Day 358 – Part 2 (Finale)

“Fight on, brave knights! Man dies, but glory lives! Fight on; death is better than defeat! Fight on brave knights! for bright eyes behold your deeds!”
Walter Scott


I sat down next to the silent Telrik, my hood drawn up. We watched the crowds shuffle by in the City from our vantage point, a small walkway bridge that gave us a good view of the Tower and the Traveler. “I’m sorry,” I said finally. “That last 1 was my fault.”

I heard the Titan’s armor creak in a motion I took to be a shrug. “It’s the Crucible. It happens.”

“It’s not everyday we lose to your rivals,” I said.

“They’re not…” He paused. “Well, I suppose they are.”

“You’ve never said why.” I turned my head to look at him. “Why do the King’s Ransom hate you so much?”

“Short answer is, I embarrassed them in front of the New Monarchy. Fernanda-24 and Syphis specifically.”

I waited a moment, but nothing else was forthcoming. “And the long answer?”

“They murdered an old man.” He sighed heavily. “The New Monarchy had a rare turn of luck: they had a small surplus of ships. I was still pretty new as Guardians go at the time. Even back then, extra ships were unheard of.”

The words made me realize I had no clear idea of how old the Titan really was, but I didn’t dare interrupt to ask.

“I pledged allegiance to the Monarchy to acquire 1, and I was tasked to work with Fernanda-24 and Syphis to deliver a Phaeton from a merchant. The King’s Ransom was still fairly new at the time as well. Fernanda-24 is 1 of the 3 founding members, did you know that?” I shook my head.

“As it turns out, they had a contract to get this ship from a weapon’s designer in the City. I walked in as he shot Syphis. Fernanda-24 shot him.”

“So it was self-defense,” I said.

“That was their story,” said Telrik. “But the old man claimed the contract was a forgery and they tried to extort him. He died on the operating table, but he transferred ownership to me.”

“I don’t understand,” I admitted. “If they tried to extort him, why not get their Ghosts to show the real story?”

Telrik huffed. “Investigations into Guardian crimes don’t happen often,” he said. “They’re not common, and they’re usually considered justified. In the rare case it does happen, forcing a Ghost to give up recorded information like that is considered the same thing as forcing the Guardian to be a witness against themselves: it’s illegal. So they hid behind that technicality and were acquitted on lack of evidence. No 1 challenged my claim to the ship, probably to avoid further embarrassment and political backlash. The King’s Ransom never forgave me.” He fell silent again.

I looked back out at the moving crowds below us again, reflecting once more on how separate we were from the people. Father Eriksson’s words echoed in my head again: “I think sometimes you Guardians forget what you fight for, regardless of why you fight.”

Brutus, the verdant green Ghost, interrupted the silence. “We have word from Farstride: we are being deployed to Venus to hunt a Wolf cell. Word is a high-level bounty was seen a few clicks away from the Academy and they’re dug-in. We are to bring heavy weapons and surplus ammo, since they say it will be a long op.”

Telrik grunted. “OK. Let’s go.” He stood up and grinned at me. “C’mon, Hunter. We’ll get them someday. Right now, the City needs us.”

I nodded my agreement and followed his example, and we went to fight the Darkness once more. If I had known how long it would be before I saw the City again, I may not have been so //eager.

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