Chapter 25: Starseeds
On any other occasion, Titan Telemica Magna would have strongly advised against such an insane course of action, but after the loss of Solas, she was willing to entertain any ideas.
On any other occasion, Hunter Vatyr S’Jet would have been denied his request to fly out to the Reef with the express intent of confronting Queen Mara Sov, but as Fireteam Warden was on leave, no permission was expressly sought or given. Plausible deniability, as Cayde-6 would have put it. Vatyr had simply asked Telemica and Arrenn to suit up for a jaunt-type campaign. Arrenn seemed quietly nervous about it at first, but given the option of simply staying behind, he chose to follow.
Vatyr and Telemica had tried to learn what they could of Arrenn in the time they had. He was certainly becoming known as the quiet type, not prone to voicing himself unless directly confronted, and even then, it was short and to-the-point. Likewise, his ghost Gnome only spoke to Arrenn and even then only on a pure telepathic level. Calling the ghost shy would have been an understatement. On the other hand, Arrenn’s skills as a warlock seemed to be beyond what a new guardian would usually have, especially one that had not aligned with any of the covens or other organizations. Inherently talented, they’d say.
Any ship approaching the Reef was immediately set upon by the Queen’s patrols from the fleets, or by Corsairs. In the past, guardians were forced to either turn back or be destroyed, but that had changed recently. The Reef was beginning to open to Earth, but security was still extremely tight and the air of clandestine machinations along with general mistrust continued to hang thick in this part of the system. Guardians were expressly prohibited from communication with anyone but chosen representatives. Contact with the general populace would be a grave error, and attempting to contact the higher-ups was tantamount to insulting.
“Earth ships bearing zero-two-zero-mark-one-two-zero, you have entered the realm of the Awoken. State your business.”
“Say nothing. Glitch will handle this,” said Vatyr on a private commline.
Minutes passed and Telemica’s sense of impending danger grew with every humming cycle of her ship’s engines. These days, the Tower and Vestian Docking Control handled the comings and goings of guardians. It was all very official and locked-down. Whom was Glitch communicating with? She was about to ask Vatyr what was going on until the patrol ships cut in.
“Vatyr S’Jet, by direct order of Queen Mara Sov, you and your companions will conform to my trajectory. Any deviation or communication from this point forward will result in your destruction.”
“From this point forward, do whatever they say. Answer all questions and submit to every demand. Otherwise we’re pretty much dead.” said Vatyr before cutting comms.
Fireteam Warden brought their ships alongside the Awoken patrol, who then banked hard to starboard. Telemica had visited the Reef before. She knew the way to the Vestian Outpost where all guardians were routed to, and they were headed nowhere near it, or even the Awoken military headquarters at 5560 Amytis. The escort took a winding route, ending up at the heart of Awoken space, 4 Vesta. The staggering sight of one of the system’s largest asteroids fused with hulks of civilization-moving ships and teeming with Awoken life was a sight that few outside of the realm would ever behold.
Landing at a small hangar bay, the guardians were immediately taken into custody and separated. Telemica kept a close eye on Vatyr for signs of agitation as they were relieved of armour and weapons, but this appeared to be entirely part of his plan. They dared not communicate even via ghost, as it was known that the Queen’s Techeuns would hear it and relay it to the Queen instantly.
Telemica and Arrenn were shackled and led down dimly lit passages, leaving Vatyr on the pad surrounded by the majority of their Awoken reception. The sounds of civilization and movement fell away until the deep silence of vacuum surrounded them save for the clang of boots on metal walkways that they themselves created. Eventually they were deposited in a small spherical holding cell with no windows. The door closed with a hermetic hiss that separated the atmo of the complex from the cell, and artificial gravity quickly bled away. It was obvious they were being held in a module that was simply tethered in space, no doubt ejectable at a moment’s notice and reserved for the most dangerous of beings outside of the Prison of Elders.
Once the titan and warlock were out of view, Vatyr was given more space, a level of charade lifting. A number of the royal guards entered from the far side of the hangar and took over. “The Queen has agreed to your request for a meeting. Follow closely.” said one of the guards with a curt bow of the head, her hand resting on her sidearm. Vatyr was led across the hanger and through the door that the guard entered from. They traversed halls bustling with activity, mostly of the military variety. As the entourage passed, people stepped to the side, speaking in hushed tones about those that passed. It had been a long time since Vatyr had seen so many of his people, and it plucked a lonely string within him.
The group turned down a corridor and entered an elevator. Vatyr could feel the air pressure and gravity change as they took speedy but prolonged ride into the modified ship hulls that encapsulated the asteroid. As they exited, Vatyr noted a distinct change in scenery. Wide halls ornately decorated. Murals and other artwork depicting the history of the Awoken. Well-dressed nobles, ornately armoured guards and hurried functionaries. Everything was spotless and just so. Vatyr was led down the hall as he listened intently and with a sense of grim satisfaction to the whispers around him, most were not as well hidden as the commoners’ gossip was below.
“Him? Is he suicidal?”
“…a lot of brazen nerve…”
“…dead within the hour.”
“Prince Uldren will have his head.”
Large doors opened to let Vatyr and his accompanying guards into a vast open space overlooking the Vestian Web. At the end of a long walkway was a raised throne, turned to look out over the realm. Three robed figures stood by the throne, speaking without words to each other and whomever occupied the seat. Sedia was the first of the Techeuns to notice the newcomers. Shuro Chi and Yasmin Eld joined Sedia and moved from the throne to meet them a few feet from its base. With a waved hand, Sedia dispersed the royal guards, sending them back the way they came. The Awoken witches surrounded Vatyr, peering intently at every detail of his form. They lifted his arms, felt his stomach, and peeked inside his mouth, all the while conversing with each other via their jewel-like augmentations.
“Why have you returned to me?” spoke a haunting voice from the throne.
Before he could respond, Vatyr turned to see Uldren Sov, The Master of Crows and brother to the Queen, flying through the air at him with rage in his voice, pain in his eyes and blade in his hand.