Garden of Minos
“Oh, now that’s just great.” Jinx shouted against the deafening roar.
“Oh, shut up and tell me how to kill it.” Gaige snapped.
“And how would I know that, I mean, I don’t even know what’s making it move, let alone how it’s doing it?”
“Some help you are.”
“In that case, why don’t you tell me how to kill it.”
“I’m not the hunter here.”
“Neither am I, I’m retired in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Yeah well, you’re the best we’ve got at the moment, so any ideas?”
“Shoot that glowing ball might work.”
“You shoulda said something before it went in.”
“First, it didn’t go in, it raised the rest around it, and second, I was a little shocked at the moment, plus I didn’t see you doing anything.”
“Yeah, that’s cause I was in shock as well, but your plan has a major flaw in it, namely that I can’t see the ball to shoot it.”
“Well, we’ll just have to do something about that won’t we? Like dropping this thing.”
“And how are we supposed to do that?”
“Kill all the scales, or significant structural damage might do something, but other than that, I’ve got no idea. And before you ask, no, I have no idea how to go about either of those.”
“Damn. Well, back to the old shoot it until it stops moving tactic.”
“And that’ll work on bone?”
“You got a better plan, cause if so, I’d love to hear it?”
She was met with silence as they continued to scramble back and away from the massive creature.
“That’s what I thought, now do something or get outta the way.”
Gaige started firing at the colossal monster, watching her shots strike against the scales that covered it with little effect. Even the fires that started were only burning a few of them and though a few did fall off in charred corpses, it was like trying to take a ship apart one bolt at a time, she’d get there eventually, but not before she ran out of ammo, or got crushed.
For its part the creature surveyed the open area in front of it with hollow eyes. The bandits had seen it rise and had mostly abandoned the Guardians that they had been fighting and were throwing themselves at the monster, which seemed to annoy it more than anything, so it slowly lifted one of its front feet up and slammed it back down, crushing a number of them and throwing a good amount of the rest flying with the shock-wave.
Gaige looked over at them while trying to figure out a plan and spotted McStumpy screaming orders. As if he felt her eyes on him, he suddenly turned and spotted her and even across the distance and over the cacophony, she heard him bellowing obscenities at her.
“I’m gonna goot ye an were yer skan lak ah kilt. En I’m goona tak was lef o’yah an av me way wi it for I eate it yeh bligh spittled cu…”
He never finished the insult due to his head vanishing in a cloud of gore. Gaige blinked and looked over to Artemis who still had her rifle up. Felling the eyes on her she snapped “Oh what? Was I not supposed to kill him this time either? Or did you really want him to finish that disgusting tirade?”
“No, I was just surprised, that’s all.” She turned back to the colossal monster and lamented “Now if only we had some way of doing large amounts of damage to this thing all at once.”
“Yeah, well, not likely, I mean, maybe Deathtrap could do some damage to it, but we’d need to clear off a good amount of those scales for him to have any kind of clean shot.”
“What about the Iron Hammer? Would that work?”
“You know, it just might, but we’d still need to clean off an area first.”
Even as they talked, they felt the air change, like it was tasting off.
“I know my Anarchy does strange things, but does it taste like lightning to you?”
Artemis blinked at her and then took a breath, before flicking the tip of her tongue back out “Yeah, there’s an energy in the air, but not a good kind. Something like ozone, but not.” She quickly turned to the giant creature and took a step back involuntarily. Gaige, puzzled by the reaction, turned and immediately spotted what was wrong.
The creature was opening its mouth wider and wider, almost like it was unhinging it. As it did so, the bright glow inside it was intensifying, seeming to build up in its throat. Even in the few seconds they watched, a ball of light was forming floating in its gaping jaws.
“Everyone, watch out!” Gaige shouted to the troops behind them.
A few turned and instantly spotted what they were being warned about, chaining the cry across the group.
For a few seconds, everyone watched in dreaded anticipation about where the energy would be fired, then the creature lowered its head, tightened its jaw, and let loose.
The beam that appeared seemed detached from the sphere of light, like it was actually being fired by something a few feet in front of it, but the force of the beam shoved the creature’s head back, causing the beam to shake off its target momentarily before it readjusted its head. The bright beam hit the psychos of the Rust Devils, vaporizing those that it hit. The rest attempted to scatter, rushing every which way, but the creature just slid its head around leaving a trail of burning stone in the wake of it’s attack as it chased them down.
The attack went on for no more than ten seconds, but in that time more than half of the remaining Rust Devils were obliterated, along with a fair number of Guardians.
Gaige looked back up at the creature and saw the remains of the burning light flicker like fire up its face as its jaws closed.
“Man, I hope that thing can’t fire that too often.” She muttered. She couldn’t even tell how the thing was standing, let alone what was powering it, so she couldn’t tell if the attack was draining on it or not, but the only thing that gave her hope about that was the fact that it had taken a while to charge up.
“We really need to take that thing down, and quick.” She continued turning to Artemis only to find the other girl wasn’t paying attention but instead was focused on the bandits that were attacking the creature.
Just as Gaige was about to ask what was up, she spotted the leader of the Bloody Gear clan. As she watched she saw the woman waving her buzz-ax around in one hand, directing her troops, but Gaige couldn’t make out what she had in her other, but whatever it was, it had riled Artemis up, since she took off running at the woman while yelling “That’s mine!”
It seemed that the woman heard her since her mask spun to where Artemis was moving and even as Splinterhead cocked her head in either confusion or disbelief, she raised her right arm, showing Gaige what she was carrying and what had ticked off Artemis so much, a heavy pistol without a name, in other words, her backup piece.
Artemis dropped into a slide just as Splinterhead fired the gun, the bullet tearing through the air where she’d just been. The psycho let out a garbled shout of pain and dropped the gun, holding her wrist with her other hand while staggering back. For a second, Gaige wondered what’d happened, she knew the gun kicked extremely hard, but even Artemis, with her skinny arms, had said she’d fired it once and it had cracked her wrist, but it seemed to her that the psycho was acting more like something was broken. Then she realized, when Artemis had fired, she’d known what she was holding and had no doubt braced herself, positioning everything to absorb as much of the impact as she could, while the psycho had been holding the gun loosely, like she would any other pistol, so she hadn’t been prepared for the kick.
She spun in a circle, almost dancing as she held her wrist while letting out a nearly unintelligible string of obscenities and curses. As she did that, Artemis quickly closed the distance, ignoring all the bandits around her until one stepped in front of his boss, blocking her path.
Gaige didn’t recognize this one, a tall bandit missing his right eye, but it seemed that Artemis did since she let out a bellow and charged straight at him. This seemed to please the bandit since a crooked smile broke across his face and he stepped forward to meet her.
The large man took a swing at her as soon as she got in range, causing Artemis to duck and drive her left fist into his ribs, and while her cybernetic didn’t have the strength that Gaige’s did, she knew that it was strong enough, enough so that Gaige thought she could hear the ribs pop even at that distance.
Artemis didn’t bother with the man as he fell to his knees clutching his side and just stepped around him. He didn’t take kindly to that, and tried to grab her as she went, causing her to pause, turn and drive a cyberneticly enhanced kick into the same spot he was attempting to cover. This time he dropped and did little besides writhe on the ground.
“Wonder if that’s the one who she said kicked her?” Gaige muttered to Deathtrap.
By that time, Splinterhead had managed to recover somewhat and fixing Artemis with a glare, she hefted the pair of buzz-axes that she was wielding, though she did keep her right hand a bit closer to her body as she did.
Gaige expected Artemis to make one of those pointless offers, like ‘Give me my stuff back and I’ll let you go’ or something, but instead she wordlessly charged.
Splinterhead leaped forward to meet her, swinging her buzz-axes in a wide arc, causing Artemis to duck under them, but the psycho didn’t stop and kept her spin going, this time bringing the axes down as she came around. Artemis ducked back, trying to create space, but even Gaige could tell that the psycho was much more used to close quarters fighting then her friend.
The psycho finished her downward swing and lunged forward, bringing the axes up as she did, then lunged forward again, bringing the axes in. Each time, Artemis was forced to step back, which seemed to give the psycho more and more confidence as her swings became wilder.
She stepped forward and swung both axes across her chest from her left side, but this time Artemis stepped in and punched, catching the psycho in the right wrist with her left hand. The flat cracking noise made Gaige wince as the arm flopped unnaturally.
The psycho let out a howl of pain as the buzz-ax went sailing from her limp fingers and she staggered back. As she did, Gaige slapped another clip into her SMG and resumed blind firing at the massive creature as it continued its rampage, stomping and taking swipes at the bandits at its feet.
Artemis didn’t allow her opponent any space and dashed forward to try and punch the psycho again, but the psycho, being what it was, let her wrist flop and swung down with her other buzz-ax.
Artemis seemed to realize that she had over committed to her attack, and since it was too late to dodge, swung her left hand up and caught the blade with it. Sparks flew and the high-pitched whine of metal on metal grated at Gaige’s ears, she couldn’t imagine how bad it would be point blank, but Artemis couldn’t care at the moment as she was desperately struggling to keep the blade from getting any closer to her.
Splinterhead tried to use her height and strength advantage to bulldoze her way through, but the cybernetic gave the smaller girl an advantage that she couldn’t overcome, so the psycho was forced to try a different tact and started driving her knee into the other girl’s side.
With each hit, Artemis let out a pained grunt and Gaige could tell her mind was racing even from where she was watching. It was on one of the hits that Artemis acted, pulling her hand back while maintaining her grip on the ax just as her opponent swung her knee forward, pulling her off balance and sending her sprawling across the ground.
Artemis didn’t waste the opportunity and lashed out with a kick, knocking the buzz-ax away. The psycho raged at the loss of her weapons and popped back to her feet, shooting forward from a low stance and driving herself into the girls’ stomach, knocking the wind out of her and lifting her up. With a continuous bellow, she ran with her for a good ways before suddenly stopping and throwing the smaller girl into the wall.
Artemis crashed into the stalactites that dripped down the tiered overhang, shattering them off and landing in a stunned heap. Before she even had a chance to recover, the psycho jumped on her and started swinging, forcing Artemis to throw her arm up to cover her face as she was pummeled.
Gaige wanted to help her, but she hesitated, mostly due to the fact that her accuracy was past the point of being able to hit what she wanted to, as well as the fact that the rest of the psychos and bandits weren’t interfering and she was worried that if she did, it would start a free for all with them being outnumbered. But just as she was debating risking it, she saw Artemis get her legs up and shove the psycho back.
Splinterhead staggered back but grabbed her leg as she did and spun, throwing the smaller girl off the rock shelf and onto the ground.
Artemis rolled and by the time she stopped, the psycho was leaping at her only to be met with a solid kick to the chest, knocking her back. Artemis used the momentum from the kick to roll to her feet and found herself facing the raving psycho as she charged back in, swinging wildly.
She ducked under the first swing and drove her fist into the woman’s ribs, no doubt cracking a few of them, but her opponent didn’t seem to care, instead she just swung her fist back, catching Artemis in the face and spinning her around. She continued the spin and got a few steps away while flexing her jaw, dodging the relentless attacks as she did.
The next time that Splinterhead threw an attack, she lunged in, catching her around the middle and lifting her up before taking a step and trying to throw her, only for her opponent to grab her by the back of her jacket and drag her with.
Splinterhead managed to keep her feet, but had lost her grip on Artemis so she lunged at her. Seeing this, Artemis caught her and managed to throw her, sending her sliding across the ground to come to a stop under the bottom overhang of the wall.
Throwing herself on top of her fallen opponent, Artemis tried to pummel the woman into submission, but the psycho fought back. Unable to stave off the two-fisted attacks with only one working hand, she flailed around till her hand found one of the broken off stalactites and swung it, pointy end first at Artemis’s face, forcing her to jerk back, but not before tearing her cheek open.
Artemis staggered back, shifting off her opponent even as the other woman continued to try and stab her with the rock, pulling the psycho by the front of her jacket and yanked her up, straight into the row of stalactites that hung down, tearing them through her neck before wrenching the body sideways, shearing them off and ripping a gaping hole in her throat. The jet of blood hit her in the face as her opponent died in a bloody gurgle.
Dropping the corpse, she staggered back a few steps before letting out a ragged breath. Stepping forward she unhooked the belt from the dead woman and casually fastened it around her own waist before walking back, picking up the buzz-ax as she went. Stopping to bend over and pick up her back-up piece, she paused and looked at the gathering of the clan, blood still dripping off her face as she gave them a wild-eyed look and repeated while holding the gun up “Mine!”
“Remind me to never touch her stuff.” Alezander said from next to Gaige, looking a bit pale as he watched the girl walk back.
“Are you done now?” Gaige asked as Artemis walked over “Can we get back to the matter at hand, or do you have some other pressing thing you need to take care of?”
“Here.” Artemis said, tossing her something.
Looking down, she saw the grenade mod and muttered “So there was a point to all that, besides getting your stuff back.”
“Nah, I just didn’t want my stuff in the hands of a psycho, this was just a bonus.”
“You know that you look an awful lot like a psycho yourself at the moment, don’t you?”
Artemis shrugged and looked up at the creature and muttered “So how do we take you down?”
“Well, you could try shooting.” Came a cry from their side. Glancing over Gaige saw Alezander firing at it. She surveyed the situation behind her and saw that while she’d been distracted with the psycho fight, another of the Bears had fallen, something that the troops were using to the best of their advantage by using it as cover, firing over and around the downed mechs limbs.
Looking back at the creature in front of her, she tossed an idea over to Artemis “You think you can clear off a few of the scales, up there, where it’s, uh, what would you call that? Behind the shoulder?”
“Not there.” Came the reply “There’s crossbones in that area, you want to punch a hole about, here.” She continued while firing the rest of her cylinder worth into the side, a bit further back from where Gaige had intended, but soon she saw a small opening appear as the scale’s creatures fell off. As they did, Gaige realized that the area had previously been scorched by her SMG fire, meaning that Artemis was using the least amount of shots to clear the biggest area.
Nodding she equipped the grenade and pitched one with all the force she could muster. Unfortunately, her aim was off a little and the creature moved causing the explosive to bounce off the surface and fall to its feet before erupting in a fiery display.
Still the gouts of fire hitting its feet grabbed the creatures attention away from the bandits and the massive head swung around to fix them with a glare from deep within the empty sockets.
Gaige felt a cold shiver run up her spine as the glow within the hollow eyes intensified and the things mouth fell open as it let loose another bone rattling roar that caused the vary air to vibrate.
It didn’t close its mouth, instead, it opened it even wider and the glow started to form in it again. Realizing that she was its target, Gaige felt her knees quake slightly since she had no chance of outrunning it, and no way to deviate it from its course. Still, she wasn’t about to go down without a fight, so she took off running as fast as she could.
“Buddy, I need a hand.” Artemis yelled at Deathtrap as he started to move, whether to try and grab Gaige and fly her as far as he could, to try and intercept the shot himself, or punch the thing in the face he hadn’t decided yet, but hearing the forceful call brought him to a halt and he spun around. Seeing the determination in the younger girl’s eyes, he figured whatever plan she had was better than his lack of one and he dashed over to her.
As soon as he was near her, she grabbed the massive cannon on his back off and staggered under its weight.
“Stay still.” She ordered him, setting the barrel against his shoulder a bit harder than she’d intended and quickly started lining up the shot. Deathtrap glanced over his shoulder at her and saw her bracing the cannon against her shoulder while sliding her legs back as far as she could, seeming to be kept up only by the gun itself and rolled her neck before placing her cheek against the side of the gun and letting out a slow breath.
He wished she would hurry up, the glow was getting brighter by the second and was almost to the point that it had been when it had fired before.
“Oh, this is gonna hurt.” He heard muttered from behind him and a second later, right before the creature was about to fire its beam, a deafening explosion occurred next to him and the cannon jerked hard enough to force him to readjust his position to prevent himself from falling.
The next instant, the shot hit the creature in the face, catching it just below where its eye would have been and demolishing the skull from there. The impact threw its head off to the side and caused the energy to explode out in a shock-wave that threw Gaige from her feet, but otherwise didn’t harm her. Without a backwards glance she hopped to her feet and charged at it.
“Ow. Owowowow.” Came the moan from behind Deathtrap and he felt the cannon slipping off his shoulder, so he caught it while turning around to find Artemis laying on the ground clutching her shoulder.
“What the hell was that?” Alec yelled from inside her Bear.
“Urrgurru” Deathtrap asked, ignoring the question and instead directing his focus on the girl on the ground, after making sure that Gaige was alright.
For her part, Gaige slid to a stop and pitched another grenade at the opening on the side of the creature, this time, maybe because she was closer, or due to sheer luck, it sailed through the opening and landed inside before blooming into a fiery explosion.
As she watched, fire jetted out from between the scale-like creatures, sending burning bits of them falling around its feet.
Deciding to not stick around, she ran back to where the others were as the massive creature let out a bellow of pain, there she found Artemis on her back, with Deathtrap injecting her with an Insta-health vial.
“That thing, ow, kicks like a, a, I don’t even know what.” Came the gasped out reply.
Gaige looked over at the Iron Hammer, at the gaping hole in the creatures’ head and then back at Artemis before saying “Thanks.”
“Seriously though, are you alright?”
“Yeah, I can feel the Insti-health working, give me a hand.”
Gaige grabbed her hand and pulled her up “Gotta ask, how hard did that thing kick?”
“You know what I’ve said about my back-up piece? This thing kicks about the same in proportion to its size.”
“So, you have no shoulder left?”
“That’s what it felt like.” Her voice trailed off and her eyes went wide “RUN!”
Gaige turned to see what she’d seen and found the creature spinning around with its tail held up high. Before she could even react, Deathtrap grabbed her around the waist and flew. From her position looking over his shoulder she could see Artemis carrying the Iron Hammer and running and couldn’t help thinking ‘Huh, she’s stronger than she looks.’
They barely cleared the area when the tail came down, slamming hard enough to shatter the ground. The shock-wave hit her a second later with enough force to blast her pigtails back, even though she was flying the other direction. On the other side of the tail, she watched Artemis get thrown off her feet and sent sprawling, curling around the cannon she was carrying to protect it as she hit the ground.
The creature slammed its tail down a second time, though with a bit less force and then turned back around to face them with its shattered skull. From her new perspective, Gaige could see the full extent of the damage the cannon had done to it. From just under its eye socket and up was gone and fragments of bone were splintering and dropping off as it moved. Through the gaping hole, she could see the empty cavity where a brain should have been and before it raised its head back up, she spotted bits of skull sliding around inside.
“Get me closer babe.” She yelled to Deathtrap who nodded in response and immediately shot forward, getting close enough to the massive creature that she could make out the irregularities in the scale-like creatures covering it. As she passed across one of the gaps in them, she chucked another grenade through, followed by a second at the next gap. Deathtrap pulled away as they started to explode within, electing a cacophony of screeches from the burning scales.
“Yes! More power! More! Meedly-meedly-mowwwww!” She yelled out as Deathtrap flew around and set her down near to where Artemis was hustling back to the troops, still lugging her cannon.
“You good?” She huffed to Gaige.
“I just crossed over into redonculous territory!”
“Sure, and that’s gonna help us take this thing down, I hope.”
“What’re you talkin about? We’ve totally got this.”
“Great, so what’s the plan?”
“We smash it!”
“You said we needed to do significant structural damage and now we can do it.”
Artemis looked at her while her shoulder twitched slightly “Why do I think this is gonna hurt me a lot more than it does you?”
“Cause you know what’s comin.”
“In that case why don’t you shoot? Lace it with anarchy or whatever?”
“No no, it’s Anarchy.”
“That’s what I said.”
“No, you said anarchy, it’s Anarchy.”
“I’m just gonna pretend that made sense.”
“It did, and I can’t do it.”
“That thing fires too big a shot. Plus, it’s yours. I mean, you’re borrowing it, besides you’re a bitch and it’s a cannon, and bitches love cannons, right?”
“You know, you make about as much sense as a psycho some times.”
“Less talky more shooty.”
“Ugh, and what’re you gonna do while I shatter my shoulder again?”
“I’m gonna kill this bitch.”
“Wait, I thought I was a bitch?”
“Wait, what?” Gaige stopped and turned, seeming to get a little of herself back “Sorry, it’s just that getting that many stacks so quick, especially after so long went right to my head.”
“Uh, I’m gonna pretend that that made sense and move along, so what will you be doing and where should I aim?”
“Stop it from moving if you can, then I’m gonna see if I can kill it.”
“No idea, but I’m sure it’ll work out.” She said with a maniacal grin as she ran off.
“I have the worst luck in liking people.” She muttered.
“Urgurr” Deathtrap said, patting her on the shoulder.
“Right, enough time to figure her out when this is done. Can you give me a hand?”
Deathtrap nodded and watched as Artemis laid the gun down before stretching out behind it.
“What are you doing?” Alezander yelled as he ran up to her “Are you crazy?”
“Shut it and keep firing at that thing, this is gonna take a moment.” Came the snippy reply.
“But what are you even trying to do?”
“Quit distracting me and you’ll see.”
With that she shuffled a little and grabbed the gun’s grip, lining up the shot as best she could.
“Buddy, up a little. Little more, that’s good, bit to the left, there, that’s good, now if it could just stand still for a moment…”
Deathtrap thought about it and told her to hold on a second before looking back and started charging up a shot. It didn’t take too long before he was ready and then it was just a matter of timing, waiting for the creature to swing around. Just as he was about satisfied, the creature spotted them and seemed to know what they were doing, since it let out another bone rattling bellow and started stomping forward, no doubt to try and crush them under its massive feet, so even though he wasn’t satisfied with the aim, Deathtrap had no choice but to let the shot go.
It didn’t hit exactly where he was aiming, instead it hit the creature in the mouth, but it was still enough of a surprise to it that it jerked its head back as the red energy slammed into its spine. The subsequent explosion threw its head back, giving Artemis the chance she’d been hoping for.
“Left, left, there, up, good, and brace.” She called out instructions and then with a slight whimper of expectation, squeezed the trigger.
Deathtrap held onto the barrel as hard as he could without damaging it, trying to absorb as much of the force as he could, but even so, he felt himself jerk backwards as the cannon boomed.
An instant later the shell tore through the creatures’ front knee joint, sending splinters of bone and scale flying as the shell kept going, hitting the back leg and sending a deep score through the thigh bone as it skimmed off the side.
The creature slowly tilted off to the side as its rear leg gave a series of low cracking noises as the bone started to give out. Gaige spotted this and shouted for everyone to focus fire on it. Immediately both Bears focused the fire from their heavy guns, which they had been equipped with in addition to the elecro throwers, onto the spot, as did everyone else and after a few moments, shards of bone cracked and splintered as the leg gave out and the creature came crashing down.
Deathtrap threw himself over Artemis, covering her from the flying debris as she groaned, holding her shoulder. Even as the dust flew over him, he made sure that she was injecting herself with another Insti-health vial, even though she was protesting the waste of resources.
He did feel bad for her, he had tried to brace the cannon as best he could, but it seemed that even that wasn’t enough to safely fire it. Maybe if he held it and she aimed? That might work, but it would be a tight squeeze to fit her in the space between the cannon and him, maybe if she was on the outside? As he thought about it, he floated back and helped her up.
“I’ve got a question.” Alezander yelled at her as he ran up “If you’ve had that thing, then why’d you wait to use it?”
A look crossed Jinx’s face, like she wanted nothing more than to ignore him, but she knew that she’d have to answer eventually so she just sighed and turned to him “First, it’s not mine, I’m borrowing it, which means that I can’t use up too much ammo for it. Second, I wanted to save it in case we ran into something that couldn’t be dealt with any other way, at least that I could think of, and last, because it’s a pain to shoot.”
“Uh, OK.” He said, taking a step back as she glared at him, which ended up saving his life since the bullet that slammed into him only caught him in the arm and not the heart. Still, it was enough to knock him down with a shout of pain.
Deathtrap and Jinx glanced back to see where the shot had come from and saw that the remains of the bandit hoard was descending upon them, seeming to have decided that they were the easier target.
Jinx watched as one of the psychos jumped at her as soon as she’d turned only to get caught midair by Deathtrap’s hand, which gave him a quick shake to snap his neck and then chucked the rag-dolling body back into the next one.
“Fine.” Jinx snapped pulling an Insti-health from her pack and dropping it onto Alezander’s chest. “You heard him, use it and get this mess under control.”
He blinked as he looked at her and one of the other expedition troops replied with a barked “Yes ma’am.” and got to work on that.
Taking the moment to draw her pistol and shoot the nearest bandit, she spared a second to survey the battle. Another Bear was in the process of crashing down, though this one seemed to be out of fuel rather than being taken out through damage. A few troops were busy trying to siphon off some of the remaining fuel from the other two Bears while other troops covered them. Most of the rest were focusing on the bandit threat, or tending to the wounded.
She heard something from the other direction and snapped around just in time to see a chunk of the scales come loose and start swarming up into the air, with a flock of them spiraling down at Gaige, who took off running and made a jump into an opening on the side of the fallen creature, vanishing from sight.
“Buddy!” She yelled at Deathtrap even as she pulled the assault rifle off her back and opened fire on the cloud of flying scales, drawing their attention away from Gaige. As soon as Deathtrap turned to her, she called out “Take these and go help her.”
She pulled the few grenades she had out and dropped them in his hand. Without hesitating he let out a “Urru” and took off, dashing through the cloud of descending creatures without hesitation, slashing through any that got too close and then dove through an opening in the fallen creature on his way to find his mistress.
Gaige found herself sliding down one of the ribs on the inside of the creature. It looked a whole lot different from this perspective, but she figured that any creature would, but this one was unique. She wished she could’ve traded places with Artemis, since this was more her area of expertise, but the instant she got inside, that thought flew out of her mind as she looked around in awe.
Everything was illuminated with a bright whitish-blue light emanating from the glowing ball that floated in the chest, about where she figured a heart would be. It pulsed ever so slightly and its edges were slightly ragged, like a sun or one of the glowing things that came out of a Guardian.
As she stared at it, she became aware of more of the scales had come off and followed her inside, she spun her gun up only to see the nearest one crumple as a giant metal fist crashed into it, sending it flying.
“Babe!” She cried with joy at seeing her robo-bestie coming to her aid.
“Urgurrg” He said, handing over the grenades.
“Yes!” She said, immediately chucking one of them into the swirling mass of creatures “Take that ugly flying scaly things, we really need to come up with a name for these things, I’m thinking that one’s Fred, and that one’s”
“Sorry, you’re right, there’s too many to name.”
“Ur gurgu rrgrur”
“Gah, fine.” Gaige grumbled as she pulled another grenade and chucked it into another clump of the creatures before pulling out her SMG and declaring “I’m gonna try something so back me up and we’ll see if it works.”
Deathtrap shrugged and fired a laser through the flying things. It didn’t do all that much, but every bit helped, plus the caustic beam seemed to drive them back a little.
Gaige turned to the large glowing ball and muttered “Here’s hoping.” And pulled the trigger.
The stream of bullets went everywhere, not one of them going where she had aimed, though she had expected that at this point, but since she was inside the creature, the shots reflected off the ribs and streaked back, hitting the ball and causing it to shudder.
“Yes! In your face reality!”
The next instant, the ground under her shook as the creature tried to get up, seeking to get away from whatever was hurting it, causing Gaige’s feet to fly out from under her and if Deathtrap hadn’t caught her, she would’ve fallen and slid out through one of the increasing number of openings.
“You’re right babe.” She agreed, flipping the switch on the SMG to electrical and letting loose with the rest of the clip. Deathtrap joined in, firing his elcto-laser into the sphere, causing the entire creature to thrash about loosing a deafening bellow as it did.
With the way the ground was shaking, he scooped up Gaige and took off, flying through the cavity as they fired with everything they had into the glowing core, with Gaige occasionally throwing one of her last few grenades at the cloud of flying scales.
In a surprisingly short amount of time, the glow suddenly brightened and exploded, sending fragments of light drifting down.
“Gah, how come something this big still only counts as one.” She bemoaned, only to be cut off by a sudden rumbling and the next thing she knew, Deathtrap was rocketing out of the now collapsing creature.
He flew with her in his arms around the clearing and once the dust had settled, set her down next to Artemis, who was busy waving her hand in front of her face and coughing.
“Well, that wasn’t as hard as I thought it’d be.” Gaige happily declared.
No sooner had she said that, then Alezander staggered over and said “Wow, I can’t believe we took that thing down, that had to be one for the records.”
“Not really.” Artemis said “It was surprisingly easy.”
“Easy! That thing nearly killed us a dozen times.”
“Yeah, but it wasn’t all that bad. I mean, it was too big to do any real fast attacks, those are a lot worse.” Gaige corrected him “Plus I was afraid that it would send those scale things out earlier, I mean, like a Rakk Hive. You ever fought one?”
“No.” Artemis conceded “But I have taken down a Stagliovore and from what I’ve read it’s pretty similar. And yeah, I was also waiting for the scales to attack.”
“You two are crazy.” Alezander said with a shake of his head. “So, now what?”
As if in response to him there was a large cracking sound that echoed through the area, like stones grinding one each other and breaking loose, which caused them to spin and look at the creature, afraid they’d spoke too soon. But instead of getting up, the spires on its back were tilting together and when they met and formed a large pointed arch, it filled with blue liquid like light.
“Well, that answers that.” Gaige said before turning back “Alright, this is as far as you go.”
“Wait, what?” Alezander said.
“Take your wounded and anything you can salvage and fall back. Get back to the drop point and get up and keep going up. We’re taking it from here.”
“You expect us to just retreat? After all that?”
“Yeah, I do.” Gaige said “Look, the other side of this is gonna be the controls for this place and we’re gonna need to figure them out, which should give you time to get out, cause there’s a chance that once we flip the physical and or metaphorical switch, this place isn’t gonna last long, and we’ve got Deathtrap here to help us make a speedy escape, but that’s at best a ride for two, so we won’t be able to help you.”
“They are right.” Alec said, walking up, her Bear finally having spent the last of its fuel “We helped with what we could. That…gate? Whatever is on the other side, we cannot help them with, you should know when to fall back, even if you do not want to.”
“You think I would want to miss what is on the other side? Of course not, but we have other responsibilities.” She placed her hand on his shoulder and when he looked at her, something in her expression made him concede with a sigh.
“Good luck.” He said and tiredly waved.
“May we see you again.” Alec said with a slight smile.
Gaige nodded and turned to the portal.
Artemis checked her guns and asked “You ready?”
“Sure, why not.” She said with a smile and the three of them climbed onto the back of the fallen creature and through the glowing light.