If you missed the last episode, you can find it [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/223913794/0/0]here[/url], or if you need to find a previous episode, you can find them all in the [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forum/Post/220441594/0/0]Master Post[/url]. Please give a bump, upvote, or leave comment if you enjoy this and any other chapter!
“…and they lived happily ever after.”
Seren closes the book and smiles warmly, resting it on her lap.
“What’s that mean?” I ask.
“That means there were no more adventures,” she explains. “They lived the rest of their lives in happiness. Nothing more to tell.”
“But…” I begin, conflicted, a feeling inside me I can’t understand. “There’s nothing more?”
“In this book, no,” Seren says. “But there are many other books with many other adventures for you to read and learn from.”
“There are?!” I exclaim, shocked. [i]How many more?[/i]
“Yes,” Seren laughs. “Many, many more. We’ve collected thousands of old books from the Golden Age we discovered over the years. You’re more than welcome to read them in the library as long as you’re careful.”
“I promise,” I vow solemnly, still stunned that there are so many more books to read. Seren laughs.
“You’re such a curious one. How much do you remember from what came before?”
I struggle to think again – it’s not the first time she’s asked me, and every time I’ve answered her she always seems….disappointed. I feel terrible I can’t help her.
“I…I remember a planet,” I begin hesitantly, not wanting to disappoint her again. “A….a red planet, yes. There were – “
“You’re lying,” Seren says calmly, her unblinking gray eyes boring directly into mine.
“No, I – “
“I can always tell when you’re lying, Kenedi. Tell me the truth – do you remember anything?”
I hang my head sadly.
“No,” I admit, not meeting her eyes. “Nothing.”
“That’s a shame,” she says, rising up from the floor. “I suppose we can only hope your memory returns.”
“Can we read another story?” I ask her hopefully.
“Not today,” she says, walking to the door of my small, sparse room. “I have things to attend to. I’ll come visit you tomorrow, though, and we’ll talk again.”
She closes the door behind herself, and I hear the bolt lock.
[i]Why do they keep me locked in here?[/i] I wonder sadly. [i]What did I do? Why can’t I remember?[/i]
I pick up the book she left and look at it curiously.
[i]And they lived happily ever after….[/i]
I hurl the book as hard as I can at the door, a strange surge of….[i]anger?[/i]….rising within me. But as soon as it hits, I feel immediate regret and carefully scoop it back up, checking for any dents or damage. Cradling it to my chest, I sit back down and open it, beginning to read once more.
“Just picture where you want to be,” Seren coaches from the other side of the room. “Just imagine yourself standing next to me.”
I stare at the floor beside her, willing myself to do as she says.
[i]Concentrate, there must be a way if she says there is….[/i]
But for all my efforts, my feet remain firmly rooted across the room from Seren. I hang my head again as Seren says.
“Are you sure I can do this?” I ask her again.
“When we found you,” she begins. “You weren’t in the best shape. We had to compensate for some of the damage with excess parts, many of which we scavenged from Vex bodies. If we assembled everything correctly, you should be able to teleport like them.”
“Are you sure?” I ask again. Seren’s eyes flash slightly before resuming their normal twinkling gray.
“If we’ve done everything right, then yes.”
I concentrate again, willing myself to join her across the room – but to no avail.
“I don’t think I can do it,” I declare sadly.
“Hmmm,” Seren says pensively. “Perhaps there is something off with our assembly. We should be able to check through a physical diagnostic.”
“You mean they’ll take me apart?” I ask worriedly.
“Temporarily,” Seren answers dispassionately. “Just to see what the problem is.”
“But…” I begin to protest, but Seren’s eyes flash again.
“You won’t feel a thing,” she says.
[i]Trust me[/i], her voice says in my mind. I look at her smiling confidently, and quietly nod in agreement.
“Will you read me another story afterwards?” I ask, and Seren watches me for a moment before her face breaks into a warm smile.
“Of course,” she answers. “Which one would you like?”
I walk over to the small pile that’s accumulated during my time in this room, and select a volume from the top.
“This one,” I tell her, carrying it over. She smiles again as she sees the cover, and sits down on the floor.
“How about I read it now?” she asks, and I sit down next to her, eyes wide as she opens the cover and begins to read.
[i]No![/i] Seren cries inside my head as she hurls the book at me – I duck as it hits the wall behind me, and I feel a thrill of….[i]fear?[/i]…as she descends upon me, her eyes glowing fiercely. [i]That’s not where I told you! Do it again!![/i]
For weeks, we’ve worked around the clock to perfect my teleportation abilities – but for all my lack of trying, I’m still just slightly off, landing a few feet away from the target Seren wants me to hit.
“I’m sorry, I – “ I begin, but Seren’s eyes glow brighter as she grits her teeth in frustration.
[i]You’re never going to get it right if you spend all your time apologizing!![/i] she roars inside my head, glaring at me with her lips pressed together tightly. [i]Now stop saying sorry for doing it wrong and just DO IT RIGHT!!![/i]
I nod quickly, and concentrate again – I feel the sensation of disappearing once more, and then my feet landing on the floor – I look quickly down…and see them a few inches away from the target.
Seren seethes in anger.
[i]Perhaps you just need better motivation[/i], she says coldly, and begins waving her arms – small, glowing orbs begin to appear throughout the room, hovering around the large stack of books I’ve accumulated, which now takes up a full corner of the room.
“No!!” I cry in fear as the balls dance dangerously close to the precious pages. [i]Those are mine! Those are all I have –
You’d better save them, then[/i], Seren answers coldly. [i]Without hitting the Harbingers. Doing so will instantly kill you.[/i]
I look in horror at her glowing blue eyes, at the cold purpose in her eyes. With a shiver running through my body, I turn toward the books, the glowing balls surrounding them, and concentrate –
[i]Have to teleport inside, right on top of the books, can’t hit the balls or I’ll die….[/i]
I feel my feet leaving the floor as I begin to dematerialize….
…and land atop the stack of books, the balls hovering inches away from me like a cage.
Seren lets out a laugh of triumph, but the sudden noise surprises me and I feel my foot slip – the stack begins to tumble forward – the balls dissipate as I begin to fall, but not quickly enough – the spine of one of my books touches the orb, and a burst of energy envelopes us –
I wake up on a diagnostics table, Seren looking over me.
"You’re awake,” she says with a smile, tears leaking from her eyes. “I thought you were….”
“I’m okay,” I say, still watching her warily.
“I tried to pull them away in time,” she says quietly. “But I wasn’t fast enough. Maybe that’s why I can’t teach you…”
I instinctively reach for her hand, and she instinctively pulls back before she realizes what she’s done. She takes my hand in hers and smiles at me, leaning over to kiss my forehead.
[i]As soon as you’re well, we’ll start again,[/i] she whispers in my mind, rising to leave, but I hold her hand tightly.
“Will you read to me?” I ask.
“Not today,” she says quietly. “We just discovered another one like you floating through the Reef. I have to help him as I’ve helped you.”
“Oh,” I say quietly. “Maybe tomorrow?”
“Maybe,” Seren says with a smile as she turns to leave.
I put the book down as the door to my room opens once more, and Seren enters.
[i]I have a job for you,[/i] she commands inside my head. [i]Our new guest is more curious than I anticipated. He’ll need to be given something to keep him busy. I need you to watch him and help keep the ruse going.
What would I need to do?
Tonight, after everyone’s fallen asleep[/i], she begins. [i]I need you to teleport into my Collection and take the Crystal Orchid.
Are you sure?[/i] I ask. [i]That’s your – [/i]
But Seren’s eyes glow blue, and I fall silent, instinctively bending to shield the large stack of books behind me. Seren notices, and her eyes fall to the book on the floor beside me. She picks it up, looking at the title.
“[i]Flowers for Algernon[/i],” she reads, a tone of bemusement in her voice as her eyes return to their normal gray. “The irony is lost on you, though, I suppose.”
What am I to do after I’ve taken the Crystal Orchid?[/i] I ask internally, trying to change the subject.
[i]I’ll order Nas to have you accompany him[/i], she commands. [i]The rest will be fed to you during the mission.[/i]
She taps the side of her head, and I take her meaning immediately.
“As you wish,” I tell her, and she smirks slightly.
“Didn’t think you’d gotten to that book yet,” she answers.
“I’ve read them all,” I answer. “Several times.”
She tosses [i]Flowers for Algernon[/i] back at me.
[i]Perhaps that’s the problem,[/i] she muses. [i]Learning means nothing without practical application. Working with Nas might do well for you, too.[/i]
She turns to leave, closing the door behind her, as I pick up the book once more.
[i]But what if I don’t want that?[/i] I think quietly, hoping she can’t hear me. [i]Do I even have a choice?[/i]
The boy in the naval uniform draws his hand back – for a moment, I sit frozen in astonishment, then finally look up at him.
“Why….What are you?”
Instead of replying, the boy just pulls a book from behind his back. Nodding to him, I open it as he sits down beside me, and together we begin to read.
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