Posts Tagged With: Destiny the Game

Scattered – Part II

“People often believed they were safer in the Light, thinking monsters only came out at night.”
C.J. Roberts, Captive in the Dark


The two Hunters flitted between the trees like sparrows: short, quick flaps of their cloaks from brush to branch and disappearing into the background the moment they were still, even in the bright daylight. Gwendolyn was convinced she stuck out like a streak of chalk on a clean blackboard in her white robes. A branch cracked like a gunshot under her feet and she winced when Miranda turned her head to look back at her. Arianna waved them beneath a tall pine and hunkered down. Her Ghost peeked out of a satchel on her belt.

“There’s an old tower of some kind about half a kilometer away.” Arianna kept her voice low. “We get to the top, set up our transmitter there, and we should be able to get a signal from anywhere in the solar system. I’ll go to the top, you two establish a perimeter. Radio silence until the transmitter is on and the channel is encrypted.”

Gwen nodded. Arianna motioned them on and flitted forward through the scattered shadows cast by the branches. Miranda motioned for Gwen to follow and took up the rear.

The structure was beyond the edge of the trees in a wide field that the forest was slowly reclaiming with saplings and brush. It was a twenty-five meter tall round tower of rusting metal with a domed top and crowned with antennae that stuck out at odd angles, some leaning like they would fall. It was joined to a scaffolding of metal that had tracks and gears designed to raise a large square frame up and down the side. An ancient staircase wound around its shell to a narrow platform at the top of the tower.

“It’s a launch platform,” whispered Anu in Gwen’s ear. Her Ghost sounded excited. “Probably for satellites for private companies or family use back in the Golden Age.”

At the foot of the tower Arianna motioned them to different points before scaling the tower stairs. Gwen knelt and pointed her rifle back the way they had come and waited. As the minutes passed she settled her breathing and listened: the wind sighed through the ancient trees and stirred the grasses, birds called to one another, and she could faintly make out the sound of water running over stones somewhere.

Time ticked by. A squirrel scrambled up a nearby sapling and watched her with curious eyes. Then he hunched with his tail over his head and chattered at her. When she didn’t respond he jumped from the sapling to a nearby bush and disappeared.

The light from the sun dimmed for a moment. Gwen was filled with a sudden sense of loss: she remembered trying to sing in the burning library and how Sol did not answer her call. It was like being caught in a blizzard, blowing on the ashes of a cold fire and seeing no spark flicker to life. The thought made her shiver with cold and she shut her eyes, and tried to imagine the heat of Light at her fingertips again.

The darkness behind her eyelids slowly filled with a deeper black, a hollow feeling of space so vast she felt as if she was suddenly in free-fall to some unimaginable depth. Sparks of Light spun past like distant stars as she rushed down, down-

“Transmitter online.” Ariann’s voice cut into her consciousness and Gwen snapped back into reality. She stood up and turned toward the tower, shaking a little.

“Did either of you…feel that?” asked Miranda.

“That weirdness a minute ago? Yeah. Come up to the top, there’s something you’ll want to see.”

They climbed the rickety stairs to the top. The transmitter had been attached to one of the antennae and blended in with the other aging equipment. Gwen’s Ghost opened a channel to receive on the new encryption, but only static came through.

Arianna was looking into the distance with a scope and motioned them closer. She handed the scope over and pointed out to the forest beyond. Miranda took it and stared for a long minute. Gwen couldn’t see what it was they were looking at.

“That’s the shard,” Miranda said after a long moment. She handed the scope over to Gwen.

“Yeah. I think we should go take a look.”

“That’s a long way. Shouldn’t we get back to the ships? If we get a signal we’ll need to move.”

“I think we have time,” said Arianna. She looked at Gwen. “What do you think, Warlock? You felt it too, right?”

Gwen looked through the scope: on the edge of the horizon was a great white and gray piece of metal, crowned in clouds and what looked like flashes of light. She nodded at Arianna. “Yes. That’s a piece of the Traveler. I’ve read about it.”

Miranda sighed. “Chasing weirdness with everything else going on right now.”

“Weirdness is all we have left at this point, Meer.”

Miranda shrugged. “OK. Hope you like walking, because that’s a long hike.”

Arianna laughed. “Oh, we’re not walking all the way.” She pointed south.

Gwen followed her pointing finger and saw a Cabal cruiser in the sky a few clicks away.

“I think the Cabal can spare a few rides, don’t you?”

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Categories: Gwendolyn | Tags: , , , , , ,

Scattered – Part 1

“Stories are Light. Light is precious in a world so Dark. Begin at the beginning. Tell Gregory a story. Make some Light.”
Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux


“Gwen, I think they’re arguing.”

Gwendolyn opened her green eyes and blinked couple of times to center herself. “Who is arguing, Anu? About what?”

Anu, her silver and green Ghost, spun its shell a couple of times. “The Valherjar Guardians. It sounds like they’re in disagreement.”

Gwendolyn rolled her head a couple times, feeling the slight pops in her neck from sitting still for so long. Then she stood up, stretched, and pulled aside the curtain to her enclosure.

Her little living space was one of nearly a dozen such partitioned spaces beneath a canopy stretched between the two “longboats”: winged troop transports that were several times the length of a standard one-person jump ship. They had been painted in Dead Orbit colors, but the paint job had been covered by branches and camouflage canvas to hide them beneath the trees. The inside of the longboats were housing the civilians, but the canopied space was for cooking fires and spaces for the Guardians to sleep. She passed one of the cooking fires as she walked the length of the longboats to their stern. A couple of teenagers hunkered over a small spit. One of them peeled off a strip of meat from the spit and skewered it on a sharpened stick, then offered it as Gwendolyn passed. She smiled and took it with a silent mouthing of “thanks.” Raised voices traveled to her ears from the stern space, muffled by the tent fabrics but unmistakably agitated. She followed the sound, Anu floating over her shoulder.

“…leaving them behind.”

“It’s been a week, Telrik. We’re not leaving anyone behind.”

Gwen pulled aside the tent wall and stepped into the weak sunlight. Four Guardians were gathered around tail fins of one of the longboats. Two of them perched on the fins themselves: both were Awoken Hunters. One was bald and relatively silent, flipping her throwing knife end to end in her hand. The other sported a bright red Mohawk and was opening her mouth as if to speak, but was cut off by one of the Titans that stood opposite her.

“We’re moving on rather than making an effort to find our people. That’s abandoning them. I won’t do it, and neither should you.”

All Titans could fill a room: even smaller, squat Titans had a presence that was unmistakable and inescapable, a part of their nature that demanded attention and respect. Still, the green-armored giant speaking was a towering presence even by Titan standards, a massive wall of muscle and metal that would give even a Cabal pause. His hair and beard were ragged from days of wilderness living, and his little green Ghost at his side was quiet. Next to the green giant stood another Titan, this one an Exo in gold-plated armor. Both Titans had their rifles out and looked ready to march on a moment’s notice, packs on their backs and blood-lust in their eyes.

“Telrik,” said the Mohawk hunter, her voice tired, “we can’t just assault the City in the condition we’re in. There’s four of us and four thousand or more them. If we had our Light we would already be moving.”

“I won’t leave our leader, Arianna. I’m going, whether or not you agree.” Telrik looked at the other Hunter. “How about you, Miranda? Want to help find Farstride and the others? Heisenberg and I would welcome the help.”

The bald hunter stopped flipping her knife. “I don’t do suicide missions, Telrik. Especially when I know that there’s no point. They’re dead. That Warlock there,” she pointed at Gwendolyn with the tip of her knife, “brought back Morc-35’s journal. Just what do you think that means?”

Telrik turned his head. “That she found a dead Exo,” he said. “That’s not proof it was Morc. It’s not proof the others are dead.”

Miranda sighed. “Warlock. That Exo corpse you found: describe him, please.”

Gwendolyn finished chewing the strip of meat she had been given and thought for a moment. “Steel and leather armor. Red cloak. Broadsword nearby. His body was damaged, but it looked like his exoskeleton was blue.”

“Blue Exo with a red cloak and a sword, Telrik. Morc’s dead. The others probably are too.” Miranda resumed flipping the knife.

The Titan sighed and looked at Heisenberg. “Ready?”

The silent Exo nodded, and both Titans turned away. “We’ll be on the frequency we established a couple of days ago.”

“It’ll be no good if we don’t set up a transmitter to get that far out,” countered Arianna. “At least wait until then. Or just wait until we hear from House and Magnus.”

“Everyday we wait it’s more likely we lose them. We’ll call you in a week.” Then the two Titans marched away, soon disappearing into the trees.

“Idiots,” said Miranda under breath.

“Can’t make a Titan do something he doesn’t want to,” sighed Arianna. She looked at Gwendolyn. “Sorry you had to see that.”

Gwen shrugged. “As you say, Titans are difficult to redirect. What is your next step?”

“Find a good place to set up our long-range transmitter,” said Arianna. “That evacuation order we heard was incomplete, and if we try to use the longboats to signal we’ll just draw the Cabal. There are too many civilians here to risk that.” She sized Gwendolyn up with a head-to-foot gaze. “We could use a third to round out our fireteam. With everyone scattered to the winds, we’ll take all the help we can get.”

“Just let me get my rifle,” said Gwendolyn.

Categories: Gwendolyn | Tags: , , , , , ,

Epilogue – Vol. 1

“And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the Light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?’
‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. ‘But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers


I fled through the woods, and the Cabal followed. The war-beasts’ snarls echoed strangely off the trees, making them sound closer than they really were. I placed my back against the bole of a tree and reloaded my pulse rifle. My hands were covered in scratches and dirt, and I suppressed a laugh at the idea of going into one of the Tower’s libraries in my current condition.

The thrum of a Thresher overhead proceeded the wind of its passing, stirring the trees as if they were in a storm. I was on their sensors – I had to be – but the foliage was thick enough to prevent a direct line of sight. Still, the hovering Thresher was a beacon to the enemy: “it’s here, the Guardian is here!” I pushed off the tree and kept running. Thank the stars for all that time in the Iron Banner, it had built my endurance up. Even so, I couldn’t outrun the Cabal forever.

I heard the first of the war-beasts crashing through the brush behind me. I spun, dropped to one knee and raised the sight to my eye. The pulse rifle bucked in my hands and the charging monster dropped. I pivoted to the left, squeezed off a few more rounds, and the next went down. The rest of the pack, seven or more, barreled forward in spite of the shots. I started running again, trying to gain more distance.

One of the beasts snapped at my robes and I hammered its skull with the stock of my rifle. I jumped over it as it fell, twisted as I went down and fired at the next war-beast. I landed hard and rolled up against a tree trunk.  I raised my rifle and fired one-handed while I tried to get my feet under me. The muzzle-flash lit up their teeth and carapaces as they attacked, snarling. The smell of blood and burnt flesh was overwhelming. Three of them were on me in moments.

Well, I guess this is it.

One of the war-beast’s head exploded. The second stumbled as its rib-cage collapsed. I shot the third in its gaping maw and kicked away the corpse, aware of the sound of more gunshots filling the woods. Muzzle-flashes lit the spaces between the trees. Overhead the sky lit up like dawn, and the Thresher fell from the air trailing smoke and fire to crash half a kilometer away.

“You OK?”

I blinked my eyes, clearing the afterglow from the explosion. A Hunter, hood drawn up and a rifle in hand, offered me a hand up. I took it: he was human, pale, long haired and was dressed in steel-colored armor with a saber on his hip.

“Thanks,” I said.

“You’re welcome. I’m House, of the Valherjar.”

“You are Valherjar?” I reached into my satchel and pulled out the leather-bound book I had found a few days before on the corpse of a dead Exo. “I think this belongs to you.”

He took the journal and frowned at it. “Hey, boss!” he called over his shoulder. “I’ve got an Awoken over here!”

Figures melted into sight out of the Darkness: Titans and Warlocks and Hunters, all bunched together. House handed the journal to one of the Titans. “She says this is for us.”

The Titan flipped through the journal. “This belongs to Morc-35. Where did you get it?”

“I found it on his body.”

The Titan shook his head. “Well, I guess we all knew. Did you see any other Guardians with his body? Any Ghosts?”

I shook my head. “No. His body was alone.”

The Titan was silent a long moment. “We’ve established a base camp nearby. You’re welcome to join us, if you like.”

“Thank you.” I bowed. “I am Gwendolyn, Warlock of the Vanguard.”

“If there still is a Vanguard, sure,” said the Titan. “But for now, welcome to The Chosen Dead.”

Categories: Volume 1: Finale | Tags: , , , , , ,

Finale – Finale

Further on up the road
Further on up the road
Where the way is Dark and the night is cold
One sunny mornin’ we’ll rise I know
And I’ll meet you further on up the road.

~Johnny Cash, Further On Up The Road


Morc-35 stared up at the Tower overhead, glowing with flames and crowned in smoke. A hand slapped his shoulder, shaking the Exo from his stupor. “C’mon, we’re out of time!” Findlay was running ahead through the City streets as only a Titan could. Morc followed, his cloak snapping in the breeze of his passing as they abandoned the battered Tower.

“Those ships are here, just like Morc promised,” Miranda reported. “We’re loading up civilians now.”

“They take off as soon as they’re full,”  ordered Farstride. “Make sure the pilots have House’s comm frequency.”

“I can’t believe we’re running,” said Telrik.

Morc and Findlay barreled into the loading area where two large ships in Dead Orbit colors sat and carried their crates to the nearest waiting ship. Emma Eriksson was directing traffic to her longboat and pointed them at the cargo flaps, spaces too small to hold people but big enough for ammo crates.

“Enough ammo to last an army,” said Findlay proudly.

“Get airborne, Fin,” said Farstride.

The younger Titan spluttered. “But -”

“No ‘buts’,” ordered Farstride. “You’re going with Arianna and Miranda to keep the civilians safe. We’ll regroup once we know what the Vanguard plan to do. Then-”

Morc-35 lost track of what Farstride was saying: the world filled with a sharp ringing tone and he stumbled as something…ripped out of him. A figure of Light stood at his side, wrapped with tendrils of what looked like dark goo and starlight. Then it evaporated, and Ebony fell to the earth.

“Ebony?” the Exo sank his to his knees and scooped up his Ghost. “Ebony?!”

The little Ghost didn’t respond as he turned it over in his hands: its eye was faded and dark. The ringing noise subsided, and Morc stood to his feet. He felt…light: as if some strange burden he had not been aware of had lifted, or a broken part had finally been fixed. It was equal parts strange and exhilarating, tainted only by the horror of his Ghost’s sudden silence. He looked at the others as his senses came back to life.

Every other Guardian was on their knees as if something had suddenly struck them. Only Heisenberg-3 was standing. The loading of the ships had ground to a halt, and the civilians were either staring in terror at the fallen Guardians or running for their lives.

“What the hell’s going on with you?” shouted Emma. She was kneeling next to Drake and shaking him: the Awoken had taken off his helmet, revealing eyes that were wide and hollow. Emma turned to the Exos. “What is this?”

Heisenberg-3 pointed at the Traveler. “I’d say that has something to do with it.”

The Traveler’s form was covered in a golden glow, the great Cabal machine clinging to it like an enormous tick.

“We have to go, now! Before they occlude the airspace!” Emma waved at the remaining civilians. “Help me get these Guardians aboard! Do it!”

Humans, frames and even an Awoken jumped out of the longboats and began running to the fallen Guardians, lifting them up in pairs and scooping up their dropped Ghosts and weapons. Magnus, Telrik, and the Awoken Hunters were all but dragged to the ships.

Farstride shook off his helpers. “No, I’ve got it.” He picked up his pistol and took off his helmet as well. “Someone get me a rocket launcher.”

Morc-35 reached into one of the cargo flaps and tugged two launchers out, along with some ammo. He handed one to the human. “Can you fight?” he asked.

“Long enough,” replied Farstride as he loaded his weapon. “New plan. Everyone get on board. I’ll provide air cover.”

“One won’t do it,” said Morc-35, loading his own rocket launcher. “We should get on top of one of these buildings, shoot down any Threshers that get too close.”

Gunfire erupted at the edge of the platform: Drake was on his feet again, his pulse rifle barking at charging Cabal scouts with Findlay at his side.

“Take off!” shouted Farstride. He waved at Emma. “Take off, take off now!”

Emma clambered into the cockpit and the doors to the longboats closed, the civilians and remainder of the Valherjar inside.

Findlay rushed a Legionary and smashed the monster’s face with a fist, sending it to the ground. He shot another with his rifle, then drove the butt of his weapon into another. A war beast tackled him to the ground, and Findlay caved its skull in with a hammer-blow from both fists. Another war beast gripped his leg with its jaws and began dragging him away before Morc-35 lost sight of him in the pack of animals.

Drake was steadily backing up into the loading zone, his rifle chattering as he delayed the Cabal.

“Threshers!” said Farstride, raising the rocket launcher to his shoulder. Morc-35 followed his motion and locked the weapon onto a low-flying ship. The rocket flew free and struck the engine of an attacking Thresher, sending it careening away. For a few, harrowed seconds, the human and Exo fired and reloaded as fast as they could while the longboats behind them fired up their engines and began to lift off the platform. Then there was a blast of heat and the ships were away, skimming the rooftops of the Last City, racing for the Wall as fast as they could.

Morc-35 pointed his heavy weapon at the attacking Cabal foot soldiers and fired, scattering them with the explosion. “Out,” he reported and tossed it aside. He drew his sword: the blade wasn’t entirely devoid of stored Light, and the heavy edge could still cut.

Drake had retreated and the three now stood back to back on the platform: once Titan, Warlock, and Hunter, now just Human, Awoken and Exo. More Cabal were rushing in. Farstride fired another rocket before tossing it aside. “Also out.” He pulled out his pistol and checked the cylinder. “I have enough to make them pay for it.”

“We can make for that high-rise,” said Drake. He pointed with his rifle down the street. “It’s a library, plastisteel and stone. We could regroup there and make a run for the Wall.”

“Sounds good to me,” said Morc-35.

“Go, go!” They broke formation and ran. Morc-35 suddenly discovered he was the fastest, easily outpacing his organic companions. A Phalanx stepped out from between buildings in an attempt to block their retreat. The Exo leaped over his shield, pivoted, and opened his armor with the blade, leaving the Cabal in the dirt. Then he ran on.

Rounds skipped off the ground around them as Psion snipers tried to take them out. Farstride fired back at them over his shoulder without looking as he ran. Morc-35 turned around to check on his companions.

Drake stumbled and fell, a burnt hole in his chest from a sniper. His rifle clattered on the paved street.

Morc swore and ran back. He picked up the Phalanx’s shield and braced it to cover the fallen Awoken. Farstride grabbed Drake’s shoulders and hauled him behind cover of a building and Morc followed.

“Drake? Drake, buddy, talk to me.” Farstride patted the Awoken’s cheek. “Drake?”

The Awoken’s head lolled to one side and hung, his eyes wide and sightless. His Ghost rolled from his open hand and stared overhead at the silent Traveler.

Farstride grabbed the Ghost and pocketed it. “We’ll come back. Maybe if we can restore its Light…”

The thought was cut off as more rounds smacked into the wall over their heads. They ran, leaving Drake’s body behind.

More Cabal blocked their way at an intersection. Farstride fired, his hand cannon thundering. Several of the Phalanxes collapsed with pristine shots to the head, opening a gap. “Go, go!” he shouted.

Morc-35 ran through the opening, slicing at exposed Cabal armor. A war beast attacked and he split its head open with a blow. Farstride pressed in behind him.

A soldier landed in front of them, blades swinging wildly. Morc parried, ducked, and buried his blade in the gap beneath its arm. Farstride blew its head off with a well-placed shot. He jumped over the body, and another Cabal landed. It skewered the human on its blade and lifted him high overhead, then threw him down to the ground and smashed him underfoot.

Morc cut the head from the soldier and stood over Farstride’s corpse. More Phalanxes rushed in, shooting over their shields. The Exo bent to look for the Ghosts, but saw nothing but blood and smashed circuitry. Then a shot took him in the chest and he fell, his sword spinning away.

“Damn it!” The Exo pulled his knife free and tried to stand, but his legs didn’t respond to the command. A war beast charged in, snarling. Morc-35 buried the knife in its face and it was wrenched away by the creature’s convulsions. Then something heavy stepped on his back and pressed down, and there was only Darkness.

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

Finale – Part 1

If we do not live another day,
Say this over our pyre:
“They died like High Guard Lancers,
With their faces to the fire.”

~Regimental Hymn of the 13th Imperial Lancers, CY 4233 (The Widening Gyre, Gene Roddenberry’s Andromeda)


The last pages are water-stained and washed out. A folded map is tucked into the back, along with a small data drive containing records and communications logs. With these clues and some careful study, you piece together Day 1,131…

The Twilight Gap rang with the sound of gunfire and the occasional explosion from a thrown grenade. Morc-35 perched on a stone and watched the four-versus-four match unfold. The late day was overcast and it was beginning to rain. The approaching storm made a beautiful backdrop for the Crucible match unfolding.

Farstride, Arianna, Telrik and Drake, as Alpha team, had taken the outside area of the map and peppered anyone who stepped out with sniper fire. Bravo, consisting of Magnus, Miranda, Findlay and Heisenberg-3 were biding their time, hurling explosives and cornering anyone brave enough to enter their zone.

“They’re massing for an attack,” Morc-35 muttered to his Ghost, Ebony, as he looked through a hand-held scope. “Magnus has them bunched up in the back corner. Any second now he’s going to-”

As if on cue, the sound of a great metal anvil being struck announced the charge of a Sunbreaker: Heisenberg came barreling out of the building swinging his hammer, racing for the outside, followed by Miranda and Findlay.

Farstride fell back from the charge, pulling Telrik and Arianna into his shield, and Heisenberg’s hammer glanced off the bulwark. They began to dance inside the bubble, daring them to charge.

Findlay took them up on it, running straight at the bubble of Void Light.

There was a brief, mad scramble to get out of the eager Titan’s way before he smashed the fortification. Arianna went down, but not before she had stuck a flaming knife in Findlay’s helmet: he walked a single step before face-planting into the dirt and his Ghost appeared next to Arianna’s.

Farstride and Telrik had split up, covering the others in a wide field of fire. Heisenberg was still holding his hammer and he hurled it at Farstride: the defender disappeared in a wash of fire and smoke. Heisenberg turned to attack Telrik and had his head blown off for his trouble.

Miranda skipped off the side of the building with the all the grace of a dancer and launched an arrow of Void Light at the Titan. The shot went wide but tethered him. Telrik stood his ground and sniped again, sending her spinning away. She ducked behind some boxes and ran back inside. Telrik focused on the tether, trying to cut himself free.

“Where are the Warlocks?” asked Morc.

“Coming,” reported Ebony.

Telrik had just nullified the tether when Magnus appeared above his head, spitting fire from a hand cannon. The exchange of gunfire was brief and Telrik went down. Magnus floated down to reload, and then disappeared into an explosion that rattled the whole arena as Drake abandoned his hiding place to launch a Nova bomb.

“Score?” asked Morc.

“4,325 to 4,100 for Alpha. 00:42 on the clock.”

“Gonna be close, as always,” said Morc.

The Ghosts had switched sides, leaving Bravo team on the outside. There were some cheers from Bravo: this was the favored side of the arena, giving the contestants ample room to funnel an attack. But Alpha had the lead, and didn’t need to expose themselves to win; and they had the better snipers, meaning Bravo would likely have to rush the fortified position to even the score.

There was another boom, this one louder than the Nova bomb and it made everything tremble. Morc lowered his scope and looked South into rain that was beginning to fall in sheets. Black shapes marred the skyline, coming in low and fast under the cloud cover, missiles zooming in ahead of them. “Holy crap!” shouted Morc. He leaped down from his position and ran for cover at the tram building as another explosion went off, showering him with dirt and debris. The gun emplacements began to fire, answering the attacking ships with thunder of their own.

“Match is over! Alpha team wins!” Farstride called as he ducked into the tram building with Morc.

“No fair!” Magnus yelled back.

More of the Valherjar poured into building 3 as small ships swept overhead. “We have to call this into the Tower!” said Arianna.

“Can’t, those comm issues we’ve been having all day haven’t been patched yet,” Drake said as he loaded his weapon.

“I don’t think it matters!” shouted Telrik. “I’m sure they know or will soon. We have to get off this hill!” Then a gun emplacement exploded, and the Twilight Gap crumbled.

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

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.”

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: , , , , , ,

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: , , , , ,

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