Chronometric emissions cut across Mercury's surface, and radiolaria steamed from fissures that erupted like open wounds in the machine soil. White-blue streams of Arc energy carved borders around a circular sector about a hundred miles wide. Walls of chronometric flame tore through Vex spires that came tumbling down in halves and sheared Minotaurs in two along the boundaries of the region.
The Red Legion stood watch as these eruptions flared around every Cabal machine, structure, and soldier inside the sector. They showed no sign of panic as ethereal fire burned over the world and their Vex opponents. Instead, they waited, watched, and mobilized purposefully around the phenomenon.
The circular shape that these walls cut were further segmented into three sections: Red Legion soldiers found themselves staring across the chronometric walls at each other from inside Mercury's past, present, and distant future.
Under three different skies, three different suns, and on three different elevations of Mercury's gradually descending surface, the Red Legion went to work.
Perhaps this time they would win the Red War.
Somewhere deep inside the Vanguard halls in a secure meditation chamber, a trio of Warlocks surrounded Osiris: one Praxic, one Thanatonaut, and one Vanguard.
"Did the Vex corrupt him?" Aunor wondered.
"My Order just wants to know if he's real. Or some kind of Vex simulation. An Echo?" Harper said, paging through a datapad in his hands.
"You haven't left the Forest in years," Ikora said to Osiris, the only one to address him directly.
"I need help," Osiris replied.
"I know," Ikora responded, hands clasped behind her back. She stared intently at her former mentor. Back in her Crucible days, that uncompromising gaze was often the last thing her opponents saw. Aunor glanced sidelong at her superior. Harper coughed and looked down at his datapad.
"Two years ago, Guardians entered the Infinite Forest," Osiris continued. "They aided me in defeating the Axis Mind Panoptes, preventing a Vex apocalypse from befalling this system.
"In the process," he looked between each of them in turn, "Some Guardians reported a body they found in the Forest depths."
"Saint-14 never came back from that last mission to Mercury. We finally knew why. I reacted to it the only way I knew how."
"By turning Mercury into a temporal weapon for the Cabal?" Aunor asked.
"You are awfully tranquil for a man who just doomed this system," Harper said.
"You should rethink your career in Thanatonautics, Warlock Harper, if death frightens you so," the exile replied. He nodded at Aunor. "I've made mistakes. I will continue to make them. The nature of my work requires it."
"We should lock you away," the Praxic replied. But there was no fire in it.
"There are others you've allowed to roam free. These are desperate times, Aunor," Osiris said. "I think you know that."
Harper opened his mouth to ask another question, but Ikora cut him off. "Give us a minute."
Aunor ducked her head and Harper bristled, but both left without question. Alone with Osiris, Ikora said, "The Speaker was right to exile you."
"We all make our own choices," Osiris replied. "Like the Vex gateway you built to the Undying Mind. A strategy like that is exactly what the machines would not expect. And you knew the Guardians would deliver."
"What's your point?"
"You think like I do. But you've done what I never could. Found a way to coexist with the Vanguard while keeping their fool necks above the water," said Osiris.
"If you think you're helping your case, you're not."
"Time is broken on Mercury. I need help from our mutual friends."
"I know that. My Hidden have scouted your Sundial. The Red Legion are loose in a time rift that's localized to the past, present, and future of Mercury." She took a step closer to him, shoulders tense. "If we don't contain it, it's not going to stay that way for long. The rift will expand across the system."
"I've created a mitigation network across Guardian space. I'm in control."
"You are anything but—!"
"Saint deserved another chance."
"So did Cayde! So did everyone we lost in the Red War."
"We'll hunt the Cabal across every timeline they create within the Sundial. They'll never be able to exploit it."
"You're damn right. Because you're going to mobilize the Guardians. You're going to fix this. And then you and I are going to have a long talk."
"Mercury should be the least of your worries."
"Let's save it for the long talk."