The Ghost passed its scan over another ancient pile of bones with no effect. “No… Not you.” The drone sighed audibly before it continued its search, its spherical midsection drooping between the triangular pieces of its outer shell. It had been so long since the Traveler had stood its ground over Earth and pushed the Darkness back. So long since the little Ghost had been made and set off on its mission: to find its Guardian, a being capable of using the Traveler's light as a weapon. So long that the Ghost's sense of time had lost all meaning. Some of its brother and sister drones had traveled far beyond the reach of Earth, to find their Guardians on far-flung worlds… but this Ghost knew its Guardian was here.
Old Russia. It thought to itself. I'm in Old Russia again. Light, it's been so long. How much longer will this last? How much longer will I be forced to search for my Guardian-
And suddenly, there it was. The Ghost felt a slight tug on its central sphere, causing its eye-light to reduce to a pinprick of gold. It froze in midair. No. Could it be? Is that…
It followed this feeling do a downed ship. No easily identifiable marks or parts- but this wasn't here the last time the Ghost was near the old Cosmodrome.
Are… the Ghost shook slightly. Are you in there?
The little Ghost hesitantly made its way through a hole blasted into the side of what had been the ship's hull- so much of it had been picked apart over what must have been many, many years by humans and Fallen alike. The Ghost slowly made its way through, scanning piles of bones or other remains as it found them.
Then the feeling came back, stronger than before- the Ghost visualized a brilliant spark of light and shook with joy. That was the sign. The journey was over
Traveler… I… I've done it. I've found them.
The segments of the Ghost's shell separated from the central sphere in a blaze of golden Light. The Ghost poured its light into this spark. Surrounding atoms came together, forming into a lanky humanoid male- a shock of bright-red hair grew in sharp contrast to his blue-gray skin- he was one of a new group of humans the Ghost had heard of over the Ghost Gossip Network, called “Awoken.” But the Ghost didn't care about that. It felt something it hadn't for a long time. Joy.
Oh, Light I've done it! I finally found you! The Ghost gathered more pure materials from the surrounding area, forming basic clothes around this reborn life. The Awoken lay on the ground as if asleep, and the Ghost brought its triangular segments back to its core, making it look like a small star.
The Ghost spoke, perhaps for the first time in centuries. “G... Guardian?"
The Awoken stirred. He sat up slowly, as if sore. He held a hand to his head and groaned.
The Ghost came closer. “Guardian?” The Awoken froze.
You did hear me.
“Eyes up, Guardian!” The Ghost spun its sections as the Awoken looked at it, eyes wide.
“Wha…?” The Awoken looked around him. “Are… are you talking to me?”
“Yes!” The Ghost spun happily in the air, bobbing like a fishing lure. “You have no idea how long I’ve been looking for you!”
The Awoken refocused on the Ghost. “For… for me? But I have no idea who… or really, what you are.”
“Oh! I’m so sorry!” The Ghost floated back to eye level “I’m a Ghost. Well…” He turned then faced the Awoken once more. “Actually, now I’m your Ghost. I haven’t been in the Cosmodrome for a while and I found you now, so you’ve probably been dead for a while…"
“Wait, what?” the Awoken sat bolt upright. “You’re saying I was dead?"
“Yes, but the Traveler has brought you back with its Light.” The Ghost paused, turning downward. “Though me. You’re meant for great things, Guardian."
The Awoken leaned forward and laughed.
“What’s so funny?” The Ghost moved in closer to the Awoken’s face. Its top and bottom sections scrunched in, as if annoyed.
“It’s just,” the Awoken got out, between chuckles, “You’re talking about all this greatness, and I don’t even know my own name."
The Ghost moved back. “Well…” it looked around the hallway they found themselves in. This section of the ship was badly damaged in the impact many years ago, but it was possibly that some evidence may have survived. The Ghost found some near- shattered glass that had some lettering on it.
“Rin… Rindel?” The Ghost looked up. “If this was your room, this may have been your name."
The Awoken stood and turned to look at the panels. He could barely make out the lettering in the dust. He knelt over and blew on some panels. Two narrow ones spelt RIN and DEL, the third with one name- ZIVAS.
“Rindel Zivas.” The Awoken repeated, nodding. “That… that sounds right.” He turned to face the drone. “And you? Are you just called ‘Ghost?’"
The Ghost flinched. “Well, I…” He turned. “I don’t have a name. From what I can tell, most of the time, Guardians name their Ghosts."
Rindel smiled. “My little light, huh?” He paused. “I’ll call you…”
The Crucible could hardly be called “quiet” on the dullest of days. The series of open-aired arenas were sectioned off from the rest of the City, but the varied architecture made it perfect for honing the skills of humanity’s protectors- Guardians. It was a stressful environment- Every engagement was live-fire, with death being a daily occurrence. Of course, that didn’t matter when Guardians had their Ghosts to revive them and get them back into these elaborate matches.
The late summer sun beat down on the battlefield like a drum, matching the staccato bursts of gunfire. A lanky figure wearing light armor and the hooded cloak of a Hunter slunk into a staging area. No one else in here yet. Good. Gives me time to think...
Are you sure this is a good idea?
The Hunter ignored the little voice inside his head. His Ghost, Solas, was phased into him, making it easier to disregard the question as another random thought.
Solas let out a long, metallic sigh. You can't just run from the Vanguard's debriefing, you know. I've been getting pinged for months.
“Later.” The Hunter finally spoke, his voice hoarse from a lack of use. He leaned against a wall and idly adjusted his cloak’s hood over his helmet.
Though Solas was still phased, the Hunter felt him tilt, as if to affect a quizzical look. If this is about Sarra , I’ve been saying for years-
The Hunter bashed a fist to his chest. Solas rolled his eye. For the record, I don’t see the point of this exercise. But when you get called out by the Vanguard in front of the entire Tower, I’ll be the one saying I told you so.
The Hunter shrugged. He didn’t care about the reports, about Zavala and how he’d inevitably be lectured on being out alone, about not coming back to report more often. He clenched a triangular amulet that lay close to his chest before tucking it under his armored vest. Yes, none of that mattered. He had a memorial to attend to.
How long has it been, love? He wondered to himself. Five years? It feels so much longer than that...
“Hey! Are you deaf? We drop in ninety seconds!
So much for being alone with my thoughts.
The Hunter turned. A Warlock had been the one doing the yelling. The hunter noted that his robes looked flawless- not a stain or tear in sight. The same was said of the heavily armored Titans that stood on either side of the newcomer.
Like they haven’t been out in the wilds for some time, he thought.
“I haven’t seen you before.” The female Titan standing furthest away hefted a large multi-barrel machine gun like it was a rifle. “When were you rezed?”
“Oh, that doesn’t matter!” The Warlock’s faceplate did little to hide his exasperation. “We should have waited for Anthony. Now we’re matched with some rando, and if we lose our winning streak, so help me…”
“Easy, Skye.” The other Titan looked about as apologetic as he could behind his helmet’s visor. “He’s a few matches away from meeting Ikora’s record. I think you can tell he’s on edge.”
The Hunter shrugged. He activated a small screen on his left arm and tapped at displays as he brought a foot up to the wall.
You know, if you want to listen to some music, all you have to do is tell me. Solas’ voice came as if whispering in the Hunter’s ear. The Hunter continued tapping his screen.
“You know, it bothers me when I speak to someone and they don’t respond.” Skye the Warlock moved up to the Hunter, grabbing his chestplate. “You too good to talk to us or something?”
In a lightning-fast motion, the Hunter drew a large-framed revolver and pressed the muzzle into the Warlock’s robes. It took a moment for Skye to register what had happened, but he shifted slightly, moving further from the Hunter.
“I'll talk when I've got something to say,” the Hunter almost whispered. “I suggest sticking with your fireteam. If you're worried about the match, don't worry about me.”
Skye released the Hunter and backpedaled to the Titans. “Just hope that you don't cost us the round, stranger.”
“Guardians!” The booming voice of Lord Shaxx echoed through the staging area. “Welcome back to the Crucible! As a reminder, this round’s game is Elimination. If you're killed on the battlefield, your Ghost will transmat you back to the staging area after fifteen seconds, where you will stay until the round is over, last team standing wins. You may revive downed teammates if you can get to them in fifteen seconds, but just remember that you’ll be painting a Cabal-sized target on your back!” He let out a jolly laugh. “Get out there and show me what you're made of!”
The group transmatted to the field. The Hunter took off before the others on his team could say anything.
The female Titan sighed. “Typical Hunter. Should we connect him to our comms?”
Well, as long as we can stay alive, why should we care?” Skye pumped his shotgun. “To victory!”
The Hunter slid behind cover as a hail of gunfire hit the wall he had been in front of. He had managed to take down one of the opposing Guardians, but according to his HUD, two of his teammates were down for the count. That’s just fine, he thought. I work better alone, anyhow.
Bullets continued to pepper the thick concrete between him and his assailant. The Hunter swung open his revolver chamber to reload, when a burst of energy zinged just over his head. The opposing gunfire abruptly stopped.
“That’s two!” Skye pumped a fist into the air before running over to the Hunter’s position and slapping his shoulder. “Hey, no hard feelings about earlier, huh? It’s just you and me, so we need to work together if we’re gonna win this. Any ideas?”
The Hunter simply shrugged. Skye shook his head.
Contact! The Hunter felt something nudge his shoulder with Solas' warning. Six o’Clock!
He leaped from his position as a pair of Pulse Rifle bursts fired, their rounds finding their way to Skye’s faceplate. The Hunter spun midair and threw a pair of cylinders toward his Titan opponent. Seeing the cylinders, the Titan formed a shield of pure Light- but no explosion came, not even smoke. If those were grenades, they were duds.
The Titan chuckled. “It’s just you left and two of us, Hunter. You may as well call it quits so we can go back to the Tower early. There’s no shame in admitting you’re outgunned.” He looked around, his Pulse Rifle raised. “Hell, I’ll even buy you the first round when we get back! How ‘bout it?”
From cover, the Hunter held out his display and pressed an icon with a triangle on it. A small smile formed on his lips.
Suddenly, a strange noise, like a beam building energy, could be heard in the area. The Titan leveled his rifle, confused. Then he heard singing.
Well it's been such a long time coming, I thought you'd understand
The realization hit the Titan like a warhammer. The Hunter hadn’t thrown grenades. They were speakers.
That I'm so far ahead of the lines you've been drawing in the sand
The Hunter smirked under his helmet. He holstered his revolver and moved to a higher position.
'Cause it's simple, you were wrong
He decided to hazard a peek into the next area. True to form, the Titan held his position- And based on his movements, he was extremely confused.
You must have known that we’d end up alone
“Where are you?” The Titan’s voice boomed in anger in the small space as he tried to cover every entrance to the space he could think of.
I know you thought I'd sold my soul, but you never told me to my face
The Hunter reached into the air and grabbed at pure Light. It manifested in his hand as a revolver cast in flame. It was now or never.
I just had to leave you cold and blow this shit away!
The music broke into a crescendo as the Hunter revealed himself. He jumped from his perch into the space occupied by the Titan. His Golden Gun erupted in a glorious volley of devastating Solar Light.
A bust of bullets hit the Hunter in his side for his troubles. He felt the bullets burn his flesh, but his momentum could not be broken so easily. His first shot had gone too high- just over the Titan’s helmet. He rolled as he hit the floor, stopping abruptly in front of his opponent.
The Titan, in a rage, threw his rifle away. His fist crackled with Arc Light. The Hunter was close enough that a punch enveloped in electricity would likely finish the match.
The Hunter sprung away from his landing, putting just enough distance between himself and the Titan that the punch missed. The next volley from the Golden Gun, on the other hand, found its mark. As the Titan fell in front of him, he felt another burst of bullets strike his leg. He dove for cover with what strength he could. Traveler’s Light, it hurt!
Give me just a few seconds, The Hunter heard his Ghost in his head. I’ve already transmatted out the bullets in your chest cavity, and lucky for you, only one bullet is still in your leg. Give me twenty seconds and you’ll be right as rain.
The Hunter hardly felt the cooling sensation of Solas’ healing. He pulled out the amulet from under his chest and rubbed his thumb on an edge. Somehow, he felt calm in the moment.
It feels like you’re right here with me, Sarra.
Why did you have to leave?
A noise from behind snapped him from the reverie. A Warlock stood behind him, bringing a Pulse Rifle to bear. The Hunter raised his Golden Gun to fire.
The flaming revolver fizzled away in motes of Light like embers.
Swearing, the Hunter kicked himself away from the wall to avoid a burst of gunfire from his opponent. Stupid, stupid! A weapon made of pure light never lasted very long- and he let himself get carried away. He sprang to his feet as another burst of bullets only served to remind him of his opponents presence.
As he rounded a low wall, he turned toward it, intending to jump over and ambush. His own auto rifle was stowed behind his cloak and would be impossible to draw without stopping- He drew his revolver and jumped over the wall, ready to cut his opponent down.
The next thing he noticed made his heart stop.
This Warlock- was that-
Same, form-fitting dark robes. Same battle stance.
But that was impossible. She had been dead for years.
He felt a burst in his head and everything went dark.
The Hunter sat up from his position, holding his head. A splitting headache made his vision blurry for a moment and cut off all conscious thought- A side-effect of resurrection that he had always experienced as a Guardian. The pain faded almost as quickly as it came - but the next thing he heard almost made him wish he’d stayed on the ground.
“Outstanding!” Shaxx entered the battlefield with the downed Guardians from both teams, slowly clapping. Even with orange accents, his stark white armor made him look like a knight from old fairy tales. As ever, he wore a full-faced helmet with a pair of horns, one of which had been broken off in battle years ago. “I don’t think I’ve seen a performance so glorious in a while. He clapped the victorious Warlock on the shoulder. “That was impressive.” The Hunter could tell that the Warlock was pleased with herself, helmet or no. He pictured a smug smirk on her face.
No, of course that wasn’t her. The Hunter frowned under his faceplate. Still… it felt so similar to when I met her for the first time...
“Equally impressive,” Shaxx continued, “Was the performance of this Hunter. Distraction is a valuable ally when overpowered in battle. It can drop the most well- laid defense if done correctly, but also remember that you should never let your opponent distract you from your objective. Remember this lesson. Of course, I can think of no better teacher of that lesson than the Iron Wolf himself. Isn’t that right, Rindel?”
The Hunter flinched. That nickname. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Shaxx had identified him, he brought up a name which had its fair share of spectres associated with it. Before he could respond, a page came in over the citywide comms system.
“Guardian Rindel Zivas.” Commander Zavala’s voice echoed throughout the city. “Report to the Vanguard for debriefing. Now.”
Rindel looked toward the tower. The jig was up. He sighed before looking at Shaxx.
Shaxx shrugged, a motion that looked more comical than it should have with the Titan’s enormous shoulder pauldrons. “Sorry, Rin. We’ve all been told to report sightings of you. Commander’s orders. Now, get up there.”
Rindel made his way to the exit. He looked around. All the Guardians were now talking amongst themselves in hushed tones. Even Skye, the arrogant Warlock seemed like he was in awe.
Rindel kept walking. It took everything for him to ignore the stares. This was one of the reasons he avoided the Tower as much as he could.
Solas phased out of him. His red shell had seen better days- it looked more brown from a lack of maintenance. He focused a beam at Rindel’s throat and rotated side to side, looking as if he was shaking his “head.”
“What?” Rindel’s voice was much clearer, showcasing his annoyance. “Gonna say ‘I told you so?’”
“I would,” Solas started, “But then, you just did it for me.”
Rindel glared at his Ghost behind his faceplate. Getting from the Crucible setup to the Tower was a long walk in any case. Answering to Zavala’s ire would make it feel far, far longer.