sideways: [mass effect] legion profile (►using less emoticons)
[personal profile] sideways
Title: Post-Mortem
Rating: PG
Series: Bungie's Destiny (original characters)
Wordcount: 2624
Remarks: Something hammered out quickly as a gift for my Destiny mentor / babysitter earlier this year. Euclid is his, and also a huge cutie.

Awareness came back to Yarrow the way it always did: like it had just gone downstairs a moment, leaving only the progress of her internal clock and the beat of fresh energy pulsing through her to confirm how hard the hit had actually been. That she never saw anything in death – no dreams, no lost memories, no vaguely familiar faces – had felt like drawing a short straw once upon a time, but then she’d found herself trying to drag some delirious post-rezzer behind her while the Cabal rained hell in shrapnel form around their heads, and that had flattened the indignation almost as quickly as the mortars had flattened them both.

It was much more useful to come back as she did, to the clear memory of all things recent; to wake up ready, alert, and still damn annoyed about the Hydra whose shadow had fallen across her exposed position.

But even as her optics flickered online and she reflexively grabbed for the stock of her rifle – an instinct worth developing, in her experience – the Hunter knew the fight was over. The motion sensor was quiet, no slapshots cut through the air, and there was none of the sour ache in her head that heralded an incursion field. The staggering array of twisted and scorched Vex parts that finally greeted her as her sight cleared was almost unnecessary.

Yarrow turned her head slowly, still keeping her fingers close to her rifle as she pushed herself to her feet. She was fairly sure this was the same area she’d gone and glitched in, since she recognised the general shape of it, but at least one of the weird twisty rock stacks had collapsed and was now strewn among the mechanical wreckage. There also appeared to be something she could only describe as a crater around where she last remembered the Hydra lurking, and – had part of the cliff disappeared?

“City Lights,” she said, with no shortage of feeling. “How long’d you keep me out?”

Um,” her Ghost said.

It was a rhetorical question, of course; all it took was a glance at her ops screen to see that it had been exactly four minutes and twelve seconds Earth standard since she’d been Torch Hammered out of functional existence. Aster’s relative speechlessness confirmed that resurrection hadn’t just thrown her records out of sync with reality, though, and that was enough to make her drop her hand from her gun to gesture broadly at the carnage. “Strike that. What happened while I was out? We get ‘jacked by another fireteam?” Titans, she thought derisively. It would have been Titans if anything. They had a way of considering every fight their own.

Um,” Aster said again, and this time she caught the tight edge to its tone, “Yarrow, your Warlock-

“No my about it, cue-ball.” She looked around at the prompting, though. Plain common sense said it hadn’t been Vex who’d dragged away whatever was left of her post-Hydra encounter and placed her so gently against the escarpment, and now that she thought about it, it was strange that her partner in battle hadn’t bounced over in welcome once she was on her feet again. “He didn’t get scrapped as well, did he? Dammit, I shed my cover to take that Hobgoblin out for him, the least he could do is survive it.”

The air shimmered and parted as Aster slipped into physical space, keeping low as it always did on the field. Its segments were twitching agitatedly, and for the first time concern filtered into Yarrow’s current buzzing mess of bemusement and irritation.

“What?” she said.

“He’s just over there,” Aster said quietly, the swivel of its eye indicating the direction, and then lifted its voice as she started walking past, “but Yarrow, no, wait a moment-”

It should have been embarrassing that she’d failed to spot her companion when he was seated so close by, but in truth it was an understandable oversight. The Warlock’s saffron robes had already proven excellent camouflage on Venus’ sulphurous soil; now, caked with dust and curled into a ball by the base of the shattered stone stack, he looked more like another piece of rubble than he did the bubbly inhabitant of the Academy she’d come to know.

Yarrow lengthened her stride. His vital systems were coming up healthy enough when she raised them, but she’d learned by this point that sometimes that just didn’t mean jack. A Guardian could be showing clean green health all over and still be as good as wounded.

“Euclid!” she said loudly. “You lose a leg or something?”

Apparently the rubble imitation went beyond first appearances. The Warlock didn’t so much as twitch, not at her words and not when her shadow fell over him. His face was buried in his arms and knees, the horns just poking out above the tattered sleeves, and one hand tightly gripped the other elbow as if feeling out the mechanisms of the joint.

“Euc?” She crouched down and cocked her head calculatingly, and then clicked her fingers in front of him a few times. “Hey. Screwloose. You in there?”

He muttered something – kept muttering, she realised, had been doing it before she’d spoken and was continuing it now, a faint tumble of words she couldn’t quite hear clearly enough to thread together into coherent sentences. Something about hadronic fusion and solenoid valves. The flickering pulses of throat-light she could see were erratic, making even less sense than his rambling.

Yarrow dropped her hands between her knees and let her head drop forward too, a brief, resigned gesture. Post-rez crazies. Had to be. He was the right type for it, she supposed, considering his relationship with the present was sketchy at the best of times. It was starting to look like they had been damned lucky that something or someone else had decided to throw in against the Vex.

First things first, though: she refused to court a repeat of the Mars debacle, which meant Euclid was just going to have to get over it. Due consideration was given to a gentle approach, and then immediately cast aside in favour of punching him in the head.

“Yarrow!”

“Noggin’s harder than my hand is,” she retorted to her Ghost, and gave the Warlock’s shoulder a firm shake. “Come on, hornhead, we got a job to do. You can wallow in creepy nostalgia late- whoa!”

Euclid’s head jerked up so quickly she narrowly missed being gored straight through the visor. A quick spreading of her arms saved her balance, and she resettled her weight on the balls of her feet to look up into blank, blazing shock.

Exactly where Euclid was gazing was ever the mystery, but he finally seemed to be seeing her if the steady throbbing of his bewilderment was any indication. A low rasping sound issued from his throat, mechanics grating, and then softly, uncertainly: “Y-Yarrow?”

“Who else?” she said, but any further conversation ended up strangled into a wordless squawk as she found herself suddenly yanked forward, his hands either side of her head, turning it left, right, up towards the green sky. Foreign fingers felt under her jaw, and then rapidly scuttled down to spread across her chest-plate, tracing some pattern only he could see across it. Manic babbling rushed over her, matching the frantic press of his hands.

“-but the rupturing was extensive, impossible to simply weld it together without additional materials and the left optic was completely unrecoverable-”

“What the hell, Euc-”

“-without even considering the damage done to the internal-

“Dammit, screwloose, let go!”

There was a quick, inelegant struggle and then she had him by both wrists and he fell silent, crouched there with her in the dirt. Distantly, she was aware of Aster humming fretfully over her shoulder.

“Okay,” Yarrow said with what she thought was an admirable degree of patience. “So you’re still a little scrambled. That’s fine. Take a moment. You’re at least remembering more about me than my name, right?”

“Yes,” he said instantly. “Yes, of course, I would never… I-I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to, er, to cross any sort of boundaries, I do realise that can be something of a bad habit, I simply wanted to…” His throatlights flickered. “To, to uh, ascertain… It’s simply that, I was under the impression you were…”

“Were what?” she said, and he ducked his head slightly as if dropping his gaze from her own. His fingers twitched, plucking aimlessly at the material of her gloves. “Euc.”

“Foolish of me,” he muttered. Gave a weak laugh. “I just – well, there’s rather undeniable evidence to the contrary, so it was a slip of the mind perhaps, but…somehow I thought you’d died.”

Yarrow closed off her eyes for a second to try and process what the actual issue was here. “That would be because I did, you drone. Occupational hazard.” Had flashbacks to their less resilient past thrown him? There was one piece she was still missing from this aggravating puzzle. “Euc, what happened? I carked it, you followed…”

A sharp noise interrupted her, and then her Ghost drifted in closer, into her line of sight, eye thinned to a narrow frown. “He didn’t die, Yarrow,” Aster said tersely. “And there wasn’t another fireteam.”

She turned her head and stared. At the shattered rock. At the voidburn scars. At the slaughtered army.

“Huh,” she said.

It wasn’t as though it was any great secret that Euclid was a capable Warlock – it had been her brass butt-cheeks that he’d pulled out of the fire on their first meeting, and since then she’d seen his technique on display enough times to understand how he’d survived alone on Venus for so long. This was more than one well-placed fistful of void energy, though; this was more than just holding his own until she could regroup. He’d single-handedly decimated them in less than five flat minutes. That wasn’t calm capability, that was…

She snapped back around to the other Exo. “Are you telling me you violently avenged my death because you forgot I could rez?”

“Er,” Euclid said.

“Unbelievable,” she said to nobody in particular. “So then what, you decided to sit down and wait for the next lot to show up so you could have a second go at it?”

“Not…not quite the intention, but…” He laughed again, a brittle sound in comparison to the warm chuckles she’d come to expect. A light tug at her arms reminded her that she was still holding onto her wrists, and he stood up when she released him, brushing jerkily at his robes and disturbing clouds of dust with every movement. “Foolish, as I said! Foolish to forget a, a basic facet of our contract with the Traveler, to allow oneself to be…be…. Heh. No mind. You’re in sound shape – you are in sound shape?” he said anxiously.

“All limbs accounted for,” she said, rising more slowly.

“Well then!” he said with hollow brightness. “We should – o-or you should, rather, if you’d prefer to continue alone, which I would completely understand given the uh, the difficulties faced so far, I mean you wouldn’t even have been struck if you hadn’t felt the need to take a risk on my behalf, and clearly you’re accustomed to working alone when it suits. And there are things I can- I should probably… If you need me, I’ll just be-”

Euclid gestured vaguely to his left and then slid past her to walk past her a few yards in that direction before stopping, head hung low.
The Hunter propped her hands on her hips, one finger idly tapping against her belt, and considered. She’d known Euclid’s mind worked in a slightly unpredictable manner – the way his impassioned, excited discussions on the planet’s wretched machine invaders sometimes tripped over the fine details, or the way he didn’t always seem to accurately remember the length of time that passed between her visits. Post-rez delirium was one thing, though; the fetal position, the locked-up rambling, the explosive distress were all, apparently, just Euclid being…Euclid.

“He’s unstable,” Aster said at her shoulder, echoing her thoughts.

“Name me a Guardian who isn’t,” she said.

“He’s unstable for a Guardian,” it insisted. “I’m not saying he’s not well-intentioned, or even that he’s not still a valuable asset – but you were out, Yarrow. You didn’t see how he-”

“I apologise,” a flat voice broke in; Aster jumped guiltily behind her head, and Yarrow glanced around to see the red shell of Euclid’s Ghost hovering nearby.

“To me?” she said. The little bot was more openly talkative than most she’d met, but it still only tended to talk to Euclid, chipping in the occasional corrections or remonstrations to adjust the flow of the Guardian’s chatter. There was no point in asking where it had been up until now; Euclid hadn’t exactly been responding to much external stimuli, so it made sense that it had been trying to get some result internally.

“Yes. For any inconvenience.”

“He just wiped out most of a Vex unit. I can live with that kind of inconvenience.” She paused a moment, then lifted her chin, silently gesturing to the Warlock. “He do that a lot? The freak-out thing?”

The Ghost seemed to understand that she meant the memory issues more than the rampant destruction; one front segment dipped briefly, like the downward twitch of a brow. “It’s…recurrent behaviour. Especially in moments of emotional stress. Again, I apologise.” It fixed her with a steady stare, then made something of a nodding movement and drifted away, heading back towards its Guardian.

“Bet you feel bad now,” she said over her shoulder, and Aster made a sulky whirring sound.

“Nothing they said invalidated my point,” it said, and then sighed. “But it’s your judgement in this that counts, Guardian, not mine. We’ll continue as you choose.”

With the mission, it meant. Self-insertion deeper into Vex territory than they’d gone before, and thanks to Euclid’s help the way was clear. Strange that there had been no counterattack yet, even if it had only been ten minutes or so since their initial defeat. Perhaps the strike had been enough to disrupt their network in this area, making the opening all the more valuable.

Or perhaps they simply didn’t see a need any longer.

She looked at the yellow-clad figure standing shadowed by the escarpment, silently shifting the set of his robes, his Ghost blinking back out of sight as she watched.

Ugh. Vex.

Euclid jumped violently as she slung her arm over his shoulders, and their heads clanked together slightly as he twisted towards her. “Yarrow-?”

“I’m calling it a day,” she declared loudly, dragging him forward with her. “Or a night, or mid-cycle, whatever counts on Venus. Getting flattened this early into a dive is a bad omen, and Az doesn’t like it if I cop more than one Hydra straight to the face in a single mission.”

“I can’t argue with that,” Aster said dryly behind them.

Euclid let himself be marched on for several paces before lifting a hand to grip the one dangling onto his chest, but he didn’t cast it off. “Are you sure- What about the objective, it must be of importance to the Tower to send you all the way out here directly.”

“It’s fine, screwloose. Not like the clankers are going anywhere we can’t find. We’ll come back for them another time.” She barked out a short laugh and added with sudden, savage good humour, “Because let me tell you this right now, Euc: I always come back.”

Her friend chuckled softly, and then outright laughed, and for the first time since her awakening his throatlights twinkled genuine mirth along with him.
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