Chapter 50: Warden
Angela awoke atop The Traveler’s zenith. The world’s curvature was almost noticeable from this altitude, but Angela had no trouble breathing or discomfort of any kind. Being this close to The Traveler, its essence must support life regardless of the surrounding environment, she deduced.
The last thing she recalled was getting pulled into the infection stream and the feeling of her life being drained away, before a warmness enveloped her. The voice that spoke to her was both alien and oddly familiar. It was sweetly welcoming and beyond old. The voice asked her for help, like the elderly asking for the strong hands and sturdy back of the young. She was glad to help, but had no idea how. The voice now sounded a bit like hers, and told her that now was the time for her to be strong. Now, together, they would shine like never before.
The next thing she knew, she was on top of The Traveler, and in the distance, though mere specks of light and echoes of booms could be perceived from this far away, she knew what was happening. She looked up, and the machine god of a bygone age prepared to strike at home.
She filled her lungs with air and screamed at the faraway point of light that carried all their fates with it. “Fight!”
Solas, Telemica and Vatyr simply ceased to be amid the furious torrent of light. When it calmed and coalesced, what remained was a towering humanoid figure made of blue-white light and without any discernible features. It had no eyes, ears, nose or mouth. It had no fingers or toes. It wore no clothes. Its body had no definition denoting biology or gender. Its boundaries shifted and licked like the surface of a flame. Its core was intensely bright but required no strain to gaze into.
Virulion The Infecting Mind fired a pair of torch hammer shots at it, but the shots were harmlessly absorbed into its being. The Vex fired several more shots but with the same result. The new entity stood motionless, facing The Traveler in reverent posture.
It was when Virulion charged with a lunging right punch that the entity heard it. A girl’s voice. “Fight”, the girl said. The entity twisted with supernatural speed and caught Virulion’s fist, stopping it dead. The impact echoed across the landscape. Virulion attempted to pull itself free but couldn’t. The entity pulled the fist in to grab Virulion’s arm, spun around, and threw Virulion back towards the lookout with ease. The Vex sailed through the air with a defiant roar and came down with a crash. The Infecting Mind got up quickly, but the entity was already standing in front of him, waiting.
When it spoke, sound emanated from it in all directions. Its voice was a combination of the three guardians that formed it. “I am The Warden. This place and these people are under my protection. Be gone.”
Virulion’s chestplates shifted and moved, revealing a cavity which held the last fragment of the seed of darkness from which Virulion emerged. The evil pulsing heart of Virulion, The Infecting Mind. Cables and connections webbed through and around the seed. Virulion was showing The Warden that he was chosen. Blessed. An ordained avatar of the Darkness’ will. Screaming tendrils of diseased energy shot out of the seed and hooked into The Warden, attempting to drain the entity of its light. A sound raked from Virulion that could be considered nauseating laughter.
The Warden didn’t stagger or shift. The tendrils buried their way in, but burned away in moments. The seed sent out more and more in an effort to devour this entity of pure light, but every attempt simply evaporated. The Warden’s light was simply too intense for The Darkness to corrupt.
Virulion quickly closed its chest to protect the seed and brought both its arms together in front of it. Components shifted and rearranged until the Vex monster’s arms and body formed a singular immense energy cannon. Virulion would destroy this abomination of light in the name of God. It took moments to charge and the blast would land at point-blank range, but The Warden didn’t move.
The avalanche of dark energies Virulion unleashed seemed to roar up without sound from the pits of some nameless hell and spill into the world like a plaque of ruin, leveling what was left of the Tower Watch and collapsing a large section of the nearby hangar. It was as if the pure and unadulterated will of some dark god of destruction poured out of the Vex’s body. Such a thing could exist for only moments, but that was all it needed to annihilate anything in this universe.
The Warden stood unharmed. Through Virulion’s armour, the seed screamed in rage. The Infecting Mind separated his arms again and threw a desperate haymaker punch. Midway through the attack, The Warden countered, in a flash severing both Virulion’s arms at the shoulders with a flurry of cleaving knifehand strikes.
Virulion staggered and convulsed as the seed of Darkness within it attempted one last time to lash out, bursting out from the chest of The Infecting Mind and leaving Virulion a dead hulk for its penance. The seed lashed out like a hydra, constantly growing hellish heads and tentacles to replace the ones that either burned away in the light or were severed by The Warden’s uncanny counters. The tables so obviously turned only seemed to cause Virulion to attack more violently and exhausting itself, perhaps feeling its end was at hand.
When the futile attacks ceased, the Warden slid its right leg back and brought its arms up to deliver a serious, finishing blow. “You end is now. The rest of your kind will meet the same fate… in time.”