Chapter 49: Brave
Telemica lifted a slab of debris away from the corner Solas was buried in.
“Are you alright?” the titan asked with concern.
“For the most part. Vatyr?”
“Up here.” Vatyr answered over comms, high above the now demolished Tower Watch and coming in to land near his comrades. “The Speaker’s ship just detonated on contact. Vapourized. Pretty much no significant debris from the ship itself. The effect is similar to a slipspace core overload. I recognized the telltale whine of a jump core being overspun, but I’ve never seen the fallout so localized and focused. Virulion was sent sailing through the back wall and into the lookout, but he’s still moving. Doesn’t look too damaged either. I’m surprised this tower is still standing to be honest. All that energy must have been focused right into the Vex. Crazy.”
“We all knew The Speaker was powerful. A fitting end.” Telemica considered.
“What about Angela?” Solas demanded. The warlock ran back to the centre of the watch to find most of it had been obliterated by The Speaker. Peering out, he saw Angela still hanging in the air in a huge mote of The Traveler’s essence-light. It was significantly brighter than before, and the infection stream had been completely severed.
“Angela. Angela, can you hear me?” Solas queried into open comms. There was no response. The light around her continued to grow and take on an aggressive note. Was The Traveler trying to defend itself?
Virulion shifted and whined, throwing debris off itself and rising.
“He looks pissed off.” Vatyr noted.
“Good.” Solas growled. With a roaring fury, he sent a salvo of huge nova bombs hurtling towards the Vex, slamming Virulion with enough void light to level a small apartment building. The Infecting Mind shielded itself with its arms and braced under the impact. It was not seriously damaged by any stretch, but it was not immune to the attack either.
“It felt that! The light barrier is gone. Angela and The Speaker broke the link, making it vulnerable.” Telemica shouted in triumph. Her armour’s systems burst with renewed vigour.
“Let’s go!” yawped Vatyr. Fireteam Warden leaped into the fray with Virulion quickly, before the Vex could reestablish its attack on The Traveler.
Vatyr ignited his anti-ship beam saber once again and attacked Virulion in tandem with Telemica’s Buster Sword from opposite directions. Virulion brought its arms up and blocked the massive blades with surprising speed, shrugging them off easily and batting Telemica with the back of a hand. The titan was sent smashing through a high section of the wall. Vatyr blasted upwards and rained harassing fire down on Virulion with his Dis heavy machine gun.
Solas called forth a vast reserve of void light and reached his mind deep down into the weave of reality. Focusing on Virulion’s glass-like structure, he willed the crystal to vibrate. Solas wanted to shake the monster apart, atom by atom.
Telemica launched out of her hole with an echoing battle cry. Spinning, she sent two sweeping waves of solar light at Virulion from her feet, as well as a meteoric jet from her left arm.
The Infecting Mind blocked the titan’s first two solar attacks and redirected the last one up at Vatyr, narrowly missing him but forcing him to veer off. Then, opening his huge palms and exposing a port in each that looked like the muzzles of torch hammers, he fired two immense blasts of boiling energy at the titan and warlock. Solas was too focused on his attack to react in time. A hastily erected barrier saved his life but sent him sprawling. Telemica narrowly managed to evade it with the aerial maneuvering capabilities of the Spiral Caliber system. She tried to press the attack, but Virulion was ready for it. He grabbed her out of the air and tossed her back in the direction of The Traveler. She would have gone clear over the side and fallen to her death if Vatyr didn’t pluck her out of the air.
Solas scrambled for cover behind a toppled pillar while his comrades observed from above. “We certainly have his attention now.”
“For all the good it’s doing us. We still can’t put any real hurt on him. I’ve never seen a Vex move like that!” exclaimed Vatyr.
“Or take that level of punishment. Guardians have defeated Vex like this before, right?” Telemica asked.
“Yes. The Sol Progeny of the Black Garden were little more than enormous, lumbering minotaurs. Easy to take down if you’re smart enough. Atheon’s defeat within the Vault of Glass was made narrowly possible by the disruption of the Vault’s Oracles, which allowed Atheon’s significant control over the local spacetime of the Vault of Glass’ interior to be neutralized just enough to claim victory. Neither strategy will assist us here,” informed Solas.
“Great. Does anyone have any ideas?” Vatyr asked with some frustration.
Let the light flow through you…
Let the light flow through you…
“Angela?” Solas asked to nobody. Turning to look at the young girl, he could barely perceive her through the enormous amount of light pouring out of The Traveler and surrounding her.
“Is that Angela on comms?” asked Telemica.
“She’s made direct contact with The Traveler for the first time since The Collapse, but through some sort of shared dream-state. Whatever is speaking to us through our light is a merged consciousness between Angela and The Traveler.”
“She really is The Speaker now.” Vatyr said with a note somewhere between mourning and hope. He dropped off Telemica by Solas and reengaged The Infecting Mind with his Dis heavy machine gun. “We can’t let him attack Angela. I’ll keep him occupied for as long as I can. Solas, think!”
Solas’ celestial-sized mind raced, arriving finally at a strategy that gave definitive new meaning to the phrase ‘last-ditch’, but was no doubt the only play they had left. “Years ago, I toyed with the idea of giving guardians one final option. It never worked properly, but with Angela and The Traveler’s help, there’s an infinitesimal chance it could work for us here and now.”
“I’m all ears!” Vatyr said as he dodged oversized torch hammer blasts.
“I’d reduce us to our core light, and merge the three essence patterns that each of our ghosts hold into a single being of staggering power. Easily enough to defeat Virulion.”
“Sounds great! Let’s do that!”
“The chances that the merger would work are, as I said, infinitesimal. Even if it did work, the resulting lifeform would only last a few short minutes. Also, we three as individuals as well as the entities within our ghosts would cease to exist. We’d die.”
Telemica grabbed hold of Solas’ arm. “We’ve died before, remember? Dying again was always a pretty good possibility in our world.”
“But… our time…” Solas found himself at a loss for words. The silent and deafening conflict brought on by the return of their memories had been pushed to the side for the moment by a world-ending battle, but he needed to fix this wound between him and Telemica. Even if it took lifetimes.
Telemica’s lips found where Solas’ forehead would be if he had eyes. “Our time is once again at an end, but I know no fear or regret because you are once again with me, my love.”
Had she been contemplating the past this whole time? Had she ever been conflicted by it? Solas was one of the most brilliant minds the star system had ever seen, but he’d always been ignorant of the emotional aspects of life. Perhaps it had been a simple willful blindness. He was often told he needed to pay more attention to the feelings of others, as well as his own. It had been the one puzzle in his life that scared him, so he avoided it. Now, all of those walls he’d built up around his heart were suddenly gone, and only she remained. He placed his hand over hers. The fear was simply gone, and for the first time in perhaps both of his lives, he needed no words.
“Vatyr, meet us centre stage. We’re doing the crazy thing.” Telemica commanded as she pulled.
“Yes ma’am! Operation crazy thing is a go.” Vatyr joked as he swooped down to meet them at the broken ledge made of what remained of the tower watch. “Guys, just so you know, it has been an honour and a privilege. I may have failed my family and my fleet during The Collapse, but it’s good to know I won’t fail you.”
Telemica clasped Vatyr’s shoulder in understanding, and then turned to Solas, “So how do we save the world?”
“Clear your mind and do what the little lady told you to. Let the light flow through you.” Solas offered. Within each guardian, silent thanks and farewells were offered to the little lights that bore them for so long. The dutiful Squire. The enigmatic Wisp. The daring Glitch. The hunter and titan took one last look at Virulion before closing their eyes. Four of Solas’ hands took hold of theirs while the remaining two began to weave the world, opening a conduit to Angela.