“I hadn’t expected you to find this place so quickly.”
The voice blared over loudspeakers set up across the library; the technology was Golden Age, and it showed through sound quality. As well as the Kell’s naturally hoarse voice, the signal was full of static. Regardless, the message was clear enough to be heard by Fireteam Black.
“I’m impressed, though. The last Guardians who came through here didn’t fare as well against my Unseen.”
He implied that Fireteam Black wasn’t the first to come to Seattle. The Kell spoke rather fluent English, suggesting that his House had a long history of encountering humans. Perhaps, spanning all the way back to the beginning of the Collapse.
“What do you want? Why attack us at night?” Sylus asked. His fireteam had eased from their combat-ready stance, realizing that the threat was over, for now.
“This is the nature of my House, light thief. We attack from the shadows, only to return to them once again. We are the House of Veils.”
“The House of Veils… I’ve never heard of such a thing. New House, indeed.” Emperor-19 commented. The Exo Warlock approached the entrance of the library now, as it was now daybreak. The sun peeked through broken windows, illuminating only the upper echelons of the structure’s interior. Slain corpses of Vandals were strewn in a variety of positions. It had been a long night, but now the dawn was coming.
“You’re not going to cause another death. We’re coming for you, Kell of Veils.” Sylus proclaimed, promising that his fireteam would be the one to end their House.
“I welcome it, light thieves. If you wish to find me, look to the tallest spire. I assure you, by day’s end, my kin will bleed the Light from your frail bones.”
After that, static overtook the loudspeaker’s audio feed. Seconds later, there was silence again.
Providence scoffed. “All of these Fallen are just cowards hiding behind cowardly tactics.” The Exo quickly dashed his palm across the chamber of his hand cannon, making it spin. He flipped it once, before effortlessly clipping it back to his thigh. “I’ll scout ahead.” He removed Epitaph 2261 from his back, holding tight onto the Vanguard sniper rifle. Providence was the first to leave the library, stepping out into the light of day.
“I suppose the Kell would be rather cross with us if we didn’t fulfill our promises.” Vandyn remarked, watching as Providence stepped off into the street. The Warlock finished with packing his first aid kit, before allowing his Ghost to transmat it away.
“I’m not feeling all too keen about going up against tall, dark and gruesome.” Brian rolled his shoulder, as he grasped his scout rifle from the ground. A quick dust of his hand across the surface saw fit to remove any unwanted dust that might have lain against the weapon.
“He’s going to keep sending enemies after us until we kill him. We don’t have a choice now.” Arxus remarked, now stepping out into the light of day as well. He ducked beneath a collection of overhanging vines, returning to the street.
“Arxus is right. We have to complete our mission.” Sylus concurred with Arxus. “Fireteam Black, move out.”
Brian, Vandyn, Emperor and Sylus all journeyed outside as well, returning to the cold comfort of the winter air. The sun was still rather low in the sky, barely peeking beyond a horizon of ruined buildings. Were they not so constrained to completing their objective, Seattle might have been a nice place to look about and see what life might have been like back in the Golden Age of humanity. Most of the fireteam barely had any memory of the Golden Age, if they had been born in that era; all but Arxus, who remembered his time in Chicago all too vividly.
“I grew up in Chicago, back before the Collapse.” Arxus began some idle chatter, while the fireteam followed the street. “It wasn’t an easy life, but it was life. I always used to get into fights with bullies and gangsters who thought they knew what was best for the city. I guess being a Titan was a natural fit for me.”
“Chicago, you say? That’s where my Ghost found me.” Emperor remarked.
“No kidding? I guess it really is a bit of a small world.” Arxus chuckled some.
“When I first awoke, I was afraid.” Emperor began. “I had to crawl out of a pile of Exo just to gain my footing. The Devils had control of the city at that point, so those parasites were everywhere.”
“I can’t imagine how traumatizing it would be to have to crawl out of a pile of corpses.” Arxus responded.
“It was, at first.” Emperor occasionally made gestures with his hands as he spoke. “I met quite a few other Guardians who also were recently resurrected. We helped each other get to the City.” Emperor seemed rather fond of the memories. “I joined the Warlock Order. Ikora tutored me. I became like a sun to burn away the darkness.”
“I saw what you did back there. It was impressive.” Arxus spoke about when Emperor activated his Radiance; he damn near burned down the library with it.
“Yes, but a mere fraction of what I’m capable of.” Emperor replied.
“I remember what it was like for me when I first resurrected.” Arxus began speaking again, as he crossed his arms.
“Do share. Always interested to hear the tales of other Guardians.” Emperor was eager to hear about it.
“I woke up out in the Cosmodrome. Heavy Devil territory, mind you; fought my way out and got to the City.”
“Just like that? No confusion?” Emperor himself seemed a bit confused.
“It’s like the fighting came naturally to me.” Arxus responded. “The second I woke up, I knew exactly what to do. The first time I drove my fist into a Vandal’s skull, watching electricity crackle and dance across the surface of my knuckles… it was empowering.”
“I suppose we all feel that sort of rush at some point.” Emperor mused. “Everyone seems to experience that rush differently.”
“Yeah… it felt like a rush, alright. Nothing I’d ever felt before. I’m so used to it now that I probably won’t feel that initial rush ever again, either.”
“Be proud of what you are, Titan.” Emperor responded.
“I am.” Arxus agreed.
“Heads up. I see it.” Providence was nearby, scoping out the terrain atop of a ruined bus. He had his sniper rifle still out, and from his position, he saw the spire that the Kell spoke of.
Far off in the distance of Seattle, gracing the skyline was the old Space Needle, once a popular landmark among tourists or other sorts of the Golden Age. Between their current location and the Needle, the terrain was treacherous and uneven, and it could have equated to a walk of several days.
“That’s the Space Needle. Warlock scholars often attempt to discern the reason of its existence, though most agree that it was a tourist attraction for when times were not as dire as they are now.” Vandyn commented.
“That’s where the Kell of Veils is. Let’s not keep him waiting.” Sylus remarked.
The location was dim and of a rough circular shape. Many windows surrounded the exterior, though they were boarded up, allowing only the smallest amounts of sunlight in. Braziers lined a central pathway through the room, leading up towards a throne at the center. It was mighty seat of power built from steel and sweat. Upon it sat the Kell, flanked by two of his most trusted officers.
The Kell rested upon his throne, knuckles against his chin and waiting for something. From the darkness of the room emerged another figure, cloaked in purple.
“My Kell.” The figure kneeled, out of respect for his leader.
“At ease, Archon.” The Kell responded with a rather low, and annoyed tone of voice. “Haveth thou brought news from the field?”
“Yes, my Kell.” The Archon lifted himself to a standing position. Due to his sheer size, the Archon was hunched over slightly. Most notably, there was a Hive cleaver sheathed on his back. “The Unseen haveth taken their positions in the necessary locations.”
“And what of the light thieves, Archon?” The Kell inquired.
“None the wiser, my Kell. They only know of what thou hast told them.” The Archon replied, with a snake-like voice.
“Good. I am entrusting thou with troop movements. I must see to making the necessary arrangements about the next phase of our plan.” The Kell shifted slightly, glaring at the Archon with a set of piercing, orange eyes.
“By your order, my Kell.” The Archon bowed again, before skulking off into the shadows of the room.
The Kell let out a raspy groan, watching as his loyal Archon departed from his presence. Seconds later, the Kell removed some sort of device from a table nearby. It looked to be a detonator, or something of the sort.
“Soon, light thieves… soon, thoust whole world will come crashing atop of ye…”