Chapter 37: Maneuver
When seen from a distance, the towers that segmented the protective walls of the Last City on Earth can seem ominous and imposing. Every citizen and aspiring invader knew that these looming structures were teeming with powerful guardians, who are portending regardless of which side of the walls you find yourself on.
The Keeps were the inward smile of the guardians. At the bases of the main cardinal-point towers lining the inner wall were massive, sprawling acropolises. These complexes were bristling with everything from local markets to services offered by both guardians and other entities. In the higher levels one could find the main hospitals that serviced the City, and within those, the specialized medbays that serviced the guardians.
The stasis pod that housed Solas had been wheeled into a surgery theater. The doctors and technicians said they needed room to employ supplementary equipment. Telemica and Vatyr found themselves in post-operative care, recovering from the auto-surgeons and medical frames with their programmed bedside manner. The majority of long-term rooms for guardians were built with three patients in mind, and with Solas still in the pod, the hunter and titan had plenty of space. Attendants had removed the central bed, leaving an inescapable void in the room. Outside the room was the hustle and bustle of a busy hospital, keeping the ambient noise just high enough that the two could attempt to avoid each other. Attempt, but fail.
“You shouldn’t be out of bed,” mentioned Vatyr in his most paternal tone that was halfway between mocking and caring. It was a tone he knew she responded to. He didn’t even look at Telemica as he said it, preferring to read the City’s latest news and a few after-action reports on his tablet. There was very little anyone could do to convince him to move an inch, even on the pain meds he was on.
She ignored his warnings. Telemica stood at the window wearing a robe over her hospital gown, overlooking the farmland that filled up most of the space between the City’s inner and secondary walls. She was constantly shifting and stretching in small movements. In ages past when wounds were bound closed with staples and fibers, she would have surely opened them up and be rushed back into emergency care. These days surgical technology allowed for openings to be sealed fully with stem cells and bio-reactive energy fields that promoted growth.
Her left arm was another matter entirely. Rebuilding the limb properly would take a while and the long surgery to attach it to her body would require her to be healthier than she currently was. Normally this wouldn’t be an issue for a guardian, but titans like her were special cases. Injuries carried far more import than just something to be healed and forgotten.
The silence between them was becoming more uncomfortable. Enough uneasy glances had been passed between them to know that the dreams they shared were not just dreams. Could a dream feel that real? On an instinctual level, they both felt that yes, those things happened. After coming to that conclusion, processing the actual content and ramifications of the memories would likely take longer than any physical injury would need to heal. Solas was also involved, and beginning to move through these memories without him seemed wrong. There was an undeniable intimacy about it all that required him to be present.
Telemica looked down at where her arm used to be, trying to dispel the phantom limb from her mind. How does one convince one’s body that they no longer have a left arm? She was going to have a harder time handling all the downtime she was being forced to take. Commander Zavala sent down orders that she was to be grounded indefinitely under the guise of medical leave, but in actuality her participation in recent events at the Reef were no doubt difficult to swallow. There were rumours of Vatyr being court-martialed and possibly exiled. They hadn’t told anyone about the memories. Best to figure it all out among the three of them first.
“I wonder if Solas saw the same… memories…” Telemica said, knowing the answer. Vatyr knew the implications of it. Not only had they been married, but Solas had also been the one who killed Telemica. The fact that he was under the influence of The Darkness made things much more tangled, not to mention the possibility that The Darkness never truly left him.
“Even though The Traveler sealed that curse inside of Solas, he could still pose a serious problem.” Vatyr said in his most serious tone. Telemica moved as quickly as her broken body could towards the door and closed it, worried that someone would overhear them over the soft bedlam in the hall.
“We don’t know that.”
“We don’t know much of anything at this point.”
Telemica wanted to shut Vatyr down, but paused as something more pressing occurred to her. “Did you see his face? In the pod.”
“No. First thing I remember after the derelict was waking up in here. Why?”
“Solas. He-” Telemica was cut off as the sound of an explosion ripped through the halls, followed quickly by alarms and the sounds of panic. Vatyr threw of his covers and painfully shuffled to the door in his hospital gown and slippers, both guardians peering out the door’s small window.
“Explosions have been reported in the surgery wing. Near where Solas’ pod would be.” reported Glitch as he materialized.
The staccato repeating of rifles rang out through the halls beyond the door, punctuated by more screaming and explosions. “A firefight?” queried Squire as he joined the group.
“Sounds like it, and it’s getting closer,” added Glitch. The group began to move away from the door and towards the window when another explosion blew the door and the wall around it apart, sending both titan and hunter flying crumpled into the corner.
Arrenn stood in the hole in the wall, debris and smoke whipping around him from the wind coming in from the blown window behind Telemica and Vatyr, shattered by the compression wave. A Vex torch hammer in the warlock’s hands spewing violet fumes from its barrel.
Before either Vatyr or Telemica could speak, Arrenn lifted the weapon and took aim at them. In their state, one shot would be enough to obliterate them both.
“Engage!” someone down the hall shouted as a hail of bullets slammed into the warlock. Arrenn burst into a ball of solar light to protect himself.
Before Arrenn could take aim again, the roar of a shuttle’s engines boomed through the destroyed window. A familiar wave of disembodiment washed over the titan and hunter just before the torch hammer lit up with the destruction held within.
They found themselves in a familiar trooper bay. This was the same Awoken shuttle that Warden had come home in.
“There’s not much time to explain, but I’ll try,” yelled the small blonde girl at the helm. She yanked on the controls, narrowly avoiding the torch hammer’s bolt and gaining altitude.
“Angela?” asked Telemica. “What’s going on? Since when can you pilot a shuttle?”
“I believe I can illuminate the situation much more effectively while the young lady Speaker focuses on not getting us all killed,” said a floating voice somewhere in the cockpit.
“I’ve got it, Wisp! I’ve got it. I think…,” said the girl who was struggling with controls made for someone quite a bit larger than her.
“Wisp?” Vatyr asked. Solas’ ghost floated into the trooper bay.
“It is truly good to see you both.”
“We figured you were dormant inside Solas. What happened?”
“When Solas fell into the conflux on Mercury, he ejected me. The disconnection sent me into a stasis/shock state not unlike a coma. When I regained consciousness, I was in orbit above Mercury. Solas knew the dangers inherent in his plan, and I was to be part of his insurance policy.”
“What exactly was his plan?”
“Hang on! We’re coming in to pick up our V.I.P.” Angela called back. Telemica and Vatyr looked through the windows to see the Tower Watch embroiled in chaos. A huge cloud of grey electric smoke poured out of the head of a lone figure, growing and writhing like a living thing.
“Is that Solas?” asked Telemica.
“Yes. The seed of Darkness within him is coalescing. It will kill him if we don’t act quickly,” noted Wisp.
“As soon as it has vacated him, we can get him out of there.” yelled Angela, clearly struggling with the maneuver of swooping in close enough to transmat Solas but avoiding the evil coming out of him.
The shuttle buffered harshly against the turbulence being caused. Below, the last of the smoke rushed out of the warlock and discarded his lifeless form off the Tower.
“Hold on!” Angela announced as she put the shuttle into a nosedive after Solas. Telemica and Vatyr were pinned to the back of the bay as the child pilot activated the transmat recovery she had programmed in beforehand and pulled roughly back on the control wheel. The engines of the shuttle strained to level out the craft, narrowly avoiding crashing into the Keep below.
Solas’ body appeared on the floor of the bay, completely limp and lifeless. “I’ll do my best to keep him stable,” said Wisp before merging with him.
“Now what?” asked Telemica.
“Well, since this is the worst-case scenario, we better hope Solas’ plan works!” said Angela as she banked the shuttle hard towards a secondary landing bay.
Meanwhile, atop the main Tower Watch, a massive hand made of glass reached out of the cloud of smoke, reaching in the direction of The Traveler.