"Dimentio came to me with an acquaintance he resurrected in Hyrule. A spirit of malice named Veran, who can apparently possess people. Fascinating. Dimentio recommended we have Veran act as a spy, my first inclination as well. We received confirmation that the League will be moving into Hyrule soon, and Veran will be able to sneak into the base using the body of one of the soldiers. I told her to keep a low profile once she was inside, and wait for further instructions. This spirit will be very useful…perhaps I was premature in mocking magic's capabilities."
At first it looked like Veran's threat was empty, but before Arbiter could fire his rifle the woman leapt into the air and transformed into a new form. It looked like a cross between an insect and a fairy, with green antennae and buzzing wings. She scowled at the two operatives before looking at the running Gordon and Masha, heading straight for the subpod bay that would get him to the bomb.
"Oh, no you won't!" Veran hissed before firing an energy projectile at the entrance to the bay. The blast connected with the doorway and exploded, causing the wall above it to collapse and block the way. Veran chuckled before taking a hit to her chest from Arbiter's rifle. Her hardened skin withstood the hit, and she quickly dodged away.
Gordon looked at the heavy rubble blocking his path. It would take too long to move this rubble, even with his gravity gun. Unfortunately, there weren't any other pod bases he knew about in the area.
Masha tugged his arm. "There's more subs in the other hotel, I think." She pointed in the direction of a darker hallway, the sign reading Athena's Glory. "Yeah, there is! At the base of the hotel, there's a bunch of 'em at another dock!"
Gordon glanced at the ragged green girl smiling up at him, and decided to follow up on her suggestion.
Veran tried firing another blast at Gordon, but she was abruptly interrupted by Arbiter's rifle. The dark fairy was jostled enough to allow Gordon and Masha to get out of her range of fire. Arbiter glanced very oddly at the target – that shot was direct hit, and this creature was only jostled? He didn't have time to pontificate on this further as Veran renewed her assault on him and Link.
A string of magic bolts fired out of her fingertips like bullets from a Gatling gun, sweeping the area and peppering it with holes. Link and Arbiter quickly dodged the attack, only to be grazed by a direct lighting bolt attack. Link countered with one of his crossbow bolts, which managed to pierce the skin of the fairy's chest. She yanked the arrow out with a growl of annoyance and switched tactics.
The dark fairy teleported herself out of the bistro, and the two operatives quickly followed her. Arbiter made a point of having them go out separate entrances, so she could only ambush one at a time if that was her plan.
Veran fired another blast at Link the minute he stepped outside, hitting him directly. The blast forced the youth to the ground, but he dodged the follow-up attack. The dark fairy snarled, not noticing Arbiter coming around the side to continue his assault.
She felt something hit her and stick, like a blob of goo on her back. She was just turning around to investigate this sensation when the Plasma Grenade exploded, cooking Veran with superheated plasma. Her insect wings disintegrated because of the explosion, and the assailant plummeted to the ground like an insect that hit the bug zapper.
Veran blinked to see Arbiter and Link standing over her, plasma rifle and crossbow at the ready. She cursed herself for going down so quickly, but then she remembered she had more tricks up her sleeve.
"Who sent you?" Arbiter growled.
"Let's just say some people want you out of their way...NOW!" Veran seemed to explode with energy, forcing Link and Arbiter to look away for a split second. Both of them fired their weapons at where Veran had been lying, surprising the sorceress and wounding her further. But she wasn't dead yet, and these two would have even more trouble bringing her down now...
When the two operatives looked back up, the dark fairy was gone. In it's place was an enormous armoured spider. Four sharp-pointed legs jutted out of a steely purple carapace. Veran's face had been replaced by a spider's eyes and fangs, all of it buried under more armour resembling organic steel. Thorns and spikes jutted out of the spider's body in all directions.
Magic, Arbiter groaned. This woman was defiantly from Hyrule.
The soldier didn't waste any time, firing several shots right at the spider's eyes. Veran was caught off-guard by their accuracy, but they barely pierced the hardened flesh. Then Link began to fire off his crossbolts, and these were even more accurate, pouring flame all over Veran's vision.
Veran quickly retaliated, spewing a ball of corrosive acid from her new mouth. Link leapt to the side, the acid burning a hole in the side of the bistro. Seizing the opportunity, Veran leapt to the ceiling to avoid further attacks. The monstrous spider clattered over the two operatives, her head tucked away to avoid further fire.
Arbiter's first instinct was to throw another grenade at the thing, but the monster was too high for even his throwing arm. The Sangheili dodged another acid attack, ruining the carpet Mario had put down recently. Once he was out of harm's way, the elite fired several more rounds of plasma at the beast's body. Unfortunately, Veran's new form had skin that could withstand the plasma, and the shapeshifter didn't even flinch at the attacks. Link's fire arrows were just as ineffectual, although an ice attack forced Veran to stop and shake off the ice for a moment.
Veran nearly laughed down at them before something hard penetrated her armour. A spear, thrown with enough force to dig deep into her skin. With the chain attached to his wrist, Pyramid Head pulled down sharply and sent the shapeshifter to the ground with a loud crash. Arbiter and Link glanced at the creature that had suddenly appeared before firing at what weak spots they could see in the monster's armour.
Veran's legs flailed out, knocking Link aside and dislodging the spear. Pyramid Head quickly reeled his weapon back, but Veran was able to get to her feet and charged the helmeted giant. Hissing like a cross between a snake and a wasp, the spider slammed right into Pyramid Head with the force of a train.
He moved back about an inch.
Two huge hands grabbed Veran by the jaws and flung her into a nearby wall. The wall disintegrated and the spider shrieked in pain. However, she still managed to get to her feet and leap back up to the ceiling before Arbiter could hit her with a grenade.
Veran saw the man in the helmet take spear in hand and quickly responded. Mounds of thick, sticky, magic-enhanced webbing poured from her mouth, binding the goliath's hand to his weapon. Unfazed, Pyramid Head began to tear the webbing away. Still, even with this man's immense strength, the powerful creature wouldn't be able to free his weapon for some time.
This gave Veran the window she needed, and she quickly turned her attention to Link and Arbiter. These pests would die tonight, she would make sure of that.
From a hidden corner in the area, two slitted eyes watched the fight and smiled. Now it was time to arrange one more meeting...
"When Link vanished, I was quite surprised to see him reappear in the midst of Athena's Glory, the apartment complex next to Mercury Suites. Now, the entrance to that building is blocked by a train car and debris Mario hasn't gotten around to removing. It's nearly impossible to get inside, but somehow he got in and out. When I asked him how he managed to leave, he pointed me to a hole at the top of the debris pile, impossible to climb to but not difficult to slide down from. He wouldn't say how he managed to get into the hotel, however."
Gordon wasn't quite sure what was going on. It felt like he had just woken up from a strange dream right to an even stranger reality. One of the soldiers returning from the Hyrule Campaign had cornered him, and after that it was a blur. And now here he was, being pulled away from a magic fairy with a ragged little green girl towards a bomb only he could defuse. Everything was happening so quickly. The little girl's chattered took his minds off his confusion.
"I used to go around the hotel all the time, looking for angels to kiss. It was a nice place, lots of lights and nice pictures. And the sub-pod bay below linked to all my favourite places. I remember making a drawing of a Big Sister, on a wall next to a room. Oh, and there was an old lady with a nice cat I'd talk to every day. It was a great place before…"
Gordon and Masha skidded to a halt in front of the wreckage. The entrance to Athena's Glory was completely blocked, a mountain of wreckage too steep to climb and too heavy to move.
"…Oh yeah." Masha gulped.
Gordon groaned. A dead end. Now what?
The little girl tapped her fingers nervously, not sure what to do. "Ummmmmmmmmm… I think…uh…I dunno, maybe we could head to the other bay again and then whawazat?"
Gordon heard it at the same time Masha did. A cat's meow from the other side of the rubble. Gordon didn't think that there were cats in Rapture. What was stranger was the fact that the meow was in clear English.
"Come on, right here. Come and get me, Tweedledee."
Masha blinked. "That was the kitty…who's Tweedledee?"
Gordon just shrugged. That was all he could do, really.
Before Masha could chime in again, they both heard something loud on the other side of the rubble. The roar of a whale. Masha gasped.
And then the wall exploded.
The wreckage fell apart, several pieces of masonry rolling out of the way. Gordon instinctively grabbed Masha and jumped out of harms way. The dust billowed up in the hallway, blinding the two of them for a second. The two of them coughed their lungs clear and rubbed their eyes to see what just happened.
The hallway leading to Athena's Glory was clear, and standing in the middle of the hallway was a huge man wearing a makeshift diver's outfit, sporting what looked like an open barrel on his shoulder. Masha's jaw dropped, and her eyes widened with wonder.
The moment it saw Gordon holding the Little Sister, the Rumbler's portholes flashed red and it let out another whale-like bellow. Sensing that this encounter was going to become hostile, Gordon carried Masha around a corner to cover. Seconds after he had ducked around the corner, the missile Rumbler fired blew it to pieces.
The Big Daddy ran towards it's target, the ground shaking with every heavy step it took. Gordon had to roll out of the way of a powerful fist crashing into the floor. A diving boot nearly crushed his ribs, and he suddenly realized he lost track of Masha.
He couldn't look up to find her, as the Rumbler was firing his missiles at the floor right at him. He got up to run just as the RPGs hit the floor. One of them blew a hole right through the concrete, revealing the pipes beneath. A burst of hot steam blasted the Rumbler in the face, blinding him for a nanosecond.
Gordon ran as fast as he could down the hall, but a piece of masonry dislodged by the explosion tripped him. The panicked scientist fell to the floor in an undignified manner. He rolled over to see his attacker ready another missile…
Masha suddenly ran between Gordon and the Rumbler, flailing her arms.
"No, Daddy! I LIKE Dr. Quiet! It's OK! Don't hurt him!"
Daddy?! This day just kept getting more and more confusing for Gordon. And he had seen a lot in his life.
The man in the diver's suit kept his hand on the trigger, staring at the little girl before him. Nobody moved for a moment, an uncertain stillness in the air.
Eventually, the Rumbler's portholes turned a neutral yellow again, and he took his hand off the trigger. Gordon sighed with relief, and steadily got to his feet.
Masha ran up to the huge man in the ragtag armour, wrapping her tiny arms around him. Her eyes were filled with happy tears. "I didn't...I didn't think you were...were you looking for me, daddy?" she babbled, completely overwhelmed.
Gordon was a bit overwhelmed himself, but he suddenly remembered the bomb in the control centre. Shaking his head clear, the scientist turned to the now-clear hallway. Sure enough, there were signs pointing to a sub-pod bay in the bottom level. Leaving the Little Sister and Big Daddy, Gordon bolted down the hallway. He had to hurry. On his way, Gordon caught Masha speaking again.
"Come on Daddy...Everyone's gonna wanna meet you!"
"With Mercury Suites repaired and the Sinclair Deluxe...liveable, we have enough room for the soldiers and operatives Arbiter's expecting. I told Sofia about the rubble blocking the way to another hotel, the Athena's Glory. With a strong enough explosion, we could open up a new building. Arbiter said no, though...we got enough living space now, focus elsewhere. I'll have to get back to that, though...from what I heard, the hotel was a nice place."
Before Pyramid Head could free his weapon, Veran fired more blasts of acid at Link and Arbiter. None of them hit, although a splash of acid ate a hole in Link's tunic. The shapeshifter scuttled around the ceiling, moving too quickly to get a good shot at her weak points. Almost every plasma blast and crossbow bolt hit the armour.
One burst from the rifle got Veran in her eye, and she stumbled back while keeping her grip on the ceiling. Link reloaded his crossbow, and hit one of the spider's legs with a white arrow. Ice suddenly encased the appendage, causing the shapeshifter to lose her balance further. Arbiter hit her with another accurate plasma bolt, and the spider lost her grip. The ice kept her from falling to the floor, but Veran was left dangling on the roof like a piñata.
The spider was set upon by more arrows and gun blasts, causing her to scream in pain and frustration. Veran tried to shake herself free of the ice, but it was stronger than it looked and kept her tethered to the ceiling. More and more attacks damaged her carapace, opening up more holes in her armour. The ice cracked and broke with a loud snap, sending the dark fairy plummeting to the floor.
Despite the shock of hitting the ground from her height, Veran was able to scuttle back on her feet and leap back to the ceiling. The creature breathed hard...she wouldn't last long at this rate. Arbiter and Link kept up their attacks, firing wherever her armour showed a chink. Pyramid Head was almost finished freeing his spear. She'd have to change tactics.
She fired another acid ball, but just as Link was moving to the side she fired her webbing right where he was moving to. Link suddenly had his feet fused to the floor. While he tried to free them using his sword, Arbiter's arm was tied to the wall with more webs. The Sangheili strained to free his arm, and turned his weapon back to Veran.
Unfortunately, the last round from his rifle didn't hit her.
Veran chuckled to herself. "With you out of the way, nothing will stop Giygas. Nothing will stop us!" The spider prepared another ball of acid while her targets were still trying to free themselves, unable to dodge this one...
Suddenly, something flew right up to her face and exploded. The acid she was preparing splattered all over her face, eating away at her own armour.
"GOTCHA!" The incredibly chipper voice of Masha Lutz shouted out. Everyone turned to see the new addition to the fight. Link was shocked to see Masha hopping up and down on the shoulder of the Big Daddy that had nearly killed him before.
Rumbler looked up at the spider on the wall, not sure what it was but knowing that Masha didn't like it. "Hit her again, Daddy! I HATE icky spiders! Especially when they're big!"
Arbiter's expression became somewhat contorted, but he decided not to question their new ally at the moment. The commander focused on freeing his arm first, tearing at the webbing with his free hand. Link was able to cut through his bonds with the Master Sword. Pyramid Head was just getting the last piece of web off his spear.
The armour fell off Veran's head, clattering to the floor as it disintegrated. The unexpected arrival, and the fact her own attack had been turned against her so easily, enraged Veran even further. The huge spider snarled and let out a stream of acid, tearing at the walls and floor of the Bistro.
Link and Arbiter were able to get out of the stream's way, just as it wore holes in the floor. Before it could reach Rumbler and Pyramid Head, the Big Daddy pulled the hinge on his shoulder again. Another heat-seeking missile flew into the air, heading straight for Veran's face.
The blast hit Veran straight on, destroying what remained of her insect head. The force of the explosion sent the shapeshifter toppling to the ground, landing flat on her back with her legs flailing in pain.
Pyramid Head had just finished getting the last few strands off his spear, and the colossus stormed towards the fallen fairy. Link ran up to Arbiter and used his sword to free his commander's arm. Masha giggled and hugged Rumbler's helmet.
The man in the iron helmet walked right up to Veran's head. The insect head had broken off completely, revealing Veran's more human form. She looked up balefully at the giant standing over her.
Any threats she might've spoken were silenced with Pyramid Head's spear.
With the sorceress dead, her magically-created body disintegrated into shadows and dust. Soon, nothing remained of Veran except the damage she had caused and a bloodstain on Pyramid Head's weapon. Arbiter shook his head incredulously at the sight as he brushed off the last few strands of webbing. "Magic." He growled.
"Hey, Mr. Woof!"
Link turned immediately, catching Arbiter's attention. Both of them looked at the huge man with the shoulder cannon and the little girl patting him on the head.
"This is daddy! Can you believe it? I thought he was dead! Isn't it amazing?" she asked eagerly.
Link had to smile. "Yes. It is."
"Indeed." Arbiter sighed. The commander groaned inwardly. Yet another fight dealing with forces he didn't understand. And now this...girl, which confused and troubled him at the same time. Who was she? WHAT was she? Why was she helping them? And her 'daddy'...should he be suspicious of his help?
Regardless, a victory after all that had happened was very refreshing.