Greetings, Guardians, here's Part Thirty of the Journey Home! Here's[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Forums/Post/228364609?showBanned=0&path=0] part Twenty-Nine[/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 could hear the distant screeching of the Fallen. She looked up, and watched as the army advanced down the cliff, partially obscured by the rising smoke.
Erling knelt down, and felt the ground with his fingers. He swore.
“What is it?” Alesha asked.
“Feel the ground.”
Alesha grabbed some of the earth between her fingers. It crumbled, and slipped through her fingers like sand. “It’s so dry,” she marveled.
“Exactly,” Erling said. “We’d been in a bit of a dry spell when I was last here, and it obviously hasn’t improved since I left.” He stood up. “This place is a damned tinder box.”
The villagers stood still. “What do we do?” someone asked.
Erling shook his head. “The fire should slow the Fallen down,” he said. “But they’ll get to us eventually. And if they don’t, the fire will.”
Oren nodded. His hazel eyes sparkled in the light. “There’s no getting out of this, is there.”
Erling paused for a moment, and shook his head. “I’m sorry,” he said. He looked up at the Traveler, as smoke drifted around it. “So close,” he said. “So damn close.”
Aunt Beatrice knelt down next to Alesha, and hugged her. “Don’t worry, honey,” she said. “It’ll be okay.”
Alesha held Bea’s arm. She knew, in her heart, that everything would not be okay. And she felt. . . nothing.
No, nothing was the wrong word. It was like she simply couldn’t process what was happening, and it simply left her with a dull ache in her chest.
“We have to do something!” someone shouted.
Erling was silent for a moment. “Make your way into the mountains,” he said. “Maybe. . . you can . . . outrun them.” He sighed, and shook his head. “I’ll hold them off. Give you some time to get away.”
Oren frowned. “You’re going to hold off all those Fallen by yourself?”
“I’m gonna try,” Erling replied. He tightened his grip on his shotgun.
“You’ll die!” Alesha suddenly shouted.
Erling slowly turned towards her. His face was inscrutable beneath his helmet. “I’ve done that more times than I care to count,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll mind doing it again.”
“Erling, you can’t,” Oren said.
Erling sighed. “Oren, just take your people and go.”
“I mean, you can’t,” Oren replied. “If you stay here alone, those Fallen will just mow you down.”
Erling shook his head. “What do you suggest?” he snapped.
Oren’s face was inscrutable. He took a deep breath, and looked at the remaining villagers. “Mattimeo, take everybody into the mountains,” he said. “I’m staying here.”
Alesha caught her breath.
Oren looked around the crowd, his features hardened. “I’m gonna stay here and fight these Fallen,” he said. “Give our people a chance to get away.” He nodded his head. “I’d like some volunteers to stay behind with me. I won’t hold it against you if you to go ahead.” He let out a grim chuckle. “I don’t suppose I’d be able to in any case.”
The villagers paused, and looked at each other.
Tome sighed, and looked at Beatrice. He held her close, and kissed her on the lips. “Take care of Alesha,” he said. Then, he walked towards Oren.
“No!” Alesha shouted. She ran up to the big man, and wrapped her arms around his waist. “Please don’t go, Tom! Please!”
Uncle Tom knelt down, and held her close. “Sh,” he said. “It’ll be alright. Don’t you worry.” He closed his eyes. “I’ll always love you, Alesha.”
Then he stood up. He nodded to Aunt Bea, who was busy holding back tears. Then, he walked over to Oren.
Oren handed him a gun. “You know how to use that?”
Tom looked over the weapon. “How hard can it be?” he asked.
Next, Palmar and Eryn stepped forwards. Alesha remembered going over to their house, and having dinner with them. “We’re with you, Oren,” Palmar said.
“To the end,” added Eryn.
Then came Sasha. “I’m all yours, Oren,” she said, her blue eyes blazing.
All in all, twenty people volunteered to stay with Oren. All of them were people that Alesha had known her entire life, and she knew each and every one of them intimately. Corrine had lost two babies to disease. Baldwin walked with a limp from when a cart had collapsed on top of his leg. Aylmer was a tinkerer who was constantly experimenting with the tech that Gustav had brought them. And she would never see any of the again.
Less than forty of the people that Alesha had spent her whole life with were continuing on.
While Oren was talking with his warriors, and Uncle Tom and Aunt Bea were holding each other’s hands and crying, Alesha walked up to Erling. The titan looked up at her. He’d set his helmet on the ground, revealing his ocean-blue eyes. “What is it?” he asked.
Alesha licked her lips. “What’s it like?” she asked. “Dying, I mean.”
Erling seemed taken aback by the gravity of the question. Then, he relaxed. He sighed, and looked up at the sky. “I don’t remember the first time I died,” he said at last. “Most Guardians don’t. We start with no memory of our past life - with a few exceptions.” He shifted his position. “But. . . when I die. . . it’s hard to explain, but it feels l like I’m flying. I’m going up into a bright tunnel, and I hear people talking to me. I see their faces! And I know them - but I also don’t. And when I wake up, I can’t even remember what they look like. And all around me, I feel this. . . sensation. It’s like. . . It feels like. . .” He sighed. “It feels like I’m coming home.”
Alesha blinked. She hadn’t expected the Guardian to be so perfectly frank.
Erling shook his head. “Go on,” he said. “You don’t need to worry about this stuff.” He readied his shotgun. “Get ready to run.”
[url=https://www.bungie.net/en/Clan/Post/1371758/228590899/0/0]Part Thirty-One: Inferno[/url]