If speech had a physical body, then the Hall of the Guardians was the vast emptiness of space. Around the extended octagonal table that stretched a fair length of the room stood the leaders of the City, the heads of the factions and the Guardians that protected all those that lay cradled in the arms of the walls. The atmosphere was heavy with tension, almost suffocating, tugging at the lungs and minds of those within the banner clad halls. The Frames provided the only source of noise, asking frivolously if the leaders of the city were at ease. Are you thirsty, maybe a drink of water? Oh dear, you seem anxious, may I be of service? Oh, dear. Oh, dear! All were given relief of service with a soft shake of the head or a wave of the hand; no words were spoken by those assembled in the room.
A pair of footsteps were heard echoing down the stairs outside of the hall, synchronized with crippling unison. One voice could be heard, soft words holding power laced with polite etiquette, “Commander, you surely have no obligation to escort me to each of our meetings, you have unbelievable amounts of work to do for the protection of the city, for the light of this universe. I can make a short walk from my study to your hall without the threat of a Fallen invasion with thanks to the protection of your titans and the walls they crafted.”
Commander Zavala’s gravely voice responded with volumes of respect, “It is not so much a matter of safety as it is of respect, Speaker. And do not lay the credit of these walls on the likes of my leadership, these walls were forged by the Lords of Iron and Lord Saladin.”
The Speaker chuckled softly to himself, commenting on Zavala’s sense of humility as they entered the room. Behind them, two Titans closed the massive doors shut, and would stand guard, armed to defend the last leaders of humanity behind the doors. Zavala crossed the room and stood to the right side of the head of the table, crossing his arms behind his back. The Speaker took his place at the head of the table, his tone growing serious as he told the lone Frame the room to take the starting time of the meeting.
The Speaker cleared his throat before beginning. “This meeting of the Consensus is being conducted to discuss recent insufferable acts of a party of this Consensus, and the course of action this Consensus will reach in regard to these matters in respect to our current standing in this war with the darkness.” The power of his voice echoed away into the walls of the room and no one spoke, the silent tension in the room bubbled as the atmosphere heated to a boil. “Future War Cult has been charged with allegations of the confiscation of Vex technology, and failure to submit your findings to this Consensus, as decreed by the established laws of this war. How will the Future War Cult plead?”
Lakshmi-2, the representative of the War Cult, didn’t flinch a she stood before the Consensus, voice void of emotions, she struck the match to ignite the built tensions in the room. “Not guilty, of course.” Arach Jalaal, leader of Dead Orbit scoffed, crossing his arms, and Ikora Rey narrowed her eyes menacingly at the Exo, breathing in deeply as she did so. The Speaker nodded, and retorted, “Then this consensus opens to discussion. Who would like to speak first on the subject?”
Ikora immediately spoke up. “There have been several sightings from the Warlocks witnessing Guardians wearing the bonds and marks of the War Cult excavating Time Gates on Venus and Mars. Your guardians have also been found poking around in the Archives, and in various Vex structures, even reaching as far as Mercury. Any attempts at contact with them end with their Ghosts materializing them to their jumpships and launching them to any number of random locations. How do you explain these acts?”
Lakshmi-2 spoke with power, asserting a sort of dominance in the situation, above the Warlock member of the Vanguard. “I have not seen or heard of any confirmed sightings of my Guardians in any conjunction with the Vex, or their time gates. I find nothing uncommon about a team of Guardians going about any given scouting or patrolling mission, and leaving to continue their work, or to report their discoveries, which happen to be nothing out of the norm. Without any proof of illegal actions, any Guardian could accuse Future War Cult of being in violation of Consensus law by having a picnic with the Vex.”
Cayde-9, the Hunter Vanguard spoke at the end of her words, leaning forward with his hands placed firmly on the tale, his tone asserting. “This is no joking matter, Lakshmi. Several of my Hunters have reported similar findings as the Warlocks. Film isn’t needed for proof of treachery.”
If Lakshmi could smile she would have, as she turned her gaze to the other Exo in the room. “Then why are your Hunters not here to testify on the Consensus’s behalf, Cayde? Besides, do we really wish to trust the words of rogues like your precious Shin Malphur? Or the great Dredgen Yor and his Rose?” Cayde dug his fingers into the table, a scraping sound that grinded on the ears of those in the room, and quite possibly the Titans that stood outside. He took a step back from the table and crossed his arms, silent. Zavala made eye contact with him, silently commanding that his temper be cooled, this was not a battle that would be won with rage, but of judicial standing, and a slip of the tongue, so to speak, from the Hunter Vanguard could leave damaging effects. “My Hunters are too busy in the forests of Venus or the blizzards of Mars and the Reef to delay with a meeting to discuss actions that have occurred more than once. My Guardians seek the betterment of humanity in this war, what do yours seek?”
“Future War Cult seeks a proper defense against the darkness.” Lakshmi-2 turned her gaze to Arach Jalaal and Executor Hideo as she spoke. “Leaving the City or unifying the Consensus will do nothing to stop or damper the darkness. It will come. And when it does, the blood that runs red through the streets will not be that of my War Cult. We will be ready, and we will strike back with unrelenting force.” Lakshmi paused to let her words sink into the Consensus, the weight of her words bearing high tensions.
Arach Jalaal was the next to speak, his shrill voice leaving a chill in the air. “A Dead Orbit scouting party ran into a War Cult fireteam in possession of a Vex Mind Core. When seen, the fireteam opened fire on Dead Orbit immediately. Only one of my men managed to make it back to me.” Jalaal’s voice was grave, as he stared into Lakshmi-2’s soulless eyes. “There was a vid feed from the ghost to prove it.”
“Was?” The Speaker asked. “What happened to it?”
Jalaal sighed, shoulders sagging slightly before turning to address the Speaker. “It was in our possession during the time that this Consensus was motioned to meet. The file was saved in Dead Orbit’s data drives under restricted access, my own. During the night our firewalls came under attack and a virus forced it’s way in, destroying the feed and several other important caches of information vital to Dead Orbit. It’s gone, or worse, anyone could have it.”
Ikora Rey didn’t give the Speaker time to ask any further questions as she turned her words back to Lakshmi-2. “Future War Cult wouldn’t have anything to do with this disappearance, would they, Lakshmi?”
Lakshmi-2 never lost control of the situation, responding without emotion. “No, Warlock, they do not. Would anyone else care to impose any further untenable allegations?”
There was a long silence before New Monarchy’s representative finally spoke, his voice deep and booming. “These accusations are built upon sand. Do any members of the Consensus have justifiable evidence incriminating Future War Cult?” Around the room the Consensus was silent. The Monarchy’s representative crossed his arms and shook his head, sighing.
The Speaker remained silent, as did the corresponding members of the Consensus, before bringing the obvious answer to voice. “There appears to be none.” He said. Lakshmi turned on her heels, made her way for the door at the far end of the hall, saying only, “Then this meeting is over,” before pushing open the doors and exiting the room. Two armed Titans met her, each wearing the marks and emblems of Future War Cult.
Her advisor, clad in robes of similar nature, seemed to materialize from behind one of the Titans, gliding to her side. Lakshmi held out her hand and her advisor placed a data pad in her palm as the Titans met stride with her, hugging her flanks. Her eyes scanned over the data pad quickly, absorbing and processing the information stored on it. “What was the verdict, m’lady?” her advisor asked, his voice monotonous and neutral.
Lakshmi’s party crossed under the stairs at the end of the hall, rather than taking them up and was met by the closed doors of an elevator. The first Titan to reach the door pressed his fingers against the glass pad by the door, and a hum filled the air as the elevator raced to meet them. The air was otherwise silent aside from the general hustle and bustle of the tower. The doors opened to the elevator and the Titans shouldered past the people inside, forcing them out silently for the War Cult leadership. The doors closed and Lakshmi spoke, her eyes never leaving her data pad. “Not guilty, of course. How can punishment be issued with the lack of crime?”
“Of course, m’lady.” Her advisor responded in the same bland tone. The elevator hummed lightly as it dropped to the floors below as Lakshmi processed what she was reading before her. As she reached the end of the information provided to her, she remained silent, brfore asking, “How recent is this?”
“About a half hour now, m’lady.” The advisor responded, matter-of-factly.
“Then what are we waiting for? Send them in.” Lakshmi snapped at him, her temper flaring. I’ve had enough of this bullshit for one day. I’m done wasting time. She thought to herself impatiently. The doors opened and Lakshmi stepped away past her guards, filled with new vigor, piqued by the stresses of a useless meeting and obtuse allegations. She worked her way down the hall, turning in the familiar route that she had taken countless times before, until she reached her destination.
The Future War Cult embassy wasn’t anything too lavish, but it was comfortable nonetheless, a large lounge with scattered desks on one side of the room, a coffee table, a few chairs, a couch, and a much larger desk on the opposite side of the room. A large window stretched one side of the room, overlooking the city, a view Lakshmi both admired and had an utter distaste for. The wall and door shared with the hallway were also made of glass, giving Lakshmi-2 visibility of anyone who wished to enter before they had the chance to get anywhere near the door. Embroidered to the wall was the War Cult’s Sigil of Deviance, in the traditional gold, blood red, and royal blue. Above and below it were the words: “THERE IS NO FUTURE BUT NOW” and “NO TRUTH BUT WAR”.
She pushed the door open and it swung wide as she entered, crossing the room to her desk. A few people clad in the garb of Future War Cult carried out quiet conversations in the room, or went about their business working studiously at a desk. A Frame with a war cult banner slung over its shoulders approached Lakshmi-2 as she entered the room asking if she was in need of any assistance and was promptly ignored as she paced past to her desk. Her advisor followed her closely, but the Titans stopped at the door, and were relieved of duty after a slight wave of the hand.
As Lakshmi sat at her desk she could hear the booming voice of Executor Hideo from down the hall. “-nerve of calling a meeting of the Consensus for such a manner without any solid evidence? What are the vanguard and Arach Jalaal thinking? Commander Zavala needs to listen to reason and take command of this city. We don’t need a Consensus, we need a leader, and he’s the best person for the role.” As he passed the War Cult’s lounge he glanced inside, locking eyes with Lakshmi-2 for a brief moment before continuing down the hall to New Monarchy’s quarters, his voice diminishing back into silence.
“The Monarchy doesn’t seem to be enemies of Future War Cult, do they, m’lady?” The advisor asked, a little too loud for Lakshmi’s preference.
She waited a while before speaking, lost in thought staring after where she had last seen Hideo before he disappeared. “None of the factions are allies, Cantor. We all wish for the city and Consensus to adopt our ways of viewing this war and the governing of this city.” But she didn’t disagree with him; Hideo had not spoken against her faction during the meeting of the Consensus, whether it was by lack of evidence, a play at neutrality, or if he just didn’t care, Hideo hadn’t attacked her.
Her thoughts were again broken by Advisor Canto speaking in his usual neutral tone, “No, m’lady. They surely are not.”
END PART 1