Chapter 12: Spoils of War
Office of Vanguard Commander Zavala Tzu
It was weeks since the ketch ship of the Fallen House of Winter appeared in a violet flash mere kilometers from the outermost defense posts of the City. Alarms were sounded and alert responses initiated as they should, but before intercept fighters could make it to the target, their mission had changed from destroy to protect and escort. Vanguard Command managed to pull a few strings with the Consensus Council and arranged for the ship to anchor itself safely behind the defensive walls. Work quickly began to convert the “Exodus Blue” Crucible site into a drydock for the massive vessel, causing Lord Shaxx to moan and grumble for some time after.
Commander Tzu sat behind a large display in his office. The space was deep within the bowels of the Tower and some distance underground. It was a large but spartan place, with everything having a place and function. Telemica wondered if his quarters were similarly utilitarian as she quickly went over the latest reports from the crews.
“We’re still downloading and decrypting the main computer systems for analysis, but just the hardware and materials alone make this one of the biggest enemy asset acquisitions in recent memory. There’s enough raw materials here to do a lot of good for the City’s growth, enough weapons and vehicles to keep many guardians well-equipped, and enough sensitive tech and data to keep the Cryptarchs intrigued. Fine work.” noted Zavala as he reviewed the same reports. He never actually looked at Telemica, but knew she was incredibly pleased with the results of her insane mission.
“Thank you, sir.” She said in as formal and calm a tone as she could manage. There were a few twinges of pain still left in her body from being crushed under the weight of the massive Fallen Kell, but they only reminded her of the glory.
“We should go.” noted the Commander as his ghost whispered directly into his mind. He stood from behind his desk in full formal uniform and motioned for the formal-clad Telemica to follow him. They left the office and routed their way through corridors and up lifts to arrive on a secure open-air landing pad several stories below the tower plaza. The area was used to receive dignitaries and other VIPs. It was cleaner and more decorative than the pads used by the normal traffic, showing off the scale of the Tower and the majesty of the Traveler.
By the time Zavala and Telemica arrived on the pad, the other Vanguard leaders and the rest of Fireteam Warden were already there and in similar garb. While the two titans displayed their military history through their strict and formal uniforms, the others did not. Solas and Ikora wore ornate robes covered in intricate holographics that changed and morphed based on a variety of inputs and sensora. Meanwhile, the only difference in what Cayde and Vatyr wore was the ceremonial dirks and sheaths that hung at their sides. The two titans joined their comrades and also passed a number of armed guards who were sticking close to a secure container several meters in size.
Minutes passed before the guest’s ship came into view, along with two full squadrons of escort. It was obviously designed to be an armoured personnel carrier, but its violet and gold trappings showed that it was modified for royal use. While some of the escorts took up holding patterns alongside Tower security forces, others hovered near the pad as the AVIPC landed and revealed its passengers.
The Vanguard leaders approached as the Awoken queen, her brother and a pair of guards waited at the bottom of the ship’s steps. The fireteam couldn’t hear anything that was being said so far away. Telemica was rigid at full attention and Solas seemed to have his mind elsewhere, but Vatyr was good enough at reading lips to catch some stuff and put the discussion together himself.
Pleasantries. Formal greetings. Blah.
They’ve mentioned us. He’s not interested at all but she… she loves a good and bloody story. She always did.
I wonder what this is all about…
Cayde motioned to the guards at the rear, who slowly escorted the container towards the ship on an anti-grav platform. The two Awoken guards met them halfway and scanned the container vigorously for what seemed like ages.
Vatyr wondered what could be within as his eyes went back to the visitors and found while the vaunted Master of Crows was intent on the container alone, the queen’s gaze was focused entirely on Vatyr.
The slightest of grins appeared on her face.
I’m not that anymore.
Her eyes penetrating him. Ever the predator on her hunt.
I can’t be that anymore. I…
The Awoken guards had finished scanning the container at some point and relieved the Tower guards of their burden, escorting the container passed the dignitaries and on to the ship. The queen’s gaze left Vatyr with satisfaction and almost ignored the gift, as if she’d already accomplished what she set out to do. No further talk was apparently necessary as the royals boarded the carrier right behind the container and departed with their escort, no doubt headed back to the Reef.
“Vatyr, you are sweating.” mentioned Solas without looking directly at him, not that he ever had to.
“It’s hot. I’m hot. Isn’t it hot?” said Vatyr in an obvious excuse, almost stammering in defense. “So what was in the container?”
“The Winter ketch’s jump drive core. Such intricate Golden Age marvels are nearly impossible for us to recreate and are priceless to the Awoken. No doubt it was gifted in the hopes of strengthening diplomatic ties.” said the Exo in a slightly bored tone before wandering off.
Zavala and Ikora were debriefing the guards as Telemica hung around, no doubt expecting the guards would immediately want to hear of her latest adventure and she was all too eager to spin the embellished tale.
“You doing alright?” asked Cayde as he wandered towards Vatyr.
“Yeah. I wish you had warned me that they would be here.”
“Sorry. Operational security. Did she-”
“Yeah…” Vatyr said, defeated as he slowly wandered back into the Tower, melting into the normal hustle of the place like a sound that unearths a dark memory.