Pyrrhic Ascent Suit (Warlock)
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Pyrrhic Ascent Hood
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-01 // MERCURY
A reflection, when viewed in broken glass, is fragmented into as many misaligned shards.
The Warlock Shayura looks at herself in the broken center console display, her image split up over so many refracted variations. She is silent in her anger.
"Now entering Mercury's atmosphere," her Ghost chirps. Shayura looks up to watch flames roar over the exterior of the cockpit and sees her face in the distorted curve of the glass. No one reflection is true in this moment; no image perfectly accurate.
"Reed is already waiting for us," her Ghost adds, worried.
Shayura hears him, but only in part. Something pulls at her insides like anxious fingers.
"Open a channel to Aisha," Shayura says. Her Ghost hesitates, then beeps in compliance. The cockpit suddenly feels cavernous. As if she could shout out into the universe.
Her Ghost edges closer and hovers nearby. "The connection's open."
"We shouldn't just leave her behind," Shayura says into the void with a tightness in her throat.
"Not our call, Shay. Agree or disagree, we're a united front," Aisha, her teammate, replies from across the curvature of Mercury's atmosphere.
"Then act like it!" Shayura fires back, snapping her jaw shut as soon as the shout escapes her lips. She brings her hands up to her mouth, regretting her tone but not retracting it.
"It's Sloane's choice." Aisha's voice sounds smooth in contrast. "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."
"Leaders make mistakes." Shayura wishes she could explain better. Words are insufficient.
"She's preparing for transmat," Shayura's Ghost quietly offers. "We're in range."
Shayura nods and swallows, but the anger is rising up in her, and she can feel it creeping into her bones. Wisps of gold fire slither up her arms.
"Zavala doesn't see it. He's trying to do the work of two Vanguard leaders right now. I d—" Shayura is cut off mid-sentence as she and her Ghost tear apart into a whirl of charged particles, reforming on the scorching surface of Mercury in the shadows of the Caloris Spires. "—believe for a minute that's all we could've done!"
"Sloane made her choice!" Aisha shouts the minute she sees Shayura. Nearby, their third fireteam member, Reed-7, stands as a looming crimson silhouette in Titan armor.
"The commander asked her to fall back and she didn't! Don't pin this on him!" Aisha goes on, needling Shayura with a furious intensity.
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!" Reed-7 finally interjects with a shout. The broad-shouldered Exo shifts his posture awkwardly but stands his ground. Aisha and Shayura look over at him in silence.
Reed lifts a hand to the back of his neck. "Can we do this later? Please?"
Shayura feels Aisha's eyes on her. She tempers her own expression to match her friend's calmer one, reluctant in her assent, but the ember of anger in her refuses to go out. She draws her Sword and points it toward a group of Guardians across the windswept courtyard outside of the Lighthouse, indicating a challenge.
"Fine," Aisha agrees reluctantly. Shayura withdraws, simmering.
Pyrrhic Ascent Gloves
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-03 // BAZAAR, THE TOWER, LAST CITY
Guilt and shame twist like spectral blades into Shayura's stomach. Sitting under the trappings of New Monarchy's crimson-shrouded enclosure, her focus is locked squarely on the table's wood-grain surface. The sound of her breathing feels uncomfortably loud, but at the same time, the noise of the nearby crowds are muffled and distorted as if they were underwater.
"How's today feeling?"
All Shayura can hear clearly is her own breathing. She slouches forward more, fingers sliding up into her hair, elbows propped up on the table, fighting to stay in the present when her mind demands she fixate on the past.
"Did you talk to Ikora yet?"
A new knife of guilt slides in. Shayura tries to swallow, but her throat is dry. She'd barely had the energy to come here; it makes her feel all the more worthless.
"No," Shayura finally says, her mind fuzzy, her response delayed. "I will," she promises, because she knows that's what Aisha wants to hear. "I'm sorry."
"Hey, no," Aisha says, putting a hand on Shayura's shoulder at some point. The tactile connection is a grounding presence, bringing Shayura back into the moment. "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."
Aisha's plaintive tone hurts as much as it helps. Shayura sinks into a slouch of defeat, feeling her closest friend suffering because of her own shortcomings. It only makes her feel smaller, guiltier.
Shayura looks at Aisha out of the corner of her eye, seeing the twinned look of support and worry on her face. "Can Guardians be unfit for duty?" Shayura wonders aloud, her voice muffled by the tabletop.
"I mean…" Aisha replies. Her hesitation has a palpable sting.
"I don't know if I'm okay," Shayura finds the courage to admit. Her heart races as the words pass her lips. When she feels Aisha's arms around her shoulders, it steadies her pulse. Shayura relaxes into the supportive embrace of a friend.
"It's okay not to be okay," Aisha says, and for a moment, Shayura believes it. For a moment, knives of doubt and guilt feel blunted. But only for a moment.
"That's why you should talk to Ikora. She knows. She understands."
The word startles Shayura. She can hear the whirring hiss of Reed-7's articulated joints, the clank of his armor.
"There's cinnamon in yours," Reed says, and Shayura musters the energy to give him a half-hearted thumbs-up.
"I know you're upset about Sloane," Reed says, and suddenly Shayura's heart is racing in worry again. He says something else, but all she hears is the blood rushing in her ears and the thundering beat in her chest.
Worried that he's waiting on her for a response, Shayura interjects with something non-committal. "Thanks," she says weakly. The scent of apples and cinnamon hits her. It brings her back to her earliest memories as a Guardian in the Tower, when she first met Aisha and Reed. Shayura sits up enough to grab a steaming mug with two hands and drags the piping hot cider over to herself, breathing in the scent of happier times.
"I know," Shayura finally says in a small, guilty voice. She doesn't know what she's referring to, but she assumes it's what they want to hear. "I'm sorry."
"You don't need to apologize to us," Reed replies. "You should apologize to Leitka and his Ghost." Mention of the Guardian Leitka twists those knives of guilt in Shayura's stomach. She breathes in the scent of cinnamon and apples again, deeply. These are her friends, she tries to remember. This is her family, she concedes.
"It was Titan," Shayura finally admits, afraid of what the truth means but unwilling to dig too deeply into her own terrifying delusions. "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. Shayura feels a hand on top of hers and sees Aisha squeezing her palm. It feels like it's happening to someone else, and yet, it is still reassuring. "We got our Light back, and—"
"What happens when the Darkness closes in?" Shayura needs to know, though she knows neither Reed nor Aisha have the answer. "Will she be Lightless again? Alone?" The thought of Sloan dying alone on the arcology eviscerates her.
Reed's hand joins Aisha's in a wordless reply. It isn't much, but it's enough.
Pyrrhic Ascent Vestment
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-02 // TRIALS ARENA, THE LIGHTHOUSE, MERCURY
Titan's sea of liquid methane crashes against the listing hull of the New Pacific Arcology. The wind whips with hurricane force, sending a freezing sea spray lashing across the crooked metal frame of a crumbling catwalk. Flares of atomic fire bloom in the mist and roll off the arcology's walls. Human and inhuman screams echo out into impossible seas.
Two dozen Hive Thrall come pouring out of an encrusted airlock, climbing over one another, jaws snapping. They scurry across every surface not slicked by liquid methane; drawn like moths to a beacon of golden flame. Shayura stands against the crashing tide of chitin and bone, a Sword of fire held fast in two hands, screaming as she cleaves through the masses of encroaching death.
Burning embers of Thrall rain around her, but with each dispatched wave of necrotic soldiers, it feels as though their numbers double. She is pressed by the tide of Hive, inching closer and closer to the jagged end of the catwalk hanging over the churning sea. When the Thrall recede, she is thankful for a respite. But the towering Knight that drops from the airlock is an escalation, not a victory.
Edging a half-step backward, Shayura knows that the only way out is through. Wings of flame roar off of her back, leaving a trail of rippling heat and hollowed-out Thrall in her wake. Her Sword clashes with the Knight's shield, shattering it in a single blow. Her follow-through cleaves through the Knight's arm, down into its chest.
Shayura turns on her heel toward the remaining Thrall. She can feel the Light in her ebbing and knows that they will overwhelm her if she doesn't succeed now. Death against the Hive is never a sure return; not after what happened to Taeko-3 and her fireteam here. A blinding pain hits Shayura in her back. Her vision swims, mind reels; had she missed one? Feeling the warmth of blood running below her armor, Shayura turns to see the Hive Knight reborn, Sword covered in her blood.
Screaming inside her helmet, Shayura feels a deep panic build in her chest. She knows a Hive death ritual when she sees it, and she walked straight into their trap. She rolls away from the Knight's next swing and into the reach of Thrall that tear at her armor. Mustering the last of her Solar energy, Shayura calls up a cyclonic pillar of flame that twists up into the sky and consumes the Knight.
The revenant Knight emerges from the flames, already reconstituting. Shayura leaps forward and drives her Sword through his face, tackling him to the ground. Her Solar aura flickers and fades; smoke and steam billow from her back and shoulders.
She hears one of the surviving Thrall speak in a human voice. Shayura twists her Sword in the Knight's face and shakes sizzling green blood onto the catwalk. The Knight begins to reform again in a horrifying blaze of green flame, but as it reaches out toward her, she cuts off his arm and sends her Sword through the top of his head in a brutal follow-through.
The Thrall wails. She can feel an arm around her waist, restraining her. She kicks and struggles, crying out as the last wisps of Praxic fire twist down her arm and Sword.
"No! No! Stop! No!" Shayura howls, fighting against the pull of the Thrall.
"Shay," the Thrall cry in the voices of her friends. "Shay!"
Shayura screams into the impossible seas.
Pyrrhic Ascent Boots
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-04 // TENEMENT BUILDING ROOFTOP, PEREGRINE DISTRICT, LAST CITY
The wind carries a chorus of voices. Some reverent, some frightened, some confused. The mosaic of conversations is a distracting din to Shayura, who rests at the edge of a terrace watching the crowded streets of onlookers, eyes upturned to the shadow of their silent god looming in the heavens.
She can't help but feel that the people who dwell beneath the Traveler do so out of desperation and delusion. They were told for generations that this was the only safe refuge on Earth. Even after that assumption had been challenged by the Red Legion and now the Darkness, they cling to that desperate hope. They cling to an illusion of an all-powerful god that will protect them, when—Shayura believes—they had never been in any real danger before the Traveler arrived.
Shayura hears Aisha, talking beside her, but her thoughts are distant. Shayura grunts a reply, hoping indifferent is enough. But Aisha keeps talking, something about Chicago, about memory. Shayura grips the railing and watches the people staring up at the Traveler, and she cannot bear to look up with them.
"I remember," Shayura finally replies, her own internal fears overlapping with memories of dark times that her fireteam experienced below the ruins of Chicago. "I never forgot how abandoned we felt," Shayura adds, a tightness in her voice. The day Ghaul stole the Light, when they were so far from home, when they went from hunters to hunted.
Shayura also remembers what went unsaid. She remembers those feelings of desperation and abandonment and how she would have accepted any opportunity if it meant living. Her desperate moment did not end in such darkness, but she cannot help but wonder about other Guardians. That when faced with the choice between annihilation and salvation, they might make the wrong choice.
It is in that moment of quiet revelation that the Traveler stirs for the first time in years. A glow builds within, and only then does Shayura look up at her silent god. A wave of Light washes over her, and it feels like absolution.
While the City is awash in Light, with the fearful and the faithful holding congress in the shadow of an indifferent god, Shayura slips away into the crowd. She does not need to witness the Traveler's grandiose power to know what is being asked of her, and she does not need time to set herself to work.
Shayura's path is clear.
Pyrrhic Ascent Bond
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-05 // SIMULATED LIGHTHOUSE, THE TOWER, LAST CITY
There is not but silence in the void.
Frost collects on the inside of the cockpit of Shayura's jumpship. Her breath is visible as a cold fog. Fragments of Ghost shells are scattered atop the console, each glittering with a faint sheen of ice. The Warlock stares at her reflection in the shattered central navigation panel, fragmented, broken.
"You are late for your weekly scheduled Trials match," Shayura's Ghost chirps from over her shoulder. She does not look away from her broken reflection. "Do you… want me to elevate the atmospheric controls so the ship is warmer on your return?"
Shayura blinks her eyes shut, then opens them, fixed on her Ghost. "The cold is a reminder," Shayura says like a mantra. She looks back at the fragmented shells of the dead Ghosts and clenches her hands into fists.
"I am ready."
Shayura is torn apart into motes of Light and threads of energy, reformed into the simulation of Mercury mid-stride. She walks straight past Reed and Aisha toward the Lighthouse, purpose behind her every movement. "Come on."
Shayura's attention is focused ahead at another group of Guardians, to an Awoken Warlock—much like herself—whom she has heard much of. Shayura steadies herself, heart racing.
She is committed.
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-05 // SIMULATED TRIALS ARENA, SIMULATED LIGHTHOUSE
Reed-7's head disappears behind the occluding barrier of Vex architecture, inaccessible from the Scout Rifle scope. The rifle's wielder, an Awoken Warlock, lowers his firearm and grunts in frustration. He kicks off the ground, stepping up into the air and glides across the sky in search of a better vantage point. It's here that another body impacts him in a tackle, sending him crashing to the ground far below.
The Warlock's Scout Rifle rattles out of his hand on impact. He switches to his gold-plated Sidearm as he rises up onto one knee, only to have the gun swatted aside by the flat of a curved Sword. Shayura, carried aloft on wings of fire, slowly descends from the air. She moves the Sword's blade from hand to throat.
"Go on," her quarry says, "you earned it." But Shayura isn't thinking about the match. This isn't about the Trials; it's about discipline.
"I know what you did on Europa," Shayura says to the Warlock. "I know you're a traitor to the Light." At first, he opens his mouth to speak a denial, but then he tenses and takes a step back.
"It's not that simple," the Warlock says, shaking his head. "You haven't talked to Eris. You don't understand—" The Warlock's words are cut off as Shayura lunges in, smashing the butt of her Sword against his face, shattering part of his helmet and knocking him to the ground.
The Warlock groans, grasping at his face, then looks up at Shayura in vivid anger. "It's not illegal! The Vanguard—"
"I am not here on behalf of the Vanguard," Shayura says with imperious certainty. Flames begin to spread down the length of her Sword. "I am here on behalf of the Light."
The Warlock snorts and smiles sarcastically. His body language implies he doesn't respect her power. "I'm not afraid of you. Come on, end the match."
"I'm not here for you," Shayura insists. Now, he feels fear.
Aisha and Reed arrive a moment later, guns raised and ready to assist Shayura. She fights back a scowl at seeing them but turns her attention to the Ghost hovering at the Warlock's side.
"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 opens his mouth to shout a plea, but Shayura quickly draws her Sidearm and plants a round in his forehead. The Ghost chirps, squawks; damaged but alive. She holsters her Sidearm again and looks to the Ghost.
"Shay!" Reed shouts, and she hears him rushing up behind her. She wouldn't be dragged away, not this time. Shayura turns and expels a blast of force from her palm that knocks Reed onto his back. She quickly reorients to the Ghost and raises her Sword for another strike, when suddenly, her legs prickle with the unearthly chill of deep space.
Shayura tries to let out a scream, but her lungs flash-freeze, and crystals of Stasis energy encrust her body. She turns her head, just enough to make eye contact with Aisha and witness the unthinkable. The last person she sees before her world is ice and darkness. Her closest friend, forsaking the Light, embracing the Darkness.
The look of betrayal on Shayura's face freezes in the ice.
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