Zahir set the still cold hunter on the plush leather couch of his apartment. Korne’s dark blue cloak flooded off of the seat and onto the floor, set dark against the bright brown carpet.
“Okay, sorry about all that. I just wanted to speak in private, and away from the police.” The ghost hovered over Korne’s chest.
“Do you have a name?” Zahir stood before the visitor, looking quite uncomfortable. He had brought an unstable hunter into his home, and Eltanin would be off of work soon…
“I don’t.” She stated flatly, taking a glance at her guardian. “Let’s start at the beginning.” She took a simulated deep breath, “Korne is a former student of Phoros.”
Zahir immediately jolted and stepped closer. “What? He’s...” The warlock that had hurt Eltanin was this hunter’s master. Had he taken in that monster’s ideals?
“Don’t worry! It’s true that he idolizes Phoros, but he’s broken. His social skills, combat skills, his mind, they all deteriorated.” The ghost’s voice fell low, and her shell began to droop. “That’s why I need your help. I looked into Phoros, and learned that he had a student before Korne.”
“Eltanin. And you also learned that I became her mentor.” Zahir crossed his arms and closed his eyes. Eltanin was certainly difficult after Phoros, but Korne seemed like an entirely different animal. He wasn’t sure what he could do for him.
“Exactly. I need someone who understands his situation and won’t throw him in jail.” The ghost floated forward, looking up at Zahir.
“And if I do throw him in jail?”
“You’re my best bet.”
“Alright… but I’m not trusting him to behave himself in my home. Let’s go somewhere else.”
Zahir touched down on the calm surface of the Ishtar Sink, followed by a slouched Korne. The hunter’s posture exposed most of his cape to the yellow sky of Venus. He stared at the titan cautiously, breathing heavily. His ghost had informed Zahir that he was extremely suspicious of the exo, believing that he had conspired with the Vanguard to kill Phoros. That, of course, was not true, as Phoros had been killed by Tivik, the Guardian Killer.
Zahir took one small step forward, and Korne shuffled back, reaching for the knife strapped to his thigh. ”Listen, Korne. I just want to help you.” He looked at the hunter, and he saw Eltanin as she was when she had been recovered from Phoros. “I know you may not understand, but you can trust me.”
“You… killed my master… I finally… found… you…” Korne pointed accusatively, drawing his knife. “Won’t… trust…” he raised his hands defensively, but positioned them in such a manner that his knife bearing hand was behind his other arm.
“You said he wouldn’t be a danger to me.” Zahir muttered to Korne’s ghost, holding his hands forward in an attempt to ease the hunter.
“I did… I wasn’t sure how he’d react to you specifically, though, and I REALLY needed your help. I, uh, may have had to lie a little.”
“Korne, listen to me. I did not kill Phoros. It was Tivik. I’m not someone who kills other guardians.” Zahir and Korne began to circle each other slowly.
Korne growled and ran forward, swinging his knife wildly. Zahir took a step back and swung his fist forward at Korne’s head, sending him straight to the ground. His knife clattered by his side as his face planted into the dirt, and his ghost appeared above his back.
“Well, that could have gone better. This is not going to make things easy…” The ghost shook her shell.
“We’ll find a way. I’m not sure what our end goal should be, but we’ll fix him, no matter how long it takes.” Zahir assured her, kneeling down to her floating height.
“Well, there’s the fact that he acts hostile to you, and… how do I explain this… the Korne you see now is not the same Korne I knew before he met Phoros.”
“Huh?” Zahir asked, watching as the ghost blinked out of existence to make way for the rising hunter.
“Ah… well, I’ll be. Venus?” Korne stood tall, straight, unlike his slouch earlier. He spoke in a clearer and richer tone. “It’s very empty. They on vacation or somethin’?” He observed, looking around the empty Fallen platforms next to the entrance of the Winter lair.
Zahir blinked his eyes, appalled. “A split-”
“No, not a split personality. That’s not really the correct term for it, anyway.” Korne’s ghost interrupted through Zahir’s helmet, as the hunter continued looking around with his hands on his hips. “It’s more like his memories are fractured. He switches between… versions of himself. I don’t know what Phoros did to him, because I was kept in the dark, but it’s extremely messed up. I hope I haven’t made you bite off more than you can chew…”
Korne strode toward the stunned exo. “Hello, titan. How goes it? It’s a lovely day to look at that beautiful Venus sky without the Fallen crawling around, I suppose. Always good to take a break. These Fallen, Hive, Cabal, Vex…”
“Y-yeah. I guess it is nice to take a break every once in a while.” Zahir answered, shifting his shoulders uncomfortably.
“Maybe the sands of Mars would be nice. I’d like to see what it’s all about without the Cabal or a killer machine around every corner.” Korne chuckled, patting at his holstered hand cannon. “That’s odd.” He took the dark blue gun into his hand, rapping his knuckles against the cylinder. “I could’ve sworn I loaded this.”
Zahir’s eyes drifted down to Korne’s hand cannon as he reloaded it. “Mars… I guess the Buried City would be a lot calmer. The Red Legion isn’t very active there.”
“Red Legion? What’s a Red Legion?” Korne tilted his head.
Zahir froze. How far back was this man changed? Come to think of it, he was confused as to why Venus was empty.
He sighed internally at his slip-up. He had gotten so absorbed in the conversation. There was something about past Korne that oozed charisma.
The exo looked back up, surprised to see that Korne was no longer there. Instead, he saw the hunter running away. He had already put about thirty meters between the two, and was back to his slouched posture.
“Don’t worry.” Korne’s ghost assured, “We’ll find you again.”
“Zahir! You’re on Venus, right? Stay right there!” Lacer called from Earth, “We’ve got word of where a mote stash is, and I’ve got some guardians that can help us!”
The hardest part of helping Korne will be that Past-Korne is going to be acting normal and exploring the universe. Will make him hard to track down.
Another good chapter, I think this was the best of this series yet!