His radar flashes red half a second before a shot rings out through the scrubby forest. Tevis hits the ground, counting on trusty Khepri's Sting to mask him from who - or what - fired upon him.
It didn't sound like a shock pistol, or a wire rifle.
It sounded like a handcannon, and that meant rogue Guardian.
Or angry colonist, but rogue Guardian was much more likely. Especially since Ciella had dropped off the grid not a month ago. He liked Ciella. Fast with a knife, with a honed mind and a general disposition that made her a useful companion.
But - and here's the thing - Ciella was the kind of Hunter who preferred to wound her prey from a distance. Start with a scout rifle, then pounce with a Blink Strike and vanish into the gloom.
Ciella didn't carry a handcannon. Who is this?
Ghost hums in his ear - [I'm picking up traces of a Guardian not 500 meters from us.] - and a waypoint pops up on his HUD. In the seconds that its been since the shot rang out, his radar shows that his assailant has retreated back... In the direction of the trace.
[Is the trace moving?] He questions, slinking from tree to shrub. [No.] Ghost replies.
Tevis narrows his eyes, slinking forward. The red on his radar is stubborn, but he can't see the threat. That's alright. He'll find them soon enough. A whisper of Light has his trusty Patience and Time solidifying in his hands, and crouching, peers down the barrel at the clearing just ahead of him.
There! A flash of an off-white cloak. A Hunter. Even when fully zoomed, he can't make out more than a tattered corner flapping in the breeze. They're hiding behind a fallen tree, but they're not good enough to escape Tevis.
Right. Time to end this. He swaps back to the Pest Control Matrix, makes sure that he's invisible, and charges.
He makes it five steps before the Exo (?!) wearing Ciella's cloak whips out from behind their tree stump and opens fire. He shadesteps away from the handcannon's rounds and lobs a Voidwall grenade, sending them stumbling back.
He opens fire, dumping half a mag into them. Even an Exo's hardened exoskeletal plating can't take the heat, and they crumple.
The hush that falls over the forest is immediate, and absolute. Ghost pops out, analysing the Exo's handcannon where it lay.
"Odd. This is a City-built weapon." Tevis squints at the Exo - a feminine chassis, blue camo paint, and a distinctive silver splash across the left side of its cranium.
"Bit far from the City for an old Exo, though." He pokes it one last time with an armoured toe, and heads towards a barely concealed lean-to. "Huh. Why would a robot need shelter?"
"Tevis..." Ghost's voice comes from several steps behind him. He ignores it (again), and kneels down at the entrace to the lean-to.
He's never seen Ciella so peaceful. Her face is slack with death, arms crossed over her chest, holding her dead Ghost close. She's been treated gently, he realises. With compassion.
His radar lights up red as a hammer is cocked behind his head. Ciella is being honored, he realises.
The Exo Guardian clears her throat, and Tevis wishes he were Cayde-6 for a moment. Words.
"When a Hunter takes up a fallen comrade's cloak, that's a vow." He looks at Ciella, still and silent, and wonders what happened?
"It's a promise." The Guardian's voice has a static edge of emotion to it.
Tevis nods. This, he understands.
"She wanted to see the Traveler one more time." Carefully, slowly, he reaches up behind his head and pushes the muzzle of the handcannon aside. The Exo Guardian steps back, holstering the weapon with subroutine ease.
Her bright blue facial lights are stuttering, subdued. She's crying, he realises in a rush. He's never seen an Exo mourn before, not so openly.
"Then we'll take her home." Ghost returns to his side, as hers winks into existence. It bumps its casings against her shoulder as she scrubs a gloved hand across her face. Exo cannot weep, but they're plenty capable of emotion.
Tevis reaches out a hand; open-palmed, no tricks.