Rubble, rust, dust. Rome was a wasteland. Even the Mothyards of the Cosmodrome looked less depressing than this place. What could be here? Why were Vieru’s dreams driving him to this place? An even bigger question: who else was here?
“The distress signal is coming from up ahead. I’m not reading any Fallen in the area, but keep your eyes open. They could be stealthed.” Apollo spoke.
Vieru seemed to snap out of his focused daze. He was thinking too much about the ruins he saw while speeding on his Sparrow that Apollo’s voice almost surprised him, “Got it.” He responded, still joining the conscious world.
Vieru dismounted his Sparrow as they came to a large cave drew his Crusader, “Judgement would have been better for a cave…” Vieru muttered. Apollo materialized himself to offer some light for the Titan, “Now I’m really glad we didn’t bring Admonisher.” He responded. Vieru could only give a small chuckle.
“The signal is bouncing off of the walls in here. It’s hard to pinpoint the source, but it’s definitely deeper in.” The Ghost informed his Human as the duo ventured into the dark caves.
Ten minutes, twenty minutes, thirty minutes and they still hadn’t found anything. Time went by quickly but it still felt like it was dragging. They had eventually found water in the caves, silence was replaced with the hiss and echoes of running water and dripping cracks, “Are you sure we’re going the right way, Apollo?” Vieru asked, walking with his weapon ready but at this point not bothering to look down the sights.
“Yes, the signal is still bouncing around, but it’s becoming more powerful as we go deeper in. The fact that they’re so deep inside definitely explains why no one had picked up the signal until we landed nearby.” The Light replied.
Vieru nodded and approached one of the walls, running his gloved-hands along the stone, “Hmm, looks like there is metal in this cave. Probably didn’t help them either. I hope we’re not entering a grave.”
Apollo stopped and turned to Vieru, “There’s or ours?”
“Either.” The Titan responded.
The grim nature of the situation had begun to set in for the pair. They had ventured far enough into this cave to have put themselves in a rather tough spot, but if the person who was transmitting the signal was still alive, they couldn’t buckle to the fear of the situation.
One hour, twenty minutes and thirty-two seconds. Vieru had asked Apollo various times to make sure the signal was truly getting stronger. Just as he was about to ask again, the pair finally came across a body and a dormant Ghost that seemed to be missing a piece of its shell, “Damn…” Vieru let out.
Apollo moved forward, “No, no. It isn’t a lost cause. This Ghost is barely clinging to life. Let’s see what happens if…” The Ghost trailed off his words as he expanded his shell and gave some of his and Vieru’s Light to the dormant Ghost.
Almost instantly, the other Ghost’s eye lit up and it lifted up. It was a purple ghost, and spoke with a feminine voice, “Help! Finally! I found my Guardian here in these caves over a month ago and though I was able to make it here, I was hunted by the Fallen in the area and…”
“Woah, hold on… slow down.” Apollo responded, spinning his shell a bit before glancing to the body on the floor. The body was covered in sheets, so it was hard to tell what was under them, “You journeyed out here to find your Guardian? And this is the one? This body here in the wastes of Rome?”
“Is that where we are? I lost track… while searching…” The purple Ghost responded.
Vieru peered over at the body and then turned his gaze towards the new Ghost, “So… is that why you were transmitting the signal? You needed another Guardian to revive this one?” He asked.
The purple Ghost jetted over to the body covered in blankets and spun around a bit before responding, “Yes! Would you mind?!” It asked before expanding its shell.
Vieru and Apollo looked at each other before the Titan shrugged and held his hand out, offering the life force of Light to the new Guardian.
Vieru had revived various teammates during Strikes and while participating in the Crucible, but nothing felt like this. This body had been dead for far longer than a few seconds or a minute while Vieru took care of the nearby enemies. This body had been dead for months, maybe years? Decaying, rotting, seemingly preserved only by the minerals these caves’ air carried from the water running through them. To Vieru, reviving a fellow Guardian was just a matter of etiquette. This, however; it felt deeper. He wasn’t just bringing someone back, he was bringing someone here.
As if it had ended just as quickly as they had begun, the new Ghost reformed itself and stopped processing the Light, “Hello? Did it work?” It questioned.
Suddenly, the group heard a gasp and the sheets were thrown aside. A young woman was revealed. She was hairless and completely nude. Vieru raised a brow from behind his helmet, then turned around in a single about-face movement, “Huh…” Was all he could muster.
Apollo stared at the woman before Vieru grabbed him and turned him away, “What?” The Ghost asked, “It’s rude.” Vieru responded.
The Purple Ghost hurried over to the newly awakened woman and spun its shell a bit before speaking, “Hello! You are a Guardian now. You’ve been dead for a long time, but now you’re alive. I’m your Ghost. Nice to meet you!”
“Why am I naked? Who is that?” The woman responded.
“I don’t know… maybe you died that way. That is the man who helped me revive you, Guardian…” The Ghost responded before going into deeper explanation.
Meanwhile, Vieru was quietly speaking to Apollo, “Is that Ghost still malfunctioning?”
“Not that I can see, why?” Apollo responded.
“That girl, she’s too young to be a Guardian. She couldn’t have been older than eighteen when she died.” Vieru stated.
Apollo’s shell spun a bit before he finally replied, “You’re basing that off of her body?” Vieru simply glared at Apollo; he couldn’t see the glare, but the silence said it all.
“Excuse me.” The woman’s voice called out. Vieru turned to face the girl who was now standing behind him. She had used the sheets her body was previously under as a makeshift robe. At first, he was expecting to keep his eyes locked onto her own in an effort to avoid looking at her body, but when he did get his first glimpse of her eyes, he couldn’t bring himself to look away if he tried.
Her piercing green eyes stared at his helmet before she smiled a bit, “My Ghost has explained things. I still don’t quite get it, but I understand enough. I have to thank you for coming to our aid.”
Vieru nodded slowly, “Yeah… no problem. I’m Vieru, what’s your name?” He asked, offering his armored hand to her. She looked at his hand wearily before taking it and shaking it, “Th-thank you… Vieru. I think I remember my name being… Ladia…? I think… it’s all a mess.”
“It’s alright, Ladia…” Vieru responded.
“Don’t try to remember too much, it can make you go crazy.” The purple ghost informed her, “What’s important is that you’re here now.”
Suddenly, Apollo spun around and spoke up, “I’m picking up Fallen. They must be the rest of the group you took out. My tracking is messed up by the metal in these caves… but they’re not far from the cave’s entrance.”
The purple Ghost came before Ladia, “I mapped out these caves before I found Ladia. There’s a quicker way out.”
“We’ll have to get out before they make it to the cave, otherwise we’re locked in here.” Vieru urged.
Apollo and the purple Ghost both worked as lights for Ladia and Vieru as the group ventured back through the caves. The new path was much quicker than the one Apollo and Vieru had followed, and within fifteen minutes, the entire group was back at the entrance, “Damn, I wish we had followed that turn instead…” Vieru muttered as they walked out into the sunlight.
“The Fallen are nearby, we’re gonna have to fight through.” Apollo announced. Vieru nodded before taking a knee and setting the sights of Prudence on the incoming Pikes. Four shots were fired and four of the Pikes lost their course and crashed into rubble. Vieru put the sniper rifle and its ammunition down and sighed, “Give me Prestige.” He requested.
Apollo spun his shell a bit before materializing the Machine Gun into Vieru’s hands, “Full clip?” The Titan asked.
“You know it.” Apollo responded.
Vieru ran out to the enemies with Prestige firing round after round into them. Two more Pikes were down within seconds and then the fire was aimed at a Dropship that had closed in. He was able to take out the turrets and two Vandals before they dropped, but then his machine gun ran empty, “Shit…”
“Why’d you shoot at the ship?” Apollo asked.
“I just felt like it…” The stubborn Titan responded before drawing his Crusader. The rest of the troops landed and before he could fire any shots, bangs could be heard in the distance and suddenly the enemies fell. Vieru turned to see a crouched Ladia waving out to him, “Holy crap… she can snipe.” Vieru muttered.
Then, Apollo came through, “More dropships inbound. I think it’s time to go.”
Vieru ran back to his new teammate and as he did, his red ship came close. The purple Ghost almost instantly teleported itself and Ladia into the ship. Vieru followed shortly after, “Buckle in!” He called out after settling into his seat in the cockpit.
Ladia found a passenger seat and strapped herself in before looking at one of the monitors on the walls, “These ‘Fallen’, why does their armor look like yours?” She questioned.
Vieru responded while setting coordinates, “Eh, it’s my armor that looks like theirs. My armor was put together following blueprints from a Fallen named Variks; he’s on our side, though.”
“No… that’s not what she means, Vieru, look.” Apollo voiced. The other Ghost whispered, “A Titan…”
Vieru looked out of the window to see the incoming force. Three Dropships and a Spider Tank. The peculiar part was on top of the Spider Tank. It was a Guardian; a Titan in Golden Kellslayer armor, wearing a banner of the House of Kings, “… what the hell… who the hell is that?!” Vieru questioned before the strange man set the aim of his large weapon on the red Seeker, “He’s got a Scorch Cannon! Launch! GO!”
Without another second to waste, the Hildian Seeker was speeding off and away from the area. Once they were safely away and their course was set for the tower, Vieru slammed his fist into the control panel, “Dammit… and we got no information on the location. What was that?!”
The purple Ghost floated up and spin its shell before speaking up, “On the location? Before going dormant, I scanned everything I could in the area… the data is almost a month old, but not much should have changed between then and now. Would you like the information?”
“Also, I grabbed this from a corpse near the entrance to the cave… I thought I could use it, but it turns out not. Do you want it?” Ladia said, holding up one of the golden House Banners.
Vieru turned to look at his new companion and sighed deeply before taking his helmet off to reveal his face. Vieru was an older man, possibly in his 30’s. The roughness of his expression and the seemingly naturally cold tone he carried made him seem even older. His icy blue eyes locked onto Ladia and she almost froze; looking him in the eyes was much more intimidating than staring at his helmet, “You, ladies, are wonderful.” He finally said.
After arriving at the Tower, Vieru and Apollo took Ladia and her Ghost to the Speaker, where he could explain everything and get her situated into the Tower. While Ladia was taking care of her own business, the male duo split off on their own and sought out Yulin, their Cryptarch friend.
After giving Yulin all of the data that the purple Ghost had collected and handing over the House Banner, Yulin sent them home and told them to expect an update within the next couple days.
Two weeks went by. Vieru hadn’t heard from Ladia nor Yulin and had been passing the time by participating in Crucible events. On the sixteenth morning, however, Vieru found himself having the same dream.
This time, the screams were louder and he could almost recognize them. He turned to find the source of the screams and suddenly, the dream changed. The terrain had gone from a wasteland, to white emptiness. Ladia stood before him, wearing white robes and holding an orb of raw Solar Energy in her hands, “By your word.” Was all she said.
Suddenly, Vieru’s eyes opened and Apollo reeled back, “I didn’t even say your name yet!” He exclaimed.
Vieru sat up and shook his head, “My dream woke me up… what is it?” He asked.
“Yulin, he finally sent something. You’re gonna want to hear this.” Apollo said before playing the audio:
“There… Vieru! Hey! Hope I can call you that, I think we’re friends now, right? Anyway! Thanks again for all the information you gave me. The Ghost you found there definitely had some interesting stuff… first off, let me start with this House Banner, though. You were right in thinking that these are the Kings, but it isn’t part of their major House. Think of it as a branch house… their mark is a little different. From my understanding, this branch was banished, however, and now… well, according to what you said, seem to be working for an ex-Guardian. And yes, I said ‘for’ not with. You see, this house has always been known for being a bit fanatical, so when the branch was banished, it’s likely that they were looking for something to latch onto. This Titan may have become that something. Maybe it’s got something to do with the area, though. Apparently, the area around that cave used to belong to a nomadic tribe of humans. They called themselves the Heirs of Sol. It was a tribe of Warlocks who was known for worshiping the Sun and using their Solar Magic to conduct twisted rituals… they used to burn people from other areas alive as sacrifices to the Sun. They believed that by doing so, they could reawaken the Traveler and would be given ownership of the Light… anyway, not too far from this place was a place known as Vermiculus. Vermiculus had an elite guard lead by a dictator-like commander. They were known as the Galeas. Together, the name basically is latin for Crimson Helmets… anyway, it looks like the Crimson Helmets and the Heirs of Sol had some kind of conflict… but here’s where it gets interesting. All the records I have call him the Red Devil, the dictator, that is. Unlike most dictators, however, he was well-respected. He lead with an iron fist, but a fair and wise sense of judgement. At some point, this very man had to register with the Tower. Though they were a distant settlement, the Tower held a good relationship with him. At that time, the Tower somehow acquired that man’s DNA samples. Maybe he was enlisted here for a short time, or he was likely born here and moved on to Rome… anyway, whatever the case… I ran some tests. Now, this could be a coincidence. This is why it took me so long to get back to you, I had to run the tests various time and under various hypothetical conditions… but Vieru… you share DNA with the Red Devil. You are the heir to the Crimson Helmets… I realize that’s a bit to take in… but I’ve sent some other details for your Ghost to explain. Keep me updated.”
“The transmission ends there… Vieru…” Apollo states, staring at his human.
Vieru simply sat in bed, staring blankly into the wall, “Hm. Send him a response. Tell him to keep digging into the Golden Titan.”
“What about the Crimson Helmets?” Apollo asked.
Vieru’s cold, blue eyes locked onto his Ghost, “There’s a Titan working with Fallen. We need to know who he is and why he’s doing it.”