Greetings, Guardians, here's part 16 of The Journey Home! I'm sorry that this has taken me a while, but I've had a lot of work to do lately, and I've also been sick these past few days. In any case, here's [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Clan/Post/1371758/225401868/0/0]part 15 [/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!
The weapons were quickly disturbed among the villagers - fifty-six in all. “The real problem,” Erling said, “Is ammo.” The villagers were already carrying a lot of weight on their backs, and the extra burden was proving substantial. Eventually, Erling decided that they’d have to transmatt it into his ship.
“How are we going to get to it when we need it then?” Oren asked.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Erling replied. As he spoke, an ammo crate disappeared in a flash of blue light.
Alesha walked up to the place where the crate had been, and waved her hand through the empty space. Cool, she thought. She wondered if it was some sort of magic. Erling had said that it was a sort of machinery in his ghost that allowed him to do that, but how could a machine make an entire crate disappear?
The group resumed their trek through the forest. Soon, the trees began to darken as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon.
“We’ll need to stop for the night soon,” Oren said. “The people are getting tired.”
Without pausing, Erling nodded. “Ghost?” he said. “Any good positions nearby?”
His ghost paused for a moment. “There’s a ridge not too far from here,” he said. “We should be able to make camp there for the night.”
Erling nodded. “Then lead the way, Ghost.”
After another half an hour of walking, the group arrived on top of a small hill, whose summit was crested with stone. “Eat your dinner, and then get to sleep!” Erling said. “We’ve got a lot of marching to do tomorrow.” He looked over at Oren. “Use your men to set up a watch,” he said. “Five men per watch. Have them patrol the perimeter regularly.”
“You sure it’s necessary?” Oren said. “I mean -“
“I’d rather be safe then wake up with my throat slit,” Erling said. “I’ll take the first watch myself.” And with that, Erling walked over to the edge of the barren hilltop, and sat down.
Alesha watched him for a moment more. “Alesha!” Aunt Beatrice said. “Come help us set up for the night!”
Alesha scurried over to her aging caretakers. Uncle Tom wearily set down his pack with a sigh. “Glad I’m still in shape from harvesting wheat,” he said, “else I don’t think I’d’ve made it through that journey.”
Beatrice pulled some blankets out of the pack. “I would’ve liked to’ve brought some proper bedding with us,” she said. “As it is, we’ll just have to make do with the blankets, and hope we’re not too sore in the morning.”
Tom pulled out some bread and some dried meat. “It’s not much, but it’ll have to do.”
Without taking her eyes off of Erling, Alesha grabbed some of the bread. “I wonder what food they have in the City?”
“I would suppose the same kind we have,” Beatrice said. “Can’t imagine that there’s any other.”
Alesha took a bite of the bread, and chewed some of the meat thoughtfully. She looked up at the sky. The sun had sunk low below the horizon, casting a low red glow around the rim of the world. The first stars began to twinkle into existence, and Alesha couldn’t help but wonder if the Guardian before her had been to any of them.
She stood up. “I’m gonna go talk to him,” she declared.
Tom and Beatrice exchanged nervous glances. “Okay, Alesha,” Tom said. “Just don’t be too long, okay?”
Alesha began walking towards the Guardian.
“And eat your supper!”
Alesha stood behind Erling, and, after hesitating for a moment, tapped him on the shoulder. The Guardian whirled around towards her, and Alesha couldn’t help but notice as his hand instantly went to his gun. “Oh. Hello there.” Erling relaxed again, and began staring at the sunset. “What do you want?”
Alesha paused for a moment, her mouth open with awe. And then: “Your ghost told me that there were other planets up there.” She pointed up at the sky. “Have you been to them?”
Erling was silent for a moment. Then, he took off his helmet, and placed it by his side. “Look,” he said. He gently grabbed her outstretched arm, and pointed it at an exceptionally bright red star. “See that? That’s Mars.” Then, he pointed it towards a white one. “And that there? That’s Venus.”
“And you’ve been to them?” Alesha said, growing excited
“That I have,” Erling said. “Venus is a remarkable place; it’s filled with green jungles and blue volcanoes. It’s truly beautiful. Mars has its charm, I suppose, but nothing grows there. Not anymore, anyways.”
“And people used to live there?” Alesha said.
“Oh, yes,” Erling said. “Billions of people.”
“Billions?” The number seemed so big to her - she knew what it was, what it represented. But it had hardly ever occurred to her that there could be so many of one thing, much less of humans.
“Billions of people, spread out throughout the star system,” he said. “That was the height of the Golden Age.”
“What happened to them?” Alesha asked.
“The people. Where’d they all go?”
Erling sighed leaned his head back. “The Darkness,” he said. “It killed them all.”
Alesha frowned. “What?”
“The Darkness. It came over our Golden Age and left it ruined - only the sacrifice of the Traveler saved us from utter extinction - or so the stories go.”
“What was it?”
Erling chuckled slightly. “I’m not a warlock,” he said. “I don’t concern myself with such things.”
Alesha cocked her head to one side. “War-lock?” she said, sounding the strange word out with her tongue.
“They’re a type of Guardian, like me,” Erling said. “They’re - well, let’s just say that have an inflated sense of self importance.”
Alesha nodded. “Why don’t you think about the Darkness like they do?” she asked.
“I’m a titan,” Erling said. “I see the world from a simpler perspective. If I can fight something, then good. I can do something about it. If I can’t fight something, then I can’t do anything about it, and there’s no sense in worrying.” He turned his head back towards the horizon.
Alesha nodded. Then, she asked a question that had been plaguing her for a while. “Why do you keep coming out here though?”
“Hm?” Erling’s head swerved back towards her.
“If the City’s so great, why do you keep coming out here to fight stuff?”
Erling blinked, and looked back at the horizon. “The simple explanation, I think,” he said. “Would be that it’s my job. And I enjoy doing it.”
“What about the not-simple one?”
Erling sighed. Then he turned towards her. “Look here,” he said, pointing at the ground beneath them.
Alesha looked down, and saw a tiny, purple, flower, growing out of a crack in the rocky summit of the hill. “You see this flower here?” Erling said. “It’s surrounded by stone - not nurturing dirt, but cold, uncaring, stone. This little flower should not be able to grow here - yet somehow, it does. Against all odds, against the laws of nature, it does.” He smiled. “Even in the most barren and hostile of places, there is still life and beauty in this world. And I want to see and save as much of it as possible.” He turned back towards the red horizon. “Let the warlocks have the mysteries of the Universe,” he said. “I will content myself with its beauty.”
Alesha looked out at the Horizon. It is rather beautiful, she thought. Then, she heard a soft boom in the distance. Alesha looked in the direction of the noise, squinting to try and see what was going on.
Suddenly, she saw smoke rising in the distance.
“That’d be Simon and his friends,” Erling said.
“Are they going to be alright?” Alesha asked. She didn’t particularly like Simon, but she didn’t particularly want him to die either.
Erling was silent. Then, he put on his helmet. “Get some sleep. You’ll need it for tomorrow.” Then, he stood up, and walked away.
Alesha stared after him for a moment, and then walked back to Tom and Beatrice. “That smoke,” Beatrice said, “is it coming from the village?”
Alesha turned back towards the horizon, the distant black column slowly making its way across the sky. She paled. “Kaz,” she whispered.
“I’m sure Kazinsky is fine,” Tom said, wetting his lips. “Come to bed - we need to get some rest for tomorrow.”
Alesha reluctantly descended under her blankets, and lay on the cold, hard rock. And so the villagers fell into an uneasy sleep, the sounds of the distant firefight echoing in their ears.
Loading, please wait. This may take some time...