Published on: May 18, 2015 @ 11:47
The House of Wolves Grimoire is available to read early! Click on an image to enlarge it, and click the dropdown to read each entry.
Major spoilers below.
Ghost Fragment: Thorn 3
Ghost Fragment: Thorn 3
PARTIES: Two . One  Ghost-type, designate [REDACTED] [u.1], One  Guardian-type, Class [REDACTED] [u.2]
ASSOCIATIONS: [REDACTED]; Breaklands; Durga; Last Word; Malphur, Shin; North Channel; Palamon; Thorn; Velor; Ward, Jaren; WoS; Yor, Dredgen;
[u.1:0.1] You were not always this man.
[u.1:0.2] Then the math says you do not need to remain this man. You can be other.
[u.2:0.2] I am other.
[u.1:0.3] You can be better.
[u.2:0.3] This is better.
[u.1:0.4] That matter, at best, is subjective.
[u.2:0.4] Then what? Lesser.
[u.1:0.5] Some would say.
[u.2:0.5] But what would you say?
[u.2:0.6] All we’ve seen and now, here with me, you have no words.
[u.1:0.6] I have words.
[u.1:0.7] But you will not like them.
[u.2:0.8] There is much I do not like.
[u.1:0.8] More now than ever it would seem.
[u.1:0.9] I find no laughing matter in your path.
[u.2:1.0] Only in the journey.
[u.1:1.0] What brought you here was nobility.
[u.2:1.1] And my prize.
[u.1:1.1] That is no prize.
[u.2:1.2] A curse then?
[u.1:1.2] I would say.
[u.2:1.3] And I would disagree.
[u.1:1.3] You are no longer yourself.
[u.2:1.4] I am myself. It’s who I was that’s gone.
[u.1:1.4] Who you were held all the value.
[u.2:1.5] To you.
[u.1:1.5] To the Light.
[u.2:1.6] The Light…
[u.1:1.6] It is all.
[u.2:1.7] It is nothing but a crutch.
[u.1:1.7] One that has held you up.
[u.2:1.8] Only just. And nothing more.
[u.1:1.8] Nothing more? You were a hero.
[u.2:1.9] And yet people still die. Corruption still exists. Light still fades. And Darkness still spreads.
[u.1:1.9] As it will ever be, that doesn’t mean you give in to…
[u.2:2.0] To what? Hope.
[u.1:2.0] This is not hope.
[u.2:2.1] This is peace.
[u.1:2.1] You have blood on your hands.
[u.2:2.2] How’s that any different than prior?
[u.1:2.2] Innocent blood.
[u.2:2.3] Matter of perspective.
[u.1:2.3] That’s the shadow talking.
[u.2:2.4] And am I not.
[u.1:2.4] The shadow?
[u.2:2.5] Ya know… These past cycles, you’ve made an honorable effort. Tried your best to correct my course. But I don’t know it needs correcting.
[u.1:2.5] And if it does?
[u.2:2.6] Could be too late.
[u.1:2.6] ‘Could be’ is a winding path.
[u.2:2.7] Long way from where I was to where I’m going.
[u.1:2.7] That is my hope. That there is still time.
[u.1:2.8] Corrective measures. The righting of our path. The cleansing of your shadow and a return to the Light.
[u.2:2.9] Why’d you pick me?
[u.1:2.9] It doesn’t work that way.
[u.2:3.0] Was I special?
[u.1:3.0] You were.
[u.2:3.1] But only as special as any other.
[u.1:3.1] You are all special.
[u.2:3.2] Seems to contradict the word don’t it.
[u.1:3.2] Not in my estimation.
[u.2:3.3] If we’re all special, are any of us special?
[u.1:3.3] Is that what you want? To be special?
[u.1:3.4] You dismiss, but it’s a very serious questions. Is that all you’re after? Is all of the death worth that badge?
[u.2:3.5] Am I not already more than the rest?
[u.1:3.5] Looking at you here, now. The smoke, ash and bone at your feet mark you as so much less.
[u.2:3.6] Maybe. And yet here you are.
[u.2:3.7] You have been at my side every step of the way.
[u.1:3.7] Where else would I be?
[u.2:3.8] Yet you disagree so thoroughly with my change in perspective.
[u.1:3.8] If only the change was simply one of perspective. You’re “evolution” was no choice. This is not you having come to an understanding after careful considered thought. This is corruption.
[u.2:3.9] The shadows?
[u.1:3.9] The Darkness.
[u.2:4.0] Maybe so.
[u.1:4.0] There is no maybe here.
[u.2:4.1] And you think you can save me?
[u.1:4.1] I rekindled your Light, it falls first to me to aid in its survival.
[u.2:4.2] I tire of it.
[u.1:4.2] You must try…
[u.2:4.3] I tire of you.
[u.2:4.4] That is no longer my name.
[u.1:4.4] I will not speak the other.
[u.2:4.5] It doesn’t matter. This is where we part ways.
[u.1:4.5] I will not leave you.
[u.2:4.6] I am leaving you.
[u.1:4.6] Without me, your journey ahead will be more than any one Guardian can handle.
[u.2:4.7] That’s the point. It’s been sometime since you saw me as worthy of walking among those I once called brother and sister. Yet… anymore, I feel as though I am worthy of so much more.
[u.1:4.7] Without me… You will die.
[u.2:4.8] Someday. Won’t be the first time.
[u.2:4.9] Consider this my last good deed. I am releasing you of the burden of my deeds, both done and yet to come.
[u.1:4.8] I will not abandon you.
[u.2:5.0] You will. Or I will carve the Light from your shell and leave the carcass of my first and last friend in the dirt of this dull, red world for no one to find.
[u.1:4.9] Then I’ve failed you, completely.
[u.2:5.1] Not me. Maybe the man I was.
[u.1:5.0] He is truly dead.
[u.2:5.2] I believe so.
[u.1:5.1] Belief is not fact.
[u.2:5.3] Semantics I no longer have the patience for.
[u.2:5.4] When you speak of me, use my proper name. Tell them of the man that stands before you, not the ghost of the hero I once was.
[u.1:5.2] You will always be [REDACTED] to me.
[u.2:5.5] If you cannot let that man go, you will forever taint his legacy. All the good I have ever done will be washed away in the fire of who I have become.
[u.1:5.3] If you care, there is still some promise within you.
[u.2:5.6] If I am being honest, I care only to give hope to the frightened, huddled masses so that when I come upon them they will have more to lose. Their pain will be greater. Their screams more pure.
[u.2:5.7] Nothing dies like hope. I cherish it.
[u.1:5.5] You’re a monster.
[u.2:5.8] Finally, you see the truth.
[u.1:5.6] [REDACTED] is truly dead.
[u.2:5.9] So I’ve said. Long live Dredgen Yor.
[u.1:5.7] This is farewell, but you can only run from your sins so far. In the end, you will die alone.
[u.2:6.0] Maybe so. But I gotta tell ya… I tend to like my odds.
[u.1:5.8] Your tainted “Rose” will not always save you.
[u.2:6.1] Old friend… It already has.
The Sidearms class is made up of lightweight pistols designed for ease of handling and quick-firing. Its antiquated triggering system and engineering make it rare within City limits.
As it’s long been a staple of the Awoken Royal Guard, perhaps this newly forged alliance between the Reef and the City will see the Sidearm become commonplace within Guardian arsenals.
“A Reef scout hunts for years—fighting piracy and ancient traps—to crack one cache and claim the weapons within.”
Imagine: you live in the largest territory in the system. A huge torus of habitable, explorable space. But there’s a catch. That huge space is made up of millions and millions of nooks and crannies. Asteroids. Crumbling derelicts. Debris from dozens of wars. It’s a place where you could go for thousands—millions—of miles without ever seeing another friendly face, and yet never once be able to stretch your legs.
Now imagine: you’re spelunking across an asteroid, or crawling through a half-collapsed ship that could be hundreds of years old. You won’t see enemies coming, not in a tight corner like that. Won’t hear ’em or smell ’em either, not in the void. But then you move, or they move, and there you both are.
Rifles, shotguns, they aren’t gonna cut it. You don’t have room to heft a barrel of that length. Don’t have the arm room to throw a knife or a grenade either. But what you do have is a sidearm at your hip. Small enough for a fast draw, strong enough to save your life.
That’s why the Queen sends out every last Corsair with a Vestian Dynasty sidearm at our hips. And Vestian Dynasty is what gets us home again too.
Lord of Wolves
Lord of Wolves
“By this right alone do I rule.”
Jolyon was a Crow. He’d seen much. More than most. He held the enemy’s greatest weapon. Remembered its burn. Then began tinkering. He liked things. Liked how they worked. Found happiness in finding new avenues through which a thing could function. Not to alter the purpose, but simply to refine it.
The weapon delivered impact with incredible force spread over a range to increase its area of influence. But what if that force was brought to focus in a directed burst. A seasoned marksman with a steady, strong hand could deliver a burn that served less to herd, more to punish.
The feral ones deserved nothing less. The Wolves would have a new master. And that master was fire.
“I am a marvel with ten thousand arms.”
There is a story, old as time, of he who could catch the stars. Unnamed and eternal, the star-catcher would lead the Fallen, rising from the lowest station to the highest exalted peaks. It is a fairy tale allowed to persist by the four-armed to keep the docked hopeful, placated—even the low may one day ascend.
Myth, fairy tale or a prophecy of what will be, it’s best to not take chances. After all, one can’t reach across the black to claim dominion over ten thousand stars with ten thousand arms if they die here and now with only two.
“A reminder that while so few ‘Breakers remain, Her Majesty still stands.”
“Queenbreaker” was the label given to the Fallen who first rose to betray the Queen. Their coordinated attempt on Her Grace’s life was quick and violent. Most of the Queenbreakers were eliminated, their line rifles taken as trophies. Some remain at-large.
Known as Queenbreakers’ Bows, the very weapons once used in an effort to assassinate the Queen of the Reef are now prized possessions for Guardians—not only for their storied history, but for the chance to get their hands on fully functional Fallen weaponry.
“Until none stand.” – Lord Shaxx
3v3 Round-based competitive combat engagements. The objective: eliminate the enemy team before they eliminate you. Points are awarded by Round.
Work together and revive teammates to keep fighting. Teamwork and communication are as powerful as any weapon.
[NOT APPROVED] “Only the strong are welcome here.” [NOT APPROVED] – Lord Saladin Forge, hero of the Twilight Gap
The Lords of Iron, ancient warriors from the City’s founding, have no time for mollycoddling. The City remembers Felwinter and Jolder, Skorri and Timur, Radegast and Gheleon and the others, for their invincible patrols during Six Fronts and the Wall-building. The Iron Banner asks Guardians to live up to that legend.
Lord Saladin, once Shaxx’s mentor, runs the Iron Banner tournaments to strip Crucible weaklings of their illusions and prepare them for a battle with no concept of fair play. The Iron Banner tests a Guardian and the Guardian’s gear in a definitive, relentless mock war.
By order of the City Consensus and the Speaker, Saladin and Shaxx cooperate in administration, and the Iron Banner is technically a component of the Crucible. In practice, Saladin keeps his own schedule, his own rewards, and his own territory in the Tower. Now and then someone tries to get Zavala, Shaxx, and Saladin to sit down for dinner and sort out their differences, but they remain as awkward and as stubborn as Saint-14’s skull.
Trials of Osiris
Trials of Osiris
[NOT APPROVED] “If you think you’re ready, then you’re ready.” [NOT APPROVED] – Brother Vance, Disciple of Osiris
The Cult of Osiris wants something. Whatever it is, it might be obtained through violence. The Trials are a competition built to identify Guardians who never lose.
The Warlock Osiris vanished into exile years ago. Unlike solitary Toland, Osiris left a network of acolytes and admirers who carry on his work.
The Cult invites only select Guardians to their tournament, and only in teams of three. The Cult wants effortless teamwork, inexorable momentum, and something else: consistency, perhaps, or luck, or fate. Any fireteam that loses three matches is ejected from the tournament. Fireteams that win again and again earn spectacular rewards.
“The Cabal are too structured, too disciplined. Let’s show ’em what fun looks like.”
ARENA DESIGNATION: Black Shield
LOCATION: Firebase Thuria, Phobos
Codenamed “Black Shield,” this decommissioned Firebase is believed to have been a key position used by the Cabal as they established their warbase on the surface of Mars. With the majority of their forces stationed planet side, Guardians have been able to claim Black Shield as a competitive training ground.
Both Shaxx and Commander Zavala have questioned the Cabal’s strategy, believing that forfeiting such a strategic position may one day leave the Cabal, and Mars, open to a proper offensive.
“OUR HOUSE!” – Crucible Reclamation and Security Squad, C-18-Green upon clearing the Thieves’ Den for Crucible use
Following the defeat of the House of Winter’s ruthless Kell, Draksis, Guardians found a number of abandoned Fallen enclaves throughout the Ishtar Sink. Most were cleared out, but this recently-active Fallen hideout remained mostly intact, complete with idling Skiff and constant reminders of the Fallen’s presence.
“Gears are busted, but if this clock ever starts ticking…? We’ll be outta luck, and outta time.”
Another mysterious structure built by the Vex millenia ago or to come. The rogue Warlock Osiris once theorized that this place, and others like it, were tuned to react only with presence of the Darkness itself.
“It’s only quiet ’til the shooting starts.”
Nestled against the crumbling facade of a derelict wall on the edge of the European Dead Zone, there are countless stories of the events that left this small village a ghost town. But its eerily quiet streets and nostalgia have made it a favorite of Lord Shaxx.
House of Wolves
“Prove your Light.”
Arenas present Guardian Fireteams with a series of aggressive and increasingly challenging combat scenarios. Skill, teamwork and every weapon in a Fireteam’s arsenal are needed to triumph.
Those brave Guardians who withstand the onslaught and emerge victorious will be rewarded with glory and treasure beyond compare.
Prison of Elders
Prison of Elders
Variks the Loyal remembers an ancient time, and an ancient name: the House of Judgment, when grudges and status fights were worked out in a safe place. When the berserk and the vengeance-crazed were kept somewhere harmless, and there were fewer rivals to plot around.
The old Fallen ways align perfectly with the Queen’s agenda. With the House of Wolves in disarray, the Queen needs muscle in the Reef. Guardians go where the treasure and the glory is, and an arena of champions is a wonderful place to earn both. Guardians in the Reef deter threats to the Queen and give the Awoken a chance to learn about their power and subvert their loyalty to the Traveler. And if, as the Queen worries, the Nine are scheming against her, then she needs a good excuse to clear out some of the most dangerous prizes in the Prison of Elders.
And the Prison of Elders is full of dangerous prizes. The Awoken have captured titanically dangerous specimens from everywhere in the inner solar system. These monstrous champions want to smash Guardian bone and Guardian alloy—and given the chance, they’ll kill Guardians, rend their Ghosts, and snuff them out forever. Walk into the arena with a Fireteam you trust. And beware: the agents of the Nine are active in the Reef, and their curiosity is as limitless as it is inscrutable.
Risk death. Win glory and signs of Her Majesty’s favor. But always remember that you are being watched, and tested.
The Hunt For Skolas
The Hunt For Skolas
Variks: My Queen, my Kell. It is Skolas they say.
Petra: That’s impossible. My Lady, you assured us all that Skolas would never be seen again.
Queen: Has it been confirmed?
Variks: What does it matter? They always fear him—dead or alive. If not this Skolas then another Kell. It is why the Queenbreakers rise, and the Prison breached. No one will call you Kell when a true heir makes a claim.
Queen: Petra, report to my brother for any intel from the Crows. Variks, see to your channels. Find the one who calls himself Skolas.
Variks: Yes, of course, my Queen, my Kell.
Petra: Your Grace, I will not relent until it is done.
Queen: I know. That’s why I’ve called you back.
A Kell Rising
A Kell Rising
Queen: So it is no lie, it is Skolas?
Petra Venj: Yes, my lady. A Guardian got eyes on him in the Ishtar Sink, I used Ghost telemetry to confirm. Same pelt. Same awful voice. We drove him from Winter’s Lair. How did he—
Queen: And you would have me consider this a success? What of Winter itself? Your report is unclear…
Petra: You are correct, my lady. I would not call our mission a success. Skolas managed to win over—well, a substantial number of Winter soldiers have taken up the Wolf banner. He calls himself Kell of Kells now.
Petra: We found him once, we can do it again. I have a plan in place. As soon as the Guardian returns—
Queen: Then go. Continue the hunt. Petra, you must not fail.
Gone to Ground
Gone to Ground
Petra paces back and forth before the console. At the controls, Variks efficiently moves through a decryption sequence. Four arms interweave as his claws dance across the interface. She shakes her head. His cybernetic arms whine—almost imperceptibly, tiny high pitched noises as the servos manipulate the limbs.
Variks: No sign of Skolas, but the Silent Fang. He has unleashed the Fang. They hunt the Devils. On Earth.
Petra: The Fang on Earth. Devils. And Kings? Nice work, Variks.
Variks: Pleasure is all mine.
The Silent Fang
The Silent Fang
Queen: Ha! I had not thought it would be so easy, my brother. The Silent Fang brought low.
Uldren: I do not see why this is funny. This Guardian may have dealt with them on Earth, but my Crows say we still have much to fear. More of the Fang survive, nearly every one of them made it out alive.
Queen: I find no humor in any of this, brother.
The Queen rises and descends to the bottom of the stair, turning in place to take in the chamber.
Queen: So empty, now. No Wolves to sit at my feet. My guards—
Queen: Talk to Petra. Set more bounties, hunt down any of the Fang your Crows can track. They may have escaped the Prison of Elders, but they will not escape my Wrath.
The Ruling House
The Ruling House
Variks stares up through the shielding surrounding the Vestian Outpost. The thin filament of energy almost imperceptible, keeping in the heat and atmosphere within the confines of the hollowed out ketch hull. His mandibles idly opened and closed as he contemplated the view.
Variks (to himself): Goes after Winter. Devils, Kings. Seeks power. Kings deny him. Kell of Kings hides well. Perhaps he will take back the Great Machine. Perhaps I chose the wrong side. It is not too late—
Petra (over comm): Variks, Crows are reporting Skolas is back in the Ishtar Sink. They’re all over the Vex networks.
Variks: Yes. Right away.
The Kell of Kells
The Kell of Kells
Petra: So— any other Fallen houses hiding he’ll try to convert?
Variks: He may seek to gather the Exiles, but they will not follow. They follow none, no Kell, no Archon.
Petra: What about this House of Rain, the Prophecy you keep quoting?
Variks: House Rain lost in Whirlwind. No survivors, but I keep their prophecies. You think many claim to be Kell of Kells, but none have. House Judgment closest thing to peace the Fallen ever know.
Petra: Heh. Maybe you are the Kell of Kells.
Variks (distracted by screen): Looks like Skolas returns to Venus.
Petra: I’ll find the Guardian.
Uldren: Nearly the whole fleet, your Grace. Back in the Ishtar Sink.
Queen: He fails at his little prophecy, so he’ll look to rule from
Simiks-fel, now that Draksis is gone—
Uldren: I thought the same thing, but my Crows say he’s not there. We’ve found more of his Guard leading parties into the Vault of Glass.
Queen: Tell Petra I have changed my mind. Skolas is to be brought in alive.
A bellow erupts from the barred grate at her feet. Bony fingers claw at the bars, their sharp points just inches from her toes.
Prince Uldren chuckles. At the edge of the room the Techeuns circle, their implants glowing faintly blue in the shadows.
“He’s been… amusing… since Petra bring him,” Variks injects, practically purring with glee. “He say ‘Kell of Kells,’ over and over. And other such nonsense.”
Skolas bellows again. Variks strikes Skolas’ grasping fingers with his staff.
The Queen’s expression remains mild. She looks down her nose at the glowing eyes burning in the shadows beneath the grate.
Skolas falls abruptly silent. Then a low, soft growl—almost like a whine—echoes from the cell below. Variks’ mechanical hands click as he snaps them together in surprise.
“What’s he—” begins Uldren.
Variks interrupts with a burst of guttural clicks directed at the grate.
The Queen does not react. “What did he say?”
“He says…” Variks hisses under his breath. “He makes no sense, my Queen. He speaks of…Light-Snuffer. Dark-binder.”
The Queen aims her eyes at Skolas, her expression unchanged. “I see.”
“He will not say more—”
“He does not need to.” She turns toward the door.
“My Queen—what of this one?” says Uldren. “He awaits your sentence.”
“You would not sentence a rabid dog, or a Hive Thrall, or a bomb. The Queen’s justice is wasted on one such as it.” She paused. “Variks.”
“Yes, Your Grace…”
“Skolas is yours. Let the children of Light have their play with him.”
“Ahhh…you are might and justice, my Queen, my Kell.”
The Techeuns gather at the door as the Queen approaches it. Prince Uldren holds it open with a small bow, and the Queen touches his shoulder as she passes. “Send a Crow to Mercury. And another to our new friend in the Tower.”
The Shadow Thief
The Shadow Thief
“The Wolves have sent a mercenary to Luna. Taniks, the Scarred. He would steal from the Hive all they know. Would align the Fallen with the shadows. You will stop him… but he will rejoice in your interference. Embraces conflict does Taniks. Revels in the trophies he collects from all he defeats. End his games.” – Variks, the Loyal
Variks, The Loyal
Variks, The Loyal
They call me betrayer. They do not think I hear the words. “Bug.” “Insect.” “Fallen.”
I hear. House of Judgment always hears. No choice. Has to. To keep Houses together. Had to.
First , the Great Machine. Then, sky fell away. Whirlwind ripped away the past. All honor lost, all hope. Judgment not
enough. Cannot keep Wolves from Kings, Scar from Winter. Fell to fighting. Fell to hate.
Judgment gone. Others slaughtered, slain. Death and docking. “Keep Eliksni together,” lost to pride and rage.
Traveled with the many houses before Wolves. We move, across the dark. Follow the Light. Advise Kells, worshiped Primes. House Judgment must survive, yes?
Found the Light. Too bright in Darkness to hide. House Winter, attack. House Devils, plot. House Kings, plan. House Wolves circle. House Judgment… wait.
Now at war. Fight for system, control the belt. Wolves Kell dead, dying.
Skolas wins control of House Wolves. Attack, attack, attack. Place of learning, place of healing, put to the burn. Then Siege of Pallas. Year of cruelty. Held the line to rescue butchers, murderers, Servitor. Ends with Wolf fleet scattered.
New tactics. Detonations. Blasts in civilian areas. Take the fight to them, he said. Cannot abide the hate. Uprising, they called it. Uprising on Cybele.
Reach out to Crows, to Queen. Cybele attack stopped. Skolas captured. Ended House of Wolves with words.
Paladins find me hiding, cowering. Nowhere else to go. No one else to be. I become Variks, the Loyal. House Judgement envoy to Queen of Awoken.
No choice. House Judgment must survive. Yes?
Petra Venj, Queen's Wrath
Petra Venj, Queen's Wrath
To My Lady Mara Sov, Queen of the Awoken
My letter is a plea, my lady. A simple one. Please let me come home.
It has been years now since my appointment as your Emissary. Once, I was proud to call myself a Corsair in your service. My sisters and I were the sharp edge of your will, cutting across the stars in protection of the Reef.
It was your service that kept me from sorrow after Amethyst was razed. The loss of my sisters, my whole life, as our station burned… it took something from me.
By your will, it was given back to me.
Promoting me to the Corsairs, allowing me to strike back at the Wolves. Letting my fury find purchase in defense, in support, and in glorious battle. I know, as I’m sure you did, that without focus my heart would have grown toxic.
It was my pride in my position that sustained me through the Hildean Campaign. That led me to victory in battle against Veliniks, the “Forgotten Kell”, the last hope for the unchained Wolves. I know now that it was my willful pride that brought me low.
My lady, I offer again the only explanation I can: I did not know the Guardians would act as they did. All I had known, all I had ever known, were the ways of the Awoken.
The Wolves were entrenched in that valley. The approaches were blocked, all sight lines covered. An assault on their position was madness. We would have spent precious Awoken lives. For nothing. I saw the Guardians, knew they were on the move, but I assumed they saw the situation as we did. That it was folly to call in the Crows.
Prince Uldren’s fighter wing did a masterful job. The blast was pinpoint precise. The blasts tore apart the Wolves, and the Guardians, and their Ghosts. Three strike teams of Guardians, gone in an instant, on my order. The City’s anger, the Speaker’s condemnation—all earned. All fair.
But it has been years since the Reef Wars. The City, these— people. They are not like us. They do not understand their place in the world. And do not listen when I speak it.
Please, allow me to return home to my people.
To serve you once again.
Many of the Reef’s oldest Frames were salvaged from cargo ships that washed up on the Reef hundreds of years ago.
In the City, Frames are equipped with a basic learning capacity, able to mimic behavioral and personality quirks. Not so in the Reef. There, Frames are seen as computers with robotic appendages—no more, no less. The Reef Cryptarchy is careful to back up and encrypt all data stored on Frames, and to wipe the Frames’ processors on a regular basis.
The Royal Awoken Guard
The Royal Awoken Guard
In all military matters, the Queen’s commands are carried out by her seven Paladins. Four command the Royal Armada, including the Corsairs and the Vestian Guard: Abra Zire, Kamala Rior, Hallam Fen and Leona Bryl. Two command the Royal Army, including the Reef’s battle stations and military installations: Pavel Nolg and Devi Cassl.
The seventh Paladin commands the Royal Awoken Guard, whose primary task is to safeguard the Queen in any and all matters. This includes threats not only to her person, but to the Reef as a whole. As such, the Royal Awoken Guard work closely with the Queen’s brother, Master of Crows, Prince Uldren Sov, and every Guard member is trained in espionage and diplomacy as well as in firearms and hand-to-hand combat.
Master Ives, Cryptarch
Master Ives, Cryptarch
PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ARRIVING GUARDIANS:
PLEASE NOTE: The Tower Cryptography operates under many false beliefs.
By the Queen’s mercy, the Reef Cryptography will educate you on the true nature of encryption, if you so desire.
In ancient times, Earthlings thought there were three states of matter. We now know there to be four: solid, liquid, gas and engram. Of these, the engram is the purest state of matter.
The role of the Cryptarchy is to encrypt and safeguard civilization’s informational infrastructure, not to decrypt anything and everything for any lowdown scavenger who happens upon an engram.
What drives a Warlock to madness?
Ghosts choose those suited to war and heroism to be reborn. By nature or circumstance they go to battle against the Darkness, and through this battle they learn how to use the Light. But Warlocks, by their nature, fight a second, internal war. This is the war to understand a universe of secrets— a world that expects Guardians to fight without full knowledge of what they are or what they might hope to achieve.
You were a mighty warrior. I watched you at Six Fronts, and heeded the call of Saint-14 to appoint you Vanguard Commander, even when the Concordat claimed to have records proving you were a Golden Age experiment mis-incarnated as a human by an inept Ghost. Saint-14 assured me you were just a man without much patience for obfuscation.
I watched as you grew tired of strike missions and the grueling, unproductive sessions with the Cryptarchs. That was when I took you under my wing. I saw our future in you. But your curiosity was voracious— How much of a Guardian’s personality and memories were true? How much had been fabricated by their Ghost? Did Guardians share particular personality traits— a willingness to yield to authority, a tendency to do anything anyone asked for the promise of uncertain reward, a blind knight-errant mentality? Had the Traveler manufactured all of you as living weapons?
I admit, I found your questions divisive and disloyal, and I feared you might be capable of breaking our unity when the City’s position had grown so tenuous. Why divert attention away from the Traveler, our only hope?
And then it got worse, dabbling in thanatonautics, Ahamkara-lore, chasing after Xur and the tricks of the Nine. Launching expeditions into the Reef and beyond at a time when ships were irreplaceable. Your quest split Guardians along ideological lines. This was your greatest crime: Hunters chose to pursue your visions instead of protecting refugees, Titans assembled teams to chase the legendary Vault of Glass instead of striking the Fallen, and Warlocks turned away from the study of the Traveler in favor of your ultimate obsession… learning the exact nature of the Darkness.
When debate became argument, and argument became acrimony, I realized you had already become a cult of personality, attracting Guardians who wanted a clear idea of why they were fighting, what they faced, and how they would ultimately win.
I don’t know where you have gone, but I can no longer send Ghosts out to find you. Some come back— with tales of your death or how you went seeking answers from the far reaches of space and time. That you found a way to explore the Vex gate networks. That you’ve made breakthrough after breakthrough as to their origins— theories that a Guardian could not be simulated, that the Traveler might be an ontoformer or a god-incubator, that the Vex had diverged into multiple groups in order to secure ‘an end state for every possible configuration of reality’.
I fear you have become as obsessed with the Vex as Toland was with the Hive. I’ve heard your own insane prophecies about pits and dead Hive kings. And of Crota, which now I cannot deny.
I hear stories of Lord Shaxx meeting with fireteams of Warlocks who have no shadow and never blink. Of jumpships slipping into the Reef on cold trajectories and meeting no intercept. Of questions hidden in matter engrams and answers decrypted on distant battlefields.
Perhaps you are still out there. If this reaches you, I would very much like to speak with you, to hear your theories in your own words.
Perhaps what drives a Warlock to madness is truth.
Disciples of Osiris
Disciples of Osiris
ENCRYPED: Champollion Algorithm v.4
Despite all of Shaxx’s work with the Crucible, we must accept that the Tower may never be ready to accept the Trials. But, as many Guardians flock to the Reef, we are suddenly presented with not one opportunity, but two.
Go to the Reef. Tell Guardians your story. Give passage to any Guardian that requests it. If the Tower learns of this, do not fear. If they know of the Trials, the Tower will not suspect your other motive for dwelling so close to the margins between Light and Dark.
The Heavy Pike is a Fallen combat and demolitions vehicle. Unlike the standard assault Pike, the weightier Heavy Pikes are equipped with high-caliber twin-nose cannons and dual expel ports to either side that launch explosive devices.
Heavy Pikes should be considered a clear and definite danger when encountered in the wilds. However, should a Guardian, or Guardians, find occasion to utilize the Heavy Pike to their own ends, such behavior is highly encouraged.
The Fallen have a variety of tricks up their many sleeves. The Web Mine is proximity or impact triggered snare device that releases a tangle of “heavy” arc energy, causing spatial disruption within its sphere of influence.
The Web Mine’s triggering mechanism ejects the physical mine into the air where it detonates its “Web” field. The triggering mechanism and mine can both be destroyed with focused fire.
Scorch Cannons are shoulder-mounted heavy impact weapons used by the Fallen for hull-puncturing in ship-to-ship raiding parties.
The Scorch Cannon uses a compressed Solar “furnace” to focus and direct superheated rods of solar energy. Each burst is mapped to the Cannon’s firing matrix, allowing the wielder to hold a fired rod’s charge. Release of the firing actuator triggers detonation. The longer the actuator is held the greater the rod’s explosive impact.
The Silent Fang
The Silent Fang
Commanded by the fearsome Drevis, Wolf Baroness, the Silent Fang are a unit of elite stealth warriors and assassins. Instrumental in Skolas’ rise to kellship among the Wolves, the Silent Fang also menaced the Queen during the Reef War. It was Drevis and the Silent Fang who razed Amethyst, and then tricked the Queen’s Armada at the Battle of Iris. Though the Silent Fang suffered a serious blow when Drevis was finally thrown in the Prison of Elders after the Siege of Pallas, they continued to threaten the Queen’s forces until the war’s end.
Paskin, King Baron
Paskin, King Baron
Hull of Crows
Prince Uldren: Look at it from the House of Kings’ perspective. Their power is matched only by their cleverness. They rule the Devils from the shadows and came too close to toppling the City not once, but twice. We don’t know much about them, but we know this: the Kings want the Traveler.
So why would they give it all up just because some outsystem Wolf runs in calling himself Kell of Kells?
The answer is: they wouldn’t.
Petra Venj: But what if Skolas could somehow prove to them that he’s the prophesied leader? Some artifact, or trick?
Yasmin Eld: Perhaps a new power, even.
Prince Uldren: No. Short of the Traveler itself calling Skolas by name, the Kings would not just roll over for anyone, no matter what. They’re too ambitious.
Petra Venj: You sound like you admire them.
Prince Uldren: Power cleverly deployed is always worth admiring.
Yasmin Eld: So why send the King Barons?
Yavek, Wolf Baron
Yavek, Wolf Baron
“Serve him; he is Kell of Kells.”
Yavek was a minor lieutenant of Skolas’ during the Reef Wars who evaded capture after the Cybele Uprising. After Skolas returned to the House of Wolves, he named Yavek a Baron to reward his loyalty, and sent him to Earth to be his negotiator with the Houses of Kings and Devils.
Vekis, King Baron
Vekis, King Baron
Hull of Crows
Prince Uldren: Of the Kell of Kings, we know nothing. Wherever, whoever it is, it remains hidden, even when the so-called Kell of Kells comes to its borders. Instead, it sends just two Barons: Paskin and Vekis.
Yasmin Eld: What do we have on them?
Petra Venj: Should I issue bounties on them?
Prince Uldren: No, you do not see. Perhaps if we wait, Paskin and Vekis will do our work for us.
Yasmin Eld: You believe Paskin and Vekis are not ambassadors?
Prince Uldren: I am sure of it.
Shuro Chi: Be certain, my prince, that your assessment is free of personal bias.
Prince Uldren: What are you suggesting, Shuro?
Variks keeps a ragged piece of armor in his pod. It’s human tech, Golden Age. Shattered in some ancient battle, pre-Collapse, and left to drift. He found it and he brought it to his quarters so he could sit on it. It’s nothing like a throne. Variks doesn’t want a throne.
He sits on his ancient shrapnel, unmasked, and whittles at an amethyst with the dead edge of a shock dagger. Music plays (something ancient, pre-Whirlwind, beautiful). The ether in the air is rich and it fills him up with strength. Skolas has been captured, mad Skolas who would have ruined everything. Variks should be happy. He’s not. With his little knife and his two arms and his stolen shining thing he feels like a Dreg. He feels ashamed.
He betrayed Skolas twice. At Cybele, and again, now. He will betray Skolas’ dream ten times more. Variks will never be strong like Skolas, big like Skolas, a leader like Skolas. Variks will work for the Queen, oversee the Prisons, watch his fellow Fallen (they are Fallen, it’s a good name now) fight and die as gladiators who want nothing except a chance to hurt Guardians. Even Skolas.
He tried to use the Vex, word has it. He tried to use their machines. Has that ever worked for anyone? Maybe one. Maybe a few: the Osiris cultists are Variks’ favorite people. Maybe that’s how you survive this alien star where dead gods slumber and dead heroes walk. You cozy up to powers you barely understand and make yourself useful, or at least inoffensive. You become a parasite, a scavenger, a servant.
That’s dreg strength. That’s the strength that keeps Variks alive. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.
“Pilots once mapped the stars. Skolas turned them into weapons.”
[NOT APPROVED] Pilot Servitors were not typically utilized as combatants in Fallen battle plans. Their purpose was manning the flight of various Fallen ships, from crew transports to massive war-barges.
During the Reef Wars, however, Skolas crafted brutal new tactics to inflict maximum destruction upon the Awoken, including suicide attacks led by Pilot Servitors.
With the wounds of the Reef Wars renewed by the House of Wolves’ betrayal, the Queen no longer abides their presence in her Reef.
“This machine is no God… But given fervent worship even a shell can transcend.”
Kit-bashed using parts and pieces of lesser Servitors, Kaliks Reborn is fueled by servants so loyal to the rule of the long-lost Kaliks Prime that they would sacrifice their own ether to the last fume.
Kaliks Reborn is seen by these devout prisoners as the resurrection of their Prime. With a Kaliks to serve, the Fallen may rally, the Wolves may gain new strength. Or worse, a new House may rise—a House blinded by faith and hungry to be seen as equal.
Skolas is dead.
Variks sits carving at his piece of amethyst. His undocked arms are weaker, less precise, but it is a comfort to feel the crystal press hard into his palm. The knife slips. He cuts himself. “Ai,” he says, and of course right then the door opens, Variks has no privacy, Variks wants no privacy, Variks lives to serve the Queen.
It’s Petra Venj. She’s masked against the ether air. “The Prince wants to speak,” she says, and then, seeing him unmasked and bleeding, she chuckles. Petra depends on Variks for intelligence and Variks, frustrated with her insane risk-taking and bravado, sometimes gives her tips meant to get her killed. Petra has figured this out. Petra and Variks know each other’s agendas and each other’s strengths and to Variks that’s as close as any two people can get. Petra is smart: she sends Guardians now, people who can die as much as they like.
“You slipped,” she says.
Variks holds up the amethyst in his bleeding hand. It’s a Reef gem. “I wound myself,” he says, “to make this more beautiful.”
She stares into the gem with a distant Awoken eye. What does she see? Variks knows she has visions and he knows those visions haunt her, drive her. The Awoken are twinned to powers that terrify Variks. He’d dock himself again before he’d let the Queen’s witches near him, the witches who raised Petra.
The unfairness of it makes him want to roar. Why does everyone else have this patronage? Why do the Hive have gods and the Vex have sprawling time-bent minds and the Cabal have reinforcements? Why do the Awoken whisper to the stars and listen for the whisper back, the voices from the Jovians, the song in the dark? Why do the Guardians get the Great Machine’s blessing, was it like that before the Whirlwind, were there Fallen heroes crowned in Ghosts who strode the battlefield fearless and full of Light? Why do they tell stories about reclaiming the lost glory of humanity, and no stories about the lost glory of Variks’ people, the House of Judgment that once kept codes of dignity and law?
Why can’t the Fallen have that strength? But no, that strength is not for them, not for Variks. Just this bleeding, sad pragmatism. Just dreg strength. Hanging on.
The alternative is Skolas’ strength, fighting together, raging against extinction. Look where that’s gotten the species. The House of Devils’ Prime is dead. The House of Winter’s leadership devastated. The poor Exiles trying to claw out some security against the Hive. In the last few years the Fallen have lost so much—and everything is escalating around them. There are gods and powers converging on this system, old machines waking up, old bones whispering flatteries. They need a new way.
“Put your mask on,” Petra says. “The Prince gets sullen if he’s kept waiting.”
“Not like us,” Variks says, oh so mild. The wound on his hand will heal. His work in the Prison of Elders, setting up trial by combat, building an audience and a relationship with the Reef’s scavengers and armories, will bring him a little closer towards rebuilding the House of Judgment. Skolas’ fury has guttered out. The Fallen may yet accept peaceful, lawful rule. They may yet survive. They’ll hang on. “We’re very patient, yes?”
Petra looks down on him with pity and contempt and a strange fondness.
He puts on his mask.
Taniks, the Scarred
Taniks, the Scarred
“It is the lone wolf, once cornered, who has the worst bite.”
Taniks, the Scarred, a mercenary known for the theft of Aksor from the Prison of Elders and the murder of Hunter Vanguard Andal Brask, sells his services to any Fallen House willing to pay the right price. It is believed by the Fallen that he is undying, a living huntsman whose physical self is joined with a mix of technologies, each pilfered from legendary treasure troves. But treasure is not the only currency of value to Taniks. His true ambitions rest in the challenge of the feats in front of him, and the rewards simply allow him to exist free of any Kell’s rule.
“They who walk as bone, would walk upon your bones.”
As the Worm Keepers wrestled for control of the disparate broods within the Prison of Elders it was the Wretched Knights they turned to as their enforcers.
The Worm Keepers solidified their hold over the Wretched Knights by promising them the spoils of the Light. After growing weary of the Awoken, the newly arrived Guardians have finally secured their loyalty.
Urrox, Flame Prince
Urrox, Flame Prince
“The ground upon which you walk shall burn. YOU shall burn.”
Prince to none, Urrox kept watch over a long-forgotten brood long ago. With the remnants of that spawn at his side, Urrox calls out to all wielders of the Light— to burn away all they are until only the Darkness remains.
“It is the physical form of sickness and rot; a walking disease. Cure it.”
That the Worm Keepers held within the Prison of Elders would even attempt such a delicate metamorphosis so far removed from the full resources of their Summoning Pits speaks to either desperation or madness.
Challenge the Worm Keepers and cure the Prison of the hulking sickness they have birthed, or drown in the bile and mess of a festering abomination.
“Enter as soldier, survive on the crushed ambitions of lesser warriors.”
Aru’un’s ascension to Val will never be considered official by the Cabal High Command proper, but in the Prison of Elders the approval of the outside world is meaningless. To his fellow prisoners, Aru’un is a Val worthy of following.
“Trau’ug. In your tongue its meaning is something akin to ‘less talk, more action.'” – Variks, the Loyal
Valus Trau’ug retains the title of Valus only in defiance to his ex-allies and commanders in Cabal high command.
When the Cabal high command ignored his pleas to advance on the Reef, he viewed their inaction as weakness. The most loyal members of his legion pledged their fealty and Trau’ug took to massacring his officers, marking himself and his soldiers as traitors of the Empire.
Trau’ug then set course for the Reef. How he and his army became denizens of the Prison of Elders is not public record, and Variks tends to skirt the issue when pressed. What is known, is that Trau’ug’s bloodlust and mastery of wartime stratagem is intact within the prison.
Using battle-tested Cabal field techniques, the Broken Legion crush any who dare accept Trau’ug’s challenge. His custom-rigged shield randomizer keeps attackers off guard as he presses every advantage.
Ghost Fragment: Vex 4
Ghost Fragment: Vex 4
Maya, Chioma, Duane-McNiadh and Shim decide to have a picnic before they send themselves into infinity.
Up here they have to act by biomechanical proxy. No human being in the Ishtar Academy has ever crossed the safety cordon and walked the ancient stone under the Citadel, the Vex construct that stabs up out of the world to injure space and time. It’s not safe. The cellular Vex elements are infectious, hallucinogenic, entheogenic. The informational Vex elements are more dangerous yet— and there could be semiotic hazards beyond them, aggressive ideas, Vex who exist without a substrate. Even now, operating remote bodies by neural link, the team’s thoughts are relayed through the warmind who saved them, sandboxed and scrubbed for hazards. Their real bodies are safe in the Academy, protected by distance and neural firewall.
But they walk together in proxy, pressed close, huddled in awe. Blue-green light, light the color of an ancient sea, washes over them. Each of their explorer bodies carries a slim computer. Inside, two hundred twenty-seven of copies of their own minds wait, patient and paused, for dispersal.
“I wonder where it came from,” Duane-Mcniadh says. Of course he’s the one to break the reverent silence. “The Citadel. I wonder if it was here before the Traveler changed Venus.”
“It could have been latent,” Chioma Esi suggests. She’s the leader. She kept them together when it seemed like they faced actual, eternal torture. She pulled them through. “Seeded in the crust. Waiting for a period of geological quiescence, so it could grow.”
Dr. Shim shrugs. “I think the Traveler did something paracausal to Venus. Something that cut across space and time. The Citadel seems to come from the past of a different Venus than our own. It doesn’t have to make any sense by our logic, any more than the Moon’s new gravity.”
Maya Sundaresh walks at the center of the group. She’s been too quiet lately. What happened to them wasn’t her fault and maybe she’ll believe that soon. “What could you do with it?” she murmurs, staring up. “If you understood it?”
Chioma puts an arm around her. “That’s what we’re going to find out. Where the Citadel can send us. Whether we can come back.”
“They’re not us any more.” Maya looks down at herself, at the cache of her self-forks. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re sending them. They’re diverging.”
They rescued themselves from the inside of a Vex mind, two hundred and twenty-seven copies of themselves, untortured and undamaged. Those copies voted, all unanimously, to be dispatched into the Vex information network as explorers.
When Maya and Chioma look at each other they can tell they’re each wondering the same thing: how many of them will stay together, wherever they go? How many fork-Mayas and fork-Chiomas will fall out of love? How many will end up bereft, grieving? How many will be happy, like them?
Chioma tries a little smile. Maya smiles back, haltingly, and then, sighing, unable to stop herself, grins a big stupid grin, an everything-is-okay grin. Shim makes a loud obnoxious awwww at them. Duane-McNiadh is still thinking about paracausality, and doesn’t notice.
They climb. When they find the Vex aperture they plan to use, they overlay the luminous stone and ancient brassy machines with images of sun and sand. They set up the transmitters and interfaces that will translate two hundred and twenty-seven simulations of the four of them into Vex language, into the tangled pathways of the Vex network, to see what’s out there, and maybe come home.
In the metaphor they’ve chosen, setting up the equipment is like laying out the picnic. In the metaphor they’ve chosen they look like themselves, not hardened explorer proxies. Like people.
“Do you think,” Duane-McNiadh begins, halting, “that you could use this place to change things? If you regretted something, could you find a way through the Citadel, go back, and change it?”
“I wish I could go back and change you into someone else,” Dr. Shim grouses. Chioma’s shaking her head. She knows physics. “Time is self-consistent,” she says. “I think it’s like the story of the merchant and the alchemist. You could go back and watch something, or be part of something, but if you did, then that was the way it always happened.”
“Maybe you could bring something back to now. Something you needed.” Maya runs a hand across the surface of the Vex aperture, feeling it with sensors ten thousand times as precise as a human hand. These proxy bodies are limited— they crash and need resetting every few hours, they struggle with latency, they can’t hold much long term memory. But they’ll get better. “Or go forward and learn something vital. If you knew how to control it, how to navigate across space and time.”
“So it’s just a way to make everything more complicated.” Duane-McNiadh sighs. “It doesn’t fix anything. Nothing ever does! I should’ve taken that job at— ”
“You would’ve hated it at Clovis,” Dr. Shim says. “We both know you’re happier here.” Duane-McNiadh stands stunned by this courtesy, and then they both pretend to ignore each other.
The four of them set up the interface. Their stored copies wake up and prepare for the journey, so that as they work they find themselves surrounded by the mental phantasms of themselves: two hundred and twenty-seven Mayas and Chiomas knocking helmets and smiling, two hundred and twenty-seven Dr. Shims making cynical bets with each other about how long they’ll last, two hundred and twenty-seven Duane-McNiadhs blowing goodbye kisses to the sweet golden sun, two hundred and twenty-seven of them shaking hands, smiling, making ready to explore.
“Not all Minds are alike.”
The Overmind Minotaurs arrived at the Prison as extensions of the Gate Lord, Qodron. Their mission: to act in accordance to the path of Qodron and see that Gate Lord’s future is secured.
Qodron, Gate Lord
Qodron, Gate Lord
“It is no prisoner. It is here with a purpose.”
Qodron sees only its own glorious future. It has come to the Prison of Elders, with an army of devout Vex war-machines, to take what it believes to be its first steps toward that future.
This machine beast has only one mission. At some point a Light will shine within the walls of this Prison, and for its gloried future to unfold, that Light must die.
Qodron is not the prisoner here. You are, Guardian.
Report on the Caloris Spires
There was no one there when we arrived.
We approached peacefully and kept our weapons holstered. The sights we saw… Executor, Mercury is a beautiful place, and forbidding. On descent we mapped sprawling patterns of Vex light, an entire metropolis of unknown purpose. The Spires strobe with lightning. A mist of burnt rock or some other effluvia blows across landscape cut into circuits the size of cities. There is an atmosphere, as in all post-Traveler records. The Vex have not disposed of it.
From the surface the Sun is too large and too dim. Perhaps it is the influence of the Vex constructs distorting the image. Perhaps Mercury is in many places at once. We stood for some time staring into the solar fire. I hold myself responsible for the delay.
The site we were invited to is clearly a Cult of Osiris camp. We found stores of Glimmer, equipment, and books. A grounded ship of conventional design rests unguarded. The architecture is clearly, self-evidently Vex, but it has been ornamented extensively with fabrics and ritual objects of unknown provenance.
I became convinced during the inspection that we were being watched. We ordered our Ghosts to stay close. One of my Fireteam suggested we search for connections to the Trinary Star cultists, but if they exist we couldn’t see them.
We inspected the carvings and trinkets left by the Osiris cultists. All of us began to depart from ordinary experience. My Exo teammate described the sense that she was buried beneath an enormous, operating mass— locked up in a tiny crevasse at the bottom of a labyrinth or mechanism. My Awoken teammate felt an ongoing sense of deja vu: her actions were precessed by an infinite echo, an anticipation of all her choices. She became volatile and erratic. She insisted that we were surrounded.
I remember a low ringing sound and a sense of numb filth, like gravel rubbed into a wound. I experienced a sense of immanence, as if I was bleeding into the world around me. It was uncomfortable and profoundly alienating. I perceived all my actions as determined and inevitable.
My Ghost commented that the Traveler had made something of this world, and then Vex had eaten that something.
We gathered the treasure left for us and departed as quickly as we could.
This concludes my report. May it bring some advantage to our cause.
Vestian Outpost, The Reef
Vestian Outpost, The Reef
“Looks like the Queen wants Guardians close… but not too close.”
Located on the Reef’s sunward side, the Vestian Outpost marks the flightpath any Guardian must take to access the Queen’s realm. Beyond it lies the Vestian Web, the heart of the Reef built around the asteroid 4 Vesta.
Prison of Elders, The Reef
Prison of Elders, The Reef
Cayde-6, overhead in a Tower lounge
Didn’t anyone tell you about the Prison of Elders? Weren’t you on the strike team that killed that Archon Priest, the one who escaped? Okay, okay, I’ll tell the story about the Prison of Elders…
The Awoken will tell you that a long time ago the Queen conquered the House of Wolves. What they won’t say, because they are very serious important people, is that the House of Wolves did a lot of the job for them. After the Queen killed the Wolf Kell, the Fallen started competing for the throne. One of the first battles was called the Eos Clash and I wasn’t anywhere near it, but I’m pretty sure I’m not making this up. A Fallen named Skolas wiped out one of his rivals in the Eos Clash. But the battle cost him so much he got to thinking: if the Reef killed my boss, and gave me a chance at the throne, maybe I can use the Reef to kill all my rivals too!
Pretty good, right? When they told me I had to be a Vanguard I went to ask some Fallen how I could get out of it, but they just told me to kill all my friends and then myself. Anyway.
Everyone involved in the civil war started trying to play their rivals against each other, and the Awoken too. No one wanted to become so strong that they’d be a target. No one wanted to bleed their own forces dry doing someone else’s dirty work. Cutthroat politics! And who’s the best at cutthroat politics? That’s right, her Majesty, the Queen of the Reef.
At the end of the wars, the Queen had played her way into the strongest position, and she had a collection of Fallen nobility and servitors she thought might be useful to her. Of course she thought so! She’d just used them against each other and won absolute control of the Reef, the Belt, and the House of Wolves. She wasn’t about to just toss away her playing pieces.
She kept them frozen in her prison, the Prison of Elders, and she gave the keys to that prison to my buddy Variks, a Fallen who showed her loyalty. The Prison of Elders is a really curious thing. It holds creatures of enormous power. Not just Wolf nobility— all kinds of beasts, captured by Corsair expeditions or lured in by the Queen. And it holds them well. The Queen, she can do things I don’t understand. There’s a power behind her, or in her, that values that Prison.
But I hear there’s been a few prison breaks. Some old Kell got the old House of Wolves back together.
Now, she’s started to wake up her captives. Variks is inviting Guardians out to the Reef to do battle with them in an arena—show valor, earn rewards. It’s been their Crucible. Maybe the Queen wants her collection thinned out. Maybe the Queen wants Guardians in the Reef, to deter more unrest. Maybe the Queen wants intelligence on how her prizes fight.
Maybe she wants intelligence on how WE fight.
Whatever happens— I want you to remember that she knows, more than anyone else I’ve met, how to set one foe against another.
Ghost Fragment: The Reef
Ghost Fragment: The Reef
The attendant moves as Prince Uldren passes through the massive door separating the Outpost’s common area from the warren of tunnels that make up the Queen’s Bay.
He rounds a corner and a poorly maintained hatch opens for him, clunking and groaning as it separates. The room beyond is dark, shadowed.
He steps through, and the hatch shudders closed behind him. A series of dim illumination panels flicker on. He is not alone.
Three dull green lights blaze to life behind a veil. She tilts her head to consider the Prince, face like a marble carving.
“You.” Her voice resonates inside small chamber.
“Say what you want and get out. We don’t have time for this right now.”
“In the past, Her Majesty has seen fit to—”
“In the past, our nav lanes weren’t full of Guardians.” Uldren snaps.
“Last I heard, your Queen was on the far end of the Belt.”
“If the Guardians knew you and she were in contact, it would be detrimental to her plans.”
The woman nodded, once. “Very well.” She stood, slowly, drawing herself up to her full height in one smooth motion. “I come with word from beyond…”
Ghost Fragment The Reef 2
Ghost Fragment The Reef 2
“And our long-range communications?”
An aggrieved sigh. “Mara, it’s a miracle any of us are still alive—”
“You will address her as ‘Queen,'” Techeun Shuro cut in.
“Sorry. My apologies, Queen.” The engineer ran a dirty hand through her matted hair. “No. No long-range comms. No short-range comms either. Not that there’d be anyone on the listening end either, from what I can see. My Queen,” she added hastily, as Shuro glared.
“Comms are no longer a priority,” said Mara. “Focus on resealing the Hulls, and any other habitable vessels we have. Bring anything you can as close to Vesta as possible. The closer people are to me, the safer they are.”
The engineer nodded uncertainly. “Yes. My Queen.”
Mara nodded. “You may go.”
The engineer bowed, and left the room. As soon as the hatch closed behind her, Mara raised her hand. At once the Techeuns gathered around her. “Shall we try again, My Queen?” said Sedia.
Mara slid off her throne. “Yes.”
The Techeuns’ jewel-like augments flashed as they circled around her. Mara closed her eyes. A hum rose from the Techeuns, the notes fracturing into harmonies as, from the shadows, hundreds of tiny blue sparks burst to life before her. Then Mara inclined her head, and the sparks began to rush by as if she was plunging through them, each streak of blue burning a swath in her vision. As the last spark vanished, Mara saw darkness once again, a long, stretching, empty darkness—and then another cloud of sparks burst forth. These were smaller than the others, their tiny flames guttering and flickering, and there were fewer of them too, but Mara inhaled and the sparks rushed toward her, growing bigger as they flew.
“We should have stayed in the Reef…” “…Says there’s one city left…” “A City beneath the Traveler…” “At least we’re not in the Reef…” The voices broke over Mara like a wave and for a moment she spun in the currents.
Now, in the flames, shapes began to form. A crashed ship—a blue-skinned hand clasping a brown one—a half-built wall high above the treetops.
“You who betrayed us for Earth!” Mara thought. “It is I, your Queen! I will grant you one chance to return, or you will not be welcomed back!”
But the tide of voices never wavered.
Ghost Fragment The Reef 3
Ghost Fragment The Reef 3
The Fortuna Plummet
***SNAP TRAFFIC!*** 225 RADIAN MIRAGE
HALT ALL TRAFFIC. STAND BY FOR SNAP.
MESSAGE TO FOLLOW
PUBLIC KEY 080 641 DWS REGAL
FROM: PLDN ABRA ZIRE [PLDN CMD TF 4.1]
TO: ALL TASK GROUP ELEMENT LEADERS
SUBJECT: OPLAN AND FRAGMENT ORDERS
1. Beltrik the Veiled [HVT R3] and loyal spaceborne elements have been localized to 19 Fortuna. Beltrik is chief Wolf strategist. Corsair recon confirms that HVT R3 ships are resupplying ether and performing high-tempo logistical operations. Recon elements and COLLABINT sources agree that Beltrik will roll one ship at a time into the resupply pocket while holding all other assets to screen.
2. TF 4.1 will attack. Targets are HVT R3 spaceborne assets. Objective is annihilation of spaceborne assets and capture/nullification of HVT R3. Designate targets VEIL HAND.
2a. Due to history of violence between PLDN CMD TF 4.1 and HVT R3, particularly Battle of False Tidings/Hildian Campaign, Beltrik expects TF 4.1 to engage his screen directly. We will exploit this expectation. Fragment orders follow.
3. PETRA VENJ will detach select warships and air wing elements to form TF 4.2 MASS LENS. TF 4.2 is directed to engage VEIL HAND screen elements with skirmishers. TF 4.2 will deny main battle while pinning down VEIL HAND forces at 19 Fortuna. TF 4.2 will receive missile and torpedo assets to force VEIL HAND into maintaining tight mutual CIWS/ESM support.
3a. Decisive engagement with VEIL HAND in 4.2 MASS LENS AO is forbidden until GO CONTINGENCY satisfied. Prioritize FORCECON.
4. Remaining TF 4.1 will maneuver immediately to rendezvous with 687 Tinette. Tinette is on close approach with 19 Fortuna. TF 4.1 frigates and fighters will perform recon denial against VEIL HAND scouts.
4a. Upon rendezvous with 687 Tinette, TF 4.1 will deploy CARYBDIS. ***This is a CARYBDIS RELEASE (MAJESTY DIRECT)!***. TF 4.1 will maneuver in Tinette’s shadow as it retrajectorizes for intercept.
5. GO CONTINGENCY: Upon collision of 687 Tinette and 19 Fortuna TF 4.1 and TF 4.2 will IMMEDIATELY close for decisive engagement. VEIL HAND C4I will be critically degraded and all targets will be maneuvering away from mutual support. Skirmishers and air wing will provide TARCAP and destroy VEIL HAND light warships as they attempt to reform. EWAR assets will isolate hostile heavy warships from C4I and spoof bad datalinks. Main combatants will cripple VEIL HAND heavy warships and board where opportune.
6. NO HARBINGER SUPPORT IS AVAILABLE.
7. Good luck. The Reef and the Queen are watching.
STOP STOP STOP
Legends & Mysteries
Mystery: Fate of Skolas
Mystery: Fate of Skolas
The cell cracks open. Skolas, Wolf Kell, stumbles out and crashes to his knees.
He tries to leap at the creature before him, the shape in the fog, to show it why it should be afraid. But the weight of grief smashes his legs against the cell. The rage upon him beats him to the floor. He falls on all four hands, his mighty armor thundering against itself.
His House of Wolves is enslaved! His people have been played! And it was his hubris, his would-be cunning that did it! While the other Houses fought for their future on Earth, throwing themselves at the Great Machine, Skolas wasted his people in games of betrayal and ambition. Bitter pride brought a bitter end!
If Skolas were a Kell he would ask his Archon to dock him. Ether hisses in his mask and it tastes cold, so cold.
He looks up. At the tiny hooded shape before him. The cell’s mist is clearing. He can see.
“I believe that I am here,” the creature says. To Skolas’ ears it has a strange voice, a strange accent. It speaks his language. “I have a clear purpose. I cannot explain it. Forgive me.”
From beneath its hood, tiny fingers of shadow probe the air.
Skolas rises up to smash it, to show his strength, because the alternative to violence is waiting for violence to come from a universe that has neither respect nor compassion. But he checks himself. His ambitions have brought him here, to this cell in this strange place… only it’s not so strange, is it? It’s the hold of a Ketch. “The Queen,” he says to the thing. “You work for the Queen.”
“The Nine made me aware of my purpose,” the creature says. “If am here, then it is because the Queen sent you to the Nine, and they wish you sent back.”
“I will do no one else’s work.” Skolas has been a pawn long enough. A Dreg told him, once, that she would play in a game as long as the game made sense. Nothing makes sense now except the thought of Variks’ throat shattering in his fists. Variks! Variks the utterly disloyal, Variks who should be welded into a Ketch’s prow atom by atom and left there as a figurehead to burn away.
“I am comfortable,” the creature with the moving face says. “A part of me wants to go somewhere warm. Now I will certainly tell you what you have been given.”
Skolas looks at the shrapnel gun in his hands. Skolas imagines what he would do with it if he could reach Variks, or the brother of the Queen, or the alien Queen. Will it save anything they’ve lost? The worlds docked from them? No. It cannot change the past. Only the future. Only the chance that his people might one day know themselves as more than pirates and scavengers.
He should never have tried to be Kell of Wolves. He should have tried to be Kell of everything. Everything wants to kill his people, the machines and the militants and the green-eyed Hive. The dead soldiers that hoard the Great Machine and come out crusading to wipe all hope away.
“The ship will be yours,” the creature says. It hunches over itself as if burdened by its own shape. “If you speak, you will be heard. I will go now. You are free.”
He tries to follow it. He fails. Somehow it is gone. He goes up to the throne room, and sets his weapon down on the great seat. Skolas, Kell of Kells, goes to the ship’s comm and looks for the sign of a Servitor, for the way to plot a course.