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  • Writer's pictureAaron Corcoran

06 : Cloak

Near Light Speed. The Traveler really did change everything with its arrival in the Sol system. What every human had accepted as the universal constant for the speed limit of all physical reality, was rendered obsolete under the Light of the Traveler. Humanity was quick to harness the powers of its new found understanding of reality. And now every Guardian in the system used this miracle over physics like a plaything. Ace would use this miracle as a tool to enact vengeance.

“We will arrive at the Tangled Shore in four minutes,” Mal announced shortly after Ace activated the ship’s NLS drive.

Four minutes for a trip that would have taken 3 years for humanity prior to the Traveler’s arrival. Normally, Ace would have spent the entire trip musing on this observation. Things were different now. Cayde was dead.

The Vanguard would not act.

The Vanguard could not act.

Ace understood their position on the matter. Guardians died their final deaths all the time, out in the wild. However, the City had to prioritize the protection of its citizens and the Vanguard was the City.

But this was Cayde. And Ace was not the Vanguard.

Where was the outcry when little Tansy died her last death on Mars in a Cabal ambush? There was none and it was Deoxys who took it upon himself to grab Ace and hunt down the Centurion that had pulled the trigger and the Psion Flayer that had destroyed her ghost. Where was the outrage when it was then Deoxys who was cut down by the Hive wizard on Luna? Ace had joined the fire team that hunted Dôl Arnách and exacted revenge.

Individuals. Not the Vanguard.

These Guardians were of the Vanguard, but they knew that when they took up any mission of vengeance, they did not represent the Vanguard in those moments. Ikora and Zavala were the Vanguard. They could not act, not even as individuals. And the pain of that fact had been made very clear in the outburst from Ikora that Ace accidentally overheard. Her outrage at Zavala’s refusal was patently obvious.

What was not as obvious was the fear and tortured pain that Zavala’s stoic facade attempted to conceal. Calm, logical rationalization was displayed to everyone in the room. Fear and pain that Ace could clearly see when Zavala said, “I refuse to bury any more friends.”

Cayde 6 was the ultimate survivor. He may not have been the most skilled warrior or the most powerful Guardian, but if Cayde 6 could be killed...

No one was safe from an enemy that could deliver a final death to the ultimate survivor.

“We will be exiting NLS in thirty seconds,” Mal warned.

Ace merely grunted in reply and focused on his radar. The Tangled Shore region of the great Asteroid Belt was an unknown space to him. He had no idea what kind of reception awaited them, despite the intelligence Mal had gathered before their departure.

Near Light Speed spacial distortion abruptly ended as the ship shut off the NLS drive. Another ship was immediately displayed on the radar, not too far away. The impulse signature indicated a Human spacecraft.

“Who is that?” Ace wondered aloud.

Mal considered the various input from the ship’s sensors before answering, “VIP 2014. It’s the hero of the Red War.”

“The one who killed Ghaul?”

“Yes. Their ship is set to orbit that cluster of asteroids. Someone has tethered these things together and has set up a gravity generator at the center.”

“Gravity?” Ace could not understand why anyone would go through the trouble of generating gravity in such a desolate place as this corner of the Asteroid Belt.

“I don’t understand why either, but it appears that our friend’s ship has been here for quite some time.”

“Well, if the hero of the Red War is here, that must mean that the Scorn are as well. Take us down. I want to see these things for myself.”

Several minutes later, Ace found himself on the surface of blasted rock, inspecting the remains of an alien corpse. It appeared to be Fallen, but there was something wrong about it. The color of the skin was off. The wounds, still fresh, oozed an inky substance instead of the normal bluish blood. And the smell... Ether had a very distinct odor to it and fresh Fallen blood would bubble with escaping Ether vapor whenever exposed.

“Scorn,” Mal declared, “They are corrupted Fallen.”

A hint of movement at the periphery of his vision drew Ace’s attention away from the corpse. Weapon readied, he moved quickly and surely toward the spot where he saw the shadow. A moment later, Void darts arced over a small hillock at Ace. He didn’t slow or divert his course. Four Void bursts tore at his shield and forced a slight grunt of pain out of him as some of the energy burned through his armor.

Ace began firing even before he could clearly make out the misshapen shapes before him. They appeared to be Fallen, but it was clear that they were not.

Seconds later, Ace looked down at the four dead Scorn at his feet. He squatted down and tugged at the tattered remains of the former-Fallen’s scarf.

Mal materialized as Ace pulled a knife from behind his back, “What are you doing?”

“I need a new cloak,” Ace cut away a thin, foot long strip of cloth.

“You’re going to need several dozen of those if you’re going to craft any kind of cloak from the stuff.”

Hours later, Ace was back aboard his ship, sewing the last strip of cloth together. Mal materialized once again, considering the confined space of the cabin and then the pile of cloth in Ace’s lap. “It is going to take weeks to get the smell of that out of here.”

Ace didn’t look up from his work. Cayde had been the one who taught him how to craft a proper Hunter cloak. A faint smile touched his face, “You don’t have a nose.”

“Neither do you. Yet we both manage to have olfactory senses that work perfectly well and I know for a fact what your olfactory senses are telling you about that... garment.”

“You’ll get used to it. I told you, I need a new cloak.”

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