Greetings, Guardians, here's part seventeen of The Journey Home! Just an fyi, these next two weeks are really busy for me, so parts might be a little spotty. But after May 11th, I should be good! In any case, here's [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/225966369?showBanned=0&path=0] part sixteen [/url] if you missed it, or, if you're looking for a different part, here's the [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/222615264?showBanned=0&path=0] table of contents![/url] Stay classy, Guardians!
“Time to wake up!”
The words tore through Alesha’s dreams like a bullet.
“Let’s go people, time to move out!”
Alesha sat up, groaning. She stretched out her back. She’d just woken up, and already she felt like she’d done a hard day’s work in the fields.
“Ooh,” Uncle Tom said. “These old bones aren’t used to this sort of bed.”
“And to think we used to complain about the mattress back home,” Beatrice said.
Alesha looked out at the early-morning sky. Smoke still emanated in the distance though it had no turned to several light-gray wisps.
“I’m sure that Kaz and the village are fine,” Tom said. “Probably just sitting on his porch, feeling mighty peachy.”
“Yes,” said Beatrice, “I’ll bet the Fallen passed right over the village!”
“Yeah,” Alesha said. They all nodded to one another, repeating the lie for fear that one of them had actually believed it. They ate a quick breakfast of more bread and dried meat, and then packed up their belongings.
Erling, as usual, lead the way. Alesha noticed that many of the men who’d been on Guard duty last night appeared tired and bleary-eyed. Erling showed no such signs of fatigue. He simply continued walking on, a proud and unrelenting study in endurance.
The villagers walked through the forest for most of the day. Eventually, they came to a large clearing. “We should stop here for the day,” Oren panted.
“We need to keep moving,” Erling said. “Fallen don’t stop. We can’t either.”
“Look, Erling,” Oren said between breaths, “we’re hardy people, but we need to rest.”
Erling paused. “Fine,” he said. “Thirty minutes. But tell them not to eat too much of their rations. They’ll need the food for later on.”
But it was too late - many of the villagers were hungrily breaking into their food supplies, devouring their already meager lunches.
Uncle Tom handed Alesha some meat, a single slice of bread, as well as a few dried fruits. “Eat up,” he said. “You’ll need your strength.”
“What about you?” she asked.
Tom smiled. “I’m fine,” he said. “Eat up.”
Alesha looked down at the food, and, after a moments hesitation, gobbled it up. She was absolutely starving.
After a little rest, the villagers prepared to leave. “I don’t know how I can walk that far again,” Alesha groaned.
“We’ll just have to do what we can,” Beatrice said. “We just have to keep moving. That’s all.”
Suddenly, there was a boom behind them. Alesha whirled around, and saw a ship - much like Erling’s - fly over the clearing. It was orange, and shaped kind of like Erling’s, but with some subtle differences. Then, there was blue flash, and Simon suddenly appeared on the ground.
The sunlreaker stumbled forward, his armor smoking, and blackened in various places. His helmet fell off, revealing a face twisted with anguish and pain. Then, he stood up straight, and looked around. “Give me my glimmer, Erling,” he growled.
Erling stepped forward. “What happened?” he asked.
Quick as a wink, Simon pulled a hand cannon from his waist, and pointed it at Erling. “I said give me my damn glimmer!” he shouted. “Now!”
Erling’s hand went to his waist.
“Don’t even think about it,” Simon growled.
Erling lifted his hand away, and let his arms go limp at his sides. “Okay,” he said. “What happened?”
“The Fallen,” Simon growled. “They burned down the whole damn village. Now where’s my payment!”
Kaz, Alesha thought, suddenly rife with worry.
Erling seemed to think so as well. “What happened to the old man?”
Simon frowned. “What?”
“There was an old man in the village,” Erling said calmly. “What happened to him?”
Simon’s scowl deepened. “Dead,” he said. “Stealth vandals slit ‘is throat from behind. Poor bastard never even got a shot off.”
Murmurs immediately went off among the villagers. Alesha blinked. “Kaz,” she whispered. The old man had been a pillar of life in the community; too old to work the fields, always playing with the children, telling the same old stories that he had been told by his grandfather, who had been one of the original settlers of the village. The fact that he was no more seemed too strange for Alesha to grasp - and Simon’s cold delivery made it all the more hard.
If the news troubled Erling, he didn’t show it. “What about your companions?” he asked. “Where’d they get to?”
Simon blinked, and he licked his lips. The gun in his hand began to shake. “Dead,” he said, half-whispering. “Both of them. The ghosts too, best I can tell.” Simon acquired a far off look in his eyes. “There were so many,” he said. “More than I’ve ever seen in one place. We took out one of their Walkers, but they had another one, and they -“
Erling frowned. “They had two Walkers?”
Simon looked back at Erling. “There were at least eight hundred Fallen,” he said. “We whittled that number down, but. . .” he shook his head. “They overwhelmed us.”
Erling nodded. “I’m sorry,” he said.
Simon shook his head. “Don’t be,” he said. “I didn’t come for your sympathy, I came for your glimmer. So hand it over. Now.”
Erling nodded. “Ghost? Give him the glimmer in the ship. All of it.”
“Got it, boss,” the Ghost said. He disappeared for a moment, and Erling’s ship flew overhead a few moments later. There was a blue flash, and a mound of glimmer appeared in front of Simon.
The Sunbreaker smiled, and holstered his cannon. He bent down to look at the mound. Suddenly, he frowned. “This isn’t thirty thousand,” he said.
“Twenty thousand,” Erling said. “Was all I had.”
“You promised me thirty.”
Erling shrugged. “Call the rest an IOU?” His hand went to his waist, his fingers gripped around the holster of his hand cannon.
Simon stared at the mound for another moment, and then let out a grim chuckle. “You got me, mate,” he said. “You got me good.” He shook his head. “Well. Twenty thousand’s better than none, I suppose.”
The glimmer disappeared as Simon’s ghost transmatted it aboard. Simon stood up, smiling. “I’ll hold you to that IOU, by the way,” Simon said. “You owe me big time for this.” He began walking towards his ship.
“Simon!” Erling said.
The Sunbreaker turned towards him. “What?”
Erling nodded. “I really am sorry about your companions, by the way.”
Simon nodded gravely. “Yeah,” he said. “So am I.”
The two were silent for a moment. “What will you do now?” Erling asked.
“I dunno,” Simon shrugged. “Find more work, I suppose. Get to a place where I can spend some of this glimmer.” He smiled. “That’s the great thing about being a gun for hire; your services are always needed.”
Erling nodded. “You could come back to the Tower,” he said. “We could always use the manpower.”
“And become a big softie like you?” Simon said. “I’ll take my chances, mate.” He gave a brief salute. “Don’t die out there - I want to be able to call in that favor some day.”
Erling gave a brief smile. “Same to you, Simon.”
Simon nodded, and disappeared in a flash of blue light. Then, his ship turned around, and rocketed into the sky. Erling’s did as well, going in a separate direction.
Erling let out a deep breath. “That went better than expected,” he said. “I honestly thought I might have to kill him for real this time.” He turned back towards the villager. “Alright,” he said. “Let’s get on the road again. Simon’s bought us some time - let’s not waste it!”
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