The Lighthouse, the Caloris Spires, Mercury...
The clattering and jingling of wind-chimes echoed throughout the hallways and open spaces of the of the Lighthouse. Spheres of suspended solar light were held in the base of several stands, with many incense burning in the shape of slender and tall wicks. Banners fluttered from lines suspended between the gaps in the open space. Carpets lined the stone floors, and decorated the stoney walls, as several supply crates were placed about the floors of the Lighthouse. It was an almost mystical place, a holy temple as it filled with the air of reverence.
Several beings stood clad in yellow and black garments and armour, whether the robes of Warlocks, the cloaks of Hunters or the heavy armour of the Titans. Several wielders of Light, chosen by the Traveler and brought back from the dead with the assistance of Ghosts. At one point they held the title of something different, a title that once held pride to them when it was uttered in the past. Guardians. But now, they took up a new title after the title before brought thoughts of betrayal, of cowardice. Now, they were known as the Disciples.
They were either gathered in small groups; or they stood alone, consulting with their Ghosts. Either they spoke of their recent studies—or they spoke of the journeys they took out across the Fields of Glass—or they spoke of the Trials they participated in so often, to strengthen their abilities to battle. Few dared to move toward the Lighthouse's Observatory: the stone and metal chamber designed by the Vex for a purpose yet understood by the Disciples, but instead became the main study ground for Osiris.
Pariah rarely wandered up into Osiris' Observatory, given that there wasn't anything there that particularly was of interest to her. The Huntress' study under Osiris' doctrine has long been complete, whether it be about the collective minds of the Vex, or the deep lore of the Hive. The old Warlock trusted Pariah with this knowledge, and has on numerous occasions sent her throughout the inner Sol to gather information and conduct patrols about the many curiosities that interested him.
In fact, Pariah was one of Osiris' most trusted followers. Her notoriety throughout the Discipleship could not be understated, as many of the younger Disciples strived to be her, as the elders held a deep envy of her.
Pariah walked along the walkway that led to the circular platform that was upheld, as other Disciples moved out of her way. The Huntress walked slowly toward the centre platform, as she spotted the familiar shape that all Disciples looked up to: Osiris himself. The old Warlock stood with a feminine Titan, as he moved his hand around a series of holograms that represented the inner Sol. Osiris himself was covered in a series of yellow and black garments, decorated with the designs and the patterns that have come to represent the Discipleship. A red fabric belt was tied around his waist, as his robes covered even his feet. His hands and his face remained bare, completely exposed to the Solar light that flickered around the Sol.
Osiris turned his head toward Pariah as soon as the Titan turned hers, as he seemingly invited the Huntress to step closer. Pariah eventually came within a metre of Osiris and the Titan, as she placed her right hand over her breast and bowed courteously toward the old Warlock: a symbol of respect among the Disciples. Pariah then spoke softly, "Father, Sister Reina."
Osiris nodded his head only once, before he spoke with his respectable and commanding voice: "Glad that you can join us, Pariah."
"Yes. What appears to be the matter?"
Osiris moved his hand to the third sphere away from the centre of the holographic projection of the Sol, as he seized the object that wasn't there as he expanded the size of the planet. The Warlock, kept his finger pressed on the location on the planet, before he spoke carefully: "Have you heard of the news that has come from the City?"
"I don't really listen to them," Pariah replied, "have they finally decided to be a bit more interesting?"
"In a manner of speaking." Titan Reina replied, "They have gotten themselves in trouble, it seems."
"Curious. With what, exactly?"
"The question would be better phrased 'with who?" Osiris replied, as he released his grasp on the holographic sphere, as he placed his hands behind his back, "They have been engaged by something not of the Fallen, the Hive or of the Vex. It appears they are having internal struggles."
Pariah furrowed her brow, before she tapped her thumb against chin. She then spoke softly again, "And what would that appear to be?"
"They call themselves 'Humanum Tactus." Osiris explained, "A cult dedicated to loathing anyone who isn't human. Have become rather violent, apparently."
"Twenty-three Awoken were claimed in their first attack." Reina detailed, "And naturally, this had led to a divide in the City."
"I can hardly see how this is an issue, then." Pariah laughed coldly, "We planning to get involved, Father?"
Osiris glanced toward Pariah, his demeanour seemingly shifting Pariah's from a cold dismissal of the matter to an acceptance of its tragedy. The old Warlock nodded his head, before he spoke: "Despite our disagreements with the Consensus in hundreds of regards, we cannot simply excuse the City's importance, and use to us. If they fall to infighting, not only do we lose vital contacts in the City, but we will lose supply streams."
Pariah fell silent as Osiris spoke. It was accepted that while the Discipleship despised the City, there were planted Disciples and sympathisers in the City that provided important intelligence and assets. Glimmer and engrams could only go so far as a programmable material, and without any direct sources... it would require the Disciples to extend, with what few resources they had.
"So," Pariah asked, "we've decided to get involved?"
"Not directly." Osiris replied, "But we have rather disturbing reports based off the sensor details around Luna. A Guardian has frequented Earth's moon, and according to one of our scouts... descended into the Hellmouth. We need to figure out why, and whether or not they are involving themselves in the sorcery of the Hive."
"Why do you believe they are connected to this Humanum Tactus?"
"They have two travel locations, it seems. Luna, as mentioned... and the City itself. But they never really visit the Tower, it appears. So our curiosity is, where are they headed then?"
"Hive sorcery is the last thing we need inside the walls of the City." Reina replied, "Regardless of whether or not we like them, we cannot afford them to fall to the Darkness."
"What shall I do, then?" Pariah asked.
Osiris tilted his head down, before he wandered around the circular platform that the three stood upon. The old Warlock looked out across the Caloris Spires, toward the bright burning Sol before he heaved a sigh and turned back toward Pariah, as he lifted his hands back to the front of him. He spoke lowly, "I shall have you travel to Luna, to track down this Guardian. If they are doing what we suspect they are, they must be stopped. Kill them, and destroy their Ghost if necessary. But if they continue whatever operation they may have, then I fear the consequences may be too great to imagine."
Pariah nodded her head carefully, confirming and agreeing with what Osiris had just said. The Huntress had grown used to following the orders of the old Warlock, to traveling around the inner Sol to fulfil the missions and the operations that he had sent her to do. This was essentially no different from any of the other missions, but yet there was a greater consequence of if she failed.
"It will get done, Father." Pariah replied, as she bowed once more to show respect to the Warlock.
"I do suppose it will." He replied softly.
And with that, Pariah turned on her heel and headed back down the walkway she had just journeyed across to meet with the leader of the Disciples. The other members of the order shifted away, granting her passage as she headed for the outlook of the great drop that stretched from the top of the Lighthouse and down toward the ground kilometres below. The Huntress glanced up toward the large sun that remained suspended, directly in her field of vision.
Pariah took in as much of the solar light as she could, warmed by its presence.
After all, she needed it.
FOTC Headquarters, the Last Safe City...
The single white walled room had only three features of note: a one way mirror mounted on one of the walls, a long table and a person who was chained to it. He was seated upon one of two stools, as his hands were bound to the table. The man rested his hairy face against his arms, seemingly resting peacefully. The few bullet wounds that had marked his chest were cleaned and bandaged, removing any sense of pain and agony that he had felt only hours before. For the while, he slept—peacefully abiding his time, waiting for other officers to attempt to extract any more information from him.
The locked door clicked, as the red light flashed green as the clothed and armoured figure of Fenrir stepped through. The man looked up to Fenrir, as his eyes moved over the Hunter dismissively before he managed to scoff: "And here we are, again! Think you can get anything more from me, skinny boy?"
"Ethon Tyuk." Fenrir spoke coldly, "I want you to remember the feeling of getting shot that you had just a few hours ago. Because I can make it feel worse."
"What? You think you are scaring me?" Ethon laughed, "Look tough guy, I know your act!"
Avgust watched silently from behind the one way mirror, as he kept his arms folded. The darkened side room was lit with the single light of a monitor that was recording the interaction between Ethon and Fenrir. Along with him, Commander Ardghal and Lieutenant Erai stood to both his left and right sides respectively. The Titan could sense that Ardghal was hoping for a break in learning more about the motives of the attacks, and more information behind Humanum Tactus. Avgust couldn't blame Ardghal, because when it came to the safety of the City, they both hoped for a way to stubbing and stopping their enemies.
"I don't act." Fenrir replied, before he slammed his knife in the gap between Ethon's arms. The action caused the human to jump, as he emitted a cry of shock as Fenrir kept it positioned there. "I hope you realised a centimetre closer in any direction, and I would be cutting either of your arms."
"But you wouldn't actually do it!" Ethon shot back, "It's against your codes!"
Fenrir then seized the long hair of the man, as he tightened his grasp on it before he pushed Ethon's head into the handle of the knife. A bruise quickly formed on Ethon's forehead, as the man cried in genuine pain. The force of the knife cracked the table further, as it sunk in more. The Hunter then reeled back the head of Ethon, before the reflective eyepieces of his gas mask reflected back the features of the man: "It's against the law to kill twenty-three people. You didn't follow those rules, so I don't follow mine."
"By the Void," Erai hissed, "what's he doing?!"
"Let it happen, Lieutenant." Ardghal replied, as Erai turned to take a sharp glance at her Commander. He sighed, "I know, I know... but if we don't get anything else, more people will suffer and die."
"Doesn't make us much better..." Erai replied.
Avgust listened to Erai and Ardghal, but he opted to remain silent. It was difficult for the Titan to assume a stance on the issue, as he simply continued to watch the interaction between Ethon and Fenrir. The man stuttered for breath, as the Hunter circled around him.
"Where are your friends?" Fenrir then asked.
"You think a single hit will do me in, pal?!" Ethon demanded, "I'm not selling them out!"
"I might be able to angle another shove properly to put one of your eyes out of commission. Permanently. So tell me, where are they hiding?"
"We aren't hiding! Look around buddy! We are everywhere!"
"I don't think you are. Decent people wouldn't do the disgusting things you have done. So tell me..."
The Hunter then kicked the stool out from underneath Ethon, as the man fell down toward the ground. With his arms locked in place, he couldn't simply bring his arms down with him in the fall. Instead, they bent at and odd angle and nearly snapped as Ethon attempted to find a place for his feet under his body. He cried out in a sharp pain, as he struggled to find a place for himself to stand, as his arms began to bruise.
"W-what monster of the Darkness are you?!" Ethon stuttered to ask.
"I'm not the monster here Ethon..." Fenrir tutted, "That would be you. I'm not going to ask again!"
"I-I don't know! Okay?! I don't know!"
"I find that hard to believe."
"I... I never went to where they are! Alright! They were picky with who they brought to headquarters! I-I was just recruited! I believed everything they said! So they let me..."
"They let you shoot and kill innocent people." Fenrir nearly spat with disgust.
"The Awoken?!" Ethon laughed, "They aren't people! They are mistakes is what they are! T-they were born in the Darkness my friend!"
"I'm not your friend. Now tell me, what is Humanum Tactus' next move?"
Avgust watched on, expecting a response. However the Titan was mildly disturbed as instead, Ethon began to laugh in an unsettling manner. Erai unfolded her arms, as her face turned into one of shock. Ardghal watched on, as he placed his hands on the desk in front of him.
"We wait!" Ethon then said, as he continued to laugh, "Watch as we take back our City! Throw out the blue bastards, and the buckets!"
Fenrir then took the head of Ethon, before he slammed it against the desk once more. The human cried out in pain, as Fenrir growled: "Tell me."
Ethon continued to cry, as he managed to struggle out a: "W-we prod them! W-watch! We will guide them!"
With one final effort, Fenrir took the head of Ethon and slammed it for one final time. This time, it was with enough force to shatter the human's nose as he fell completely limp—knocked out cold. The Hunter then released the grasp he had on Ethon's hair, as he collected his knife from the table and sheathed it once more. Fenrir briskly marched through the single door into the room, before he turned to join the three in the mirrored room.
"What'd you just do?" Erai demanded, as she stared at Fenrir. The Hunter shrugged, as Erai then continued: "It is not our job to brutalise, Officer Fenrir! What were ya thinking?!"
"I was looking for answers," Fenrir replied, "that was what I got. Are you unsatisfied with the arrangement?"
"There are still rules!"
"We will excuse Officer Fenrir this once," Ardghal then interjected, "remember this is a rather sensitive matter, Erai. We need whatever leads we can get."
"Didn't get any leads..." Erai muttered, "We knew there'd be more attacks, but confirming that doesn't really do much."
"If I may," Avgust then spoke, as all attention shifted toward him, "if what Ethon said here is true, Humanum Tactus is arming people. They are likely already predisposed to being violent against the Awoken or Exo. If they are really recruiting off the streets, then Humanum Tactus are going to be in high-tension areas."
"We already have officers in the more violent districts," Ardghal spoke, "no reports yet of this Humanum Tactus. Do you really think they are out there?"
"Ethon said they are waiting. If that is true, there is no reason for them to get involved. But they will likely still be there, waiting for the moment to strike."
"How bad is West Industrial?" Fenrir then asked, as if he had been contemplating something.
"Worst region we have." Erai confirmed, "Void, I think they've confirmed..."
Erai paused, as her eyes widened. She looked between the three other members of the group, before she removed the datapad from her belt and lifted it up for all three to see. She pulled up a certain communication chain, before she honed in on it and spoke again: "They got guns!"
"Then they are operating in West Industrial..." Ardghal muttered, as he stroked his chin in consideration before he spoke: "Erai: take Avgust and Fenrir and head into the West Industrial District. I want you to search the place, and determine where the source of weapons may be from. Locate it, seize them and apprehend whoever you can!"
"Yessir!" Erai said, offering a sharp salute to her Commander as Avgust quickly followed suite. Fenrir kept his arms folded, as he turned his head back toward Erai before she then spoke: "Some advice: they've apparently been targeting officers, both sides. Might be like a war zone out there."
"We're trained for this." Avgust replied, "Just tell us what to expect."
"Hm." Erai thought, before she continued: "Brawls between the Awoken and Humey's. Maybe a few weapons, not many'd be guns. Thinking Humanum Tactus'll be in a larger factory on the Humey side of the district."
"Think or know?" Fenrir asked.
"That's the joy of being a part of the FOTC, Fenrir. There is no real way to tell, is there?"
Fenrir remained quiet for a moment, before he muttered: "No."
"We will think on our feet." Avgust then said, "«Davay,» we can't waste time."
The West Industrial District, the Last Safe City... An hour later...
There was nothing but loud echoes that carried across the dead winds of the city streets of West Industrial. Bins of rubbish were thrown around the streets, with broken wooden pallets and planks. Glass shards scattered across the streets, whether broken into small 'pebbles' or kept in the shape of long clear blades. The gravel streets were slick with the rainwater that fell only hours before—protected by the grey clouds overhead—while a crimson substance added itself to the mixture. Doors were kicked down, windows were thrown out... and the crowds responsible for this destruction fought.
Injured bodies littered the streets, either crawling desperately to escape the intense flames of the battle, or paralysed to be left to watch the violence. The blue skinned and the human skinned fought in the streets, who took familiar shapes in shape. Two figures of human skin ran away from the violence, more distinctly a mother and her child.
"Karyn!" Cried the mother as the small child started to fall behind. The mother reached out and grabbed her crying child's hand, as the latter began to cry. She knew her child was likely extremely tired, and scared. The violence had broken out not too long ago, and their home was stormed into by the Awoken. She fled with her child after they—
There was a shout, as the mother turned around and spotted a group of Awoken, wielding a variety of blunt and sharp objects. One from the crowd of the Awoken called out, "Where do you think you are going?!"
The mother forced Karyn behind her back as she stepped away slowly, clearly frightened and afraid as the group of Awoken approached. The mother put her hands up between the Awoken and her child, before she stuttered: "P-please! I didn't do anything!"
"Yes you have!" The Awoken taunted, "You take the blood of our people? We'll take some of yours!"
"W-we didn't do anything!"
"They didn't either!"
The Awoken man stepped forward, as he threatened to smash the crowbar he held in his hand against the mother's face. She covered her head as she prepared herself for the blow, hoping to protect her screaming and crying child. The mother sobbed, knowing that she might never again see her child, and that it was very much possible that her child might be killed as well.
A gunshot echoed.
The Awoken man screamed in pain, as the other members of his group dispersed as other gunshots cracked and followed their running shapes. The Awoken cried in fear, as a few of them fell onto the blood wet gravel under them and ceased their movements, while others tried to crawl away from the chaos. In the end, the mother and her sobbing child were left standing alone in the streets.
The mother uncovered her eyes and head, as a black shape filled her vision. A glove pressed itself on one of her wounds, as a hand helped her take a seat. A second shape joined it, trying to comfort the child as the mother stuttered: "K-Karyn! Are you alright?"
"She is fine." The voice said, as the mother's vision soon cleared up enough to recognise the shape and colour of a human behind the gas mask. The human reached and removed a bandage from their utility belt, along with some alcohol as they started to clean the cuts and bruises.
"T-thank you for—"
"There is no need for thanks, just rest."
The mother sat there quietly, before she felt the familiar shape of her child latch on to her arm and hold her tight. It was then she realised that these figures had protected not only her, but her child as well. And now here they were, treating their injuries and wounds. The human removed a flask, as they extended it to the mother. She grabbed on to it, seemingly suspicious of it before the human said: "It's water."
The mother untwisted the lid, as she took a quick swig of the substance. It was clean, and refreshing—unlike the water that they typically got through the faucets in West Industrial. After taking a second drink, the mother with confidence passed it on to her child as Karyn started to drink of the water provided by their protectors.
"Who are you?" The mother eventually asked.
What followed was a seemingly ominous silence, as the figure looked her directly in the eyes before they gestured toward the armband that they wore: the universal symbol of an open human palm.
"We are Humanum Tactus."