Chapter 7: Coda
Old Italy, Western Sicily
The sun was shining.
It was the first thing the guardians and refugees noticed. The sun cast its warmth as if it was a normal summer afternoon. No rain. No clouds. No wind.
The second thing they all noticed was that they were lying upon the faint remains of the chapel. A ring of splinters and sticks was all that was left of the quaint structure. A crater existed where walls once stood, and the only thing in the crater were people.
The guardians were the first to wake up. Vatyr scouted the shoreline while Telemica saw to the surprisingly intact refugees. Some died in the battle and many were hurt, but whatever ended the conflict didn’t seem to cause any additional injuries.
Solas walked inland towards a cliff overlooking the beach. There he found the little girl, wrapped in a blanket. As she stared out over the water with trepidation written on her face, Solas began putting the pieces together.
She turned to him, her elvish Awoken features glowing faintly under the blanket. A tear finding its way down her cheek. “I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of it. Matriarch Hera just insisted on keeping me safe. Always safe. She would have died for me, sacrificed the others for me.”
Solas saw the hand cannon on the ground next to her, its barrel pealed back like a banana all the way to the cartridge. The handle apparently melted by intense heat until the impression of the girl’s hand was sunk deep into the metal. “Your gift makes you a target.”
“I led them away from danger, to safe places. I could sense which way to go. They think I’m some sort of blessing, but I’m a curse.” She said, choking back her sadness and slowly holding up her ghost to Solas as if proving her point. “Even this little one couldn’t protect me. He gave me my shroud and then just… turned off.”
Wisp materialized and flew over to the girl’s ghost, bathing it in light the colour of love and family. Solas could hear the cheers coming from below. The refugees must think they were saved from demons by angels. It was not the first time those cut off from humanity saw the world in such archaic terms. Such is the way of things when the truth of The Traveler’s light and the Golden Age becomes myth and legend. In time they’d come to know the truth.
“It is not dead, but the light within it is nearly gone. I hypothesize that bringing back one such as this requires a vastly larger expenditure of light than usual. It can be rejuvenated with time and care.” Wisp said, enveloping the girl’s ghost in light. In seconds, its little eye blinked blearily back to life. The girl broke down in tears, thanking Solas and embracing him. The Exo was not accustom to physical affection, but did his best. He saw this girl’s light clearly now, and it was bright and lovely.
One Week Later
The Speaker had sensed the girl, named Angela, coming into the world some time ago, but because of the stealth shroud her ghost had given her for protection, he could not track her down. He knew her ghost was somehow incapacitated due to the lack of communication, and that The Hive were sniffing her out. If The Speaker had sent a large group of guardians, it would have tipped off the enemy too quickly. Conversely, if a high-priority call was made, Vanguard Command would have likely requested proof and other red tape. The Speaker needed a small team to get the job done without drawing any attention.
The girl was important. After all, she was to be the new Speaker.
Angela’s unique gifts gave her a unique connection to The Traveler and its light that was beyond that of a normal guardian. While speakers were generally long-lived by the day’s standards, they needed to train apprentices, yet worthy candidates were few and far between. These precious few lived with the current Speaker and took over duties when the master died or was otherwise unfit to continue.
Word of Angela spread fast. Her young age and power were certainly noteworthy, but she’d also be the first Awoken Speaker. That fact alone had far-reaching political ramifications.
Solas found Angela standing on the outer walkway by The Speaker’s great machine. She wore white robes and a white metallic headband denoting her place and status, but they didn’t seem to suit her just yet. She was staring at The Traveler as Solas joined her.
“Matriarch Hera and my people seem to be integrating well.” She said with a sigh.
“Yes.” Solas responded calmly.
“I know. I’m not supposed to think of them as ‘my people’ any more. All under The Traveler will be under my care and guidance at some point. Still, it feels good to focus on a small group for now.”
Solas said nothing. The silence held for some time.
“I never thanked you for all you and your team did. We’d all be dead if it wasn’t for you.”
“You saved us. You. Never forget that. It is within you to change to course of our civilization, and others. I, and all guardians exist to serve you”
Angela nodded, a smile meeting a tear at the corner of her innocent face. Her right hand reached up to find his left. “You’ll visit?”
“Of course” said Solas in a caring tone that surprised them both, yet didn’t.
As darkness continued to seek paths of destruction, the sun began to set on the last bastion of a civilization that one little girl was charged to lead under a dormant god, and one synthetic who would die to protect her.