[i]Legend Untold: The Dark Below
Chapter 25: Crota’s Bane
Taking a deep breath, I made the last couple of steps to reach proper speaking distance and started the best I could, “Excuse me? We heard that you might know something about the Hive.”
She seemed to be completely ignoring us until I said the word ‘Hive’, at which her gaze snapped up from the mysterious stone, revealing her face. But then I wasn’t so sure that it was all her face anymore.
Behind a strip of black cloth tied around the top half of her face, three glowing green circles glared out at me. Hive eyes, implanted where her own eyes used to be. Shadows seeped out from beneath the cloth and drifted down her cheeks like snakes made of mist. Or like tears.
“SON Of a weasel’s…buttered…” Drew exclaimed when he saw her, trailing off timidly as the woman’s gaze shifted to him, “…biscuit…”
Her mouth twitched into what was almost a snarl at Drew before looking at me again. “I have wasted enough time today dealing with the foolery of ignorant Guardians,” her voice was low, grave, and held a touch of annoyance, “Leave me.”
“No, I…we…excuse him,” I sighed, gesturing to Drew and trying not to look at any of her eyes, “But I really wanted to talk with you. Drew here said you might know something about the Hive, and the City is seriously lacking in information.”
“The City is lacking in many things,” the woman noted, her tone somehow mixing hostility with disinterest. She still seemed to want me to leave.
“So look,” I decided to get to the point, “The Hive have been quietly breeding since the Great Disaster. Even when we found out they had infiltrated the Cosmodrome, they didn’t make any moves. But now, all of a sudden, the Cosmodrome is swarming with them and they’re coming out of their holes in the Moon? Something has to be going on, and if you know any-“
“Crota,” she interrupted, but in a way that sounded more explanative than rude.
“What?” I didn’t understand.
“Crota,” she repeated, then opened her mouth to continue.
“Gesundheit,” Drew interjected, earning himself disapproving stares from both the Hive lady and myself.
“Crota commands the Hive on the Moon,” she elaborated after she seemed sure Drew wouldn’t talk again, “Hundreds of Guardians fell to his blade at Mare Imbrium.”
It was impossible to read her emotions as she talked. I was beginning to realize that she always sounded dour and annoyed, even after apparently determining that I was worth talking to. The Battle of Mare Ibrium- aka the Great Disaster -was as much a horror story to the Guardians as the Hive were to children. When the Hive were first faced and defeated on the Moon at the battle of Burning Lake, humanity had grown overconfident and sent thousands of Guardians led by the Warlock Orders to reclaim it. The result had been catastrophic, and no move had been made to retake Luna since. The scary part was that, even with the Guardians suddenly made fearful and much less numerous than before, the Hive had not followed up their victory with an invasion of Earth. They were waiting for something. This Huntress could have lost friends at Mare Imbrium, but her unchanging demeanor made it so I couldn’t even tell if she had been there at all.
“He is almost done gathering his strength, and his broods move to extinguish the last of the Light,” she finished. It took me a second to realize she was done; there was so much to worry about from so few sentences.
“You’ve told the Vanguard?” I questioned.
“They will guard their little walls,” her resting frown turned into a grimace and her tone grew harsher again, “They do not understand that, if Crota is allowed to return, there will be no stopping the Hive. They will not send Guardians to die in the Hellmouth, not even as a cost for victory. All I can do is warn of the end.”
“Nothing can get through the Walls,” Drew assured firmly, “The City’s finest watch ‘em.”
“Drew,” I began unsurely, not wanting to be the one to break this to him, “We haven’t fully recovered from Twilight Gap. The outer sectors of the City are abandoned and the Walls don’t have that many eyes on them except around the Tower. Our advantage is that when we see an attack coming, we can call in Guardians to reinforce the point under assault. Even Twilight Gap was mostly fought on one section of the Wall. Even so, there’s no telling if we could keep the Hive out in our current state.”
“The Hive will break humanity,” the woman almost seemed to hiss.
“If we kill Crota can we stop the Hive?” I asked, my attention back on her.
She stared at me for a moment, her three big green eyes unreadable despite being so visible through the cloth. “You are as all the others are,” something about her made her sound disappointed, “Leave. Prepare for your end. Shoot Hive, or whatever it is you believe will make a difference.”
For a moment I was too taken aback to respond. “I’m serious,” I collected myself, “I know what I’m getting into. If you know a way to defeat Crota, please tell me.”
“I assure you, you do not know what awaits you under the surface of the Moon,” she responded grimly, then thought for a second, “I have told the others who approached me to seek out the strongest amongst the Hive, offering rewards in return. If Crota is to die, and his plan to fail, we must kill the generals of his broods. Then, he will be vulnerable.”
“Finally,” Drew was getting excited from the talk of fighting, “A chance to kick some Hive a-“
“Do you know where they are?” I talked over him, since neither I nor the Huntress were paying attention to him anymore.
“First, hunt one of his thousand Swords,” she instructed, “Knights who serve as extensions of his blade. They will be scattered across the Moon and the Cosmodrome, leading the hoards. Killing threats. Bring what you can back to me.”
“So I’ll just…” I trailed off, looking for the words I wanted, “Run into them wherever the Hive are?”
“If you seek them out, you will find them,” she answered, “Or they will find you.”
That line was so cliche it almost lost its ominous edge. Almost. The Hive were no joke; despite their determined efforts to not engage humanity in open war until now, thousands of Guardians had died their final deaths fighting them.
“Don’t hunt a Batodactyl if you’re not ready to end up in the air,” Drew tried to sound wise. I wasn’t sure if he had come up with that or if he had heard someone else say it. I didn’t say anything because, honestly, he had a point. Hunting Hive meant problems would come your way.
“We’ll find one…a Sword,” I clarified, not wanting her to think I was talking about Batodactyls, “And see if we can recover anything.”
The woman grunted a response, seeming to lose interest now that the conversation was over.
“May I ask your name?” I inquired.
“Eris Morn,” she told me.
“William,” I put my hand to my chest to show I was naming myself.
“Drew-22,” the Titan chirped, tapping his hand to his metal forehead in a lazy salute. Eris frowned at him again.
“We’ll be back,” I promised, bowing my head slightly to say farewell.
“If you survive,” Eris responded discouragingly. I knew she was right to doubt the return of someone sent after the Hive.
Chapter 25 Part 1: https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/253618845/0/0
Chapter 26: PND
Link to Table of Contents: https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/212710816/0/0
Also be sure to read the Legend Untold side arc I just started writing, Out of Time: https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/253302742/0/0
SON OF A WEASEL’S BISCUIT!
Another chapter filled with Drew’s wisdom, and a great depiction of Eris. I can’t wait to see Drew suplex a Hive Knight! And it would be hilarious if he tried and failed to suplex an Ogre, too…