“You are the heir to the Crimson Helmets…”
It was still ringing in in his head, floating about like a whisper of guilt. Was it guilt? It was definitely on his mind, but why was he feeling bad for ignoring it? As if he was letting someone down; as if he was letting himself down. It was driving him insane. He couldn’t get over it.
“They’re taking B! Who’s at B?!” The voice of another Guardian broke through Vieru’s thoughts and he suddenly focused on the reality of the situation. The Crucible.
Vieru took aim of his Prudence on another Guardian’s head and took the shot, “Got him. There was only one. It was probably a distraction, stay at C.”
“Show ‘em the true meaning of war!” Shaxx’s voice came through and Vieru sighed. It was meant to motivate Guardians, but the fact that Shaxx had his pre-recorded voice playing for Crucible matches kind of made the whole concept lose its luster.
“Something on your mind?” Apollo’s voice chimed in. Vieru simply took aim on another Guardian from the opposing team and took his second shot, “Eh…” Was all he could muster. It was enough for Apollo to butt out and leave the Guardian to his own devices. He glanced at the corner of his HUD and saw his own name come up for the final blow.
“Good work Guardian, your light is strong.” Shaxx’s voice came through once more to announce the victory of Vieru’s team. Moments later, he and the other Guardians were teleported out of the Arena and aboard their ships. If they had stayed in formation, they would have received orders for the next matchup, but Vieru decided to leave the group. It was maybe 20 minutes before he was landing in the tower and leaving the hanger. He had gone on to the Crucible to clear his mind, but it had become obvious that it wasn’t working.
“Vieru!” A male’s voice called out and he stopped. He turned to look at source of his beckons and sighed a bit when he saw the New Monarchy representative approaching him, “Hello, Oten. How can I help you?” Vieru asked.
The man smiled wide and held out his hands. Suddenly, a sniper rifle materialized in his hand. It was quite obviously an upgraded version of Vieru’s Prudence, “I’m here with a gift from the Executor. This is the Violator.”
“Seriously? Violator?” Vieru questioned almost instantly. Oten nodded, “It is the new rifle in our inventory. Thanks to your performance in the Crucible and your wonderful new referral, you’ve earned it.” He informed the Titan.
The Guardian stared at his robe-clad friend for a few seconds before raising a white-haired brow, “Referral…?” He questioned.
Oten offered a smug grin and motioned to a monitor playing highlights of a recent Crucible match. The focus of the highlights was a new Guardian, Ladia Vaterio. She was fully outfitted in New Monarchy gear and performing really well in the Crucible.
Vieru watched everything and sighed deeply; he wasn’t sure how the Monarchy got a hold of her, but he wasn’t all that happy that things were going on without his knowledge, “I see…” He responded simply. He turned to Oten, taking the gifted sniper, “Thank you, then.”
Oten simply nodded in response and eyed Vieru’s armor, “Vieru… I can’t help but notice that you aren’t wearing any of our armor. Executor Hideo has been concerned about this. It’s hard for people to associate you in the Crucible with us if you don’t wear our emblems.” He noted.
Vieru nodded slowly, “Yes… well, the House of Judgment gave me this armor. It’s more durable than the armor the Monarchy gave me and I was doing some field work, so I suppose it slipped my mind.”
Oten furrowed his brows in response to Vieru’s reply; Vieru already knew he had answered incorrectly, “Guardian Vaterio. I don’t believe I need to remind you that there are many other Guardians who are more than willing to wear our emblems, but we have selected to sponsor you. If you would rather take your chances with the House of Judgement, we cannot stop you, but I think you should be more grateful of the New Monarchy.”
Vieru simply nodded, “I understand. I apologize, Oten.” His cold, blue eyes locked onto Oten’s eyes. Bloodlust was overflowing in the Titan’s gaze, as Oten finished his statement, the representative quickly realized the physical reality of the situation. With that, the robed man huffed and turned away, “Until next time, Guardian.” He muttered, not being able to bring himself to speak the man’s name any longer. He walked away quickly and Vieru simply let out a deep, almost growl-like breath.
“Remind me again why we deal with the New Monarchy…” Apollo chimmed in.
“Hm… get me information on Ladia. It sounds like she took my name and joined the Monarchy, too.” Vieru responded as he began to walk back towards the hangar.
“I already did. I guess I was curious, too. She’s actually headed back to the tower now. That match we saw her in was over some time ago; they were just recapping.” Apollo responded, “You know… judging from the information Yulin sent us on the Crimson Helmets… there are some glimmer reserves that technically belong to you, now. If we started the Helmets back up under your name… we could completely forget the Monarchy.”
Vieru sighed, “You haven’t shut up about the Helmets since you got that information from Yulin, but this is your wildest approach at convincing me to look into it. You’re seriously considering the idea of starting up our own faction? Please… we’d end up like Osiris.”
“What if Ladia joined us…?” Apollo asked. Vieru simply fell silent. Apollo knew he had finally won one of their Crimson Helmet arguments, so he would drop the case as they entered the hangar once more, “Speaking of…” He added on as Vieru stopped walking.
Vieru’s eyes locked on the face of the young, tan woman before him. She was outfitted in red and white armor. Her helmet was off and her hood was down, revealing her messy black hair. Her green eyes were focused on her purple-colored Ghost while she spoke to it. The emerald orbs floated on to the red-shaded Titan and a large smile came across her face, “Vieru!” She called out.
“Well. She seems happy to see you.” Apollo teased, still inside of Vieru’s armor.
Vieru smirked a bit and nodded in response, “Hello, Ladia.” He greeted before she ran to him and wrapped her arms around his armored body, “It’s so great to finally see you again!” She exclaimed. She was much shorter than him, her head only reaching the bottom of his chest. “Ladia…” The female voice of her Ghost called out. She suddenly gasped and pulled away from Vieru, “Oh, I’m sorry! Lucita has been telling me to stop being so friendly with people. I guess I’ve always been a friendly person.”
“It’s… okay, really.” Vieru responded, trying to regain his own composure, “Lucita…?” He questioned.
The purple Ghost floated up to Vieru and spun its shell, “Ladia chose the name. Hello, Vieru, Apollo.”
Apollo materialized as if on command and spun his own, silver shell, “Hello, Lucita.” He responded.
“I have to admit, however. Despite her forward behavior with others, this is the first time she so impulsively hugged anyone.” Lucita explained. Ladia’s eyes widened a bit and suddenly began choking on her own saliva. The Ghosts and Titan turned their attention and Lucita floated over, “Are you okay, Ladia?”
The young woman grabbed her Ghost and nodded, speaking through coughs, “Yes… just… just shut up…” She muttered the last bit under her breath.
“A Hunter?” Vieru asked, as if trying to change the subject for Ladia.
Ladia turned to Vieru and smiled, trying to will away the blush upon her dark cheeks. She cleared her throat again and nodded, “Yes. I thought that if we were going to work well together, I could help you the most by striking from the shadows while you took all the attention… it seemed you like doing that.”
“She’s got you pegged, Vieru.” Apollo interjected. Vieru simply waved the Ghost away, “Work together?” The Titan asked, “Wait, is that why you joined the Monarchy?”
Ladia nodded, “Yes! I asked the Speaker how to find you and he said that you were actually hard to get a hold of, but he remembered you complaining about the Monarchy. So I started my search there… I can’t say I like them, really, but they gave me this armor and some nice guns! Though I can’t say I like the name of my Sniper Rifle… but it was my best chance at finding you… oh, and I used your last name, I hope you don’t mind. I don’t remember mine.”
Vieru nodded a bit, agreeing with her opinion of the Violator, “Yeah… well… why did you want to find me?”
Ladia pursed her lips a bit, seemingly discontent that he would question her, “Really? You brought me to life! Lucita and I both owe you our lives! I told you, we’re going to work together now. It’s my way of repaying you.” She explained. Lucita spun her shell before floating to stay near Ladia’s shoulder, “I agree with her, Vieru. We owe you everything.”
“Looks like we’ve got our first member, Vieru.” Apollo teased. Ladia raised a brow and Vieru waved his Ghost away yet again, “Ignore him… but listen… Ladia. I don’t thi-” The Hunter interrupted, “I’m not taking no for an answer. You’re reckless and war-hungry. You need me on your side.” Determination was in her eyes, with a hint of fear. She stared directly into Vieru’s cold eyes. His gaze tore through her and made her hairs stand on end, but she wasn’t going to back down.
Vieru sighed deeply before finally letting up, “Get your ship.”
“What?” She asked, almost surprised.
“We’re going to the Reef. We need to get you some better armor from Variks.” He said as he looked to Apollo, “Request launch.”
“Already on it… you want to get her Kellhunter equipment? What about Oten…?” The Ghost prodded. Vieru grinned a bit, “I’ll deal with Oten.”
Once the Ghosts dematerialized and the duo boarded their respective ships, the Two-Person Fireteam became official. Vieru had his reservations about working with Ladia and dragging her into his research, but he couldn’t bring himself to truly deny her. He wasn’t completely being honest with her, however. Apollo had already caught on to this, “Yulin’s last lead. You’re looking into it, aren’t you?”
Vieru nodded, simply gazing out of his cockpit into the warped space, “Yes… Yulin’s last message said that the Golden Titan had to be either an ex-Guardian or an Awoken from the Reef. No Guardians have turned up missing recently, so my money is on the Awoken.”
“Are you going to tell her that? Are you going to leave her behind if we get a lead?” Apollo questioned.
Vieru sighed, “She can read me fairly well. She probably already knows I have other motives for going to the Reef. If she’s really planning to stick by me, then I’ll let her tag along. I suppose we could use the help.”
“Good.” The Ghost responded in a pleased tone.