The ringing in Avgust's ears stopped, as the bright yellow light that had dominated his vision began to fade. He lifted his body off the ground slowly, as he tilted his head up somewhat as he saw that the ground underneath him was completely cracked as the snow settled into it gently. Avgust grimaced as he placed his legs underneath him from the press-up position, as he pulled his arms back up to his side. He looked at the fire pits that found them in craters in the granite and the snow.
Avgust drew in a deep breath, before he slowly stood up as he reached down to retrieve the Thunderlord from the ground. He lifted it in the ready firing position, as he looked to the T-120 that had once carried the three Guardians was completely wrecked by barrage of artillery shells. Even though the artillery apparently wasn't high-calibre, it still dealt enough damage to destroy even the T-120. Avgust guess he could have considered himself lucky that the tank absorbed most—if not all—the impact.
The Titan turned to find that Teash was helping herself off the ground, as she brushed off the snow and granite from her coat as she lifted her scout rifle back up. Zareph rolled off the ground as he raised his auto rifle, as he shook his head to throw snow off from it. Teash looked at the destroyed tank, as she then lowered her scout rifle as she muttered under her breath, "Damnit!"
Zareph looked back to the tank, as he said: "That isn't good... not good at all..."
"What are we going to do now?" Teash asked, "We first had to deal with the capital defence, but now we got the Fallen! Gagarin expecting that we will walk the rest of the way to Red Square?"
"Gagarin is going to spare some bombers for our push," Avgust replied, "We will have our cover!"
"Speaking about cover!" Zareph said, as another Fallen Skiff appeared overhead. The main cannons of the Skiff lowered, targeting the group of Guardians as it suddenly opened fire. Avgust dodged out of the way of the arc bolts, wrapping in a tight circle to behind the Skiff with both Teash and Zareph as they took aim with their weapons to the troop bay on the belly of the Skiff.
Metal mountings slowly lowered, as the Fallen crew mounted them and looked for the Guardians on the ground. They dropped to the snow covered ground, brandishing their weapons as the crew Captain appeared. The massive four armed beast dropped to the ground, lifting a shrapnel launcher in his upper arms and two shock swords in his two lower arms. The Captain roared, directing his crew's attention to the three Guardians.
Avgust took aim with his Thunderlord as the two other Guardians raised their weapons in response, as they began to fire into the Fallen crowd. The Dregs took the front line of the group, aiming their shock pistols as the three Vandals of the crew raised their shock rifles. The Fallen crew opened fire instantly, the arc-based projectiles and solar-based shrapnel striking the Guardians as their bullets struck the Fallen. The Dregs fell first from the combined fire of the three Guardians, as the Titan, Warlock and Hunter dodged out of the way of the rounds fired by the more clever Vandals and Captain.
The Vandal spread out, raising their rifles as they fired at the Guardians—their arc-based projectiles tracking their movements. Teash rolled out of the way of a volley of three projectiles, as she fired at the offending Vandal with her scout rifle. The Vandal moved out of the way with ease, but a round from her scout rifle broke against the chest armour of the Fallen as it stumbled back. Ether seeped through the wound, as it roared in anger.
Zareph had an easier time tracking his Vandal, as the rounds from his auto rifle dinged off the armour of the Fallen. However the calibre of his rifle's rounds weren't quite enough to penetrate the armour fully, as the Vandal lifted his shock rifle as he returned fire. Zareph took the volley of three projectiles, as the arc-energy sent a jitter down his body as he grunted with pain, forcing him to move behind the cover of a wrecked car.
Avgust positioned himself to challenge the third Vandal, and the Captain of the crew. Angling his Thunderlord, he fired in a sideway motion as the heavy-calibre arc-rounds tore through the Vandal and pinged against the arc-shields of the Captain. The Titan watched as the Vandal cringed, bellowing under the pain as she hissed and fell to the floor weak. Ether seeped through her wounds, as her muscles spasmed from the intense arc energy. The Captain witnessed this, as he roared even louder and rushed forwards with his shrapnel launcher, taking aim with it as he plotted to take vengeance on Avgust.
The Titan smiled under his helmet, running head-first into the fray as well as he lowered his Thunderlord—allowing Svarog to absorb it into the transmat. Avgust has done this a hundred or so times, Captain to Captain, from Fallen House to Fallen House. He knew the ways they thought, how they manoeuvred themselves to charge and fight Guardians. As Avgust closed the distance, he fell to his back to slide across the ground to meet the Fallen Captain as he attempted to shoot Avgust with his shrapnel launcher.
With his forward momentum and mass, Avgust knocked the unsuspecting Captain off his feet as the Fallen fell forwards—abandoning his weapons to catch himself and push himself off the ground. The Titan swung back around, managing to clear his slide as he rose to his feet as the Captain turned back with it's four empty arms and roared.
The Vandal challenging Teash fell to his knees as the Warlock hit the Fallen five other times in the chest, more ether seeping into the atmosphere as he grabbed at his wounds. Aiming for the head of the Vandal, Teash fired one last shot as the head exploded and the 'spirit' of the Vandal shot out of his body as the headless figure fell to the snow. Ejecting her empty magazine, Teash fitted in another one as she turned back to Avgust and the Captain.
Avgust raised his hands, curling them into strong fists as he ran towards the Captain again. The Fallen laughed as he lifted his four arms and charged at Avgust, the Titan doing the same exact thing. The Captain swung first, trying to claw at Avgust's armour as the Titan dodged. Avgust threw his fist into the exposed chest of the Captain, as his internal arc-energy enveloped his fist as it broke against the arc shielding of the Captain.
The intensity of the electricity broke the shielding, as the Captain jumped back in shock and anger. Avgust ran forward again, the Captain throwing a punch of his own this time at the Titan. Avgust swiftly dodged it, before seizing the large arm of the Captain as he bended it at a wrong angle. The armour pulled loose as the Captain grunted in pain, the odd angle at which his arm was being bent causing enough pain as eventually it snapped.
The Captain roared in pain, as Avgust dropped the lame arm as the Captain swung with his other arm. It made contact as with the mighty strength that the Captain had, pushed Avgust away. Even though he tried to force Avgust to the ground, the Titan had a good footing on the ground as Avgust quickly turned around to face the Captain.
Zareph finished the magazine in his auto rifle as he dropped the magazine, as the now stumbled Vandal examined the cracks in his armour. Zareph quickly removed his knife, tossing the blade from the handle as he then caught it by the blade—before throwing it forward as it struck the Vandal it his head, as the armour cracked and his 'spirit' escaped from the cut in his head.
The Captain attempted to roll his injured arm, but found that the broken bone it it was resisting to move. He roared again, as he swept one of his shock blades from the snow as he thrust himself forwards in attempt to impale Avgust. Biting his lip, he rolled out of the way as he found his hand on his holstered sidearm—yanking it out as he flicked off the safety and fired at the Captain. The bullets struck the Captain's armour as it pinged off harmlessly, as he secured his shrapnel launcher off the ground as well.
The Fallen aimed the shrapnel launcher, as Avgust knew that at the range he was at he would be seriously injured by the burning shrapnel. The Titan ducked and dove, throwing his arms in front of him as he sprinted for the tackle. The Captain missed the shot again, as he growled in anger as Avgust thrust him to the floor. The Fallen jabbed with his shock sword, Avgust rolling around it as he stomped on the lower arm of the Captain as he used his arms to grab the shock sword.
Arc-energy flickered across his armour, as the Titan used all his strength to yank it from the possession of the Captain. A cut formed in the palm of his left hand, as Avgust's crimson blood sizzled as it was corroded by the arc-energy. The Titan grunted with pain, as he soon found his hand at the base of the handle of the shock sword as he threw it up in the air. Avgust thrust the blade down, as the Captain moved to grab it with his upper left arm and his lower right arm as the blade shocked the Fallen as he growled even more.
Avgust pushed down, as the blade made it's way to press against the Captain's helmet. The Fallen rolled over, forcing Avgust to be on the bottom of the two as the Titan continued to push as the Fallen closed his eyes as he struggled to push the blade away. The sword suddenly broke the helmet, as it made it's way through the rough skin of the Captain as ether drained as the Captain cried in pain. Throwing the blade upwards with one final heave, it cut through the head and helmet of the Captain as his 'spirit' erupted from his head.
Avgust pushed the body of the Fallen off him, as he stood up as he retrieved his sidearm and flicked the safety back on. He looked over to Teash and Zareph, as they watched in surprise as the Titan stood and summoned his Thunderlord from transmat as he reactivated the weapon. Zareph tilted his head, before he said: "Done rolling around with the Captain?"
Avgust shook his head, as he pointed towards the direction they were headed before as he said: "We need to move! We are exposed, and with there being artillery and Fallen—we cannot risk staying in one place for too long!"
"We still have two kilometres," Teash reminded, "and I thought you said Gagarin had us covered? If he doesn't, it is going to be too dangerous for us to move!"
"With bombers, yes... but bombers can only strike ground targets, we are still exposed by air!" Avgust replied, as he looked up to the group of Ketches hanging over Moscow now. The air was filled by Skiffs, as they scouted the capital as Avgust watched two Skiffs fly past the Guardians, ignoring them completely. Zareph looked down, before he spoke again: "Look, this entire capital is going to become a Fallen hotspot very soon. And with them, and Muromets? We have a big problem. I agree with Avgust, we need to get moving—and get moving now."
Teash looked to one side, remaining quiet as she eventually sighed and nodded her head as well. "Alright then, lead the way." Teash said, as he lowered her scout rifle as she stepped forwards to look towards the centre of Moscow. Avgust stepped forwards to lead the two Guardians, as he looked up to the Skiffs again—the haunting shapes looming over Avgust as Skiffs continued to to float into Moscow's streets.
There was a sudden roar in the sky, as the Guardians all looked up to the skies to see three shapes tear through the air above them. Avgust watched as the shapes pressed towards the direction that Gagarin had set for them. There was a explosive roar in the distance, as the three Guardians spotted out a pinpoint of orange as it splashed across the grey district barrier. The Titan nodded his head forwards as he said: "Looks as if Gagarin is still showing us the way."
"Well we have a direction then," Zareph said, "let's move on it."
The clouds were broken now from the cuts the bombers had made, as the blue skies were met with the rising red sun. The Titan lowered his Thunderlord, as he started a brief jog to their destination as quickly Teash and Zareph joined right behind him. And with this, the Guardians set off to face the thing that plotted to destroy everything they knew.
20 minutes later... Central-Western Administrative District Barrier, Moscow...
Where the grand black and silver wall once stood, was then reduced to scrap remains and rubble. The dust and snow slowly clouded as it blew away in the light breeze, the bright flames of fire swirling still around the items still caught by it's breaking heat. Smoke rose into the sky with the cloud of dust, augmenting the grey powder with the black carbon as they spread across the blue skies. Sparks scattered across the cold ground, falling from the severed wires that were cut by the rocking explosion that had only occurred minutes ago.
Among the ashes and the rubbles were the scattered remains of a Fallen crew that had been exploring the district barrier, unaware of the threat that was posed by Gagarin's bombers. Their armour was broken and scattered precariously around the scene, as the remains of many of the Fallen were separated from their once uniform bodies and splattered across the walls and the ground—the snow and ash slowly settling into their rough and exposed skin or into their cloths.
Avgust stepped over one of the many separated arms that decorated the aftermath of the bomber's destruction, as he looked over the rubble and the many bodies collected within it. He looked over the massive steel barrier, the one obstacle that was presented to his Fireteam, the one that had tried to keep back the Guardians from reaching the centre of Moscow. And indeed, the impressive gates boasted by the barrier would have managed very well to keep Avgust from reaching their objective if they didn't have a way in.
Luckily however, Gagarin was in the mood to help provide the support necessary to get the three Guardians through the barrier without the codes stored within the automated capital defence units. Avgust could only hope Gagarin managed to leave a wake of destruction much like this throughout the rest of the Central Administrative District, eliminate as much opposition as possible as well as provide an opening for him and his Fireteam. The Titan knew he should always be ready to face whatever needed to be faced, but he still wished for whatever lucky break he could get.
Teash stepped up behind Avgust, looking over the destruction as well as Zareph closed in behind the two. The Hunter whistled, admiring the destruction that was brought before him as he cooly remarked: "Hell, imagine what we could have managed with those at least a day or so ago."
"We could have had this whole thing done and out hours ago." Teash replied, "If Gagarin was holding back this firepower, what else do you think he is hiding?"
"Gagarin wasn't sure how capable the strikes would have been." Avgust responded as he stepped closer to the fire, "Muromets still has control of the anti-air, so if everything didn't go according to plan, Gagarin would have lost essential firepower."
The Titan then stepped through the rubble and fire, as he walked through the ruined structure of the wall as sparks showered down his armour. He ignored the burning concrete and metal as he finally stepped through the barrier, now allowed to take his first look in centuries at the Central Administrative District. Avgust stared at the metal spires that rose into the sky, as lights flickered across the horizon in view.
Zareph stepped through next, as he looked over the District as well. The Skiffs that were deployed to the surface of Moscow were sweeping over the area, as if they looked for the treasures that they were brought to believe were here. The Hunter holstered his auto rifle, removing his sniper rifle as he looked through the scope of the weapon across the horizon.
"We've got plenty of Fallen scattered around. With them and the capital defence, we are going to be in the thick of it if we don't move smart." Zareph remarked, "We need to stay out of sight of their weapons or else we will be having trouble."
Avgust nodded his head as he quickly considered one of their options, "We have the Metro. We get underground and we will have a direct path through to Red Square, assuming that nothing has blocked the system."
"You think we will have enough time to do that?" Teash asked.
"We don't have enough time as it is, Teash. Either we do it now, or the Fallen get down their and start making nests and lairs. It is the best alternative we have to avoid detection from at least the capital defence, and also keep out of sight of Skiffs and Walkers." Avgust replied, "Not to mention it would likely be easier to navigate than the surface will be."
"Whatever makes things easier for us." Zareph sighed as he lowered his sniper rifle, "We just need to find an entrance, then."
"Then start looking for a red 'M." Avgust replied, as he stepped through into the heart of the Red Capital. The ancient red brick, mixed with the grey concrete structures and metal towers. The bright flashing lights, reflecting across the surface of the still-standing windows. Everything became almost familiar with Avgust, as the structures he saw seemingly joined into some phantom thought.
He stepped towards the edge of the raised roadway as he looked down into the capital streets below. It was quite the drop, but the Titan had jumped from larger heights. He motioned the Fireteam over to it, as Teash took his right-hand side as she looked down into the streets below. She tilted her head a bit to face Avgust, before she backed up and jumped off the raised road down into the streets below. Before Teash hit the ground, she feathered her glide ability as she touched the ground gently before she looked back up to Avgust and Zareph.
"Well, that's new." Zareph muttered before he plummeted into the street below as he landed to the side of Teash. Avgust shook his head, as he stepped back before running straight off. He used his lift to soften the impact with the ground, as the Titan touched down onto the ground. The Titan took a quick look around the street, with the abandoned city structures among the red rubble and white snow. Something pulsed through his head painfully, as he smacked a hand against his head.
"Avgust?" Zareph asked with a bit of concern, "You alright?"
The Titan looked back down the street, as his vision continued to blur as it seemed as if the street was restored to a former glory. Avgust shivered as he stepped past Zareph and Teash as he looked down the rest of the road. He shook his head as he removed his hand from his helmet as he pointed down the street and announced to the group: "Down here."
"What?" Teash asked.
"Trust me. I think..." Avgust shook his head, "I know there is a Metro station here."
"Alright tour-guide." Zareph said, "Lead the way."