Frontier – Act10 Chapter48 – Sacrifice

Chapter 48: Sacrifice

The clock ticked, and the world became darker.

Telemica and Vatyr continued to engage Virulion, The Infecting Mind. At least, they attempted to engage him. Virulion’s focus remained solely on The Traveler. The Vex monster refused to acknowledge either the guardians or their attacks.

Solas hung back and applied himself to the puzzle before him. He poked and pulled at Virulion’s being from every angle and dimension he could access doing everything he could to open up some sort of gap in the defense.

The clock was ticking. While the City beyond was slowly being retaken by guardian forces, comm channels were beginning to take interest in the rapidly changing sky, as it was clearly not Vex-related. Solas refused to explain the truth of the situation. What purpose would it serve? There was nothing anyone could do. Virulion’s infection was progressing at an alarming rate, and his barrier made of the essence-light of The Traveler was unnervingly effective at negating any incursions the guardians tried to make. It made perfect sense to Solas. The guardians got their power from The Traveler. It was insanity to think that The Traveler’s gifts could be used against it. The warlock’s expanded mind raced to find a solution.

The clock ticked, and The Traveler began to slump in the air.

“You’ve become so strong since you first came to me, but this is beyond madness… even for you!” The Speaker pleaded to his young apprentice at the other end of the commlink. The Speaker was at the helm of an old Arcadia-class jumpship and bringing it in alongside the stream of sickly corruption that connected Virulion to The Traveler. Angela was crouched on top of the jumpship, holding on for dear life as the inexperienced pilot at the helm maneuvered into position.

“This is the only way either of us can think of to break the Vex’s connection to The Traveler and turn the tide of this battle. Warden can’t do it themselves and we’re running out of time! There is no other way to dissuade Rasputin from leveling this entire mountain range.” Angela reaffirmed. “I’ll be able to give them the opening Warden needs to end this!”

“You could die! You simply do not understand how important you are to us!”

“We’re all going to die if I don’t!”

The Speaker wanted to argue her out of this plan. He wanted nothing more than to turn the ship around and find another way. He wanted to protect her, but he knew it was impossible. Angela was far too headstrong and tenacious. He adjusted his course to bring Angela directly under the stream. “I’ll hold position right under you. After you’ve broken the connection, I’ll catch you. I promise.”

She wanted to tell him how much he meant to her, but she needed to stay focused. She could feel the stream of sickness sap her strength from a few feet above her head. Was this what The Traveler was feeling? The effect intensified as the ship inched closer, as if the spectre of death was breathing down her neck. Every cell in her body was demanding that she escape, but she forced herself to reach up and let herself be absorbed by the riptide of energy.

Angela’s scream of anguish seemed to carry along the stream like an echo down a metal tube and slam into Virulion with enough force to slightly stagger him. Warden’s full attention turned to the girl suspended in midair, but only Solas knew what she was trying to do. Her connection to The Traveler allowed her to act as a graft over the wound torn open by Virulion’s infection. A boost to The Traveler’s natural defenses. Her hope was that The Traveler would then be able to break the connection itself, but that didn’t happen. Virulion refocused its efforts, causing the contagion to rip through the young girl.

“Angela! Get out of there!” The Speaker pleaded. She couldn’t respond. Looking though a camera, The Speaker could see that she was clearly unconscious, but still pouring out massive amounts of light. Her arms were spread wide in the air as if she were trying to block Virulion’s efforts with her tiny body. Slowly, pure light crept from The Traveler through the stream and into Angela’s back, brightening her already radiant aura.

For the first time, Virulion appeared to be set upon. The barrier around him seemed to flicker and dim. The infection stream thinned.

“Whatever she’s doing, it’s working.” Vatyr noted. He fired off a few rounds from his rifle, but even though Virulion’s barrier was weakened, the projectiles still bounced off harmlessly.

“Fall back, Warden. We need to regroup and come up with a new plan before Angela’s light is exhausted completely,” ordered Telemica.

“No! You will not diminish her sacrifice! For the City!” The Speaker bellowed at Virulion. Gritting his teeth and throwing the throttle forward hard, he sent his jumpship on a collision course with The Infecting Mind. His old lungs launched into a dead man’s defiant war cry as he poured all of his light into the ship itself.

The clock stopped. The world turned on its head as The Speaker’s suicide attack found its mark.

 

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Frontier – Act02 Chapter07 – Coda

Chapter 7: Coda

Earth
Old Italy, Western Sicily

The sun was shining.

It was the first thing the guardians and refugees noticed. The sun cast its warmth as if it was a normal summer afternoon. No rain. No clouds. No wind.

The second thing they all noticed was that they were lying upon the faint remains of the chapel. A ring of splinters and sticks was all that was left of the quaint structure. A crater existed where walls once stood, and the only thing in the crater were people.

The guardians were the first to wake up. Vatyr scouted the shoreline while Telemica saw to the surprisingly intact refugees. Some died in the battle and many were hurt, but whatever ended the conflict didn’t seem to cause any additional injuries.

Solas walked inland towards a cliff overlooking the beach. There he found the little girl, wrapped in a blanket. As she stared out over the water with trepidation written on her face, Solas began putting the pieces together.

She turned to him, her elvish Awoken features glowing faintly under the blanket. A tear finding its way down her cheek. “I don’t understand. I don’t understand any of it. Matriarch Hera just insisted on keeping me safe. Always safe. She would have died for me, sacrificed the others for me.”

Solas saw the hand cannon on the ground next to her, its barrel pealed back like a banana all the way to the cartridge. The handle apparently melted by intense heat until the impression of the girl’s hand was sunk deep into the metal. “Your gift makes you a target.”

“I led them away from danger, to safe places. I could sense which way to go. They think I’m some sort of blessing, but I’m a curse.” She said, choking back her sadness and slowly holding up her ghost to Solas as if proving her point. “Even this little one couldn’t protect me. He gave me my shroud and then just… turned off.”

Wisp materialized and flew over to the girl’s ghost, bathing it in light the colour of love and family. Solas could hear the cheers coming from below. The refugees must think they were saved from demons by angels. It was not the first time those cut off from humanity saw the world in such archaic terms. Such is the way of things when the truth of The Traveler’s light and the Golden Age becomes myth and legend. In time they’d come to know the truth.

“It is not dead, but the light within it is nearly gone. I hypothesize that bringing back one such as this requires a vastly larger expenditure of light than usual. It can be rejuvenated with time and care.” Wisp said, enveloping the girl’s ghost in light. In seconds, its little eye blinked blearily back to life. The girl broke down in tears, thanking Solas and embracing him. The Exo was not accustom to physical affection, but did his best. He saw this girl’s light clearly now, and it was bright and lovely.

———

Earth
The Tower
One Week Later

The Speaker had sensed the girl, named Angela, coming into the world some time ago, but because of the stealth shroud her ghost had given her for protection, he could not track her down. He knew her ghost was somehow incapacitated due to the lack of communication, and that The Hive were sniffing her out. If The Speaker had sent a large group of guardians, it would have tipped off the enemy too quickly. Conversely, if a high-priority call was made, Vanguard Command would have likely requested proof and other red tape. The Speaker needed a small team to get the job done without drawing any attention.

The girl was important. After all, she was to be the new Speaker.

Angela’s unique gifts gave her a unique connection to The Traveler and its light that was beyond that of a normal guardian. While speakers were generally long-lived by the day’s standards, they needed to train apprentices, yet worthy candidates were few and far between. These precious few lived with the current Speaker and took over duties when the master died or was otherwise unfit to continue.

Word of Angela spread fast. Her young age and power were certainly noteworthy, but she’d also be the first Awoken Speaker. That fact alone had far-reaching political ramifications.

Solas found Angela standing on the outer walkway by The Speaker’s great machine. She wore white robes and a white metallic headband denoting her place and status, but they didn’t seem to suit her just yet. She was staring at The Traveler as Solas joined her.

“Matriarch Hera and my people seem to be integrating well.” She said with a sigh.

“Yes.” Solas responded calmly.

“I know. I’m not supposed to think of them as ‘my people’ any more. All under The Traveler will be under my care and guidance at some point. Still, it feels good to focus on a small group for now.”

Solas said nothing. The silence held for some time.

“I never thanked you for all you and your team did. We’d all be dead if it wasn’t for you.”

“You saved us. You. Never forget that. It is within you to change to course of our civilization, and others. I, and all guardians exist to serve you”

Angela nodded, a smile meeting a tear at the corner of her innocent face. Her right hand reached up to find his left. “You’ll visit?”

“Of course” said Solas in a caring tone that surprised them both, yet didn’t.

As darkness continued to seek paths of destruction, the sun began to set on the last bastion of a civilization that one little girl was charged to lead under a dormant god, and one synthetic who would die to protect her.