Shadow of War Suit
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Speaking of which.
Don't your kind love to tempt Hive artifacts?
I've been familiarizing myself with Guardian histories, and they say one of you worshipped the Hive to the extent that he betrayed the Light. If this story isn't a sham, a Shadow of your Titan-tribe would be perfect for replacing Gahlran. I need someone hearty like you to carry the Crown in his place.
Will you wear it when I ask you? Because the day will come.
You don't have to answer right now. Think about it. And take this helm in its place for now.
The Hive left the Crown of Sorrow on one of their war moons, and my Shadows waged such a campaign to take it. We did. And we converted it into an Athenaeum world.
But the Crown was a trap. A trap for me. I suspected as much.
Which is why I did not wear it.
After initial tests, my Psions determined it was a seeing device of sorts, feeding all sorts of data to someone or something deep in the Ascendant Plane.
But seeing devices look both ways. I had to have it. And I had to have someone wear it.
Because I believed I could control the Hive through a Shadow surrogate. The Hive are not true darkness, not what I saw at the black edge. But they would provide an army just the same.
Proud Gahlran was bred specifically to bring them under my control.
You've no doubt visited the ritual baths aboard the Leviathan, have you not? If you haven't, you must.
And true, it is a place of recreation for my beloved soldiers, but did you know that they are born there? Yes, the joyful, axe-wielding ceremonial bathers are but seconds into their lives when you cut them down.
They are created from genetic patterns of the most virile martial artists of a bygone Cabal era.
And Gahlran, the Sorrow-Bearer, was once one of them. I played with his pattern, made certain he would be strong of mind and will as much as body.
He had but one purpose: bear the Crown of Sorrow and make the Hive mine.
Imagine my chagrin when his very personality was annihilated within minutes of exposure. Whatever viral language was etched into the Crown's interior had taken over.
Until you ended him, he belonged to a witch.
We found the Crown of Sorrow on a stray war moon. The Psions guessed that the ritual texts surrounding it claimed it was crafted in imitation of the Taken King's power to compel wills.
It did the opposite, of course, and consumed my Loyalist Gahlran.
But she can be beaten. The Hive are not true beings of the dark. Not compared to what I met at the black edge.
Not compared to me.
I shall find her and her Ascendant Plane before the end. And we will have words.
"Guardians go to where the guns are. And where the fighting is," Zavala said, picking up the tablet and cycling through its holographic projections, profiles of Guardians in golden Loyalist armor. "There are only a few Shadows of Earth on record."
"There will be more. Just give them time."
Zavala finished with the tablet, set it aside. "What would you have me do?" he asked.
"Give me a fireteam of veterans. We'll hollow out the Leviathan in a week. Maybe less."
"Some of them don't trust you," Ikora said, with a small, sad smile.
"You do," Aunor replied.
"Always," Zavala said quickly.
"There are veterans who do, too," Aunor added. "So let me pick a unit. We'll find the Emperor."
Zavala shook his head. "A single machine aboard that thing took an entire fireteam to burn down. How far do you think we'd get in open war with Calus?"
"So we're just going to stand idly by? Again?" A crescent of lightning flickered between Aunor's eyes as if to punctuate her point.
"He's not an ally," Zavala said slowly. "But he's an enemy of the Red Legion. And right now, he's keeping them in check."
"The Guardians kept them in check. When they kicked the Legion's head in during the War," Aunor replied.
"Calus's influence on the Guardians will collapse under the weight of his lies."
"Have you met the Drifter?"
"We're not a military," Ikora said finally. "What the Guardians do is what they'll do. Every team that engages with Calus reports back. If he makes a wrong move, you'll be on the first strike team out."
Aunor took her duster off her chair and headed out the door without another word.
When it closed, Zavala said, "She's not wrong."
"Her motivations are never wrong," Ikora returned. "She'll watch them for us. Whether we ask her to or not."
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