“Some say he died. Codswallop, in my opinion. Dunno if he had enough human left in him to die. Some say he’s still out there, bidin’ his time, like, but I don’ believe it.”
― J.K. Rowling,
Pages have been forcibly torn from the journal, leaving ragged edges and splotches of what appears to be some viscous fluid behind. The next full, legible page begins thus:
“…under no circumstances shall any ships attempt to make a jump past the Reef or into Saturn’s general orbit. All Guardian unit leaders must report to their respective Vanguard or Faction representative within 6 standard Earth hours. Message repeats.”
“Enough,” said Magnus with a sigh. I motioned to Ebony and he cut the transmission of Commander Zavala’s message.
“Don’t know why he’s so worried. You need support to make a jump like that anyway,” said Miranda. I could just see the top of her bald blue pate awash in the beam of light her Ghost played over the interior of her half-wrecked Sparrow.
“What better way to tempt a-” House was interrupted by the high-pitched whine of a drill from Miranda’s Sparrow. “-a Guardian to cross the horizon than let them know there’s a big monster to fight just beyond it?” His pale face was just visible in the weak Martian starlight as he stared up at the sky, his head resting on his hands as he stretched out on the brown stone, his hair blending into the rock.
“After the battle with Crota?” asked Telrik. He had shucked his green armor and was prepping his sniper rifle with dry lubricant, the only real countermeasure to Martian sand. Brutus the green Ghost shone his own light on the Titan’s work, for once unusually quiet. “Plenty of Guardians don’t want a repeat of that.”
“First, that was a long time ago,” said Miranda. She tossed something out of the guts of her Sparrow. “Secondly, Crota’s dead now.”
“We can’t take that risk,” said Magnus more than a little sharply. The Warlock stood to his feet, his black robes making him looming and ominous in the low light. “As many Guardians that died that day, we can’t ever risk something like that again.”
Miranda looked up from her work, her Ghost following suit to light up Magnus, but that somehow only made him look even larger and more imposing. “I was there, Warlock,” she said, an edge of steel in her voice.
“Then you understand the risk,” he replied. “This is something more powerful than Crota.”
“Doubt it,” she replied. “Hive are predictable.”
“These weren’t Hive,” I interjected. They both turned to look at me. “If they were Hive, it was in shape only, and most of what attacked us looked like Cabal.” I shook my head. “This was something more than Hive.”
“Agreed,” said Farstride walking up. Arianna and Drake flanked him. Both of the Awoken were still in their battle gear, but the Titan had his helmet tucked under an arm as he spoke. “I have already made contact with Commander Zavala. Our orders are to stay here, on Mars, and provide a countermeasure to these ‘Taken’ until further notice. We are also to provide continued intelligence on the Cabal, and see what their response is.”
“What do we know now?” asked Telrik.
“That they’ve taken severe losses,” said Drake. The calm Awoken kept his helmet on. “The encounter we saw was actually indicative of the current affect the Taken have had on them.”
“By the Traveler,” said House, sitting up. “That would shatter them. Even the Cabal can’t take that kind of attrition without it devastating their ability to fight.”
“There is a risk the Cabal’s internal structure has collapsed,” confirmed Farstride. “Arianna,” he said, looking at the Hunter to his left, “You and Telrik will scout Rubicon.”
“Check,” she said.
“Miranda, you’re with Magnus. You 2 will check the Wastes, and support Arianna and Telrik if they find a core of Cabal still functioning. House, you and Drake will go to the Buried City. See if the Vex are making any headway against the Cabal there. Morc-35 and I will go to Meridian Bay. Check in every 6 hours, clear?”
There was a chorus of affirmatives. “Right then,” said Farstride, putting his helmet back on. “Move out in 15.”