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Such a blow was struck, that it would be felt for miles to come. As Arxus hammered his fist into the rail cannon, it was thrust downward and thus, in this single act, catastrophe had been averted. The rail cannon’s final blast detonated down in the valley below, before shutting off for good. Silence fell upon the ruins of Seattle, just as it had on the day it fell. While Fireteam Black had every right to celebrate this hard-earned victory, it left a sense of dread behind. Something could be felt, something that would undoubtedly be their undoing; or, at the very least, one of their numbers. The House of Veils would act swift and without mercy, showing that there were consequences to the Guardians’ actions. Fireteam Black had let their guard down.

Sylus felt an intense burning in his chest, and he couldn’t even summon the words to speak. To his horror, his eyes bore witness as a Hive Cleaver plunged through his chest; the cleaver was nothing ordinary, as it glowed with an air of malice and contempt, red with evil. All he could feel was the burning and not even an ounce of pain came forth from this wound. Blood sprayed forth from Sylus. His armor had been severely weakened beforehand, thanks to the previous firing of the rail cannon. The cleaver easily ripped through his chest, impaling him before the sword was viciously torn out again from the same entry. Sylus could not speak, only cringe in agony as his body dropped to the ground. The harsh thud is what finally alerted his allies.

The rest of Fireteam Black had been busy celebrating; many of their numbers congratulated Arxus on his job well down. Without Vandyn’s final suggestion, and Arxus’ actions, they would have had a tomorrow. Though, then the harsh thud came, as a body hit the ground. As all would turn to bear witness, looks of horror came upon their face. A proper description could not even be found for the emotions that now displayed on their weary countenances. Anguish, dismay, denial, anger: all but brief pages in a long list of emotions that now raced through their minds. Words could not describe, but actions could.

Arxus was the first to lose it. He quickly snatched Sylus’ Gjallarhorn from the floor, and aimed it towards their leader’s aggressor. It was the Archon, Ernaz; though no expression could be seen on his face, Arxus swore that the Archon was wearing a malicious grin. Perhaps, he found himself content to know that even with all of their losses; they could strike one Guardian down. “Go to hell!” Arxus hammered the trigger down, and let loose a furious volley of rockets from the mighty Gjallarhorn. A pair of rockets swirled about each other, screaming through the air like bloody vengeance. Though, even with the pure hatred that Arxus put into this shot, it would never find its target.

Ernaz brandished his cleaver with an expert motion, and with perfect timing. The rockets seemed to strike against the surface of his blade, only to glance off; Ernaz easily redirected the rockets, sending them upwards and above him. They collided against the side of a building, producing an impressive explosion that rained down dust and debris. Ernaz merely stepped away after that. “An eye for an eye, as you would say.” Ernaz laughed with a deep, growling tone. Before the rest of Fireteam Black could even manage to open fire on him, he cloaked. His entire body began covered in a stealth field, rendering him entirely invisible. The stealth field seemed to be of higher quality than what others of the House may have utilized. “Remember this day. The House of Veils will rise again.” Silence fell again; Ernaz was gone.

Arxus rushed to Sylus’ side, trying to help the wounded Guardian back to his feet. When that failed, Arxus only managed to prop Sylus up against a nearby crate. Arxus was shaking, with his digits drawn into tight fists. He could feel that rush of emotions threatening to overcome him, but Sylus knew this all too well. Sylus placed a hand on Arxus’ shoulder, and it seemed to calm the Titan down almost immediately.

The rest of Fireteam Black seemed to hang back from the two Titans; either, they had nothing to say or believed that the Titan bond was not something to interfere with. Vandyn could do nothing but utter out a shocked gasp from between his pale, blue lips. Brian, being the ever-so comedic member of their crew, could find no words to say. He felt despair, knowing that it was probably the end. Providence and Emperor felt little, though Providence swore he had shed a tear. Had he been anything other than an Exo, he would have likely shared feelings of remorse or sorrow. Surely, things could have played out a lot differently.

“It’s okay, Arxus… I’m fine with the way things have turned out.” Sylus expressed that, in some way, he knew that he was bound to die sooner or later.

“We can just revive you, you’ll be fine.” Arxus replied, and begged Sylus to pull out his Ghost.

Sylus did just that; from out of the ether, he unveiled his Ghost, Geno. This was short-lived, as the Ghost quickly dropped to the ground, having had its light drained away. It left Geno as a dead Ghost, and Sylus a dying man. “Well…” Sylus couldn’t help but chuckle, despite the circumstances. “That’s that, I suppose.”

“Shit… shit.” Arxus hurriedly scooped up Geno, before shaking the Ghost. He wished it would just turn back on and heal Sylus, but Arxus just didn’t know how these things went. As nothing happened, Arxus grew more and more frustrated. Sylus eventually placed his hands against Arxus, asking him to calm down.

“Do you know how long it’s been?” Sylus asked.

“What do you mean?” Arxus replied.

“How long it’s been since I was reborn.” Sylus could feel as his blood was leaving his body; though Vandyn was a medic, there was no way he would be able to stitch up a wound like that before Sylus bled out. He merely acknowledged his fate, wearing a smile as he reflected on happier times.

“No… no I don’t. You never told me.” Arxus tried to hand Geno back to Sylus, but Sylus shook his head, as if telling him to keep it.

“119 years. I’ve counted each and every day as if it were going to be my last one. When Geno first revived me, I didn’t know what I was doing.” Sylus laughed briefly, before his expressions of joy turned into wheezing and coughing.

“We all felt that way, boss.” Arxus accepted the dead Ghost in his hands, before laying it on the ground next to his feet.

“I suppose we did. It isn’t like we just showed up in the Tower one day, and the Speaker handed us a manual and said, ‘here, this is everything you need to know.’” Sylus smiled still.

“That would have made things a lot easier.” Arxus wondered why Sylus had been so happy. Maybe, he would never understand.

“Hey, Arx? I want you to do something for me.”

“Anything, boss.”

“When you leave, take my Gjallarhorn with you. It was a memento from Twilight Gap… that was a long time ago. I can barely remember the faces I fought alongside… I think she’d be happier in your hands.” Sylus took his hand and patted Arxus over the shoulder.

“Of course, boss.” Arxus said.

“Keep your chin up, Arx. Remember, you’re a Titan. They’re afraid of you more than you’re afraid of them...” Sylus continued to pat Arxus over the shoulder, until he stopped. His hand fell limp against his fellow Titan’s shoulder, before sliding off and hitting the ground.

Arxus grasped Geno in his hand, and stood back to his feet. He let out a sigh, as he held back any of his emotions that he knew he should have been letting out right then.

“What should we do with him?” Brian asked, as he approached Arxus’ flank.

“We’ll take him back to the City and give him a funeral. He deserves that much.”

Brian nodded his head in agreement. “I think he would like that.”

                                                                                                                                

Several days later…

Upon the Tower Walk, many faces gathered to mourn. Close friends, Guardians, even the Vanguard stood by and watched. Sylus was spread out within a decorated coffin; in his grasp, was his Voidwatcher rifle. Geno was situated by his head. Soon enough, the Speaker began to give the eulogy.

“We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of a fellow Guardian; his name was Sylus Marx, a proud member of the Titan Order. In his last mission, he had saved us all from a terrible threat that could have ended everything we hold dear. In his passing, we honor him for his achievements, and for his legacy. Not only will we…”

“Not going to see him off?” Brian asked, as he approached Arxus from behind. Arxus had been observing the funeral ceremony go underway, though from afar.

“No… I know he’ll be in good hands.” Arxus was leaning up against the corridor access that led to the Tower Walk. More figures passed by, come to see Sylus off.

“He was a good man, Arx. Hell, I knew him longer than you did. Something tells me that he must have been very proud of you.” Brian tried to smile, even in light of the circumstances.

“I know, Brian. Thanks.” Arxus didn’t linger, deciding to depart from the company of Brian. He headed off through the crowd of people, proceeding down the steps that led back into the Tower Plaza. Brian watched as Arxus left, and he couldn’t help but feel pity for the Titan.

Elsewhere, Vandyn had situated himself in the Tower library, perusing through old books and whatnot. He occupied himself with better things, knowing that it would be painful for him to mourn. He hadn’t known Sylus long, but Vandyn knew that he was a good man. Perhaps, Sylus had been better than most people that Vandyn knew. Vandyn sighed as he pulled a book off the shelf, aiming to read the contents. The old Warlock knew that Guardians died every day, yet this death felt all the more impactful.

Since their return to the City, Fireteam Black had split up again. Rumor was, Providence immediately began taking missions from Cayde, be it clandestine operations or strikes on enemy territory. Providence always had been a bit of a loner, and perhaps he desired to return to that lifestyle. However, the battle at Old Seattle had changed him. Once, he was nothing more than a killing machine, more robot than human. Now, he felt different. In time, he would likely be able to understand what had changed.

Emperor had disappeared entirely. Likely, the aggressive Warlock had absorbed himself into his work, intent on studying whatever it was that needed to be studied. Supposedly, his travels took him to places beyond the Reef, to the moons of Jupiter, and Saturn. He found ages-old civilizations, ruins of another lifetime. His discoveries were able to shed new light into the mysteries of the Golden Age, and in time, he helped usher forth a new revolution of technology within the Last City. He never was able to get over his vile attitude, however; many of his fellow Warlocks found him distasteful to work with.

Lastly, there had been Arxus. His time with Sylus had changed him entirely. Partially, he had felt what happened to be his fault, and thus no longer felt any desire to be among his old fireteam. Arxus left, with the intention of taking his own missions. He grew bitter at himself and the world, becoming a lone wolf much like Providence had been. He undertook missions all over Earth and elsewhere, set on dismantling the Fallen hierarchy, one House at a time. After a mission in Russia took out his eye, Arxus had to calm down for a while. He rested, recovered and reinvigorated himself. Little would he know, his next mission would have him joining one of the most prolific fireteams in Guardian history.

                                                                                                                                    

Many years later…

“Essal, wake up. Here they come.”

Arxus Essal had laid himself out upon a rocky alcove in the Cosmodrome’s Mothyards sector; his target today was a Fallen caravan, expected to be carrying sensitive information on their operations. It was too valuable an opportunity to pass up, so the Vanguard sent Arxus to do the job.

"I'm awake, Grim..." Arxus muttered, his eye shooting open to observe the rusted planes and whatever else was to behold in the Mothyards.

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