• Published 19th Mar 2015
  • 5,313 Views, 301 Comments

Light of Harmony - GjallarFox

The Traveler has felt the victory of its Guardians at the Black Garden. With this decisive victory comes a new decision: take the fight to the Darkness. With a set of six Ghosts sent to the far reaches of the Sol system, what is it expecting to find?

  • ...

Warm Welcome

Thirteen hours took a while to pass. For starters, there was no discernible foodstuffs onboard the ship. The Guardians, who'd been only recently revived, hadn't eaten so much as a crumb in more time than it took for them to bleed out and have their bones cleaned by buzzards, bugs, and Time's constant forward march.

Pinkie, though her stomach occasionally growled, was softly humming the Smile Smile Smile song, perhaps for herself more than any of the others, as she was visibly struggling to keep her smile up. Her hands kept moving in a manner that looked as though she were baking something. Twilight, observing this, thought it logical that the muscle memory of baking at Sugar Cube Corner would become a nervous tick. Something as familiar as the muscle memory of one's occupation would become comfortable to someone under significant stress, she reasoned. But for all of her logic, she knew not how to help calm her friend's nerves.

Fluttershy was also hiding behind her hair, as she usually did. She was shrunken up as much as she could consciously manage, and all of this while being pressed closely to Twilight. The unicorn, though lacking comforting words, took the pegasus' hand in her own, holding it tightly, as though that connection could allow them to drain each other of the anxieties mounting in their minds. And it worked well enough. Fluttershy seemed to return to her normal size, though she still stared down at the floor, refusing to look at anyone, despite them all being close friends.

Rainbow Dash's wings twitched, and she seemed to be deep in focus as she preened her left wing with her hands. Her brow was intensely furrowed, her tongue sticking out ever so slightly from the right corner of her mouth and pointed up towards her nose. Her lips were pursed tightly, her tongue not able to go anywhere but back into her mouth. That was her tick. It wasn't one of anxiety or nerves, but it was indeed a tick, and she did it when focused on a race, or when focused on a Daring Do book. But then again, as a trained and seasoned athlete, she was a creature of routine and habit. Schedules, regimens, routines, all dictating what segment of which day was allotted how. She had to fit her work managing the weather into her schedule, along with training, and time with her friends, and of course, her ever important naps.

Rarity was looking down at her improvised armor, her own brow furrowed deeply. Had anyone asked her what was wrong, the ponies would expect an earful about clashing colors or styles, or about how it didn't quite fit to the standard of her own masterful stitch-work. Her breaths were deep and exaggerated, each inhale like those meant to keep from crying, and every exhale like a sigh. But Rarity was a logical thinker, and an adept problem-solver on par with Twilight in a pinch. The way she made dresses on commission was like weaving legends with needle and thread to her, and each fabrication was a piece of her own story told in tapestry and dress. She'd gotten the group out of many a bind with her own quick wit. Twilight, knowing this, would not put it past Rarity to be pondering the problem they together now faced, and how it could be solved, even when given what little they knew about both the problem and the proposed solutions.

Applejack was dead silent and motionless as though she'd been stared to stone by a cockatrice.

Twilight giggled, drawing the questioning gazes of all of her friends.

"Care to say the joke out loud?" Applejack huffed.

"I was just thinking about how you looked like a cockatrice beat you in a staring contest. Then I thought about those things back home running into cockatrices and all turning to stone," Twilight tried to answer between her giggling.

Sure enough, Pinkie busted a gut laughing, "Ooohohohohohahahahahahahahahah! Thohohohseheh bihihihig meheheaniehehehehies…" She paused for a breath. "Those big meanies will have a blast in the Everfree! Oh what I wouldn't give to watch them walk through a poison joke patch!"

Upon that statement, everyone else began laughing, remembering the time they had all dashed through the poison joke thinking Apple Bloom was being foalnapped by Zecora. The thoughts of the plant's effects on themselves brought to mind imagery of what it would end up doing to the Cabal once they went roaming through the Everfree. Applejack guffawed at the image of the Cabal being as tiny as she was.

That little joke was enough to lighten the mood in that ship. The tension faded, leaving the relieved ponies to smile again. Were they able to laugh even when their home was dead or damn near it like this, they were certain they could overcome any obstacle they faced.

"We're being hailed!" K-Ayd's voice called from the cockpit. "I'm still unsure of the comms system. They've encrypted it in their native language."

"Are we being hailed by friendlies?" J-Ami called back, floating off to join the Ghost flying the ship.

"Yeah. It's a patrol of Guardians. All of them have locks on us. We'd better respond."

"I got this," J-Ami sighed, disappearing. The Ghost reappeared outside the ship, magnetically attaching herself to the hull. Upon establishing a line of sight to all of the Guardian ships, she began to pulse light. –••••//––•/••–/•–/•–•/–••/••/•–/–•/•••//•–/–•••/–––/•–/•–•/–••//•••/–/–––/•––•/

She waited a moment, watching the ships to see what they did. A few seconds later, she saw one of their Ghosts mimic her, magnetically gripping the hull of their Guardian's ship, and replying: •–/•–•/•//–•––/–––/••–//•–/•–••/•–••/••/•/•••//•••/–/–––/•––•/


The other Ghost disappeared again, and for a moment, nothing changed course. But after that moment, the fighters changed formation, forming up on the Harvester's trajectory. Upon seeing the escort formation, J-Ami made a sigh of relief and teleported back inside the ship. "They've taken up escort formation. They know we're Guardians. Hopefully we won't have any more complications until we get to the Tower."

"Expecting a warm welcome at the Tower?" K-Ayd jested.

"Warm like sunlight," the lead Ghost replied. After taking a long observatory glance from the window, she turned and floated back to her Guardian, resting on her shoulder in favor of hiding in her. "Good news everyone. We've got an escort of fellow Guardians, meaning we're not far from Earth. Should only be about an hour at our current speed."

Applejack offered only a grunt of apathy in response, her eyes turned to gaze out a window, but clouded and distant. She had been incredibly still for the entire flight, and didn't talk much aside from asking about her hat. Her face was devoid of any discernible emotion, but all of her friends knew the farmer well enough to know when something was on her mind. There was something troubling her mind, and if it was enough to make her grow distant the way she was, it was serious enough to ask about.

"Applejack?" Rainbow Dash asked, standing up and stepping closer to her friend.

There was no response.

The pegasus put her hand on her friend's shoulder, squatting down to eye level with her. "AJ?"

"Hm?" she barely replied.

"Something bothering you?" Rainbow asked.

The farmer turned back to the window, staring out into the darkness of space. "Jus' thinkin' 'bout som'm I gotta do when we go back home…"

"What is it?"

She tipped her hat down a little to hide her eyes. Even among her friends, she was proud, and showing anything less than her strongest self was unacceptable to her. "I gotta give my family a proper burial. When an Apple dies, they're meant to be buried with an apple in their belly so that they grow into an apple tree, and keep helpin' the family. I know for cert'n it never happened for me, if'n the Ghosts are tellin' the truth about us bein' dead'n all. But my family deserves to rest proper."

"We'll go back," Rainbow promised softly, hugging her friend.


The six Guardians stood up from the oversized seats of the Cabal Harvester. The ship was rumbling as it passed through the turbulent atmosphere surrounding the City. But that was only for a moment. Only a moment later, all was calm, and the ship opened its main door, revealing a plaza of sorts with Guardians standing and watching. Seven particular Guardians seemed to be standing in a line, and they didn't look very welcoming to their arriving allies.

The ship hovered over the edge of the Tower with its door hanging open, the six inside each with their Ghosts, aside from Rainbow Dash, whose Ghost was making sure the ship didn't crash and blow up the Tower. Each of them held their Slug Rifles at a resting position across their bellies. And because of all of the Cabal that used those weapons and rained down hell from those ships, the Guardians of the Tower all pointed their best weapons at the Harvester, and the ponies inside it.

"The fuck are you things?" the one in the middle barked roughly. In his hands was a long red weapon with three points on the end, and a blue box just in front of his right hand. His armor was polished, as though freshly forged and untested in combat, and it was thick and bulky, making him look twice the size he probably actually was. His helmet was missing showing a suntanned face with a few freckles, and shortly-cut light brown hair. From his waist hung draped a length of white cloth, though what else was depicted on it none of the ponies could tell. But the presence of the cloth on his belt made him similar to Applejack and Fluttershy, who also had pieces of cloth hanging from their waists.

"We are Guardians, and friends," Twilight called back over the sound of the Harvester's engines.

"Your ship doesn't look friendly to me," the stranger in the middle hollered. "I don't think you're telling me the truth."

"Then why do they have Ghosts?" a Ghost whispered to the Guardian on the ground. The little machine appeared at the shoulder of the human, somehow expressing sarcasm with its face. The female-voiced Ghost seemed to glare at her Guardian, who was the last one with a weapon drawn on the newcomers. "Put it down, Guardian."

The man reluctantly lowered his weapon.

"Quite a warm welcome y'all gave these newcomers," a male voice called out. The owner, a hooded man with a metallic face and something not unlike a unicorn's horn protruding from his forehead, approached the gathering Guardians. "Never saw that for my own greeting, and I ended up killing an Archon. Never saw that for Shin Malphur, who took down Yor. Hell, I never saw that for Yu, who ended up killing the Black Garden's heart not two months back."

"Did any of them arrive in an enemy's ship?" the human with the big red gun countered.

"You should be more observant of the Ghosts," a female voice added. A dark-skinned woman with a shaven head and eyes that could pierce souls claimed that voice as her own. "Ghosts don't bring home enemies."

"Amuro, you have brought disgrace to the name of the Titans. How dare you show disrespect to not one, but two fellow Titans?" another male voice growled lowly. The man owning the voice was a bald man who towered over everyone else, with skin just slightly different from Rainbow Dash's. "You will meet them at the hangar bay and escort them to us when they disembark. And you will be as polite and courteous as is possible. Am I clear?"

"Yes sir," the man identified as Amuro replied curtly. He turned back to face the still hovering Harvester, and the ponies watching from the door, and made a quick few hand signs that the Ghosts would know, and then walked off.

"Wonder what that was all about…" Applejack sighed as the ship slowly drifted off around the edges of the Tower. Within ten seconds, they were carefully setting down in a massive hangar bay, ships everywhere being repaired or prepped for takeoff. The man once pointing the big red gun at the ponies stood waiting by the spot that she predicted the ship would land on. "Aaaaand of course he's back."

As soon as the ship landed with its heavy metal-on-metal thunk, the man stepped forth in measured strides. He stopped abruptly exactly two meters from the group and gave a crisp salute. His face no longer bore the explicit hatred it once did, but Applejack felt as though it was still there somewhere. The man released the salute and then said, "I'd like to apologize for my earlier actions. The Vanguard leaders have appointed me as your escort to their office."

"May I ask your name?" Applejack asked.

"My name is Amuro… miss?" He paused, inspecting her to figure out if he was using the proper pronouns.

"Applejack. Name's Applejack," she offered.

"Well, miss Applejack, I am to escort you and your friends to the Vanguard office," he said, turning his body to walk away. "If you could please follow me."

The group followed the man down the ramp of their ship, and up a flight of stairs to the main platform, where a few people were gathered by a small overhang with a white banner, the emblem emblazoned on it obscured by all of the bodies in front of it. A few people gave them some odd looks as they passed, but the instant anyone put a hand on their weapons, Amuro raised his hand. They passed through a rather blank hallway, where a robot was sweeping with a broom. But when they left the hallway, they found themselves at the courtyard they had originally been hovering over when they arrived. They were on the right side of the courtyard, where a hooded man in long robes stood with crossed arms as he spoke to the people who came to his little booth. Occasionally, he would step behind the booth when given odd sphere-like objects, most of which were blue. A few meters to the left of the booth, there were a trio of small towers with some sort of interface at the base of each. Also along the right wall but further from the hallway was a small booth tucked away in the corner, which seemed to have a forge in the wall behind it.

The ponies were led down a flight of stairs in the middle of the courtyard, which, after turning around a wall, opened up to another hallway with a few booths on either side, with people inspecting weapons and armor, presumably for purchase. But after that, was a grand hall with a huge table in the central pit. The three seemingly important people from before were gathered around the table, going over a three-dimensional map of an area that looked to be made of stained glass or something similar.

"Commander Zavala, sir!" Amuro called, snapping to attention. The massive blue-skinned man in even bigger armor turned to the group's escort, and made a small gesture to approach. Walking in measured steps, Amuro followed the unspoken order. He nodded, offered a quick salute, and then walked away, presumably to do something else.

"Newcomers, you may approach the table," the Commander said to the ponies. "Come. You most certainly have questions. We will provide what answers we know."

Twilight stepped forward, the rest of the group behind her. As they approached, the dark-skinned woman began messing with the map, and Twilight noticed that her hand could move through the map. Silently she wondered what sort of magic was embedded in the table.

"I am Commander Zavala. I'm the Vanguard's Titan representative," he said.

The hooded one with the horn-like protrusion interjected, "I'm Cayde-6, the Hunter representative."

"And I'm Ikora Rey," the dark-skinned woman added, "the Warlock representative."

"I'm Twilight Sparkle," the unicorn said, "And this is Fluttershy, Rainbow Dash, Applejack, Rarity, and Pinkie Pie."

"Pleasure to make your acquaintance. I'm sure we'll get to know each other quite well during your time here," Cayde-6 replied. "Obviously, you guys were found somewhere outside the Sol system. Could you tell me, if you wouldn't mind my asking, where are you from?"

"We come from a world not unlike this one called Equis. Specifically, we-"

"Only need the planet's name, thanks," the Hunter Vanguard Representative interrupted. "We have some pressing matters at our hands, so we don't have terribly much time for your full story, though I imagine it's quite interesting."

"Your profiles have been added to the Vanguard database. Since you managed to steal a Cabal ship and keep it undamaged, we will count the escape from your homeworld as a mission. Even though there were no kills to the Cabal, a Harvester is quite a prize, and our shipwrights will have a blast dissecting it for research," the Commander said to the group. "We've added some glimmer to your accounts. It should be enough to purchase some gear up to your current Level-four status."

"Alright, what's the deal with the whole 'Level' thing?" Rainbow Dash interrogated the significantly larger man. "Is this some sort of twisted game?"

"Actually, it's not. The Vanguard put the Level system in place because of Dredgen Yor. He was one of our finest Guardians. He climbed up in power and skill quicker than any other we've seen before, or since. But he was a proud man, and that pride drove him to the Darkness, seeking further glory. Now we keep close tabs on our Guardians to avoid a similar situation."

"Well, it's a just reason," Rarity piped up. "Would you mind explaining how it works? We need to reach fourteen to go back home and retrieve some things we need."

"It's some really complicated math involving number of missions run, mission difficulty, kills, mission time and completion status, and a few other important variables," Cayde-6 answered quickly. "Which race of enemy also plays into difficulty. The ones outside the city are manageable if you keep your wits about you an don't get ambushed or try to go up an enemy more powerful than you."

"So what should we do now?" Applejack asked after a slight pause.

"Now? I'd try to find some ships so you can take on missions," Ikora advised. "If you want to go home, you need to level up. Best way to do that is take a lot of missions in a short span of time."

"Amuro has been assigned as your mentor until you settle in. He should be waiting for you in the Crucible Hall just through that door, and whichever order of business you wish to attend to first, he shall be more than willing to assist you with it," Commander Zavala said. "And if you get the chance, talk to the Speaker. Dismissed."

The group turned to leave the room, a few more questions still in their heads, like where and how to find a ship, how they would learn to fly it, or what they were up against. If the enemies on this planet were anything like the ones on their own, Twilight had a sinking feeling they would not last as long as they might hope.

"Oh, and Twilight, was it?" Ikora called.

"Yes?" The unicorn swiftly turned around to face the Warlock.

"Good leaders are forged, not born," she said cryptically before turning back to the map on the table.

With that, the group left the Vanguard headquarters, heading back the way they came in. As they passed through the Crucible Hall, they saw Amuro at a booth attended by a robot with a white and orange paint-job and curved horns sticking out of what was presumably its head. They approached Amuro to ask for guidance, they overheard the robot say, "No discounts, big shot. I don't care who you are. You will earn that rifle. Until such time, work with what you've got. Only when you master yours can you learn another."

Twilight tapped the Titan on his shoulder. "Amuro?"

Both the Titan and the robot turned to look at her.

"We need to find some gear and some ships. I thought we should go for decent weaponry first," she continued under the heavy gazes of both the Titan and the robot. "Does this place have anything good?"

"I will forgive you exactly once, since your file is less than twenty-four hours old, Guardian. This booth is beyond you right now. Come back when you are Level twenty or higher and have participated in the Crucible," the robot seemed to growl with disdain.

"He's right. I'll take you to the places to get gear appropriate for your Level," Amuro said, stepping away from the table. He guided the group of ponies up to the courtyard of the Tower.

"Why was Cayde-6 more human-looking than that robot at the booth?" Pinkie asked innocently.

"Because of what they were made for," the Titan replied. "The robot at the booth is what's called a Frame. That one specifically is Arcite 99-40. He's a Battle Frame, and his memory banks still remember the Battle of Twilight Gap. He's since been switched to vendor protocol, but his memory makes him dislike untested Guardians."

"And I'm assuming that whatever Cayde-6 was designed for, sentience and autonomy were important," Rarity reasoned.

The Titan nodded. "Yeah. He, and the guy we're going to see about getting you some weapons, are called Exo. They are a race of war machines, but they have human thought patterns and emotions. For all intents and purposes, they are human. They were made during humanity's Golden Age, but no one really knows why they were built the way they were. But an Exo buddy of mine thinks they were designed because someone wanted to live forever."

"So they were created to be a possible extension of consciousness and life after one's body could no longer support them?" Twilight marveled at the concept. "Incredible."

It was then that a rough voice spoke, turning everyone's attention to its mechanical owner, "You must be looking for some new guns. I've got just what you need." The Exo man behind the counter had a face the color of lapis lazuli, with a bright yellow marking on his forehead. Some sort of spikes protruded from his scalp, and from behind his ears. He put his yellow metal hands together as the six new Guardians stared in wonder at both the gunsmith and the guns behind him. But from the angle Twilight was looking at him, she noticed something on the right side of his head: a scar, new metal welded on and buffed to look as though no damage had been sustained. But the metal looked different from the rest of his 'skin'. It looked like a cheaper metal compared to all of the other plates, perhaps to save the better metals for weapons and armor for the Guardians.

Amuro introduced them, "Everyone, this is Banshee-44, one of the best gunsmiths in the Tower. Take a look at his wares. They won't let you down."

Author's Note:

Edited 4-20-15 0329 hours: Previous misinterpretation of lore.

<3 DarqFox