“Exos of Destiny” highlights the adventures of three brothers, each having chosen their own path to becoming a Legendary Guardian. Titan favors strength; Warlock his special abilities; Hunter in his raw instinct. Spread across the Solar System, they’ve spent little time together after graduating from The Academy. Yet, they keep a common bond through instant messages, video time, and The Vault..where they share powerful weapons (among other items) to fight for the Light.
The days of competing on who is the best are over…almost. Now, they simply want to stay alive.
EPISODE I: The Armamentarium
“As usual, Xur (Agent of the Nine) showed up at the Tower. Everyone knows the pattern by now. He sells gear, weapons, engrams…at a steep price, then he disappears. We don’t even know, for sure, who he’s working for. Still, the items may be so valuable Guardians are willing to pay the cost and ask questions later.
Over time, we’ve discovered which items are worthless and which should be a Guardian’s most prized possession. Depending on the abilities a piece of Gear gives us, we value each one independently. I joined the Titan Class because of my style of combat which mirrors my personality. Some Exos favor power or weapons. Both important, but I like to kill with my bare hands. Should there be any other way?
Back on the subject, The Armamentarium was in my possession long before a couple days ago. I can’t remember the date exactly; I just remember tossing it away because it looked like a piece of junk. Months later, word got out that it’s one of the best pieces of Exotic Gear a Titan can own. I was angry with myself, of course.
Several months passed afterwards and I’d almost given up hope on getting my hands on it again. Then, a couple days ago, The Agent of the Nine shows up offering this piece for sale. At last, it’s mine again..and I sympathize with those who get in my way with this equipped.
Why is The Armamentarium so valuable you ask? With so many enemies on the battlefield, Guardians need an edge anywhere we can get it. After you’ve used this Gear in battle enough, it generates an extra grenade. Two grenades at the ready are always better than one. More importantly, two grenades are enough to kill the strongest of Fallen Captains or even a Hive Leader. Which means I can move to the next target faster.
When you’re fighting waves of Thrall..you’ll understand. I guess, for now, you’ll have to take my word for it, as humans would say.
Xur is gone, now. Again. When he’ll sale The Armamentarium again, no one knows. But at least I know I’m keeping mine this time. The video feed below will show you what I see.”
EPISODE II: Obsidian Mind
I know who I am, now. I had no clue before. Upon graduating from The Academy, my siblings were already ahead of me. I had a chance to rival Hunter, but Titan had already made a name for himself. In turn, I studied Hunter, watched his progress, and was determined to catch him.
But everything came so easily for Hunter. I worked harder, spent longer hours in the field carving through enemy lines. Still, my progress was slow. I struggled to stay alive in battle. My shields failed me too often. I wasn’t a brawler like Titan; I wasn’t a marksman like Hunter. I felt lost…until, one day, I decided to make my own path.
Once I discovered the awesome potential of the power flowing within me, I knew I had chosen the right Class. I went on the battlefield, not relying on brute strength or marksmanship, but raw power generated by the Light I possessed. It was devastating. I wanted more.
On my own, I can only generate enough Solar or Void energy to be respectable in the field. I wanted to be feared. I needed Gear that would enhance my own special abilities. One day, Xur (The Agent of the Nine) showed up…on schedule. He offered an Exotic piece of Gear called, Obsidian Mind. Made specifically for Warlocks, it’s designed to enhanced the Void energy we generate.
I had accumulated just enough currency to purchase it. I haven’t looked back since. I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to show…
It comes with seven Nodes. The more you use the Helmet on the battlefield, like any other piece of Gear, the more you unlock special enhancements. If you use a piece of Gear enough, you can unlock it’s full potential! Of course, for weeks, I wore only this Helmet in battle until all seven Nodes were unlocked.
It’s better than I imagined. The fourth Node is the most important. I can use generated Void energy to fire a large projectile quite a distance. It’s called a Nova Bomb. Wipes out a slew of enemies, but it takes every last drop of Void energy from me. I need time to generate more to fire another. For example, say…five minutes or so.
Now..with this Helmet, the more enemies that die from my projectile, the more Void energy I receive from their inevitable demise. Instead of waiting five minutes to regenerate, especially with a large wave destroyed, I only need a minute or two of patience (if not less) before I’m ready to fire again.
Which means, I flew throughout the Galaxy tracking the largest assembly of enemies on record. One Nova Bomb powered the next…and suddenly, Hunter..then, Titan..I passed them both. It was their turn, their turn to catch me.
It’s all a blur, now. It happened so fast. I guess I passed them because I stopped trying to. I simply focused on being the best I could and…I think I’m well on my way. My brothers fear my quest for power. Yet, my enemies are the ones who should be afraid.
EPISODE III: Suros Regime
Weapons are my specialty. I make sure we have the best weapons ready at all times. Some of the best have eluded me, but, eventually, I find what I’m looking for. Today was a good day. Like Titan and Warlock mentioned, Xur (The Agent of the Nine) shows up at the end of the week selling who knows what. And you’d better have the currency to pay.
We did. My brothers and I find material, currency, and put it all in one big pot. Titan was generous, at first. Because he had collected so much before Warlock & I even left The Academy, he had more than he needed. However, material and currency ran thin when Warlock & I hit the field along with him.
Titan stayed generous with the material. I had a knack for finding weapons. Warlock..well, we helped him along…until he passed us both. I can’t believe it. The kid finally grew up.
Anyway, I went out looking for weapons today with the currency we had. Turned out, Xur is selling the Suros Regime, a powerful Exotic Weapon. High Impact combined with a high Rate of Fire is almost unheard of these days for an Assault Rifle. The best we had is called, Hard Light. It doesn’t stand up too well against the bigger guys; their armor is too strong. I decided to compare the two:
The Attack Level is a bit weak until we upgrade it and the stability improves as well. All Guardians have 48 hours to get it before Xur takes off to wherever again. It costs six Strange Coins more than the usual price he charges. Now, we’re running low on this currency, but..it’s ours.
Good weight distribution, easy to hold, nice design. Old school. Works for it. I have some Bounties to collect for the Vanguard. Time to put this baby to work.
EPISODE IV: Share
Warlock is silent as he looks at Hunter’s hologram hovering over the desk in his study. His silence only agitates Hunter more.
“You were there. The Tower’s Log says you were there. So, what happened?”
Warlock begins to hang his Exotic Chest Armor back into place.
“You kept it, didn’t you? You couldn’t give it up!”
Warlock hears the slam of Hunter’s hand on his own console. He doesn’t look back. “It’s one of the best pieces of Gear a Warlock can own…”
“Don’t give me that. He gave you his best when you had nothing!”
“I never asked him to! I didn’t ask for his generosity! I wanted to prove myself to everyone on my own!”
“But you didn’t turn down the ship did you? What you had was decent, but it wasn’t great. Titan gave you the best ship he had. We both gave you what we could, but he went overboard.”
Warlock paused, and then, “He has a better ship now.”
“That’s not the point, Warlock! This is about Gear. We all agreed to help each other get the materials needed to have the strongest armor possible.”
Warlock walks to the small device, tempted to turn off the hologram.
“Titan needs his Armamentarium at full strength. You sell that armor in exchange for the Shard he needs.”
“Do you know how valuable this armor is? How hard it was to get? And now, I’m supposed to sell it for a Shard I can buy every few days?! I would never ask such a thing of you!”
“We’re running outta Coins, Warlock. If you don’t want to sell your armor to get the Shard, you need to round up some more Currency to buy one. Now.”
Hunter shakes his head, “Titan may let you get away with stuff like this…but I won’t.”
The hologram dissipates.
Warlock slams his hand on the desk, grabs his gear and heads out the door.
Warlock is cleared for take-off as he prepares his ship to leave. A few more buttons and a hologram of Hunter appears.
Hunter’s arms are folded as he leans back in his chair.
“I tried to offer Titan the Motes of Light. All thirty of them.”
Hunter shakes his head, “And?”
Warlock shakes his head, “The Speaker has some nice finds right now. I figured…he collects Marks…surely he could choose something valuable for himself.”
Hunter sits up in his chair, “Titan just bought the last two Marks he wanted to wear on his list. We all like to wear stuff. If you were paying attention, you’d know that.”
Warlock feels the mixture of Void & Arc energy surging through his body, ready to explode. He needs to get to the battlefield quickly to take his frustration out.
“What is this piece of Exotic Gear you’re hanging on to, again?”
Warlock is dumbfounded, ” The Voidfang Vestments. You’ve never heard of it?!”
“Vaguely. I usually only study what I use or what I have to kill.”
“Come on, let me see it.”
“Now, you see. This is one of the reasons why we don’t speak as often as you’d like.”
“Where did you get it?”
“Hunter, we only share weapons. Our armor is our own.”
“Hm. There’s a nice way to put it.”
An idea strikes Warlock; he opens access to The Vault and begins drawing out Currency.
“What are you doing?”
“Here,” Warlock chimes in, “take 25 Motes of Light. Buy…whatever it is you buy, Hunter. I’m sure The Speaker has something nice in your size.”
“I don’t need another cloak, Warlock. I just paid a hefty price to Veriks for the one I’m wearing!”
“True…but you’re the only one of us who does not have a Legendary trinket from The Speaker, himself.”
Hunter shifts in his seat, “I don’t need it.”
“We don’t always have to buy what we need, brother.”
Hunter turns away from his screen.
“I’m here. I must go.”
“You’re not outside of The Reef, are you? That place is crawling with…everybody.”
“I’m happy you’re so concerned.”
Hunter waves him off.
“Here. The Currency is yours.”
“Go to The Tower, brother, see The Speaker, get…something.” Warlock closes the link.
Hunter whirls around in his chair. “He has to get the last word.” He jumps up, looking around his Quarters, “…It won’t hurt to have a look.” He heads out the door.
Hunter walks around The Tower, watching other Guardians run by. “Pretty busy for this time of day.” He brings Titan on screen. “How are you doing? Wait. Where are you?!”
“Home, or what’s home for now,” Titan answers.
“You didn’t even expect Warlock to sell his Gear did you?”
“Aren’t you worried about him?”
“I was concerned. But…the Light chose Warlock like the rest of us. He’ll find his way if he strays too far.”
Hunter shakes his head, “And I’m the idiot for worrying…”
“You’re at The Tower?”
“Yeah. Who needs rest?”
“You have the Motes, then?”
Hunter hesitates, “Uhh…supposed to be a gift.”
“Even I have two special Marks from The Speaker, Hunter. You should have one.”
“Titan, we can’t just buy more at the candy store.”
“Which is why we fight & search and fight some more, brother. We always get them back soon enough. We’ll do it again.”
Hunter is moved, “I’ll pay you guys back…”
“No, not necessary…”
“Come on. There has to be something you want!”
“On-screen,” Hunter insists.
Hunter’s head drops, “Titan…this, this better not be a fusion rifle.”
Titan is silent.
“Titan, we have two fusion rifles sitting in The Vault practically collecting dust!”
Titan is silent.
Hunter sighs, “What is it with you & Vanguard weapons, anyway? Having a Vanguard symbol on it doesn’t make it any better!”
“We joined the Vanguard in the beginning. The symbol means something. And when our enemies see this symbol as I’m crushing their skulls in my hands they will know…it is us.”
“…Yeah. Okay. You know, Titan, sometimes, you’re just…a little…”
Titan is silent.
“Nevermind. Look…we can’t put our Currency together to get weapons like this. And it’s expensive. One of us will have to purchase it on our own.”
“We could compete. See who gets enough Vanguard Marks, first.”
“We share weapons, Titan. It’s not like we can all go out into the field at the same time!”
Titan hesitates, “I know. Honestly, it’s a long-term goal. But it was more polite to answer your question…”
“Yeah, I got it.”
“It’s no rush. They will die by our hands, either way.”
“I can’t argue with that.”
“I must go. Send ‘greetings’ to The Speaker for me.”
“He usually asks about you, regardless. Take care, bro.”
Titan salutes. The screen fades.
Hunter shakes his head, then spots the entrance that leads to The Speaker.
HUNTER | JOURNAL ENTRY
Just another day in the universe. I’m still worried about Warlock. I came down on him kinda hard…but he deserved it. Besides, I’m actually writing in this stupid journal for his “collection of knowledge.”
I’ve never seen him without his mask. Is he hiding something? Weird questions. It’s just…he never tells us anything. Not about The Traveler. Who The Darkness is or where it originated from. Nothing. We just go out, fight, and scout for these factions fighting for power over the city. I need to know more.
Talk about symbols, this is the symbol for Hunters like me. Where did The Speaker get it from? Gold…some type of fine linen, light, durable…I’ve never seen material like it. I get to work in this?! No wonder Warlock collects so many ‘things.’ Still, for me…enemies die just the same.
EPISODE V: On the Horizon
Hunter rushes to his Quarters, a rush of energy through his Exo skeleton. Titan and Warlock appear on the large screen above his console.
“Don’t you shut down?” Titan asks.
“It is rather late…or should I say early,” Warlock adds.
“I just came back from The Tower,” Hunter begins.
“And?” Warlock insists.
“It’s ours,” Hunter beams.
Titan glances at Warlock from his own screen in his Quarters.
Warlock knows the tone in Hunter’s voice means: “You’ve added, yet, another weapon to our collection.”
“I have,” Hunter confirms.
“Hunter, not that I’m not appreciative of your efforts in expanding our arsenal. However, The Vault is half full of weapons we don’t use.”
Hunter sits back in his chair and folds his arms.
Warlock hesitates for a moment. “I’m simply saying, we’re low on Currency. If anything, purchasing armor should be our priority.”
“What is it?” Titan asks.
“Does it matter?” Warlock aims at Titan.
“Yes, it does,” Titan answers. “Hunter has a knack for tracking down weapons. Besides, Xur should be at The Tower by now.” Towards Hunter, “I take it he had something good.”
“And he just sold it to you?” Warlock asks.
“To me…to everyone who can afford it! Yep! 17 Strange Coins, Warlock, since I know that’s your next question,” Hunter continues.
“We only had 13 Coins in The Vault,” Warlock adds.
“He obviously found more,” Titan chimes in. “When do we get our turn at using it, Hunter?”
“Well…” Hunter hesitates.
“You want something else?” Warlock asks.
“This from an Exo with a collection of Bonds to match his uniforms,” Hunter kicks back.
Warlock turns away, not able to defend himself on the point.
“Look, Warlock…Hunter will get it back. Right? You have a little less than two days, Hunter. Do what you do. Just…faster. We can’t have any slip ups, now.”
“I’m starting to think we’re not related to Warlock,” Hunter smirks.
“That’s a ridiculous statement,” Warlock answers.
“Then, why give me such a hard time, huh? You’re upset because you didn’t find it first or what?”
Warlock paces his Quarters.
Titan and Hunter begin to realize this isn’t about Currency.
Titan begins, “The Vanguard is trusting us, Warlock, to share any information we have.”
“You Warlocks drive me crazy. You know that? You’re not helping anybody with all these secrets! We win this war together. Understand?” Hunter concludes.
Warlock stops in his tracks knowing the validity of their statements. “There are new waves of Guardians being sent from The Tower.”
Hunter shrugs. Titan waits for the rest.
“There is something terrible coming. A greater threat than anything we’ve ever faced.”
Hunter puts aside a condescending remark and rolls the thought over in his head. “The Tower hasn’t called any of us on new missions. I haven’t heard anything about a bigger threat.”
“Who’s sending these Guardians?” Titan asks.
“The Speaker, himself. Hand-picked. The best of the best. And yet…the threat remains. I can feel it.”
“Well…if that’s true, we’re gonna need this Gjallarhorn and more,” Hunter concludes.
“More,” Warlock confirms. “The weapons we have now may not be powerful enough to win this fight. We have the Gjallarhorn, yes, at last. But…perhaps, even Xur knows it won’t improve our odds against what’s coming.”
Hunter slams his fist on his console as he connects the dots.
“So, he makes money off of us with weapons that won’t have much value anymore,” Titan adds.
“Precisely,” Warlock confirms. “And as the findings of Strange Coins grows more rare, it will be tougher to buy what we actually will need in the near future.”
Titan and Warlock hear Hunter tossing over things in his Quarters as he mumbles his disdain.
“I’m sorry,” Warlock continues. “I…I don’t know what to do. Xur may very well change the Currency he accepts…or disappear, never to return again.”
Titan stands up, “We’re going to get all the weapons & gear we can from Xur, while we can. We’re going to need all the help we can get.”
“Yeah, but against what?! What are we up against? Where are these chosen Guardians going?!” Hunter asks.
“I don’t have the exact coordinates, Hunter. However, Eris Morn has known all along…”
“I don’t trust Eris…” Hunter interrupts.
“Did she give you any clues? We need something specific,” Titan adds.
Warlock sits at his console, punching buttons and a smaller screen comes to life. “Don’t share this with anyone.”
Titan rubs his chin, “We have to notify The Vanguard.”
“They’re already notified, Titan. When were they gonna let us know?!” Hunter asks.
Warlock leans back in his seat, “Hunter, Titan, we are going to have to stockpile all the material and weapons we need. Only what we need! The best your class has to offer.”
“Warlock, we need you to find out how Oryx can weld such a power. I’ve never seen anything quite like it. Perhaps, it’s similar to what we use,” Titan adds.
“Titan,” Hunter interjects, “you’re going to have to talk to The Speaker. See what he knows; have a look around his place.”
Titan is caught off guard, “I don’t feel right doing that. It’s…”
“Which is why you must,” Warlock concludes. “The Speaker has known you longer than Hunter or myself. And he greatly admires your loyalty to The Vanguard. He will more likely confide in you unlike anyone else.”
Titan shakes his head.
“I am not walking into this blind. If they told us anything, we wouldn’t have to snoop around,” Hunter explains. “How did you get Eris Morn to give you this information, Warlock?”
“Hm. Actually…I extracted this feed from her personal log.”
“Warlock, I’m impressed! Her logs are encrypted,” Hunter says.
“Well, I did learn a thing or two from you after all,” Warlock ends.
“Be careful you two. It’s not only The Vanguard watching us. At least three other Factions want control of The Tower, control of us. And who knows what Eris Morn wants. All we’ve done so far is avenge her fallen companions and now look where it’s gotten us,” Titan explains.
“You mean, revenge,” Hunter corrects.
“Lay low for a while,” Titan continues. “Stay off communications. If Warlock can hack into Eris Morn’s log, who knows who can do the same to us.”
They both nod.
Titan continues, “When we meet back, Hunter, you have to have the Currency replenished…”
“I’m on it,” Hunter confirms.
“Warlock, see if you can find out how these chosen Guardians are fighting this new threat. Upgraded gear, weapons, abilities, anything,” Titan adds.
“I have another log from Eris, but it’s encryption is beyond what I’ve seen before. It’s taken me longer than usual to decipher it,” Warlock explains.
“Stay on it. I’ll have a look around The Tower. There’s always chatter. Maybe some of it is legit,” Titan concludes.
“Be careful,” Warlock adds. “Those who hold secrets will protect them at all costs.”
A silence hangs in the air. The three brothers, Titan, Warlock, and Hunter salute each other. With a nod, their screens go dark, all knowing they are about to face even more of the unknown.
Hunter holds the Gjallarhorn, studying its unique design he’s only heard of before. “Now, let’s see if all the hype is true.” He grabs his gear and heads out the door.
EPISODE VI: Limited Visibility
Titan arrives at The Tower for one last look. He has to be sure. The air is thick with a dark fog, little movement for so early in the evening. Where is everyone? Still, everything seems in order. Master Rahool, the Cryptach, is focused on his mobile console, as usual. Eris Morn, of Crota’s Bane, stands guard by her ship, waiting for Guardians to accept her missions seeped in revenge. His eyes lock in on the Bounty Tracker, Xander 99-40, handing out bounties for Guardians to run. So, why does he feel an awkward mystery in the air?
Wait. Kadi 55-30, the Postmaster, is at her position, but where is the woman assigned to deliver Special Orders. Her booth is open, unlike a few days ago, but still, no one is in sight. Titan walks over to her station to see everything as it was days before. A few dead Ghosts spread over the front counter. Consoles left on…it doesn’t seem as if she’s returned. The station she was once so protective of is left unguarded. He decides to ask her neighbor.
Titan leans against the counter and whispers, “What happened to the person assigned to “Special Orders,” Kadi?
“I apologize, Guardian. I am only programmed to retrieve messages from your mail accounts,” Kadi 55-30 explains.
Yet, the shifting of her weight suggests to Titan that she knows much more than her initial programming. “I’m just concerned that important information will be misplaced…or misused.”
“I apologize, Guardian. I am only programmed to retrieve messages from your mail accounts. You have no messages at this time,” Kadi repeats as she turns away.
Who knew droids could act so weird? Titan asks himself. Is she malfunctioning? Which isn’t unheard of…they are droids, not nearly as advanced as Exos. “Thanks, anyway.” Titan salutes and walks off. “Hmm, maybe I can get something out of Master Rahool.”
The Cryptarch is busy looking over his hand-held monitor, “Look at these symbols. Fragments of an Arcadian text. So few of these fragments survive. Hmm, it couldn’t possibly be that simple, could it?”
Titan hesitates as The Cryptarch begins to shout. He turns away, but stays close enough to listen to Master Rahool’s ramblings.
“Cabal encryption. Child’s play! Now, think…think! Where have we seen this before?”
We? Titan wonders who he’s talking about.
“This data has been tampered with. This idiot cipher is malfunctioning!”
“This Cryptarch is slightly crazy,” Titan decides. “I won’t be able to get anything logical out of him. But I know who will talk.”
On the way to the Tower Hanger, Titan notices large amounts of shipments are gone. Where containers once clogged up the halls, it is completely empty. The droid on duty sweeps an area that doesn’t need it. “Something weird is going on here,” he whispers as he makes his way through the Tower Hanger.
Titan can’t stand the Dead Orbit faction. They try to spread fear and kill all hopes that The Traveler can defeat The Darkness. “How are you, Arach? Doing well?”
“I dreamed of The Darkness swallowing the city…block by block, Titan. How do you suppose I’m doing?”
“Have you seen any unusual activity around The Tower lately?”
“I warned you, Guardian. I’ve tried to warn everyone! But you won’t listen…you never listen. Soon, you will.”
“What are you talking about?”
“If The Traveler is powerful enough to defeat The Darkness…where is it now? Why is it silent? Why isn’t it pushing back The Darkness with you? Hmm?” Jalaal asks.
“Once The Traveler regains its strength, it will return. For now, we, the Guardians, have more than enough power to defeat the evil at our borders.”
“And yet, the evil spreads like wildfire growing in strength.”
“So, we should follow your plan? Take all the riches left and run.”
“I’ve accepted the truth, Titan. The Darkness already rules galaxies far beyond our own. It’s simply our turn now. How many warriors better than yourself throughout the Cosmos have tried to fight The Darkness and lost? You expect to fair better?”
Titan turns away, beginning to walk off, “We will do more than better.” He hears the Dead Orbit leader bursts out in laughter as he walks away.
Despite their vibrant colors, the FWC is a war-hungry faction as their name suggested. They encourage the submission to a more debase mentality: War is the only constant. With a history showing as much, who can say they are wrong? Yet, this Guardian is fighting for peace.
“You have questions for me, Titan?” she calls out.
Titan takes his time towards her eyeing the other occupants of the room, whom nod at his rather impressive armor. Before he can say a word…
“You noticed the large stock of inventory missing,” if Lakshmi-2 could smile, she would be. “Impressive. Many Guardians think nothing of it. Why are you interested?”
“It’s unusual,” Titan admits. “Even with new squads of Guardians being released into the field, we’ve always had a cache on standby.”
Lakshmi-2 nods. “We are all out of weapons and supplies, Guardian. I suppose we needed more than first assumed. The most recent shipment proved to be short and the inventory was taken.”
“But now, The Tower is a bit more vulnerable. Wouldn’t you say?”
“When have you ever cared about what I say? You wear the colors of The Vanguard like a medal while shunning the rest of us.”
Lakshmi-2 turns away stopping at the large window. As she looks at the incoming ships dock in the bay, “We may no longer need her services. I don’t even remember her name, which says more than enough. She wasn’t a warrior, Titan. Not like us.”
“That doesn’t make her expendable!”
“That doesn’t make her valuable in war, either!”
“It’s not easy to find work out there. And it’s dangerous in the inner city! Who authorized this?” Titan demands.
Lakshmi-2 meets him face to face in a blur, “Who do you think?”
Titan backs away and takes a few steps closer to the stairwell. “Why should I believe you?”
“You came to me, Guardian. You may not like our methods, but you know we speak the truth.” She walks closer to him. “Do you think The Traveler runs things here? Or Dead Orbit? Or that the New Monarchy has chosen a king for us?!” She walks up to him as Titan turns towards her. “No. There is only one ruler here.”
Titan begins to make his way back downstairs.
“We’re not the only ones with secrets, Guardian!” the Future War Cult leader calls out.
Titan is fuming as he travels to the other side of The Tower. It’s more clear than ever; there’s a power struggle between the factions and people are being caught in the middle. To get to the real truth, one man needs to give him answers.
The Speaker is looking through pages of information as Titan approaches, “Titan, are you on break from the field?”
“No, Speaker, I’m simply looking into a personal matter,” Titan answers.
“Titan,” the Speaker puts his hand on his broad shoulders, “this war is far from over. And the only way we win is to fight out there…among the stars. That is where you should be. That is where you belong.”
“I’m simply concerned about…”
“Yes. She has been replaced,” The Speaker replies sternly. “But she is well. She is now in charge of running the new system in place with more responsibilities than she held before. You need not worry.” He turns back to his desk.
“I apologize, Speaker. As Guardians, at times, our information on certain procedures is limited,” Titan insists.
“It is my job to handle these affairs, Titan. I will not let you down. However, if you do not handle your affairs, all of this will be for naught.”
Titan nods, turning to walk back down the winding staircase.
“Do you trust me, Guardian?”
Titan doesn’t turn, “Of course, Speaker. With my life.”
“Then, do us The Tower proud…kill them all, Titan.”
Titan walks downstairs. He has never felt a creepy sensation before, but assumes this would be it.
Titan walks into the ridiculously small room set aside for Eva Levante, the Guardians’ Outfitter. Her primary concern is making sure all Guardians look good while killing the enemy. “It’s been a while, Eva,” Titan hesitates to admit.
Eva gives him a slightly seductive smile, “You couldn’t stay away, hmm?”
Titan avoids the awkward moment looking at the diminishing supplies Eva has for her inventory. “What’s happening in here?”
She smiles, yet again, but with a shadow of sadness, “The Tower is being reorganized a bit to run more efficiently.”
“Doesn’t it run well enough already?”
“No,” she answers sharply. “Not enough.” Her head motions to a brand new console stationed just outside of her room.
“What is this?!” Titan asks.
“Probably what I’ll be soon,” Eva answers.
Titan grows sad, “You’re going to be replaced, too?”
Eva nods. “Looks like it.” She walks back to her seat. “Think of the bright side, Titan. We’ll be able to spent more time together.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Who said I was joking?”
Titan shakes his head, “Did you see what happened to the Awoken woman from “Special Orders”?
“One day, she was here. The next day, she was gone.” The air in the room grows heavy, “I didn’t even have a chance to say ‘good-bye.'”
“There weren’t many people in The Tower to talk to, anyways. Now, she’s gone. But I have another computer monitor to look at! Yay!”
“Well, The Speaker says she’s in charge of the new system now. There’s a positive, right?”
“Oh, how would you know either way, Titan? The Speaker’s going to let you see where she is?”
Of course, Titan doesn’t appreciate her tone.
“I’m sorry, love. Not everyone’s as big and strong as you. I’m an old woman, now, incapable of welding a weapon or Arc power.”
“I didn’t mean to…”
“No, of course not. That’s why I like you. You’re almost pathetically loyal to The Vanguard…the last faction that may want to help us all.”
Titan shuffles his feet, “If you are leaving…do you know when?”
She laughs. “Knowledge! A rare commodity around The Tower!” She walks up to him, “Let’s just say our ‘good-byes’ now…and when I’m gone…ever so suddenly…we’ll have no regrets. Will you salute on that?”
Titan is speechless. He gives a salute.
She tries to get her arms around his chest-plate for a hug, “Ouch! Well, close enough. Off you go!” She walks towards her tiny workspace.
“‘Off you go’ means ‘good-bye,’ Guardian,” she becomes teary-eyed. “Please.”
Titan walks towards the entrance, without looking back, “We will win this war…for us all.”
“This is the only time I wish I were an Exo, Titan. I could be young and strong, like you. But…as it is…I still cherish all of these moments.” She salutes him, “For the Vanguard.”
He walks away.
Reaching the ship’s cockpit, he accesses the communications system. Two screens come to life.
“Hey…whoa…what happened to you?!” Hunter asks after seeing Titan’s demeanor.
“It’s obvious, Hunter,” Warlock answers for him. “It’s what we feared.”
Titan shifts in his chair, “I’ll speak to you both in the morning. I’ve made a report of my findings. You can make of it what you will.”
Hunter and Warlock are stunned by his remarks.
“You sure you don’t want to talk about it?” Hunter asks.
Titan gives a positive nod.
“Well, I’ll leave you with a bit of advice,” Warlock adds. “Before you give in and burn you Vanguard allegiance, go into the field, and exact revenge of the ones responsible. Perhaps, letting off some steam will help ease your pain.”
Titan sits up at the thought.
Hunter is impressed, “Hm. Looks like Warlock’s been hanging around me too long. Is this good or bad?”
Titan stands, checks his gear, and heads out of the cockpit.
“Oh yeah,” Hunter continues, “they’re in trouble. Good going, Warlock.”
Warlock shakes his head and kills the signal.
“Yes, I’m fine, too. Just out here looking for my own clues.” His brothers are off on their own. Hunter is cloaked, snooping around the Vestian Outpost at the edge of The Reef. He comes back out into the open when the communication link is completely closed. Several conversations are taking place at once and he is taking note of all of them…
EPISODE VII: Stolen Recovery
“Are we still safe here, Warlock?” Amanda Holliday asks while shuffling her feet against the crate used as her chair.
“You don’t feel safe?”
“You don’t live here, Guardian. You’re out there, flying around the solar system. You don’t know what it’s like.”
“You don’t have an allegiance with any of the factions? They may be of help.”
“Don’t really care for New Monarchy’s politics. I’ve got a job to do.” she sighs.
“What about Dead…?”
“Six couplings missing. If I find those Dead Orbit creeps who stole them again…!”
Before he can inquire, one of her droids mumbles out another alert.
“Stolen armory items recovered and restored. Thank you, HQ,” the droid finished.
“Armory items?” Warlock asks, while asking himself, ‘Who is HQ?’
“Take a look,” Amanda points to the recovered armory supplies.
Warlock studies the missile. Guardians don’t use weapons like these. Ever. What is it doing in The Tower? “Amanda, what’s the purpose for these?”
“To blow things up,” she smirks.
He’s not amused.
Her head drops, “Protection,” she answers. “For the city.”
Guardians are trained to protect the city! Warlock screams within his mind.
“Look, I told Dead Orbit, there’s no way!”
Between the droid’s random alerts, the Ship Hangar’s intercom announcements, and Amanda Holliday’s outbursts, Warlock needs to filter out the knowledge necessary to his investigation.
“There’s a backlog of hogs sitting on the pad! Sorry if my fuse is short,” Amanda continues.
“Why so many ships?”
“Guardians probably flying too close to The Darkness. Their shields are breaking down faster than I can keep them going. I warn them…they don’t listen.”
He shakes his head. “Wait, I thought we could only fly out as far as the Vestian Outpost.”
“Now, you see what I have to keep up with!” she adds.
Guardians are spread out across the solar system represented by lights on a giant screen.
“Even you need time away, Amanda.”
“Aw, sweet. This is the real world, though, Guardian. Get used to it.”
Warlock suddenly remembers, “Who stole the armory supplies?” How could he forget to ask.
She shrugs, “I don’t know! Could have been anyone.”
“I assumed The Tower has its own legion of security.”
“We do,” she pats him on the shoulder.
She can practically see his eyes roll underneath his helmet, “Which goes back to my initial question, Warlock.” She lets the thought hang in the air. “Are we safe here?”
“Amanda Holliday, you’re latest Invoice is ready in the Loading Bay,” the Ship Hangar intercom announces.
He turns and begins to walk away, “I’d better leave you to your work.”
“They’re all making moves, Warlock! New Monarchy. Future War Cult. Dead Orbit. The Traveler better return before this city implodes.”
Warlock peers back, “If something happens…you know where to find me.”
She gives a slight smile.
He walks downstairs. If something does happen, he knows all too well that Amanda Holliday can fix herself out of any jam. Still…the sound of her voice seemed fearful. Does she have family? Friends in the inner city to look after? He spoke to her as long as he could without drawing unwanted attention to himself. He’s not like Hunter. The Warlock Class cannot learn how to cloak themselves.
He checks his messages. Nothing from Hunter. What’s taking him so long? With The Tower’s weaponry being so vulnerable, they need to get to the bottom of whatever is going on.
Titan leaps up at the sound of his communicator, “Ugh! I thought you were Hunter.”
“He hasn’t contacted you, either?” Warlock asks.
“We can’t track him. He wouldn’t like it if we tried.”
“We would only make the situation worse if he’s in trouble. The Queen’s Guards are not exactly…”
“That is being kind,” Warlock finishes.
“He’s okay. I just wish he’d hurry up. What about your end?”
“The large amount of supplies you noticed were missing…”
“They were stolen.”
“Stolen? You can’t be serious. The FWC thinks…” Titan says.
“I heard the report myself, Titan. Stolen.” He pauses. “Now, they’re back in the Docking Bay.”
“All accounted for?”
“By the looks of it…and no one is saying otherwise.”
“Hm. I don’t like it. How could anyone steal…anything from The Tower? Let alone weapons!”
“I fear Dead Orbit is at play here.”
“What proof do you have?”
“Come now, Titan. They tried to recruit us long after we swore allegiance to The Vanguard. They have no honor…and they steal from the ShipWright’s inventory,” Warlock concludes.
“They don’t have the money…or the position in The Tower.”
“Precisely why they’d have to steal to catch up to the other factions vying for power.”
“We have to stop them, Warlock.”
“Not on our own.” Warlock allows the thought to sink in. “Too many Guardians have pledged their loyalty to Dead Orbit. They believe too strongly in their cause…their way of thinking. We’d be split in two, at best…fighting among each another.”
Titan can hear the sadness in his voice. “Are you sure Amanda Holliday can be trusted?”
Warlock is disturbed by the question, yet, he asked himself the same. “Yes. She seems genuine enough.”
“I’ll take your word for it.”
The two brothers allow silence to reign for quite some time before one speaks up.
“And ‘thank you’ for the extra currency, Titan. Though, I don’t need to tell you…I have enough chest armor pieces in my collection.”
“Well…I figured you would like it. Let me see it.”
“I…don’t like to brag,” Warlock replies.
“You…kinda do,” Titan ends. “Come on.”
Titan stares at the long garment Warlocks use as Chest Armor, “What is it?”
Warlock tries to maintain his composure.
“Don’t roll your eyes at me. Just tell me what it is.”
“It’s called, Starfire Protocol. The Starfire Protocol. Infused with the solar energy created at the very beginning of the Cosmos. How can you not know this?! It’s legendary!”
“I said, ‘thank you.’
“I’m glad. You’re happy. I’m happy.”
“Right. I noticed you spent quite a bit of Currency on an Engram to trade to the Cryptarch. Did he give you something useful…uhh, possibly…new?”
Titan sighs, “He gave me a Chest piece I already own and would not exchange this trade for something I don’t have. It was the bane of my day, so please…don’t ask again.”
Warlock steps back, “Sorry, Titan. It happens to us all.”
“No…I know. I know. It’s just…today was supposed to be different.”
“If it makes you feel any better, I went out into the field and began replacing the Currency we lost. And the famed Wolfpack rounds for are new Rocket Launcher are now operational.”
Titan is beaming.
“You see? All better. The full report of my progress is already available to you.”
“I like you, Warlock.”
“Haha. On that note, you’d better get some rest. Hunter will probably show up at some inopportune time with terrible news.”
A scrambled noise breaks their conversation.
“This has to be him, but…”
Warlock tries to adjust his signal, “I think he’s too far away. Is that possible?”
Titan shakes his head, “Or his communicator doesn’t work while he’s cloaked.”
“Well, it should. Their Order would have planned for that.” Another menu pops on his screen. “Oh, no. I’m being called on several missions; I have to go!”
“I’ll handle this. When I have something, I’ll check back with you,” Titan ends.
Warlock concedes and heads for the Docking Bay.
EPISODE VIII: Taking Sides
Hunter knows something’s wrong. His personal comm is down. Static. Being jammed? The conversations between the Queen’s Guard have stopped. And although Hunter has activated his cloaking ability, their Commander, Petra Venj, seems to know he’s here.
She begins to walk casually in his direction.
Impossible. She can’t know I’m here.
Petra Venj stops as she begins to pass by him. At the turn of her head, she looks directly into his eyes and smiles.
Hunter dodges her blade swiping passed his neck.
“I suggest you drop the cloak, Guardian,” Petra Venj warns as she slices into his arm.
Hunter realizes the truth: His cloak is already down. The armed Guards are watching him as Petra blocks his own knife with hers.
“This isn’t The Tower, Guardian. We took precautions before inviting you here.” She moves in again, cutting through the top edge of Hunter’s helmet.
Hunter doesn’t think about his life…only the repairs to his Gear if she destroys them. He becomes more aggressive.
She dodges a flaming knife as it goes by her head, “Average, at best.” She drives her blade towards his neck.
Hunter holds her back, “Excuse my intrusion…”
She’s shocked by the calmness in his voice.
He spins her around, flaming knife near her neck.
Petra grits her teeth, steps back and flips him over her shoulder.
Impressive. Hunter recovers quickly as their knives meet each other’s necks.
“You’re quick for a Hunter Class,” she admits.
“By the looks of your armor…Titan Class,” he guesses. “Never seen one weld a knife like this.”
She tries to hide her smile. “Save it.” They push each other back. She walks around him, “I remember you, Hunter. You defeated Skolas for us. Go ahead. Tell me why I shouldn’t let Veriks toss you in the Prison of Elders along with him.”
“I need answers.”
“To what questions? We don’t owe you any more than the small fortune we’ve paid.”
“Why is Skolas still alive?”
“If it were up to me, we would’ve killed Skolas. It’s my fault for voicing my frustration in the first place. I’m back in the Queen’s favor now. I’d like to keep it that way. Anything else?”
“Have you seen the Awoken woman who took care of Special Orders at The Tower?”
She looks around at the Guard. With a nod, they return to their duties. Then, she steps closer to him, glaring through his helmet, “We know where our own citizens are. Is that all?”
Not very forthcoming, “I’m simply concerned…for her safety.”
Petra lets out a laugh, “Isn’t The Tower safe?!”
Her tone softens for a moment, “We’re even now, Guardian.” She flips a knife in front of him as her eyes grow in anger, “Let your friends know that your cloaking abilities don’t work here.” She motions for him to leave.
“You’re not going to arrest me?”
She smiles, “Look around, Hunter. The Queen still needs Outsiders to capture the last of the Fallen traitors. Yet, Guardians are growing thin out here. What are you all up to? Another adventure?”
He sees her genuine curiosity. He looks around; Guardians are sparse with more of the Queen’s Guard at several posts.
“Oh…you have the same question, don’t you?” she concludes. “Welcome to my world, Guardian. We don’t know what’s going on all the time.” She whispers, “If you find out something, don’t be shy.”
The Head of the Queen’s Guard is in the dark. That can’t be good, either. Hunter walks towards the Docking Bay.
“You might want to get someone to fix that,” she motions to his helmet.
It’s time to go. He teleports back into his ship before his pride gets the best of him.
An Awoken Guard walks up to Petra, “You let him leave? What did that Hunter want?”
“Same as the rest of us, it seems,” she replies. “Don’t worry. We can keep track of him. Return to your position. The Queen will be forced to send us out after the stragglers soon. Be ready.”
“Commander…I’ve never seen a blade so close to striking you. You could have been…”
Petra’s eyes widen.
The Guard salutes and walks away.
Petra glares at Hunter’s ship as it breaks into hyperspace, “Hunters.”
The console next to her sounds a short alarm. She walks to the long monitor, “What is it?”
A Guard answers, “I’m not sure. Just outside the borders of The Reef.”
“How can we detect it from so far out?!”
“The…the energy readings are off the charts!”
Petra rubs the hilt of her blade on her waist, “That’s where they’ve gone.”
“Whom?” the Guard asks.
She studies the schematics as more readings slowly register. “Is it…a ship?”
“At this size? It can’t be…” Suddenly, the readings disappear. The ship is gone. “What happened?!” The Guard taps the monitor over and again. She tries to recover the information in the Awoken’s database. Gone. She shakes her head in disbelief as she looks to Petra Venj.
“Commander, you know our system is designed to get passed any cloaking device. Besides, that…thing is how many times larger than anything in our fleet? It can’t be a ship!”
“It moves like one,” she flips the knife in her hand before returning it to her side. “I must speak to The Queen, herself.” She looks at their view of outer space, “There’s a much greater threat than the Fallen out there.”
Warlock is making his way through the Shattered Coast on Venus as Hunter contacts him, “I knew your timing would be impeccable, brother.”
Hunter studies his helmet in his hands, “Look at…she…!” His attention goes back to Warlock, “And I could have been arrested. Arrested. Warlock.”
“Hold on, for a moment.” Warlock listens. He hears plasma blasts. “I think we have a resurgence here.”
“I was right,” Warlock confirms. “A resurgence.”
“How long do you have?” Hunter asks.
“I’m not sure. It seems that neither The Fallen or The Vex are giving up on this sector.”
“They’re gonna have more to worry about than an Archive of information.”
“Wait! The Archive may have information on our potential new threat.”
“Yeah, but the Cryptarchs keep that Intel for themselves. They don’t share much with us.”
Warlock ponders of a way around them.
“Don’t get off track, right now. Could you unlock the other log from Eris?”
Warlock’s disgust is renewed, but he keeps advancing his position. “I could not. It began erasing itself.”
“I am just outside of The Archive’s entrance. The Fallen have returned here as well.”
“I’ll let you get back to work.”
“Almost arrested?! You were caught and they didn’t bring charges against you? What were you rambling about?!”
“Nevermind. She let me go.”
“Really? Tracking you, no doubt.”
“Yeah, but that works both ways, brother.”
“Ahh. Carry on, then.” Warlock closes the comm. “So will I.”
EPISODE IX: Hidden Gems
How could I be seen? How could I be captured? The days before have left questions in Hunter’s mind.
Banshee-44, the Gunsmith of The Tower, gives Hunter back his helmet. The slice in it from his bout with Petra Venj has been repaired. “First time for everything, Guardian. I haven’t seen an incision like that in decades.”
Hunter studies his Exotic item, relieved and angry. You got Round One.
“Oh, yeah. I remember. An Awoken dagger. Rare type. Be careful who you pick a fight with,” Banshee-44 finishes.
Putting on his Achlyophage Symbiote, the internal screen comes to life. No more glitches, “Excellent work, 44!”
He appreciates the approval, “I told you not to worry.”
“Quick question: Is there a device out there that can detect cloaked Hunters?”
Banshee-44 zips through his thoughts, “Not a chance.”
Hunter thought as much. He nods and begins to walk away.
Hunter looks back.
“Sight can be deceptive. The more advanced warriors are trained to detect the enemy with other senses. Again, rare.” Banshee-44 thinks about it even more, “Like the dagger that cut your Gear. The Galaxy is big. Be careful who you pick a fight with.”
Banshee goes back to work fixing another broken weapon for a Guardian.
Hunter goes to the shadows making sure no one sees him…he activates his cloak. I need to be sure. The Tower is split into five sections:
He takes a walk around the Tower Watch looking for changes in people’s reactions. The general public walks by engaged in conversation. The Cryptarch continues his search for rare information on his mobile console. So far, so good.
I don’t remember these being here before. Maybe a new system ‘is’ being put in place. Hunter’s curiosity grows. He continues onward to the Tower Hangar.
Weapons…outside of Banshee-44’s workspace…with the ammunition to go with it. Too many people have access to this. Hunter jogs further into the Hangar beneath the space designated for the Future War Cult.
New droids. Being fitted with heavy armor. The worker, usually giving Hunter a “good morning!” on sight, continues to work on the new personnel without a sound. Hunter’s good feelings of a successful test dissipate. What else is new around here?
All the way to the opposite side, Tower North, he looks around. For the most part, everything seems normal outside of the changes of inventory on hand. Sometimes, it’s a mess. Someone’s organizing the place, that’s for sure. Up the stairs…
The Speaker is locked into his work. What is..? Where have I seen that before? Hunter recognizes the violet-colored shards on The Speaker’s desk: Royal Amethyst. Shards of the Awoken worth a high price. The Awoken Queen gives them out as reward to the best Guardians in the field who fulfill her Bounties against The Fallen. Why does The Speaker have one? A gift?
Even while cloaked, Hunter feels uncomfortable around The Speaker. He walks back downstairs…one last area to walk through. One last test.
Down the stairs to the center of The Tower called Traveler’s Walk stand the Vanguard Mentors for Hunters, Warlocks, and Titans. He looks back to see Lord Shaxx; the Crucible Headmaster is still in conversation with his droid to make improvements on his station. Hunter thinks it over. Maybe the place does need renovations. He isn’t around enough to notice.
An alert flashes over Hunter’s internal visor. Being cloaked for such a long period of time has drained his energy significantly. He has to return to his Quarters soon to recharge. Then, his attention switches to the Mentors as they seem to be in the middle of a disagreement. Make it quick.
As Hunter gets a better view of the three Mentors, his own Mentor, Cayde-6 seems to press an issue the other two clearly want to drop.
“If we don’t tell the citizens what’s going on and they find out on their own…where does that leave us?” Cayde-6 asks.
The Titans’ Mentor, Commander Zavala, speaks up, “Our responsibility is to keep the citizens safe, not raise panic and confusion.”
“Even if they knew, Cayde, how would it help?” Ikora Rey, Mentor of the Warlocks, asks. “We’re trying to keep the sale of weapons out of the inner city. We would be fighting a rise in crime along with a threat on our borders.”
“At least let all of the Guardians know! We’re going to need everybody we have to push Oryx back,” Cayde-6 continues.
Oryx. Hunter remembers.
“The teams we have are the best of the best. We don’t need to put more lives at stake. Besides, who would protect the city from other threats who’ll only take advantage of the situation?” Commander Zavala adds.
“Zavala, they’re not pushing him back! He’s moving forward at the same clip as a few weeks ago. We need more Guardians out there,” says Cayde-6.
“Keep your voice down,” Ikora Rey insists. “Give the Guardians more time. I fear the other factions suspect something wrong. They’ll jump all over this, calling for war…perhaps, anarchy.”
“They don’t have the numbers,” Cayde-6 fires back.
“Unless the three factions combine. New Monarchy, Dead Orbit, and Future War Cult…together, they can overthrow The Vanguard and The Speaker,” Commander Zavala says.
Hunter’s alert flashes POWER LEVEL: LOW…a little more time! He begins to back out of the room.
“What about the Iron Banner?” Cayde-6 asks. “Members from all three factions align with him. They’ll follow him.”
Ikora Rey looks to Commander Zavala. “You’re close to Lord Saladin. Where does he stand?”
Hunter can’t hear the response Zavala gives. He stumbles into a dark corner.
“Do you have any good stories to tell?” a citizen asks Hunter.
Hunter peeks at his hands to see his cloaking ability is down before looking back to the woman.
“Are you alright?” she asks.
Hunter feels weak. Oryx is coming. “I just need some rest.” Hunter quickly walks back towards Tower Watch.
People begin to become concerned as Hunter stumbles back to his Quarters. He calms their fears with brief explanations. Effects of war.
The door can’t open fast enough. The regeneration system activates as the room’s light switches from red to blue and Hunter’s body begins to recharge. He makes it over to his communication console.
Warlock appears onscreen, “Save your strength.”
“No…no. You have to talk to Lord Saladin!”
“Lord Saladin? He’s not one to be trifled with!”
“This…this is big. Important.”
“Find out who’s side he’s on…hurry…”
Warlock interrupts, “The Iron Banner has no allegiance to one faction, but to all of them.”
“Whose side…?” Hunter fades out.
The signal dies.
Warlock shakes his head, “That makes no sense.” He finishes putting weapons back in The Vault. “Whose side is he on. That’s…” Warlock stops in his tracks. What if the factions go to war with each other for control of The Tower…and all of the Guardians? Champions of the Iron Banner would easily turn the tide in the favor of whoever they side with.
Warlock closes The Vault and heads to the Traveler’s Walk hoping the elusive Mentor, Lord Saladin, is still around…and willing to give him a second of his time.
EPISODE X: Iron Banner
His voice is calm, almost monotone. Yet, Warlock knows Saladin is short-tempered. He makes his way up the stairs, “Lord Saladin, I request…”
“I will honor no request from you, Warlock.” He looks over Warlock’s armor, “You haven’t been tested, have you? The Iron Banner reveals the true value of every Guardian. The pain you feel will lead to your reward. Do you accept the challenge?”
Warlock has heard stories of the Iron Banner arenas. Only the strongest Guardians, well-equipped in weapons and armor, succeed.
“No limits. No mercy. Only survival,” Saladin finishes.
Warlock equips the best in gear and weapons available to him. Normally, in The Crucible, when Guardians challenge other Guardians, Lord Shaxx levels the playing field. However, in the Iron Banner, Lord Saladin believes in one rule: Only the strong survive. Champions of the Iron Banner win by superior strategy combined with brute force. If an Exo could sweat, he would be.
Lord Saladin maintains his pose.
Warlock walks through the flaming iron medallion.
The announcement is made: Alpha Team. Bravo Team. Warlock glances around at his five companions. No one says a word. He musters up his courage; six against six. Is there a plan…a strategy for his group? Maybe not, as his team begins to separate. One goes solo; two go left; two push straight ahead. Did I miss the briefing?
Apparently, yes, as a sniper bullet pierces the tall trees on the mountain range hitting Warlock square in the face. He’s down. Where did that come from? Fighting the enemy is easy in comparison. They are more predictable. However, these Guardians are more ruthless in their tactics while changing their position to stay hidden.
Warlock pushes forward, his energy regained. I have to be more careful this time. He runs within the mountainside through automatic metal doors which lead into a base of some kind. A few steps more, bullets whirl by, he’s down again…teleported back to square one. He pounds his fist on the gravel road.
A few more teammates are teleported back as well; he decide to stick with them for a while. Perhaps, together, they can stand a better chance. He can be wrong as a Nova Bomb flies into their midst; back to square one. Warlock likes to fight under more control. This is much different. He has to change with the moment to survive.
He switches from a hand cannon to a pulse rifle. Follows the team, yet, hangs back a bit. Double doors open…sure enough another wave a gunfire take out two members of his team. This time, Warlock is out of range and returns fire on the enemy team. One…two…three down. Payback. Where are the other three?
His question is answered as the other three flank him. He leaps into the air charging up his Nova Bomb to defeat all three at once; they shoot him out of the air. He’s down.
The Time Limit is up; the arena changes. His team lost. Time to do it all over again. Corridor to corridor, mountainside to giant platforms, Alpha and Bravo team go at each other without remorse. Three straight challenges, his team loses. The winning team boast in another victory.
Warlock is teleported back to his ship. He wants to give up, though another side of him sees improvement in his tactics. He looks through The Vault, changing weapons and armor. Back to the Iron Banner.
Before Warlock realizes it, his team is demolishing the competition. He is not the strongest of the group, but he’s not being caught by snipers perched on mountainsides anymore. His Nova Bomb connects taking out multiple Guardians. He chooses when to stay with the group and when to hang back with more success.
Time’s up. His first victory. The teams are teleported back to their individual ships. Warlock has never felt so proud of himself. He had success against some of the strongest Guardians in the Iron Banner. Setting a course for The Tower, Warlock’s ship dives towards the Earth’s surface.
Lord Saladin seems to have been frozen in place the entire time as he stands in front of the blazing medallion of iron. Warlock walks up the steps with more confidence than he’s ever had. After a while, he wonders if Saladin is going to say anything.
Lord Saladin reaches out his hand and burns an emblem onto Warlock’s chestplate. A symbol of a golden wolf, the first mark a Guardian can earn from the challenges. “Welcome to the Iron Banner, Guardian.”
Warlock gives a short nod while feeling emboldened by his new rank.
“I thought you were one of the weak,” Saladin continues. “Valuing power over strategic planning. Power is only useful under control.”
“Understood,” Warlock mumbles.
“You will fully recovery in time.”
Warlock eyes the damage to his armor. It’s never taken such a beating. If these Guardians fight him like this, the enemies don’t stand a chance.
“Factions? You mean those squabbling bureaucrats who seek nothing but position for themselves?”
“I answer to no one, Guardian.”
“They will force Guardians to choose a side. They already have!”
Lord Saladin pauses for a moment, “Anyone who has allegiance to the Iron Banner, whether from the New Monarchy, Vanguard, even Dead Orbit…” he steps closer to Warlock, “will forsake all to will follow the Iron Banner.”
Warlock takes a step back from the, still, intimidating figure, “What do you fight for?”
Lord Saladin grows impatient, but it’s a fair question, “You mean, do I want control of the city?”
“I, too, am a Guardian, Warlock. My role is to weed out the cowards, the weak, the pretenders. Then, Champions of this Banner will go out, not only into the city, but into the Cosmos and defeat whoever dares to test us.”
Warlock considers how valid his sincerity is.
“I win when you do,” Saladin continues. “I won today…because I challenged you…and you didn’t fail me. Now, you will go from system to system wreaking havoc on those responsible for the destruction of Earth.”
How much does Saladin know about the Golden Age of this world. Warlock decides not to interrupt.
“I will leave, again, soon,” Saladin continues.
“Your presence would bring more stability to The Tower, Lord Saladin!”
“I’m a Guardian, like you. I only come to recruit Champions who will defeat our greatest threats.” A visual appears, “If you improve your skills, Warlock, you can earn this armor and more. It will help you, at least, for a time.”
Warlock is intrigued by the offer, but his current wounds make him think twice.
“Today, you earned these.” Lord Saladin lays four weapons from his armory on the table.
“Slightly unique in its design. Less cumbersome than an ordinary fusion rifle. Quick reload. Decent range, but, as you know, stay on the move while firing,” Saladin concludes.
“Nearly rivals the Exotic Scout Rifle, doesn’t it? Unique design. It combines the stability of a scout rifle with a rate of fire similar to an auto rifle. I viewed your profile…since you favor these types of weapons you’ll have use for this one.”
Warlock is overjoyed, “Thank you!”
Lord Saladin’s voice grows stern, “These are not gifts, Guardian. Either you earn them…or you don’t. Today, you earned these weapons. Now…the question is: Do you want more?”
Warlock also glances at the Hand Cannon and Sniper Rifle on the table. They could be useful in a tight spot. “When will you come back?”
“War is unpredictable, Warlock…especially when a dangerous enemy issues a challenge.”
“You know about Oryx.”
“Who doesn’t know? This is the greatest threat we’ve faced so far.”
“Where does his power come from?”
“He has learned how to wield The Darkness itself. He plans to overwhelm us with brute force. We’re going to need all the Guardians to have a chance of defeating him.” Lord Saladin walks to his original position and holds the same stance.
Warlock knows his time with Saladin is up.
He places his heavy hand on Warlock’s shoulder, “You’re going to need more than brute force to stop him, Guardian. You have more power than your brothers, Warlock, but lack the control of a Titan and the precision of a Hunter. Take care not to become a detriment to those you love.” Lord Saladin nods.
Standing in the distance, he watches the iron medallion burn, amazed at how the fire never dwindles. Suddenly, Titan enters his mind. What has his brother been up to while he was away?
EPISODE XI: Incoming
Titan magnifies the visuals of his binoculars. In conjunction with the magnified visual of his ship’s main screen and his helmet’s visor, he can finally make out distinct forms. “Ships?” He scans the horizon far beyond the Awoken’s home called The Reef. These ships aren’t cloaked after all. Yet, they have disappeared from even the Awoken’s radar. “It’s…a fleet.”
As Titan’s eyes adjust, he would hold his breath for a moment if he needed to breathe. “An Armada.” Too many ships to count. He’s never seen such a number in one place. Their course is clear; they’re heading for The Reef…and beyond.
Suddenly, he spots a single ship, massive in size. “It can’t be…”
His Ghost studies readings from the ship’s computer, “Confirmed. That thing…is a ship. I’ve never seen anything like it.” The computer’s data begins to fluctuate before disappearing. “The radar is down.”
“I have to warn the Queen…Petra Venj…everyone…” He is lost in the thought.
His Ghost hovers next to him, “Titan. I’m detecting movement in Sector 3.576.”
Titan’s attention veers left, “Scouts! Coming in fast!” His helmet visor returns to normal. Tossing the binoculars aside, the main screen of his newly acquired Ceres Galliot brings up schematics on the quickest route through the Outer Rim.
“We barely missed a debris field to get out this far,” Ghost reminds him.
“This ship was built for this, which is why I bought it,” Titan reassures him.
“There they are!” Ghost calls out.
The shields of the Ceres Galliot take the initial pounding well as five enemy ships fly passed.
“They’re coming back around!” Ghost calls out.
“I see them.” Titan whirls the ship around, still getting used to the controls. Awoken technology is different from what he’s used to, but he didn’t have time to read the manual before embarking on such a mission. “Weapons. Weapons.”
“Top, left corner console.”
“Ghost, allocate more power to the guns.”
“It will take away from the shields!”
“Do it! We may not be able to outrun them.” The ship dives down to miss a huge chunk of debris as the enemy ships give chase.
Ghost powers up the rear shields while lowering the front shields. “Guns are activated. Watch out!” Another chunk of debris spirals by.
Titan reverses the thrusts causing the Ceres Galliot to almost brake mid-stride. The enemy ships dart out of the way of the potential collision. One enemy ship is clipped by the debris before crashing into another floating piece. Titan has two in his sights. The guns are deafening. One down. One severely damaged.
Suddenly, an enemy ship rushes in from above. Titan holds on the the controls as his ship nearly takes a direct hit, spinning it into a circle.
“Front Shields at 7.62 percent!”
Titan uses all his strength to bring the bulky ship under control. It’s steady. He looks up to see an enemy ship heading straight for them, ready to fire. He braces for impact.
An explosion rocks the Ceres Galliot; the front shields down. Yet, his ship is not damaged as he spots Awoken fighters chasing the last enemy ship into the distance.
“That was close.” Ghost has a knack for stating the obvious.
“Identify yourself!” a voice cracks over Titan’s communication system. “Who are you?!”
“I am Titan. Of the Vanguard. I fight for The Traveler, itself.”
“Titan.” Petra Venj thinks it over as her ship hovers above his. “You said you wanted to explore The Reef further. I didn’t know you meant this far out.”
Titan checks the status of his ship hoping the Warp Drive still works. “I needed to get a visual. I had to get as close as I could.”
“And!” Petra insists.
“Data?” Silence hangs in the air for a long moment, “Send me the files, Titan. When you get clear of the debris field, get out of here.”
Titan glances at Ghost, whom gives him a negative flicker of its eye. “I need more fuel.”
Another pause. “Let’s trade, then.”
“Quickly,” Petra adds. “There may be more out here!”
The exchange is made as fuel is teleported to Titan’s ship and the main console of Petra’s ship begins to show data of what Titan copied to his personal HUD.
“You were able to hold on to this. You represent The Vanguard well, Titan.” Petra’s ship heads back to the Vestian Outpost.
Titan gives Ghost another glance. The ship has been refueled. The Ceres Galliot weaves its way through what remains of the debris field. Thankfully, the environment has calmed down.
His communication system cracks to life again as Titan waits for the Warp Drive to charge. “Do we really want to cause a panic? Validate rumors?” asks Petra Venj.
“If we let our homes walk into a war completely unprepared, they will certainly have reason to fear,” Titan concludes.
Although her long silence says enough, “Very well.” Petra closes the link.
Ghost approaches Titan, more sympathetic in tone, “The Drive is charge.” Titan’s nod calms Ghost’s concerns. “I knew I chose the right one,” he boasts.
Titan initiates the journey home:
As the Ceres Galliot enters the Earth’s atmosphere, Ghost breaks the silence. “What will you tell The Speaker? The City? Your brothers?”
“What if the people riot? Chaos ensues?!”
Titan shakes his head, “If I lie…the only thing that will be gained is dishonor.”
The ship approaches the Hangar; as usual, they teleport to the Tower Watch.
EPISODE XII: The End of One.
Titan is home. They are all coming home. The Speaker, himself, sent out a call for every single Guardian to return to the city. Titan looks across the landscape as celebration he’s never heard erupts. Families rejoice as they see loved ones they haven’t laid eyes on in months, if not years.
Still, the question lingers in his mind: Why are the Guardians called back? The new threat looms now more than ever. Perhaps, this is the last time some Guardians will get to see their families. Enjoy the moment. It may be our last.
“Did you find what you were looking for?”
Warlock doesn’t know how to answer the question. He glances to the right.
She smiles at him. “You don’t seem like a traitor. Though, I warn you…never test me, again.”
He walks up to face her, “I am sorry, Eris. I needed to know the truth.”
“You could have asked, Guardian,” Eris Morn replies.
“I wasn’t sure where your allegiance lied.”
“Are you, now?”
Warlock is silent.
“After this, maybe you will be.” She walks away.
Warlock sighs, that could have been worse. He walks towards the Tower Hangar.
Hunter had no intentions of returning to The Tower. The Speaker had to call him specifically with a warning of potential consequences. He looks out over the inner city feeling a hint of dread. All of the Guardians being on Earth, in one city, at one time…isn’t the best idea to him.
He values his rank in The Vanguard enough to follow orders. Still, for him & his brothers, there will be no celebration. No lounging away. And no hesitation to fight if this new threat suddenly appears at their door. Familiar footsteps behind him, “You two never could sneak up on anyone.” He looks back to see Titan & Warlock, shoulder to shoulder.
“Well, you took your time,” Warlock points out.
“You should talk,” Hunter snaps back.
Titan steps forward, “We have to stay in line with the others. Have you been able to get into The Vault? We have quite a few weapons in there.”
Hunter shakes his head, “No. Everything’s shut down. Remember what happened the last time we were all called in?”
“Skolas. The Fallen Wolves. We were allowed to explore The Reef,” Warlock answers. “This…Oryx…has to be next.”
“I have one question left,” Titan chimes in. “Are we going out there to get him? Or is he bringing the fight to us?”
“If the data you retrieved is correct, perhaps, both,” Warlock assumes.
Hunter shows his frustration, “I’m not waiting around here to get…”
“We don’t know what we’re going up against. The Speaker must tell us more!” Warlock fires back.
“Like he always has?!” Hunter points out.
Warlock is silent, but fuming.
Titan looks to Warlock, “I think Hunter is right on this one.”
They both look at Titan with surprise.
“I think we should split up. I am grateful to see you, but we seem to work better separately.”
They nod in agreement.
“Hunter, let me know when you get access into The Vault. We need every weapon we can get. Warlock…we need more power than we have now to combat Oryx. See if you can find a source.”
“I’ve almost arrived at my conclusion…but, I need to be sure.”
Titan give him a heavy pat on the arm.
“I suppose you’re going somewhere,” Hunter adds.
Titan motions to the inner city, “Down there. Guardians, who have fought this army, can give me first hand information on a strategy to beat them. Solo? In teams? They must have stories to tell.”
Warlock nods, looking to Hunter, “We’ll know what we’re walking into.”
Silence for a moment.
Hunter tossing back the hood of his cloak and removes his helmet, “Let’s hang out a bit before we’re off to save the world again.”
“Excuse me?” Warlock steps back.
Titan removes his helmet, “Sounds good to me.”
Warlock removes his helmet, “Alright.”
The brothers exchange hand grips to finally greet each other.
“It has been a while,” Warlock admits.
“A while?” Hunter smirks. “Makes me wonder what you consider a long time.”
Titan gets between the two and puts an arm over the far shoulder of each. They begin to walk towards the Hall of Guardians taking in the calm before the storm.
EPISODE XIII: A Storm is Coming
“I’ve seen enough,” Warlock says as he charges up the Warp Drive to his ship, the Aries Ascendant.
His Ghost protests, “This is a dangerous path, Warlock. You don’t know what will happen.”
“I have to try.”
“Everyone searches for power. Only a few find it.”
“This isn’t simply about attaining power.”
“Are you sure?”
Warlock doesn’t answer. The ship jumps into hyperspace, then downshifts to a halt to hover just above the atmosphere of Mars.
He climbs aboard his sparrow and jets across the desert landscape. The sky turns volatile; haze fills the air. Lightning begins to crack from cloud to cloud. Warlock ignores his nerves, determined to reach his destination. Suddenly, the entire atmosphere takes a turn for the worse. He dismounts his Sparrow to have a more cautious look around.
His comm-link springs to life…
“Where are you?” Hunter asks. “It’s hard to get a lock on your location. Too much interference.”
Warlock initiates his camera:
“What sector of Mars is…” Titan begins as he watches the feed.
A distinct sound breaks through the channel. Vex. As a massive bolt of lightning crashes into the ground nearby; Warlock signal goes dead.
Hunter looks to Titan on his monitor, “He’s going to get himself killed. Ghost can’t revive him after something like this!”
“Obviously, he’s found some new power source and is willing to risk his life to get it.”
“We can’t defeat Oryx if we’re dead!” Hunter fires back.
“We may not be able to defeat him, otherwise. We may be slaves or dead, anyway.”
The comm-signal fizzles back to life. Warlock has warded off the slew of Vex as he closes in on his destination. “I think I’ve found it.”
Hunter grimaces, “I hope you know what you’re doing, bro.”
“So do I,” Warlock admits. Another flash of lightning. Another dead signal.
Titan hides his concern, “He’s going to make it. He always does…somehow.”
Hunter sits at the main console of his Quarters not knowing whether he should hit or hug his brother if he ever sees him again.
The comm-signal springs back to life. Warlock stands at the edge of steel beams. “Brothers, this is the beginning or the end. Either way, a decision must be made.” He begins to walk out onto the beam as his brothers are too afraid to say a word.
Hunter sits up, “He survived.”
Titan dials in new coordinates into his ship. “I need to try something crazy like that.”
Hunter isn’t as convinced…yet.
To be Continued…