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  • Writer's pictureAaron Corcoran

09 : Distraction

“I must admit, I felt pretty damn useless during that Mindbender mess,” Ace whispered as he checked the scope of his Veleda.

Mal’s disembodied voice adopted a whisper to match, “I wouldn’t say that. You stopped that Wizard from sending in a trio- target should be in view in six seconds- of Ogres and more Thralls than I was able to keep count of.

Ace barely saw the Scorn’s head before squeezing the trigger. He didn’t need to watch to know that the shot dropped the target in a twice-dead, crumpled heap. With a sigh, Ace replied, “Yeah, but it wasn’t like the fight with Araskes. That ‘Trickster’,” he managed to make the moniker sound like an insult, “had a lot more support than Spider’s intelligence implied. If I didn’t know better, I would wonder if Spider really wanted us to succeed at eliminating these Scorn from his territory.”

“I told you that we couldn’t trust him,” Mal’s whisper became a hiss.

“Hey,” chided Ace, “We talked about this already. You don’t need to like him, but...”

“There is no reason to hate him,” Mal answered. Ace sighted the second target, come to inspect the remains of the first, and fired once more. He was almost unable to hear Mal finish, “Yet.”

Choosing to ignore the comment, Ace inquired, “Where is the Chieftain?”

“He normally waits for patrol check ins inside the building just around that ridge. I would recommend a different weapon, though.”

Ace looked down at the Veleda-D in his hands, “Why do you say that?”

“The Machinist has been handing out Solar energy shields lately. You still have that Damietta-LR2 in the ship’s storage that I can transmat down to you.”

“How much ammo will we lose?”

“I can convert the Veleda’s ammunition to match the Damietta’s receiver without losing too much. You should have enough to eliminate the target.”

“Do it,” Ace decided.

A couple seconds later, the Veleda-D had dissolved into nothingness and was just as swiftly replaced with a Damietta-LR2 that materialized out of the same nothingness.

“What about the Two Tailed Fox? If we are going to be seeing more Solar shields, I may not want to roll into there with this Thunderlord.”

“I am sorry. We left that in our Vault storage in the Tower. It’s not in the ship’s hold for transmat.”

Ace couldn’t recall what he had stowed away, it had been such a long time since he had made any changes to his load out. “What do we have in the ship’s locker?”

Mal considered for a moment, “You have a sword that uses Solar. Converting the elemental energy from your Thunderlord’s ammo to elemental potential that the sword could use for powered attacks would not yield much. I am sorry.”

Ace wondered if he would ever stop thinking of his lost beloved Raze Lighter whenever anyone mentioned swords. He had actually spent a full week scouring the ruins of the first Tower, looking for the sword, about a month after the hero of the Red War put an end to the Cabal Invasion. “What else do we have?” Ace finally replied, “I don’t think that I want to be that close and personal.”

“I am afraid that is it. You have a bunch of Void and other Arc weapons up there.”

Ace really was not disappointed. Thunderlord never failed him as long as he made sure to keep it fed. “Then we go with what I currently have.”

Several minutes later, Ace was focusing on the building windows through the scope of his Damietta. He had found a stack of boxed equipment piled haphazardly next to a building wall opposite that of his target. He considered having Mal transmat down and switch in a helmet that would more quickly sync with the sniper rifle’s scope, but the Scorn Chieftain stepped into view.

A flash of Solar energy erupted from the Damietta’s muzzle. A second flash of Solar energy became an explosion of Solar power as the elementally charged round created a feedback overload in the target’s shield. The Scorn commander disappeared from view, but Ace held no assumption or belief that the one shot had put the target down. He broke from cover and sprinted toward the building. Sixty meters.

The sound of his shot drew attention from the rest of the Scorn guards in the area. Ace could feel the eyes train on him. Fifty meters.

Ace could practically hear the Scorn weapons ready and take aim on his exposed body. Forty meters

Summoned Void energies coalesced at his mental command as Ace dove forward into a roll. He would never grow tired of the sensation that overcame his body when it transitioned into practical transparency. Thirty meters.

Scorn munitions erupted all around him, striking the ground where he had just been a split second ago. Dirt, dust, and rock flew into the air as the Scorn fired wildly. They were not stupid and knew that, even though they could not see him, he was somewhere close to the buildings.

Twenty meters.

Ten meters.

Five meters.

Three meters.

One meter. Ace dove forward again, this time leaping for the window. Glass shattered around his body as he passed, head first, through the frame. Quickly rolling to his feet, Ace felt the Void energy dissipate as he took in the scene around him.

The Solar energy explosion had laid low several smaller Scorn inside. Scorched bodies twitched on the floor or draped over boxes. There was no cover in the building, though. “Where is-“ a sharp blow to his helmet cut Ace’s question short.

Ace rolled with the blow, allowing the force of the strike to send him flying away from his assailant. Spinning as he rolled, Ace started to shoulder the Damietta in preference for the Nameless Midnight, but he noticed the telltale orange glow of a recharged elemental shield. His mad dash had taken longer than he hoped. But he was now too close for the sniper.

Mal! Thunderlord!” Ace screamed silently in his head.

Ace dropped the sniper rifle and Mal pulled the weapon into the same incorporeal space that it inhabited when not in physical form. A second later, Ace felt the comfortable weight of his trusted Thunderlord materialize into his hands. He had been backing away from the enraged Scorn as it swung a large iron rod, shattering a small crate into splinters. Ace stopped moving and raised the weapon.

Seconds later, Ace stood at the shattered window and considered the dozen or more Scorn soldiers charging toward his position. Step one was complete.

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