Chapter 4: Should You Choose To Accept It
The Last City, Caucasus Mountains
While the common understanding of The Tower by citizens of The City is that it was a giant military installation, to the guardians who dwelt within it was much more. Over the centuries since its construction and the legitimization of the Vanguard Command, guardians had formed their own culture centered there. Rites, rituals and codes evolved naturally among the demigods that sought to take back what the Darkness had stolen.
Vatyr sipped his tea on the steps of the Tower Watch. He found observing ships come and go soothing. The noon sun felt warm on his shaved head as his sunset-orange eyes tracked flyers of various designs. A contented grin formed across his blue-white face as the herbal tea relaxed his body and his mind. He learned a long time ago that one thing a hunter must always seek is the calm before the storm.
Vatyr spotted Telemica exiting Guardian Hall and waved her over. A powerful titan in and out of battle, she towered over other guardians who honoured her with a wide berth. The natural intimidation of her tall and powerful physique was offset by her exuberant and reassuring face. Dark chocolate skin etched by combat, intense emerald eyes and blood-red hair set in a way that was attractive but just short enough to not become a hassle. Few were not phased when that scarred visage of confidence and beauty exploded in the fury of battle, but her helm spared most of that.
“Reporting in on your latest glorious victory, no doubt.” Vatyr half-joked, grasping her extended right forearm in an age-old sign of greetings among warriors.
“Of course!” laughed Telemica, chest puffed in pride. “The Cabal formations collapsed easier than I expected. If only I had an assistant to fill out these damned reports.”
“Or perhaps a bard to sing you praises everywhere you tarried!” joked the hunter. When it came to battle, Lady Magna’s success was so rarely in doubt, Vatyr considered it some cosmic joke played on her foes. By the expression on Telemica’s face, it appeared mention of a bard caught her fancy, and suddenly he felt sorry for her ghost in what would no doubt be his new responsibilities.
Before Vatyr could continue, a ghost flew over to them from the north. “Hunter S’Jet and Titan Magna, the Speaker wishes to address you both at your earliest convenience.” it said before scurrying off.
It was not unheard-of for The Speaker to converse with guardians, but it was notably rare. The Speaker was often reclusive within his observatory and few wished to trouble him. The general feeling was that since he had the ears of the most powerful people in The City and his concerns were beyond a normal guardian’s ken, it seemed unwise to interrupt.
As the two guardians entered the northern wing of The Tower and approached the observatory, they spotted the third member of their veteran fireteam waiting at its entrance. Solas-3 stared at the immense machinery that somehow allowed The Speaker to do his work, though stared would be technically incorrect. Solas didn’t have eyes, but did indeed see. People often had a hard time conversing with the Exo who had the majority of his face covered with metal. Some dared to ask if he saw through the two black horn-like apparatuses that gave him a pseudo-fantastical look, but he would never answer definitively. It was the first secret of the warlock built of secrets.
“Ho there, Solas” spoke Telemica as they reached him. They didn’t worry about surprising him, as they knew Solas saw things beyond what normal eyes could.
Solas turned his head slightly in their direction to address them, his indigo backlight seemed to be a visual calming agent to his words, “We should not keep The Speaker waiting.” before walking in. The other two followed.
At the top of the single curved flight of stairs, The Speaker busied himself with holographic displays. No doubt the latest scans of The Traveler. The Speaker turned to address the fireteam when they approached. “Ah. Yes. Good. Thank you for returning so quickly, guardians. I have need of you. There is a small band of humans living in old Italy. Western Sicily. They need to be extracted and brought to The City with as much speed and as little attention as possible.”
“Why not just send a transport with regular militia?” Telemica asked as respectfully as possible. Gathering refugees was not something guardians often did, especially veteran fireteams.
“The darkness is swirling around a point of light. It must be saved.” said The Speaker in his usually cryptic fashion. The answer didn’t satisfy the titan, but before she could press, Vatyr touched her shoulder, signaling her to pause.
“As you wish, Speaker.” said Solas with a small bow. The other two followed suit and exited.
As the three guardians made their way to the hangars, Telemica’s patience was wearing thin. “Do you two want to fill me in?” she asked as she followed.
Solas was ahead but didn’t slow his pace or turn when addressing her. “The Speaker does not want this mission to be high-profile, but it is critical nonetheless. Gears turn. There is much more at play here than we realize.”
“Our dossiers were on his screens as well. Fireteam history, psychological assessments… he’s chosen us specifically for this mission, whatever it may be. It also explains why this mission was given such a low priority but was assigned to us. He’s hiding the operation in plain sight.” Vatyr interjected.
Telemica nodded in understanding. It put her on-edge to not have all the available information, but a soldier followed orders. At least she knew to expect more than what was on the surface. “Whatever it is, Fireteam Warden will be triumphant!” she exclaimed with a raised fist. Vatyr found her confidence reaffirming, and knew Solas did as well, regardless of the lack of reaction from him.