“Maintenance logs from a system engineer. She talks about how she’s having to do tasks for two people now that her mechanic buddy is gone. Everybody lost someone when the Cabal attacked us.” – your Ghost, after scanning a terminal in the new Tower.
For Nairb Travaris, the blue clad Warlock whose gun hand was as finely tuned as his mind, the Red War took the last of his fireteam… in a sense.
Philip had been unshakable. Even after they… lost… Jenn, he was 100% reliable, and the only Guardian Nairb completely trusted to have his back. Often the two of them would go in alone to situations that usually required fire teams of three, four, or six.
When the Red Legion came, Nairb took charge of getting as many civilians into underground bunkers and drainage systems as possible. Fighting was dangerous for all of them now, but even so, he did his share.
It was only after the Traveler had awoken and their Light had returned did he hear from Philip. The steady Titan, the one who Nairb always trusted to have his back… quit. Took an extended leave of absence, they both called it. “So I don’t end up like Jenn,” he had said.
So now Nairb was alone.
For Natela Tamaya Murk, the young, fresh faced Hunter who had somehow caught the eye and mentorship of one of The City’s legends, the Red War took the sister she had been fighting for.
She’d been off world when the Red Legion had attacked and she’d watched civilian researchers and fellow Guardians alike fall to the Cabal advance. Of course, she’d done what she could while deprived of the Traveler’s Light, but that mostly meant staying holed up during the day and scrounging for food and other supplies for herself and a handful of others each night until the bright wave of Light lit the Venusian sky and her powers were restored.
She raced back to The City as a matter of course, holding out hope that somehow her little sister Luminita had managed to survive. They’d lived on the rundown streets at the outskirts of The City by themselves for over two years before Natela had been… reborn… as a Guardian. If there was anyone Natela trusted to evade the Cabal and fend for herself, it was her little sister.
But, when she returned, Natela saw that not even her sister could have lived on the street when there were no streets to live on. The Tower itself was still smoldering when Natela first caught glimpse of what had happened to The City. And the district that Luminita had been housed in? There was nothing left but a submerged crater.
It would be another month before City officials finalized the list of those killed in the Red War. When that happened, Natela officially changed from the only Guardian to have a living blood relative to the only Guardian to have ever lost a sibling. And despite her Ghost’s insistence to the contrary, nothing seemed to matter anymore.
For Tesni Jarmila, the strong, tall Titan with pale blue skin, what she lost wasn’t a something or a someone… Abner did not really count as a friend… Rather it was… her purpose, her… faith… if one could call it that.
A long long time ago, when her Ghost first found her on the wreck of that drifting passenger liner, floating among rows of long decayed skeletons still strapped into their seats, Tesni had not fully believed what it told her. The Traveler? Its ancient enemy, the Darkness? And a last safe City far away on Earth? With no memory of who she had been before, and only the cold, detached intolerance of the small, asteroid bound colony of Awoken she and her Ghost had limped to in their barely functional Jumpship, it had not been easy to know what to believe.
For months she worked to earn her keep. Tunneling out the rock beneath her feet was not fun or glamorous, but it was better than nothing, and it kept her fed. An accident in one of the zero-g tunnels even proved her Ghost right about death having no hold on her. She’d been crushed twice more digging towards the trapped survivors, but when she emerged from that tunnel unscathed with what was left of her team behind her… it was the first time she’d been happy… at least as far as she could remember.
Then the Corsairs of the Awoken Royal Guard had come to collect her on the orders of their Queen. They clothed her, armed her, taught her how to move and fight, then sent her on the mission that, all the way until now, had set the course of her life. A mission to Earth. To contact that last safe City.
That was when she first saw it. For one brief moment she caught glimpse of the Traveler at the horizon’s edge. It stood out so bright and pure, silhouetted against the black of space as the blue green marble of a world covered in breathtaking white clouds grew large enough to fill the view out of every window.
Of course, the missiles had come a few short minutes later, and she’d watched in horror as her Ghost was sucked out of the cabin while they were still far from the ground. The crash landing had killed everyone except her. Somehow she’d formed a bubble of protective Light and had survived.
The next thirty years of her life had been no less of a struggle than that first one she’d shared with the Awoken on that far flung section of the Reef. Even without her Ghost, she’d lived her life as a defender of the powerless. Early on, that meant serving as law enforcement or patrolling the outskirts of villages and towns. Later, it meant working with other Light-bearers to free hundreds from the grip of an immortal warlord who claimed an entire region as his sovereign territory. Many of the civilians she’d help free had boarded the boats she’d helped secure and made it to The City she had never seen but still promised existed.
She hadn’t been quite so lucky, gunfire from the last of the Warlord’s forces raked her own boat and she ended up taking a five hundred year nap for her trouble. But then, her Ghost found her again at the edge of the shoreline she’d washed up on, and this time she didn’t just get to see the Traveler from afar. She was able to stand beneath it, in the middle of The City that she had indirectly helped build. She met the descendants of those she’d helped escape so many years before, and she continued doing what she did best.
The Fallen at Twilight Gap? Crota and the disaster at the Moon? Skolas and his ambitions? Oryx and his Taken? She weathered them all, and with the Traveler’s help, she kept The City safe.
But then came Ghaul and his Red Legion. Watching Cabal ships rain missiles down on civilian districts as the Traveler sat there and did nothing? It broke something inside her. Even with her Light restored as she assisted with the final push to liberate The City, she knew something had changed. She knew that she could no longer be the wall against which the Darkness broke…
When the three lead factions held their rally a few weeks later, Tesni Jarmila, who more than a few had dubbed a legend, for the first time did not stay above the political fray. Instead, she traveled down to docking bays of the new, makeshift Tower and pledged her support to Dead Orbit.
For Abner 4c6173746e616d65, the five hundred year old Exo Warlock with a chip on his shoulder and a wry word in his voice box, the Red War took his life.
His charred remains were found on a mid level of the Tower that had been struck by multiple Cabal missiles in the opening seconds of the Red War.
For Philip Wilks, the barrel chested Titan who always carried the biggest gun and always had the largest kill count, the Red War gave rather than took.
For three long years he had struggled to understand why Jenn had done it. Why she had ended her life inside her Tower apartment with two shots from her prized cannon. One for her Ghost. One for herself.
At one point early on after he had been cut off from the Traveler’s Light, he had been hiding, huddled, weak and afraid, as a Cabal patrol approached. Any other time, he would have stepped smoothly around the corner and surprised the four element unit trusting completely in his armor and his aim and his Light to keep him safe for the whole of the ten seconds it would have taken him to be the last one standing. But with his Light gone and his Ghost nothing more than a flickering toy on the ground at his feet… he had let them pass. He’d stayed hidden and let them pass and listened as they slaughtered a group of families he could have saved, Light or no Light.
For the rest of the war he performed his duty as flawlessly as he ever had. Defending a law enforcement station long enough for others to retrieve much needed weapons and ammunition. Escorting groups of civilians to makeshift shelters. Taking part in the Vanguard’s assault on the Traveler before it broke its bonds and put an end to the Red Legion’s emperor.
He’d saved hundreds, maybe thousands of lives, but every time combat ended he’d soon found himself in a dark corner, head in his hands, thoughts fixated on his one instance of fear and inaction.
He wasn’t sure what exactly it was… maybe the inner strength he felt as his Light had returned, but there, in another one of his dark places, it had hit him. The way he had felt… like a failure, like a coward, like he was powerless when he should have been at his best… that’s what she had felt too. Just… where he had later sought out help and revealed his fears to Nairb, to others, she had hidden hers in the crowds of that awful club.
She had never really been the same since that Fallen Captain nearly cut her down mid-stealth, her Arc Blade’s glow shrouded in invisibility. Its Shock Blade had sliced through her helmet and left a long, nasty gash across her face. He could remember her screaming, clutching at the cauterized scar through the remains of her helmet even after the captain had succumbed to his Arc Light charge. From then on, he remembered catching her time and time again resting her fingers along the line of that scar, even though her Ghost had long since healed the wound completely. Maybe he should have known how much inner anguish that small, repeated gesture represented for her, but… they’d all been injured and even dead before, and then their Ghost had revived them and they’d shaken it off.
It was only now that he could really understand what she had been going through. Jenn had been a master of movement. A true expert at weaving through enemy lines unseen and unheard. To suffer such an unexpected attack at the height of her powers? It had rocked her to her core. Even though she had put on a strong face and gone back out and done her job, she had never truly recovered. Her confidence in herself had been shattered, and she’d been stuck reliving that one moment for months on end. It was what had driven them apart. What had driven her to the noise and anonymity of that club night after night. What had, ultimately, driven her to suicide.
Maybe, just maybe it would have driven him there too, but in recognizing what had happened to her, he had been able to seek out help for himself.
No, the Red War had not taken anyone or anything from him. Instead, if not for the attack on the Traveler and his moment of weakness, he might have never known what she had truly been going through. So, somehow, in some perverse way, despite the tens of thousands killed, and the buildings lost, and the teammates who would never return, the Red War had given him the one thing he had longed for the most: