Here he was once more, this strange world of destruction, chaos, and eerie calmness with the sound of death in the air. Just as the last time, as Vieru turned about in this world, he once more saw Ladia, clad in white robes holding nothing more than an orb of raw, Solar Energy. Her eyes were locked onto his own with a strange look of adoration mixed with pure respect. She almost gave off an air of submission towards him, it was so hard obvious it almost made it difficult for Vieru to stare back into her eyes.
That was when she said it again, “By your will…” Before lifting the orb of energy into the air. For the first time, however, more words came through, “Forge me.” Vieru’s heart dropped and he suddenly gasped for air, opening his eyes to find himself in his ship.
“Another strange dream?” Apollo asked.
Vieru simply nodded and sighed out, looking around, “Are we almost there?”
Apollo whirred a bit before finally responding, “Just about.”
It had been two weeks since Vieru and Ladia encountered the Golden Titan and since they last saw Kaldius. After arriving back at the Tower, Apollo sent all the data about their encounters with the Speaker. Since then, Vieru had heard nothing more on the topic. He and Ladia had been working diligently on raising Ladia’s reputation with the New Monarchy by participating in the Crucible. The two were beginning to develop a reputation as difficult teammates to keep up with during Skirmish matches. Their ability to work together and feed off of each other’s movements with little to no effort often made other Guardians feel like they were no more than a third wheel.
Eventually, the duo finally received orders. Apollo was the one who informed the team:
“The Speaker has asked us to head out to Rome and meet up with an Awoken Warlock: Astelvixx. He wants us to take out the Golden Titan at all costs… is he so certain that only three Guardians can handle this?”
It really wasn’t up for any further debate; the Speaker had… well, spoken. Ladia and Vieru eventually arrived at the rendezvous point in Rome. The two had exited their ships shortly after arriving and suddenly, a female’s voice came from a small cave nearby, “Well, it’s about time…”
When the two turned to look at the source of the voice, a woman stepped out of the shadows. She was fully covered by her robes and armor, simply approaching the pair with her weapon drawn; a SUROS brand of Auto Rifle, it seemed.
“Astelvixx. People just call me Stella. This is Glow.” The Warlock explained as her dark-blue-shelled ghost materialized and spun its shell.
An androgynous voice came from the Awoken’s Ghost, “Greetings. Please excuse Stella, she is a little rude.” This ghost had more of a mechanical tone to its words than Apollo or Lucia.
Stella waved her Ghost away and walked past the rest of the group.
“A pleasure to meet you, Stella. I am Ladia; that is Vieru. Our ghosts are Lucia and Apollo.”
“Hi there.” Apollo uttered as he materialized.
“Hello.” Lucia continued as she followed along.
“Yulin told me about you. You’ve been looking into the ruins of the Heirs of Sol for a few years now, haven’t you?” Vieru asked, skipping his greeting.
Glow shifted its eye to stare at Vieru, as if scanning him. Stella stopped and peered over her shoulder at the Titan, “You’re the Helmet, aren’t you? I didn’t realize you were a Sunbreaker.” She mentioned, motioning at the hammer on Vieru’s hip.
“You know about the Crimson Helmets?” Apollo questioned, interested.
Glow floated back over to its Guardian while speaking, “Well, if we did not, we would be failures as researchers about the Heirs.”
Stella chuckled a bit and nodded, turning her attention back towards their direction, “I hear you two picked something interesting up last time you were here. A ghost shell with data in it? Has it been decrypted yet?”
While the rest of the group spoke, Ladia made her way through the shadows of the ruins and began scanning the area with the scope of her Sniper Rifle, making whispered notes to herself of every detail she found worth remembering.
“Not completely, but he’s fairly certain it’ll be done by the time we return from this mission.” Vieru responded, walking up next to Stella, paying idle attention to Ladia’s position at all times.
“If we return.” Stella responded.
Ladia’s voice came through the comms at that moment, “What do you know about the Golden Titan, Stella?”
“As you reported to the Speaker, it does seem like he was part of a Fireteam that was researching the darkness of the Hive some time ago. From what I’ve been able to gather, however, their goal was a particular artifact that fell to Earth many, many years ago. Though it is Hive in origin, it predates the Hive that we’ve all come to know and love. According to your information, they found it, but it shifted that man into something far from human.” The Awoken informed the team. “Is he Taken?” Lucia asked over the comms.
Glow responded this time, “No, not Taken. Something different. It is likely that the artifact was a failed experiment of the Hive that they may have abandoned. Despite them turning away from it, however, it still carries powerful darkness within it. All of you have seen Eris, correct? Picture her condition, then add five hundred more years to her time with the Hive. That is what the Golden Titan seems to compare to.”
Ladia’s voice broke through the comms as Glow finished, “We’ve got Fallen; the Exiled Kings. Scouts.” The Hunter informed the others.
“Take the shot.” Vieru responded before holding his arm out and materializing his Judgement.
Stella questioned the Titan, “A Shotgun? Isn’t it a little early for that? We’ve got some distance to cover, first.”
Two bullets rang out through the wasteland, in between them the hiss of dying Fallen Dreg. Silence followed, “Hah!” Ladia let out through the comms.
Vieru grinned under his helmet, but of course it wasn’t visible. He walked past Stella and suddenly, his red Sparrow spawned. He mounted it and the high-powered engine began revving before he blasted off towards a new entrance of the bunker from before.
The two women mounted their own Sparrows and followed the Titan; barely. Stella quickly briefed the team meanwhile, “We’ve selected to enter through a new entrance, different from your last entrance. It should give us a better understanding of the layout in case this mission fails and they have to send out another team.” She said, then added on in annoyance, “What kind of Sparrow is that? It’s way too fast.”
Ladia chuckled and nodded while following along, “He modified it… it blows up if he goes too fast, though.”
“Shouldn’t he slow down, then?” Stella questioned.
“Why?! That’s the point!” Vieru called out.
The two women were able to watch the Titan charge through the entrance of the bunker and suddenly, bolts of energy shot out through the entryway. He had acquired some attention from the inhabiting Fallen, it seemed. A moment later, an explosion was heard and then silence.
“Titan! Report!” Stella called out.
“He’s fine.” Ladia muttered.
Stella glanced at the Hunter, “How can you be so sure?”
“I can feel it.” The human girl responded, nonchalantly.
As the two women pulled into the entrance, they arrived to find Vieru sitting on a crate, simply relaxing while he waited for them. Three Dreg corpses, the scraps of a couple Shanks and the body of a Captain decorated his newly-claimed hallway. Stella glared behind her helmet at the Titan, “Why didn’t you answer?!”
“I was busy.” Vieru muttered, pointing at the Captain, “It took more than an exploding Sparrow to take him out. Either way, Ladia said I was fine, she was right.”
Ladia chuckled and Stella could only sigh, shaking her head.
Glow’s voice rang through the comms, “This is a ritual hall.”
Stella shifted her attention to the walls and sighed a bit, nodding, “So it seems…”
“Ritual Hall?” Ladia asked.
Stella explained, “The Heirs of Sol used rooms like this one to perform their solar rituals.”
“Huh…” Ladia responded, “In an entrance? Don’t cults usually have big rooms dedicated to that?”
Stella nodded, looking over some markings in the wall, “The Heirs were known for their unorthodox layouts. It made invasions against them rather difficult to predict.”
Vieru sat up and stared at Stella, “Wait, wait… how the hell could this be a hall for the Heirs? It’s a Helmet bunker.”
Stella turned to face Vieru, nodding, “Not only is this a Helmet bunker, it’s their main one. Believe me… I’m confused, too.”
“I think I have an answer…” Apollo added, “Yulin sent us a transmission; apparently, it couldn’t wait. Long story short, that Ghost Shell revealed something rather interesting. Th-“
Ladia interrupted, “The Crimson Helmets and the Heirs of Sol used to be the same group!” She called out from a little further ahead. She fired off two shots to bring down a large banner that the Fallen had hung up with their marking to reveal a mural.
The mural depicted the story behind the two cultures; as the group looked over it, Apollo explained, “Yes… well, according to the information in the Ghost, the Heirs of Sol created the Crimson Helmets to be their protectors. Originally, the Heirs were simply worshipers of the sun; it wasn’t until many years later that they learned how to use that same energy. Apparently, when they learned how to use the energy, the Heirs became afraid of their own power. They tried to seal it away and the Crimson Helmets were then tasked with keeping the power sealed away. Some of the Heirs refused to accept this, however, and rebelled. They were exiled and that was when the separation happened. The Helmets and Heirs were on the verge of completely killing each other. This was when the leader of the Heirs and the leader of the Helmets met to discuss the future of the sealed power. The two fell in love, however… both groups grew bitter towards their leaders. Some of them left and abandoned their homes, but others swore to punish their leadership. As the story goes: It was then that the Red Devil set the lands ablaze with the Eternal Flame. As the lands burned and glass replaced sand, those who embraced with sun burned in the heat of their greed and those with their stained headgear drowned in the blood of their victims. The Light was collected and Red Devil entered the Eternal Flame, leaving behind nothing more than the promise of future Light.”
Stella spoke up slowly, “Goodness… the Heirs must have truly hated their leader… none of their ruins make any reference to any kind of leader except for the sun itself.”
The group then head sniffing and a soft whimper. Stella and Vieru looked at Ladia.
The Hunter looked at the other two and turned away, “Shut up… he burned himself and his people not only to protect the future, but also the woman he loved… it’s touching.” She let out through a weak voice.
Vieru sighed a bit, “Did she survive?”
Apollo spoke up, “No idea… neither the mural, nor the data show anything past the death of the Red Devil.”
“Alright, that’s enough. We came her to take out the Golden Titan.” Vieru spoke up, pumping his shotgun.
The others nodded and Stella sighed, “I suppose I’ll have more time to look into this once the monster is gone…”
The group pushed further into the ruins; small squads of Fallen enemies attacked them, but Vieru and Ladia’s teamwork was too fluid for the Fallen to keep up. Surprisingly for them, Stella was actually keeping up just fine and even seemed to be a good fit with them.
It wasn’t much longer until the group heard and roar deep in the ruins.
“What the hell was that?” Vieru questioned.
Glow spoke up, “I’m picking up a lot of movement in the room ahead.”
Apollo confirmed, “Same… a lot of Fallen, and what seems to be the Titan.”
Lucia chimed in as well, “They’re fighting each other, it seems…”
Vieru sighed deeply and nodded, “Ladia, cloak. Stella, can you use Void abilities?”
“I can…” The Awoken woman muttered in responds. “Good… if it charges at us, fire off a Nova Bomb. I seemed to know that a Ward of Dawn is bad to approach, so maybe we can distract it with a Nova Bomb.” Vieru ordered.
Stella nodded. Ladia had cloaked herself already and the team was ready.
Vieru kicked the door open and the rest was a blur.
The Golden Titan was battling an invading group of Fallen Devils. The bodies of the exiled Kings were all around, only a few were left standing. The fight became a three-way fight when the Fallen realized the Guardians had joined in. Luckily, the Golden Titan was busy with the Devils and the Guardians were able to make short work of the remaining Kings.
Vieru was running through the halls of the ruins, twisted roaring was following behind him, following with vicious hunger.
Two Captains fell quickly to Vieru. Stella quickly dispatched a handful of Dregs while a few Vandals fell to the shadows Ladia inhabited.
“Why do you have that?!” Stella called out, running as fast as she could behind Vieru.
The Golden Titan was using a pair of broken Shanks as gauntlets to take down Dregs. One of the Devils’ Captains managed to wound the Hive-cursed ex-Guardian, only to face his demise soon after. The Titan was making short work of the invading force.
Apollo called out in panic, “We can’t initiate Transmat! There’s too much interference! We have to get out of here!”
The Golden Titan was distracted. It was the perfect opening. Ladia carried her sniper rifle while still cloaked and took aim. Just as she took the shot, the Golden Titan turned and Ladia’s cloaking was interrupted. The bullet clipped the Golden Titan’s shoulder, but it was nothing lethal. The Hunter stared at the Golden Titan, “… Lucia…” She whispered.
All Vieru could think of, despite the terror chasing them, was his dreams. All he could see was the last time he saw Ladia’s face, unshielded by a helmet. In his dreams. Her green eyes, her words rang in his mind: “By your will… Forge me…”
“NO!” Vieru’s voice roared out. He was too far. The Golden Titan charged at Ladia and swung its claw-like armored hand at her. Her body reflected a ragdoll. Killed on impact, Lucia materialized before Ladia’s body stopped moving. The Ghost looked around in a panic and tried flying directly to Vieru, but the Golden Titan swung at Lucia as well.
Vieru unloaded a shell from Judgement at the Golden Titan, barely allowing Lucia to escape, yet her shell was broken apart. Vieru grasped Lucia and called out to Stella, “RUN!”
While being carried by Vieru, Lucia was stuck in a look of Ladia’s voice, “Lucia… Find her… Lucia… Find her… Lucia… Find her… Lucia… Find her…”
Stella yelled out, “Vieru! Let go of it! She’s gone! There’s nothing more you can do!”