‘Arrow!’ said the bowman. ‘Black arrow! I have saved you to the last! You have never failed me and always I have recovered you. I had you from my father and he from of old. If ever you came from the forges of the true king under the Mountain, go now and speed well!’
~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit
“Crota is dead!” The Tower and the City buzzed with the news. The Dark god of the Hive had fallen in his own realm. Nobody could speak of anything else it seemed. Except for Telrik: the Titan had, strangely enough, disappeared.
“He’ll be back,” said Farstride. We stood at the lip of the Tower hangar, looking down at the City below. “He just has some business to handle.”
“At least it’s not more Crucible training,” I said, unable to keep the //relief from my voice. “He went a little crazy there for moment.”
Farstride laughed. “We are all a little mad, Morc.”
“Have you met Miranda yet?”
I thought for a moment. “The Hunter? The 1 that looks like she sleeps in a swamp?”
“That’s the 1.”
“Yes. She joined the Future War Cult.”
“Now, no infighting in my unit,” said Farstride firmly.
“No infighting,” I promised. “At least, not from my end.”
“Hmm.” He sounded doubtful.
“I have enough feuds to settle without starting 1 in the Valherjar,” I assured him.
“Oh. You mean Fernanda-24 and the King’s Ransom.”
I waited for a landing ship to pass and the noise to die down before I replied. “Yes. It would seem the Warlock and her 2 henchman took a particular interest in us when Telrik was pushing us all in the Crucible. They wiped the floor with me several matches in a row.” I looked aside at Farstride. “I sense some animosity there.”
“You are not wrong,” admitted Farstride. “I blame Telrik for bringing it with him. We all have baggage though.” He shrugged. “Thankfully, Drake does not seemed fazed by it, and he is the only New Monarchy connection we have for now.” He pointed at the faded crescent of the moon on the horizon. “So, Crota, dead. What do you think?”
“Less Hive to deal with,” I said simply.
Farstride laughed again. “That is 1 way to look at it. But you know that there are nests all over the Cosmodrome now. And I’m not sure Hive gods really can die.”
“That is…not comforting,” I said.
“Point being, more training in the Crucible is not a bad idea. I want us all in regular teams for the 3 vs. 3 matches. I think I will assign you and Arianna to Telrik.”
“2 Hunters and a Titan?” I asked.
“We have only 2 Warlocks,” he said. “I want Drake to work with me and Miranda. And I think leaving Magnus free to fill in where needed makes more sense anyway.”
“All due respect,” I countered, “You are putting 2 Arc and 1 Solar together and keeping an entire team of Void wielders together. Is that not a bit unbalanced?”
“Actually, I am giving a talented supporter 2 highly mobile killers and keeping a support, defense, and offense specialist in a team together,” he replied. “There’s a method to the madness here, Morc. Trust me.”
I shrugged and fell quiet. Another ship roared into the landing zone, whipping the air into a gale with its passing.
“New regimen starts with the next Iron Banner,” said Farstride. “Until Telrik gets back, Magnus will fill in.”
“You want us in the Iron Banner?” I asked, //unsettled.
“It’s time to get stronger, Morc. So we’re going to meet the strongest and come out stronger. See you there.”
“We need to hold A!” shouted Farstride. A sniper round gouged out a chunk of stone next to his head and he sidestepped. Another round whipped through the Bravo flag we had established just moments before in the “A” zone and he moved again.
I crouched invisible a few meters away, looking for the reflection of the scope from the shooter. “He’s on the water tank,” I reported.
“Got him!” said Miranda. The wiry little Awoken hunter leaped over the lip of the huge metal dome the enemy sniper crouched on. I saw the sniper turn to meet the new threat, but he was too slow: there was a bright flash and he disintegrated into Void dust.
“Guardian down!” reported Ebony.
“We lost Magnus,” said Drake. “And I’m holding B all alone.”
“Morc, head center and reinforce Drake,” said Farstride.
“Don’t die,” quipped Drake. “We’re only down by 3-”
“Oh damn it,” I said, sprinting down the tunnel toward B. I could see the color changing on the Zone as I approached.
“Magnus, head for B,” said Farstride. “Miranda, help me out here.”
“Where’s Arianna?” I demanded as I charged into the B zone. A Warlock in red robes stood there. She raised her weapon at me and I rolled for cover. Just as I put stonework between myself and the Warlock an explosion cratered the zone.
“I was saving that for a special moment,” said Arianna. I looked around the corner to see her plant our flag in the ashes of the Warlock. I took a moment to pull up the roster and saw the enemy team had undergone a slight change: Fernanda-24 was the now exploded Warlock waiting to be revived.
“When did she join the match?” I asked with mild //exasperation.
“We’re up by 100,” said Drake. “Just hold this for 1 minute and it’s our match.”
As if on cue, the world filled with white noise and I stumbled away, blind.
“Rez! We got a rez on B!” shouted Arianna. “We-”
“No!” I turned on my heel and fired wildly in the direction of the Zone. Fire and heat filled my sensors and I jumped away, but it only grew worse. My vision was partly clear in seconds, but I knew it was already too late.
Light. I started to run.
“Weapons down, Guardians,” said Shaxx’s voice. “This fight is over.”
“110 points,” said Drake morosely. “That’s it.”
I didn’t even bother looking at the score. I simply holstered my weapon and looked for the exit. Arianna joined me a moment later. “Somedays,” she said as we walked out, “I really hate this Crucible game.”