Ikora Rey stepped into Lab 3, followed by Ophiuchus. “If that idiot thinks we don’t recognize him—”
“It would be easy to empty a shotgun in his back and wait for his Ghost to show up,” Aunor interrupted. “It must be close by.” She stared hard at an image of Cayde’s final moments.
“We’ve been through this, Aunor,” Ikora said, looking purposefully at Aunor instead of the array of displays and screens. “The Vanguard needs him. How many times have you checked this data?”
“Seventeen. In my off-hours. I needed to know if I could trust the Guardian that let Cayde die.”
Ikora was silent for a moment, then she said, quietly, “Not ‘the’ Guardian. Guardians plural. Zavala and I are just as—”
“Culpable, yes. You didn’t let me finish. We lost Cayde on a random Tuesday. And you all just took that Guardian’s word for it? One who’s had less than a decade of service?” Aunor turned, bathed in the layered light of the holograms. Arc energy hummed in the air around her. The holograms flickered and distorted. “You didn’t think to ask whether it was a lie? You didn’t think it was important to pore over this footage, to double-check every possible angle—“
“We did!” Ikora snapped. Ophiuchus nudged her; she steadied herself. “We have. And we’ve allowed you to look. We gave you Sundance’s shell. You’ve had full access to every report. What’ve you found?”
“Nothing. It’s as your hero surmised. Sundance was murdered by the Barons of the Tangled Shore. They pooled all their resources to craft a single Thorn-like bullet. Had they missed, the last few months would have played out very differently. The Hunters might still have their Vanguard. But... I admit that I see no reason not to believe the official report.”
Ikora nodded. “Most reliable Guardian I know,” she said softly.
“It was the only blemish on that record. I had to look into it.”
Ikora took a breath. “We need you to leave the Drifter alone.”
“You know I have the Vanguard’s best interests in mind. And now that I know our hero can be trusted, maybe I’ve found the help I need.”
“To do what?”
“To save you from yourselves.”
“It remains my honor to be your Hidden. But there are lines I will never cross. Not for you, not for the Order. Do you trust me to do my job?”
“Always. I... the Vanguard ask that you do the same.”