The Man They Called Cayde
All joking aside—maybe I've made mistakes. Maybe some more recently than others. Hard to believe, I know, but maybe it's true. Maybe. Here's the thing about mistakes: you learn from them. Again, this is assuming the theoretical concept of me having made some mistakes is true. So, yeah, maybe that's what I'm doing. Trying to learn from these very hypothetical slipups. Turning inward, they call it. "They" being Ikora. Eris calls it something different. Eris calls a lotta things something different. I miss that girl. But here I am stalling—buying time. This ain't easy for me. Thought it would be. Easy, I mean. Or, at least… easier than this. Thought a lot of things would be easier. Hell… Thought a lotta things about a lotta things. But maybe that's what makes me the person I am. Makes any of us part of humanity—all our big thoughts and big plans, hopes and dreams and all that squishy nonsense. OK, fine, look: If I'm playing at honesty, and I think that's what I'm doing here, maybe those hopes and dreams are all that really matters. Just, not losing sight of them is the hard part. Life is full of those little distractions that fudge the edges, make those hopes and dreams a little blurrier. That's the power of "maybes," I suppose—the temptation of… playing both ends against the middle. Maybes provide… wiggle room. And I like my edges fudgy. And I loooooves me some wiggle room. But if I'm gonna stay true to this whole rambling "dear diary" how-do-ya-do business, guess what I'm sayin' is… Guess what I'm saying is, I'm sick of "maybes." And, if I'm a straight shooter—and I'm nothing if not—then I gotta shoot straight… even when there ain't a gun in my hand. So, let's… let's keep this between me and you, OK? Here's the deal: My name is Cayde-6… And this is my story.
Now, to be clear, yeah, the plan is to tell it like it is, but don't expect every little detail to play out. I'm gonna hit the important stuff, sure, but what I'm really after here is a sense of… a sense of me. Because once you understand me, you just might understand where I'm coming from, why I do the things I do, and why I've done the things I've done. So, read between the lines if you have to, but end of the day? Everything that matters should be readily apparent. If not, you're not paying attention. So here goes… Us Exos are haunted. Sounds ominous, I know, and maybe a bit of a stretch. But really, it's the best word—kinda sets the stage in a way the raw facts don't. See, Guardians have all got past lives. But unless you returned with any definitive info on your person or in proximity (I'm looking at you, Bray), that past life, or lives, was, or were, wiped clean. Gone. Reborn in the Light and all, you become what you become. Exos, though? We've got ghosts in our machines. Not capital-G "open doors and know things" Ghosts. I mean, like fragments of— I don't know, pieces of something that could be memory. Whatever it is, it's enough to give us a starting point to maybe, possibly, imagine who we were before we became who we are. And then there's the dreams—but I ain't touching that with a ten-foot Arc Staff. Me? I'm one of the lucky few. The fudgy flashes of that old Exo life weren't all I had to go on. See, the "me" that was in my life before my trusty capital-G Ghost found me kept journals, like mementos—fragments of my prior life that give me a baseline of who I was. The journals are personal, and I keep personal close to the chest. I've shared a few pages, sure, but only with right-minded types who could find a little value in seeing the man behind the myth. Yeah, "myth," I said it. Who are we kidding? You've heard of me. Who hasn't? Point is… I don't make a show of personal business. First, because it's MY fuel to burn. Second, because Big Blue ain't a big fan of his Guardians poking around what they used to be—something about duty, rules, not losing sight of why we were chosen. But more than any of that… most of us "Chosen Ones" don't have the luxury of a past, so rubbing it in doesn't seem right. Look, all I know is… When I rejoined the land of the living, the pre-Light version of me was kind enough to lend a guiding hand. I took that hand, gave it a high five, and followed its example the best I could. All this time later, I may not know my true purpose—I leave the big-ticket, existential questions to the Warlocks—but I know this… My calling is to do good. Maybe not always to "be" good, ya know, but do good. There's a difference. And if I don't always go about it in a manner that fits the textbook definitions of "hero" or "team player"—I'm looking at you, Big Blue—just know… I might dance to my own tune, but we're all at the same hoedown… Or something like that.
Made a deal with myself, long ago… If people needed help and I could do the helping, I would—so I do. Yeah, when that help returns a bit of loot or goodwill my way, all the better, but there's never been a cache I robbed or a stash I hid that didn't offer something to those in need. Not many people know that. Fine by me. I don't like to brag. True, I never wanted the Vanguards' life, but that's not because I didn't see its value. Just that its value fit others better than me. Besides, few can do what I do. Hell, few would even try. I mean, come on… It's me. The places I've been. The trouble I've seen… caused… whatever. Was a time Shiro, Andal, the crew, and me would do more good doing bad than the mightiest Titan ever dreamed. The trails we blazed. The supplies we recovered—pilfered, filched, scammed, stole, found, uncovered, looted. We weren't the only ones, but the world outside the City got a whole lot bigger thanks to us. Yeah, sure, I don't get out as much, but I'm fixing to change that. Zavala won't like it—never does. Ikora will try to convince me otherwise—always does. But we've seen how precious our Light is… How fleeting. Gotta use it while we got it… Do good. Be good. Push the limits. Take back what's ours. And that was my first bet… All in. Day 1. I bet on myself. I saw the edge of those dark ages. You've heard the stories. If not, look them up. Scary stuff. Real eye-opener. I've seen the City grow. And fall. And grow again—stronger. I seen the best of us, and the worst. And I'll fight to ensure we stick around long enough to see that "best" turn to better and that "worst" fade to memory. So, yeah… I'm a loudmouth and a braggart, and I'm quick with a blade and fast on the draw. And if you need it found, fought, killed, saved, or stashed for safe keepin', few can do it better. But in the end… I'm only good because he was good. I like to think I learned that from myself—that the notes left by the "me-that-was-before-me" set the stage. That Five figured, back in those dark days, that Six might not turn out all that nice and end up a Seven. So that former "me" wrote me a road map to the version of him—or me—that would be a better man. So, whatever hand I was dealt, when the bet was placed and it was time to call, no matter what—I had an Ace and a Queen up my sleeve. Meaning I couldn't lose. Meaning the better man would always win.
Ever heard of Andal Brask? Ya should've. One of the old heroes. Before Black Gardens and Hive gods and that Cabal-shaped mess we just cleaned up. Yeah, he was… somethin'. Hunter part of the Vanguard before yours truly. More importantly… He was my friend. A brother, even. Andal and I used to run with one heck of a crew. This was before he got himself roped into fireteaming up with the top brass. Oh, we were legendary. Ran scouting parties looking for survivors to lead back City-side. Mapped lost sites where old tech or supplies might still be worth the salvage. Hunted plenty of Fallen. Never an easy task. Especially in the early days. And by "early days," I mean my early days. Lot of Guardians been around longer than me, but even in my newborn new life, the City had a lotta growing up to do. And us Guardians had a hell of a lot to learn. Trouble is, we only ever seem to learn the hard way… The Red War. That time Crota woke up cranky and slapped around more Guardians than I can count. Twilight Gap. And all the bad that happened before my time. The Iron Lords and their tussle with SIVA. …Six Fronts. And those are just the headline grabbers. So many lessons learned. So many lives lost. But, in truth… I've always felt it's the day-to-day struggles where we learn the most about the world, about ourselves. Being inside the City walls, sure, we're reminded of what we're fighting for. But outside the walls…? It puts a face to all we've lost. Puts a reality to how far we've fallen. Abandoned roads, crumbling cities—rust and ruin, ruin and rust. But if the City gives us reason to fight for the now, those old, dead places always give me hope for tomorrow. Rusted, broken skeletons or not… If you squint, you can see all we were and all we can be. That's why, when Andal left the road and joined the Vanguard, me and the crew hoped he'd get the others—Osiris, Zavala, even the Speaker—to see what we saw. The City was a refuge, yeah, but if we hid too long, let all we'd lost get picked apart by pirates and warmongers, we'd lose our humanity. Just like we lost Andal.
I play nice with the Vanguard now, but it wasn't always that way. Not that we were enemies. We just tended to see things through a different lens. But Andal…? Playing nice was his forte. He was always more… I think "diplomatic" is the word? Our big play back in the day was… get the Vanguard to loosen their leash—let us explore, let us lead a new era of expansion—and the riches of the system would be ours. "Ours" as in everybody's, of course. Though we'd get our cut. In hindsight, we were waaay too ambitious. Didn't see it in that light at the time. But, then again, you never do. When Andal joined the Vanguard, he was our inside man. It was a sweet deal—he would drop intel on new stashes or Fallen movements, and Shiro and I would jump the gun, hit 'em first, claim what we could, deliver the rest to the City. Maybe we skimmed a little off the top—nothing excessive, just a "finder's fee." Probably shouldn't be putting all this out there for anyone to judge… What's the statute of limitations on misspent youth? Whatever… Long time ago. But it speaks to what I'm getting at… I always tried to do right, even if I occasionally got sidetracked. Andal joining the Vanguard was a gift in some ways, a bummer in others. More importantly… He'd made a deal, given his word—to me and to himself—when he took the Dare. I won, he lost. So he left the road. Joined the bigwigs up in the Vanguard. And he reminded me of a lesson I've always known, but every now and then would forget… You give your word, you keep it. But the longer Andal was up in that Tower, "caged"—my word, never his—the more he saw things "the Vanguard way." Looking back, he was only ever doing the right thing. Seeing him change and, in truth, grow as a Guardian and as a person… I've never admitted this, but… I thought less of him. My best friend, my closest ally—all because he'd stuck to his word. Accepted the Dare, and even when he came up on the bad end, he never wavered from doing exactly what he said he'd do… Join the damn Vanguard. Leave me and Shiro to have all the fun. I thought he was a sucker. Turns out, the only sucker was me.