Snow fell softly on the concrete ground, as the three Guardians made their way through the streets. The sounds of Skiffs overhead kept them in cover constantly, as they navigated through the streets cautiously. Avgust led the group carefully through the streets, some otherworldly force guiding him through the capital as he came into a wide roundabout. The Titan glanced up into the sky, as he scanned the roundabout and one building in particular. Teash skid to a halt behind him, as she looked up nervously into the air.
"What are we looking for, Avgust?" Teash asked, "We can't stay in the open like this for too long!"
"That building." Avgust said, as he pointed to the large building that took precedence in the square. It seemed to belong to another age entirely, as the corrupted structure stood as if in attempt to boast an importance.
"What is it?" Zareph asked.
"Lubyanka." Avgust replied, "Was a MIDA structure. There must be a way to get to Muromets through there."
The three Guardians walked through the square, as they approached the many century-old structure. Avgust glanced down to a group of frozen skeletons, which held ancient autorifles in their milk-white, thin fingers. As the Titan approached the entrance to the Lubyanka, he pressed his hand against the thick wooden door, as he pushed on it. The door swung open, before it creaked at the hinges and fell forward. Avgust stepped back, as the door fell off completely. The loud crash upset the snow and dust on the ground, as it pushed across the three Guardians.
Avgust quickly raised his Thunderlord, as he stepped into the building as his head soon turned upwards towards the first story of the building as he slowly walked through the interior. Zareph followed behind him, as he turned on the light to his autorifle as he shone it around the dark interior of the building.
The group of three approached the centre of the building, as Svarog materialised over the Titan's shoulder as it projected a bright beam of light. It floated over to what appeared to be a monitor with a cracked screen, as it scanned over the black screen. The Ghost followed the trail of a wire, as it went to what appeared to be a server access.
"Svarog," Avgust called out, "what are you looking for?"
"There is a spark somewhere in this facility. If we light it up, we might be able to find that access-way directly to Muromets, that is, if what you said about MIDA operating this facility is true." The Ghost replied over the Fireteam's COMM.
"Just don't get lost." Zareph muttered, as he approached a statue in the centre of the Lubyanka's plaza.
"This was an outpost for MIDA?" Teash asked, as she turned towards Zareph and Avgust.
"Looks more like a museum."
Avgust turned his head towards Teash, as he slowly approached to where she was standing. There was a small display case, of what appeared to be a few rows of ancient badges as tags were placed next to where they were.
"Yeah, this doesn't seem like a place for MIDA." Zareph called out, as he pulled out a blue-brimmed hat from a broken glass case. "More of a mausoleum."
"I wouldn't say that!" Svarog called over the COMM, as lights flickered intensely throughout the entirety of the Lubyanka. Monitors attached to the walls flickered, as they flashed briefly with a logo: КГБ. ФСБ.
"K-G-B." Avgust muttered, "F-S-B."
"What does that stand for?" Teash asked.
"This is technically a museum, but it still serves a purpose for MIDA." Svarog called out, "There is a code running through the system, just needs a specific sequence and it will activate. I'll search, but it might be faster if you can remember anything, Avgust."
"Not sure what you want me to think." Avgust replied, as he walked around the chambers. He looked towards the statue in the centre of the plaza: a man encased in metal, holding a pillar that lifted up to the ceiling. He approached it carefully, as he stared into the eyes of the metal man.
"I guess I'll just keep working then." Svarog commented with low tone.
Avgust looked away from the statue, as he looked down the hall to spot Teash examining the monitor, and Zareph trying to rest the blue-brimmed hat on top of his helmet. The Titan shook his head, as the monitors flickered again and again. Avgust's gaze was brought down to a plaque that rested at the feet of the metal man: Nobody, but us.
«Nobody, but us.» Avgust repeated, as the monitors stop its flickering immediately. The red sign of МИДА replaced it, as loudspeakers around the facility aired with static. Zareph dropped his hat, as Svarog dashed by back to Avgust as the Titan prepared his Thunderlord.
Avgust thought he was about to hear the voice again, the voice of this 'Muscovite'. But the calculating mechanical voice that spoke, took him completely off guard. It was emotionless, cunning and dangerous. It was something he knew, something was peculiarly familiar to him.
I see you remember at least this.
Teash and Zareph took up their weapons once more, as they looked around before keeping their eyes locked on Avgust. The Titan turned, as the the symbol for МИДА transformed to the Anglo-Russian form: MIDA.
"What the hell..?" Zareph said, "English now?"
My apologies. There is a lot that needs to be repaired. Typically, I would not need to update my language software. Tourists to Moscow are rare anyways, and rarer still is the need for assistance from the Defence. But for you, I will make an exception.
"What are you?" Avgust asked.
I thought you would know, Lieutenant Boris. I am the Defence Initiative for the state of Moscow. I am Muromets.
"So you are the thing that we are trying to destroy, then?" Teash asked, as she spun in a circle slowly to locate all the loudspeakers.
What an inconvenience. Should you be sure that you have a desire to destroy the thing, meant to protect all that should come unto it?
"Depends. The things you trying to protect going to be shot out of the sky?" Zareph asked.
You did not heed my warnings. I acted in accordance to my procedure. Just as I am now. Just as I will forever.
Suddenly, the metal man shifted as the metal pillar was lifted up into the ceiling of the facility. The monitors flickered again as the ancient walls of the facility shifted to reveal a staircase descending into what would be the basement of the facility. Avgust turned his Thunderlord to face down the staircase, as lights flashed down to reveal it's guidance into the darkness.
Wherever it led, Avgust didn't trust it.
I have provided you a pathway to me, Lieutenant Boris. I know what you have plotted with Gagarin. But perhaps, I can make you reconsider what is an astonishing level of treachery. Perhaps I can turn you back to the right.
"Thought I had to be destroyed for my conspiracy." Avgust remarked, "Are you aware that we can destroy you? Is that why you are putting on this charade?"
I do not see what charade I am putting on. You have conspired against the Capital, that is sure. But your destruction is not necessary, should I make you free.
"Free?" Teash asked, as she noticed that Avgust had his eyes locked down the staircase.
Freedom is a gift. I believe your connection to this City has blinded you to the truth. Your connection to your Ghosts, have made you slaves. Come to me, allow me to break it.
"The machine bound to a singular purpose speaks," Svarog sighed, "it can't take itself seriously, can it?"
"We have our entrance." Avgust interrupted, as he motioned to the staircase. "Don't get distracted, we have our objective. And we are coming for you, Muromets."
I never doubted it. The loudspeakers crackled one last time, before they turned off completely. The silence was quickly interrupted by the unmistakable sound of a Skiff breaking orbit, as the sounds of Fallen hissing grew nearer and nearer. Avgust swore, as he stood at the point.
Teash stepped down the stairs first, followed by Zareph. As the two made their way down the stairs, Avgust stepped backwards down them, before turning around completely to rush down the stairs. The mechanical whirring sounds returned, as the staircase soon started to slide into the slits in the walls. Avgust dropped down from the last five steps onto the concrete floor, as he exhaled deeply before finishing his approach to the rest of his team.
"Place is like a prison." Zareph muttered, as he activated the light on the front of his rifle once more. "Think Muromets is going to lock is down here for good?"
"If he has," Teash started, "Avgust has a shovel. He could just dig us out."
"We aren't to the centre of Moscow yet." Avgust interrupted, "Close, but not there. If Muromets is intending to bring us to him, then there must be a pathway down here somewhere."
The three Guardians carefully navigated their way through the chamber, as a monitor activated in front of the group once more, the symbol of MIDA appearing once more, as Muromets continued to speak: The Lubyanka's history in the matters of Moscow is quite interesting. It served not only the Committee for State Security, and the Federal Security Service. Both quite controversial organisations, I assure you. People accused of being traitors of the Motherland died where you stand now. Want to know how they were killed?
"Not really," Teash growled, "So why don't you shut up?"
Because I have the feeling something similar might happen. They would take their suspects, which were blindfolded, and throw them around the walls of this facility. The victims typically were confused and lost. This process would continue until they lost all hope, and fell to the floor weeping. And then? Freedom, in the shape of a metal bullet.
"Traveler..." Zareph muttered, "Really setting the mood, aren't you?"
Avgust shook his head, "Ignore it. It is just trying to distract us."
Lieutenant Boris, eager to ignore what I have spoken? I wonder if that has to do with your fierce concentration on your objective, or your unwillingness to accept when you are in the wrong. Muromets replied, Interesting, what your report says. Truly interesting.
The Titan ground his teeth, choosing not to reply as silence filled the chambers. The three Guardians paced quickly through the hallway, before a sudden and familiar crackle interrupted the silence. The Guardians knew very well what the sound was: cloaked Fallen, within range.
The Fallen were always difficult to deal with, their weapons strangely tuned to every situation they would be required to operate in. However, when in close-quarters in a dark hallway with invisible Fallen? Shock blades, shrapnel launchers became the primary concern. These weapons tore through Guardian armour like paper, and seared their skin so bad, that only the Traveler's light could heal it.
Muromets must have know that the Fallen were already down here, as it chose to set the scene for the Guardians to face an enemy that would test their resolve. The Titan raised his Thunderlord, before speaking loud enough for the rest of the Fireteam to hear: "Watch your step, and keep an eye on our backs. Until we find our exit, we need to be sure we aren't ambushed."
Avgust stepped forward carefully to lead the group, as he focused completely on the path ahead of them. His footsteps echoed around the chambers, giving a direction to the Fallen. The Titan knew they would come running, having an opportunity to strike at their enemies. And sure enough, the first flicker of a cloaking field appeared right in his view.
Avgust squeezed the trigger of the Thunderlord, as the electricity running down the barrel spiked and the sound of mechanical clunking replaced the silence. The cloak of three Vandals shattered temporarily, as they were torn to pieced by the heavy machine gun, combined with Teash's scout rifle and Zareph's auto rifle. The three Fallen fell over, dead as ether leaked from their bodies. The Fireteam stepped over the bodies, as they continued their path down the hallway.
Why kill them? They are guests, just as much as you are.
Avgust shook his head, communicating to Teash and Zareph to remain silent as they briskly made their way throughout the facility. They couldn't afford to be distracted at this point, especially with the Fallen so close. Muromets must have known this, as the darkness evaporated away in a gleaming red light. This was followed by the notorious Fallen screech, as Teash muttered: "Don't treat your guests, equally."
Perhaps meeting them face to face might make you reconsider your position. That is, assuming you can hold back from being the aggressor.
Avgust glanced over to his right, as he spotted a list of directions. His eyes ran over the list quickly, before he focused in on one word: МЕТРОПОЛИТЕН.
"We have our way!" Avgust whispered, "A Metro. Should take us directly to Red Square."
"That is, if we don't die in Muromets' trap!" Zareph replied, as he turned quickly as the Hunter witnessed something from his peripheral vision. Zareph quickly opened fire on the shape he saw in the red light.
The Fireteam continued down the hallway, as they approached another set of steps that led into a red-lighten Metro station. A sleek black shuttle already rested at the station, ominously waiting for something or someone. Teash turned back as soon as the Guardians stepped into the station, keeping her scout rifle aimed down the passageway.
"Is the shuttle working?" Avgust asked, as Svarog materialised over his shoulder and headed over to it. The Ghost scanned it, before it shook itself in a way to suggest it meant 'no.'
"No. But we still have Gagarin on the line, and if we were able to turn a tank, we should be able to take the shuttle." Svarog suggested.
"Quickly then, open the channel." Avgust said, as his COMM crackled once more to signify it was connected with Gagarin's channel. He spoke, «Gagarin, we have a problem.»
«I have already tracked you to the Lubyanka. Not sure what you have in mind.» Gagarin spoke, «You are in direct line with Muromets.»
«We've had contact.» Avgust noted, «We have found a Metro, used by MIDA. I am very sure this was used to ferry agents from Red Square to Lubyanka. Can you access its system?»
«I am going to overextend if I do this. We have already lost our bombers, the Anti-Air made quick work of it. Not to mention, Muromets will know you are coming.»
«We have to take this risk.» Avgust replied, «Muromets already knows we are coming, anyways.»
«I must advise against this.»
«It is our only way out of here.» Avgust pressured.
«Then I will clear it. Not sure how long I will be able to control it.»
The crackle of Fallen cloaking sounded again, as Avgust quickly raised his Thunderlord again. "Svarog! We have our clearance! Get this thing moving!"
A Captain materialised suddenly, standing very close to Zareph as the Captain swung at the Hunter with its shock blades. Zareph cried in shock, struck as he threw himself as the way as his frame shuttered from the spike in voltage. Avgust quickly took aim with his Thunderlord, firing at the Captain as the Fallen's arc shields slowly began to deplete from the charge of the machine gun.
On the verge of breaking, Avgust was interrupted as two Vandal's materialised out of thin air. In one swift motion, the Titan dropped his Thunderlord into the transmat as he rolled quickly out of the way. He seized his combat shovel from his pack, as he deployed the tool. As the first Vandal charged him, he swung deftly into the side of the Vandal's head as it shattered its helmet. It fell to the floor, as it attempted to scurry away.
The second Vandal charged, as Avgust blocked its blades with his combat shovel. As he attempted to jab it into the chest of the Fallen, the two lower arms of the Vandal caught the blade—but its hands were cut open by the sharp edges. In a reaction, the Vandal let go of the shovel moving at velocity as it cried sharply. And thus, the shovel penetrated the chest of the Vandal as it pushed past flesh and bone. The Titan drove it upwards, lifting the Fallen of its feet as he threw the body over his head—much as if he was shovelling dirt.
The Titan spotted Teash holding off Fallen trying to move down the passage, before he turned his attention to Zareph. The Hunter backed himself into a corner, as the Captain taunted him by slowly approaching him with the blade that had cut him. Avgust roared, as he pulled his sidearm from his utility belt, flicked off the safety and fired at the Captain. The rounds bent around the shielding of the Fallen, as it definitely caught its attention.
The Fallen turned around, as it roared before it charged Avgust. More rounds crashed against the Captain's recharging shield—as the charge of the bullets didn't match the charge of the shield. The Captain laughed, as it realised that the Titan wasn't able to damage it anymore. But Avgust knew that as the Captain drew closer, he tightened his fists. The Captain drew within a metre, Teash turned around in shock as she began to open fire on the Fallen.
Arc energy crackled around Avgust, as he lifted his free fist into the air before he swung it down into the ground with a deaf-defying roar of thunder. Arc energy surged around the area, the shielding and the being of the Captain dissolving in a mere instant as it cried out in shock and pain. Even though he had lived, Avgust felt physically weak after the instance.
Controlling and manipulating light to the degree of shaping it into a destructive force was always a challenge for Guardians, and even more was it physically distressing for a while. Saladin had taught Avgust that the light always injured those who used it, especially young Guardians—but as with all things—the more you used it, the more it burnt away your weakness, purifying you into an indestructible force. Avgust had realised that he was getting stronger every instance, but it would take a lot longer before he could become what Saladin had said he could achieve.
The Titan drew his Thunderlord out of the transmat once more, drawing in a deep breath before he joined the side of Teash in firing down the line at the Fallen plotting to assault them. There was already a pile gathered, given Teash's might and courage against the onslaught.
"How much longer do we have, Svarog?" Avgust asked loudly.
"We are... in. Gagarin has it!" Svarog replied, as it joined the bond it had with Avgust.
"We are moving!" Avgust announced, as he brought his machine gun back down before he jogged over to the open compartment of the shuttle. "Teash, Zareph! Get into the shuttle!"
Teash turned just as Avgust had, and quickly made her way into the shuttle. Zareph however had difficulty standing, as the Hunter weakly made his way to the shuttle. As he crossed into the compartment, Avgust slammed onto the button that closed the shuttle. Arc projectiles and solar shrapnel struck across the shuttle door as it closed, and across its base as it slowly pulled forward and out of the station.
Avgust released a breath of relief, as he turned towards Zareph to check on the Hunter's injuries: "How bad is it?"
"Tingles." Zareph said, "But I'll live. Lost my gun."
Before Avgust could say anything, Teash produced her Fusion Rifle as she handed it to the Hunter. Zareph seemingly rolled his eyes, but it accepted the weapon as he checked the charge on it: "Yeah, thanks. So, we headed into Russian Hell?"
"Red Square," Avgust replied, "yes."
"So we about to get out of this?" Teash asked.
"If everything goes according to plan, we can destroy Muromets and thus eliminate anything it has plotted."
"Might be worth our time to search for Muscovite, or whoever." Zareph added.
"If Muscovite is there, then we will assess the situation and decide on our course of action." Avgust replied, "Could be that Muscovite is an alias used by Muromets in the event to communicate."
"Yeah, I don't get that vibe. Muromets is a, 'I will kill you slowly and study your pain' sort of deal. Muscovite is a, 'I am a radical that will blow you all up' sort of thing."
Avgust shook his head, as he looked at the dark tunnel they were being shot down. The Titan hoped that they would be taken directly to Muromets' facility, but at the rate his day had been going—it is very unlikely that it was. It was probably linked to a nuclear missile, and they would be instantly evaporated with the rest of Moscow.
The sound system crackled, as the familiar voice of Muromets took command over it: If you wanted access to this shuttle, you could have asked. However, I appreciate you are willing to compromise your secret ally in order to meet with me.
Avgust's stomach turned upside down, as he looked to his two allies. Teash tensed, as she collapsed in a seat as Zareph sat upright. The speaker continued to crackle, as if a person was being thrown to it against their will as it spoke with the familiar voice of Gagarin: «Prepare for—prepare for—prepare for... Warning! System breached! Information at...»
For so long I have wanted to dissect the code of Gagarin. A lot of interesting information is stored in here. I am sure my studies will yield more than just these codes I have skimmed off the surface.
"Bastard..." Teash whispered, as the Shuttle seemed to increase speed more and more.
In recent logs, I have discovered that you, Lieutenant Boris, and Gagarin plotted to use our nuclear arsenal to dispose of the entire Capital should you have failed your objective. Very destructive, and very concerning behaviour. No matter. I have reduced Gagarin's system to nothing more than a base code, as it should be. Not a very functional system, but then again: large storage systems are not meant to operate under the same conditions that super computers are. I have taken control of these codes, you might be glad to hear, to ensure that there will be no cause for unnecessary violence and destruction.
"You are going to use it to destroy the City." Avgust stated flatly, "If Gagarin couldn't be trusted, nor should you!"
I have no obligation to protect the City. It is however, in my interests, to destroy threats to Moscow. Much like you have proven yourself to be, Lieutenant Boris. And so, I must terminate you.
The acceleration of the shuttle jumped nearly tenfold, as Avgust was thrust back suddenly. The Titan grabbed at the railing, as he secured himself before he looked up and out of the view port—spotting a red lighten wall growing closer and closer. He perked up, watching what was sure death approach.
Good day, Lieutenant Boris.