Posts Tagged With: The Crucible

Day 1099

“My dear young lady,’ said the professor…’there is one plan which no one has yet suggested and which is well worth trying.’
‘What’s that?’ said Susan.
‘We might all try minding our own business…”
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe


“Victory is a matter of will!”

“You ever get tired of Shaxx saying that?” asked Rill.

“It’s just a prerecorded announcement,” I replied, not taking my eyes from the screen. “Although I’m pretty sure he believes it.”

Henrik, Rill’s boyfriend, grunted and swigged from a brown bottle. “Victory is a matter of weapons and skill.”

I didn’t disagree with him and stood up. “I’m getting another drink before the match gets too far along. Anyone need a refill?”

“I’ll take another,” said Emma. The others shook their heads. I made my way to the bar, hood drawn still drawn up, and slid my glass to the frame behind the bar. “Need another of Cosmodrome IPA, too,” I added. The frame blinked and dutifully began to refill my glass.

“I didn’t know Exos could drink,” said a voice at my elbow. The speaker was Awoken, pale blue skin and jet black hair that had the slightest bluish tinge that contrasted starkly with her pure white robes. Her Ghost’s shell was gold and green, depicting a committed Iron Banner contestant that matched her shining green eyes.

“Thought you Warlocks knew everything,” I quipped.

The Awoken rolled her eyes and threw up her hands in a mock defensive pose. “Oh, you’ve wounded me, oh witty Hunter. Seriously, are you really one of those?”

“One of those what?” I asked //tersely.

“One of those guys who thinks if they’re insulting and standoffish it’s somehow endearing?”

I blinked at her, suddenly //flustered. “You’re defensive.”

“Really? Someone makes a casual observation and your first reaction is to put them down for being different from you. Which of us has their defenses up?”

I opened my mouth to retort…then rethought it. “OK, you got me. My mistake.” I drew my hood back and stuck out a hand. “Morc-35, of the Valherjar and the Erickssons.”

“That’s better.” She shook my hand. “Gwendolen, Vanguard. My friends call me Gwen.” She looked at one of the large screens in the half-empty taproom. “So that’s your unit fighting in the Iron Banner, Shores of Time match?”

“Yeah.” I glanced at the screen. Farstride, Findlay, Heisenberg and Telrik were tearing through the competition as only a team of Titans could. Magnus was holding ground near the B-Zone, and a random sixth Bladedancer, unaffiliated as far as I could see, had rounded out the roster for the match. “They’re moving up the rankings pretty well this tournament.”

“Why aren’t you with them?”

“I’ve been out of the Crucible for about a year now. The Iron Banner would eat me alive.”

“Ah. So it has nothing to do with your fear of not being able to revive?”

A host of different emotions roiled through me before I locked down the answer. “You’re the Warlock that Father Ericksson told me about.”

Gwen nodded. “He’s given up trying to convince you to see me, so he asked me to find you. He says you need help. I would like to try, if you’ll let me.”

I took my refilled glass and the bottle from the bar where the frame had placed them. “I’m not a specimen for you to study. Go ply your magic tricks elsewhere.” I turned to leave.

She placed a hand on my arm. “Morc-35, listen: if your condition is what it sounds like, you may be infected with something. Which means you might be curable. Your family is worried about you.”

I shook off her hand and walked back to the table and placed Emma’s drink in front of her. I sat down and studiously kept my back to the bar and Gwen.

“I’m telling you,” Emma was saying to Rill, “these matches are rigged. Look at that!” She pointed at the screen with the scoreboards, showing the different rankings of each team of contestants. “There is a clear bias of matching teams that are imbalanced with one type of Light against teams that have 2 of each energy type, and the teams with 2 of each almost always win.”

“That’s a load of BS,” Rill shot back. “Look at the bracket for the next match: the Fifth Circle is almost purely Golden Guns and Sunsingers, and they haven’t even lost a match yet!”

“Well sure, when you have 3 Guardians who can self-revive it’s impossible to take territory back from them. If this were a Clash tourney they would be just as badly off. My point still stands.”

“Whatever. You’re still going down. The Northern Paladins are winning.”

“Because the Valherjar are almost all Arc-types and the Paladins came with a rounded team. Rigged.”

I checked the score on the match we were watching: 8325 to 7650 with 2:31 on the clock. Although the Valherjar held only a single zone, they were closing the gap through attrition – an effective strategy for a team comprised mostly of Titans. Another screen in the bar flipped over to the match to provide an additional angle and we got a good look at Telrik rushing an enemy zone: he hit with a Fist of Havoc and scattered half the enemy team. In moments Farstride reinforced his position with a shield. A few seconds later and another rush, and all 3 zones were held by the Valherjar, turning the match into a massacre.

The final score was 10150 to 9950. The bar erupted into cheers and groans, and the Iron Banner brackets shifted with the new standings.

“Woo!” Emma slammed her drink on the heavy wood table and stood up on her chair, dancing. “Valherjar, Valherjar! Woo! Enjoy that extra delivery shift this weekend while I’m sunning myself, sis!”

Rill leaned her head on Henrik’s shoulder and shut her eyes. “Damn it. I’ve haven’t had a weekend off in almost a month.” She looked at Emma. “Double or nothing if they lose their next match.”

“You’re on!” Emma dropped back into her chair, laughing.

I risked a look over at my shoulder. The Warlock was gone, as far as I could see.

Emma noticed the look and followed my gaze. “You lose something?”

“Someone,” I said. I turned in my chair again to watch the next match.

“So did you talk with her?” asked Emma.

I glared at her. “Please say you didn’t tell that Warlock where to find me.”

Emma had the good grace to look embarrassed. “I thought-”

“Blood of the Traveler.” I kicked my chair back and stood up. “I don’t need this, Emma.”

“Morc – ”

I drew my hood back up and left the bar.

Ebony spoke in my ear. “Far be it from me to disagree with you,” he said. “But if the Warlock is right, I am in danger as well. We should talk with her.”

“Shut up,” I snapped.

“Guardian – ”

“Shut. Up.”

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Day 358 – Part 2 (Finale)

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“So it was self-defense,” I said.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Day 120 – Part 1

“Unless you can make the world wag better than it does at present, King, your reign will be an endless series of petty battles…”

The Once and Future King, by T.H. White


Weapons down, Guardians,” declared Lord Shaxx through Ebony’s transmitter. I sighed and slowed my run. A bullet skipped off a support beam to my right, and I flipped the shooter off in annoyance. Ebony fed the score telemetry through my new helmet’s HUD, which I had gotten to replace the gear I’d lost on the hunt with the Erikssons. The Future War Cult had proven surprisingly grateful for the chance to bring down a Hive nest, and why not? They had gained quite a bit of notoriety for their part in the operation. I’d taken the glimmer and purchased gear from Dead Orbit foundries and their colors – that had made the FWC a little less happy, but there wasn’t much they could do about it.

“10,120 to 8,780,” said the shooter, sauntering up. The Guardian was a Warlock, dressed in the reds and whites of a New Monarchy soldier from head to foot. Even her gun had a New Monarchy sigil. She stood out like a cherry tree in full bloom in a brown field, and yet her combat performance seemed entirely unaffected by it. The Warlock removed her helmet, and her glowing green eyes flashed with //mirth. “And…my my, 1.0 for you. That’s even worse than doing badly – you didn’t affect your team’s performance. Almost like you weren’t there.”

I left my own helmet on, arguably a rude thing to do to another Exo – why, I wasn’t sure, but I knew it to be a slight – and shrugged. “I can’t bring myself back from the dead like some.”

She waved her hand dismissively. “You smell like you still have fresh oil and Light on you anyway. I guess we did the right thing going easy on you. After all, I hear you’re recovering from being captured by Thrall.”

I was about to retort when Telrik strode up. “Fernanda-24. Did you enjoy that feeling of your head exploding 7 times in a row?”

“8, actually: it blew my mind that you’re still alive,” she replied.

“Why? Because I don’t hide behind the Walls all day, extorting civilians?”

“Extorting?” gasped another arrival – this one a Titan – as he took of his blood-red helmet. An Awoken with knife-edged features, green hair and bright orange eyes, he had a tattoo on his right cheek that vaguely resembled a New Monarchy symbol. He put a hand over his heart. “That’s a very serious charge, Titan Telrik. Care to repeat that for the record? Now that the match is over I’m sure the Consensus would like to hear that.”

“Some manners would not hurt our cause at all, Syphis,” interjected Drake, walking up.

Fernanda-24 actually inclined her head toward Drake, as did Syphis: the action //surprised me. “Sir Drake,” she said smoothly. “You grace us with your presence.” If there was //sarcasm in her tone I did not detect it.

Drake inclined his head to them as well. “A sterling performance, Fernanda-24.”

“Well, given there were only 3 of us in a group of 6, I fear we did not reach as great a height as we might have.” She looked him in the eye. “We, of course, would still accept your application to the King’s Ransom. Our unit is, as you know, still seeking loyal members of the Monarchy.”

“I fear politics are not of utmost importance to me right now, and I have a prior commitment to the Valherjar,” said Drake. “But I thank you for your offer.”

“It remains open,” she said with no sign of //disappointment. “Ronald, stop stalking the poor Dead Orbit hunter. We need to go.”

I turned my head slightly and startled back a step: a hulking human with a buzz cut and heavy brow stood behind my left shoulder. He moved past me with absolute silence and followed his comrades, cradling a rocket launcher in his thick arms.

“Are you…?” Telrik said to Drake.

The Warlock cut him off. “No. I have no interest in running.”

“But someone wants you to?”

“Some people think that an Awoken would make a good gesture of diversity and unity,” said Drake. “But it will not happen, and I have no interest in the post.”

“Ah.”

Before I could ask what they were talking about, a general announcement from Lord Shaxx to clear the arena for the next match prompted us to depart. We headed for the exit, our 3 companions, randomly selected by draw, long since having departed. Frames trundled by, repairing or replacing the parts of the arena destroyed during the match to make it ready for the next clash.

“Well, there’s room in the next round for us. Want to stay and get some more in?” asked Drake.

I shook my head. “Cayde-6 just assigned some hunters to check out an anomaly in the Mongolia ruins. Apparently Fallen have started gathering, and there’s a possibility the Kings are there. I got picked.”

Telrik whistled appreciatively. “The Kings? Watch your back. Word is they do not move for much.”

I nodded. “Going to see the Cryptarchs again before I go. After my first encounter with the Fallen, I want to be better prepared, see what they can tell me.”

“Well, good luck,” said Drake. “If you need help, just call.”

I would have winced, in spite of my helmet still being on. “I will be fine.” I gave Ebony the word and transmatted out to fly back to the City – and the libraries of the Cryptarchs.

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

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