Chapter 42: The Siege of Shards
There would come a day when this invasion would become known by many names. The day The Traveler fell. The Siege of Shards. Hell. Not a soul considered these names on the day, which offered no time for poetry or reflection. This day was only for battle.
The Last City
Amanda Holliday ducked fast under a hastily-erected barricade made of crates and other structures that could be thrown into place. Line rifle bolts buzzed angrily over her head, putting holes in various things behind her. Vex ground units were not known for their mobility, so the hope was that it would force them into a stalemate. So far, it was working.
A crash and a hail of gunfire from above tore Amanda’s attention to a few brightly-coloured combatants, loosing as much death upon the machines as they could from their lounge window. “Get those birds in the air, Shipwright! No doubt the support is needed elsewhere.” called down Lakshmi-2 of the Future War Cult as she reloaded her fusion rifle. Others cowled in violet, gold and orange added themselves to the battle.
“She’s right. We’ll hold the line here. There’s a command centre of sorts that we’ve rigged for you in our shuttle hangar. You and your people should fall back there and get as many ships into the air as possible,” said Arach Jalal, his black and white soldiers flanking him and relieving her mechanics of their positions. She quickly fell back to the shuttle, finding a hastily slapped-together command centre. Not much more than a comms station and a few readouts tied into the Tower’s hangar management systems. Reports were coming in of huge swarms of fast-moving harpies strafing the City’s defense placements. Everyone quickly got to the work of bringing the automated systems in all the Tower hangars to life.
The Last City
Shaxx was no doubt the only person with a grin under his faceplate. The sound of distant battle like soothing music to him. His Redjack fireteams quickly engaged the Vex threat, pulling the attention of the machines away from the defenseless populace. Arcite 99-40 loomed in the shadow of his larger horned partner. Shaxx knew his attention wasn’t on the battle in front of him, but on dozens of engagements around the City. Coordinating the Redjacks took a fair bit of finesse. After all, it was a rare skill indeed to out alpha-personality all of those huge alpha personalities. Bribery and the promise of glory/bragging rights often did the trick.
“More Redjacks reporting in. The Lords of Iron are enroute. No word from the Disciples of Osiris yet but I’ll keep trying.” said Arcite.
“Give them challenges. Evacuate all citizens from each district to the towers and shelters. The faster, the better.” suggested Shaxx as he lobbed another grenade over the wall.
“What about forcing back the Vex?”
“We need to prioritize. We won’t be able to clear every area of the enemy when they keep porting in at this pace. The most important thing to do now is remove soft target collateral damage from the equation.”
The Last City
Eris Morn felt that her time was being wasted. The Vex were just machines. Powerful machines, but only machines. Surely everyone realized that the Hive represented a much larger threat during this time of weakness. They must be monitored! The Dreadnaught alone could obliterate them in an instant, even from Saturn’s rings. Nobody would listen during the chaos, so she followed suit and assisted where she could.
Even the Vex were vulnerable to the illusion-casting powers of a Hidden Warlock. The Vex came down the hall from the main watch and ported in from Traveler-only-knows where, but they never saw the observatory or the people. The Vex saw an empty platform, and simply left to find targets.
Executor Hideo and his New Monarchy entourage stood guard at the entrance to the observatory. The Speaker asked them to remain outside as he worked. Perhaps he worried that Hideo would take the opportunity that this invasion presented to eliminate the Speaker, further clearing the way for their agenda. Eris would have been unable to stop them and turn back the Vex at the same time. Regardless, he was far more focused on finding Angela. Her survival was of paramount importance to him. The observatory’s arcane mechanisms whirled, spun, and calculated, but instead of attempting to gleam The Traveler’s secrets and messages, he looked for the young protégé.
“No! You must not peer into the timestream!” screamed Eris.
In his haste, the Speaker had allowed his instruments to send out a tachyon pulse to detect Angela elsewhere in the timestream. To the Vex, the pulse was like a flare being sent up. Vex units began to crash though Eris’ illusion and engage the New Monarchy resistance.
Eris fell back directly to the Speaker. She’d berate him later for his foolishness, she thought.
The Last City
Hall of Guardians
He’d never admit it to anyone, ever, but Cayde-6 was having fun. It didn’t mean that he didn’t find the situation as gravely serious as it was, but that didn’t mean he didn’t miss the life or death struggle. Perhaps he’d seek professional help if any of them survived. For now he’d just crouch beside the door that lead into the Hall of Guardians, throwing as many bullets down the hall as he could without getting popped. Banshee-44 stood on the other side of the doorway, adding his firepower.
Ikora Rey sat full-lotus in a corner, her mind trained entirely on keeping the room clear of Vex trying to port in. In her many years of study, she’d learned something about how The Traveler kept The Last City free from foes that would quickly overrun their defenses. She’d never had to replicate the effect before, but in the past she’d found a sense of impending doom had a wonderful ability to motivate.
Zavala Tzu worked with all the intent and focus he was known for. He had ordered the frames to relocate their workstations to the same corner. Once they were all set up, he erected a barrier of void light around them, allowing them to organize the counter to the Vex incursion without the risk of an errant shot. Air support was beginning to roll in so the situation in the hangar must be improving. Good. Receiving recon and battle data from Shaxx’s Redjacks, as well as Saladin and his fellow lords. Sending fireteams to fill in the gaps and apply cover for the fleeing citizens. Sending fireteams to the observatory to secure the Speaker. Zavala’s fingers flew furiously over interfaces and his voice spoke with the authority of a god over comms. The chaos began to clear, and Zavala’s will began to reforge the battlefield.
The Last City
Arrenn Gee was no more. His function had been executed. His facade was no longer required. He was The Companion Mind once more.
He looked at his glass shell. His architecture was far more complex than common Vex units, but he was the smallest in stature of the Axis Minds. He was also one of the very few Vex that had a sense of individuality. It was a necessity to accomplish his function.
His function was his entire reason for existing, and it was simple. He was a key part to a larger equation. God desired The Traveler, and together with his partner, God would take it for its own. In return, the Vex would become gods themselves.
Above him, his companion slowly formed from a cloud of God’s shadow found within one of The Traveler’s minions. This hidden seed was the key to this victory. Already, The Infecting Mind exerted its power over The Traveler, slowly blighting the light and replacing it with God’s will. The Infecting Mind was the greatest carrier of God’s power that the Vex have ever created, dwarfing even the revered Sol Progeny. Its glass body designed to carry the purity of God’s wrath. Together, they were known as The Shards.
There was a third, and is and will be again. Atheon built the centre of the Vex’s universe and grew the Vex’s influence in leaps and bounds, but The Traveler’s pawns defeated Atheon, exposed by the loss of the garden. God took notice of this, and demanded retribution.
The Vex conquest would be perfect. God’s enemy would be dominated by God itself and eliminated from the perfection of the Vex equation. God demanded it.