[DAY 92] Take and live.
Sloane deftly maneuvered across the open ocean floor. Together with her Ghost, she'd chased the Pyramid's signals across Titan, but arrived too late at each coordinate site. They'd encountered nothing more than further wounds in the fabric of reality; slivered glimpses into moments held in Titan's memory. Occasionally, discarded Shrieker cores littered a site—evidence of a ritual gone cold, but not so cold that Síocháin couldn't detect figments of resonant residue that drove her scanners haywire.
More than once, Sloane had found a clutch of disoriented Fallen scattered around these wounds, some in a stupor, most driven violently mad. Síocháin said their brain patterns were fractured—synapses burnt into conflicting circuited loops—as if their collection of experiences had been dissected and left disparate and apart.
But Sloane felt drawn, across the barren seafloor, to each new site shrouded in sunless shadow. Something cut through that Dark. Guided her. As if she drafted behind a rogue wave.
"We're almost to the next site," Síocháin said.
"Let's pick it up." The methane flowed over Sloane's armor in a slick, slipstream current that left a long tail of particulate floating in her wake, agitated by oxygen bubbles spurting from her mask. Síocháin followed close behind, sweeping the area with light beams that dissipated over vast, featureless depths.
"Resonant Pyramid energy, neutrino dispersals, and some kind of… quantum entangling? That's the best I can make of it," Síocháin said, razor blades deployed. "The Pyramid's moving again."
The site seemed quiet on the surface. Sloane glanced over a sea cliff and tapped Síocháin, who had been leering out at the expansive of dark ocean as if she was tracking something.
The Ghost turned to Sloane and hesitantly tilted her shell into a nod.
They killed their lights, allowing the bio-luminescent coral around them to illuminate the path down to a newly split-open gorge infested with Taken corruption. Sloane swapped her visor to a thermal targeting overlay and slipped over the edge of the chasm. Tendrils of Taken malignance flowed from the split ground beneath her, dancing in the methane like noxious filaments. The fissure looked large enough for her to finagle her suit through safely.
Sloane glanced over her shoulder and held up a hand to Síocháin. "Watch my back… from a distance."
"Uh, no. I can fight," she bit back defiantly. "Fallen, Hive, and Taken are all over this sector."
"Lie low on this one. If something goes wrong, it can't go wrong with you. Get me?"
She landed in a small cavern where a tangle of Taken threads writhed around a decrepit Hive sigil of resilient witchcraft. Whispers spewed from the sigil, wrapped around her mind, coaxed her forward. She reached a hand toward the sigil, and methane burst around her like depth charges as Taken blights manifested a small detachment of soldiers.
Sloane spun, her fists crackling with lightning—her fingers weaving her Arc Light safely through the methane around her. She charged the first of three blights, thruster-dodging incoming fire pinged by her HUD. She broke through the blight screen, planted her feet, and threw a lightning punch like a gauss cannon, atomizing the Taken and the blight itself. Her power suit carried her fulgurate fists from hostile to hostile in rising, truculent battle-fervor.
When the cavern quieted, Sloane turned back to the sigil and called Síocháin down. "I can… hear the Taken through this sigil… thing. It's like they're broadcasting out loud. Not in words but… their proximity, like sonar. Can you tap into it?"
Síocháin's concerned response was muffled by an intrusive thought echoing from somewhere far off, circling the sea around her and draining off into her mind.
Sloane thought of the ocean shelves crawling with the Pyramid's minions, their rituals and corruption sinking deeper into Titan's mantle by the day. Of the armies they threatened to summon, of what they searched for in the deep.
She thought of the Fallen who had no way to flee, shocked into madness by the reality-wounding waves that swept over Titan like a grey-matter line. A terminator of experience, via suspension within it. With this foreknowledge of her enemies' plans, maybe she could be a step ahead of dusk.
Sloane stepped forward, dazed—her mind drowning in the ocean's dangers—and gripped the sigil. The rippling Taken energy immediately backfired in a blinding burst of energy.
"No!" Síocháin dove forward in horror as Taken tendrils twisted around Sloane's armor and dragged her to the ground.
As tendrils buried themselves into her flesh, Sloane heard a new voice, clear as sirens in a storm.
WARRIOR OF THE SKY.
YOU ARE KNOWN TO ME.
I ACCEPT YOUR CHALLENGE.