I: Sparky and the Scrivener

The Ghost hovered a few meters above the small campfire and tried, again, to explain the rules. The Lightbearer chewed on a bit of tough gray root. He had softened it over the fire and its sour flavor had mellowed into something approaching black pepper. To his surprise, he found himself enjoying it.

He interrupted his Ghost.

"You've explained how it's supposed to work, and I've explained that I don't care," he said with playful finality. "I don't like any of the names you've suggested. And either we both get new names, or neither of us do."

The Ghost flew down to eye level, where its shell appeared iridescent purple in the firelight. "I have had several good names already," it replied. "I enjoyed some of them quite a bit."

The Lightbearer shook his head. "You said I had a name before as well, but you won't tell me what it was."

"Can't," it corrected him. The Lightbearer fell silent.

The Ghost emitted a static sigh. "Purely as a hypothetical exercise," it said carefully, "what would you name me?"

"You are… a light in the darkness," the Lightbearer began, and paused. He stumbled over the sudden weight of his words.

From the beginning, this little Ghost had been the only thing keeping him going. It seemed every Guardian he met had little interest in him except to hold him accountable for the unknown sins of his past, but this almost unbearably earnest Ghost had mended him again and again.

It nourished him with its encouragement and its inexplicable single-minded faith in him. It showed him compassion. Sometimes, when he writhed awake with a hot knot of nameless anxiety in his belly, the Ghost would rest on his chest and hum to him until he fell back to sleep.

The Lightbearer took a breath to regain his composure. "And thus, I name thee Sparky."

The Ghost emitted a pained groan, contracted in the air, and fell to the ground, where it lay facedown in the leaf litter.

The Lightbearer smiled. "I'm sensing some reluctance, Sparky."

The Ghost gave the barest pulse and rolled itself over in the leaves—a tiny, lazy movement. It dimmed its light to a bare flicker. "It's terrible," it said flatly.

"Picky," the Lightbearer sniffed. "Very well. I can do better." The Ghost warily resumed hovering.

"How do you feel about Gleam?" he asked. "Flash? Or maybe Glint?"

"Glint?" A rainbow of colors played across the Ghost's eye. This usually meant he was calculating complex enemy behavior, determining combat outcomes, or mapping hundreds of bullets and their millions of possible trajectories. "Oh, I like Glint!"

The Lightbearer drew to his feet by the fire and bowed deeply. "Then it is an honor to meet you, Master Glint." He reached out a finger and wiggled one of Glint's points in greeting. The absurdity of the gesture delighted the little Ghost.

"And now that you have a name," said the Lightbearer, "perhaps I will be more open to ideas as we search for mine." Glint dipped in the air, acknowledging his partner's progress. The pair smothered their fire earlier than usual that night.

The next morning, a passer-by saw Glint's Lightbearer without his helmet. The Titan beat him mercilessly with her flaming hammer, snapping his collarbone and crushing his pelvis. He died hours later of internal hemorrhage. Glint brought him back and the pair traveled in silence for a long while.

Headless Horsepower

Category: Glint

IV. Guardian Angels

Category: Book: A Tangled Web

II: Identity