Sentinel Zyan stood atop the vast white walls of Fort Tarsis, patrolling up and down with others he had never met before. This was his first time in Fort Tarsis and only his second day. But the legendary bastion of Fort Tarsis had not disappointed in any shape or form. This was where all the action happens at such a fast pace compared to Antium. Zyan loved his home city of Antium and had served there his entire career as a Sentinel. Like most young men across Bastion he dreamt of being a Freelancer, flying throughout the frontier sounded like such a thrill. Nothing came close in terms of excitement and danger but the duty and purpose that hung around the neck of a Sentinel was too strong of a career to turn down. Antium was his home. It was what he loved the most besides his family. He had to serve and protect Antium as a Sentinel, in service to the Emperor. He had served for several years in the stunning city of Antium, keeping the peace, law and order throughout its streets and atop its walls but civilisation had been shaken to its core.
The latest Heart of Rage event and Cataclysm turned the once backwater town of Fort Tarsis into the focus of everyone across all Bastion. It was the epicentre for everything that threatened and protected the people who tried to live a peaceful and innocent life. Tension had not been this high since the fall of Freemark to the evil Dominion. If civilisation was to proceed as normal away from the deadly frontier, Fort Tarsis could not fall to anyone…
Zyan had gladly accepted his orders when drafted into a garrison of Sentinels being sent to bolster the forces in Fort Tarsis under the command of Commander Vule. Antium was responding and the veteran Sentinel was happy to protect and serve in any capacity needed. He lived by the code without question.
“We protect the Royal House of Bastion and all its subjects.
We are the arm of the Royal House of Bastion, which must be obeyed.
We bring justice, for without justice there is no order.
And without order, there is anarchy.”
Zyan stood looking out to the beauty of Bastion’s mountains. A sight that never got old for the regular residents of Fort Tarsis. It was a marvel to the Sentinel. He activated his faceplate on the ranger javelin that encased his body, exposing his face. The ice-cold air kissed his cheeks and nose making them go numb after a few minutes, but the weather didn’t bother him. Being on the frontier was unique and he would enjoy it as best he could while here. It was Icetide Season. A special occasion for all. Sentinels patrolled the walls. Freelancers launched from their enclave undertaking multiple different tasks. Some highly dangerous that probably would consume a life at some point while others raced each in their Time Trial Games. Antium was amazing this time of year but not like this. This was a beautiful chaos of duty and enjoyment all rolled into one.
He breathed in the crisp air filling up his lungs and then the call came across his communications device. Summoning him back into Fort Tarsis to receive his next set of orders.
Zyan approached the operating quarters of the Sentinel known as Brin. A squad of armed Sentinels stood in front of the tough Commander Vule and Sentinel Brin. Zyan holstered his Defender assault rifle on his hip. Vule spoke with authority as he addressed the squad. The majority of them were from the Antium garrison with a couple of Fort Tarsis servicemen thrown into the mix. The orders were simple, increase the patrols in certain areas coordinating with two other patrol units in order to scare off an Outlaw infestation amassing in the frontier. Supposedly their target was a Strider full of cargo. Typical targets for those criminals and thugs. Every other squad involved in increasing patrols across Bastion’s frontier had already been deployed beyond the great white walls of Fort Tarsis. Zyan and his outfit was the last to be shipped out. The two other patrol units they were coordinating with had already made great strides in getting to their destination in the northern sector of Bastion. The Strider under potential threat was near the Garrison of Velathra, an old headquarters for a perished contingent of Sentinels that had been assigned from Antium. Zyan knew the story of what happened there and the horrible loss of the Dirx family who had dedicated their lives to the services of Sentinel life.
The squad of Sentinels exited from the side of the Memorial Gate. The huge white gate of Fort Tarsis that stood strong and impenetrable just like its walls. The squad codenamed “Curian” headed north towards the Garrison of Velathra in hope they would find the other patrols and the Strider intact. The sentry turrets and Sentinel guards above the walls watched over them until they were no longer in sight. The protection of Fort Tarsis was no longer an option. The squad journeyed across Bastion ready and watching every aspect of their surroundings. Patrolling with guns at the ready knowing that danger could be around every corner or in every tunnel. Bastion was beautiful even in this time of year, Icetide. Snow covered the ground as snowflakes continued to fall around them. Waterfalls still flowed gracefully, almost freezing when the temperature reached its lowest. Luckily their ranger javelin suits could handle the temperature nicely. While encased in the suits they did not feel any severe temperature drops or spikes in the weather. The armoured men and women patrolled with intent towards their destination, avoiding Wyverns soaring overhead and Scar incursions nearby. They had their orders from Commander Vule and it would be wise to avoid any distraction. They all knew if they were distracted unnecessarily away from reaching the Strider it could result in a negative outcome.
Zyan kept within the centre of the squad. A trio of Freelancers blasted through the sky above them. Only Zyan diverted his attention getting a quick glance at the two multi-coloured rangers accompanied by one hulking colossus. Zyan had never fought with a colossus but he could imagine the safety and raw brutality he would feel by his side if it ever came to pass. Zyan loved his ranger as it was the staple javelin suit across the entire Sentinel faction, but he did sometimes wonder why they didn’t utilise the colossus machines in their most defended areas. Their strength and power would be extremely valued, but it just wasn’t the way of the Sentinels. Rangers were their way and the other more exotic suits would be left to the Freelancers. Sentinel Caleb, commanding officer of this patrol squad, turned to see Zyan looking at the Freelancers above.
“Stay focused Zyan!”
Caleb was a veteran Sentinel. By the book in every way. He had come from Antium just like Zyan. Caleb had a family history throughout the Sentinels. He was the latest in his family line to serve and protect. He demanded that every Sentinel under his command to serve with absolute duty and honour. Zyan snapped back into focus as the patrol continued towards their destination. So far there had been no immediate threat that would distract them from their mission objective, but this was Bastion. This was one of the most unpredictable places across Coda.
By now the squad had bypassed the Watchtower of Arath and approached a hotspot they were all aware of and had been briefed on before leaving Fort Tarsis. Tower Road. The attitude amongst the group shifted. This was enemy territory. Weapons at the ready, the pace of their walking slowed slightly as they entered the naturally formed archway. The elements of this Icetide season seemed to not be able to reach here. Light from the sky was limited as it pierced through only a handful of openings. Temperature rose ever so slightly as fire torches illuminated the pathway. But that wasn’t all that it illuminated. The Sentinels from Fort Tarsis were prepared for what they could see, but Antium’s servicemen did not. Scrap was everywhere. Pieces of Striders stripped away from their body. This place was a junkyard, Zyan thought to himself. That is when he noticed something along with all his fellow soldiers. Busted javelin suits laid scattered across the outskirts of the pathway. Sentinels and Freelancers alike. Some were open and just a shell, others were not. Pieces of the javelins suits were blown apart, placed on spikes like some sort of trophy or warning. It was clear who’s handywork this was.
“Filthy Scars!” said Sentinel Caleb, gritting his teeth behind his suit visor. This was common for Scar activity. Scars may not have attacked or been common around Antium, but Caleb had studied many journals and reports referring to these creatures. He knew their vile nature towards everything across Bastion. Nothing was beyond their limits, if they wanted to scrap, consume or destroy something they would do so. Everyone knew about the stories of their incursion when Fort Tarsis was expanding to make the frontier a prosperous place for all who lived here and wanted to live here.
“Stay focused, stay vigilant.” Said Caleb knowing that the Scars could pop up at any moment, but none did.
A few Scar scout bodies were scattered around the edges but upon inspection they weren’t from any recent battle. As the squad reached the half-way point of Tower Road, where they would depart onto another path leading to the Garrison of Velathra, gunfire and explosions could be heard in abundance. It appeared to be coming from their destination. No orders were needed as they picked up the pace. Putting their suits mechanical legs to work they raced up the slope and towards the fighting. What they found alarmed them as a hulking Titan’s fire enraged fist was smacking into the side of the Strider, they were originally tasked with protecting against a bunch of Outlaws. They were nowhere to be seen. The other squads of Sentinels had already laid siege to the Titan phenomenon but with an unknown degree of success. A Titan didn’t show damage or pain like another adversary in Bastion. Its power was monumental as it continued to pound down on the Strider. Rings of fire emanated from its body keeping the Sentinels at bay. Zyan looked around to see a handful of Sentinels strewn across the battlefield. They had succumbed to the beasts might.
Sentinel Caleb threw his soldiers into the fight coordinating with the other patrols. Armed with their Defender assault rifles and Scout marksman rifles they unleashed a swarm of bullets into the thick stone shell of the Titans body. It appeared that the creature just absorbed everything they threw at it. Grenades were thrown whenever an opening appeared. Caleb ordered his squad to reserve their blast missiles until a significant opening revealed itself. There was no point in wasting all their firepower at once. Zyan’s heart rate intensified as the Titan punched through the Striders front left mechanical leg, snapping it completely in half making the walker tumble to the ground with an almighty crash shaking the ground around it. Dirt and rock spilled into the air temporarily clouding their vision around them. But it wasn’t long before the great Titan came back into view, however this time its attention was firmly on the Sentinels.
“Zyan check on the Strider! Get any survivors to safety!” ordered Caleb as he took the rest of his squad into a new firing position that would hopefully inflict some sort of damage on the beast.
Zyan sprinted with all the energy he had within his body, hoping that the javelin suit would bear some of the pressure on his shoulders. Zyan stepped over bodies of his fellow Sentinels, rubble and debris in order to reach the downed Strider. Power was barely surging through the walker but what power there was sparked out from lose cables and wiring that became exposed during the attack. The door to the cargo hold was completely blocked off by the rocky terrain. Zyan activated the panel in an attempt to see if there was a gap large enough for him to see if any passengers were inside, but with the power limited the large metal door could not push itself open. Zyan continued to scavenge through the wreckage frantically in order to help anyone he could. His attention was completely away from the battle but the noise of weapons firing, grenades exploding and the Titan slamming down its fists was too much to ignore entirely. But this lack of attention was his downfall. Zyan saw an Arcanist laying on the ground who had been thrown from a damaged opening in the Striders hull. He called out to the person, but no response came. The Arcanists highly decorated facemask concealed whether he was conscious but all the other signs across his motionless body indicated he was unconscious or most likely dead.
Zyan’s heart felt heavy as he felt like a failure. His duty had not been fulfilled as a Sentinel. He turned to see if the battle had progressed. The Titan was still clearly winning. The number of still active Sentinels could not match the Titans raw strength head on. Zyan noticed a small detachment of Sentinels had moved the creatures attention away from the others when he heard Sentinel Caleb shout with the full ferocity of his lungs “Fire!”. An opening exposed itself on the Titans back as fire and energy spewed out from it. It was astonishing to see this pure form of power surging within. The Sentinels held up their wrists holding steady as multiple blast missiles pierced through the air striking the beast at his most vulnerable position. The Titan stumbled slightly at the impact. Zyan cheered throwing his clenched fist in the air but the cheers were cut short as the Titan regained its stance before exploding in a fit of rage. Ring after ring of an inferno pushed back the Sentinels further and further, setting the surrounding grass and trees ablaze. Its fiery strength was enough to overcome all the snow and ice of Icetide. Zyan’s face looked in horror beneath his helmet as the colossal beast thrashed out with its fire-fused fists smashing all in its wake. The fiery eyes looked straight at him as a fist came crashing down missing Zyan by a matter of inches. Before he could react the earth beneath him gave way crumbling into dust. The ground swallowed him and parts of the Strider into a cavern below. Zyan struck the floor back first. His javelin absorbed most of the impact, but it could do little for boulders falling from above. Rock after rock pummelled him into the ground knocking him unconscious.
There was no telling how long Zyan had been knocked out for. Everything was black. His eyes firmly closed but a scraping sound could be heard in the back of his mind. It got louder and louder as he regained full consciousness. An excruciating pain thrust itself up his left leg. It was unbearable. All of senses sparked to life. Eyes opened only to notice his right eye was exposed. Part of his visor had cracked off the helmet. He scanned the area as he was still on his back looking up to see the interior rock formations of a tunnel. Through the pain he noticed that he was moving, a few feet at a time. Every time he stopped it would jolt his leg causing more pain to shoot through his nervous system. Arching his neck slightly to sit up he saw a Skorpion worker dragging him through the tunnel. Its pincers grasped firmly round his leg. Zyan blinked twice worrying that he was seeing things, but he was not. The Skorpion was really there. And a serious threat. He looked round for his assault rifle trying not to move too much so the bug would not notice him alive/awake. The rifle was nowhere to be seen. He’d clearly left it behind. Panic started to set in. He tried to focus through the pain and the panic, his arms began to flail as he attempted to grab anything that could help him. The Skorpion quickly became aware dropping his leg and lunged at the Sentinel. Zyan with all his force punched the creature as it launched at him catching it off guard forcing it to slightly stumble to its side giving Zyan a few precious seconds to react. His situation was becoming more dire by the moment. His leg couldn’t move so the possibility of him making an escape was nowhere to be seen. He struggled to find a rock or something to apply some serious damage to the Skorpion. Then something triggered in his brain. His sidearm he thought. He reached down to his thigh and felt the grip of his heavy pistol. Relief surged through his body filling him with a touch of hope. Yanking it from his thigh he aimed it straight at the once again lunging Skorpion and fired multiple rounds into its body. Blood sprayed as the bullets exited the bug. Zyan watched as life drained from the Skorpion.
His body relaxed as best it could before he propped himself up against the tunnel wall, using all the energy he could in his undamaged leg. He glanced round to see very little that could help him escape. Now everything had calmed down the coldness that filled the air struck his partially exposed lips and cheeks where the javelin suit helmet cracked away. Zyan kept his pistol close as he knew that danger was probably nearby. As he looked around the cave system, he saw remains of Skorpion eggshells, acid leaked out on to the floor and parts of a hive membrane clearly indicating that Zyan had fallen into a connected cave system that the Skorpions called home. As the adrenaline began to die down his broken leg became unbearable. His suit protected it and kept it in place as best as physically possible but there was no telling the state it was in.
“This is Sentinel Zyan does anyone hear me?” he called out through his internal radio hoping that someone would hear him. But no one did. No one responded. Zyan didn’t know if he was too far underground or where he was exactly. Worst of all he had no idea if Sentinel Caleb and the rest of his patrol unit had perished under the fury of the Titan.
There was only one last thing Zyan could do. But it was a last resort, Sentinel training made you make sure you understood that.
The decision didn’t just involve him, it involved all his brothers and sisters in the Sentinels as well. But Zyan had no choice he had to activate his emergency transponder. The signal emanated from his position underground. The problem was this transponder alerted everyone listening in to communication frequencies. Freelancers, Sentinels, Scars, Dominion and Outlaws alike could all pick up on his position. All Zyan could do was hope that the right people were listening and that another battle would not activate just because of his emergency S.O.S. Zyan waited. That is all he could do. Thoughts swirled around his mind. Should he have stayed in Antium? Was he not worthy of a Sentinel life? Should he have chosen another lifestyle? Zyan loved being a Sentinel. He had proved himself worthy through his training but Zyan had always been stationed in Antium. Combat was not a common occurrence at the capital. Especially none with a Titan or Skorpion involved. Time passed by but Zyan could not accurately keep track for how long.
Every handful of minutes Zyan could hear scuttling around and screeches coming from the direction the now dead Skorpion was dragging him. He was surprised that no more of the bugs had converged on his position after he had opened fire earlier in order to save his life. Gunfire was known to attract the bugs when in close proximity. Tiredness began to set in as his body struggled to cope with his injuries. His leg was broken that was for sure, however he had no idea if there was any other damage he could not detect at present. Zyan did everything he could to keep himself awake and aware of his surroundings. The last thing he wanted was to wake up to another Skorpion dragging him away to be eaten. But his energy was low, and his temperature was dropping. His suit was no longer airtight. The damage had made sure of that. But this temperature drop was more than just a busted javelin suit. It was Icetide season, temperature drops were normal, but this intense drop meant night had drawn in. It was daytime before he fell into the tunnel, who knows how long he had been here. Worry set in. His transponder had been active for quite some time and nothing. Zyan accepted his fate. He relaxed his arm resting his pistol on his outstretched leg. His head fell backward bumping it against the rock. Closing his eyes, he breathed steadily and just waited.
The walls began to shake knocking Zyan out of his relaxed state. He looked round but saw nothing. Small stones dropped from the ceiling and dust fell all around him. Beyond the dust flashes of light appeared down the tunnel. He could hear someone call out. It was slightly muffled, but he could make it out. “Sentinel Zyan!”
Zyan had little energy to respond. Remembering his pistol, he pulled the trigger firing one round into the wall chipping away at the tunnel interior. The bang of the gun rippled down the tunnel signalling to whoever was looking for him. A figure appeared. Zyan shivered within his suit. His exposed portion of his face felt numb. His eyes directed themselves over to the figure to see a heavily customised ranger javelin standing before him. It was clearly no Sentinel. But Zyan cared not as relief coursed through his veins as he could finally feel hope in his current situation. “Sentinel Zyan?” asked the mechanised man before him.
Zyan scanned over the javelin suit with his eyes noticing the unique armour pieces and colour scheme. “Yes, that is I.” said Zyan. His breath could be seen in the cold air. “You. You are the Freelancer, aren’t you? The one who stopped the Heart of Rage?”
“Yeah that’s me. We picked up your beacon. From what I can see, you are lucky to be alive.” said the Freelancer. “We have a cargo Strider waiting for you. Along with your squad.”
He was so happy to hear those words. His squad was alive. The Titan must have been defeated. All of this had not been for nothing he thought to himself trying to find some comfort for his ordeal. He felt honoured to have met the Freelancer, but wished it was under different circumstances. Tales of the Freelancers’ heroics had swirled round Antium several times. He was a legend. The Freelancer supported Zyan’s weight, at his request, and hobbled out of the Skorpion hive where other Freelancers encased in colossus javelin suits had reigned fire on the bugs.
The Sentinel appreciated everything they had done for him within these brief moments. He couldn’t wait to see the great white walls of Fort Tarsis and finally feel a sense of safety away from this awful but normal experience of Bastion.
Thank you for reading this short Anthem story. It has been a pleasure to write this in the amazing world of Anthem. Please leave any comments you wish, all are appreciated.