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  • Writer's pictureAaron Corcoran

07 : Perception

“The hero’s ghost has been avoiding use of the Vanguard network, but it has been quietly sharing information to any ghost that sends a direct signal.”

“Oh? And what have you learned.”

“There is a faction of Fallen here that are genuinely friendly.” The disgust in Mal’s tone was unmistakeable. Ace got the distinct impression that the thought of non-antagonistic Fallen was somehow abhorrent to his tiny partner. “We should make contact with a... crime boss?”

Ace couldn’t quite stifle the laugh, “A Fallen crime boss?”

“Yes, well it appears that this... Spider individual considers himself to be something of a black market dealer,” Mal explained.

“That’s a far cry from the murderous pirates that we have come to know, isn’t it?”

“It must be some kind of trick.” Mal’s tone was definitive and uncompromising.

“Well, we can see for ourselves in... how long will it take to get there?”

Mal materialized, “You can’t be serious!”

Ace turned his attention from the freshly sewn cloak in his lap to regard his horrified companion. Ace had to admit that the smell in the ship’s smaller cockpit was not pleasant. “You said that they visited this Fallen and recommended that others do the same. If we can’t trust the great slayer of Ghaul, who can we trust?”

Mal looked away, his indecision expressed in the wobble of his floating movement.

“We are already on the Vanguard’s shit list for this,” Ace continued, “We know that every time we take on one of these ‘side trips’ to hunt after an unsanctioned target.”

“But this is-”

“Cayde!” Ace hissed, “I know! And that’s why we need to be the ones to put a bullet in Uldren’s damn face!”

Mal turned to look at the inky sky of the Tangle Shore’s thin atmosphere. The ghost’s shell was nothing fancy to look upon. Both he and Ace were very minimalistic and didn’t favor the ostentatious colors and designs that so many other Guardians seemed to take pride in. A simple metallic gray and the standard ghost cuboid-type design defined Mal’s physical shape.

“We can be there in about ten minutes,” Mal relented, “We put ourselves on the far end of the Reef and I would prefer that we use a Sparrow, rather than risk orbiting the ship in an area that is more likely to be spotted by someone from the Vanguard.”

An hour later found the two back aboard their ship, carefully considering all of the information that they managed to pull out of Petra Venj and the Spider. Ace could sense that the entire experience had shaken Mal significantly. He held out a hand, palm up, and willed Mal into physical form.

“You have been uncommonly quiet,” Ace remarked.

Mal turned once again to regard the sky. “You know, it was easy to understand how Queen Mara Sov was able to get the Fallen to serve her. It was a shock the first time we witnessed them in the Reef, yes, but the Fallen have a code and she simply took advantage of that code. Besides, Queen Mara Sov was a scary force of nature. I am not surprised that it took a Hive god to finally stop her. And I am even less surprised that, in killing her, Oryx wound up exposing himself.”

“And?” prompted Ace.

“Before I found you,” Mal’s tone dropped to a whisper, “I traveled with three others. Ghosts who hadn’t yet found their wards yet, either. We enjoyed each other’s company and would watch out for one another. Then one of us found their Guardian. We were all of us thrilled when it happened, even though we were also quite jealous.” Mal paused and turned to face Ace, “Sadly, the joy did not last even a day. Fallen found us that first night. The poor Guardian didn’t even have a weapon. We found her in the remains of a park near the Baltic Sea. There was swing set.”

Ace didn’t need the ghost to continue to know what came next.

“She had no weapon except for her Light. And she was so freshly reborn, she had no idea how to channel that Light. Her ghost wasn’t any better. It didn’t know how to help her tap into that potential. I was the only one to escape because the blast that stunned us all caused me to fall into a stream. When I regained function a minute later, what could I do?”

“Hey,” Ace interrupted gently, “Remember Yor?”

Mal’s orb jerked violently in surprise. “You would compare me to that vile-”

“No. I would never compare you to that man. But I would compare him to the Fallen or the Hive.” Mal’s agitated whirling of its shell calmed somewhat. “Just as we Guardians can have a Lightbearer become a monster, perhaps we can have a monster become something not as terrible.”

Mal turned away once again, “I still do not like them. Fallen, Hive, Taken. Any of them.”

“You don’t need to like them. But perhaps you don’t need to hate them, either.”

The ghost made an attempt at humor, “What about the bad ones?”

Ace chuckled and he replied, “Okay. Hate the bad ones and tolerate the... not bad ones.”

As Mal dissipated into incorporeality, Ace could hear its voice, “I can manage that. Now, let’s go have a word with the hero. Their ghost sent me some coordinates.”

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