Day 797 – Part 4

“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.”

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Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , , ,

Day 797 – Part 3

“One sibling this annoying is misfortune! What warlock has cursed me to have two?”

~Thor Odinson (Marvel Universe)


“Would you leave like a thief in the night?”

“I didn’t hear you approach, Father.” I turned around.

“I doubt that.” Father Ericksson walked up to me, his cane shuffling through the snow. He had not had a cane when I had last seen him. Nor had he been as bent as he was now, almost double, as if he carried some unseen weight on his back. Rill walked at his side, almost hovering.

“It would have been nice to have seen you before left again.”

I ducked my head. “I am sorry. The war…” I trailed off: the words sounded hollow even as I spoke them.

“The war between Light and Darkness existed even before the first gods, Morc. Do not get so caught up in it you forget the larger picture.” He motioned me to follow and began to walk away from The Hand of Tyr. Rill frowned at me as she passed, taking a satchel to the ship.

“You’re sending her with us?” I asked as we walked.

“Emma is to be your fire team’s pilot, and I do not like when one of our people flies alone, even with Guardians. Were it not for your insistence on privacy, they would have flown together to retrieve you from Mars. They are as close as only sisters can be since the hunt that wounded you all.”

I cocked my head and looked at him. “Emma told you.”

“She did.” Father Ericksson stopped walking and sighed. “I have an entire clan to watch over, Morc-35. The health and mind of each is important to me. Even that of an Exo.”

“I don’t know what telling you can do to help,” I said.

“Perhaps nothing,” he admitted. “But I would ask you this: do not go. If your each subsequent death brings you closer to some unseen edge, then going into battle is beyond foolishness. Stay here, speak to the Warlocks, and let them help you.”

“I’ll be helped when that Wizard is dead.”

“Are you certain?” He stared at me hard. “The realm of death belongs to the Hive. Do you think destroying something that is Taken will be enough?”

“It will be enough for me.”

He studied me for a few moments more. “I see you cannot be dissuaded. Very well. But when this mission is over you will return to the family, and you will speak to a Warlock before you go haring off after that Wizard again; I know of one who is discrete and will help you without telling the Vanguard. You may take your revenge after.”

I nodded. “Yes, Father.”

He patted my arm, and I felt the frailty in the gesture. The strong warrior chief I had met 2 years before had been replaced by a feeble man. I burned with questions as to what had happened, but felt //ashamed I did not already know. Perhaps I had been gone too long.

“Be swift, Morc-35. Time is growing short. For all of us.” He turned and walked back toward the Iron Temple. I watched him go until he was out of sight, then returned to the ship. The fire team was stowing their spare weapons and extra gear on board.

Arianna whistled sharply to get everyone’s attention. “Head count. The Ericksson’s here,” she gestured to Emma and Rill, “will establish a forward base and maintain our Sparrow uplink, so we’ll have mobility.”

“I don’t have a Sparrow,” said Findlay weakly.

“You do now,” said Rill. The other Guardians turned to look at her. “Morgan gave Morc-35 an Eververse voucher as payment for the tactics assessment you dropped off for him. He traded that for a Sparrow for you.”

“Uh…wow, thanks,” said Findlay to me.

“Titans are slow enough without a Sparrow,” I told him.

“Hey!”

Arianna resumed her briefing. “After we’re in the mission zone it’s short-range comms only. If the Kings are involved we can be certain they have tricks up their sleeves, and the fact that someone out there has our names means they might be able to listen to long-range comms, so we’ll need to keep everything low-key and encrypted. No use of names and coordinates over audio: tight-beam everything between your Ghosts as much as possible and have them pipe it in. Clear?”

Everyone nodded.

“OK, buddy-system in case we get separated: Magnus, you’re with me. Drake, you’re with Miranda. Morc, you get the new-boot.”

“Why do I have to be paired with the Titan?” I demanded.

“Consider it a punishment for being so hard to find.”

“I’m a punishment?” asked Findlay.

“All aboard!” Arianna transmatted into the hold and we all followed her.

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , , , ,

Day 797 – Part 2

“I had forgotten that, while Thor hurls his Hammer from storm-clouds, Odin prefers his strike to come out of a calm sky.”
Robert Low, The White Raven


“What was in that book I gave Morgan?”

Findlay’s question interrupted my reading of the SIVA crisis reports. I hid my //annoyance. “Observations of the tactics the Cabal have adopted to deal with the remnant Taken threats. I don’t think the Cabal have ever been thrashed like this before. It has changed their approach.”

“So why give it to the Cryptarchs?”

I put the report down. “The Cryptarchs do analysis of an enemy’s language and habits and trade that to the Vanguard for help with relic retrieval. The Warlocks like it too since it helps them weaponize their use of the Light.”

“Titans and Hunters don’t care?”

“We Hunters rely on our wits and weapons, not just our powers to get things done. And Titans have never met a problem they couldn’t just smack their thick skulls against.”

“Hey…” Findlay began.

“We’re about to land at the Iron Temple.” Emma reported from the cockpit. I tucked the sheaf of reports into my satchel and stood before drawing my hood up.

We transmatted into a blizzard: the world was nothing but blowing whiteness, and the sun was near setting. Darkness was rapidly descending.

“Where’s the meeting point?” I shouted.

Findlay waved me to follow him. The snow obscured everything past a few meters, but his Ghost gave off a little halo of light that made a decent beacon. I saw other Guardians pass us: in spite of the weather there was a sense of activity and movement all around us, muted orange light here and there I took to be torches or fires.

Findlay guided us across a bridge made of wood and rope.

“Blood of the Traveler, what is this, the dark ages?” I demanded, clinging to the icy ropes that kept me from being blown off the side.

“In a manner of speaking,” said Ebony helpfully. “The Iron Temple was built centuries ago. It’s older than the City.”

“Wonderful,” I said. The walk across the bridge seemed to take forever, but I caught up with Findlay at a huge set of doors with a great axe carved into them.

“Push!” shouted Findlay. I complied, and orange light streamed out of the enclosure along with a semblance of warmth. Once inside we turned and the pressed the doors back into place, and they snapped close with a heavy crunch.

“Look what the new boot found.” Miranda was sitting at the edge of a fire pit that dominated a small room with a high-ceiling that I took to be the base of a tower. She had her hood drawn up to cover her bald head, but her Awoken eyes were shining bright in the firelight.

“Throw him back out,” said Magnus. He was huddled in his black robes and almost sitting in the fire…no, he was sitting in the fire. “He let the cold in.”

Drake laughed and waved me over. “It is good to see you again, Morc.”

I sat next to the other Warlock and punched his shoulder. “You as well.”

“Is this all of us?” asked Findlay.

“Arianna’s on her way over with M and a briefing,” said Miranda. “Be patient, kid.”

“Where are the others?” I asked.

“Out being Titans,” said Magnus. “You know: beating their chests, smashing things, the usual.”

“Where’s House?”

The others frowned. “No one knows,” admitted Drake finally. “He went after something in the European DZ on assignment from Dead Orbit. Not sure what they wanted out there, but he was eager to go. No one’s heard from him in 8 weeks, and both Dead Orbit and the Vanguard are being tight-lipped about it.”

“We know he isn’t dead,” said Magnus. “Farstride would have been told. But whatever he’s up to, he’s even harder to find than you.”

The doors cracked open and 2 Hunters, Arianna and the fiery little M, ducked inside from the blizzard.

“Close the damn door!” shouted Magnus, and thrust out a hand. The doors snapped close before the Hunters had even begun to push them.

“This place and its lack of tech is unbearable.” M took her hood off and shook her short blonde hair free, sending snow all around her.

“Back in the day this was practically a palace compared to what we lived in,” said Magnus.

“You say that like you were there,” I laughed. Magnus looked through the flames at me. I gaped at him as the implication dawned. “Were you…?”

“Briefing,” snapped M. “The faster I’m done here the faster I can get back to the Tower.” She looked at Arianna. “This your whole crew?”

“This is us.”

“You scrounged up a Titan.”

“Can’t leave a stray puppy out for the Devils to eat,” said Arianna.

Findlay frowned at all of us. “What did I do to deserve this?”

Drake guffawed at him. “You will get used to it, kid.”

“This will be familiar territory for 2 of you,” said M. “We’re sending you south of the Cosmodrome.”

“What? Why?” I asked. “The reports I read said the SIVA plague lands are north of here.”

“And our Titans will do a wonderful job smashing up SIVA: it’s a simple task, but I need brains and skill, so I got Warlocks and Hunters for this.”

“I am sitting right here,” muttered Findlay.

“As I said, this will literally be familiar territory.” She looked at Arianna and me. “You remember that little Fallen experiment you broke up a couple of years ago when the Devils attacked that settlement?”

“Yeah,” I said. “I still have that Captain’s sword hanging on my wall.”

“Well, your reports got cross-referenced with reports coming out of the plague lands: we think the Kings might have had some of SIVA all along.”

Magnus sucked in a breath between his teeth. “No, not possible. They wouldn’t have been able to keep it quiet. You saw how fast it spread once it was out of containment.”

“Not actual SIVA mites, no,” said M. “But specs and enough tech to get the gist of it. We’re confident now that the Kings were trying to replicate their own kind of SIVA, and it’s possible that has something to do with how the Devils sniffed out its existence. There are too many parallels.”

“What does it matter?” asked Drake. “The Devils have it now. Why send us south?”

“Because a settlement we didn’t know existed has been sending out a distress call…and they mentioned Arianna and Morc-35 by name.”

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Theories of a Hunter – Vex 2

The next page is full of scribbles, made in a hurried manner, as if the writer could not get them down fast enough…

Pay attention: I understand now. I finally understand the truth I have been chasing. The Vex, the Darkness, all of it…

For weeks I have been watching the Vex and the Cabal adapt their tactics to the Taken. These Taken are but remnants of the larger idea, cast offs and vestiges now that the King is dead. But they hold the key to the Darkness and the Light. The Vex are the window into the answer of everything: because we created them.

Listen! Do not ignore this! We made them! Consider this: the Observer Effect says that we change the result of something by the mere act of observing it. Think about those implications.

Next, consider the fact – the FACT – that mankind, in their Golden Age, created simulations, simulations of the world and how it might be. In fact, it has been posited that all reality is a simulation inside a simulation ad infinitum.

Do you see? Let me explain further.

If reality is a simulation, it stands to reason that we could create our own simulation of reality. But! But, by the mere act of creating that simulation and observing it, you alter it, ever so slightly…That simulation would, in turn, create a simulation of reality. Simulation within simulation within to an infinite number, and each would observe the simulation they created, and thus make tiny, tiny alterations to it. But they reach down into infinity, each change, until finally, if you followed it far enough, the simulations at the bottom would resemble nothing like the ones at the top. The very fundamental rules of the simulation would be different. It would look nothing like the real world, the reality that created the first simulation.

Now, one more posit: what if, just WHAT IF, the rules were SO DIFFERENT at the very bottom that the denizens of the simulation not only realized they were in a simulation, but thought of a way to PROJECT THEMSELVES INTO REALITY BEYOND THEIR SIMULATION?

You think it mad? But if you can observe the simulation you created, and it can observe you in return, is there not a causal relationship? Is there not a connection? Is there not…a gate?

The Vex are that: a simulation, a consciousness removed many, many times from our own reality, and they in turn have opened the way to THE REALITY, the TRUTH that is the DARKNESS and the LIGHT. We are in Reality, the first level – or very close to it – the Vex worship the elements, the forces of this reality they have pushed through the many layers to a reality far removed from their own. The Darkness and the Light are the beginning.

And if they can step through the bounds of the simulation, through these many layers of reality, is it so odd they can step through Time? So the race is on: to stop Time, to defeat it, and save the REALITY they have found so that they might live forever. And we, the instruments of the Traveler and the Light, took Its power and created the endless loop that birthed the Vex. Thus they must destroy us, because if we created them…we can end them forever.

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , ,

Day 797 – Part 1

“What am I to do now? I hate you for leaving me. I ache from your loss. There is nothing that can console me now. I am changed, so are you.”

~Ragnar Lothbrok


“So if the Wall has been breached, why are you here? Aren’t you a Titan? Defender of the Wall and all that?” I demanded.

Findlay looked down and scuffed his boot against the flight deck. We were standing beneath Emma’s jump ship, The Hand of Tyr, a model of the support craft that had carried us to the Dreadnought a year before. “I don’t have a ship. Or a Sparrow.”

I stared at him. “How long have you been a Guardian?”

“Umm…” He looked over at his Ghost floating at eye-level. “A week.”

A week?!” I shouted. I noticed a frame behind Findlay turn around to look at us. “How by Odin’s left eye did you manage to join the Valherjar inside of a week?”

“Well, actually, I’m only a provisional member right now,” Findlay admitted, not meeting my gaze. “Arianna vouched for me. I still have to go through some tests and get full approval.”

“A week,” I growled.

“Calm down, Morc.” Emma climbed out of the ship the old-fashioned way. “If you’d been here you’d know that attrition has been catching up with everyone.” She pushed the ladder away and a frame waddled over to remove it. “Word in Dead Orbit is that we lost a record-number of Guardians to the Taken, even after the King died. New blood is a welcome sight.”

“Anyway,” said Findlay, “I, uh…need a ride to the Iron Temple.”

“A ride to the what Temple?”

“We need to get you up to speed,” said Emma drily.

“Yeah! We can do that on the way!”

“I need a few hours first,” I said tiredly.

“You need a few weeks,” Emma countered.

“But we don’t have a few weeks!” gasped Findlay.

“Oh for the love of…just, be back here in 6 hours, OK?” I began to leave the hangar.

“Umm, what do I do in the meantime?”

I stared at him. “What?”

“Well, you’re kinda of the senior Valherjar, so…what am I supposed to do in the meantime?”

I bit back my first response and reached into my satchel. “Look, take this,” I handed him a leather-bound book, “to Morgan, the Cryptarch.”

“Morgan, right…what’s a Cryptarch?”

“Oh, you have got to be shi-!”

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding!” Findlay took the book and bolted for the exit. I watched him go.

“Bitter at the exuberance of youth, old-timer?” asked Emma.

I grunted and she laughed at me.


“It’s not dusty.” I looked around at my living space: the single chair and the workbench were clean. The swords crossed on the wall were polished, even the Hive cleaver. The entirety of my small book collection – 8 volumes in all – rested on their tiny bookcase, even if they weren’t all in the same order as when I had left them.

“Well, if you don’t use an apartment in the Tower and they don’t hear from you after 6 months they take it back. So I’d come by and make sure it was cared for, and logging in the swipe pad meant that you’d have a place to come back to.” Emma sat in the chair and flicked on the light.

“Leave it off.”

She frowned at me but complied, and the only light to the room streamed through the tiny window that faced the City. I placed my beaten satchel on the workbench, scattering red sand everywhere. By the Traveler, where did it all come from? I began emptying the bag, a piece at a time.

Emma crept up to look over my shoulder. “You found some interesting stuff.”

“Yep.”

“Is that a Vex’s eye?”

“Hobgoblin.” I picked up the scope with the red eye in the front lens and handed it to her. “The sight resolution is unmatched. Unfortunately it still has Vex intelligence stored in it at some level. It’s more or less worthless as a scope, but it’s worth studying for R&D.”

“Why does that make it worthless?”

“The scope will intentionally feed false telemetry to make you miss; in some cases it just stops working. I disassembled the eye 6 times before I finally figured out that some vestige of the Vex mind was still in there. I don’t dare hook it up to anything in case it creates some kind of infection.”

I sorted the contents of my satchel: relics, experiments, tech, into their proper places on the workbench. Then I cleaned the surface, sweeping away the sand.

“Talk to me.” Emma was staring at me as I went through my tasks.

“About?”

“You were gone for almost a year!” Her words were almost a shout. “You haven’t spoken to the family, you haven’t asked me how they are, you haven’t asked what has happened since you left! You haven’t said why you left!”

I turned to look at her: she was trembling. The scar on her face from our hunt on the Hive…gods, was it nearly 2 years ago?…was livid and bright even against her dark skin.

“I went to find Skadi. To kill her.” I lowered myself to the floor and leaned against the workbench. She sat next to me. I could see the light of my mechanical eye-shine reflected in her human eyes. “She got in my head.”

“The Wizard?”

I nodded. “Each time I die…she gets closer. It gets Darker. I don’t know how many deaths I have left.”

She took my hand in her own. “Have you seen the Speaker? The Vanguard? The Warlocks might help.”

“And become ostracized like Toland or Osiris? Or Dredgen Yor?” I shook my head. “No. I will find her and kill her. It’s the only choice I have.” I turned to look at her. “When they had me in the nest…it was always your face she took. To hurt me.”

Emma stared back at me. “I had no idea. Why…why didn’t you say something?”

“What was there to say? My first family member, the one who was adopted like me was what she tried to corrupt. I didn’t want you to know. They hurt you too.”

We sat in the dark for a few minutes more, hand in hand. Then she squeezed mine. “We should go. There’s a lot of work to do at the Wall.”

I nodded. “Ain’t no rest for the wicked, am I right?”

Emma chuckled. “None at all.”

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Day 796 – Finale

If Heaven and Hell decide that they both are satisfied
And illuminate the “NO’s” on their vacancy signs
If there’s no one beside you when your soul embarks
Then I’ll follow you into the Dark

Death Cab for Cutie, I’ll Follow You into the Dark


I was up to to my knees and sinking in oily muck the consistency of mud. The wind was black and thick with Blight, whipping through the joints and plates of my frame. I had lost my armor some time ago, and my cloak long before that. I clutched the broken hatchet I had found weeks before as I slogged forward. I couldn’t see the Tower anymore…in truth I didn’t even know if it was still there because the wind obscured everything beyond a few meters. There were still bodies, their fingers and the tops of their heads poking through the sludge. I couldn’t remember which had been there and which I had killed. Maybe I had killed them all.

I could hear her laughing. It was louder now, a cacophony.

“Hunter! We have unfinished business!” Each word was a thunderstorm, every syllable a rumble of thunder that buried whole litanies and sermons inside it, a never-ending echo-chamber of spells and power that descended into some unseen depth.

I had to get to the Tower. I had to cross the field. I was so close. So close.

Claws, shining with Darkness, pierced the Blighted mist and wrapped around my skull. I was hauled free of the muck to stare her in the eyes. Blight dripped from her fangs.

“WE HAVE UNFINISHED BUSINESS!” Her scream warped sound and color and heat and cold and death and time…

I struck at her, burying the broken hatchet in her crest. She screamed, but it was a scream of laughter, and I felt her claws dig deeper the more I fought, plucking at my memory and my inner self. Something buried deep in that inner self knew to fight was to worship, to worship was to surrender to the Deep, the Law of these Spaces that had invaded my space, my mind-

Light, wholesome and clean and bright charged my circuits. It wasn’t much Light, but when a person has spent a long time in a dark room even a little illumination can be blinding.

“Up!” a familiar voice said. I tried to place it. Hands spun me around, pointing me down the thoroughfare. “Run! We’ll catch up. RUN!”

I tried to run and felt something clutch at my ankle: the Centurion’s big fist was wrapped around my leg. He was shattered, his armor and body broken as if he been caught beneath a falling cruiser. Even as pressure gel pumped mercilessly into the red sand he clutched at me. I pulled my sword free from his mangled forearm and gave him a swift soldier’s death. Then I disentangled myself and ran.

The Cabal were in disarray. The Interceptors were smoking ruins, the Harvesters  were raining fire from the sky. Troops hunkered in the nearby buildings and behind shields, firing into the battle zone. I ran. I didn’t even have enough Light to channel into my sword for protection, but my armor did the trick. Once clear of the slugs I summoned my Sparrow and gunned it.

“Ebony?” I asked, //fearful of the answer.

“Here.” My Ghost sounded exhausted.

“Blood of the Traveler, I thought you might be dead.”

“Nearly.” He fell silent again.

The moment I was clear of the Blight it felt like the sun had risen. Light coursed through me again, charging everything. I slowed the Sparrow and turned.

My rescuer pulled up on her Sparrow, and I recognized the orange cloak and leather armor. “Arianna, it’s nice to see you.”

“Morc; you’re welcome for saving your life,” said the other Hunter. “If you had a death wish you could have least let us all know first.”

“I trusted the Traveler would help me out, though I admit you cut it close.”

Arianna took off her helmet and smoothed her red mohawk. “Sure you did.” The Awoken Hunter dismounted and took my hand cannon out of her belt. “You’ll want this where we’re going.”

I took the gun. “Where’s that?”

“I’ll explain when my backup gets here.”

I holstered my weapon. “How did you find me?”

“I had help.” As if on cue a winged ship in Dead Orbit colors cut through the sky overhead. It banked sharply and came around, then settled next to us, kicking up sand and dust.

A Titan transmatted out to the surface. He was dressed in black and green, his armor resembling a shirt of chain mail more than the common cuirass of plate. His helmet was off, revealing a human with a shaggy mane of blonde hair, but he seemed unaffected by the thin air.

“Hello! You must be Morc-35!” he said to me. “I’m Findlay! Pleasure to meetcha!”

I stared at the cheery Titan as he approached and stuck out his hand. He looked no more than 20 years old. I looked at Arianna, ignoring the proffered handshake. “This doesn’t answer my question.”

“The help I meant wasn’t him.”

“She meant me.” Emma Ericksson had come up behind Findlay. He stood aside, looking a little flustered as Emma approached. “You told me I could tell them where you were in an emergency. Well, they said it’s an emergency.”

I dismounted my Sparrow and walked over to Emma to give her a hug. She buried her face in the edge of my cloak. “It’s been 8 months. You haven’t even called. I’ve…Father Ericksson has been worried.”

“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling a twinge of //guilt.

Emma pushed me away. “Save it. At least you’re OK.” She crossed her arms and glared.

I looked at Arianna. “So, this emergency?”

“It’s a big one!” Findlay interrupted before she could speak. Arianna closed her mouth and rolled her eyes so hard I thought her skull might crack. “The Fallen have breached the Wall!”

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , , ,

Day 796 – Part 2

I imagine death so much it feels more like a memory
When’s it gonna get me?
In my sleep, seven feet ahead of me?
If I see it comin’, do I run or do I let it be?
Is it like a beat without a melody?
See, I never thought I’d live past twenty
Where I come from some get half as many
Ask anybody why we livin’ fast and we laugh, reach for a flask
We have to make this moment last, that’s plenty

~Lin Manuel-Miranda, My Shot (Hamilton: An American Musical)


Snap. Flick. Click. Snap. I emptied my hand cannon and reloaded without even a thought and cut down another dozen shadowy Thrall.

The Wizard retreated into the recesses of the gutted building. I followed her, the muzzle flash from my gun lighting the way.

“Come on Wizard!” I shouted at her. “You ran on Earth! You ran on the Dreadnought! Stop running!”

She laughed again, and more Thrall shadows rushed me from the Darkness. I shot them as well. Snap. Flick. Click. Snap. “Coward!” I screamed into the shadows.

This time I was met with silence. I waited, but neither Thrall or Wizard emerged. I cast a grenade into the Dark and the Arc Light revealed nothing. Nothing.

“NO!” I screamed. “Come out! Come out, you demon!” No one answered.

“Guardian.” Ebony’s voice was soft. “The Cabal are gathering outside.”

I swore and turned on my heel. The air still seethed with Blight, making everything murky. The scuff of sand on my boots was hushed. I walked to the exit and stopped just short of stepping into the light.

4 Harvesters hovered outside, dropping troops into the thoroughfare. The Cabal had formed a shield wall behind which the Legionaries and Psions had gathered. Most wore Siege Dancer colors and the ranks were quiet. I counted the shields: the wall was 16 Phalanxes wide and the unit was at least 4 deep, not to mention Psions in reserve. More Harvesters dropped off troops.

I glanced side to side, looking for an exit. The Interceptors had taken up positions at the nearest intersections. I considered retreating into the building and escaping through the other side…and then the Harvesters opened fire on the lower stories. Building material began to crash down in the dark behind me and dust billowed out into the street.

“I think you pissed them off by harassing them for the last few months,” said Ebony.

I laughed: //anger was still coursing through me at having lost the Wizard. I checked the rounds in my hand cannon and stepped into the light.

The Centurion, in the rank behind the Phalanxes, bellowed out an order. The shield wall advanced and slugs began to smack into the sand and the building supports behind me as they opened fire.

I blinked forward and over the shields, pushed off the air molecules with Light to turn myself around, and threw an Arc grenade into their midst. Cracks of thunder and lightning split the armor on 2 Legionaries and opened the ranks, and I dropped into the middle of the Cabal horde, my hand cannon already roaring with fury.

The Cabal unit split down the middle where I had made the hole and reformed around me: the maneuver was smoother than Reef silk and I was suddenly surrounded by a living vice of metal and Cabal flesh. Rather than fire and risk hurting each other they rushed to crush me with their weight, the Centurion leading the charge.

I shot at him first, firing for the joint on his knee. Even as I raised my gun he turned his bulk so that the round struck the armor on his thigh, slowing but not felling him. He rushed in and aimed a fist at my head.

I blinked past him, knife in hand, and turned to bury it in the space between his helmet and shoulder armor. The knife glanced off his shoulder instead: again he had turned, and though I scored his armor I didn’t hurt him. He pushed off the ground, using his bulk to upset my balance.

I juked aside as the first of the Phalanxes closed in, swinging his shield. I blew off his helmet with a couple of shots, then ducked as another soldier rushed in, and then another. I felt my own armor crunch as I was struck. I blinked away again, only to find myself in another group of Cabal. I blinked again, this time clearing the attackers, but now with no risk of hitting their own comrades I was being shot at.

“Blood of the Traveler!” I yelled and drew my sword. I blinked back at the unit and began cutting through them: Arc Light poured through the blade like a wave, melting their armor like sand fortifications on a beach. And still they formed up, and still they rushed in.

Stoppage fluid began leaking through my armor as I began taking hits. I was vaguely aware that Ebony was trying to warn me that there was too much Blight and reviving me was impossible. A shield smacked into me and I went sailing to collide with another Legionary. I rolled away and called the Light through my body, pulled out my knife and danced through the Cabal, disintegrating them with snaps of Arc energy.

But then the Light was gone: there was nothing left, and the Blight continued to cloud everything. I knelt in the sand with my gun in hand and kept shooting as the Cabal closed around me.

The Centurion rushed me again: he was wounded but not more than I was. He had scooped up the shield of a fallen Phalanx to block my shots long enough to get close. He batted my gun out of my hand with it. I drew my sword and buried the blade in his forearm. He roared, seized me by the cloak with his other hand and threw me to the sand, then planted a boot in my chest. Circuits and plating cracked. He pointed his gun at my head.

Just before the muzzle flash, I saw a bright shooting star descending from the sky behind him, rushing down and growing larger by the millisecond. Then he fired and my world was Dark again.

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , , , ,

Day 796 – Part 1

Well you may throw your rock and hide your hand
Workin’ in the Dark against your fellow man
But as sure as God made black and white
What’s done in the Dark will be brought to the Light

You can run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Run on for a long time
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down
Sooner or later God’ll cut you down

~Johnny Cash, God’s Gonna Cut You Down


The ceaseless wind pushed up a tiny dune of red sand in front of my vision. In the faint glow of dawn I could see the tiny grains tumbling over one another, pushed and pulled incessantly by air and gravity, helpless against the shaping forces of the planet. Eventually the wind picked up again and blew the little dune away, returning my line of sight to the campsite in front of me.

In the center there was a fire pit, its charred remains already coated in a fine red dust and leaving only a faint wisp of smoke. Camp fires were anachronistic when heat and light could be produced with modern technology, but Humans and Fallen seemed to find them comforting – even Hive used fire in rituals. A thin metal beam had been laid next to the fire pit to serve as a seat. The sand had been beaten and stirred with traffic, giving the impression of 3 to 4 campers who had stayed the night and already packed up and left before the rising sun. Any real tracks would have been already obscured by the blowing winds.

Without moving my head I looked up at the buildings: the hollowed skeletons of skyscrapers and ancient research facilities stretched their emaciated digits to the starry sky, clothed only in the tatters of rusted sidings and corroded pipes. The campsite itself sat in the hollow of a crater in what had once been a wide thoroughfare several lanes across, now abandoned by all but the occasional decrepit vehicle long since gone to decay. The only sound was the whistling and sighs of the wind that blasted and wore away at the remains, a susurrus that would never end until the cadaverous remains of the invaders were wiped away and buried beneath the ocean of dust that covered the red planet Mars.

It was perfect.

“Do you think they’ll come?” asked Ebony in my ear.

I didn’t respond. I was //amazed my Ghost thought I would even answer. Or maybe he didn’t expect an answer, and was merely passing the time. I trained my eyes up again, and saw a beam of light from Sol graze the top of the hollowed structures. Morning was here.

“I hear something,” said Ebony.

The ceaseless whispering of the wind was interrupted by the thrums of Interceptors; the sound bounced and careened off the buildings.

I waited.

The first of the Interceptors entered the thoroughfare nearly a kilometer away, the acoustics of the buildings making the sound seem much closer. It was joined by 3 more. They did not charge up the street at the campsite, but took their time without using their thrusters. The Cabal had learned.

The leader dismounted on arrival, his huge boots crunching the sand underfoot. He sank a little as the ground settled under him. The other Interceptors floated forward a few meters, but no one dismounted. I studied the leader as he approached the fire pit: a Centurion, wearing the blue and gold of a Siege Dancer. His armor was pocked, his insignia faded almost to nothing from regular exposure to sand and wind. He drew out his weapon, and I could even seen the smoothed areas of the grip from countless uses of the gun.

I felt the tiniest bit of //elation course through my circuits as the Centurion kicked his way through the remains of the campsite. My eyes flicked to his escorts: they had established a rough perimeter, floating their Interceptors in a lazy circle around their commander, but their gaze often strayed to the buildings above their heads.

“They think you’re up there in a sniper nest.” Ebony whispered even though no one else could hear him.

I waited.

The Centurion grunted to his troops, and 1 flicked something on his Interceptor and barked a series of commands. Moments later a pair of Harvesters swooped through the sky, low and slow, taking their time as they passed between the skyscrapers. The Centurion grunted again, and his escorts dismounted. They began talking, gesturing at the fire pit and the buildings all around.

“Something’s wrong,” said Ebony. “The Centurion is saying he doesn’t want to deploy his troops.”

I squeezed the grip of my rifle and mentally backtracked through my preparations. Had I missed something? Did they know?

“Wait…a lieutenant is insisting it’s protocol.” Ebony “hmmed,” to himself as he parsed the speech. “She’s very adamant. The others are telling her that protocol out here is different. Maybe she’s a transfer from the Sky Burners.”

More talks and grunts. The Harvesters had arrived now, and the sound of their engines overwhelmed almost everything as they floated above. The wind was stirred by their presence and kicked sand every which way.

“The Centurion sounds like he’s making a compromise…they’re deploying a Harvester here and sending the others on.”

A Harvester activated its thrusters and flew down the thoroughfare while the other opened its belly and disgorged Legionaries and Psion troops to the ground. The Psions chattered and spread out, and 1 came straight at my position and stopped with its boot less than half a meter from my face, looking up and all around.

I waited.

Then the air tore open with a scream and I felt a wash of //relief as the first of the Taken launched their attack. Vex simulacrum, looking like living, oily smoke charged the Cabal. The massive soldiers formed up with intense discipline to repel the Taken. A Taken Minotaur appeared in their midst, blasting several Legionaries aside.

I waited.

Shadowy Thrall suddenly charged in, whipping their claws through the air at the Cabal, only to be easily knocked aside to disappear. Several Thrall managed to latch onto the Centurion, who calmly pointed his gun at the clinging shadows and vaporized them.

I followed the trail of shadowy Thrall back to their source, looking and //hoping

A Taken Wizard floated in the mouth of a doorway to one of the buildings: she was all but invisible, a deeper shadow in the darkness of the crumbled structure, sending forth her spawn to crush the Cabal interlopers.

In a single motion I stood and raised my sniper rifle, the sand cascading and streaming off my invisible form in a shower of dust, sighted on the Taken Wizard and fired. I heard a Cabal yell out the word I knew to mean “Guardian”, but I ignored them: the bait had served their purpose.

“Skadi!” I screamed at the Wizard. “I’m here to finish our business!”

I could hear her shrieking laughter on the wind.

Categories: Morc-35 | Tags: , , ,

Thieves and Beggars – Finale

The bell has been raised
from it’s watery grave
Hear it’s sepulchral tone?
A call to all
pay heed the squall
and turn yourself toward home

Yo ho, haul together
Hoist the colors high
Heave ho, thieves and beggars
Never shall we die!
~Hoist the Colours by Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean 3: At World’s End)


“Damn it!” I stumbled as the ship shuddered like a dying beast.

“We’re entering the upper layer of the planet’s atmosphere!” Ebony squeaked in terror, and I couldn’t blame him.

“How long can the ketch withstand it?” I asked.

“I don’t know! We might burn up on entry! Even if we don’t, atmospheric pressure will be crushing for our jump ships in less than 2 minutes!”

The others were already far ahead: say what you will about Titans, but they can run at speed when the need is on them, and Magnus and Drake were blinking through time and space as fast as their Light would allow. I was hard-pressed to keep up. I could blink with Arc energy, but it was taxing and not nearly as quick as the Warlocks.

A shank barreled out of a door as I passed and I struck it aside with my sword.

“Bring our jump ships in!” Farstride’s order indicated that he’d reached the outer deck.

“We’re already at high pressure depth! You’ve got to transmat in the next 45 seconds!” Freyja, his Ghost, transmitted this helpful tidbit across the comms.

“We’re not going to make it,” I said. //Fear settled into my circuits with a cold certainty. The deck rang under my boots with each step. I could hear dregs and psions behind me, chattering with rage at my back.

I saw Drake and Magnus duck through the doors into the outer deck area, and they were already beyond the airlock by the time I made it: both of them did a swan-dive over the edge into the stormy gas of Saturn, barely visible, and disappeared in flashes of Light as their jump ships swept in. I raced to reach the outer deck as well: a wave of scorching heat and pressure that lit my warning systems washed over me and I stumbled again, the gale-force winds tearing at my cloak. I used the sword to channel my Light, offsetting the pressure, and pushed forward.

“Guardian, behind you!” squeaked Ebony.

I pivoted on //instinct, waiting for the blow, but none came.

The Captain stood behind me, as if he was waiting, as if he had always been there, wrapped in shadows and Darkness. His upper arms were crossed. A third arm rested on his hip, the last gripped the hilt of a blade as long as I was tall with its point in the deck. His eyes glowed in the shadow, and even in the obscuring gasses I could see his cloak billowing around his shoulders, the flag of the Corsairs.

I backpedaled away from him, toward the exit. He watched me go, no perceptible movement besides his cloak and his glowing eyes.

“We’re out of time,” said Ebony. I nodded, turned my back on the Fallen Captain, and leapt off the deck into the crushing atmosphere. The winds threw me around like a rag doll even before the transmat activated and deposited me into my jump ship.

“We’re too far down!” Ebony cried out as my hands gripped the controls. I looked outside at the Ketch in the howling Saturn storm. There was a flash of green and brown light…and it was gone, as if it had never been. The winds battered my own ship. I tried to right it, but alarms were shrieking all over as the hull buckled.

“We’re going down!”

There was a wrenching sound, a rush of atmosphere as the ship tore apart, and then…

“Ouch!” I yelped as an unexpected transmat ended.

“Comfy?” asked Telrik from his pilot seat. I was crammed in behind him, sprawled against a bulkhead and a monitor behind his pilot seat. “Glad your Ghost noticed me coming in, you were just about done there.”

“Thanks…I think.” I tried to shift but couldn’t, as my leg was jammed between the seat and the plating of the hull.

“We’re gaining altitude. Sorry about your ship…looks like you’ll need a replacement.”

I sighed. “Looks like.”

“The Reef has a few blockade runners for sale, you should take a look.”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “I had that ship almost 2 years, you know.”

“I hear ya. Oh look at that, we’re clear.”

The faint light of Sol pierced the canopy as we raced out of Saturn’s atmosphere.

“I got the Hunter,” said Telrik into the comms. “All fireteam members accounted for.”

“Everyone meet at the Reef.”

“Roger that.” Telrik kicked the ship into warp and we left Saturn behind.


“Well,” said M, staring at us balefully. “That doesn’t sound like an actual success.”

“The ketch was going down, it was damaged, and even as tough as ketch’s are, it couldn’t have survived Saturn.” Farstride projected more confidence than I had.

“Did anyone actually see it destroyed? Who was the last one off?”

Everyone looked at me. I shrugged. “It…it disappeared,” I said.

M sighed. “Well, you took out their Pilot Servitor and forced them away from the Dreadnought. I suppose it will have to do.” She paused. “Did you at least manage to salvage anything?”

“There wasn’t time,” said Farstride.

M shook her head. “Well, see the Quartermaster, I’ve set aside some gear and glimmer for you.” She dismissed us with a flick of her fingers.

We all trooped up to the flight deck of the Tower hangar, the roar of jump ships coming and going filling the space. I wandered over to the railing while the others went to the Quartermaster to sort out the disposition of the loot. I could see my new ship getting a coat of paint, the black and white of a Dead Orbit ship being put on the hull over the blue and silver of the House of Wolves.

“Not a bad run, all things considered,” said Drake, leaning up against the railing beside me.

I nodded.

“Something’s been bothering you since the Dreadnought,” he said. It wasn’t a question.

“Just…” I thought about telling him about the Tower, the voice on the wind. I decided against it for now. “Just thinking about the Corsairs. Not many factions have survived as long as they have, done what they’ve done. Do you think that ketch survived?”

“Between you and me?” Drake laughed. “Yes. I don’t think diving into a gas giant is enough to stop anyone that determined.”

“Do you think we’ll see them again?” I asked.

“Undoubtedly.”

I nodded. We watched the ships come and go for a few moments more. “I need to go,” I said suddenly.

He nodded. “I thought as much.”

I looked at him, //surprised. “How?”

The Awoken laughed again. “You are easy to read, for an Exo.”

“Thanks. Racist,” I added, eliciting another laugh.

“Just don’t get lost out there, Hunter.” He clapped me on the shoulder and went to join the others. I pulled my hood up and made my way to my new ship.

Categories: Morc-35, Thieves and Beggars | Tags: , , , ,

Thieves and Beggars – Part 7

“Oh, you fools! Dance to your heart’s content in that small world of yours! Our world is the expanse of space!”

~Captain Harlock


The wind was filled with the sound of voices. No: a single voice, a laugh. I stumbled toward the Tower, closer this time, so much closer. The broken shapes were coming at me, stumbling, hissing. I seized something from the ground: a sharp piece of bone, honed to a needle-point. I braced for the attack. The laughter grew louder.

“Hunter…” The shriek was insistent and familiar. “We have unfinished business, you and I! We have unfinished busine-“

A slap of Light. “This ketch is getting painful,” I said offhandedly. I shot a charging shank and followed my rescuer, Heisenberg, into cover. The Pilot Servitor was still spinning and firing.

“It’s taking damage,” said my fellow Exo. “We just need to wear it down.”

I took out my sniper rifle and leaned out of cover to shoot. The rounds stripped pieces of metal from its chassis as they passed through. Already the big Servitor looked riddled with bullet holes. It turned its eye away from us, focusing on the control-panels of the bridge.

Drake ran through the open space of the bridge and launched a globe of Void Light at the Servitor. There was a sudden and brief absence of noise as the Void bomb went off, and the Servitor collapsed to the deck, sparking from gaping crater in its side. The remaining dregs shrieked in fury and flung themselves at us, and were immediately mowed down by gunfire.

“Jolly good!” said Farstride in a faux accent. We all clambered out of cover to examine the Servitor.

“Is that…organic?” Magnus pointed at the wound in the machine’s side: something sickly white and glistening twitched inside the Servitor’s housing, mostly obscured by the machinery within.

“That’s not possible.” I leaned closer and reached out, intending to grab the thing and tug it clear of the Servitor’s insides. Then the ketch lurched as if it had struck something and we all stumbled sideways.

Telrik’s little green Ghost practically spasmed with a scan. “We’ve hit Saturn’s upper layer already! We picked up speed!”

“It committed suicide,” I said. “That’s why it stopped fighting us near the end: it’s taking us down with the ship.”

“Can we transmat out of here?” asked another Ghost.

“No, we need to be closer to the outer hull.”

“Double-time to the outer deck! Move!” Farstride’s order had us all running for the exit.

I paused and looked back at the dead Servitor, looking for the pale white invader in its belly. But whatever it had been, it had disappeared. I shook my head and turned to follow the others as the ketch shuddered again.

Categories: Morc-35, Thieves and Beggars | Tags: , , , ,

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