Pyrrhic Ascent Suit (Hunter)
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Pyrrhic Ascent Mask
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-02-01 // MERCURY
Flames roll up the front windscreen of a classic AFv2 Octavian on its entry to Mercury's thin atmosphere. Aisha has done this jump hundreds of times. Feet propped up on the console, she allows autopilot to carry her in to the Lighthouse.
"Not our call, Shay. Agree or disagree, we're a united front," Aisha replies.
"Then act like it!" Shayura fires back.
Aisha folds her hands behind her head and rolls her eyes toward the top of her cockpit, venting her frustration with a prolonged sigh.
"It's Sloane's choice." They've had this conversation too many times now. "You know how she is. If she's declining evac, there's no force in the system that'll uproot her. Stay, go, it's her choice."
"Eight seconds until we're in transmat range," Aisha's Ghost interrupts, trying to cut the tension. He indicates the directional telemetry on the console with a flick of his monocular blue eye. She gently pushes the Ghost out of her face with a brush of her fingers.
"Leaders make mistakes." Shayura's voice crackles over the comms as the fire of reentry clears from Aisha's windscreen, revealing the sandy geometric mottling of Mercury's surface.
"We're in transmat range," Aisha's Ghost chirps. She waves her hand at him dismissively.
"—believe for a minute that's all we could've done!" Shayura finishes as she transmats in an electrical blast. She is incandescent with anger, waves of golden fire lapping at the sides of her face.
"Sloane made her choice!" Aisha shouts, following Reed toward the Lighthouse with as much heated intensity as Shayura. "The commander asked her to fall back and she didn't! Don't pin this on him!"
Shayura pivots to stare at Aisha; the fire building around her discharges in an upward blast. "If he wants to lead, he should be willing to take criticism for his decisions!"
"Hey!" is all Reed-7 needs to say. The bright red Exo shifts his posture awkwardly but stands his ground. Aisha and Shayura are both silenced by the clap of his rebuke.
Reed lifts a hand to the back of his neck. "Can we do this later? Please?" Shayura and Aisha afford each other a brief, tempered look. Shayura puts down her conversational weapons and draws her Sword. She points it at a group of Guardians across the windswept courtyard outside of the Lighthouse.
"Fine," Aisha agrees, reluctantly. Anything to end this conversation.
Pyrrhic Ascent Grasps
Within the tented enclosure of their tower-based enclave, Shayura and Aisha sit on crimson, vermillion, and gold cushions scattered around a circular table, the setting sun burning bright at their backs through icy-encrusted trellis. A handful of colorful decorations for the Festival of the Lost hang overhead, with more being set up outside. An anchor of community in the wake of a tumultuous time.
"How's today feeling?" Aisha asks, sitting forward with her elbows on her knees. Shayura doesn't answer.
Aisha watches Reed-7 stand in line at a food kiosk across the way. "Did you talk to Ikora yet?" she tries again. The Warlock rakes her fingers through her hair and sighs, slouching down so that her forehead rests against the tabletop.
"No," Shayura finally responds. "I will. I'm sorry."
"Hey, no," Aisha says, scooting over enough so that she can put a reassuring hand on Shayura's shoulder. "Don't. We've all been through a lot. I should've paid attention to how hurt you were before we went into the match. I'm sorry we fought; I'm sorry I yelled at you."
Shayura regards Aisha from the corner of her eye. She turns away and lets her hair fall like a curtain to hide her face. "Can Guardians be unfit for duty?" Shayura wonders, her voice muffled by the table.
Aisha isn't sure how to respond. "I mean…"
"I don't know if I'm okay," Shayura admits without lifting her head. Aisha leans in and puts an arm around her friend's shoulders.
"It's okay not to be okay," Aisha says. "That's why you should talk to Ikora. She knows. She understands."
Shayura is quiet again. Aisha peeks over the arch of Shayura's back and spots Reed carrying a collection of steaming mugs in his large hands.
"Drinks," Reed says, setting down the mugs on the table. Aisha offers Reed a supportive but strained smile in return. "Careful," Reed notes as she reaches out for a mug, "they're hot."
"There's cinnamon in yours," he says to Shayura. She gives him a thumbs-up without lifting her head off the table. Aisha offers Reed a wordless look of concern and shakes her head. Their talk had not gone well while he was away.
"I know you're upset about Sloane," Reed says. "But you know the commander's done all he can. We've done all we can. Don't blame yourself for—"
"Thanks," Shayura says without looking up. She sits up enough to grab her mug with two hands and drags the piping hot cider over to herself. She slouches over the mug, breathing in the aroma of cinnamon, honey, apples, and cloves. Her eyes drift shut and, for a moment, she seems more herself.
Aisha and Reed take a moment to breathe. Give Shayura time to breathe. "I know," Shayura finally says in a small, guilty voice. "I'm sorry." It's hard to tell if she's talking about Sloane, or about her behavior in general.
"You don't need to apologize to us," Reed says with a look to Aisha, who nods back in support and affirmation. "You should apologize to Leitka and his Ghost."
"It was Titan," Shayura finally explains without looking up from her mug. Reed and Aisha look at each other, but neither interrupts. They let Shayura reach that point at her own pace. "I was back on Titan. Like when we were Lightless, surrounded by Hive. There was this Knight… no matter how many times I killed him, he kept coming back. I should've died out there."
"But you didn't," Aisha says, reaching out across the table to take Shayura's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. "We got our Light back, and—"
"What happens when the Darkness closes in?" Shayura asks, though she knows neither Reed nor Aisha have the answer. "Will she be Lightless again? Alone?"
Reed and Aisha share a look, and the Exo reaches across the table, laying one of his large hands atop Shayura's hand that Aisha holds. Reed's silence is stability, and Aisha smiles across the small distance to him in thanks. The three fireteam members are all the family they have, and in this moment of weakness, Aisha has to hope that family is enough to make it through the darkness.
Or, failing that, enough to make the journey worth taking.
Pyrrhic Ascent Vest
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-02-02 // TRIALS ARENA, THE LIGHTHOUSE, MERCURY
A seething stream of automatic weapons fire ricochets off of the vibrant purple dome protecting Reed-7 and Aisha. There are only two Guardians left on the opposing team; the remains of the third are scattered, smoking and sizzling.
"Aisha?" Reed asks in concern. Flames form between Aisha's knuckles as his barrier begins to destabilize. She has the better plan.
The opposing Guardian pauses to reload from behind cover, and Aisha boosts straight up. Remnants of the collapsing barrier swirl around her ankles, caught on the thermal updraft. By the time the opposing Guardian has noticed, both of Aisha's hands glow like the sun. A dozen knives made from condensed plasma tear through him and everything in his vicinity, leaving molten holes in their wake.
The Guardian collapses in a heap; Aisha lands nearby, cloak fluttering around her. Reed-7 gives her a wearied thumbs-up.
"Did you see Shay while you were up there?" Reed asks.
"No. She's probably playing tag with the one that keeps going invisible." Aisha says, brushing ash off of her gloves. "Let's go find her and finish this up."
A plume of atomic fire rises up over a nearby block of Vex design, as if in direct response to Aisha. The Lighthouse gives off a soft tone. The match is over; they won.
A sudden scream spurs Aisha and Reed into action. The pair navigate the familiar Vex architecture quickly, but two more agonized screams ring out in the time it takes to traverse the arena. When they reach the source of the noise, Aisha sees Shayura impaling another Guardian through the faceplate of his helmet with her Sword. His Ghost shrieks in frustration, trying desperately to get between Shayura and his Guardian.
"Shay?" Aisha asks in confusion, but Shayura's only response is to rip her Sword out of the dead Guardian's head. Reed hangs back in stunned silence.
Aisha watches until the other Guardian draws breath once more, but before he can finish shouting a plea to Shayura, the Warlock cuts off his arm in one stroke and cleaves through the top of his helmet in a second.
"Shay, no!" Aisha yells, running up to her friend. She wraps her arms around Shayura's midsection. Shayura screams like a frightened animal, lashing out with a swift slash of her Sword in the direction of the Guardian's corpse.
"Shayura! The match is over!" Reed shouts, snapping back to reality. "The match is over!"
Shayura screams as her fireteam members pull her back, voice cracking in a feral cry as flames race down her arms and swirl along the length of her blood-slicked Sword.
"No! No! Stop! No!" Shayura howls, fighting against the restraints of her comrades. Aisha grabs at Shayura's wrist, trying to keep her from swinging her Sword again.
"Shay," Aisha tries to get through to her. "Shay!"
Shayura screams an endless wail into the scalding Mercurian sky.
Pyrrhic Ascent Strides
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-02-04 // TENEMENT BUILDING ROOFTOP, PEREGRINE DISTRICT, LAST CITY
The Traveler hangs like a moon over the Last City, radiating bands of sapphire light from within its cracked shell. Thousands have gathered on rooftops, crowded streets, filled balconies. They look up to the sky, staring at a spectacle never before seen and perhaps never to be witnessed again. From their spot on a terrace, the Hunter Aisha and her Awoken Warlock companion Shayura bear witness to the turn of the age.
"Do you remember Chicago? " Aisha asks, unable to pry her eyes away from the Traveler's silhouette. Shayura's response is a non-verbal acknowledgement. "I thought we were gonna die in the Crypts," Aisha continues.
Light ripples from the Traveler, washing over the pair like foaming tides from far distant shores. Aisha closes her eyes. "I remember… we all blamed the Traveler." She wishes she felt more as the Light touches her face. She wishes she felt anything. "For bringing us back, for putting guns in our hands, for cursing us to die again and again."
Shayura says nothing in return, and for the moment, Aisha does not lament that. The silence allows her to contemplate her own emptiness, her own disaffected sense of belonging to a cosmic force that doesn't understand her, nor she it. But as she opens her eyes, it is still in wonderment. The significance of the moment, what it means for the people of the City, can't be understated. Even if the long-term ramifications are clouded in doubt.
"I remember," Shayura finally replies. Aisha looks at her, surprised to see Shayura's focus not on the Traveler but down on the street. "I never forgot how abandoned we felt," Shayura adds, a tightness in her voice.
Aisha's attention is drawn back to the Traveler as it throbs like a beating heart and erupts into a blinding flash of light. Aisha braces, as if for an incoming attack, but shudders when she feels the wave of Light crash against and roll past her. When it fades, Aisha sees the impossible. The Traveler, once shattered by its exertion to destroy Ghaul, is now whole.
The City rises up in a riotous cheer; Aisha turns to Shayura, but she is gone. A moment of panic clutches at her heart. Aisha frantically looks around until she spies Shayura retreating into the jubilant crowd. Aisha watches her go, afraid that she understands what Shayura is feeling: hollow disaffection.
Pyrrhic Ascent Cloak
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-02-05 // SIMULATED LIGHTHOUSE, THE TOWER, LAST CITY
"There's still snow in the cockpit of my jumpship," Aisha says after she appears in a crackling wave of latticework from the subordinate Vex conflux now running simulations of the Lighthouse from the safety of the Tower.
"Is that why you're late?" Reed-7 asks, and Aisha's chest tightens.
She feigns a smile and spreads her hands, playing off her nervousness. "And Shayura isn't?" she jabs back.
"She's coming." Reed says, and then more pointedly asks, "How long did you stick around the Stranger's camp after we left?" Aisha looks away, as if to contemplate the graphical fidelity of the Lighthouse, jaw set and shoulders tense.
"Couple hours," she says quietly. "I moved around. House of Salvation was putting down stakes out near some Vex ruins; wanted to make sure they didn't stick." Feeling anxious, she presses two fingers to her neck, transmatting her helmet around her head in a flash of light.
"It is real. I mean, we are. The space is a… I don't know, magic? But me and you? The Guardians? We're all us." Aisha explains with a motion around herself. "The dangers may be simulated, but that doesn't make the effects any less real. Saint wouldn't have it any other way. You didn't go into the Infinite Forest, did you?"
"Hell no," Reed quickly admits. "Couldn't pay me enough to. Can't stand the Vex," he adds with a shudder. "You know how you are with spiders? That's me with the Vex. Don't know why, don't care."
Aisha looks down at one of her hands, fingers curling against her palm. She closes her eyes, considers Reed, and then gathers up the confidence to make a confession as Shayura manifests into the simulated space mid-stride. She walks straight past Reed and Aisha toward the Lighthouse. "Come on."
Shayura's brusque entrance elicits a concerned look between Reed and Aisha, but they say nothing more on the matter.
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-02-05 // SIMULATED TRIALS ARENA, SIMULATED LIGHTHOUSE
"Where's Shayura?" Reed asks as he reloads his Scout Rifle mid-match. Aisha points down a corridor with two fingers.
"She's been after that other Awoken Warlock since we started the match. I think she followed him that way," Aisha says, already breaking into a jog. "It's three on one, c'mon."
When they finally find Shayura, she's standing over a still-living Awoken Guardian whose helmet has been broken, revealing one of his eyes. He stares up at her, at her fire-shrouded Sword. Aisha and Reed train their firearms, prepared to back Shayura up if she misses the finishing blow for the match. Reed starts to lower his Auto Rifle, and Aisha feels his palpable confusion as she notices Shayura's sight line isn't aimed down at the Guardian; it's aimed up at his Ghost.
"Shay?" Aisha asks, a nervous tremor in her voice.
Shayura lashes out, striking the Ghost with her Sword and knocking it to the ground. The Guardian exhales a scream of plight, and Shayura quickly draws her Sidearm and plants a round in his forehead. The Ghost chirps, squawks. It is only damaged. Shayura holsters her Sidearm again.
"Shay!" Reed shouts, dropping his Scout Rifle and rushes over to her. This time, though, Shayura expels a blast of force from her palm that knocks Reed onto his back. Aisha's heart races. She looks back at Reed, then Shayura. Fear and doubt take control. Aisha closes her eyes and chooses the unthinkable.
Blue-black ice crusts over Shayura's legs, snuffs out her Praxic fire, and freezes her Sword arm solid. Feather-ice bristles off of her body along with waves of visible cold. Waves of cold radiate outward from one of Aisha's extended hands; feathery shards of crystalline growths bristle off of her gauntlet. She had no choice.
Aisha couldn't understand in that moment what was going through Shayura's mind, or how much of a betrayal this moment was.
But in time, Aisha hoped, her friends would come to understand and forgive her.
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