Frontier – Act11 Chapter51 – Forward

Chapter 51: Forward

Earth
The Last City
Years later…

“It has taken years for us to rebuild this City. Our home. Years to heal from our wounds, mourn the dead and reforge our bonds. Hard time full of blood, sweat and tears. First, the Vex came to take away The Traveler, but we denied them their prize. Then the Fallen House of Kings came to our walls to strike at us while we were wounded, but they too were turned away.”

Angela stood at the podium atop the rebuilt and improved observatory in the centre of the tower lookout and took a breath to collect her thoughts before continuing. Her voice and image projected across the domain and beyond. She had expected her heart to be beating out of her chest. Perhaps in a time not so long ago, that would have been the case. She had found her mettle since then.

The young Speaker was flanked by the Vanguard leadership and other dignitaries, all in formal dress. She’d been preparing this speech for some time. She needed the people behind her for what was to come. She needed their hearts and minds. She could feel they were with her so far, and now she had to turn it up.

“Our valiant guardians protected us, laying down their restored lives for us time and again when things seemed most bleak. They stood, fought and were victorious!”

The crowd cheered.

“The factions found new common ground. The Dead Orbit became the foundation from which we built the Vanguard Navy. The Future War Cult opened their mysteries to us, allowing our research and development to jump ahead decades. New Monarchy enshrined me, your Speaker, as their Queen. New allies came to hear our call. The Queen of The Reef, The House of Judgement, the warmind Rasputin and more!”

The crowd cheered louder.

“Today, we commemorate the fateful day when three brave guardians accomplished the impossible. Through The Traveler’s blessing gifts, they destroyed the invader’s leader with a glorious blow. A single punch with such fury and power that it carved a deep valley into this mountain range that stretches into the horizon. Today, in honour of their service, bravery and sacrifice, we name this battle scar in the face of the world The Valley of The Warden.”

The crowd cheered even louder.

“The Darkness has officially been put on notice!”

The crowd roared. A chant of her name rolled through the masses. The entire City came alive. She let them and herself have it for a minute, then raised her hand to calm them.

“My people, we have walked through the forge of dark days and been remade stronger than ever before, but darker days still await us. Forces that will stop at nothing to grind us back into the dust. Will we let them?”

The crowd cried out defiantly.

“Our unity will make us stronger than anything they could ever break. Our light will burn The Darkness and its minions away. We will take back our worlds, and pioneer the golden path beyond. Today is a day of remembrance and celebration. Tomorrow, and for all the tomorrows after, we will move forever forward!”

The crowd erupted. Nothing could stop them now, Angela thought. She took a wave and vacated the podium. The festivities below were now in full swing, and the time for pretty words was over. For the people of the Last City on Earth, it was a time for joy. For Angela, it was always time for work. She had Vanguard reports to review and expansion plans to oversee. Tomorrow she’d be on a transport to The Reef to formalize trade negotiations and other partnerships.

Angela entered her private office in the observatory. An elegant space full of old books mixed with new tech. She keyed the biometric scanner hidden in the mechanisms of a sextant sitting on her wide Brazilian walnut desk. Hidden scanners in the office identified her and activated the portal.

Solas’ old lab had held up fairly well after the Vex incursion. The invaders never found a way into it, so as soon as Angela had gotten the chance after the battle, she had run down to the main entry and keyed the door. The power core was nearly drained, the unique ammo stores were all but depleted, and the main processing core was totally burned out. Ikora helped her close the few experiments that the frames were still running and relocate the main entry portal to Angela’s new office. The lab had once been where Solas prepared for Warden’s ordeal. Now, it’ll serve a new purpose.

At the centre of the lab, where Solas’ pod once was, stood something new. Within a complex assortment of cables, scanners and interfaces, three clear teardrop-shaped crystalline bulbs hung from a miniaturized version of the lab’s old power core. Each bulb containing a ghost.

After the battle, Angela had ordered Warden’s ghosts found. They were assumed dead but Angela had just become the new Speaker and she didn’t hesitate to put that influence to work. Using the wealth of tools in Solas’ lab, she discovered that Wisp, Glitch and Squire were in fact still alive, perhaps through some residual effect of The Traveler’s boon. It should not have been possible, but impossible was becoming more and more common these days. Fireteam Warden had survived by the thinnest of margins.

The three ghosts now floated comfortably in a liquid light solution pioneered recently by Omolon foundries. Slowly, they were absorbing light and gaining strength. There was no way for her to know when they’d wake up. It could be tomorrow, or it could be a hundred years from now. Every evening, Angela would come down to this lab, make sure the frames were tending to them properly as well as Angela’s other experiments, check the readouts and findings, look at the three ghosts, and promise her friends that the world they saved would flourish in their absence. Finally, before retiring to her bed, she’d always ask her friends for a small favour.

“Come back soon.”

 

Frontier – Act02 Chapter04 – Should You Choose To Accept It

Chapter 4: Should You Choose To Accept It

Earth
The Last City, Caucasus Mountains
The Tower

While the common understanding of The Tower by citizens of The City is that it was a giant military installation, to the guardians who dwelt within it was much more. Over the centuries since its construction and the legitimization of the Vanguard Command, guardians had formed their own culture centered there. Rites, rituals and codes evolved naturally among the demigods that sought to take back what the Darkness had stolen.

Vatyr sipped his tea on the steps of the Tower Watch. He found observing ships come and go soothing. The noon sun felt warm on his shaved head as his sunset-orange eyes tracked flyers of various designs. A contented grin formed across his blue-white face as the herbal tea relaxed his body and his mind. He learned a long time ago that one thing a hunter must always seek is the calm before the storm.

Vatyr spotted Telemica exiting Guardian Hall and waved her over. A powerful titan in and out of battle, she towered over other guardians who honoured her with a wide berth. The natural intimidation of her tall and powerful physique was offset by her exuberant and reassuring face. Dark chocolate skin etched by combat, intense emerald eyes and blood-red hair set in a way that was attractive but just short enough to not become a hassle. Few were not phased when that scarred visage of confidence and beauty exploded in the fury of battle, but her helm spared most of that.

“Reporting in on your latest glorious victory, no doubt.” Vatyr half-joked, grasping her extended right forearm in an age-old sign of greetings among warriors.

“Of course!” laughed Telemica, chest puffed in pride. “The Cabal formations collapsed easier than I expected. If only I had an assistant to fill out these damned reports.”

“Or perhaps a bard to sing you praises everywhere you tarried!” joked the hunter. When it came to battle, Lady Magna’s success was so rarely in doubt, Vatyr considered it some cosmic joke played on her foes. By the expression on Telemica’s face, it appeared mention of a bard caught her fancy, and suddenly he felt sorry for her ghost in what would no doubt be his new responsibilities.

Before Vatyr could continue, a ghost flew over to them from the north. “Hunter S’Jet and Titan Magna, the Speaker wishes to address you both at your earliest convenience.” it said before scurrying off.

It was not unheard-of for The Speaker to converse with guardians, but it was notably rare. The Speaker was often reclusive within his observatory and few wished to trouble him. The general feeling was that since he had the ears of the most powerful people in The City and his concerns were beyond a normal guardian’s ken, it seemed unwise to interrupt.

As the two guardians entered the northern wing of The Tower and approached the observatory, they spotted the third member of their veteran fireteam waiting at its entrance. Solas-3 stared at the immense machinery that somehow allowed The Speaker to do his work, though stared would be technically incorrect. Solas didn’t have eyes, but did indeed see. People often had a hard time conversing with the Exo who had the majority of his face covered with metal. Some dared to ask if he saw through the two black horn-like apparatuses that gave him a pseudo-fantastical look, but he would never answer definitively. It was the first secret of the warlock built of secrets.

“Ho there, Solas” spoke Telemica as they reached him. They didn’t worry about surprising him, as they knew Solas saw things beyond what normal eyes could.

Solas turned his head slightly in their direction to address them, his indigo backlight seemed to be a visual calming agent to his words, “We should not keep The Speaker waiting.” before walking in. The other two followed.

At the top of the single curved flight of stairs, The Speaker busied himself with holographic displays. No doubt the latest scans of The Traveler. The Speaker turned to address the fireteam when they approached. “Ah. Yes. Good. Thank you for returning so quickly, guardians. I have need of you. There is a small band of humans living in old Italy. Western Sicily. They need to be extracted and brought to The City with as much speed and as little attention as possible.”

“Why not just send a transport with regular militia?” Telemica asked as respectfully as possible. Gathering refugees was not something guardians often did, especially veteran fireteams.

“The darkness is swirling around a point of light. It must be saved.” said The Speaker in his usually cryptic fashion. The answer didn’t satisfy the titan, but before she could press, Vatyr touched her shoulder, signaling her to pause.

“As you wish, Speaker.” said Solas with a small bow. The other two followed suit and exited.

As the three guardians made their way to the hangars, Telemica’s patience was wearing thin. “Do you two want to fill me in?” she asked as she followed.

Solas was ahead but didn’t slow his pace or turn when addressing her. “The Speaker does not want this mission to be high-profile, but it is critical nonetheless. Gears turn. There is much more at play here than we realize.”

“Our dossiers were on his screens as well. Fireteam history, psychological assessments… he’s chosen us specifically for this mission, whatever it may be. It also explains why this mission was given such a low priority but was assigned to us. He’s hiding the operation in plain sight.” Vatyr interjected.

Telemica nodded in understanding. It put her on-edge to not have all the available information, but a soldier followed orders. At least she knew to expect more than what was on the surface. “Whatever it is, Fireteam Warden will be triumphant!” she exclaimed with a raised fist. Vatyr found her confidence reaffirming, and knew Solas did as well, regardless of the lack of reaction from him.