“The Fates and Furies, as well as the Graces and Sirens, glide with linked hands over life.”
― Jean Paul Friedrich Richter
“So…do we knock?” asked Miranda.
“That doesn’t seem particularly wise.” I didn’t take my eye from the scope. “I can see 2 turrets by the gate and what looks like an armed patrol every 6 to 8 minutes. If they don’t like Guardians we’ll have a fight on our hands.”
“Didn’t they invite us? They sent out a distress call, after all. They asked for some of us by name.”
“Baby Titan has a point,” said Drake. I heard Findlay sigh. “We may as well ask why.”
I lowered the scope and looked at Arianna. She flipped her throwing knife in 1 hand, blade to hilt to blade, clearly thinking. Eventually the knife stilled. “Drake and Miranda, you hold here. The rest of us will go talk to them. Remember your buddy system.” She looked over her shoulder at Rill. “I could use an extra set of eyes, if Emma doesn’t need you on the ship.”
The young woman shrugged. “Sure.”
A beaten dirt path led up to the gate, and the 5 of us left our cover in the shrubs of the low dunes to follow it.
“They see us,” I said softly.
The turrets turned our way, but no shots rang out. We were about 12 meters from the gate when we were finally challenged.
“Hang on,” said Chatterbox, Arianna’s Ghost. “It’s some bastardized form of Russian. Translating.”
Arianna took off her helmet, exposing her shock of red hair. “My name is Arianna. I’m a Guardian of the Last City, and I have the Guardian Morc-35 with me. We received your distress call.”
There was some talk behind the gates. Another shout. “They said for you to raise your hands and approach.”
“Do as they say,” said Arianna. We all put our hands in the air and walked forward. The wooden gates groaned open as we approached.
Men and women dressed in brown furs and leathers waited for us inside. The ground was packed hard and dusty, and a variety of structures from yurt-like tents to wooden shacks lined rough lanes. The encampment was larger than it had appeared from outside, and there were more people than could be accounted for from just the buildings.
Ebony did a quick little pulse for a scan. “There are underground structures nearby, not unlike the one we found the modified Servitor in.”
“So, same people?” I asked softly.
We were approached by a cadre of humans and a single Exo with rifles before anyone could reply. They spoke harshly at us, pointing at our weapons.
“They said we have to turn over our guns,” reported Chatterbox.
There was a tense pause. The rest of us looked at Arianna, who deliberated. Then she shook her head. “No.”
One of the guards that I took to be the leader repeated his demand, loudly. Arianna shrugged at him. “No. Tell your chief we come in peace. And taking our weapons won’t mean anything, you know that: we’re just as dangerous without them.”
This flustered the guard, and he stepped forward, brandishing his rifle. A shout behind him stopped him in mid-stride.
“Let them pass with their weapons. She’s right: it would mean little.” A figure in long, dirty red robes strode forward. Her hands were tucked into her voluminous sleeves and her head was covered by a deep hood, but even so her Awoken eyes shone brightly in its shadow. A blood-red Ghost hovered above her shoulder. “Welcome, Guardians. Please, come with me.” She beckoned us forward with a motion of her head. “We’ve been expecting you.”