to find him now." The Ghost replied, drawing a low «Spasibo.» from Avgust.
He kept his Thunderlord raised, sweeping the horizon as he looked out for anything that might have been attempting to flank them. He marched slowly towards where Heinrich was being displayed on his HUD, ignoring the hand that Orur had placed on his shoulder to keep up to pace with the Titan. The two continued to march forwards, in complete silence from the harsh and bitter winds, heading to find the traitor that had nearly destroyed them in favour of the Fallen House.
A beam of red light suddenly struck the chest of Avgust, keeping place on him as he marched forward. The Titan looked down to it, quickly realising through the confusion of the snow what the beam was. His eyes widened, as he turned and shoved Orur into the snow with sudden speed as he fell to the ground as well. A shell flew past the two, where the two Guardians once stood where it detonated in a mighty explosion a few metres behind them. Avgust swore silently, as Orur cried out the obvious: "Walker!"
Avgust picked himself up, trying to locate the monster through the snow—but couldn't. The Fallen had likely given the thing heat scanners, allowing it to easily detect the Guardians while they were left blind. Grabbing the Warlock's arm and lifting him up, the Titan jogged through the thick snow as he tried to find a way to locate the Walker in order to dismantle it. Another red laser shot through the snow, as he dove out of the way a second time. The round barely missed him—and it was likely next time it would hit him.
He needed to make his way to the Walker himself, and destroy the thing from close proximity if they had a chance to dismantle it. Avgust looked back to Orur, speaking loudly over the beating snow: "Orur! We'll need to get closer to this Walker! Prepare any grenade you've got!"
The Titan could tell the Warlock looked back at him with surprise, as Orur replied sharply: "How do you plan to destroy the thing?"
"Stall it, shove enough explosives under its carapace to blow it to a «blin» of pieces." Avgust replied, as he lifted up his Thunderlord. He checked how much ammunition he had in the mighty weapon, before he lifted himself up and began in a jog through the snow. It was working against him in his efforts to reach the Walker, as the thick mat of white prevented his passage. Slowly, but surely the shape of the Walker made its outline clear to him.
It was all like it was at the Twilight Gap, because all Walkers were the same. Avgust knew of every weapon the Fallen Tank boasted, from its Main Cannon to is Shockwave. They were all equally equipped, but all equally weak. The legs were the easiest to spot weak point on the Walker, as breaking away these defences would leave it susceptible to the engine within the carapace. And from there, it was just common sense to destroy the engine and leave the thing to rust.
The Titan tensed, as he raised his Thunderlord and begun to fire upon the Walker. The rounds broke against the heavy armour as the sound of the Thunderlord's music played. The Walker roared in protest, as at its head it focused it Gatling Cannons at Avgust. Lowering his machinegun to the chin of the Walker, he blasted away at the weapons underneath.
The sound of metal hitting metal became audible, as the barrels of the Gatling Cannons begun to dent and peel. Its arc rounds began to fly in random directions, tagging everything that wasn't its intended target. But that didn't prevent the heavier blaster atop the main cannon focusing on the Vanguard, as a barrage of arc shells struck towards Avgust.
Attempting to dodge did him no good, as the first two struck from under his feet as he was lifted up against his will into the air and thrown back. Cushioned by the snow, his legs ached with pain as arc energy ran along the greaves, melding with his own arc energy that he used in his Light. Avgust's HUD flashed red, displaying to him that his kinetic barrier had been broken and his armour had sustained serious damage.
The Titan growled with pain as he attempted to push himself up with the assistance of his screaming legs. Avgust could feel the red laser sensor of the Walker targeting him, as he knew that within a second a shell would blow him to pieces. But Orur jumped over him, the Warlock capturing the attention of the Walker as he fired at it.
Avgust realised this as an opportunity provided by Orur to get up, and continue fighting. He slowly brought himself up, as he walked forward—keeping his Thunderlord raised against the Walker as he began to open fire upon its most vulnerable leg. The Titan felt as if his own legs were going to collapse under his weight, as they wobbled and bent. Perhaps it was a combination of factors that caused this: the stress of the work, the injuries dealt to his leg and the extreme cold. The Titan disregarded these to the best of his ability, as the Walker refocused its attention on Avgust.
The plating defending the front leg pealed away slowly, the frost-bitten metal breaking as easy as porcelain as chucks of it fell into the snow harmlessly. The mechanical chug of the Thunderlord continued to toss its projectiles at the Walker with such velocity and impact, that after moments of sustained fire it exploded the front leg much like any grenade would.
The Walker roared with the pain it could not feel, the main body of the tank falling into the snow as the carapace pulled away to reveal the core locked inside the rest of the frame. With all his might, and despite the protest in his legs—Avgust sprinted through the snow as he pulled away the grenades provided on his chestplate and flicked the pins out. Reaching the carapace, the Titan shoved the explosives into every crack he could. Looking from across the Walker, Orur shot void energy from the tips of his fingers as the vortex exploded along the engine.
"Orur! Move!" Avgust called out, as he himself turned back and ran as fast as he could into the white. But the stress placed onto his left leg allowed it to give in, as he fell hands first into the snow within only ten metres of the Walker. He knew the thing was going to be lit up any second, but he couldn't find the strength within him to get up and walk.
So instead the Titan did the next logical thing: crawl. Throwing his hands before him as he dragged his heavy armour along with him with entire fistfuls of snow and ice, Avgust concluded the effort he put it would hardly be enough to save him from the fireball about to ensue. Closing his eyes, Avgust waited for the blast that would inevitably come from the explosion.
Ringing filled his ears as a bright light filled his eyes, the Titan lost complete sensation of feeling as he felt himself thrown by the explosion—his world fading into something else...
The next time he opened his eyes, he found the personage of some Hunter standing above him. They looked above at the destroyed Walker, before they kneeled down and placed their slender hand behind the head of Avgust as if to prop it up. Incapable of moving, he allowed himself to—as the blur faded to reveal the helmet of the Hunter he knew very well: Pariah. She stared at him, seemingly with a curious interest with the way the helmet was shaped.
Pariah didn't say a word, instead taking the time to examine the burnt features of Avgust's armour. The Titan couldn't allow himself to take the silence anymore, as he spoke for himself: "W-what are you doing here..."
"Don't want any help?"
"You seem like the last one who would want to help, Pariah."
The Hunter let out a small chuckle, as she dropped the Titan's head and walked through the snow, around his body as she took a look back at the Walker. "You know, Avgust..." she started, "I believe I was the one who came up with the suggestion to place explosives under the carapace."
"It was a good idea."
"It still is, obviously. One that helped you."
Avgust scoffed as Pariah returned her attention to the Titan, continuing to pace around his body as she drew a knife—twirling it in her fingers. "Avgust, I don't think you know how to say 'thank you."
"I don't thank people who betray the City. People who betray me."
"The City wasn't right, Avgust. The City thought it could hold the line against a Fallen invasion."
"It has—twice. And it will continue to defend as long as we have Guardians—"
"... like me, and not you." Pariah concluded, "You stand around, thinking it will save you. Titans are bound to the Wall like they are the bricks to it. Just because you are there doesn't mean it is stable, Avgust."
"When we have thousands—"
Pariah interjected again: "Tell me Avgust, how good is any sort of wall without a foundation."
Avgust couldn't find a response to this question, not exactly sure what Pariah had meant. But then he quickly realised, and seemingly Pariah figured this out as well as she let out a short laugh. She turned to him again, before continuing: "Zavala told you the other way around, hadn't he?
"The wall and the Guardian are only as good as its foundation, Avgust. The foundation was Osiris, Saint-14 and the Speaker. But what happened to them? The Speaker got greedy, exiled Osiris and sent Saint-14 on a suicide mission to find the exiled Warlock for whatever reason. You are standing with the support of a single, corrupted and foolish man. The City has destroyed itself, Avgust... and it is all because of the Speaker."
"You abandoned our City in the time of its need." Avgust shot back, as Pariah stopped moving the knife through her fingers as she turned back towards the Titan. "And you, Avgust," she spoke cooly, "are continuing to allow it to be destroyed by these delusions that the 'City will forever be safe'. No city has ever survived a Collapse. And this City is no different."
Avgust couldn't reply to this, as he struggled his best to get up from the position he was locked in. Pariah drew her knife, standing over him as she kept her blade locked backhand. Now kneeling over him, she kept her knife over his less-armoured stomach as she threatened: "So let me set you free."
Avgust screamed in pain as Heinrich's blade drove itself in between the plating to his abs and embedded itself into his organs. The Titan struggled to get the traitor Hunter away from him, as he felt the instant effects of the snow and frost growing over his open wound as it cooled his hot red blood into a crystal pink. Avgust hadn't experienced such pain in a long time, especially more so when Heinrich twisted the blade and then withdrew it.
Avgust couldn't even find himself breathing properly under such pain, as he tried to find his ever weak grasp around the arm of Heinrich to seize the Hunter. But he couldn't find enough in himself to do it, as the cold swelling in his body threatened to kill him. He rolled to one side, foolishly cupping for snow and ice as he tried to pad his wound. The yellow and thick substance soon closed around the wound, drawing in some of Avgust's blood to tint the now solidifying substance a dark orange.
The substance was some strange thing that aided in closing breaches into the Titan garb, as if to prevent their breathable oxygen from leaking and to help provide some protection from any further damage. Avgust gasped in relief as this happened, some warm breath returning to him as the cold began to break away from his organs. He watched as Heinrich stood up, drawing his Handcannon as he kept it only a metre away from the Titan's head.
Heinrich shook his head with obvious disappointment, as if having wanted resistance from Avgust with some twisted nature. "I told you," he mocked, "only the strong survive."
Avgust closed his eyes again, seemingly accepting his fate as suddenly he heard a roar. It didn't come from Heinrich, but rather from Orur as the Warlock slammed into the Hunter at full velocity. Heinrich was knocked to the ground, as his Handcannon fell from his possession. The Titan watched as the Hunter swung his legs from under Orur, knocking the Warlock to the ground.
Avgust tried to move, any sort of sensation that would allow him to get up and help Orur with Heinrich. But only his fingers twitched, as he watched Heinrich wrestle for Orur for who would come out on top. Avgust kicked his leg, allowing him to bend it in a position by which he could get up. The burning pain of the knife screamed in his side, though—only allowing him so much movement. He rolled lazily to one side, placing his hands to the ground as he pressed himself upwards.
Kicking his working leg in between him and the snow, Avgust allowed himself to take a knee in the snow as he continued to watch the struggle. Heinrich ended up on top, trying to drive the knife down into the head of Orur. The Warlock was struggling, but was refusing to give up his efforts. Avgust tried to stand, but found himself falling to the ground again in the press-up position.
Blood spilled from his mouth as he felt his throat burn, but the Titan looked back up to the two struggling Vanguards. He felt like crying out loud, but the position he was in prevented him from making such a mistake. Either he got up now and took the pain, or he would have to watch Orur die right in front of him. The blade of the Hunter's knife was drawing a sharp line across Orur's helmet, as the Warlock cried out in surprise and determination.
Avgust placed his leg between him and the snow again, using it to push himself up to his legs as he wobbled around uncontrollably. But he could stand, staring at the two struggle as he tried to stumble forward. His legs refused to move in their condition, but the Vanguard pressed on. The knife was now splitting the Warlock's helmet in half, as Heinrich growled in some sort of victory.
Blood flowed through the open helmet, as Orur struggled to even struggle against the efforts of the Hunter. Avgust stumbled over slowly, cracking his knuckles as he felt arc energy break from them. Heinrich stayed straddled against the body of Orur, seemingly gloating over the kill as the Titan dragged on to the side of Heinrich. The Hunter turned, seemingly in surprise as he tried to lash out.
But before he could, Avgust found himself on top of the Hunter as he used all his upper-body strength to force the knife from the Heinrich's hands, placing his knee against the upper body of the Hunter. Avgust pinned both shoulders of Heinrich with his legs, as he raised his right hand and struck the helmet of Heinrich as it shattered into dozens of pieces. The filter that kept him breathing collapsed, as almost immediately afterwards the Titan could hear the sudden suffocation of the Hunter.
Every liquid in the Heinrich's mouth and throat were being crystallised due to the intense cold, inflaming the throat and beginning to freeze the lungs. Avgust watched up close, examining every excruciating detail as the Hunter became incredibly weaker and weaker. Avgust shook his head, as Heinrich drew in his last breath—the Titan speaking to him: "Survival of the fittest."
And with that, the Titan slammed his bloodied fist back into the head of the Hunter—caving it in due to the immense power of the strike. Avgust fell silent after slaying Heinrich, seemingly on the brink of collapse himself as he rolled off to one side—laying in between the two dead bodies of the traitor and his ally.
And Avgust closed his eyes.