The Grind: Project Spider

The trip back from Luna had been uneventful, as always. As soon as Plutus was back on Terra Firma he headed for the warehouse district of The City. He had a meeting here, he had cut it pretty close.

He noticed the glances, even stares, from the people of the city as he moved through their ranks. Exo, Human, Awoken. All non-guardians, save the security detail near the gate where shipments were brought into the city.

The air here was full of scents. Oil, steel, plasteel. It all came down wind from the foundries. Plutus had arrived at his destination.

Tucked in among the many warehouses, a bar. Frequented by the workers here, especially loved by Exo.

Plutus breached the door casually, now barely drawing any gaze from the tired patrons littered about the place. It was early evening now, and the fatigued workers were more worried about their drink than some Dead Thing that walked in.

There, at the bar, was his contact sipping on an electric blue drink. Plutus always wondered how Exo could drink, lacking a stomach, but felt it would be rude to ask. Warlock curiosity could easily get you in trouble if not kept on check.

As he approached the senile Exo Plutus whispered to his ghost

“Record this, any information we can gleam here may come in handy down the line”

The ghost gave a soft chuckle.

“My friend, I started the moment we walked in”

A smile cracked Plutus’ stern face.

“Great minds”
As Plutus took a seat next to Banshee-44, the old bot tapped the bar signaling for another drink. The bar tender eyed Plutus as she slid Banshee what Plutus only assumed was some type of coolant.

“For you guardian?” The bartender inquired.  She was awoken, hard to guess an age. The awoken Plutus had met could have been 20 or 500. Then again that applied to alot of beings these days.

“I prefer to keep my mind clear, thank you” Plutus answered dismissively.

The bar tender scoffed, heading to the opposite end of the bar.

” So,” Banshee said slowly ” that part you needed, I may have found a dealer”

Anticipation rose in Plutus.

” ok, will you put me in contact?” Plutus inquired, somewhat over eager. He was close now. So close.

Banshee eyed the warlock sideway.

“I may have been wiped too many times, even I know information isn’t free” Banshee replied, almost offended

Plutus nodded, feeling somewhat reproached.

” I’m sorry, I’m not made of glimmer, but I’m sure I could come up with what you need” answered Plutus reigning in his enthusiasm.

“I hope so” Banshee said sliding a small drive across the bar to Plutus.

“Contact me via secure channels when you get the part and I will get you coordinates on delivery” Banshee instructed. With that he transferred glimmer to the bar console and left without another word.

“I don’t think he likes you very much” The ghost piped up as Plutus palmed the drive and began towards the exit, a touch of amusement in his voice.

“Well, he is a stubborn and somewhat unstable exo. That said, he can be a useful ally. Can you decrypt this drive?”

“Ha! Can I- hahaha!” The ghost seemed momentarily hysterical.

” I began the decryption the moment he slid it across the bar. It is done. We should probably review it aboard the ship though. Potential sensitive material”.

Plutus nodded, and with that they were off.

Plutus’ Ship, in orbit above old Russia

On the screen of his ships console was what appeared to be schematics for a fusion rifle. Not one Plutus had ever seen though. The barrel was very long and thin for the spread of a fusion shot. In the top corner was a foundry logo, potentially Banshee’s client. Veist. Centered above the schematics were the words “PROJECT SPIDER”. Highlighted in red, where the firing component would usually be was highlighted red. This was the part they needed.

However, not any firing mechanism. They wanted the firing mechanism from a fallen wire rifle. Since the splicers had been pushed back, the fallen had been very scarce. This would be an interesting venture.
“Most of the fallen have vanished as of late, you remember the reports from the recon teams” the ghost interjected.

“I know” Plutus nodded “as usual you seem to know what I’m thinking. Question is, do you know what I’m going to say next?”

The ghost floating at his shoulder seemed to cringe.

“Unfortunately, I think I do” the ghost replied ” you want to run a seige of the one confirmed fallen stronghold left on Mars”

At this Plutus laughed audibly.

“You really do know me”

“Of course, I remade you.” The ghost replied.

With this the amusement left Plutus’ face as he seemed to consider. Then he shrugged.

“I guess you did” Plutus said with a sense of finality.

“I’m guessing this will be another solo misson?” The ghost inquired nervously.

“Not entirely, not this time.” Plutus answered ” I’m going to call in a favor. I won’t ask her to put her neck on the line fighting the fallen. Maybe however she can keep the Order of Balance off our backs”

“I see.”

With that Plutus set his course and the ship rocketed forward.

Olympus Mons, Mars

Plutus had hiked through the red sands for the better part of the day. Now here he stood, at the base of the greatest mountain in the system. It was titanic. He stood for a moment, appreciating the sight of such a powerful, ancient place before continuing on his misson. He had been tracking a ping for the last two hours on radar behind him. As he had assumed he was being followed.

Grimsley was not one to give up easily. He had seen the man in the crucible, he was vengeful and ruthless. He was not worried. Grimsley would keep his distance until he was sure Plutus would not die of natural causes, he was not a stupid man by any means. If the Eliksni would do his job for him, why get his hands dirty.

Plutus was climbing now. He was approaching a small enclave, not even viable from the ground. It was the entrance to a fallen stronghold, more than likely home to a baron. If Plutus was right his guard would almost certainly wield wire rifles.

He entered the cavern, leading with an axiom bolt, which put a quick end to the two dregs standing guard. All that was left was a vandal which was dispatched in one swift maneuver as Plutus floated up to the precipice, firing one round from his cryptic dragon. Ether screamed from the things neck.

It was dark here, lit only intermittently. This was perfect for Plutus. He moved quickly through the tunnels, the foot soldiers here barely slowing him down. He was nearing the core now. The air had been somewhat thick as is typical of a cave system. It was lighter now, as if open to the outside. Light grew brighter as Plutus approached the main room.

He breached the open crater which hawks had photographed from above. There were roughly 20 fallen here. Mostly captain and vandals, upon a stone chair, Maskis. A Baron in yellow, the color of the Kings. Plutus blinked into the room, drawing from the void once more to unmake half the fallen in one blow. The east side of the room was clear now. Plutus moved into cover behind the supply crates which had been dropped here for this group’s use.

He was systematically removing threats now, thinning numbers, first the vandals. Then the Captains. Four left, three left.

Plutus fell back into the red dust, his shoulder hit by a wire rifle.

“Got you!” He whispered as the wound closed itself, the pain only momentarily real.

Plutus popped up removing the head of the sniper. His ammo was low now. He stowed his cryptic dragon, drawing his sidearm. One clip. No more captains. Only the baron stood now, rushing him. His side arm was dry.

Axiom bolt went out. The Baron blinked forward, nimbly avoiding the bolt. Swords drawn the beast was almost on him.

Plutus blinked left, as he fell forward he scooped up two swords dropped by a vandal who had bullrushed  him previous. As the Baron dropped it’s blades down Plutus crossed his own to block. The weight was wearing on him now, he pushed up breaking the stalemate and blinked backwards.  Maskis studied him now, quizzically. Then launched forward, all rage.

Approaching Olympus Mons, Mars

Grimsley trudged through the red sand. He had to keep his distance so as not to be noticed. This was ok. The Fallen ahead would keep the mongrel warlock busy.

Grimsley was unsure what abominable technology his foolock was after now, what ever it was Grimsley would stop him. He had been prevented last time.

The traitor to his people would not be so lucky this time. Damol was not here, and the transmat jamming device Grimsley had brought would prevent him transmitting any signal out as evidence.

It was not a pretty business. Grimsley knew this.

He would not enjoy crushing a ghost in his palm before it could relight the spark. It was however a necessary evil. Nothing could be done against their enemies if mavericks like Osiris,like Toland, like Yor, like this Plutus continued dividing the guardians.

Now was a time of triumph. Now was the time, when they had the resources, to set the precedent. This behavior would not be tolerated. Grimsley was almost to the base of the mountain now. He paused as his ghost pinged him

“We have company” The ghost said plainly.

“More Vex?” Grimsley asked, drawing his hand cannon.

“No, another guardian”

“Damnit!” Grimsley exclaimed frustrated “Did Damol follow me?! I was sure sending him to patrol the Plaguelands for that old fool chasing warmind tech would keep him busy”

“It’s not Damol, it is a hunter”

Grimsley spun. This warlock may be a fool, he was a smart fool. Backup.

As the hunter came into view at a full sprint Grimsley called the power of Sol. Hammers sprang to life in his hand. He hurled the first towards the rushing huntress.

The red sands of Mars turned to crimson glass as she shadestepped away.  She was quick.

As Grimsley went airborne to launch his next assault, he was forced to launch sideways as she rose up, firing a bolt of pure void light. It hit the ground to his left, and his hammers were extinguished.

Grimsley felt heavy, movement was strained, he could feel the light being pulled from him.

“What’s wrong Titan?” This huntress asked in a mocking tone “Not feeling so strong all of the sudden?”

Grimsley struggled to draw his cannon from his hip and raise it. The huntress was quicker, would have been even without Grimsley being tethered to the void. Her Ace of Spades pointed firmly at Grimsley ‘s head.

“I’m sorry for this, there is no ill blood between us. I just can’t have you interfering with my friend’s plan”

Three shots rang out across the Martian desert. Grimsley fell, he felt it, the lead ripping through him like so many tiny comets.

As the ghost came out, the huntress snatched it up. Grimsley could see this all from the in between state. If he could he would scream in rage and terror. Was this the end?! Bested by this hunter in the Martian wastes?!

“Don’t worry” she said softly now “I won’t destroy him. This is just to slow you down. We can’t have you rezzing as soon as I leave.”  With that she was gone, as if she were a mere shadow.

Fallen stronghold

The Baron bore down on Plutus now, twin blades aloft. It was all in slow motion now, the monster rushing, lifting the blades to end Plutus. One quick motion, Plutus ducked and burried the stolen blades deep in the chest of this thing. Ether hissed out with a deafening roar almost masking Maskis’ death scream.

Plutus stood up from his kneeling position and surveyed the the area.

Across the cavern he saw what he had come here for. An Eliksni line rifle.

As he ventured forward to retrieve it his comms came alive across one of his secure channels.

“Diana here, come in Plutus” The familiar voice of the huntress came across.

“I am here Diana,” Plutus answered “did all go well?”

“Yes, it is done. I’m moving to your position”

“See you soon”

With that the line of communication went dark. Plutus kneeled to look over the line rifle, pulling up the scematics on I’m his heads up display.

“Ghost, can you isolate the part we need?” Plutus inquired. The Ghost scoffed.

“Of course I can! What do you take me for a common frame?” The Ghost replied indignantly. Plutus smiled. Exactly the reaction he was going for. Annoying Ghost was one of his few guilty pleasures in this world.

“Of course. Is it in working order?”

The Ghost materialized, scanning the line rifle, before turning to Plutus.

“It’s good! I’ll highlight it for you to exctract!” With that and small flash of light the Ghost was gone once more.

A small part near the firing mechanism was now highlighted red on Plutus’ HUD. He went to work.

It only took ten minuets or so of semi careful work and the part was his. Just as he stood, dropping the scavenged rifle into the red dirt, a voice sprang to life directly behind him.

“Hey handsome!”

Startled, Plutus spun drawing from the void. He relaxed,letting the energy flow back to the void, at the sight of Diana standing two feet away. She was a bit dirty, covered in red dust, but mostly unharmed. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a glint of blue light flying through the top of the open cavern.

“How many times..” Plutus begun, sounding slightly annoyed looking down at the petite huntress ” ..have I told you not to do that?”

At this point Diana was laughing, hard.

Through the laughter she spoke

“I’m sorry, In truth it is not as fun when I can’t see the look on your face through that hideous warlock helmet”

Plutus feined emotional injury.

“Says you, ya know you hunters are known for your style. Yet here you stand calling my helmet hideous wearing that tattered old cloak” Plutus fired back.

It was one quick motion, Diana produced a knife, tossing it up lightly and catching it a few times before catching it by the pommel and pointing it in Plutus’ direction.

” Watch it Floofer!” Diana exclaimed, trying to sound offended. Not entirely hiding the slight amusement in her voice.

With this Plutus ripped him self through the in between once more, landing on the he other side of Diana, his palm flat against the back of her helmet.

“I don’t floof, I blink” He said very quietly, also a touch of amusement in his voice

Diana chuckled, turning to Plutus.

“Where will you head next?” She asked now more serious.

“To meet an associate of Banshee’s. Xur” Plutus replied ” Banshee will be setting up the meeting upon receipt of this part”

Diana seemed to consider for a second before nodding.

“Please be careful,” she said after a brief second of silence “for me” there was no whimsy in her voice now. There was something else. Something Plutus couldn’t put his finger on it. He considered for a second, and finally replied.

“You know I probably wont” He said, attempting to reignite the playful banter. Diana punched him, hard in the shoulder.

“You’re a jerk sometimes Plutus”

With that she was gone, like the shadow she was. Plutus stood here for a moment. Trying to figure out this strange exchange. This wasn’t the first time Diana had broken their normal paradigm. This was however the most blatant display that she may actually care about him.

After this moment of reflection, Plutus headed towards the exit. It would be long walk back to the transmat zone, and an even longer trip back to Banshee.

“So” the ghost spoke up now “what do you think Veist wants with this part? Obviously they’re trying to reverse engineer the fallen linear fusion tech”

“I don’t care what they do with it, as long as it helps achieve our goal.”

“That’s a dangerous attitude” The Ghost replied, almost repremanding.

“Maybe so,” Plutus replied “Maybe so”.

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