The Warlock Aunor
Message from Aunor I
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. My name is Aunor. I serve the Hidden and the Warlock Praxic Order. You and I have never met, but I hold you in high regard. You've accomplished wonders for this City, and humanity owes you a debt it cannot repay. A marvel for one so young. But, in true Guardian fashion, nothing you did for the City came from generosity. I think you want what everyone with power wants: more. The man called Drifter knows this. That man has done what past influencers could not: manipulate Guardians into dabbling with the dark. And yet the Vanguard stands by in silence. Commander Zavala and Ikora Rey know who he is and everything he stands for. They still let him bring his Gambit into the system. What's more, they have forbidden the Praxic Order from interfering. It's against everything the Praxics stand for. We won't abide it, and we're looking into his activities, building a case against him even the Vanguard can't ignore. Do me a favor. From one Guardian of this City to another. You're free to keep your business with him. Just give me the chance to convince you the Drifter's not to be trusted.
Message from Aunor II
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. Since its inception, the Vanguard has served as the City's greatest deterrent against total annihilation of humankind. And for an Age, it succeeded without question. But today's Vanguard has never faced a threat like the Drifter. This man with no name and no verified history in the City's files has brought an ideological war to our doorstep. He's a greater threat than any Hive god or Vex Mind because I can't walk down to the Annex with a shotgun and end him. The Vanguard won't allow it. They see a rogue element they can control. I see a criminal in a place of power. The Praxic Order has been surveilling Vanguard activities: Guardians like you are abandoning frontline duties so they can run rampant in the Drifter's Gambit. Every Mote of Dark they drop in his hands means another moment that the paracausal phenomenon in the Dreaming City is left unchecked. That our enemies in Deadzones across the Earth push our borders. In the absence of Light, even the Hellmouth on the Moon is stirring. This cannot last. Ontological and genocidal threats aside, Gambit encourages the use of Darkness to fight Darkness... and other Guardians. Since the City's foundation, the Praxic Order has existed to keep Darkness and other banned assets out of the hands of City Guardians. Despite our best efforts, pieces like the Red Death, Crimson... and certain Weapons of Sorrow... continue to find their way into City arsenals. But even Guardian killers like those are nothing compared to the ideological threat of Gambit. Gambit leads to Darkness. And Darkness is the Hive on the Moon, tearing our kind to pieces in the Great Disaster. The Darkness is the Red War, the tower-fall—when the Cabal silenced the Traveler and killed thousands of the last humans on Earth in a single day. The Darkness is the Vex erasing our allies from existence, from memory itself. The Darkness is one man, with the power to deal final death in his fist. The Darkness was the Collapse of the Golden Age. The Darkness is peace by annihilation in myriad ways. As a sword of the Praxic Order, it is my duty to seek out those who would consort with or study the Darkness as a religious or paracausal entity. Participating in Gambit is problematic, but Guardians will go to where the guns are. If the Order wants to win this, the Drifter must fall. If I can get solid evidence that bastard is causing demonstrable harm, the Praxic Order will descend on him like a second sun. I know the Drifter has your ear, but consider this: There's more to being a Guardian of the City than power.
Message from Aunor III
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. [The transcript has been bundled alongside the shattered remains of a Ghost.] This Ghost belonged to a renegade Guardian, recently deceased in a shootout with Praxic elements in the City. His Guardian, an equally dead Titan, went by another title: Dredgen. This pair were ideological followers of Dredgen Yor. No reason for veterans of the Red War to brush up on late Dark Age history, so in case you haven't heard: Yor was among the first of our kind to kill another with the heretical use of Darkness. Even a Guardian can't come back from that. All those who used his name in recent history belonged to an outlaw group called the Shadows of Yor. No two of them can agree on Yor's true ideology, but all strive to consort with the Darkness for power. According to the testimony of his former fireteams, Drifter was one of them. And might still be. The group hasn't made an appearance in a long time. There are rumors of new "Dredgens" taking up the mantle at the behest of the Drifter. All relatively young Guardians: the Old Russian cohort or the Red War. Not the old blood of the original group. You might be one of them. Or soon could be. Just know that I've confirmed some, perhaps all, of the old blood are back in town. The Ghost you hold in your hand belonged to one of them. And I would not be surprised if the renegade who hunts the Shadows, the Hunter who forged the Golden Gun itself, was close behind. I don't know why the Shadows have returned, but there are possibilities: To Drifter's chagrin I'm sure, it's no secret City Guardians are playing with Darkness in the form of Gambit. Maybe the Shadows want to actively recruit. They've tried and failed in the past to put the use of Darkness into Guardian arsenals. But the Drifter and the Shadows could be at odds. The man is a loner and a cheat, building as many bridges as he burns in the Guardian community. He has true allegiance to nothing and no one but himself. It's possible he's gathering Gambit regulars to defend himself from his own kind. Or the Dredgens are here to help their ally, the Drifter, with the operation of Gambit or some new, unknown goal. I share all this with you hoping for your confidence. The Drifter is not to be trusted. Involve yourself with him and the Dredgens at your own risk. Even if you carry their name, it's not too late to make the right choice. Don't end up like the Ghost in your hand. He did not die well.
Message from Aunor IV
The Drifter's playing you. Gambit Prime isn't a get-rich-quick scheme, it's an experiment. And he's luring all of you from the Tower as test rats. Until today, the heads of my Order believed the Drifter was attempting to craft a throne world, much like the Scorned Baron Hiraks did. Off the death of the Hunter Vanguard. It surprised me, but we've found no evidence in or around the City that the Drifter's ever actually killed anyone (though there could be a mass grave aboard that destitute thing he calls a ship). Your excursion today corroborated the stories of multiple Guardians still loyal to the Vanguard: the Drifter's haul originates from the clandestine power known only as the Nine. The Warlock orders have only trivial information on these beings, but it would seem the Drifter has been networking beyond forces of Light and Dark. Before him, the Awoken Queen was their only known associate. As of this moment, I hope I can trust you to keep your eyes open and your reports honest. As one of Drifter's Gambit Prime candidates, you are among the first Guardians to see what that bastard is doing. You're the Vanguard's eyes and ears in this. I hope you do right by them.
Message from Aunor V
TYPE: VANGUARD CASUALTY REPORT PARTIES: Two . One Guardian-type, Class Titan [u.1]; One Guardian-type, Class Warlock [u.2] ASSOCIATIONS: Emerald Coast; Cathedral of Scars; Legion's Folly; Kell's Grave; "The Drifter"; Gambit; Gambit Prime //AUDIO UNAVAILABLE// //TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS…/ [u.1:01] What do you have? Arcite's the only one watching up there. [u.2:01] European Dead Zone, Earth: three Guardian fatalities. [u.2:02] Dreaming City, the Reef: two Guardian fatalities. [u.2:03] Nessus, Unstable Centaur: one Guardian fatality. [u.2:04] Tangled Shore, the Reef: three Guardian fatalities. [u.1:02] …I know. [a sudden distortion in the feed from Light-based radiation] [u.1:03] You missed. And you ruined my wall. [u.2:05] If I wanted to hit you, you'd look like that wall. What happened to stepping on him the second something went wrong? [u.1:04] Those Guardians knew the risks. We take them every time we raid the outer edges or run a strike. Gambit's the same. These were not "Thorn" incidents. In each case, non-Guardian hostiles caught Ghosts unprepared. The Crucible's for them as much as us. [u.2:06] He doesn't watch those arenas like you do. He's reckless. [u.1:05] We need him. It's working. [u.2:07] If we lose another Guardian, he's out. Did you forget how many of us died that first night of the war? [u.1:06] I buried all the ones I could find before the dawn. [u.2:08] How about we stop burying Guardians altogether? Get him in line. Or I'll kill him and his Ghost myself. //END TRANSCRIPT CORMORANT-ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. I stole that transcript myself. Thought you should see it. Your friends are dying on the Drifter's watch. How long before it's you? The Order is in a state of paralysis. Half of us want to restrain the Ghosts of the Vanguard and the Drifter all at once, and have them face Praxic justice. But that would shatter the peace in the City, irreparably. Meanwhile, the Shadows of Yor continue to have a presence in this City. And no Golden Gun in sight to contain them. The Man must be busy. It seems the fate of this town rests on your shoulders once again. The choices you make in the coming weeks could affect more lives than any bullet you've ever fired. Consider that. And consider this: The Drifter is polluting minds, driving Guardians away from what he nebulously calls the "Traveler's dogma." He's turned a lot of minds onto the idea that Darkness is a tool worth using. This City was built on a foundation of fighting the Darkness and everything it stands for: the erasure of order, individual empowerment over the common good. The Hive and the Taken live to serve their gods. The Traveler empowers humanity to live. He says otherwise, but the Drifter is not above systems. That armor he's offering you in his so-called "Reckoning" represents a choice in a system of his making. He's just here to disrupt the natural order for personal gain, and he doesn't care who dies for it. The Vanguard is relying on you more than ever. Against the Drifter. Against themselves. You'll know what to do. I have Dredgens to hunt.
Message to Aunor
You compose an encrypted message to Aunor of the Praxic Order. Along with a brief statement of solidarity, the message contains transcripts of your conversations with the Drifter, as well as data packages detailing Drifter's "Gambit Prime" and "Reckoning" operations. Your Ghost has also provided specifications for the modified Gambit bank you saw while ...within? ...aboard? "the Haul," and included engram prints of the ontological armor you forged at the Drifter's instruction. The Vanguard and the Hidden will want to know that Drifter's material resources are expanding in scope: from Light and Dark to the cold unknown of the impossible world he's found—or created—within the Haul. Ghost's spectral analysis confirms that it's unlike anything you've encountered in the Ascendant Plane. But the readings reminded him of the Third Spire, the trial grounds of the beings known as the Nine. You don't know what the future brings, but you know you will meet it with a clean conscience.
Message from Aunor VI
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. This is stellar casework. And I'm glad you stayed the course. Having a hero of the Red War go rogue and side with the Drifter is not a scenario I wanted to consider. You've provided critical information on the Drifter's operation, but I need to know who his facilitators in this system are. Someone's providing him with raw materials to build his gear, and I know his accounts with the City don't have the kind of Glimmer to pay. Vanguard territory's been flooded with rogues since Gambit became the Tower's favorite pastime, so it could be anyone. My Ghost made some microphones for you, infused with Praxic wards. We've put them through rigorous durability testing. Anything short of the impact point on a Sunbreaker's hammer, and these things will keep recording. Bug the Drifter's hovel in the Annex and find out who's supplying him. I'm off to the lower boroughs of the City to see if I can head off one of Drifter's jobs in person. Praxic Flame be with you.
Message from Aunor VII
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. I got the feed from your Ghost. Head to Titan if you're not halfway there already. Drifter and the Spider have worked together on occasion. But it can't benefit Spider to let the Drifter expand his influence in the system. So why help him? I wonder if the Shadows of Yor are involved—maybe pressure on the Reef at Drifter's benefit? Local Hunter dens are reporting renegade incidents across the Shore. I haven't been out there since Cayde died. Gambit's been generating a lot of paperwork for me. I'll check it out.
Message from Aunor VIII
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. Drifter wants a bullet to the head? If not for the Vanguard decree, I'd oblige tonight. Your trip to Titan let me round up a couple wannabe Dredgens out on the Tangled Shore. No casualties, civilian or Guardian. And a half dozen perps and their Ghosts restrained. Drifter was paying them to transport Motes to the Shore. If Motes of Dark stay in Gambit, there's nothing I can do. Vanguard decree means Drifter is free and clear. As soon as I see anyone carry Motes outside that context, going to anyone but our rat in green? Their Light belongs to me. Those six will face Praxic justice. Perhaps exile. We haven't had to lock anyone up in decades. If the Vanguard thinks the Drifter hasn't changed things, I can't help them. And we'll continue to clean up their messes. You're doing good work. Praxic work. If you're going to continue, I need you to keep attending Drifter's games. You're my eyes. He'll allow it. The man's desperate. Probably has been his whole life. Meanwhile, I'm looking into the Nine again. The Haul was enough impetus, but that voice you heard? That was their Emissary. I don't know much about her, but she's wrapped up in this mess somehow.
TYPE: Survelliance Transcript PARTIES: Two . One Guardian-type, Class Multi [u.1]. One Guardian-type, Class Titan [u.2] ASSOCIATIONS: Drifter, the; Derelict, the; Dark Ages; possible explosives link //AUDIO STORED// //TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS.../ [u.2:0.1] You finish your project? [u.1:0.1] Yes, ma'am. Planted 'em all this morning. [u.2:0.2] Tss. [u.1:0.2] Don't look at me like that. Why you lookin' at me like that? [u.2:0.3] There are simpler ways— [u.1:0.3] Not everything's got to be simple, darlin'. [u.2:0.4] I think you're a coward. Just look 'em in the eye when you do it. [u.1:0.4] Heh. And if it goes wrong? [u.2:0.5] Then it goes wrong! Blows up in your face. Who cares! You're immortal. Not like it's gonna kill you. [u.1:0.5] This is some real Titan braggadocio right here. You know, back in the Dark Ages— [u.2:0.6] "There were no classes," blah blah "dogma" blah blah. Save it for the rookies. You get tired of this City or your bomb shelter up in the Derelict, the frontier's always waitin'. [u.1:0.6] It surely is, sister. It surely is. //KEYWORD ANALYSIS// planted them = to plant a seed, an idea, a bomb look them in the eye when you do it = to behave honestly, to perform an act of violence blows up in your face = to make a mistake, to trigger an explosion bomb shelter = a structure designed to provide protection against the explosion of a bomb //CONCLUSION// No direct threat detected, but consistent use of explosives metaphor merits field investigation.
Message from Aunor IX
CORMORANT-LEVEL ENCRYPTED MESSAGE FOLLOWS. AUDIO UNAVAILABLE. Your Ghost passed along another couple of transcripts. Broke into the Derelict, did you? You've got good instincts. Seems to me that the Drifter's picked himself a protégé. Probably another young war hero, like you. If he's writing down his "lessons," maybe he'll write down the one scrap of truth that we need to nail him to the wall. Chase the rest of those "tapes." In the meantime, I followed up with my colleagues about the Nine. Used to be that every couple years or so, somebody would get to talking to Xûr, then they'd decide that they were going to be the great mind to crack the mystery of the Nine. Go off to find them. Bunch of Cryptarchs, mostly. A couple Guardians. Then the Light went out during the Red War, and one last ambitious mind went out in search of providence: a Sunbreaker by the name of Orin. She came back as the Emissary. Set up the Trials, said the Nine were standing ready to judge the worthiest among us—for what, we don't know. Seems they like strong warriors. The disappearances have stopped since then. I should note here that a couple people called those disappearances "abductions." Word of advice? Try to keep emotional language out of your reports. To the knowledge of the Praxic Order, the Nine aren't allies of the Darkness. We've got solid intel from Reef spies that the Awoken Queen's working with them now beyond the system. Could be that they're up to no good, but—whatever's out there is apparently more important than all that suffering in the Dreaming City, and every Corsair I've talked to believes that through and through. I believe their belief. The Awoken have too much self-respect to live under a bad leader. Bad's different than popular, of course. Anyway, I don't think the Nine or their Emissary intend to harm you—not right now, at least. It'd be helpful if we knew what they wanted with Drifter, but... That investigation is up to you. If you pursue it and you get a whiff of trouble, you tell me. Just remember the rest of us when you're out there changing the fabric of spacetime, or whatever the hell it is they do.