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Just Another Day at the Tower
The arched eyebrow spoke volumes.
Her companion held up the cloth, a ghastly combination of fluorescent yellow and blood-red that would have hurt the eyes even if it wasn't laid against a particularly nauseating set of stripes. Tess sighed. "He can make the Hive quake in fear, but that man shouldn't be let within 10 meters of a designer's table."
The two women were still laughing when a shudder rocked the Tower. They turned as one in the direction of the far-off sound that followed—a roaring noise neither of them had heard before.
The PA blared in the small utility room they'd claimed as a lounge. "Evacuation order 77 is in effect. This is not a drill. All civilians report to designated evacuation areas immediately."
Tess was at the door, palming it open when another explosion—much closer—shook them where they stood. Smoke and screams floated down the hallway.
Eva's memories of what followed were disjointed. She was running with Tess, gasping for breath. She remembered murmuring the names of her cousins, worrying about them down in the City. She was in a large crowd now, Tess was falling behind as Eva was crushed forward.
Another explosion, and a fire door slammed shut. Tess was gone, and Eva found herself with about 30 people in a small cargo bay between Tower North and the Hall of Guardians. A man was trying the far door, shouting that it was sealed.
Then the roof came down as a large sphere crashed to the decks. Cabal clambered from the pod, struggling against their bulky armor as they began to fire at the civilians.
That's when a dazzling blast of energy took them from behind. The shouting was enough for ten men, but when Eva could see again, only one massive Guardian was there, ending a Cabal soldier with a blade as long as she was tall.
The helmeted face of Lord Shaxx turned this way and that, taking in the room. Two quick strides brought him to her side, and with a surprising gentleness, he helped Eva to her feet.
"Madam." He intoned, and she could feel the bass of his voice in her chest. "I need your help."
At his insistence, she took charge of the civilians as he took point for their little group. With the confidence and looming presence of the Crucible master at her back, it was effortless to keep the others quiet and focused. When they reached an evac site, a trio of anxious-looking Hawk pilots waited with their craft.
As the last of the group climbed aboard, Shaxx laid a heavy hand on her shoulder. He towered over her as he said, simply, "Comrade." And then he was gone, back toward the fighting, his massive sword slung over his shoulder. Eva's last view of the Tower as her Hawk pulled away was ruin and flame.
Loss of Light
"Valentina! And her son, Luis! Peregrine district! Apartment Block 10, fourth floor! It's the one…" An explosion nearby cut her off, but she shouted into the comms unit all the louder. "It's the one with the green awning! Please!"
The voice of the militiawoman on the other end of the line was emotional. "I'll send a unit! But ma'am, the fighting all across the district is—"
"Did I not give you my Tower clearance code?" Eva's own voice scared her. A whip-crack of anger.
A pause on the other end. "Yes ma'am. I'll go myself! Tozzi out."
Eva slumped back against the wall of the—she raised her head to look around—must have been a bakery at one point. Now the little café tables were barricading the doors and the counter's glass case had been smashed into a far wall with the display racks.
The militia Exo she'd borrowed the comms unit from snapped off another few shots over the half-wall that remained on the shop's exterior. They looked back in her direction, anxious. "Can you fire a weapon?"
Her helpless look must have been an answer, because they reached out for the comms unit. She slid it across the floor, and they quickly punched in a sequence of codes. Another blast nearby caused the other civilians in the room to whimper and moan with fear.
The Exo barked into the unit. "We need Guardian support, corner of the 1400 block Anchor District! I have a large number of civilians here, and our position is being overwhelmed!" They punctuated their transmission by leaning out and firing off another half dozen shots. The Cabal roared back in animal fury.
It wasn't more than two minutes before Eva heard it: the distinctive sound of a Sparrow, running full-out. She dared to gather herself into a half crouch and peer out of the building. She was watching just in time to see a pair of them, a Hunter and a Warlock, descend on the invaders like vengeful angels. These two were professionals, she could tell—no swagger to them. They were efficient and deadly, and the soldiers began to fall back.
Something happened. Eva couldn't see what it was, but both of the Guardians reeled. The Warlock dropped to one knee, like his strings had been cut. The Hunter shook her head and raised a hand in the air, a distinctive signal, calling for the Light… but nothing happened.
The Cabal, like they'd been waiting for this moment, struck hard. The Hunter was bowled over by a charging Centurion and crushed underfoot. The Warlock didn't seem to ever really recover, and he fell to the ground, riddled by the weapon fire of a dozen soldiers.
The Exo was standing fully upright now, shocked, and even as Eva opened her mouth to tell them to get down, they fell—a sniper's target.
One of the men retched in the corner, horrified. Eva gave herself no time to think. She snatched the comm unit from the ground and pushed past the civilians to a far window. She used the reinforced case to smash out the glass and began hoisting children through once the largest shards were cleared of the frame. She was the last out of the building, and a few stray bullets plucked at the wall near her as she made her escape.
They didn't stop running until they were sure no one was following. She had no idea which district they were in, no clue even what the building used to be. Much of the orderly streets and well-tended boulevards she knew had become a maze of debris—the last safe City, a maze of collapsed and ruined structures.
The children were huddled up in a great pile as the older folk talked quietly among themselves. Everyone was crying, on and off, but they tried desperately to keep it quiet.
A high-pitched chirp across the comm unit startled Eva, and she slammed her head back against the wall behind her. She hadn't even realized she still had it. She reached down and keyed the pad.
A hushed voice said "Ma'am?"
Her own voice low and shockingly gruff, she answered, "This is Eva Levante. Is this Tozzi?"
A pause. "Tozzi's dead. She wanted me to make sure someone got back to you, though." Another long pause. Eva fought the urge to scream. "I'm sorry, Mrs. Levante. Block 10 is just gone. I think some of the automated defenses managed to come online early in the fighting and one of their command ships must have crashed…"
Eva didn't hear the rest of the words.
Hiding at Home
Eva checked the time on the small comms unit she clutched to her chest. It seemed impossible, but it had been under two hours since she'd been sitting and laughing with Tess. Time had stretched for her, like the taffy candies some of the vendors sold during the Dawning festival. She would have sworn it was days ago. Longer than that, when she'd been sitting in her cousin's flat, hugging Valentina. Saying goodbye to Luis…
"Eva, we don't owe them anything." A gruff cough, one of the other civilians. Everyone's voice was a grinding imitation of itself; ash filled the air, and no one could clear their throat.
Eva clasped a rag to her mouth as she answered, croaking. "How dare you?" Her voice rose with her anger. "Your whole life they've kept you safe, and now you want to just abandon them?"
The subject of their dispute lay collapsed on the floor of the warehouse. A quartet of Guardians, all of them wounded and bleeding from within their flamboyant armor. Even as she weighed the future of their little band, she couldn't help but appreciate their fashion sense. The Hunter, of course, had put in the most effort.
The man arguing with her was paunchy and fashion-illiterate, wearing a bland functionary uniform: part of the Consensus staff. He scowled at her and grated out, "We can barely move the lot of us around, let alone all of us and a bunch of wounded, powerless Guardians. Why should we risk our—"
"You don't think they've risked their lives a hundred times over for you?" She pulled the rag away from her face and coughed a mass of phlegm and ash to the side. Her mother would have died all over again of shock. "We have to keep moving, we have to keep them with us, and we have to hold out. Whatever this is, it's temporary."
He grimaced, but she pressed on. "When they regain the Light they'll…"
Her diatribe was cut short by a blast of static on the comm unit, so loud she dropped it on the floor. The reinforced case took the blow, and so everyone around clearly heard the deep voice of Commander Zavala when he began to speak. "Citizens of the Last City. Hear my words."
Like a people dying of thirst, the civilians moved in to circle the comm unit. Zavala had been a pillar, a beacon of hope all their lives. Surely he would…
"We are abandoning the City. We have evacuated everyone we could, but the Cabal now hunt Guardians in the streets. If you are able, you should make for the wilds." Eva felt as if she'd been physically struck.
"The Cabal have affixed a device to the Traveler and severed our connection to the Light. We cannot hold the City, and we cannot protect you." There was a long pause, as if he was weighing his words carefully. When he spoke again, Zavala sounded very, very tired.
"We are setting a rally point elsewhere in the system—watch for a broadcast. We will return to the City someday, but… I do not know when." Another pause. "Be safe. Be brave." And he was gone.
To their credit, the group did not yell or shout. Even though it had only been a matter of hours, they were all alive because they'd learned not to give away their position. They did cry, though. Tears streaked trails down faces covered in ash; those faces looked from one to another as they sought to understand, to comprehend.
Eva did not cry. As she stared at the comms unit, all she could think about were Zavala's shoulders. She'd often joked with him about the size of the pauldrons on his armor, that massive protective plate on his left shoulder. And now… for some reason, she thought she understood. The weight on his shoulders…
Eva stood, and all eyes turned to her. She flinched a little. Then, choosing her words carefully: "Most of them are leaving. So we have to help them." She gestured at the Guardians. "If we can keep them alive, they can protect us, keep us safe." She looked around the group, found people nodding.
"Where do we go?" one woman asked.
Eva looked back down at the comms unit. "The Cabal will have heard that. They'll be watching the walls, expecting us to try to leave." She looked up, out at the room. "So we stay here. We make for the edge of the City and try to find somewhere the Cabal won't expect us to be."
The seamstress reached down and pulled up the comms unit, slinging it over her shoulder. "Everybody up. It's a long way to Twilight Gap."
The New Normal
Just getting to the outskirts of the City was an ordeal. Every day, they saw the Cabal's control tightening. Civilian groups or the odd Guardian tried make a break for it only to be brought down by a swarm of ships hungry for a kill. The streets were no safer, with patrols moving in tandem and tanks rumbling through district centers.
Years of supporting the Guardians, of listening to their idle chatter, had filled Eva's head with details about these horrific invaders. She realized they were doing rigid block-by-block sweeps, unimaginative and plodding. Just as described at the Tower.
Their group hid and observed and moved only when the Cabal did. In that careful manner, they arrived at the far reaches of the City—parts long abandoned, where Humanity was just a shadow cast upon the walls.
Eva found herself in consultation every day, organizing foraging patrols back toward the center. Evenings were spent suggesting strategies for the upcoming days.
And to her great satisfaction, she spent nights sitting with a needle and thread, trying to make sure the survivors would stay warm on the move.
As the three Guardians recovered (they lost the Titan on the way to the Gap), they started offering more guidance. At their suggestion, the survivors never stayed in the same place more than a day or two. They posted lookouts every night and turned on the comms unit only every other day to listen for broadcasts. For chance transmissions. For hope.
Eva was there in the room when the Guardians heard Zavala's voice—his short, terse statement played over and over. "If there is any Light left in the system… we rally on Titan."
She shut the door so the other civilians wouldn't hear and listened as they had it out. The other Warlock, Tam, identified herself as Trinh's sister. They were adamant that they try—somehow—to get offworld and head for Titan. The Hunter, Ramos, was just as adamant they stay.
Their discussion wound down and came to a slow stop with all three Guardians looking at her. She held up her hands and said, "I trust you all to do the right thing." They stayed. And quickly became integral to the success of their… operation.
What had begun as simple survival became an organized effort to evacuate civilians from the Last City. Foraging parties inevitably came back with more people than they left. Scouting parties probed the edges of the City and found avenues of escape, places where the Cabal were lax in their patrols.
Eva found that the same skills she'd used to plan holidays at the Tower were invaluable in organizing this underground movement. She cobbled together boards from old classrooms to create a schedule and wrote on the backs of old forms and newsletters to make "delivery packages" of civilians and the occasional Lightless Guardian.
Day in, day out, this became her quiet routine. She faded into the background of the Underground: plan, move, sew, repeat. Even when contact was finally made with the Farm and getting survivors to the EDZ became the goal, Eva was always there making sure the trains ran on time.
After some thought, she asked that her role not be spread around. She got word to people like Tess that she was alive, and that was enough for her. She had the chance to get out of the City dozens of times.
But every time she thought she'd take that exit, go with that convoy, she stopped herself. Settled back. Did the work.
That was how the months of the Red War passed for Eva Levante.
The Good Fight
It was quiet, almost a whisper, but enough to wake Eva. For a spinning, disorienting moment, she thought she was sitting in her living room back in Peregrine district. Her favorite afghan over the end of the couch and Carlos standing over her… but that wasn't Carlos.
The concerned face of the Hunter, Ramos, looked down at her. More than a few of the Guardians that went through the Underground had taken to calling her grandmother, but Ramos had stuck with the group through all the long months of the war.
He was very protective, sometimes smothering, and she sighed as she rubbed at her eyes. "I'm up. I'm up. What time is it?" She sat up on the old couch she'd been sleeping on, wincing as she tried to sort the knots she'd developed sleeping on her side.
"Almost 0700?" His voice was low and a little sheepish.
She glared at him. "You were supposed to wake me an hour ago."
His grin was lopsided. "You needed the sleep."
She stood carefully and tottered on unsteady legs, turning her face away so he couldn't see her annoyance. "Are they waiting?"
"They've only just arrived. One of the reasons I waited. They're not expecting you for another 10 minutes." Trying to justify himself.
Eva sighed again. "Thank you, Ramos. You're right; I did need the sleep. I was up again too late last night. Go tell them I'll be right down."
"Yes ma'am." He sounded happier, and his footfalls as he left the room were light, confident.
Eva stepped into the bathroom off the main living quarters of this second-floor flat. Her morning routine sorted, she poured some water out of one of the ration canisters into the stoppered-up sink so she could wash, try to feel a little less like she'd slept on a half-rotten couch in an abandoned building.
Water dripping down her nose, she reached blindly for one of the pieces of scrap cloth they used for towels and dried her face. When her eyes cleared, she found herself looking at a stranger.
Eva had always been on the thin side. She could still remember her mother chiding her, telling her to eat and clean her plate. Now the woman staring back at her was positively gaunt. Bags under her eyes, hair chopped brutally short, and her clothes! The clothes she'd been wearing the day of the attack hadn't lasted two weeks, never intended for living rough. The homespun outfit she'd stitched for herself would never have passed muster back at the Tower, but… out here they had to do. At least she'd been able to salvage her trademark shawl. Something to remind her of better days…
As she drifted into the living room, Eva reflected that better days, of course, were why the group was gathered downstairs. All of the Underground cell leaders gathered in one place for an important—perhaps final—conversation.
For the Underground, the Red War was a stunning victory. They'd won. The only civilians and Guardians left in the City were those unwilling or unable to go. Eva frowned, saddened.
Every few weeks they heard stories of a group of Guardians overrun from a supposedly secure bunker by a Legion assault. The loss of civilian life had been staggering, both in the initial assault and the intervening months.
As she looked down into the street through a slit around the boarded-up window, she had to admit to a feeling of… satisfaction. Now all that was left was for the Underground itself to pull out, make for the Farm and the safety-in-numbers of Hawthorne's group. Eva raised her eyes from the empty streets to the distant sight of the Tower, twisted and ruined.
She would stay, she had decided. Guardians like Ramos could check on her from time to time, but someone needed to stay behind and keep the lights on. There could be refugees still alive out there. Still hoping for a way… out.
She turned away from the window to head downstairs when the explosion ripped through the street in front of the apartment, and Eva's world turned white.
Eva, for the second time in as many minutes, shook her head and tried to understand where she was. There had been no warning. She'd heard a few seconds of a whining engine overhead, and then a massive explosion ripped through the street in front of the Underground apartment.
The blast had thrown her to the ground like a doll. Everything hurt, and from somewhere close by she could hear the guttural shouting of Cabal soldiers. The distinctive sound of Guardian weapon fire was answering. Someone was screaming.
Without thinking, she was on her feet, lurching toward the far corner where her shotgun lay on a side table. Three steps, four, weapon in hand and checked. Just in time as the apartment door flew open and a pair of Psions stepped through, weapons ready.
Eva Levante, seamstress of the Tower, would have been taken aback. The gaunt woman she'd just seen in the mirror had spent months dry firing the weapon. Endless drills had trained her for action and her first shot took the one on the right in the chest and blew him out of the room. It had not prepared her for the kickback, however, and she felt something crack in her arm as the weapon bucked against her.
That flinch saved her life as she unwittingly pivoted to the side, narrowly avoiding shots from the other Cabal creature. Roaring, she raised the weapon against and her answering blast threw him against the far wall.
Breathing heavily, she reloaded the weapon with one hand and waited, listening. No more outside that she could hear. Fighting was fierce downstairs. They needed her. She stepped to the door, weapon outstretched…
The sound of the wardog bursting through the apartment window was like another explosion. Eva whirled around as the scaly beast scuttled to the side, and another pair threw themselves from the hovering troop transport into the small living space. They landed with surprising grace, and three sets of hungry eyes stared at the seamstress. Drool smeared the floor as three sets of fanged mouths worked, eagerly.
The beasts charged.
Eva Levante stood leaning against the ivy-covered outer wall of the barn, gazing down into the football field at the Farm. The old nets were slack, now. Needed to be rehung. No one came by who cared enough to restring them, and the Farm's current inhabitants were not the sporty type.
Beyond the field were the rolling hills of the European Dead Zone, and on the horizon the twisted, ruined spur that was the Shard of the Traveler. Her first days back on her feet, recovering from the attack at the apartment, she'd stared in wonder at that view.
Now she watched the clouds idly roil and collect around the Shard, bored. Eva smiled, and shifted her weight off the wall and onto the carved cane that kept her upright. To think after everything that had happened, she could be bored.
Her first days at the Farm had been a whirlwind of medical treatments, rushed through by attendants already on their way out as she was coming in. It had been the final days of the Red War, a major operation planned to retake the City.
One old woman coming in from the Underground was a low priority, and in the commotion even the old friends she'd hoped to see had missed her.
Now, she was alone. Or, mostly alone. She turned her head to see the Cryptarch, Tyra Karn, chattering away with Farm's postal frame. With primary operations returned to the City, Darbi had become Tyra's unofficial research assistant. Together they continued to study and examine Humanity's history through the lens of the Dead Zone, a sideline from the turmoil at the Tower Tyra was apparently only too happy to claim.
The scout, Devrim, came by every once in a while for a chat as well. When he was feeling cheeky, he referring to their little group as the "old hands club," usually smirking over the top of a cup of tea.
Both still had official jobs to do, of course, and they took their roles very seriously.
Eva was at the Farm very unofficially. Her role at the Tower had never been one vital to operations, of course… but no one had rushed to ask her back to the market, either. Tess and Banshee had reached out once in a while, and she'd given advice on how to set up their new space.
But Eva was here at the Farm for the lost.
They trailed into the place in ones and twos. They all shared something in common: the Shard hadn't connected with them. They came to sit and stare at it, off in the distance. To talk about how hard the Red War had been, as unpowered Guardians—some forced by circumstance to literally sit on the sidelines.
When the Light had returned, some of them reported that it felt different. It sat under the skin like a suit that didn't quite fit anymore.
A diminutive Exo woman was one of the pilgrims Eva remembered most clearly. She hadn't even known they made Exos that short. The woman shifted and twitched as she talked, unable to calm herself.
At the mention of the Light fitting differently, a statement she'd heard a lot of Guardians make, Eva asked the same question she always did. "So does that mean the Light is different now? Or are you?"
The Exo stopped and narrowed her eyes, thinking. She was stock still for the first time since arriving at the Farm.
That was usually how it went. Sometimes asking the question was all it took to get them sorted out. Others took a lot longer, sometimes spending weeks at a time at the Farm just doing as Eva was: staring up at the Shard.
Some… some came to the Farm, found no answers, and left on foot walking toward that great landmark on the horizon. So far as Eva knew, none of them had ever come back through the Farm.
It was a strange life. Another strange time, another role she'd never asked for. But she found she was good at it.
And Eva Levante had no interest in returning to the City.
The comms unit in her little room chirped loudly enough to wake Eva from a sound sleep. Eva had turned the little outbuilding into something of a homey space with use of fabrics and art scavenged from the Dead Zone, but as it often did when she woke suddenly these days, it took her a moment to remember where she was.
She groaned as she slid out of bed, using nearby furniture to steady herself. The damage the War Beasts had done had been extensive, and even now she could feel the tightness in her legs where the Bray tech had knit bone and sinew back together.
She slumped into the little chair in front of the comms unit. The light from the screen lit the room, which was otherwise almost completely dark. She blearily peered into the unit, as the image of Tess Everis resolved itself. It was daylight in the City, and Tess was impeccably dressed for work.
"Do you have any idea what time it is here?" Eva asked, allowing the annoyance to seep into her words.
"Yes. I do." Something in Tess's voice made Eva sit up and look closer. There was a tightness to Tess's face. She looked… frightened.
"Tess, what's going on? Are you all right?" Eva was wide awake now, and plucked at the edge of her teal robe to draw it around her. She was suddenly cold.
"I'm sorry, sweetheart. Just… wanted you to know right away. I bet Tyra's getting a call from Rahool right now." Tess looked down and away before looking up into the camera again. "Sweetie, Cayde's dead. Something happened out at the Reef yesterday. I don't know all the details, but everyone's talking about it."
Eva's mouth formed a thin, worried line. She'd never been overly fond of the Hunter Vanguard, but so many people looked up to him. Relied on him. And if something was powerful enough to kill Cayde-6… "The Legion?"
Tess shook her head. "Still quiet, as far as word around here goes." She gave a dim smile for the first time since Eva had picked up. "You know how reliable the rumor mill is, though. It could be anything."
Eva sat back in her chair, frowning. "I'm sorry, dear. I know you liked him." Tess shrugged, trying to play it off. "Don't give me that, we weren't swapping stories in the Market that long ago."
Tess stopped, and nodded sadly. "There's going to be a memorial service, I think. Will you come back for it?"
It was Eva's turn to look away from the screen. It was the first time someone had asked her to go back. And for a funeral, of all things. Eva was about to make an excuse when Tess continued, her smoky voice taking on a light tinge of humor.
"While you're here you can sort out the holiday programming for the frames."
Eva's eyes widened. "The frames are doing holidays without me?"
Tess's smile broke into a full grin. "We were just as surprised! Somehow all of the holiday gear got packed along with critical supplies in the transfer to the new Tower. And when your programs kicked in, they were able to find the tagged crates." Tess picked up her comms unit and angled the lens so that it would show the Dawning hat sitting on top of a mannequin in the corner of the room.
Eva shook her head, disbelieving. "They did the Dawning without me."
Tess's face came back into frame. "Over the summer, Ikora got someone to help her set up an event to commemorate the end of the War, too."
Eva tried not to let her annoyance show on her face. "How was it?"
Tess shook her head from side to side, evaluating. "Oh… you know. OK." When she saw Eva's mouth tighten, Tess laughed. "It didn't have your touch, sweetie." She sighed. "Oh, it feels good to laugh. Come back to the Tower! Even if it's just to pay your respects. I haven't given you a hug in what feels like years."
In the darkness of her room, Eva turned to look out her window. On the horizon, the dim glow of the Shard was like an anchor, a symbol of the past.
Eva looked back toward her friend and smiled.
You Can Never Go Home Again
Eva Levante pulled opened the door to her storage unit and gagged at the smell. She turned to the two frames who were accompanying her and pointed inside.
"Start by sanitizing the whole space. When it's clean, we'll start moving in the crates." The frames both nodded to her and beeped affirmation. They were already sweeping with abandon as they crossed the threshold. Eva stumped back several paces, supported by her cane, to avoid getting any dirt on her outfit.
Around her, the marketplace swirled with activity. Civilians on break ate at the lunch counter, shoppers browsed the stalls, frames cleaned and patrolled and delivered goods, and Guardians were everywhere—a riot of color and style as they flipped and floated and leapt around the space.
Eva scowled, frustrated with herself again for letting Tess and (to an extent) Amanda talk her into returning. None of this felt right, none of it felt… comfortable. And now this space they'd given her to store her wares had apparently last been opened and cleaned sometime before the Faction Wars.
She found a bench along one of the market's walkways and sank gratefully down, watching the crowd pass by. Fashion, as it always did in the City, had moved quickly since the day the Legion attacked. She was still catching up, still finding her footing. Rebreather masks in particular dotted the faces in the crowd, more stylish and ornamental than practical—a holdover from a necessity in the days rebuilding and restoring the City.
And the Guardians! Tess had spent much of their time together since her return filling her in on fashion trends among the Lightbearer set, and Eva was incredibly impressed. Tess, the foundries, even the Vanguard had outdone themselves. Armor designs and shader schemas had improved dramatically since her days at the old Tower.
"What am I even going to do here?" she muttered to herself. "What can I do that…" she trailed off, watching a Guardian walk by with what appeared to be a full crest rising above his helmet and a Warlock robe that flowed and rippled behind him in the breeze.
"That's it." Eva stood, heading for the door to tell the frames to stop cleaning, when someone stepped into her path. A Guardian in a leather trench coat, with a shiny black helm.
"Eva?" The voice was distorted. She could see her own face reflected in the helmet, confused.
The gloved hands came up and the headpiece came off to reveal the smiling face of Ramos. "Abuela! It's me!" He pulled her into an enormous hug as she smiled.
"You rascal. You never gave me the chance to thank you." She swatted him kindly on the shoulder as she pulled away. "Just save a woman's life and then ride off to retake the City, why don't you?"
Ramos laughed, happier than she'd ever seen him. The Light hung around him easily, and he turned to a pair of Guardians who were standing nearby, watching tentatively. "Team, this is Eva Levante! You remember my stories? This woman is a legend!"
He gestured at the two. "Eva, these two are shiny as Glimmer. Just became Guardians before the Legion attacked."
Eva nodded her head deeply to them. "Good to meet you both."
One raised a hand in an awkward greeting, while the other cocked their head. "What… do you do here?"
Eva sighed. "Oh, I'm not… I'm not actually."
Ramos laughed and said, "She's a phenomenal seamstress! A hero of the war! And before that, she was one of the pillars of life in the Tower. Remember the Dawning holiday you liked so much? She brought that to the Tower!"
The two turned back to her, impressed. "How did you get Zavala to agree to… to…"
Eva smiled. "To have fun?" She laughed at the responses she got from all three Guardians, and tapped her cane twice on the ground. "That's a very good story. If you have some time?"
Ramos laughed. "Absolutely! Come, let's get some food. And we can help these Kinderguardians learn a thing about what it means to be part of the Tower."
With help from her friend, Eva Levante walked easily across the market square of the Tower, bastion of the Last Safe City. Home.