This work is inspired by my current favorite video game, Destiny. Go buy it right now and we'll save the Earth from the Darkness together. Image courtesy of Bungie.
I've died so, so many times. I try to count but I simply cannot recall them all. They blend into an endless montage of pain, of dark passages and lonely wastes. Then, there is light and warmth and I return.
There was a time before, long ago, that I truly died. At least I think I did. I can't remember. No. That's not quite right. I remember bits... pieces. A cool breeze. A flavor. The sound of rain falling. But I remember them in the wrong places. On Mars when dusk falls and Venus where the air is thick and damp, and the yellow clouds spill big heavy drops that drum on the crumbling roofs. But I know men did not walk those places when I lived before. In those moments I realized I should have stayed dead, stayed bones and dust and shriveled breath. I lived my life. I shouldn't be here.
But I am here.
I am alive.
I am the only one still alive. I am the last Guardian standing.
I look out over the last city on Earth, bereft of life, and I adjust the optic on my rifle. The city is pale and silent and dead. The air smells dry, cracked. I wish I had a drink but I don't drink anymore. I don't sleep or eat or grow like other living things. I am a construct of the Light, as unnatural as any horror spawned from the Darkness.
I close my burning eyes and try to remember something beyond this time, this place and the most recent battles of this endless war--but the memories slide away like oil atop water. It makes me feel empty. I am hollow and worn thin.
I resume my vigil atop the great spire, sparing a glance up at the huge cracked orb of the Traveler overhead. The white skin gleams dully in the noon sun, a harsh contrast to its exposed black flesh that faces the city. It hangs silent and unmoving as it's hung for centuries. I used to scream up at it when I first found myself alone. I begged for help, for allies, for answers. It never answers though. It's dead. Like I should be. Like I will be. Like the others are.
Motion in the corner of my eye. I swing my massive rifle around and focus through the scope. My finger caresses the hair trigger. A flock of birds alights, their black feathers iridescent in the sunlight.
I'm safe for now. But not forever.
Any day now, any hour, any minute, the Darkness will test the city's defenses and find them lacking. Then there will be one last battle--brief and brilliant--and the Light will finally vanish from the Universe. I do not know why the test has not come yet. Part of me hopes the Darkness was finally destroyed in that last battle at the Reef but I can't imagine it was. There were so many enemies. So many.
Yet here I still am, inexplicably alone in a city of dead ghosts.
I've thought of running out into the void, fleeing from destruction the way the Traveler did. But I stay, partly because I recognize the futility, partly because I don't like the idea of running, partly because this planet, this city is where I died before. It's where I'll die again. Maybe this time, I'll stay bone and dust.
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