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The First Knife

"We are the first knife."

"When I first encountered the Witness, I heard it proclaim to me, 'We are the first knife.'"

Mara's words are as thin as her hopes. She looks hollow under the H.E.L.M.'s emergency lighting, hunched over a console, watching an ascending red line on a graph. Something about the line's inevitable upward climb had triggered her memory. They have to follow the Witness into the Traveler, and soon.

"It was as if that title held power. Meaning." Mara says as the line ticks up again. She leans away from the console. Turning to look at Ikora, who stands staring intently at the portal, she feels the same uptick in energy coming from it.

Ikora nods, watching Mara's reflection. "The apocryphal texts we dug up on the moon, the ones Eris translated, mentioned the knife as a concept."

Mara comes to stand beside Ikora. "And even if we consider that unveiled text as dogmatic propaganda, there may be truth behind the allegory," she agrees, remembering the texts and the translations Eris made of them. "The knife becomes the metaphor of a concept. A power. A knife that winnows, cutting things into a defined shape."

"A power that winnowed living beings into Taken." Ikora turns to face Mara, searching the Awoken Queen's eyes. "A power Oryx wielded." Her emphasis on that last word makes her point, and Mara picks up on it.

"You're wondering if the knife is a title, or a power." Mara deciphers Ikora's steely countenance. "Did Oryx wield the power of the Witness like a knife?"

Ikora shifts her gaze back to the portal. "The Witness is a manipulator. It distorts the truth to bend the wills of its supplicants. The allegorical fantasy told to us by the Witness paints itself as a monolithic cosmic force. But perhaps that's a shadow cast by the truth."

Mara watches Ikora, sensing her ease a little. This idea has tempered Ikora's earlier anxieties over the future. This conversation has tempered her own, after all. Even though her brother feels distant and faint, in the moment, he is out of her mind. "A knife is a tool, wielded by another's hand." Mara offers.

"If the Witness is the knife, as it asserts, then what wields it?" Ikora asks the Traveler, though it does not reply.

The words are meant for Mara's ears too. "The Witness is not a being," she agrees. "It is the culmination of a bleak ethos willed into existence by the nihilistic desires of its creators. Is their will the hand on the knife? Or is there something else?"

Ikora's fingers slip from the corners of revelation, and her thoughts plummet into more immediate worries and doubts. Mara sees her fall, and lets herself tumble into the same precipice, joining her in worry.

"I don't know."

The Eremite

Category: Eris Morn

The Wise-Woman's Tale

The Eremite

Category: Oryx

The Navigator

The Dragon's Shadow

Category: Ikora Rey

The Gate

Telic II

Category: Queen Mara Sov

The Hothead

Locus Locutus

Category: Jaren Ward

The Last Word