Titan arrives at The Tower for one last look. He has to be sure. The air is thick with a dark fog, little movement for so early in the evening. Where is everyone? Still, everything seems in order. Master Rahool, the Cryptach, is focused on his mobile console, as usual. Eris Morn, of Crota’s Bane, stands guard by her ship, waiting for Guardians to accept her missions seeped in revenge. His eyes lock in on the Bounty Tracker, Xander 99-40, handing out bounties for Guardians to run. So, why does he feel an awkward mystery in the air?
Wait. Kadi 55-30, the Postmaster, is at her position, but where is the woman assigned to deliver Special Orders. Her booth is open, unlike a few days ago, but still, no one is in sight. Titan walks over to her station to see everything as it was days before. A few dead Ghosts spread over the front counter. Consoles left on…it doesn’t seem as if she’s returned. The station she was once so protective of is left unguarded. He decides to ask her neighbor.
Titan leans against the counter and whispers, “What happened to the person assigned to “Special Orders,” Kadi?
“I apologize, Guardian. I am only programmed to retrieve messages from your mail accounts,” Kadi 55-30 explains.
Yet, the shifting of her weight suggests to Titan that she knows much more than her initial programming. “I’m just concerned that important information will be misplaced…or misused.”
“I apologize, Guardian. I am only programmed to retrieve messages from your mail accounts. You have no messages at this time,” Kadi repeats as she turns away.
Who knew droids could act so weird? Titan asks himself. Is she malfunctioning? Which isn’t unheard of…they are droids, not nearly as advanced as Exos. “Thanks, anyway.” Titan salutes and walks off. “Hmm, maybe I can get something out of Master Rahool.”
The Cryptarch is busy looking over his hand-held monitor, “Look at these symbols. Fragments of an Arcadian text. So few of these fragments survive. Hmm, it couldn’t possibly be that simple, could it?”
Titan hesitates as The Cryptarch begins to shout. He turns away, but stays close enough to listen to Master Rahool’s ramblings.
“Cabal encryption. Child’s play! Now, think…think! Where have we seen this before?”
We? Titan wonders who he’s talking about.
“This data has been tampered with. This idiot cipher is malfunctioning!”
“This Cryptarch is slightly crazy,” Titan decides. “I won’t be able to get anything logical out of him. But I know who will talk.”
On the way to the Tower Hanger, Titan notices large amounts of shipments are gone. Where containers once clogged up the halls, it is completely empty. The droid on duty sweeps an area that doesn’t need it. “Something weird is going on here,” he whispers as he makes his way through the Tower Hanger.
Titan can’t stand the Dead Orbit faction. They try to spread fear and kill all hopes that The Traveler can defeat The Darkness. “How are you, Arach? Doing well?”
“I dreamed of The Darkness swallowing the city…block by block, Titan. How do you suppose I’m doing?”
“Have you seen any unusual activity around The Tower lately?”
“I warned you, Guardian. I’ve tried to warn everyone! But you won’t listen…you never listen. Soon, you will.”
“What are you talking about?”
“If The Traveler is powerful enough to defeat The Darkness…where is it now? Why is it silent? Why isn’t it pushing back The Darkness with you? Hmm?” Jalaal asks.
“Once The Traveler regains its strength, it will return. For now, we, the Guardians, have more than enough power to defeat the evil at our borders.”
“And yet, the evil spreads like wildfire growing in strength.”
“So, we should follow your plan? Take all the riches left and run.”
“I’ve accepted the truth, Titan. The Darkness already rules galaxies far beyond our own. It’s simply our turn now. How many warriors better than yourself throughout the Cosmos have tried to fight The Darkness and lost? You expect to fair better?”
Titan turns away, beginning to walk off, “We will do more than better.” He hears the Dead Orbit leader bursts out in laughter as he walks away.
Despite their vibrant colors, the FWC is a war-hungry faction as their name suggested. They encourage the submission to a more debase mentality: War is the only constant. With a history showing as much, who can say they are wrong? Yet, this Guardian is fighting for peace.
“You have questions for me, Titan?” she calls out.
Titan takes his time towards her eyeing the other occupants of the room, whom nod at his rather impressive armor. Before he can say a word…
“You noticed the large stock of inventory missing,” if Lakshmi-2 could smile, she would be. “Impressive. Many Guardians think nothing of it. Why are you interested?”
“It’s unusual,” Titan admits. “Even with new squads of Guardians being released into the field, we’ve always had a cache on standby.”
Lakshmi-2 nods. “We are all out of weapons and supplies, Guardian. I suppose we needed more than first assumed. The most recent shipment proved to be short and the inventory was taken.”
“But now, The Tower is a bit more vulnerable. Wouldn’t you say?”
“When have you ever cared about what I say? You wear the colors of The Vanguard like a medal while shunning the rest of us.”
Lakshmi-2 turns away stopping at the large window. As she looks at the incoming ships dock in the bay, “We may no longer need her services. I don’t even remember her name, which says more than enough. She wasn’t a warrior, Titan. Not like us.”
“That doesn’t make her expendable!”
“That doesn’t make her valuable in war, either!”
“It’s not easy to find work out there. And it’s dangerous in the inner city! Who authorized this?” Titan demands.
Lakshmi-2 meets him face to face in a blur, “Who do you think?”
Titan backs away and takes a few steps closer to the stairwell. “Why should I believe you?”
“You came to me, Guardian. You may not like our methods, but you know we speak the truth.” She walks closer to him. “Do you think The Traveler runs things here? Or Dead Orbit? Or that the New Monarchy has chosen a king for us?!” She walks up to him as Titan turns towards her. “No. There is only one ruler here.”
Titan begins to make his way back downstairs.
“We’re not the only ones with secrets, Guardian!” the Future War Cult leader calls out.
Titan is fuming as he travels to the other side of The Tower. It’s more clear than ever; there’s a power struggle between the factions and people are being caught in the middle. To get to the real truth, one man needs to give him answers.
The Speaker is looking through pages of information as Titan approaches, “Titan, are you on break from the field?”
“No, Speaker, I’m simply looking into a personal matter,” Titan answers.
“Titan,” the Speaker puts his hand on his broad shoulders, “this war is far from over. And the only way we win is to fight out there…among the stars. That is where you should be. That is where you belong.”
“I’m simply concerned about…”
“Yes. She has been replaced,” The Speaker replies sternly. “But she is well. She is now in charge of running the new system in place with more responsibilities than she held before. You need not worry.” He turns back to his desk.
“I apologize, Speaker. As Guardians, at times, our information on certain procedures is limited,” Titan insists.
“It is my job to handle these affairs, Titan. I will not let you down. However, if you do not handle your affairs, all of this will be for naught.”
Titan nods, turning to walk back down the winding staircase.
“Do you trust me, Guardian?”
Titan doesn’t turn, “Of course, Speaker. With my life.”
“Then, do us The Tower proud…kill them all, Titan.”
Titan walks downstairs. He has never felt a creepy sensation before, but assumes this would be it.
Titan walks into the ridiculously small room set aside for Eva Levante, the Guardians’ Outfitter. Her primary concern is making sure all Guardians look good while killing the enemy. “It’s been a while, Eva,” Titan hesitates to admit.
Eva gives him a slightly seductive smile, “You couldn’t stay away, hmm?”
Titan avoids the awkward moment looking at the diminishing supplies Eva has for her inventory. “What’s happening in here?”
She smiles, yet again, but with a shadow of sadness, “The Tower is being reorganized a bit to run more efficiently.”
“Doesn’t it run well enough already?”
“No,” she answers sharply. “Not enough.” Her head motions to a brand new console stationed just outside of her room.
“What is this?!” Titan asks.
“Probably what I’ll be soon,” Eva answers.
Titan grows sad, “You’re going to be replaced, too?”
Eva nods. “Looks like it.” She walks back to her seat. “Think of the bright side, Titan. We’ll be able to spent more time together.”
“That’s not funny.”
“Who said I was joking?”
Titan shakes his head, “Did you see what happened to the Awoken woman from “Special Orders”?
“One day, she was here. The next day, she was gone.” The air in the room grows heavy, “I didn’t even have a chance to say ‘good-bye.'”
“There weren’t many people in The Tower to talk to, anyways. Now, she’s gone. But I have another computer monitor to look at! Yay!”
“Well, The Speaker says she’s in charge of the new system now. There’s a positive, right?”
“Oh, how would you know either way, Titan? The Speaker’s going to let you see where she is?”
Of course, Titan doesn’t appreciate her tone.
“I’m sorry, love. Not everyone’s as big and strong as you. I’m an old woman, now, incapable of welding a weapon or Arc power.”
“I didn’t mean to…”
“No, of course not. That’s why I like you. You’re almost pathetically loyal to The Vanguard…the last faction that may want to help us all.”
Titan shuffles his feet, “If you are leaving…do you know when?”
She laughs. “Knowledge! A rare commodity around The Tower!” She walks up to him, “Let’s just say our ‘good-byes’ now…and when I’m gone…ever so suddenly…we’ll have no regrets. Will you salute on that?”
Titan is speechless. He gives a salute.
She tries to get her arms around his chest-plate for a hug, “Ouch! Well, close enough. Off you go!” She walks towards her tiny workspace.
“‘Off you go’ means ‘good-bye,’ Guardian,” she becomes teary-eyed. “Please.”
Titan walks towards the entrance, without looking back, “We will win this war…for us all.”
“This is the only time I wish I were an Exo, Titan. I could be young and strong, like you. But…as it is…I still cherish all of these moments.” She salutes him, “For the Vanguard.”
He walks away.
Reaching the ship’s cockpit, he accesses the communications system. Two screens come to life.
“Hey…whoa…what happened to you?!” Hunter asks after seeing Titan’s demeanor.
“It’s obvious, Hunter,” Warlock answers for him. “It’s what we feared.”
Titan shifts in his chair, “I’ll speak to you both in the morning. I’ve made a report of my findings. You can make of it what you will.”
Hunter and Warlock are stunned by his remarks.
“You sure you don’t want to talk about it?” Hunter asks.
Titan gives a positive nod.
“Well, I’ll leave you with a bit of advice,” Warlock adds. “Before you give in and burn you Vanguard allegiance, go into the field, and exact revenge of the ones responsible. Perhaps, letting off some steam will help ease your pain.”
Titan sits up at the thought.
Hunter is impressed, “Hm. Looks like Warlock’s been hanging around me too long. Is this good or bad?”
Titan stands, checks his gear, and heads out of the cockpit.
“Oh yeah,” Hunter continues, “they’re in trouble. Good going, Warlock.”
Warlock shakes his head and kills the signal.
“Yes, I’m fine, too. Just out here looking for my own clues.” His brothers are off on their own. Hunter is cloaked, snooping around the Vestian Outpost at the edge of The Reef. He comes back out into the open when the communication link is completely closed. Several conversations are taking place at once and he is taking note of all of them…