The Journey Home, Part Nineteen: News From the Front
Greetings, Guardians, here's part nineteen of The Journey Home! Here's [url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/226428963?showBanned=0&path=0]part eighteen [/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] As usual, if you like it, give it a bump, and I'll get more out soon. Stay classy, Guardians!
Alesha slowly creaked open her eyes. The rest of the villagers were quickly busying themselves with packing their things, preparing to leave for the day.
She sighed, and sat up. Uncle Tom had already been up for a while, and was busy packing their few remaining possessions into a bag. He looked over at Alesha, and smiled. “Just getting ready for the day,” he said. He looked around. “Shame we can’t stay here - this was a good place.”
“I bet they have a lot like it in the City,” Alesha said. Not for the first time, she wondered what their new home would be like - not having to constantly worry about attacks from the Fallen, not going into the fields everyday for the backbreaking labor or picking crops. She wondered what she would even do with all of her time.
“Probably.” Tom looked around. “Some of the others went out a few minutes ago to get some last minute apples for the road. Once they’re back, we’ll -“
Suddenly, there were some shouts, and a dozen or so villagers came crashing into the old warehouse, breathing heavily.
Erling ran up to them. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
One of the men looked up. “There’s something out there,” he said between breaths.
Erling frowned. “What was it?” he asked.
One of the women shook her head. “We didn’t get a good look,” she said. “We just saw a gun, and took off running.”
“Erling?” Ghost said. “I’m detecting movement out there.”
Erling gripped his shotgun tight. “Get inside,” he ordered.
The villagers needed no further urging. They all huddled in the back of the warehouse, while Erling stood by the door.
Alesha began to crawl towards the wall. “Alesha!” Tom hissed. “Stop!”
Alesha didn’t listen. She made her way to the wall, and peered out of a hole in the ancient structure. At first, all she saw was forest.
Then, some of the branches began to rustle.
Alesha held her breath, and watched as a figure emerged from the woods. She was clad in a metal suit, somewhat like Erling’s, but hers was much slimmer. She had a cape on her back, and a hood over her head. In her hands, she gripped some kind of a rifle, with a sniper slung over her back. She looked around. “Erling!” she shouted. “I know you’re in there! Come on out!”
Erling cursed, and holstered his weapon. “Johanna!” he said. He stepped outside. “Would’ve been nice if you’d’ve called ahead.”
Johanna starred at him. “Wasn’t really able to,” she said. “What are you doing out here, Erling?”
“My job,” he said. He motioned for her to enter.
The two walked into the building, and Erling took his helmet off. “Found them a week or so back,” he said. “I’ve been escorting them back to the City. I called for FOTC help, but they never showed.”
Johanna looked around the crowd dispassionately. “Erling?” she said. “May I talk to you for a few minutes?” She nodded towards the door. “In private?”
Erling blinked. “Sure,” he said. The two walked out of the warehouse, and into the forest.
Alesha hesitated for a moment, and then quietly slipped out after them. She wanted to hear what they had to say.
Alesha followed the two into a nearby clearing. “What’s this about, Johanna?” he asked.
Johanna sat down on a nearby log. She pulled back her hood, and took her helmet off. Beneath it was a young woman, with auburn hair tied back into a ponytail. “There’s a reason that the FOTC didn’t show,” she said.
“What?” Erling asked.
“The City - it’s been attacked.”
Alesha took in a breath, but was careful not to make to much noise.
Johanna nodded. “The House of Devils has launched a massive assault on the Wall,” she said. “We’re trying to repel it, but. . . it isn’t going well. They’ve got walkers in Twilight Gap bombarding us with artillery, and they’re blocking our communications. Saladin has personally taken over the defense, but even he’s having trouble.”
Erling shook his head. “How bad is it?”
Johanna sighed. “All Guardians on active duty are being recalled to the City,” she said. “And that includes you.” She stared up at him. “They sent me out to get the word out.”
Erling shook his head. “I’m not going,” he said.
“You have to,” Johanna said. “Speaker’s orders.”
“What do you expect me to do?” Erling asked. “Leave them here?”
“They won’t be any better off if the City’s destroyed when we get there,” Johanna replied.
Erling shook his head. “Can’t you just send some ships out here?” he asked. “I’m sure the FOTC -“
“Fallen have a lock on airspace,” Johanna said. “I barely got out as its. You think the FOTC is willing to risk their ships like that?”
Erling growled in frustration.
Johanna sighed. “Look,” she said. “Can’t you just leave them here for a little while? I mean, they’ve got food, they’ve got shelter. They’ll be fine for a few days.”
“No,” Erling said, “they won’t.”
Johanna frowned. “What do you mean?”
“I mean,” Erling said, “we’ve got Fallen closing in on us.”
Johanna stared at him. “How many?”
“At least five hundred and a walker,” he said. “We’ve been keeping ahead of them, but they’re only about a day’s march from here. We stop moving, we die.”
“Devils?” Johanna asked.
“Yep,” Erling said. “And given what you just told me, it’s a safe bet they’re coming for the City.”
Johanna cursed, and began pacing the clearing. “Dammit, Erling,” she said at last. “How is that you manage to get yourself into these situations?”
Erling smiled. “Special talent.”
“Mm.” Johanna looked down Erling. “Look. I’ve got other Guardians that I need to talk to. I’ll leave you alone for now, but I can’t promise what the Consensus will say when you finally get back.”
“You let me deal with the Consensus,” Erling said. He stood up. “You just worry about doing your job, and letting me do mine.”
Johanna nodded. “I want to see these Fallen before I go,” she said. “Tower will probably appreciate the intel.” She turned around. “I need to grab some things from my ship - I’ll be back.”
“Fair enough,” Erling said. Johanna walked away.
Erling sighed. He closed his eyes, and turned his face towards the sky. “How long have you been standing there?” he asked.
Alesha started. Then, she stepped forwards. “A few minutes,” she said.
Erling grunted. “How much did you overhear?” he asked.
She licked her lips. “Is the City going to be destroyed?” she asked.
Erling shook his head. “We’ve had Fallen attacks before,” he said. “We’ll survive this one too. It just makes things a little more . . . complicated. . . is all.”
She blinked. All her life, the City had been a mythical place, where one didn’t have to worry about the Fallen - where everything was perfect and beautiful. The fact that it was vulnerable to the same things that the Village had been stung.
Erling stood up. “Go back to the others,” he said. “I need to go with Johanna for a little bit. Tell Oren that if I’m not back in two hours to start heading southeast until you reach the City.”
“How will we know when we’re there?” Alesha asked.
Erling smiled. “Trust me,” he said. “You’ll know it when you see it.” And with that, he walked off into the forest.