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Frame of the Future

Chapter Text

On the Farm outside Traveler's Rest, work never ceased. Guardians and civilians alike came and went, ploughed and planted, watered and weeded, tended and trimmed, forked hay and filled troughs, swept yards and sorted grain, carried loads and killed off vermin, patrolled and pastured, hauled in the harvests, and fixed odds and ends, from spring thaw to first snow.

On this particular day, Hunter Celeste Etain Beamard finished a few hours of work, then turned to a large paddock, where an immense bull stood calmly ruminating.

Said Celeste: 'Hey, there, Mooey', and leaned over the fence, to stroke his massive head.

A voice said: 'Well, I'll be. Is he yours?', and Celeste turned, to see Aasim-7 admiring them.

Aasim-7 was a senior Guardian: a veteran of several campaigns, including the notorious Warmind Wakings, the raids on the Black Garden, the harryings of the Hellmouth, and the series of raids culminating in Crota's End, among others. He had been among the Slayers of the Taken King; one of the first to answer the call of Iron Lord Saladin; and one of the first to recover his Light, after the Traveler was captured by Dominus Ghaul. Celeste herself had been another of the latter; but had mostly fought Fallen and Vex, and performed executions at the Prison of Elders.

Now, she said: 'Light forbid. He's my sister's. They gave him to her as a husbandry project, and she took to it like a Titan to violence'.

Said Aasim-7: 'I can't fault her for that. He's a beautiful animal. I've seen him giving the children rides on his back, and I've often wondered who raised him. She did right by him, by all accounts', and he too stroked Mooey's heavy brows, and added: 'How's she, your sister?'.

Celeste answered: 'I sort of adopted Claney Beamard as a father, because he was one of my first mentors; and she's his daughter by birth. I know that's rare among us Risen, but it's true. So, any daughter of his, is a sister of mine'.

Said Aasim-7: 'I know that! I meant, How is she, these days?'.

Celeste answered: 'Oops. Sorry. She's fine. In training, to-day, at the City. I offered to look after this big fellow for her, so here I am'.

Said Aasim-7: 'I commend you both. Well done. If Mooey here dies young, I think I'll have some Ghost rez him. We haven't had any four-legged Guardians yet, but there's a first time for everything; and he'd do splendidly'.

Both laughed.

After a moment, another Guardian came by: a stout, ginger-haired person known as Nathan Merioux. Said he: 'Hey, there, Celeste and Aasim. I'm glad I found you. The Commanders want us to inspect the Shard again, and run a few experiments on it. They want some science about that piece, now we have a little peace of our own'.

At that, Celeste and Aasim fell into step beside Merioux, and all three started for the Shard. Said Merioux: 'So, have they put Mooey out to stud?'.

Celeste answered: 'Every year. He's a prize, and keen as mustard'.

Said Merioux: 'Excellent. I saw your sister, too, with him on her shoulder'.

Aasim asked: 'How'd she manage that?'.

Merioux answered: 'It's obvious, Az. That girl's been picking up the big fellow since he was a tiny calf. Every day of that, and she's used enough to carrying him about, so now he's become a giant, she hardly notices the weight at all. And she's a kinder-Guardian herself, so he's no more than a dumb-bell'.

Said Celeste: 'Well, that's true. What kind of experiments do the Commanders have in mind?'.

Merioux answered: 'Everything they can think up. We're supposed to examine the Shard's emissions, take samples of everything, record every scratch and surface, record fracture patterns, investigate the interior, run every chemical and molecular test, trace the elements, measure energy, you name it'.

And so, the three Guardians went to the Shard, performed all these tests and more, and went back with their records.

Said Celeste: 'All that study makes me wonder, Where it all came from? The Darkness, and the Light, I mean. What are they really? Why take such an interest in us? And are there more of them? Or is the Traveler the last of its kind?'.

Merioux answered: 'Even if it's not, they must be rare, because the Fallen and the Hive and the Cabal and all the rest came all this way to get it. If there are more, they must be few and far between. The Fallen think our Traveler is their lost Great Machine; and even if it isn't, it's something of the same sort. The Hive, meanwhile, want revenge on it, for the disasters it started on their home world; and you know the rest'.

Said Aasim: 'The books of the Unveiling suggest, the Light and the Darkness are none other than the forces of Life and Death, or Evolution and Entropy: equal and opposite tendencies in the universe, bent on expanding themselves at all costs, and against each other. We simply happened to be there when their feud heated up here'.

Said Merioux: 'There are also legends, from the Golden Age, in which the Traveler, and the Pyramids of the Darkness, were made by two factions of a long-lost alien civilization: one which favoured terraforming in the interests of biodiversity, and the other which favoured destruction, in the interest of the Final Shape, as the Sword Logic calls it, of the universe, after entropy runs out. They say, all the other space-faring peoples of the galaxy, and especially those similar to humanity, were made by the Light, for its reasons; and there were thousands of such species. We've lost touch with them now, of course, cut off by the Fallen and Cabal; but they're likely still out there'.

Said Celeste: 'And were there any who sided with the Darkness, like our Hive?'.

Merioux answered: 'Golden Age records suggest there were a few, and it was their depredations which brought an end to that Age, and the beginning of our Collapse'.