VI - Isolation

Space is loneliness. Far removed from any of the system's planets, it is at once suffocatingly dark and blindingly bright depending on which way you turn. A jumpship sits in a fixed position in the black, engines off, oriented so its underbelly faces the glare of the distant sun.

There is no true cockpit inside the Radiant Accipiter; the ship's canopy projects an image to the pilot. No frame, no obstructions, just the infinite gulf. Crow stares up at the blackness between a cluster of stars he can't identify; he wishes he were there. Where nothing is known, where everything can be new again.

Glint rests in his Guardian's lap. He's accustomed to Crow's hands cradling him as though he were a small cat—but in this moment, Crow's head is instead in his hands, fingers tangled in his hair.

Glint is silent, patient. He knows he has to be.

Crow makes a small sound in the back of his throat and the Ghost stirs. When this is followed by an unsteady hitch in his breathing, Glint floats up, presses himself to Crow's chest, and begins to hum.

Crow's hands close around him, clutching him against his heart.

And that's how Glint knows: Crow is still the same inside.

***

Sulfurous plumes rise from fissures in the Venusian soil. Crow marches across the planet's surface, his boots crushing thin sheets of calcium that skim across shallow, iridescent pools of water. His jumpship is perched atop a rise nearby, clear of the unstable field he now traverses.

"Crow, please," Glint pleads over his Guardian's shoulder. "Can you tell me why we're here?"

Ahead, clouds of light and geometric shapes bloom into being. Glint lets out a sharp gasp and transmats away as Crow reaches for the hand cannon at his side. By the time the first Vex Goblin manifests, Crow has already trained his sights on it.

A single pull of the trigger takes the machine's head off and sends it staggering across the field, firing blindly. Two more Goblins appear nearby and Crow blasts away their limbs like a child separating a fly from its wings. He ends them with the last bullets in the cylinder.

A shimmer of violet light within the temporal storm heralds the arrival of a Vex Minotaur. It bellows a roar across the Venusian flats and fires a volley of energized plasma through the air. Crow weaves between them, tumbles forward through the shallow pools, and rises to his feet to shake out his hand cannon's cylinder, sending brass shell casings raining to the ground.

The Minotaur revises its place in history, appearing to teleport forward as it shifts to a more advantageous future. It closes in on Crow before he can finish reloading and grabs him by the head, hefting him off his feet. The Minotaur raises its plasma cannon to Crow's chest and—

***

Crow sucks in a sharp breath and his eyes open to winged serpents circling in the cloudy Venusian sky. He coughs violently, rolling onto his side. The Vex are gone.

"That was stupid," Glint chastises suddenly, and Crow remembers where—and when—he is. "Why didn't you use your Light?"

"I wanted to test something," Crow says on sharp exhale. He pushes himself to his feet, only to find Glint an inch in front of his nose.

"What could you possibly be testing all the way out here?" the little Ghost asks, looking around the desolate landscape. Then, the question Glint doesn't want to ask: "Were you trying to hurt yourself?"

"No," Crow seethes. He nudges Glint to the side and starts to head back for the jumpship, but Glint persists.

"Then why?" he demands, blocking Crow's path.

"Because I wanted to know I was still me!" Crow snarls, his teeth bared in a display of fury. "Uldren Sov could defeat a Minotaur without the Light." His hackles lower. "I needed—I need to be sure that I'm not him. That you could still bring me back. That I was still—worthy of this !"

Glint's monocular eye bobs down to look at the ground. He is silent.

This time, Crow doesn't try to push past him. He stands still, listening to the blast of distant geysers, to the call of serpents in the sky.

"I'm sorry," Glint whispers.

VII: Broken Wing

Category: Glint

VI: Revenant's Switch

V - Wick Burnt Black

Category: Book: Ripples

VII - Interpolation

Tyrannocide V

Category: Prince Uldren Sov

V. The Restless Dead