EHR 03 – Self Destruct

Milliara

For the second time in as many days, Milliara stood in an airlock, waiting to reach the drop point. However, this time she was not alone. Behind her stood a motley fireteam made up of whoever could still hold a weapon. Qunari, elves, a dwarf… even what looked to be a surviving Templar.

The feeling of deja-vu was stifling.

“On approach to the Breach,” the pilot warned. “Drop in 5.”

Milliara’s ears itched, uncomfortably pinned back by the human-shaped helmet she wore in lieu of her own. She watched through the porthole as debris passed by, now lit that horrible green by the light emitted from the tear in reality. She didn’t want to be here.

She wanted to be home.

Away from this hellish place.

“Remember. Focus on getting the elf to the Breach. That is priority. May the Maker receive those who fall today,” the Seeker said. From the corner of Milliara’s eye, she could see the tall woman make the sign of the Maker, blessing the fire team. The Templar, his once-gleaming helmet scuffed and scorched, nodded and made the sign back to the Seeker, as did the Qunari who stood behind him.

“Drop point in five… four…” the pilot said, his voice starting to crackle with static.

“I’ll get to the Breach,” Milliara said into the team commline. She rolled her shoulders, trying to shake off the feverish burn that was creeping up her left arm. “Don’t you worry about me, Seeker.”

“Opening Airlock-”

The dropship shuddered, and metal screeched as a shade clawed it’s way along the ship to stare into the porthole, it’s glowing green eyes fixing onto Milliara’s own. A mouth too large with too many teeth opened in an unheard hiss, lost in the vacuum of space. Milliara punched the airport release and the door slid open, carrying the shade with it to the side. It scampered toward the airlock, claws ready to tear, only to find where an elf once was, now existed the barrel of a flak pistol.

Milliara squeezed the trigger, and watched the shade’s head snap back and shake violently. Black globules spattered out as it bled from the neat hole she had placed in the things head. The Templar beside Milliara lunged forward, driving the bayonet of his rifle into the thing’s chest. It shuddered, and went still. The Templar scraped it off his rifle against the airlock doorway, and nodded Millie’s way.

“You,” she said, pointing at the Templar. “Keep up.”

Without waiting for a reply, the elf launched herself from the airlock. Kicking on the thrusters of her suit, she surveyed the debris field. Lights flashed as her fire team opened up on the swarm of demons ahead of her. Some, shades like the one who had attacked the dropship, were torn apart by the onslaught. Others, the glowing monsters of wrath, shuddered and turned towards this new enemy.

One swiped out with a molten paw at Milliara as she passed, forcing her to adjust her thrusters and dodge under the rage demon’s arm. The heat it radiated warmed her skin through vacuum and suit both. If she let it grab her, it could melt something important on her suit. Milliara didn’t feel like suffocating. Not today, and not with a fever already causing her to sweat through her undersuit.

Twisting, Millie levelled her pistol at the Rage Demon’s hand. Squeezing off two shots, she watched the flak shred the molten flesh. Good. The Templar was on her heels, and smashed his shield into the Demon, sending it careening off to the side. Wasting no more time, Milliara kicked her thrusters to full burn. The sooner they got to the Breach, the sooner she could try to stop the flood of demons.

The Breach was massive, flickering and twisting like a living thing as it spat out Demons and green light. As they approached, the Breach flared blindingly bright. Static washed out the commlink as energy surged, and Milliara bit back a scream as her hand flared in an equally bright burst of pain. The thrusters shut off, and Milliara curled around her arm, tumbling in space until something caught and steadied her.

Blinking back starbursts, she looked over at the Breach to see a massive pair of hands reach through, appearing to be made of thorns. static crackled over the fingers as the demon pushed it’s way through the Breach, birthing itself into the physical world. It’s mouth parted in a grin and it laughed.

Pride Demon.

A chill ran down Milliara’s spine, cooling the feverish sweat there. Millie swallowed, and glanced at the person who had grabbed her when she’d lost control. The Templar, though they were joined by the Seeker and the remains of the fire team. They had lost half their number.

The Templar pulled Millie behind them, deploying their shield in a blaze of golden energy. The Pride demon, it’s psychic laugh still echoing through the fireteam’s heads, lifted it’s hands to gather electric charge.

Lifting her left hand, Milliara grit her teeth. Energy arced out from the breach, electrifying her and searing away any dullness the fever or medication had given her. The pain and pressure built until the arc of green light snapped, throwing out another burst of green light.

The demon screamed at the same time Milliara did, but the elf’s was one of rage.

She had been here before. She had done this before. How or when, she wasn’t sure, but this demon, this Breach, they were familiar memories. She just had to do what she had done before…

had she done this before?

Dizzy and dripping with sweat, the feverish elf pulled a pair of vibroblades from her back. They lit up, the faint buzz against her palms was comforting compared to the pulsing heat of the mark that tied her to the breach.

Milliara darted toward the demon, teeth bared.

Heroes

Clustered around a screen, three veterans of the fifth blight watched as the Breach flared bright and backlit the small figures in front of it. The Spymaster watched in silence, pressing a single knuckle to her lips. The Queen held on to the Hero’s wrist tightly, holding her cousin in place. A life of luxury had done nothing to soften Rythlen’s iron grip.

“I should be out there,” Nathyara hissed, but Rythlen’s grip stayed strong. “She’s going to get herself killed. There aren’t enough of them to hold off that demon!”

“If she does die, it will be in service to us all,” Leliana murmured. Then, quietly, “oh.”

Both Rythlen and Nathyara looked back to the screen to see one of the smaller figures connected to the Breach by an arc of green light that grew brighter with each heartbeat. The Breach seemed to pulse once, then the video feed was washed out with green light.

Both cousins stared as the feed slowly cleared. The demon seemed to be hurt, or at the very least on the defensive as the fire team moved in.

“She’s… not a mage, is she?” Rythlen asked Leliana, though her eyes stayed on the video. “I thought magic only presented at a young age?”

Nathyara watched, trying to understand. That looked like magic, but nothing that she remembered about the elf had hinted that Milliara could so much as create a spark without the use of a mechanical lighter. Affecting a tear in reality was… that was magic, wasn’t it? The thought made her scowl. Nathyara didn’t like surprises and didn’t believe in coincidences. Today had been full of both.

“It is not her, but the mark on her hand,” Leliana said. “So am I led to believe. Our information is limited, perhaps after the Breach is closed we will have time to find out what truly happened.”

Nathyara met her cousin’s eyes, then reached out to pull one of the comm headsets to her.

“Don’t you dare die, do you hear me?” The fire team hadn’t replied to any of her other messages, and Nathy had only heard static back. But that didn’t stop her.

“Are you okay?” Rythlen asked, resting her other hand on Nathy’s arm. “I know you two were… complicated back then.” Nathyara hated the look of concern on her cousin’s face. She huffed, shoulders straight.

“Of course,” she lied. “But if Milliara dies, we’ll never find out what happened at the conclave.” If she died, so did a wealth of information, and former friend or not, Nathy wasn’t about to let that kind of intelligence slip through her fingers. Not if it meant getting word about another blond elf. One that mattered far, far, more than the one who was out in the debris field.

On screen, the Demon shuddered, trying to fend off small arms fire and the bright edges of vibro blades.  Again and again the firetime hammered away at it, until…. it stopped moving.

“Here we go,” Leliana said. “Maker, let this work. Please.”

One of the figures, Milliara, lifted a hand as if to wave to the drone that was filming the fight. Once more, green light arced from the Breach to the small woman, glowing bright enough to burn out sections of the screen that Nathyara was watching. The Breach flashed and imploded on itself. The screen went snowy with static, each comm screeching with feedback as the energy shockwave hit the station.

Then.

“…Haven HQ?” the voice was prickled with static, but audible. “Seeker Pentaghast reporting mission completion.”

Leliana adjusted her own commset, and looked over at the cousins.

“The Breach… is it closed?”

There was a delay before the Seeker replied, and Nathyara held her breath, taking Rythlen’s hand and squeezing it. Was Ferelden safe now? A tide of demons would have overwhelmed the wartorn planet.

“Closed, for no. Not gone. Requesting evac and medical support. Four injured, three dead.”

“Sending them your way now,” Leliana hesitated before switching to a different commline.

“Milliara?”

There was no response.

“Millie, are you there? Are you alright?”

Nothing.

Nathyara’s grip on Ry’s hand tightened.