EPISODE XIV: Move On
Hunter examines the weapon in his hand. Vanguard. The orange & blue insignia shimmers in the sunlight.
Hunter nods. Although Exos have emotions, they come up far short of having the ability to cry. “She got me through quite a few battles, 44. They all have.” Hunter looks over the growing stack of weapons he is selling back to Banshee-44 for as much as he can get in Currency. In the old days, these weapons were the cream of the crop. But now, with this new threat, they don’t stand a chance. It’s time for upgrades. He only hopes the new models live up to the old ones.
Even though The Vault for each Guardian is now double the size to hold more weapons in stock, the new weapons are quickly shipping in. Without question, something has to go or there still won’t be enough space to hold them all.
“I’m surprised your brothers let you do this for them. I don’t let anybody touch my stash.”
Hunter looks around as several Guardians surround Banshee-44’s workspace. Droids assigned to The Tower assists in handing out Currency as most Guardians sell the old weapons to buy the new & improved models. “I hope this is the right move.”
“Hey, that’s why your testing them. I’ll have a new set in a couple of days. If they don’t work in the field, they’re not worth buying. I wanna make sure I only sell the best.”
“Besides…if I don’t think they’re good, I wouldn’t give ’em out for trial runs. These weapons have potential. I just need to be sure.”
“You sure I don’t have to pay for these?”
“Remember, Hunter, trial runs only. Meaning it’s not really yours. A lease. Get my meaning? The weapon, itself, records field data. Let’s me know how it performs & how Guardians use them. You’re doing good work for me so far, which is what the Reward was for. If you test enough weapons from the first few shipments, I’ll give you better weapons to try out.”
“Still, in the heat of battle, go with the best you have. These weapons don’t upgrade; they’re given out as is.”
Hunter eyes the amount of Currency as readouts come to life on his visor.
At his frown, Banshee-44 speaks up, “Oh yeah, your brothers brought a weapon. One for each of ’em.”
“I only see a name. Where’s the weapon, itself?”
“It’ll be here with the rest of the shipment in a couple of days.”
“You mean to tell me they bought weapons without actually knowing what they look like?”
“Yep,” Banshee beams.
“At this price?!”
Hunter throws up his hands.
“Wave of the future, Hunter. Get used to it.”
Hunter looks at other Guardians to notice they’re doing the same thing. Buying a weapon based on Banshee-44’s word. “I can’t believe this…” he whispers.
“You’ll thank me…later.”
Hunter takes a step back as he calms, “I’m sorry, 44. I trust you, it’s just…all of this is too fast.”
“And your worried about her,” Banshee points out.
“I fixed the helmet she sliced into. I heard what happened to the Awoken Fleet. She could’ve been there. Been killed. She stayed behind, in charge of the reserves.”
“I gotta go.”
“She’s still in charge. For now. I’ve never met Petra Venj, but anyone who can cut into an Exotic Helm has my respect.” Banshee-44 nods.
Hunter returns the gesture as he walks off to meet the Cryptarch, Master Rahool. Banshee is right. In one swift blow, the Awoken’s entire Fleet is presumed dead. They attacked Oryx’s own ship, the DreadNaught, only to discover their weapons weren’t powerful enough to destroy it. Then, Oryx activated his primary weapon…one shot.
Again, the place is swarming with Guardians. Veterans. New Recruits. All getting ready to head out for war. Master Rahool is his usual self, oblivious to any criticism that comes his way. It’s Hunter’s turn.
“Hunter! I hope you gave my regards to the enemy.”
“Come to think of it, I did,” Hunter snaps.
The Cryptarch laughs, “What do you have for me, today? Something interesting, I gather.”
Hunter uploads four rare, Exotic Engrams he recently purchased from Xur, Agent of the Nine, to the Cryptarch’s system.
Master Rahool looks them over, “You paid a hefty price for these, Guardian! All helmets, as you know, but I can’t tell you what they are for sure until I decode the raw data. As always.”
Hunter is nervous, “I need a helmet. I’m taking my chances.”
“If none of these turn out to be a Hunter’s helmet…even with new models, I still can’t refund…”
The Cryptarch nods and begins the process of decoding the Engrams.
Once decoded, the armor, whatever it may be, downloads onto the personal Vault of the Guardian. Hunter is disappointed at the first result. Light Beyond Nemesis. A Helmet for Warlock. “Master Rahool,” Hunter points out calmly, “I can’t wear this.”
The Cryptarch snaps, “How many times must we discussed this? The risks are yours.” He continues to decode the next Engram.
The Stag. A Helmet for Warlock. Hunter shakes his head, “This is expensive.” A third decode, he pauses, Obsidian Mind. Warlock’s favorite Helmet.
“I’m sure your brother will be pleased,” the Cryptarch adds.
“Yeah, he’ll love me,” Hunter admits.
Master Rahool still sees his disappointment. “Well, one Engram to go.”
Hunter looks away.
The Cryptarch punches away at his monitor.
A familiar sound. Hunter looks at the reading on his visor: Celestial Nighthawk. One of the most powerful Helmets…for Hunter. He looks at the data on the Helmet, “Better than I thought. Look at this!”
“A rare treasure. You see? Persistence pays off.” The Cryptarch nods.
Hunter tries on his upgraded Helmet. “It’s perfect,” he exclaims as his armor increases in strength.
Master Rahool points, “Tower North, Guardian. You’ll find new Shaders to paint your armor.”
Hunter beams as he shakes Master Rahool’s hand, “You’re not so bad, afterall.”
“I knew that all along,” he smiles.
A chime comes through the Helmet. “I gotta go.” Hunter makes his way through the crowd towards Tower North.
Warlock’s voice is monotone, “I don’t mean to intrude, Hunter. I simply noticed all of our Coins are gone…”
“I spent them.” Hunter stands at The Vault console loading all three of Warlock’s new Helmets into the system.
“Need I remind you of how long it took me…” Suddenly, Warlock hears a chime. He looks at the reading on his visor. “It can’t be…”
“It is,” Hunter concludes. “All yours, bro.”
Warlock begins to pace in his Quarters beginning to say one thing after another before changing his mind. “Hunter, I…”
“I already started my quest of earning more coins back.”
“No…I know. I…I don’t know what to say.”
There’s a first.
“Wear ’em in style, Warlock.”
“Right. And you?”
“I got something…finally.”
“Well, it could have been worse.”
“Don’t remind me.” Hunter arrives at the console in Tower North.
“I presume you need a custom Shader for your armor?”
“Hey, I need to look good. I’m out in the field more than you guys.”
Titan jumps in, “I earned a nice one, Hunter.”
“Titan?! What are you doing there?”
Warlock answers for him, “He wanted to convince me in person. He earned a special Shader from the Speaker, himself.”
“Figures,” Hunter moans. “What is it?” Hunter stands in front of the console for Shaders.
“You’ll see it,” Titan concludes.
Mercurial Dawn. “It’s kinda…orange.”
Titan corrects him, “Like an Autumn Sunrise.”
Hunter shakes his head, “Titan…what do you know about autumn sunrise?”
“I read it in one of Warlock’s books. Commander Zavala interrupted my mission…assigned more Titans to patrol The Tower. I’ve had more time to read.”
Hunter shakes his head, yet, again.
Titan continues, “I think we should share the best of the new weapons we have. Not only are the new models expensive, they’re tough to get.”
“With several waves of new Guardians showing up, we’ll need to help each other more than anticipated,” Warlock adds.
Hunter looks at Warlock’s image on his visor taking note of the color of his new armor. “You look like an orange. That’s…that’s a lot of orange.”
“I beg your pardon; it’s the new style,” as he brushes over his Chest Armor.
Hunter activates Mercurial Dawn over his armor:
Hunter looks at himself, actually impressed by how the new colors fall separately. “I wear it better than you do.”
“Funny,” Warlock finishes. “Now, to more important matters. I ordered a…SUROS DIS-43 Scout Rifle from Banshee-44. I trust it will be in order. The Series of SUROS models seem to be at the top of the class.”
“I put an order in for the Omolon Thesan FR4 Fusion Rifle. The Omolon models are light-weight, easier for me to carry. I also earned a weapon from the Vanguard: the Conspiracy Theory-D…” Titan adds.
Titan continues, “I didn’t name it myself. I haven’t been in the field to test it, yet, which is why it should be between us. Put it to better use.”
“I haven’t found anything of real significance. Ikora Rey has quite a few Warlocks confined to the Libraries, looking through history for signs of Oryx…legends of his DreadNaught. There must be a way to immobilize that weapon.”
“I have a couple of finds. You’ll be happy to know, Titan, they’re from the Vanguard,” Hunter adds.
“It’s beautiful,” Titan proclaims.
“I did find a machine gun, first, that I’ve used for a bit,” Hunter continues:
“If either of you comes across a Pulse Rifle, same quality, that’ll really help,” Hunter ends.
“Where are you going?” Warlock asks as he notices the sound of ships docking in the Tower Hanger.
“I need to take care of something,” Hunter answers.
“You’re going out there. Aren’t you?” Titan concludes.
“You have no idea of what you’re walking into,” Warlock assumes.
“You have your orders. Me? I have to handle this my way.”
“Meaning the Hunter way…” Warlock finishes.
“Take what you need. Try to keep comms open. …By yourself?” Titan asks.
“It’s how I work.” Hunter kills the signal as he teleports onto a ship.
Warlock takes a step back and looks to Titan, “Look at the specs. I don’t think that’s a Guardian’s ship.”
Titan looks over the schematic, “I’ve seen it before. It belongs to Eris Morn.” He rubs his chin, “She would never allow anyone to take her ship. What is he doing?”
“Look here, a modified cloaking device on-board.”
“Would he do something so crazy?”
Warlock gives him a knowing glance.
Titan walks towards the entrance.
“Now…where are you going?”
“I have to go.”
“I’ve been assigned to study; you were called back to patrol.”
“I can’t leave Hunter out there in the field alone. If we let that DreadNaught reach Mars, it’s over. For all of us!” The door opens and closes behind him.
Warlock looks over his books scattered over his desk. Maybe Titan…and Hunter are right. But he’s never been one to disobey a direct order from his Mentor, Ikora Rey.
EPISODE XV: See the Sun
“Where are you going, Guardian?! Why is a replacement at your post?” Commander Zavala demands.
Titan pauses, unsure of what to say. The truth helps, “I have to leave…for a little while.”
“We discussed this!” Zavala storms up and spins Titan around to face him. “I need troops to guard this Wall. The City is our number one priority! You will be reprimanded for…”
Titan steps forward, inches from his face, “I give my life for this Wall. For the people! And I can’t protect them by sitting here waiting for the threat to arrive! …Sir.”
Titan takes off the badge of the Vanguard holding it out to Zavala.
Zavala turns his head away.
“I will return, Commander.” Titan waits for a response. “I give you my word.”
Zavala begins to walk away, “I know what you’re looking for.”
Titan waits for the rest.
“I can give you the coordinates…to save time.”
Titan steps forward.
“But if you die out there, this City will be weaker for it.”
“The City is already weak, Commander…which is why I’m going.”
Zavala doesn’t argue the point, “They’re mercenaries, Guardian. Worse…they hate me. If I send you, I don’t know what they’ll do.”
“The Sunbreakers. Titans whom deserted the Wall, the City, my command to go where they please. They stand against The Darkness, perhaps, along with everyone else.”
“They learned how to control Solar Light, wielding it through a legendary hammer.”
“Can this power be controlled?”
Zavala thinks it over, “It’s all too easy to let it control you. Why stand on a Wall when you can control the power of the Sun?”
“I will return, Commander. With this power, our enemies will hesitate to attack the City. We can go out to face them.”
“Will it work?”
“We’ll make it work. We have to.”
Commander Zavala gives in, “They’re scattered across the Galaxy, Titan. The last known coordinates lead to Venus. IF they cooperate, they’ll give you direction on what’s next.”
“I want to take on the challenge, Sir.”
Titan salutes, “Yes, Sir.”
Zavala shakes his head, “I didn’t know you could be as foolish as your brothers.”
“…Or as brave,” Titan finishes as he walks towards his ship in the Tower Hangar.
Zavala is rubbed the wrong way. He wants to go after Titan, but knows…if Titan succeeds, more like him will follow. It can turn the tide of the war in their favor.
Titan didn’t know what would happen. The first stage of the challenge led to an even greater one: he’s heading to Mercury. The Traveler stopped The Vex from taking over the entire Solar System, but only after they had total control of the planet.
He teleports down to the surface. His Ghost studies the area. The Vex are present, standing guard. Titan quickly disposes of them. Few, if any Guardians, venture out this far. In a word, it’s hot…
“Why are you here, Guardian? You’re not one of us!”
Titan whirls around, looking for the source of her voice. “Who’s speaking?”
“I am Ouros.”
His Ghost speaks up, “She’s one of the most powerful Titans alive. The stories are legendary.”
“You’ve made it this far. Still, are you one with the Light?”
Ouros pauses, “We will see. Ghost…ignite the Forge.”
“Yes, ma’am,” Ghost answers. It is in awe.
Titan doesn’t see Ouros at all…anywhere. But he’s deciding to trust her.
“You’ve been on the Wall for quite some time. What makes you think you can bathe in fire?” Ouros asks.
“I may be covered in the blood of innocents if I don’t do something to help. Where to next?”
She is satisfied, “At last…a heart in the right place.”
Titan pushes forward, happy to get out of the intense glare of the sun.
The Forge is ignited. “The Array needs to be aligned,” as Ghost leads him to the next point.
Another stone to activate. Back outside, Titan can feel the temperature rising, which is unbelievable considering his proximity to the sun. But now…he can see it: a burning flame in the midst of the courtyard.
“Be careful, Guardian,” she warns. “Not even your armor can’t withstand this fire. You may perish…”
“I am a Sunbreaker,” telling himself more than replying to her. He reaches his hand into the burning flame hovering in the air. There it is! He pulls the Hammer from it feeling the Solar Energy engulf his entire body in flames. He waits. Am I dead?
No. He feels the heat that doesn’t burn him.
Suddenly, the Vex teleport to the area sensing the imminent threat Titan has now become.
Wave after wave, Titan fires a blast of flames from the Hammer of Sol. Wave after wave, the Vex are disintegrated. At this moment, he understands why Commander Zavala didn’t want Titan to leave. Who would stand on a Wall with this kind of power at their disposal?
The Vex are gone. The voice of Ouros returns, “Welcome, Guardian. Forever. Bathe in the fire!” She’s gone.
Titan takes one more long stare into the sun on the horizon. He despised it before. Now…it feels like home. His ship swoops down as he teleports in.
EPISODE XVI: Armsday
The Tower Watch is bustling with Guardians as the always anticipated Armsday has arrived. The sun pours over the mountain range lighting up the entire area. As much as people hate war, everyone seems to enjoy the feel of a new weapon in hand.
Hunter makes his way through the throng, careful not to be run over. His brothers had already been here, collecting the new weapons they ordered the week before from Gunsmith, Banshee-44. Three of them added to The Vault. At last, Hunter arrives at the table as Banshee spots him.
“Up early this morning, eh?” His metal skeleton catching every bit of sunlight.
Hunter punches in a code, “Here’s my number.”
“Weapon. Weapon, weapon. You ordered a weapon? Oh yea, here it is.”
Hunter is tempted to face-palm.
“Two choices, Guardian. Same model. This one’s better while crouching…target acquisition. And…” he spins the second version of the Scout Rifle towards Hunter. “Precision kills. Explosion. Done.”
“Omolon, manufacturer. They’re light-weight, anyways. The ammo isn’t metal.”
Hunter nods his approval.
“You gave me a hard time about paying up-front…”
“Whadaya think?” Banshee finishes.
Hunter barely notices the question as he’s still in amazement over the weapon’s sleek design.
Banshee-44 appreciates the approval, “Lemme know how it works out for ya.”
They shake hands.
44 looks behind him, “Better get moving. Customers don’t like to wait.”
The next Guardian quickly takes Hunter’s place as he backs away.
Hunter’s screen lights up as he sees Titan on a video feed. The smaller window in the upper right corner.
“Pull the weapons from The Vault. Let us know it how goes.”
“Right. Back on guard duty?”
Titan doesn’t respond right away. “Commander Zavala is just looking out for the people.”
“Titan, I really don’t like to get mixed up in all this stuff, but…you’re a SunBreaker, now. SunBreakers don’t patrol walls. They pound enemies with hammers in the field.”
“I need to regain his trust. I overstepped my position.”
“I’m Vanguard, too.”
“And you chose to learn under Cayde,” with a stern tone.
Hunter backs off, “I want you to reach your full potential. That’s it. Pretty tough to do from where you’re at.”
Titan thinks it over. “I have to deal with this my way, Hunter.”
The signal closes.
That went well. Hunter transfers the newly acquired weapons from The Vault. “I hope they’re better at picking weapons than careers.”
“Another Omolon. Similar build. Could come in handle. Nice range,” Hunter concludes. Finally, the last:
“Good Impact for an Auto Rifle without losing Fire Rate. Stable. Might even be better than the SUROS model we already have. …I’ll put it to the test.” Hunter’s mind drifts to the most pressing matter. Oryx is still out there. Someone has to take him down.
Petra Venj is in command, now, looking over the rest of the Awoken who didn’t fall in the battle. She spots a familiar signal approaching on the radar. The Awoken guards confirm her suspicion. Petra turns to the landing post, “Round two?!”
Hunter brushes off the joke and pulls back his cloak to remove his helmet.
They meet each other halfway.
“I thought you would’ve learned your lesson by now,” she smiles.
“How can you joke at a time like this?”
“I wasn’t joking.” She takes in the look of his face, “You’re an Exo.”
Hunter waves off a rush of shyness, “I thought you should know.”
“Where are you going?”
“Where do you think?”
“You think you can kill him?”
“One way to find out.”
“You are stronger than Warlock,” as she circles him. “But not stronger than Titan.”
“It takes more than brute strength to win a war,” he snaps.
“True. But it doesn’t hurt,” as she stops in front of him.
“I can get in. My cloaking may be limited, but I can reach the depths of the DreadNaught better than anyone.”
“Guardians are used to it.”
She turns back to the guards, giving them a knowing glance, before she and Hunter began to stroll along the edge of the Vestian Outpost. The haze of space fills the air; the distant source of light blazes through that and the sea of debris. “Why do you have to be reckless?”
“That’s how we lost so many; going into a battle without enough Intel.”
“Well, someone needs to get the Intel. I’d rather one Exo, than an entire squad.”
She steps in front of him, “But what about your life?”
“I stay home…we’re all dead, anyway. It’s better to do this on my terms.” Oh, great, he’s starting to sound like his brother.
“I’m afr…” she stops mid-sentence and gives Hunter a hug.
The moment seems long…and short.
“Good-bye, Hunter.” She walks away.
Don’t let her go. What chance do I have?! She’s…and I’m… Hunter shrugs off his thoughts. Emotions. The death of us all. He teleports back to his ship.
The coordinates are set. Punch it. Already at the edge of The Reef, it’s a rather short trip to the rings of Saturn. The DreadNaught hovers in the midst of the hole it’s weapon carved out of the rings.
His Ghost floats near, “I’m sorry, Hunter,” noticing his somber mood. “This isn’t going to be easy.”
He glances at Ghost, “Just makes for a better story to tell.”
“If you say so. Initiating cloaking device.”
His ship vanishes on the approach to the DreadNaught.
EPISODE XVII: Taken
Warlock becomes attentive as the main console in his Quarters springs to life.
“Warlock, report to the Hall of Guardians. Immediately,” says his Mentor, Ikora Rey.
“Could be bad news,” Ghost answers.
“Don’t be so melancholy, Ghost. We’ve got a job to do.” Warlock jogs out of the door.
Ikora Rey meets Warlock at the entrance of the Hall of Guardians. “You made good time from there. Now, I’m certain we have the right Guardian for the job.” She looks over her shoulder to see Commander Zavala brooding.
Warlock takes a glance at him, then, back to her. “Where to, my Lady?”
“How much have you read about Phobos?”
“The larger of the two moons orbiting Mars. The closest to its planet in the solar system. I fail to understand why the Cabal would build such an expansive base on that rock.”
Ikora steps forward, “We think that base is under attack. In the very least, something is wrong!”
“I will leave right away.”
“Commader Zavala will be on the Comm. Offer him the same respect as you would me.” She glances back over her shoulder.
“Of course.” Warlock notices her more worried than concerned look. “Is there anything I should know before departure?”
She shakes her head, “Keep your signal LIVE. We…we’re…”
“Going in blind.”
She nods in agreement.
“Nothing new to us…”
“This is different! The Cabal aren’t shaken easily. Be careful out there!”
Warlock salutes as Ghost hesitates to move. Warlock puts a bit of distance between the two in a short time.
“Watch him for me, Ghost,” Ikora Rey implores. “We can’t lose one of our best.”
“Yes, ma’am. I don’t like this mission, yet…I picked him for a reason.” Ghost hurries off.
Ikora feels a little better.
In the Tower Hangar, Amanda Holliday gives Warlock a smirk, “You boys leaving Titan behind, again, huh?”
Warlock freezes in place, “Hunter’s been assigned?”
Holliday frowns, “No, he was pretty quiet about this one. Anything?”
Warlock is annoyed, “Nothing. He could share information from time to time.”
“Hey…your boat’s ready. Better high-tail it outta here. Zavala’s orders.”
Warlock disappears right in front of her as he enters his ship.
“Hunter. Hunter. Hunter,” Warlock repeats.
“I’m sure your brother is fine,” Ghost replies. “Though, I can’t say why his Ghost chose him.”
“Nothing?” The ship revs to life and hovers towards a clear take-off.
“He hasn’t tried to contact The Tower or yourself…” Ghost continues scanning the logs, “…or your brother.”
His ship skyrockets into orbit, “I don’t have time for this.” He sets the coordinates for Phobos, then, opens the Comm Channel to The Reef.
First. Static. Then, “What happened to him?” Petra Venj asks from her post on The Reef.
“You’ve spoken to Hunter? Recently?”
“A few hours ago,” she recalls.
“He hasn’t returned. I need to leave! Report back if he contacts you,” Warlock kills the signal and the ship bolts into hyperspace.
At the Vestian Outpost on the edge of The Reef, Petra Venj looks over the shoulder of one of her guards. “I don’t see him!”
“There’s a lot of debris. Even for our scanners…” the Guard replies.
Petra is torn.
“Commander, there’s no one else! You can’t put Veriks in charge.”
“How many ships do we have left?”
“Enemy scouts may still be out there. We can’t lose you, too!”
“He’s alone. If I have a chance to save him, then…”
The Guard puts her hand a Petra’s shoulder, “He may be dead already, Commander. We…we’re not picking up any traces of life.”
Petra Venj pulls away heading for the Ship Hangar.
“You can’t…” the Guard pauses. “I’m going with you!”
Another Guard steps up, “So am I!”
Petra smiles and the three women head for the few ships remaining in the Awoken Fleet.
Warlock is out of hyperspace studying the readings of the moon below. Like nothing he’s ever seen before. Billows of smoke pour out of the Cabal base.
“We’re losing the…” Ghost begins before the readings dissipate. “Something’s interfering with our equipment. I couldn’t make out what it was when I had the chance.”
“I’ll put the ship on ‘stand-by’. We may need to leave before finding the cause of this,” Warlock concludes.
A ring in the cockpit. “Contact from The Tower,” Ghost says.
Warlock heads for the surface of the moon, “Open Comm, Ghost.”
The atmosphere is turbulent. Phobos orbits Mars faster than the planet’s rotation speed.
Ghost speaks into his helmet, “I’m picking up an entrance ahead. We must get inside. Quickly!”
“The Cabal are leaving,” Warlock huffs as he races across the rocky terrain. “What are they…?” he spots a Cabal making it’s last movements before death.
“Guardian…” Ghost reminds him.
Warlock picks up his pace again, gun extended as he reaches the broken wall turned entrance into the base.
“What in the name of…” Commander Zavala breaks in over the Comm. “Be wary, Guardian. Anything that can frighten off the Cabal cannot be taken lightly.”
The building is falling apart. Gaping holes in the roof. Random explosions throughout the base. A battle. And the Cabal lost. Warlock pushes through and over debris. But to whom?
“I can hear them,” Eris Morn interjects.
“Guardian, I asked Eris to join us. Perhaps, she can shed light on this situation,” Zavala adds.
“What are these…? Like…dimensional portals of some kind.” Warlock examines strange material that seems to rip seams into space itself.
Eris continues, “They’re getting louder…calling his name!”
“Yes, Eris…thank you,” as Zavala struggles to understand who she’s referring to.
A Cabal soldier burst into the room. Warlock steps back, ready to fire. Suddenly, the strange material appears to reach out grabbing the Cabal, pulling it into the seam. Gone. In a split second.
He’s too deep within the base to know his way back. Warlock pushes forward as the Mentors in The Tower watch his progress.
Room after room, empty, dead, or dying Cabal soldiers scattered across the floor. Warlock steps through double doors as they slide open.
“He…he’s here!” Eris calls out.
Laughter. Evil. Darkness. An Echo…his name is Oryx. A shadow of the Taken King fills the middle of the room proclaiming victory. Bullets fly through his face as Warlock fires. No effect. The King is gone.
Orbs of dark matter spawn throughout the room. Hive. Cabal. Deformed. Splitting into two…three…more. Warlock opens fire as flames streams towards him. His armor’s shields take the brunt of it. Find cover.
One by one, these forms are shot, spiraling into nothing. Gone. Are they dead…or dead already? Their Commander remains as bullets bounce off of his thick exterior. New plan. Warlock gathers all of the Arc energy he can contain and releases it as bolts of lightning through his hands.
The deformed Hive Commander wails and he disintegrates from the electrical charges.
Commander Zavala’s voice breaks through, “Guardian, this mission is scraped. I want you out of there, now!”
Ghost puts up schematics of the architecture on Warlock’s visor, “I may have found an opening here.”
Warlock heads in that direction.
Through sets of double doors and gaping holes in the interior, he slides to a halt just outside of the building.
“Can you jump that far?” Ghost asks.
He doesn’t answer. More enemies emerge from dark orbs on the another end of this jump. He wouldn’t survive a fall from this height. Enemies howl behind him as they approach his position. Warlock fires, killing the Taken obstructing his path. Then…he jumps as the Taken behind him close in.
“That was close,” Ghost sighs as they land on the other side.
“A remote area at the edge of the base. Almost there!”
He runs as fast as he can while the last remnant of Cabal try to fight off their Taken kin. There’s the ship! He takes one long jump after another to avoid the civil war.
Boom! Warlock spins in reverse before hitting the ground. The shield of a Taken Cabal has the ability to fire some sort of concussive blast. Good to know. He finds cover. Still, one Taken Cabal can’t keep him from getting home. They better have answers when I get there!
Three Awoken ships fly through a heavy patch of debris outside of the Dreadnaught weapon’s range. Petra Venj has taken point. She slides her ship to a halt, “Wait!”
The two ships following her struggle to do the same. “Why are we stopping here?” the Guard asks.
“Commander, I could have run into you!” the second complains.
“SSShh.” Petra studies the field of debris ahead of them. “Cut the engines.”
They follow her command. There ships began to float about like the other pieces of debris around them.
“Risky,” the second Guard whispers.
“Too much congestion,” the Guard whispers, “Even at this range.”
Venj presses icons on her ship’s console. The two Guards notice what she can see with her naked eye.
“Cloaked,” the second Guard confirms.
“It looks like one of ours,” the Guard points out.
“Could be a trap, Commander. Kill him. Take the ship. That hull is badly damaged.”
“Like the days of old. Trojan horse,” Petra Venj finishes.
The two Guards agree.
“If we open Comm…”
“Yes, tell everyone we’re here,” the second Guard interjects.
“You’re call, Commander.”
Petra flips the knife over in her hand. And, again…again…again.
Their screens turn red.
“Five of them!” the second Guard adds.
The damaged, cloaked ship comes to life, struggling to propel forward.
“Hunter!” Petra decides as the three Awoken ships head back towards The Reef. “How much more can that ship take?”
“Little power…90% of what’s left is on the rear shields. The weapons are…severely damaged…”
Energy bursts invade the area.
“He’s falling behind!” the second Guard calls out. “You sure this is the guy?”
“Life readings…if that’s him, he’s fading. Probably wounded! Badly. Barely conscious.” the Guard adds.
“We have to teleport him aboard,” Petra decides.
“You’d both have to drop your shields to…” the second Guard says.
Petra’s ship swirls into a 180, opening fire on the oncoming ships, which scatter to avoid a direct hit.
The shields of the struggling ship fall and then, it explodes.
Petra pulls up into a solid 90 degree climb. She kills the main engine using side boosters to turn the ship around. Facing her Awoken partners, she boosts forward as enemy ships chase them.
The Guard screams as her ship is rocked, “Direct. My shields are…”
“Cut to the right! Hurry up!” the second Guard implores.
Her ship explodes. One down. Two left.
The second Guard grits her teeth as her ship spins from an impact. “Are you hurt?!”
“Hurt? Not really. Scared out of my mind? Possibly!” the Guard replies having teleported to the next ship.
Streaks of orange fill the air followed by explosions from the Hive aircraft.
“Good shooting, Commander,” the Guard smiles.
Still, Petra Venj is teary-eyed as she glances back at Hunter lying on the floor of her ship. “Hunter, say something!”
His cloak is burned, shards of debris in his body. The internal light that usually glows brightly has faded away.
“Is he…?” the second Guard begins.
“The Medical Team is prepped at the Outpost, but…we don’t usually treat Outsiders.”
Petra wipes a tear away from her cheek as another explosion rocks her ship. Rear shields are gone. She brings the ship to a halt, another 180, bullets fly. The explosion of the final Hive ship sends Petra’s careening backwards sideswiping a huge chunk of debris. It’s dead.
“Petra, come in!” the second Guard calls out as the same explosion propels her ship into a chunk of debris.
“Commander? Commander Venj?” The Guard waits for a reply.
Petra tries not to sob as she cradles Hunter on her knees. “He’s not responding.”
The second Guard looks over her main console, “I probably have enough juice to teleport you over…” She wipes her forehead, “We should take him to The Tower, but the Outpost may be too far out.”
“You’re hull has been breached,” Petra adds as she looks out of her ship’s windows. “You may have to teleport here…if possible.”
“Either way, I think we’re…stuck. Comms are down…” thoughts of the second Guard trail off.
“I am sorry, sisters,” Petra Venj concludes. “I failed you. I failed, again.”
EPISODE XVIII: Freedom
Space is quiet. The silence is deafening. Hope is hard to find.
Hunter is unconscious. Petra Venj keeps an eye on him as her two Guards work to repair communications.
“There’s something out there,” the second Guard says.
“Power down,” Petra replies as she eyes the horizon.
“We almost have it,” the Guard says.
“And if they detect us, now, help will be too late,” Venj finishes.
The Guard lets out a sigh as the ship powers down again.
Petra faces her, “Since we’re staring death in the face, how about losing the protocol?”
“Very well,” the Guard answers. “Carmine, it is.”
The Second Guard walks over, “We’re not dead, yet.”
Venj looks to the Second Guard, “Jade. It helps ease the stress.”
“I won’t break protocol, Commander,” Jade insists. “But we do need the Comm to have a chance.”
“We need the weapons online,” Petra corrects her.
“Oh, no. There are a lot more than five this time!” Carmine calls out.
Petra and Jade have a look out the window. More than a dozen ships from the Dreadnaught slow to a cruise as they search the area for the Awoken party. Their damaged ship, the Ceres Galliot, still floats through space with the rest of the debris. Excellent camouflage, but it can’t last forever.
Jade whispers, “How did they track us so quickly?” An enemy ship crawls by.
Carmine shakes her head in uncertainty.
Suddenly, slowly, but surely, the ships begin the converge on their exact location.
Jade can see more ships coming towards them through the main window. She swallows and looks to Petra.
How are they tracking us?! Petra Venj’s eyes narrow as she sees a faint light blinking near Hunter. She crawls across the floor in a blink.
“Commander…” Jade whispers.
Petra moves a section of Hunter’s cloak aside. “Their little ball…companion…”
“How do you turn it off?!” Jade whispers having followed Petra.
“It’s called a Ghost,” Carmine points out.
“How do you turn it off?!” Jade repeats.
An explosion rocks the Ceres Galliot. They all tumble over. Then another…and another.
Jade looks at her hands, “We’re still alive.”
Carmine is at the window, “Someone else is out there!”
“Status?!” Petra calls out.
Jade powers up the main console, “Carmine, get over here!”
Carmine tries opening the Comm. Static.
“We took another hit, Commander. A main thruster. If we try to punch it, she’ll probably spin out.”
Venj slams her hand on the console.
The three Awoken women spin around to see Ghost trying to revive Hunter.
“Titan…” Hunter radios, “we need a teleport.”
The ship’s Comm clears a bit of the static, “…back around…fleet…ready…” Titan says.
Jade’s jaw drops, “The Dreadnaught’s sent more ships,” as she eyes their radar.
Petra helps Hunter to his feet, “How many?”
“Uhh…” Carmine swallows, “All of them, I think.”
“It’s an Armada,” Jade finishes.
Petra nods, “Huddle up! He’s only gonna get one pass.”
Huge chunks of debris shatter around them as the Armada closes in firing along the way.
Are we going to make it? His arm over her shoulder, Petra holds Hunter up as the group is crouched together in the middle of the ship.
The alarm sounds as Titan heads directly towards the Armada…and his friends.
The Ceres Galliot explodes as enemy ships fly by.
The smell of jasmine is in the air. Petra Venj squints as her vision clears to see Ghost scanning her eye.
“Your vital signs have improved, ma’am. You should be fine.” Ghost hurries passed three medical droids exiting the room.
Petra gets up slowly, finally feeling the effects of their ordeal. She groans.
A medical droid walks over, “Careful, Commander. You have sustained some 2nd-Degree burns from the explosion. They will heal completely in time.”
Petra lurches forward, “Jade…where’s Carmine?!”
A hand rest of her shoulder, “Welcome to The Tower, Commander,” Carmine smiles.
Jade limps over having dosed off on the chair, “You’re awake…”
“What happened to you?!” Petra demands.
Jade looks at the scars on her leg, “They took out the debris.” She frowned, “We took a bit of the hit with us.”
No kidding. Petra spins her body to sit at the edge of the bed.
“Ma’am, you are not cleared for release,” a Medical droid explains.
“I’m clearing myself,” Petra sighs. She makes her way to the door as it slides open and she spots Hunter pacing the lobby area. “You look well.”
Hunter streaks towards her, “You could’ve been killed.”
“That doesn’t sound like a “thank you.”
“I would’ve made it back on my own.”
She gets in his face, “Even your Ghost was out of range. You needed my help.”
“I need a ship home.”
She begins to walk off.
“I would’ve blamed myself if you didn’t make it.”
“Hah!” She looks back, “I can take care of myself.” She looks ahead to see Titan standing there.
“A conversation better suited in privacy,” Titan suggests.
She glances back at Hunter.
Hunter walks away.
“He’ll learn someday. I suppose,” she answers.
“Titan!” Commander Zavala calls out from across the Tower Watch.
Titan doesn’t look back.
“I’ve been demoted,” Titan explains.
Even with his helmet on, Petra can see his sadness.
“My role is here,” he concludes.
Petra looks to Zavala, then Titan. “You believe that, do you?” She leaves.
Petra Venj meets Commander Zavala near the Hall of Guardians.
“This is not your concern,” he says.
“If you dishonor him for this, the City you’re trying to protect will turn on you.”
“Excuse me?! How dare…”
“Words spread, Zavala. And the people will side with him.”
“You threaten me after I allow you to come here?”
“Titan’s a Sunbreaker. Not you.”
His lips curl.
She walks away.
“A transport is waiting for you,” Zavala ends.
Amanda Holliday is inputting a few notes in the Tower Hangar’s log as she, Carmine, and Jade wait for Petra Venj to arrive.
“How long have you lived here?” Jade asks.
“Always been my home, girls,” Amanda replies. “Don’t lean on that.”
Carmine gasps, “Oh…”
“Kinda volatile,” Holliday explains.
Carmine brushes her hands off taking a few more steps back. “What happened to…” gesturing towards the missing portion of her leg before realizing it’s a rude question.
“Ahh, just need to keep it oiled a lil’ better and it’ll be fine,” Amanda responds.
Jade gives Carmine a subtle bump as Carmine’s eyes say sorry!
“I’ve heard stories about The Reef. Anything you wanna share?”
“I hope it’s still there when we arrive,” Jade snaps before noticing her harsh tone.
Amanda’s fingers roll over her hand-held console. “Well, ma’ signal’s being jammed. That’s a good sign.”
“Lockdown.” Jade thinks aloud.
“We’d better get back…” Carmine adds.
“So, who’s our ride?” Petra demands as she joins the group.
Amanda’s head motions, “He’s behind you.”
Venj turns to see Hunter. Great. “What do you want?”
“They’re holding them off. Still. Your people need you back.”
“Right. Let’s go.” Hunter walks off.
Petra is surprised. His demeanor more calm.
After a short bow to Holliday, Jade and Carmine teleport into Hunter’s ship.
A short handshake with Amanda, Petra is on-board.
Amanda waves for Hunter’s attention, “You might have trouble out there.”
“Looking forward to it.”
A questioning look.
“Payback.” He disappears.
“Ready for take-off,” Hunter calls out as the three Awoken passengers strap themselves in.
“Please. Take. Off.” Petra insists.
Hunter shakes his head, “Touchy.”
Hunter takes off from the Tower Hangar so fast Carmine takes a noticeable breath in. “That can’t be standard procedure!”
“I was told you’re in a rush,” Hunter adds.
“We’d like to get there alive. Happy?” Petra sighs.
Laughing Behind Your Back breaks orbit.
“I’m gonna get some air,” Jade snaps as she leaves the rather large cockpit.
Before Carmine can protest, Jade exits. She follows.
Hunter and Petra Venj refuse to be the first to break the silence, but Hunter notices something on his preliminary reading. “Gonna to have to go in from here,” thinking aloud.
Petra studies the map, “A problem?”
“See all these dots?”
“Ugh…” she gets up walking to the monitor.
“Not supposed to be there.”
“Tell them to be ready for us.”
“Already have. It’s gonna be tricky.”
“Worse than before?”
Petra Venj grips her knife.
“I can stick around.”
“You’re not fully recovered, Guardian.”
“You don’t think so?”
“I can tell.”
The ship goes into hyperspace before throttling back down just outside of The Reef’s borders. Jade and Carmine return to the cockpit.
“Looks like trouble,” Jade says.
“Hey, I think we’re winning,” Carmine points out eyeing the battle on the horizon.
“I’ll take you…” Hunter begins.
“No. Here they come.” Petra looks back to her companions, “Get ready.”
“Ahh…here we go, again,” Carmine sighs.
“Thanks for the help, Hunter,” Jade concludes.
Carmine smiles at him.
An Awoken ship streaks towards the party as it’s being chased by enemy ships.
The three Awoken huddle together.
Hunter drops the shields and eyes Petra as they disappear, “Thank you.”
Petra’s eye widens. They’re gone.
Warlock stands inside of the door frame, giving Titan his space. “I can speak on your behalf. Ikora feels…”
“I accept it, Warlock. I knew the risks. I made up my mind,” Titan replies.
“I’m being reassigned.”
“I don’t know. The notice came in a few minutes ago.”
Warlock pouts, “The Commander needs to consider more than his ego.”
“Do I?” Commander Zavala chimes in as he walks down the hall leading to the Guardians’ Quarters.
Warlock doesn’t answer, still fuming. He walks away.
Commander eyes Titan, “Your brother is climbing up in the Ranks. Are you two competitive?”
“Not anymore, sir,” Titan responds. “Forgive him. He’s…concerned…”
“With good reason! Guardians face serious consequences for disobeying orders. Challenging my authority.”
“What is my assignment, sir?”
“Still, you use that tone with me?”
“I just realized,” Titan says thoughtfully, “I don’t fight for you…I fight for the City. For The Vanguard. For my brothers. And for myself.”
Commander Zavala puts a case on the table and unlocks it. Upon opening, he extends a lengthy, decorated, orange Titan Mark across the table.
“With this, you are off the Wall. No longer a Defender, but a Sunbreaker, first.”
Titan picks up the Mark, studying it in his hands. “I’m free?”
“You’ll have to speak to Hunter. He has more experience in the field than even you.”
Zavala begins to walk away.
“Why are you letting me go?” Titan has to ask.
“Not everyone can control the Hammer of Sol, Guardian. You can. Do it.”
Before Zavala clears the door frame, he turns back, “Where will you go?”
Titan summons the Hammer of Sol watching it spin in the air, “Wherever I’m needed.”
“I think we need you here. Our enemies are coming.”
“You can tell our enemies, I’m coming.”
Zavala nods, “Show them what this Class can do.” He walks away.
EPISODE XIX: Altered Thesis
Looking down the sights, streaks fly across the plain. Titan pushes forward, “They’re everywhere.”
“I haven’t worked with you much, Titan. Can you take orders from a superior Class or…”
“We have problems down here, Cayde,” Ghost replies.
“Yeah. Alien. Four arms. Smell pretty bad.”
“They’re not alone. Taken,” Ghost snaps.
“Hm. I figured we’d have more time. Don’t be scared. I’m sure even a Titan can do this.”
Reload. Taken jump from one spot to the other in a blink. “Where are they coming from?!” Another solar grenade flies from his hand. A Taken soldier splits in two before the first explodes. “They can duplicate themselves.”
“Nice trick, isn’t it? See the door?” Cayde asks. “Big. Square. Able to walk through upon opening.”
Titan shakes his head at Cayde’s sarcasm.
“We just walked through,” Ghost interrupts. “It was already open.”
“What?! No explosion?” Cayde asks. “I had that thing wired! I gotta get outta this Tower.”
Titan heads down a rickety ramp to see a familiar room, “This is where I fought Sepiks Prime.”
“Oh, yeah. The big round guy. He’s dead, right?”
“Cayde,” a sternness in Titan’s voice.
“I see your position. Just keep moving, looks like you’re slowing down a bit.”
“That’s because this area is full of Taken as well,” Ghost points out.
“Wow. That’s bad,” Cayde finishes.
One after the other, Titan blasts the former Fallen soldiers, now under Oryx’s control. “Will Oryx’s defeat loosen their grasp on the Solar System?”
“Let’s get through Step One first, Guardian,” Cayde demands.
“Where is the…?” Ghost begins. “Wait. I see it. Do these elevators still work?”
“Course, they do!” Cayde insists, though hearing the squeaking sound of rusted metal as the door opens. “You can revive him from a fall of this height?”
Titan ignores the question as the elevator creaks into the air. It travels so far up, he can see several miles into the distance. “I hope the Taken haven’t stolen this device.”
“Relax, Titan. They don’t take things, themselves,” Cayde fires back.
Titan stumbles as the elevator finally reaches the top. It’s too quiet up here, besides the random gusts of wind. He steadies himself.
“We’re still not at the top,” Ghost adds. “And the bridge is out of place.”
“Is my ship still in tact?” Cayde asks.
“How can we tell? Look at it.” Ghost asks.
“Bet she still purrs like a kitten. Power up the bridge, Ghost.”
Titan looks around as the massive, old, metal structure leans from the wind gusts. “How much further?”
“I’m picking up the correct signature a few stories above us,” Ghost concludes.
Titan begins walking across a narrow metal bridge; a few of the floor panels fall away and he loses his balance.
“Hm. Looks like the Fallen are trying to keep the Taken away. Watch your step.”
Ghost floats ahead, “I found a staircase over here.”
“I’ll take a short cut.” Titan leaps from one metal beam to the next going even higher above ground.
“There it is!” Ghost begins to activate power to the bridge.
“Did that work?” Cayde asks.
“The bridge is already moving,” Ghost responds.
Titan steps to the edge of a large metal beam as the bridge locks into the right position.
“Uhh, we can go back the way we came,” Ghost suggests.
Titan steps off the beam; it’s a longer fall than he expected. Still, he lands on the top rails as the bridge creaks from his added weight.
“Smooth, Titan. Smooth.” Cayde says.
Titan steps off the rails to the metal panels below and begins leaping from one panel to the next available one.
“Where do we go once we’re inside,” Ghosts asks as they make it across and approach a door.
Cayde gives the simple answer, “Up.”
Only a few steps into the facility, Fallen soldiers open fire as Taken spring up out of thin air.
“Snipers!” Ghost calls out.
Titan side-steps as a streak of orange and black zips passed his head. He lets his Auto Rifle be free. Reload. Fire. Reload, again. Shields? Fallen soldiers fall back as Taken Snipers create shields to block Titan’s attack. That’s a new trick. Shields dissipate. Titan fires. They can’t generate them for long. “Room’s clear.”
“I’m picking up activity above us,” Ghost points out.
Titan reloads his weapons and heads upward. Floor after floor, he pushes back Fallen troops until they’re dead. He reaches a large opening in the structure.
“Hmm. You can shorten the jump using that steel beam. Though, it doesn’t look stable to me.”
Titan ducks below protruding debris from the facility and carefully walks out into the open air on the beam.
“Uhh…don’t look down,” Ghost says.
He looks down, not able to see the ground from this height. A few thin clouds hover below. The jump across isn’t bad. He doesn’t see the greatest landing spot. His foot slips on a broken piece on concrete and he hangs on to a metal pole at the edge of the building.
“Come on! You can make it.” Ghosts adds.
Titan pulls himself up as another sniper round goes by his head. Taken Cabal are fighting Fallen troops for control of the building. He takes care of them all.
Around the perimeter of the building, Titan sees a way inside to reach Cayde’s ship. A short jump to a ledge.
“That’s an awkward angle for a jump,” Ghost points out.
“We don’t have time to look for another way,” he concludes. Another jump. One foot on the ledge, a hand on the door frame to keep him from falling off. Made it. He turns to step inside.
Boom! A Taken Cabal fires a pulse from his shield.
Titan grabs the other side of the door frame to keep himself from being rocketed into mid-air.
Boom! Another pulse as the Taken Cabal blocks the entrance.
One hand lets go as he whirls back to avoid the second impact. Then, he charges the Taken, putting his shoulder into the shield; he jumps to the side before another pulse fires.
Bullets fly. He reloads. Fires, again. The Taken Cabal evaporates into thin air.
“You made it inside. Good,” Cayde chirps.
Titan looks over the area, “Anything?”
“No…” Ghost answers.
Titan walks towards the middle of the room when a dark mist appears. An echo of Oryx. Titan leaps out of the way as a barrage of deadly orbs comes his way.
Taken begin to surround the room.
This is a bad spot. Titan looks for cover only to find an enemy waiting for him. He needs to clear the room fast. Putting away the Auto Rifle, he summons the Thunderlord, one of the most powerful machine guns in a Guardians arsenal.
His enemies scatter as many of them are throw back by the impact of lightning rounds. Oryx teleports to the opposite end of the room to avoid more bullets in his chest. Titan feels a bit of relief until new enemies begin to spawn and the echo of Oryx resumes his onslaught of dark orbs.
Titan notices his shields are below 30% with Taken Cabal closing in. The magazine empties. No time to reload. He has one move left. The Thunderlord disappears. His body is encased in flames; the Hammer of Sol appears in his hands. The power of the Sunbreaker is unleashed.
Flaming hammers fly across the room disintegrating their targets. The echo of Oryx howls as it’s bombarded by Sol’s power. The room is clear. The echo is gone. And Titan’s Solar energy has run out.
“Hey, when can I borrow that Hammer?” Cayde asks.
“I’m still not picking up any readings on a Stealth Drive, Cayde,” Ghost interrupts.
“Yeah…the best place to hide something is in plain sight. Patch in this code.”
“Ah. I see it,” Ghost says as the device is nearly right in front of them.
“And if you find anything else…don’t touch it,” Cayde finishes. The Comm is closed.
Ghost glides over, letting Titan sift through his thoughts before asking, “Do you think this plan will work? I mean…Cayde’s tactics aren’t exactly like Commander Zavala’s.”
“I know. Maybe that’s what we need to win this war,” Titan concludes. “The signal’s coming through, now. Summon the ship so we can head back to The Tower.”
“An excellent plan,” Ghost replies.
If Titan could smile, he would.
EPISODE XX: Festival of the Lost
“What’s going on here?” as Hunter returns from quelling another assault by the Taken on Mars. He looks around to see The Tower bathe in festive decorations.
“What are these things? They almost look like…” Ring. A familiar voice comes into his helmet.
“Hunter, where have you been?” asks Eva Levante.
“It’s a war going on out there, Eva.”
“Well, do you have time to see me a moment?”
“I need a break, anyway. I’ll be right there.”
Hunter closes the Comm and continues to look around as he heads to Eva’s section in Tower North. “A lot of candles around here.”
Down a few flights of stairs followed by the usual right turn. Hunter stops in his tracks, “Are they trying to burn the place down?”
“Hunter, get over here?!” Eva calls out.
“Hold on! I’m asking myself a question?” in a sarcastic tone.
“I will come over there!”
“Alright, alright!” Hunter walks into the cramped area known as Outfitter. You’d never know how crucial her work was by the dimensions of her space. Yet, she didn’t complain…much. Frequently, she encouraged Guardians to spread the word about her existence the old-fashioned way: word-of-mouth.
And all the Guardians listened. If you needed a custom paint job for your armor, Eva was the one to supply the Shaders. Instead of losing her job in the renovations of Tower protocol, more finances were placed in her department. Meaning, more Shaders to choose from for Guardians all over the Solar System.
Still, Hunter had questions about all the decorations. “Eva, what’s with all the candles and…whatever these things are?
Eva gasps, “You have been dead a long time…”
“This is our annual Festival of the Lost, celebrating the lives of the dead.”
She shoves a bag in his hand.
“Uhh. Is this a satchel little kids run around with?”
“You are sharp. Visit the Mentors in The Tower. They have treats for you.”
Pushed out of Eva’s section, Hunter grumbles through the small courtyard heading for his first stop. “I’m an Exo. I can’t even eat candy.” He begins the ascent upstairs, “I look like a fool…” His thought trails off as he eyes The Speaker.
“Ahh. Hunter. You’ve returned in time.”
The Speaker is wearing a mask resembling The Traveler, “Welcome. I was afraid you wouldn’t make it back; the Festival is almost over.” He holds out his hand to give Hunter a group of candies.
Hunter allows The Speaker to drop the candies in his satchel, “What is the candy for?”
“One of the joys of life. Hurry,” The Speaker insists. “The Cryptarch is ready to get back to work.”
Hunter salutes, “Thank you, Speaker.” He walks back downstairs towards the Tower Watch.
Hunter pauses as he gets a better look at The Cryptarch. What is on his head?
“There you are, Hunter! Come, now, procrastination won’t help you!”
Hunter studies the mask on his head.
The Cryptarch removes his mask, “It’s an Engram. Can’t you see?”
“Right. You decode Engrams, got it.”
“Aww, a bit of candy will sweeten your sour disposition.”
The Cryptarch holds out his hand.
“What am I supposed to do with this?” Hunter asks.
“Enjoy it! Eris is waiting…patiently, I’m sure.”
Hunter moves into a jog as he goes downstairs towards the Hall of Guardians.
Eris Morn doesn’t wear a costume mask over the veil she usually wears.
“This is actually a box of raisins, Eris. Kids don’t want raisins.”
She doesn’t respond.
Hunter moves on.
Lord Shaxx, whom seems to be wearing the mask of a wildcat, looks annoyed. He throws the handful of candies at Hunter’s chest.
That’s the spirit. Hunter drops the candy in his satchel. Who’s next? Ikora Rey fails to don a mask, already set to move on beyond the Festival.
“Don’t worry, Hunter. I kept your candy just in case you showed,” Ikora states. She holds out her hand.
“Is all of this necessary?” Hunter asks.
Ikora motions with a nod, “Commander Zavala is waiting.”
Hunter walks away. Of course, Zavala doesn’t wear a mask.
His eyes are glaring as Hunter approaches.
“Just give me the candy, sir,” Hunter demands.
Another group of candies drop into Hunter’s satchel. One person left. Hunter has to walk around Cayde-6 to examine his mask.
Hunter simply shakes his head, “I can’t imagine Eris likes you wearing a mask of her.”
A satchel full of candy, “That was an exciting mission,” Hunter concludes.
“Don’t eat it all at once! You’ll get a tummy ache,” Cayde warns.
“But…nevermind,” as Hunter walks back towards the Tower Watch. He eyes a symbol projected onto The Traveler. “That’s different.”
It seems as if many Guardians had taken a break from the field to honor the Festival of the Lost. The Tower Watch looks almost deserted.
Eva calls out, again, “How did you do?!”
Hunter walks into the space and hands her the satchel.
“What am I supposed to do with this?!” Hunter repeats.
“The Taken are spreading across the System, Guardian. We may not have many Festivals left. Let’s celebrate while we can. Tomorrow, the war returns.”
“It hasn’t gone anywhere.”
Eva Levante adjusts the large mask on her head until she’s satisfied. “Take the rest of the day off, Hunter. You’ve earned it.” She pats him on the jaw.
The masks we wear.
The Traveler isn’t aware of what’s going on. Will it ever awaken? Am I fighting for nothing? Hunter looks at the candies in his hand. There’s always going to be a threat in the universe. Evil. Darkness. I’ll be the Light to fight it for as long as I can.
EPISODE XXI: Dreadnaught Assault
This is a great plan. He can’t fail, now. Otherwise, he’ll be stuck on the Dreadnaught for good. No rescue team to come for him.
“What is that?” Ghost asks.
Warlock spots a light hovering in the area ahead. “It must be like the ones before. Some sort of scout to alarm Oryx of intruders.” He continues to look around, “I don’t have a real sense of smell, but I can tell it stinks in here. Remnants of corpses everywhere.”
“Agreed,” Ghost chimes in. “Keep your helmet on. Follow that light. It may lead us in the right direction.”
Warlock pushes forward; no time to think about the consequences that may occur. A strange mist in the air, thick, sticky…disgusting. I wouldn’t want to make my home here. Down a long corridor, Warlock runs, following the dashing orb of light. “It’s gone.” Warlock looks down to notice he’s standing at the edge of a platform. It’s a long drop into pitch black. No telling how far down this goes.
“Let me have a look around,” Ghost insists as Warlock releases him. Scanning over the void, bridges begin to appear. Fragmented. Some paths stop in mid-air, not connecting to the other side. “Be careful, Warlock. They’ll disappear once you deactivate my scanning sequence.”
He nods. As his foot touches the bridge only highlighted by Ghost’s scan reading, it becomes clearly visible to him one step after another. Warlock follows the jagged path across the expanse to the other side. Greeted by a howling noise, Ghost vanishes and his gun is extended.
“They know we’re here.”
“We’ll give ourselves the proper introduction, then.” He runs down a long corridor before the path ends and he takes a left through a crevice in the wall. “This place is turning into a maze. How do we find this weapon, Cayde-6?”
The Comm cracks to life, “Giant source of power, like all weapons. Do your thing, Ghost. Let me know when you find something.”
“That’s not very helpful,” Ghost replies. “Alright, giant source of power. Let’s see… I have something! Keep moving this way, Guardian.”
He runs ahead, ducking under beams of metal while avoiding slimy grub-like creatures wiggling around. Ugh.
“Find anything, yet?!” Cayde asks.
“This isn’t as easy as it may seem, Cayde. Wait! There! A source of power linked to the Dreadnaught’s main weapon.”
“Nice. Take it out!” Cayde insists.
“It appears to be shielded, Cayde,” Ghost adds. “How do we disable it?”
“Eris says some…thing about… Uh, just shoot it.”
Bullets bounce off the shield as Warlock fires, “There must be another way to get passed this shield.” He hears noises in the distance. “Quickly. We may have company soon.”
“I’ll try,” as Ghost floats towards the power source. He studies the schematics and then, “It’s down.”
Warlock riddles it with bullets from his auto rifle. Reload. Empties another clip. Reload. Boom! That did it.
“Cayde, the weapon is still active,” Ghost says.
“Well, there must be more around there somewhere. Destroy all of them or we won’t be able to send anyone after you!”
“Right,” Ghost disappears from Warlock’s sight. “I’m picking up another source of power.”
“I’m picking up enemies on my radar,” Warlock adds as he makes his way deeper into the Dreadnaught. Shots whirl passed his face. “Taken.” They exchange fire. Another source of power on the horizon. “They’re protecting this one.” He strafes as a stream of flames is hurled at him. He fires back and tosses a grenade.
“I’d suggest taking out that Wizard, as well,” Ghost says.
“Not now, Ghost,” as Warlock continues to fire at the Wizard. Gone.
Ghost takes down the shield. Warlock destroys the core.
“There’s a faint source of power left. By the way, radar indicates Hive on the way.”
Warlock is already moving toward the final source of power for the Dreadnaught’s main weapon. Another firefight. “So many.” Warlock tries to retreat, but the Hive and Taken have surrounded him. His shields have reached Critical Level; in his desperation, he uses his Solar power. Warlock’s body is encased in flames as he hurls orbs of fire at his enemies in rapid succession until the excess Solar power is extinguished.
“Only a few left,” Ghost points out.
Warlock fires, destroying the remaining forces.
Ghost disables the shield; Warlock destroys the core.
“That did it!” Ghost exclaims. “The weapon is disabled, Cayde.”
“Good. But if that Transmat Zone isn’t set properly, no one else can land there. Get to it, Guardian.”
Warlock shrugs off the lack of appreciation and heads towards a large opening in the side of the Dreadnaught. “We can summon my ship to pick us up here. Ghost…”
“I already have. There’s a good spot for a Transmat Zone. The beacon is primed and ready, Warlock.”
Warlock rushes passed Hive firing at him in the distance. He takes out the beacon and sticks it into the ground.
“There you are!” Cayde confirms. “Picking you up loud and clear. Hey Zavala, you wanna know what a Transmat Zone on the Dreadnaught looks like?!”
Commander Zavala’s distinguished voice breaks through, “You landed a Guardian on the Dreadnaught without authorization?!”
Cayde’s ego got him into trouble, “Oh…yeah… Can I have authorization?”
“We’ll discuss this later,” Zavala finishes. “Guardian, I’m picking up a Goliath tank heading to your position. It’ll the destroy anything we send to this zone. Take it out!”
“My pleasure, sir,” Warlock answers. He’s never attacked a Goliath on his own, but this mission calls for desperate measures.
“Since the Transmat Zone is working, I’ve summoned some Heavy Ammo Crates for you, Warlock.”
He runs into a slide as one of the tank’s missiles whirl by. “I appreciate it, Ghost. Let’s make a Welcome Mat for my brothers.”
Cabal exit a massive ship crashed into the area. The Goliath hovers above ground, searching for Warlock’s position.
Warlock loads his machine gun. “Another day in Paradise.” He leaves his cover and begins firing at the tank and the Cabal.
“A group of Hive, Guardian,” Ghost adds, “Behind you.”
Surrounded, again. Warlock keeps moving, killing Hive and Cabal soldiers along the way while dodging missiles from the Goliath. “The tank has to be the priority, now,” as he finds cover and reloads his machine gun. “Who knows how extensive Oryx’s forces are.”
“The wheels are the most vulnerable on this model,” Ghost points out. “This is the last Heavy Ammo Crate; give it everything you’ve got.”
Warlock empties the machine gun, reloads, and empties it again. No more ammo as the tank is almost disabled. Once more, Warlock is encased in flames of Solar energy. Orbs of fire are hurled at the Goliath and the remaining enemies. A huge explosion follows. The tank is destroyed. The area is clear. Warlock is exhausted.
“No matter the tactics, Guardian, this is a Vanguard victory,” Commander Zavala interrupts. “Return to the Tower when you can.” The Comm signal closes.
Warlock’s ship flies through the crater-sized opening in the Dreadnaught. Warlock looks into outer space, marveling at Saturn’s rings while noticing debris from the battle with the Awoken fleet. “We’ll make sure you didn’t die in vain.”
As his ship hovers over him, Warlock teleports inside. The ship takes off into outer space and quickly kicks into hyperspeed to escape the area.
A commander of Oryx enters the Throne Room, “Master…the Dreadnaught has been breached by a Cabal Cruiser. Earth dwellers will arrive soon. These…Guardians will come to destroy you.”
Oryx begins to laugh. “Hold position here.”
“What of Earth?”
“Let them come. Thinning their ranks. A City with no Protectors. I will have my vengeance.” He laughs all the more; his victory is certain.
EPISODE XXII: Enemies Only
Previously on Exos of Destiny…
Warlock sets up a Transmat Zone on The Dreadnaught.
The Dreadnaught is teeming with Hive, already on alert because the Cabal plunged their Cruiser right into the massive stronghold. Direct. Effective.
Commander Zavala makes sure he’s in the loop of what’s going on this time, “The Cabal must know something by now. We haven’t been able to crack their Intel. We need you on the ground, Titan.”
“I volunteered, sir. Remember?” Titan asks. He fires a few more shots at approaching Hive Acolytes. “They’re not going to give up their position easily.”
“Assist the Hive in thinning out their ranks. We know the Cabal well enough to know that they won’t let a battalion fall. When reinforcements are sent, that’s your chance to sneak onto that ship.”
More shots fire, “If they know anything. The Cabal are powerful, but not as bright.”
“Your Ghost will search for Intel, once inside. Zavala out.”
Even an Exo can sigh, “Ghost. Let me know when their Security Doors are being prepped to open. I’ll need a head-start.”
“Already on it, Titan. I’m picking up a group of Cabal gathering just behind the doors,” Ghost answers. “Almost ready to come through.”
“Be careful. The Hive have summoned a Champion to push back the Cabal front.”
“It helps.” Titan runs across the jagged surface of The Dreadnaught. He can only imagine it smells like death. Rotting corpses. Wormspore. To think, these spores have tremendous value. He hides behind a large metal piece protruding from the surface. One burst. Then another. And another. Cabal falling by his hand. Their frontline is beginning to fall back.
Speaking of which…
Titan lands on his back as a Cabal soldier hammers him with its shield. You can move for a big guy. As it closes in for another strike, a grenade latches onto its face. Titan rolls out of the way. The soldier evaporates upon explosion.
The loud siren goes off as Hive forces charge the Cabal ship. The double doors open. Titan takes off towards the Cabal reinforcements. Only a couple of soldiers eye Titan as he runs by returning fire.
“That could’ve been worse,” Ghost adds.
Titan crouches behind a few crates after taking out one more Cabal. “They’ll be at each other for a while. Have you got a location on their Intel?”
“Yes. On your Radar, now.”
The Cabal Cruiser is turning into a bit of a maze. “I have a feeling they won’t leave this place unguarded. Which way?”
“Hmm…there must be multiple levels. Above us,” Ghost continues.
Titan runs up a ramp through double doors, then up another ramp. He pauses. Heavy footsteps.
Although no one can hear Ghost outside of Titan’s helmet, he whispers anyway, “I’m detecting a console nearby. Specs of The Dreadnaught. Perhaps, they found something. Let me analyze it.”
Titan nods. Peering around the corner, flashes of light zip by his face. A rather large Cabal unit occupies the area. They may be protecting something.
A firefight ensues. The area of two floors, sectioned off by thick, steel walls. He’ll have to check each section to be sure no stragglers are left behind. jumping from the floor to the platform and back again, he fires at some Cabal soldiers while running away from others.
“Having your brothers along could make this a little easier,” Ghost points out.
The air is riddled with bullets. A Mini-Gun. A Cabal leader stomps into the area, his distinct growl in the air. More bullets fly.
Titan takes cover, switching from a Scout Rifle to a Sniper Rifle, the 1,000 Yard Stare. “The Taken are making another push elsewhere. Someone has to keep them back.”
The bullets stop momentarily as the Cabal leader’s head snaps back from the impact of the Sniper round. It shakes it off.
Thick armor. Boom! Boom! Boom! Reload. Boom! The Leader stumbles forward and rolls off the ramp to rest on its back. Reload. Auto Rifle. Titan clears the area of remaining Cabal soldiers.
“Good work, Titan,” Ghost chirps. “Up there. Through the window. See it?!”
Titan runs up another ramp and lets Ghost out to analyze the main console. “Anything?”
Ghost opens the Comm, “Zavala, they’ve found a portal of some kind to get to Oryx. A team is already on their way.”
Zavala’s voice is scruffy, “Then, I suggest you get there, first.” The signal closes.
Titan is on the run, again. “The Hive are on alert, as well. Sneaking passed them isn’t going to be as easy this time.” As Titan finds another exit to the Cruiser, he stalls to see the battle taking place up ahead.”
“Commander Zavala, we’re seeing Taken and Hive fighting off the Cabal unit…” Ghost begins.
“Forget the “enemy of my enemy” notion. If anyone gets in your way, you put them down. Understood?” Zavala demands.
Down a rather slippery slope, Titan tries to make his way around the intense battle. “I see it. The Portal to Oryx.” He leaps up to the platform. “It’s not active. But this is definitely it!”
Eris Morn murmurs over the Comm, “Toland’s Journal speaks of such a place. Search the pages.”
Ghost does it in no time, “Statues. Perhaps, these markings of statues mean something.”
Titan looks around, spotting the first. Back to the ground floor, when suddenly, a portal opens. Oryx pulls a Cabal Leader through. The battle is over as the remaining Cabal soldiers scatter.
“Oryx just took him,” Ghost blurts out.
Zavala chimes in, “Let him take all he wants. Soon…it won’t matter.”
“The statues. Seek them out,” Eris adds. “Quickly.”
The Dreadnaught is large enough for even Titan to snoop around in. “Ghost, see if you can pick up anything.”
Ghost analyzes the statue. “This is it. But there must be two more…somewhere.”
“Then, it is true!” Eris continues. “The statues activate the Portal.”
Titan finds another grotesque statue protruding out of the ground, toppled over from the previous battle.
Ghost analyzes it. One to go. Titan finds it. Ghost activates the Portal.
“The door is opening, Titan! Go through the Portal,” Zavala commands.
Good thing Titan is in great shape. Back up onto the platform after a few jumps. Here we go. The Portal rocks him back. “I… I can’t go in.” The Portal even pushes back the extension of his hand into it.
“The stories must be true…” Eris adds. “You must be Ascendant…”
“Uhh, Titan,” Ghost interrupts. “I think something Ascendant is coming through.”
Titan backs away as those familiar eyes meet his. An Echo of Oryx flies through the Portal knocking Titan off the platform. A pack of Thrall follow as Titan regains his whits and falls back for more cover. The Thrall come in waves as Titan fires his Auto Rifle into the crowd while dodging dark orbs shooting from Oryx’s hands.
Cover. Cover! But there is little with the Thrall beginning to surround him and his shields taking a beating from Oryx’s orbs. Titan leaps into the air and throws a grenade into the pack of Thrall. They scatter as the flames encompass the area.
Time for something new. He unleashes the Thunderlord; lightning rounds rain towards his enemies and for the first time they all flee for cover. But the clip goes empty and they move in for the kill.
Alternate plan. His body is encased with Solar energy, the Hammer of Sol at his command. Hammers of fire are unleashed throughout the area. The Echo of Oryx is gone. No sign of the Thrall.
“All clear, Guardian…” the Commander interrupting the silence.
“How do we get through the Portal,” Ghost asks.
“You must become your enemy. Become Ascendant!” Eris concludes.
“We’ll discuss this later. Return to base when you can,” Zavala ends.
Titan wipes his hand over his forehead. “We aren’t done, yet.”
“Your armor has sustained significant damage,” Ghost points out. “You’ll have to return to The Tower for repairs.”
He sighs, “Yeah.” A long stroll back towards his ship before he’s in range to teleport inside.
EPISODE XXIII: Shard of Crota
Previously on Exos of Destiny…
Titan boards a Cabal Freighter crashed into The Dreadnaught to find out what they know of Oryx’s whereabouts. Ghost decrypts their Security Codes; the Cabal have found Oryx. A portal will lead them right to him. Ultimately, Titan can’t enter the Portal. Only Ascendant Hive can pass through. Next move?
“I know of a way to get you through, Hunter,” Eris Morn continues.
“You don’t say,” Hunter snaps.
“I’m on your side. I want Oryx destroyed more than anyone. You must trust me.”
Hunter walks up to her as calmly as possible, “Eris, you haven’t exactly been forthcoming with who you take orders from. Where you came from. Why you were on a mission to destroy Crota in the first place.”
Eris is taken aback.
“We ran all these little errands for you when Crota showed up…”
“He was a threat!”
“No argument there. He’s dead. Now, there’s a bigger problem.”
“Hunter. Are you going to help me or not?”
“Of course, I am. But this doesn’t mean you’re in charge.”
“Fine. But if you don’t follow my instruction, you’ll never succeed on this Quest.”
Hunter couldn’t argue that point, either.
Cayde-6 walks into the open area eyeing Hunter and Eris Morn at the bottom of the stairs. “Grand day at The Tower, huh? Weather’s nice…”
“He’s agreed,” Eris concludes. She walks away.
Cayde-6 looks to Hunter, “You okay, Guardian?”
“Look. Titan’s banged up pretty bad. Ikora has Warlock bogged down in research of The Dreadnaught. You’re all I got. You’re the best I got, actually, but don’t let that go to your head.”
“Where am I going, again?” Hunter asks.
“We’ll brief you more on the ground. Get moving!” Cayde-6 walks off.
“Alert from Amanda Holliday, Hunter,” his Ghost on speaker. “Your ship is cleared for take off.”
Hunter begins a swift jog toward the Hangar, “Ready for this, Ghost?”
“After all this time, you pick now to ask?”
If Exos could smile, Hunter would.
Fallen forces on the Moon have thinned out, but Hunter can sense them lurking. His focus shifts to the task at hand; he’s going underground where the Hive have long since set up camp.
“Ghost, open Comm,” as Hunter runs along the dusty terrain that makes up the Moon.
“Done,” Ghost confirms.
“Cayde, I’m entering the Temple of Crota. It’s quiet.”
A slight crackle of the signal, “You’re going back to the Chamber where the witches tried to revive Crota’s soul.”
“You know Guardians hate that place?”
“Yeah, not a vacation spot. Lemme know when you’re there.”
What am I going to do, kill the witches, again. Hunter fights his way into the depths of the Hellmouth. Hive are sparse. Not the firefight he was expecting. Fallen guards here and there, but not like before. Easy? “That wasn’t too bad.”
“You do recall, first time ’round, you were little more than a newbie at this,” Cayde explains.
“We’re at the World’s Grave,” Ghost points out.
“Finally,” Eris chimes in. “Get to the Chamber. Steal a shard of the stone that contains Crota’s soul. Bring it to me.”
“Guardian, that giant crystal you destroyed, grab a piece of it,” Cayde adds.
“Got it,” Hunter finishes.
The area becomes pitch black as Hunter fires at the Hive still taking shelter in the depths of the Temple. Ghost provides a light until they’re out in the open again. “There it is.” Up a slight hillside, he runs to the top.
The Chamber is empty. Pieces of the crystal lie about where the witches performed their ritual.
“Do you see it?” Eris asks.
“Yeah, hold on.” Hunter heads down the long walkway and thinks aloud. “No one’s home.”
He spoke too soon. A rumbling, the ground begins to shake. Baxx, the Gravekeeper, stomps into view. His face lights up as powerful beams fire from his eyes.
“Spoke too soon!” Hunter dashes for cover as the Chamber is filled with Hive Thrall and Acolytes. Rapid fire from his auto rifle. Grenade toss. A double jump over protruding rocks. His shield takes a beating as Baxx showers plasma beams at him.
“From this position, we’ll be surrounded soon,” Ghost warns.
Hunter empties another clip and hit the last Acolyte with a flaming knife. He hears Baxx lumbering to his position. Hunter leaps to the top of the rock, summons his Golden Gun, and fires three shots into the giant ogre.
Baxx shrieks in pain as his body is set ablaze. Suddenly, a portal opens mid-air and Baxx is pulled through.
The Chamber is empty once more. Hunter takes a knee. A crackle comes over the Comm, but Hunter decides to speak first. “I think Oryx just took an ogre. The Gravekeeper.”
“Quickly. The crystal! Bring me a shard,” Eris insists.
Hunter spots a large chunk coming out of the moon dust and carves a piece out of it.
“I knew it could be done. Bring it to me!” she repeats.
“Good work, Guardian. I knew I could count on you,” Cayde finishes.
“Guardian,” Ghost interrupts, “I’m picking up movement in…”
“Everything okay, Guar..?” Cayde’s voice is cut off as the signal dies.
Hunter stores the shard and moves away from the ritual area. He turns back to see an Echo of Oryx and the Chamber being filled with Taken. “Ghost, how m…?”
Ghost puts the Taken signatures on Hunter’s radar, “Too many of them. Run!”
Back up the long walkway to the top of the hill and down again. Taken everywhere, firing as Hunter leaps and runs by. It’s pitch black as Ghost provides a light for the second time.
“This must be how Eris and her companions were captured before,” Ghost adds.
“Where’s the exit, Ghost?”
“Signal’s being jammed. We may have to go the long way around.”
“As long as we get outta here,” as Hunter takes a left turn heading to a lit area. “I remember this. These tunnels should lead back to the entrance!”
The Comm signal tries to break through, “We’re going to lose him, just like I lost…” The signal dies before Eris finishes.
“Guardian, I’m picking up heavy signs of more Taken,” Ghost warns.
Hunter stays close to the wall as he peers around the corner.
“The entrance is closed. Looks like they’re guarding it.”
“Who knows if we’re being followed. Can’t wait here,” Hunter concludes. He switches to his fusion rifle and begins taking out one threat at a time.
A Taken captain teleports right to him; Hunter is knocked on his back. One fusion shot. The Captain shakes off the impact, but its shields are down. Another shot. It disintegrates in mid-air. Hunter switches to his sniper rifle. A loud pop breaks through the silence three times. The area is clear.
Hunter runs up to the door. “How do you open this thing?”
“It’s locked. Doors used to be so easy to open,” Ghost says. “I’ll check Toland’s Journal.”
“That ol’ book Eris gave you?”
“It has fascinating information!” Ghost insists. “Here! These doors apparently have keys that can unlock them. Look for an energy or orb of some kind.”
“I don’t see any… What is that? Pick up anything from it?” Hunter points to an orb hovering over a small pedestal.
“That should do it,” Ghost agrees.
Across the room and back again, Hunter carries an orb of energy to the entrance.
“Hmm. I suppose you just…”
Hunter sticks the orb into a circular opening in the door. It begins to open. “About time.”
“Don’t tell me, Ghost. I can see them from here,” as Hunter watches another group of Taken scatter in the area ahead.
Hunter fights his way through two areas full of Hive and Taken. He spots another opportunity to use his Golden Gun on a Taken Wizard protecting the second entrance with more aggression than the rest.
“Well,” Ghost begins, “You cleared the area, but this door has two locks.”
“I saw the first key. Look for the second. I don’t see anything around here.”
Hunter retrieves and inserts the first key.
“I’m picking up another Taken presence.”
“A hidden passage it seems. I’ll mark it on your radar.”
Hunter makes his way to the very edge of the area. Flames stream towards him. The Taken Captain is guarding the second key. Hunter hasn’t regained enough solar energy to summon his Golden Gun. This time, he takes out a machine gun pushing the Captain back with each shot. It’s gone.
At last, the door opens as the second key is inserted. “You have to be kidding me?! How do we get out of here?!” Hunter scrambles as three Hive Captains charge at him. Grenade toss. Streams fire from his fusion rifle. Clear. “Ghost?”
“Yes. Taken. Readings suggest this door has three locks.”
Hunter shakes his head, reloads his machine gun, and declares, “Let’s finish this.” He storms the room. Two Taken Captains hurl waves of dark energy at him. Taken Snipers fire plasma beams in his direction. Random Taken soldiers phase back and forth, splitting into two soldiers from a single one.
Hunter ceases to think. He only reacts to the various points of danger. His machine gun clip is empty; he switches to his auto rifle without reloading it. Three Snipers remain as he’s caught out in an open area. The Golden Gun is recharged. Boom! Boom! Boom.! He looks around at the empty room. His shields flash on “Critical.”
“That was slightly reckless. I take it you’ve spotted all three orbs.”
“I have.” One after the other, Hunter inserts them into the entrance. The door begins to split open and his radar spikes with activity once more. I can’t take another direct hit.
A crackling sound, “Guardian, I’m picking up something on the Comm,” Ghost says.
“Guar… Hunter… out…”
Hunter takes a final glance at his shield reading and puts his weapon away. Run. Through crowds of Hive, Thrall, Acolytes, Wizards, Hunter runs.
The garbled static on the Comm becomes clear as Hunter reaches an upper level of the Temple, “Guardian, you have to get out of there!” Cayde screams.
He can see the entrance two floors above him. He’s being chased and hoards of Hive are in the areas ahead of him. A Thrall jumps at Hunter to finish him off only to receive a blade plunging through its skull. Hunter runs all the more.
The top level. The readings on his helmet visor jitter and jump, he’s slightly lost his bearing.
“No, go back! Left! Left!” Ghost screams.
Another blade and another to the face of Thrall giving chase. Up the stairs and into the sunlight as shots graze him from the Hive inside. Hunter crawls forward as fast as he can. His shields are down. His armor has seen better days.
“I’m diverting all remaining power to the shields. You’ll lose your radar and such, but you can make it back to the ship,” Ghost says.
“Welcome back to the land of the living, Guardian,” Cayde adds.
“The shard. Do you still have it?” Eris breaks in.
Hunter sits on the ground, “I got it.”
“Yes. Bring it to me,” she ends.
“Uuhh…that’s how Eris says job well done, Hunter,” Cayde explains.
Hunter is too relieved to be alive to take much offense, “Does this mean we get to go after Oryx, now?” He gets up and starts to jog back towards the landing area.
Cayde sighs, “Nope. Not yet. Sorry. But hey, you can take the rest of the day off.”
“Like I have a choice,” Hunter concludes.
“The ship is inbound. I’ll take it from here,” Ghost says.
Hunter falls to a knee as his ship slows to a hover overhead and teleports him in.
EPISODE XXIV: Warmind
Previously on Exos of Destiny…
Hunter travels back to the Moon searching for remaining traces of Crota’s soul. If his essence can be contained in a Shard, Guardians will be able to pass through the Portal on the Dreadnaught and hunt down Oryx, the Taken King. Now that a Shard has been recovered, the Exos learn of the next step their Mentors have devised…
“I shouldn’t be surprised that you’re still in here.”
Warlock doesn’t look up as he scans over pages in a large book.
Titan takes in the enormous library. Not an avid reader himself, but the Warlock Class has gained his respeect for amassing a wealth of knowledge. “Is there anything I need to know?”
Titan has a way of getting Warlock’s attention…eventually. He looks over his brother’s armor, “Where are they sending you this time?”
“The Cosmodrome. I have to get back into Rasputin’s Bunker.”
Warlock lowers his book, “The Warmind will be on alert, Titan. And the Taken are springing up throughout the area. It wouldn’t be wise for you to go alone.” Yet, he can already see the soldier emboldened. Ugh, the Titan Class.
“After we took out the Hive, the area was sealed. Omnigul was destroyed..” Titan continues.
“Does Oryx know about the Bunker?”
“That’s what I’m asking you?”
Sigh. “I’m only searching for his precise location. I don’t know how intelligent the brute is.”
“I have to go, regardless.”
“You don’t know what you’re walking into.”
“Do we ever? You sound like Ikora.”
Warlock doesn’t appreciate the jab. “Surely, Cayde-6 has no problem with sending you, instead of going himself.”
“You know he’d rather go. Say what you will, he’s a soldier like the rest of us.”
Titan looks at the long table in the dim light, “What is all of this?” as he eyes stacks of books.
“I have to make sure we can end this, Titan.”
“Look at your armor. You’re in no condition to be sent out in the field.”
“I’ll do well enough.”
“He’s wearing us down. Oryx will be a greater threat to face, even compared to the Warmind’s Bunker.”
“We have to be ready. Get back safe.” Warlock grabs a few more books and walks away.
30 minutes later.
Titan’s ship hovers over The Forgotten Shores of The Cosmodrome. “We’ll go in from here.”
“Done,” Ghost concludes. “I’ve sealed up the last fractures in your armor. Titan..?”
“A new shipment of supplies is expected…”
“We need the Stealth Codes from Rasputin, now. Let’s go.” Titan teleports down to the surface.
“I’m not arguing with you, Titan. Merely, concerned.”
Titan doesn’t divert his attention as stray gunshots ricochet off of his shoulders as he runs. Even with less than stellar armor, Titan can still take more punishment than Hunter or Warlock. He summons his Sparrow, which appears from thin air, hovering in front of him. “We can be sentimental after the mission, Ghost. Keep your eye open.”
“Hm. At least your sense of humor is still terrible.”
Titan wants to smile.
The entrance to the Bunker is already open. Ghost opens the Comm, “Cayde, we have guests.”
“Guests? That Bunker was sealed after we carted off what’s her name,” Cayde replies.
“Omnigul,” Ghost reminds him. “Look at this.”
“Oh, right. That does look bad,” as Cayde-6 takes in all the inter-dimensional portals created by the Taken. “Well, if you see ’em.. Aahhh. Shoot ’em.” The Comm signal dies.
“These portals are interfering with the signal,” Ghost concludes.
Titan views the HUD inside his helmet sifting through a choice of weapons. “Suggestions?”
Ghost is surprised he asks. “You’re going to need a lot of bullets.” Ghost takes the liberty to pull a weapon to the forefront.
“The Arc Damage will help. Taken arrive in clusters. The electricity will chain between them, hampering their ability to multiply,” Ghost finishes.
Titan is impressed, “Good call.” With a single thought, the Zhalo Supercell appears in Titan’s hand. He’s always enjoyed watching the electricity glide wildly across its barrel.
“I see that you’re satisfied. Rasputin’s making it difficult for me to access his database remotely. You’ll need to get me to the Main Console,” Ghost adds.
Titan is already in a full sprint as if knowing that would be the case already. A shower of electrical pulses fly across the room as Taken appear out of nowhere. “These are the guests you mentioned?”
“They are. And they seem to know what we came for, which is quite disheartening. Oryx may be a few steps ahead of us, after all,” Ghost surmises.
Titan pushes forward, watching the electricity chain from Taken to Taken. The area is clear. “That was easier than I thought.”
“No. We have to go deeper into the Bunker’s interior this time. It’s a bit of a maze down here.”
Ghost was right as Titan finds himself in an entirely different area much larger than he thought would exist. “Rasputin is hooked into all of this?”
“He is one of the most advanced forms of Artificial Intelligence created before The Fall,” Ghost says. “He still has some fight left in him.”
“Obviously,” as Titan looks around at all the machinery at full power.
“Of course, the Taken can bypass any exterior security measures. However, I doubt they know how to access the database.”
He fights off another wave of Taken, “How come they haven’t destroyed the place?”
“Even Taken are not that mindless. Oryx may bide his time while figuring out how to control Rasputin.”
Titan nods while being knocked back by a dark orb. Another appears. “They have tracking..” he concludes. He fires at the orb as it dodges his shots, moving ever closer. “Cabal couldn’t do this before.” Back on his feet.
“Yes, Oryx has not only enhanced their strength, but given them a few new abilities, as well.”
Reload. Fire. The dark orb explodes in his face. He hits the ground. Fires, again. Gone. Another area is clear. “Where is the Console?”
A blip shows up on the Radar of Titan’s HUD. He follows a ridiculously long hallway separated by automatic doors. “I don’t like this.”
“When you have to travel this deep into a facility to get to one room, it’s usually not a good thing.”
“Typically, it’s to hide something. And all of the codes for these doors have been shut down, so we can walk right in.”
“Correct. Not good,” Ghost agrees.
Titan is edgy. He takes out a machine gun, “I’ll pick this one.”
“It looks to be infused with..possibly, Hive technology,” Ghost says.
“I like it, too.”
“Titan, the Main Console is on a platform on the other side of this door.”
He nods as the door splits into four sections and swings opens. After only a few steps in, two Taken Cabal Captains emerge surrounded by Snipers and minions. The platform is covered. Titan fires while running for cover with little to be found. Already pinned.
Taken minions quickly surround his position. Weapon change. Streams of electrical pulses to the left, then the right. Beams of plasma fly by the container he hides behind. He takes a glance around a corner and tosses a grenade. The explosion only rattles them for a few seconds. Shielded.
The room is circular; Titan makes his way around the perimeter. At such a distance away, the Zhalo Supercell loses its effectiveness. Back to the machine gun. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom.. That’s more like it, yet, the heavier weapon slows him down as minions approach more easily. No time to Reload.
A Taken leaps in for the kill only to meet Titan’s fist. Back to the Supercell, yet, Titan finds himself brawling, one punch after the next.
“Snipers!” Ghost warns.
Titan dives out of the way as four Taken Snipers have come down from the platform to engage him at close range. His shields take a beating as he tries to find more cover. Then, a Cabal Captain knocks Titan backwards with a swipe of its massive arm. Another impact as a dark orb detonates. He’s thrown across the room by the explosion.
His HUD flashes red. Shields, Critical. His Radar picks up two Snipers closing in fast. Desperation. His body is encased in flames as he summons the Hammer of Sol. Leaping up into the air, Titan launches flaming hammers throughout the room.
Fire consumes the Snipers, the Cabal Captain, the minions…his Solar energy is used up. Another shot catches him in the shoulder. Titan hits the ground as his HUD dies. Out of power. One Taken Cabal Captain remains on the platform. Titan can barely move. Switching to the machine gun, again. Yes, he forgot he didn’t have time to Reload it.
The Taken Captain stomps forward. Titan didn’t know he’d die like this. His arm freezes as he tries to complete reloading the machine gun. Suddenly, Ghost appears, hovering over him. A beam of light shoots into Titan chest. Ghost drops to the ground.
The Taken Captain leaps across the room falling towards Titan. The machine gun is Reloaded. He doesn’t hear the shots. He only watches the Captain lose his momentum from the barrage of bullets. Titan rolls out of the way as the Taken Captain crashes to the ground and vanishes.
The area is clear.
Titan crawls across the floor to pick up Ghost. A faint light fluctuates. Reversing the surge of power, Titan tries to re-energize it. “Come on, Ghost. You can’t quit, now!”
Fluctuations increase to blinking light, “Is that sentiment? The mission isn’t over,” Ghost replies.
“Your sarcasm is still intact.”
“The Console. Hurry.”
Titan’s legs are stiff. He removes his leg armor to conserve power. “Which one?” as he eyes an entire wall of monitors and consoles. Another blip as his HUD Radar flickers. He releases Ghost into the server.
“Well, that was easy.”
“I have the Codes. The ship is on its way. Looking at your energy levels…”
“I know.” Titan’s exterior armor vanishes. He’ll be vulnerable on the walk back, but at least he should make it there.
“Not yet,” Ghost interrupts.
“Remind me never to tick you off,” Titan concludes.
“It’s never worked before.” Ghost powers down.
The four sections of the door separate as Titan begins the long walk back. “Thank you, Ghost.”
EPISODE XXV: Soul Essence
Previously on Exos of Destiny…
Titan travels back to The Cosmodrome to infiltrate the Bunker of Rasputin, the Warmind. The Taken have already bypassed the A.I.’s security measures. Titan nearly dies during the confrontation, but secures the Stealth Codes necessary to complete the next mission.
“What happened to you?” Hunter asks.
“Don’t ask,” as Titan limps his way through the Tower Hangar.
“Isn’t that usually my line?”
Titan ignores his brother’s usual charm, “Even you can’t Cloak for this long. I hope these Codes work.”
“Cayde is the best we have. Admit it.”
“He’s also the most reckless and slightly undisciplined.”
“This isn’t going to be a walk in the park.”
“And you have to tell me that?”
“You don’t know what you’re walking into, Hunter.”
He takes a stroll around the Hangar as Titan stops in his tracks. “How many times are we going to have this conversation?”
Titan shakes his head, “Do you always respond with questions?”
Hunter wants to grin. “Nice. Look,” as Hunter walks up and eyes Titan face to face. “I’m better at navigating than you. I don’t need an admission, right now. If things get sticky, I have a sixth sense on how to get myself out.”
“Need I remind you of…”
“No. You don’t need to,” Hunter walks to his ship, Stealth Codes uploaded. “Get some rest, big fella.” Hunter teleports into his ship before Titan can respond.
“What happened to you?”
Titan turns to see the concerned look of Amanda Holliday.
“Your ship is grounded, Titan. Short on parts. All the action you boys have seen is killing our numbers,” she concludes.
“When will the next shipment arrive?” Titan asks.
“Soon, I hope. It’s already late.”
They both look up to watch Hunter’s ship take off into space.
Amanda pats Titan on the shoulder, “He’ll be alright. Hunter’s always had a knack for surviving.”
“So I’m told.” A subtle beep sounds off as Titan takes an energy pack off his arm and hands it to Holliday. “Thank you. I have enough power to go from here.”
Amanda hesitates before taking the pack, “You, Exos. Don’t know when to quit.”
“Of course, we do. We’re just too stubborn to do it.” Titan walks away.
Amanda smiles. There’s no arguing the point.
Hunter is on the Moon, yet again. “If I ever see this place… Where are we going?”
“We’re coming up on the entrance to the Temple of Crota,” Ghost answers.
“I hate this place.” Hunter enters the Temple and begins the long descent into its interior.
The Comm cracks to life, “Hunter, back in action, I see!”
“Cayde, as I understand it, this mission is very important…”
“I’ll be brief. Eris is also on Comm. Let’s us know when you get there.” Cayde closes the Channel.
Hunter is blasting away at Hive patrolling the area.
Page after page, Warlock is taking in an enormous amount of information in the Tower’s Library.
“You’re still down here?” Titan asks.
A dismissive wave, “Not now, Titan.” More pages turn.
Titan takes his occasional stroll around the Library. “What have you found?”
Without looking up, “It would help if you’d leave me to concentrate,” Warlock concludes.
Titan doesn’t budge, “I wanted to make sure you’re still alive.”
“I’m not the one…” Warlock is taken aback as he sees his brother in the dim light.
“I assume you retrieved the Stealth Codes.”
“Yep. I got ’em.”
“Oh, yes. The Temple of Crota.” He puts a large book on the table and spins it around towards Titan. “Here. Hive Witches may try to bring Crota back to life.”
“The Essence of his soul.” He flips the page. “See. Looks like a green, cloudy midst in the air. But that’s a Hive soul alright. Powerful. Well protected.”
“Even with the Stealth Codes…”
“They may be able to detect him. Smell. Fluctuations in the misty air,” Warlock adds.
“And with the Taken at Oryx’s disposal… Where are you going?”
“Our Mentors need to know about this. Come on!”
“Titan, we can’t help him. He’s probably knee deep in the tunnels, by now. I must finish my studies,” Warlock demands as he returns to reading a slew of pages.
Titan shakes his head, “I hope Ikora is right. If all this research leads to nothing, we’ve wasted valuable time.” He walks out of the Library.
Hunter truly is knee deep in the interior of the Temple. “Run that by me, again.”
“Okay. The Shard that you stole was empty. You have to fill it with the Essence of Crota’s Soul. Then, when you’re back on the Dreadnaught, the Portal that leads to Oryx will think you are Ascendant Hive. Did I leave anything out, Eris?”
“You must hurry before Oryx detects your presence.”
“I should have let you guys tell me this before I left,” Hunter ends.
“Yeah. Good luck, Guardian,” Cayde-6 closes the Comm.
“I always love our conversations with the Tower,” Ghost adds.
Hunter smirks, “Ghost. Sarcasm. Not now.”
“Pardon me. Simply stating the obvious… Oh, right,” Ghost finally agrees. “This is the place. Once you activate the Stealth Codes, they should remain active, this time. Still, the Hive’s sense of smell is impressive. Don’t get too close.”
Looking around the place, there’s a huge crevice in the wall. Hunter peeks through. Full house. Wizards. Ogres. Hive Captains. You’ve gotta be kidding me.
Even though the Hive can’t hear his voice inside Hunter’s helmet, Ghost whispers, “Patrol formation. Look for patterns.”
Hunter nods as he recognizes the areas covered by specific Hive minions. He whispers, “Activating stealth,” and waits for Ghost’s reply.
“So far, so good,” Ghost responds.
“Could you be a little more optimistic?”
Hunter squeezes his way through the crevice. Scanning the large area, he spots the Orb needed to open a door on the other end of a bridge.
Pacing back and forth, Hive Captains turn their head as Hunter nears.
Lighter footsteps. Hunter backs away two paces. They resume their patrol. Then, he hears growling as he turns to an Ogre walking towards him, sniffing the air. Don’t panic. To the left. He finds himself jogging through a large opening.
There it is. The Orb Key sits atop a pedestal as two Hive Captains circle the area. Hunter looks back to watch Wizards pause in mid-air, looking in his direction. He wants to ask Ghost about the status of the Stealth Codes, but dares not to say a word. Thankfully, Ghost is silent, as well.
His back up against the pedestal, he moves around to get out of the Wizards’ view. It dawns on him that if they detect him, he doesn’t have enough bullets to get out of this one. Don’t think. Just jump.
It will take a double jump to get to the top and snag the Orb Key. A leap of faith? Absolutely, as he jumps, grabs the Orb, and runs straight for the long bridge leading to the door.
The two Hive Captains head towards the back of the pedestal where they sense someone landing, which leaves Hunter clear to make it to the Bridge. He wants to look back, but does not.
The top of the door seems to touch the sky as Hunter inserts the Orb into position. He finally looks back to see Hive guards looking around the area for him. The door makes a giant thud as it begins to open.
“You don’t think they heard that, do you?” as Ghost finally breaks the unbearable silence.
Hunter doesn’t answer; he enters the next area. Stopping in his tracks, “Singing.”
“Yes. It is true. They’re trying to revive Crota,” Ghost says.
Hunter cautiously jogs forward. “What have you got?”
“The Stealth Codes are holding up. Only…”
“Even if I get this Essence…”
“We’ll need a way out of here,” Ghost agrees.
Hunter pauses. “Look for a route, Ghost. Quietly.” Hunter continues forward.
Warlock has put away all, but one, book.
“You are one of the best students the Order has ever seen.”
Warlock puts the open book on the table and stands at attention, “My Lady, what do I owe the honor?”
Ikora Rey gives him a dismissive wave, “At ease, Guardian. Finish the last page.”
“As you wish.” Warlock takes in the last sketches, notes, and official text. Several thoughts run through his mind. “It wasn’t always this way. I staggered behind the others. Last to leave the Academy.”
“Yet, today, as a Voldwalker, you rival a Titan Sunbreaker. You’ve learned to harness your power more than I imagined one could.”
“It’s led to my confinement?”
“I needed you here, Warlock.”
“While my brothers nearly die?” Warlock asks before realizing. He doesn’t have a chance to recant.
“Your research helped them get through each step. Each mission. Without you, they’d be dead,” Ikora continues.
Warlock closes the book, putting it back on the shelf. Hands on his hips, he tries to calm himself. “I am a warrior, as well.”
“Yes. I know. Which is why I pushed you the most.”
He turns, “What do you mean?”
Ikora leans on the table. “I don’t just send my recruits blindly into battle. But I do send them. When we understand our enemy fully, the best we can. And now, you do.”
“You’re asking me?”
“I saw Titan, your brother. He may have been able to take more punishment than you before, but not now. Commander Zavala wants him to stay put.”
“Hunter, as you know, is on the Moon. Once he returns, Cadye will ground him, as well. You’re all we have left.”
Warlock turns to face the book shelf again.
“I’ve selected you, because I know you can do it.” Ikora walks out of the Library.
Hunter is kneeling down behind a large pillar. He peeks to see Hive Witches floating above some sort of grave, chanting, a spell of some sort.
Heavy green midst in the air around them. Still crouched, Hunter moves left to escape detection of a Hive Captain. He’s climbed to a high point in the area and still no Exit in sight. He’ll have to sneak back out the way he came in. First, however, he needs to capture some of this smoky green air.
Pulling the Shard from a pocket, he heads towards the Hive Witches. Close enough. He holds the Shard in the air. It begins absorbing the Essence of Crota’s soul. Got it. Putting the Shard away, he back pedals.
“I see you…” a familiar voice proclaims.
Hunter’s Stealth Code starts to malfunction. Taken appear throughout the room. The Hive are on alert. Yes, Oryx has found him.
“The Code has been broken, Guardian,” Ghost interjects. “Run!”
Hunter jumps down to a lower level. Taken Snipers fire at him from all around the circular area. “Exit, Ghost. Where’s…?” He’s rocked back by a Taken Vex. Hunter throws a grenade, which explodes in its face. Another jump to a lower level. His eyes dart, searching for an Exit.
“I’ve spotted a room to your right!” Ghost adds.
Hunter runs into the space. Empty. Feeling up against the wall. “There’s no door.”
Another Taken Vex appears, unleashing a barrage of bullets. Hunter’s shields are weakening. He fires back, but this Vex is heavily shielded. Out of the room, Taken Cabal fire at him from higher levels. Hive Captains turn and fire as they walk towards him.
Not much cover outside of protruding formations of the Moon. Hive Wizards appear three levels up sending waves of destructive energy pulses at him. Surrounded. He takes out his machine gun, killing the most immediate threats. Switching to his fusion rifle, he fires at Taken Vex disappearing and reappearing ever closer to him.
Back the way I came. Hunter takes off ascending to the top level dodging bullets and avoiding enemies along the way. “That door was…” Taken Cabal appear. The pulse from a large shield knocks Hunter back. He rolls and grabs onto the ledge to keep himself from falling all the way back down to the ground floor.
The Taken Cabal stands over him, lifts his shield to deliver a crushing blow. Hunter’s shield breaks as shots pour in on him from around the room. Voices. He hears a familiar voice over the Comm, but can’t make out who it is.
He throws the grenade at the Taken Cabal; it explodes in its face as Hunter lets go, falling towards the ground level. The voice on the Comm gets louder, “Eris..?” Hunter disappears before hitting the ground.
Silence. He doesn’t hear anything, save the sudden wind gust of the Moon. Hunter looks around to see he’s well outside of the Hive Witches’ Chamber. “How..?”
“It’s the best I could do, Guardian,” Eris Morn breaks in over the Comm. “You’ll have to go the rest of the way.” She takes a breath in, “Get out of there.” The Comm closes.
“I didn’t know she had a spell for that,” Hunter thinks aloud.
“Guardian, no one seems to be tracking us. Let’s leave before they do,” Ghost says.
Hunter begins running mid-sentence. “Gear?”
“Severely damaged. The shoulder blade of your exo-skeleton was ruptured during the fall…”
“Once your shields collapsed, you took a beating. Then, you grazed a protruding rock formation.”
“Without shields, your helmet fractured and the skull compromised.”
“I can see a chunk of your… brain, as it were. I’m amazed you’re still moving about.”
“Is the casing rupturing?”
“Grazed. Yet, still intact.”
“Good. This would be a bad place to pass out.”
“Agreed,” Ghost concludes.
“What’s next?” as Hunter finally reaches the Moon’s surface.
“For you? The order has already been put in. You’re grounded.”
Hunter slides to a stop. “What?! What about..?”
“A significant portion of your exo-skeleton itself will have to be replaced. No small feat with limited supplies.”
Hunter kicks the dirt and suddenly feels the anguish of his body. He collapses to the ground. “Change the landing spot to these coordinates, Ghost.”
“Already done. Perhaps, there’s more damage than first analyzed, one of which, monitors what humans call, pain.”
Hunter buckles to the ground. “You may have a point.”
Fallen scouts approach the area as shots whirl passed Hunter.
His Ship hovers over him; he’s teleports inside. Shots ricochet off of its shields as the Ship leaves the area.
…To Be Concluded.
EPISODE XXVI: Altar of Oryx
Previously on Exos of Destiny…
With Titan in recovery and Warlock still confined to research, Hunter returns to the field. Stealth Codes in hand, he enters to the Temple of Crota to fill the stolen shard with Crota’s Soul Essence. Once retrieved, his disguise fails. Hunter fights for his life to escape. If not for a spell by Eris Morn, Hunter would not how made it out alive. The final battle looms; Titan and Hunter are in no condition to fight…
“I remember our first encounter.”
Warlock recognizes the voice of The Speaker.
“You were eager to prove yourself in battle. To get a chance to show you belonged with Hunter… possibly even Titan. Do you remember?”
Warlock nods, quite happy to put his mind on something else:
“Did you think I would make it?” Warlock asks.
“Ah. Still care so much about what others think of you? After all that you’ve proven?”
“There are so many others…”
“Yes, but Ikora Rey must have chosen you for a reason. Your Ghost chose you for a reason. And you have the blessing of every Mentor of the Vanguard. Should that not be enough?”
Warlock is where it all began, looking over the city at the edge of The Tower near The Speaker’s Quarters. “What if I let them down?”
The Speaker stands beside him, “You will, only if you don’t go.”
Warlock extends his hand.
They shake hands. “Fight. Win. Push back The Darkness with the lethal combination of knowledge and power. Like a true Warlock.” He walks away.
“Well, I’m happy they let you out of the cave,” Tess Everis states as she approaches Warlock.
“I’m sure my brother has spoken with you.”
“Hardly. Or does the occasional glance count?”
“Yes. But the entire city is more important.” She pauses. “I don’t suppose you can take a modified Sparrow to The Dreadnaught?”
Warlock shakes his head, “No. Try fitting it with weapons.”
“Hey, we need something to do for fun!”
Warlock agrees. Fun. Such a radical idea.
“They’re waiting for you. Amanda’s got your ship ready, I’ve heard.”
Before Warlock can finish, she hugs him, backs away, and takes a deep breath. “No mercy, Warlock. No mercy.” She leaves.
He needs some time alone. He walks towards Tower Watch giving Eva Levante a salute, returning her gesture as she holds tears back. He can’t speak to her. She’d only talk him out of leaving. Up two staircases, Warlock takes in the familiar space. Banshee-44 catches his eye as he gives Warlock a nod. Does Banshee ever worry about anything?
After a few moments, watching the city lights flicker against the evening sky, Warlock heads for Tower Hangar. Lost in his thoughts along the way, he barely notices other Guardians sporadically moving about, ships coming and going. Up the stairs. Down the hall. He descends into the Tower Hangar.
Warlock stops in his tracks as he sees a large group waiting for his arrival.
“Come on, Guardian. Don’t be shy!” Cayde-6 calls out as Warlock resumes his approach.
He looks at the group, “Why does it feel like you’re sending me off to the death?”
The Cryptarch, Master Rahool, comes forward. They shake hands. “I’ve tried to study your Order, Warlock. Very secretive. If you can give the Cryptarchs a rough time, Oryx has his hands full.” With a nod, he walks away.
“I don’t mince words, Hive Bane,” Lord Shaxx begins. “Show that monster what a real Guardian can do.” A stiff pat on the arm, Lord Shaxx stomps off.
Commander Zavala’s stern look is expected. “I trust your findings will give you the edge you need to win this battle. We’re not of the same Class, but we want Oryx destroyed all the same. Do it.” A nod. He’s gone.
Cayde-6 is surprisingly reserved, “Awkward, yes. You mean a lot to us, Warlock. There is no Vanguard without brave Guardians, like yourself. So… thank you. The City thanks you.” Cayde clears his throat, “I’ll be on Comm,” and strolls away.
Warlock bows as Ikora Rey walks towards him.
“I’ve said all I need. You’re ready for this moment.” She gives an unexpected hug. “You send a Warlock on missions like this.”
He sees the pride in her eyes as she walks away.
Three remain. Amanda Holliday can’t hold back her tears. As for Titan and Hunter, Exos don’t cry. Group hug.
“You’re Ship is ready, Warlock,” as Amanda backs away. “You punch him in the face one good time for me!” Off she goes.
Titan and Warlock grasps forearms. Normally reserved between Titans, a show of strength above all other Classes. But this time, Warlock understands he’s just as strong. Titan walks away.
Only Hunter remains, staring at his brother. “Instincts. Warlock. Use your instincts. Because out there, the head knowledge and power can only get you so far. When your back is up against the wall, only your wit remains. At the end of the day, Oryx is just a brute trying to intimidate the universe. Don’t back down.”
Warlock bows, a gesture reserved for others in the Order.
Hunter pulls his blade, lunging at Warlock’s throat. Warlock stops his momentum before the blade pierces his exo-skeleton.
“Good. Very good,” Hunter admits.
“Your Class has a strange way of showing respect.”
“Thanks. I like it, too.” Obviously feeling better, Hunter struts up the stairs toward Tower Watch.
Warlock sees Amanda in the distance motioning her head towards his ship. “Alright, then. Let’s see where this goes.”
From The Tower to the inner city, eyes look to the sky to watch Warlock’s ship ascend into space.
“The coordinates are set for the rings of Saturn,” Ghost says.
After pressing a few buttons, Warlock’s ship, the Aries Ascendant, darts through the sky. “Status report.”
“Gear. Weapons. Ammunition. In order. Only the Vanguard shipment arrived.”
“Understood. This place is heavily fortified. Auto Rifle?”
“Decent impact for the high Rate of Fire,” Ghost continues. “Impressive reload speed. A bit bulky, but that should help with Stability.”
“That will be my Primary. What of the Heavy Weapon?” Warlock asks.
“As you know, the Diluvian 10/4X is the standard model for Vanguard. This Machine Gun has an incredibly high Rate of Fire, which makes it quite unstable,” Ghost concludes.
“The Dreadnaught is at our rear, sir. You can teleport inside when in range.”
“Thank you, Ghost.” Warlock whirls around in his chair to his hovering friend. “You’ve always been…”
“I would leave the sentiments until after we leave this dreadful place,” Ghost finishes.
“After?” A moment of silence, “So be it.” Once in range, Warlock disappears and his ship leaves to orbit the planet at a safe distance away.
The Dreadnaught is as Warlock remembers it. A nightmare floating about in outer space. The Cabal are still emboldened as they take on the Hive patrolling the entrance of the beachhead. Two small pockets of Taken, but nothing like the swarm on Earth. He pushes forward.
The Comm cracks to life, “Feeling spunky today, Guardian?!”
“You have a way with words, Cayde,” Warlock points out.
“You can return hope to your Order. To everyone. End this,” Eris concludes.
“She’s right, Guardian. No time like the present. Get him,” Cayde finishes. The Comm goes silent.
“We have to return to the Portal,” Ghost adds. “It’s best to go through the Mausoleum. Not much in the way of enemy presence on the way.”
Warlock had read over the fairy tales of such a place. Fairy tales. As he runs through massive halls, feeling the mushy ground beneath his feet, the smell seems visible to him. This is too real.
Perhaps, Ghost knows what he’s thinking, “Keep your helmet on. Please. Some of these fumes may be corrosive.”
Warlock slides to a halt as he reaches a large opening. He can see the Portal atop an enormous pedestal in the distance. Hive patrol the area. Taken beacons hover in mid-air. Get too close, they sense your presence and summon Taken minions.
“I don’t suppose we could sneak passed them all,” Ghost says.
“Where’s the fun in that, actually?” Warlock asks.
“Oh my, Hunter is affecting you.”
“I’ll need his shooting skills from here on,” Warlock admits. The rattling noise of the Auto Rifle alerts all enemies in the area. Warlock closes in on the Portal. A few giant leaps and he’ll be there.
Taken Hive spring out of thin air. A Taken Captain roars, shooting fire out of its mouth towards Warlock.
“Careful!” Ghost warns. “It will burn through your shield faster than I can regenerate it.”
Warlock feels the intense heat as he finds cover. The blazing fire wears off as his shield regenerates. That was close. He feels a blow to the back of his head. Taken minions have surrounded him. One after the other, Warlock nails them in the face with a crushing blow.
Hive Acolytes fire at him in the distance. With the toss of a grenade, they try to scatter, but are caught in the explosion. More streams of fire rain down on him. Machine gun. It fires so quickly, Warlock has a hard time keeping it under control. However, the Taken Hive Captain is down.
Two Hive Wizards hover next to the Portal sending waves of energy pulses at Warlock. Back to the Auto Rifle, he picks them off while coming in and out of cover. Another leap. The Portal pulses with life.
“Yes. I sense it. The Portal believes you’re Ascendant Hive! Enter. Quickly!” Eris calls out.
Her voice begins to fade as Warlock passes through the Portal.
“And uh, after you kill him, Guardian… shoot ’em again just for fun,” Cayde adds with a short laugh.
Blinding light. Disorienting. An empty space. No enemies in sight. Remarkable high ceiling. Warlock suddenly feels so small.
“Cayde… Eris… It seems as if we’re on our own from here,” Ghost says.
Ghost pauses. “I don’t pick up anything, sir.”
“We are, in fact… somewhere.”
Warlock jogs cautiously through the long hall, an extra tight grasp on his weapon. “Bluish white. The light up ahead.”
All of a sudden, the dreary facade of The Dreadnaught is replaced by a more regal appearance. Tall columns of pale blue, light emanating from within them. He looks down over a balcony, two rows of stairs descend to the foundation below. “Could be an entrance to a Throne Room,” Warlock concludes.
“Definite Taken signature, sir,” Ghost interjects. “I don’t recall any tales of this place.”
Probably because no one has ever made it this far. Warlock begins his descent down a staircase when Taken spring up around the room. “Vex. The nasty ones!”
When Taken Vex Hobgoblins are killed, they release three target-seeking energy pulses that do massive damage on impact. Now, there’s a room full of them along with two Taken Fallen Captains. Minions also begin their ascent up both staircases to close in on Warlock.
He fights back. The rattle of the Auto Rifle pauses as grenades fly through the air. He returns to crouching on the balcony to reload. Minions, having reached his position, swipe at him. One punch after another, he counters.
“Good move, sir. You’re Solar Shield is active for a while.”
With this extra protection, Warlock jumps off the balcony to ground level, firing at the Hobgoblins in the distance. He leaps out of the way as tracking pulses bear down on him. An impact knocks him backwards.
“Solar Shield is gone,” Ghost calls out. “Recharging.”
Warlock wants to keep his momentum. He charges up the final staircase firing at two Hobgoblins. One explodes, then the other. His shield reading on his HUD flashes red.
“That was dangerous.”
“You’re Solar Energy is at full capacity,” Ghost points out.
The entrance splits open. Warlock pauses before entering. “He must be waiting for me. Hiding?”
“Nothing on radar. He could be cloaked,” Ghost adds.
Warlock jogs through. “What is that?” The area is less prestigious. Rocks protruding from the foundation all about the space.
“Guardian, I don’t think we’re alone…” Ghost says.
This isn’t an Echo of Oryx, this is the brute, himself. “I have Taken entire worlds,” his voice reverberates through the Chamber.
“It’s another Portal,” Ghost interjects.
“You are not worthy to face me,” Oryx finishes, then disappears.
Ta’aun, a feared Cabal Champion taken by Oryx, appears in front of the Portal. Warlock fires away, but more Taken spring up and create a protective shield around the Champion. He’ll have to kill the minions first to take the shield down. He heads for the Portal, taking cover along the way.
“Warlock, another signature!” Ghost calls out.
“I’m looking at them, Ghost,” Warlock says.
“A Hive Champion. Baxx is…”
The giant Ogre roars his introduction as he’s sent through a Taken Portal. Baxx stomps toward Warlock firing energy pulses from his eyes.
Titan is standing in front of the Gunsmith at The Tower. “You didn’t see him off.”
Banshee-44 scoffs, “Why would I do that?! It’s not like he’s not coming back.”
“I should’ve gone, instead,” Titan says.
“Not looking like this.”
Titan is taken aback.
“Ikora knew what she was doing. Biding her time.”
“Warlock had a lot of research to do.”
“Ha. Research! Who’s ever been that deep in The Dreadnaught and lived to tell about it? Even as a fairy tale,” Banshee points out.
“There are stories…”
“She wanted a Warlock on the job from the start. You and Hunter take the brunt of the heat because you can. But when dealing the final blow, the Warlocks lower the boom.”
It all makes sense to Titan. “Don’t say anything to Hunter.”
“Don’t have to. He’s not you, but he can take a pounding better than Warlock can. Better not tell Warlock.”
“Hm,” Titan rubs his jaw. “I think Warlock already knows. Thanks, 44.” He walks off.
The Taken minions are sparse. Warlock made quick work of them. Yet, he’s been running around the Chamber trying to keep Ta’aun and Baxx at bay. “Who’s first?”
“It appears Baxx is growing weary,” Ghost answers.
Warlock flings a grenade right at the eyes of Baxx. Boom! The rattle of the Auto Rifle ensues. With a screech, Baxx is in flames and disintegrates. Suddenly, Warlock is knocked forward by the Cabal Champion, Ta’aun. He’s shields are down.
“Watch out..!” Ghost warns.
Ta’aun picks up a protruding rock and wacks Warlock across the room before Ghost has a chance to regenerate his shields fully. Warlock’s regenerating shield breaks on the initial hit. When he hits the wall, he dies.
Ta’aun growls in victory… Until Warlock springs to life, engulfed in flames, wings of fire! He hits Ta’aun with a barrage of fiery grenades. The brute buckles over. Warlock’s Solar Energy is spent; out comes the Auto Rifle to finish him off. A loud growl. He’s gone.
The Portal comes to life.
“Well, I guess we’re worthy, now,” sarcasm evident in Ghost’s voice.
“A second Portal,” doubt in Warlock’s voice.
“Warlock, if we don’t end this, who will?” Ghost asks.
He checks the status of his Gear on his HUD.
“You brought yourself back. Your Solar Energy will take some time to recharge, as you know.”
“We cannot wait. Let’s move.”
Ghost doesn’t argue as they head through the second Portal. Blinding. Disorienting. But Warlock is ready for it this time. Down another gloomy hall, they reach another opening…
A familiar voice breaks the silence, “Come, Guardian of Light. Come…” Laughter fades away as a bridge forms above the chasm and the entrance opens.
Stating the obvious, “We have an invitation,” Ghost concludes.
“Indeed. Almost at full power. I can feel it.” Warlock heads for the bridge.
A knock at the door.
Ikora Rey doesn’t look back, “Yes?”
“How you feeling, Ikora?” asks Cayde-6.
“Fine,” eyes focused on a page.
“You’ve played a dangerous game,” Commander Zavala adds.
Ikora closes the book she’s sifting through. “Game?”
“Don’t pretend to be innocent…” Zavala begins.
Cayde puts up a hand, “We get to see what he has.”
“He has the least amount of experience…” Zavala continues.
“Not anymore,” Ikora interjects. “Not anymore.”
“What if he fails?!” Zavala stomps forward. “I can’t send Titan in his condition.”
“Titan won’t need to go,” she answers boldly.
“Your pride will kill us all. Oryx will be on alert. He’ll come straight for us with two of our best worn out by you!”
“Warlock is my best! And he is fully capable to take on this challenge!”
Zavala steps back.
“I want Oryx destroyed, as well. This is the best chance we have.” Ikora takes a deep breath. “Is that all, Commander?”
Zavala shakes his head and storms out the door.
She looks to Cayde.
“You guys get along so well…”
She raises a brow, “You have a complaint?”
“No, no! No complaint. Just don’t want you to think I’m naive,” Cayde answers. “Shrewd. I like you even more, Rey.”
“Just saying, if you’re wrong… No one will be laughing.” He closes the door calmly and walks away.
Ikora bites her lip. Cayde’s a loose cannon, but he’s not stupid. She whispers, “Please, Warlock. For me.”
The Hive patrols have retreated giving Warlock free reign to walk through a bleak area. He is unnerved by it. Enemies have never intentionally backed off with intruders approaching.
“Nothing, so far, Warlock,” Ghost adds as he scans the area. “If he’s here, I can’t pick up a single hint of him. I’m sorry.”
Warlock pauses as he enters the next area. Pitch black. “No. Ghost. You’ve always done well. Solar Energy…”
“I’m as ready as I’ll ever be,” Warlock concludes. He summons Ghost in front of him and places his hand on top of it. “Thank you.”
Ghost’s light flickers for a few moments. “I chose correctly, Guardian.” It disappears.
The last jolt of confidence is welcomed as Warlock steps forward into the darkness. A light springs up on the floor and bolts down what seems to be another long hallway. A door. The symbol of The Taken King illuminates as it splits open.
He knows this is it. The Throne Room. The end. “Brothers. If I fail. Forgive me. I… I love you, both,” Warlock finishes. He walks forward to whatever awaits him…