Pyrrhic Ascent Grasps
"I could have done more. Should have done more." —Aisha, Human Hunter
SIMULATION RECONSTRUCTION LOG // LA-01-03 // BAZAAR, THE TOWER, LAST CITY
Within the tented enclosure of their tower-based enclave, Shayura and Aisha sit on crimson, vermillion, and gold cushions scattered around a circular table, the setting sun burning bright at their backs through icy-encrusted trellis. A handful of colorful decorations for the Festival of the Lost hang overhead, with more being set up outside. An anchor of community in the wake of a tumultuous time.
"How's today feeling?" Aisha asks, sitting forward with her elbows on her knees. Shayura doesn't answer.
Aisha watches Reed-7 stand in line at a food kiosk across the way. "Did you talk to Ikora yet?" she tries again. The Warlock rakes her fingers through her hair and sighs, slouching down so that her forehead rests against the tabletop.
"No," Shayura finally responds. "I will. I'm sorry."
"Hey, no," Aisha says, scooting over enough so that she can put a reassuring hand on Shayura's shoulder. "Don't. We've all been through a lot. I should've paid attention to how hurt you were before we went into the match. I'm sorry we fought; I'm sorry I yelled at you."
Shayura regards Aisha from the corner of her eye. She turns away and lets her hair fall like a curtain to hide her face. "Can Guardians be unfit for duty?" Shayura wonders, her voice muffled by the table.
Aisha isn't sure how to respond. "I mean…"
"I don't know if I'm okay," Shayura admits without lifting her head. Aisha leans in and puts an arm around her friend's shoulders.
"It's okay not to be okay," Aisha says. "That's why you should talk to Ikora. She knows. She understands."
Shayura is quiet again. Aisha peeks over the arch of Shayura's back and spots Reed carrying a collection of steaming mugs in his large hands.
"Drinks," Reed says, setting down the mugs on the table. Aisha offers Reed a supportive but strained smile in return. "Careful," Reed notes as she reaches out for a mug, "they're hot."
"There's cinnamon in yours," he says to Shayura. She gives him a thumbs-up without lifting her head off the table. Aisha offers Reed a wordless look of concern and shakes her head. Their talk had not gone well while he was away.
"I know you're upset about Sloane," Reed says. "But you know the commander's done all he can. We've done all we can. Don't blame yourself for—"
"Thanks," Shayura says without looking up. She sits up enough to grab her mug with two hands and drags the piping hot cider over to herself. She slouches over the mug, breathing in the aroma of cinnamon, honey, apples, and cloves. Her eyes drift shut and, for a moment, she seems more herself.
Aisha and Reed take a moment to breathe. Give Shayura time to breathe. "I know," Shayura finally says in a small, guilty voice. "I'm sorry." It's hard to tell if she's talking about Sloane, or about her behavior in general.
"You don't need to apologize to us," Reed says with a look to Aisha, who nods back in support and affirmation. "You should apologize to Leitka and his Ghost."
"It was Titan," Shayura finally explains without looking up from her mug. Reed and Aisha look at each other, but neither interrupts. They let Shayura reach that point at her own pace. "I was back on Titan. Like when we were Lightless, surrounded by Hive. There was this Knight… no matter how many times I killed him, he kept coming back. I should've died out there."
"But you didn't," Aisha says, reaching out across the table to take Shayura's hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze. "We got our Light back, and—"
"What happens when the Darkness closes in?" Shayura asks, though she knows neither Reed nor Aisha have the answer. "Will she be Lightless again? Alone?"
Reed and Aisha share a look, and the Exo reaches across the table, laying one of his large hands atop Shayura's hand that Aisha holds. Reed's silence is stability, and Aisha smiles across the small distance to him in thanks. The three fireteam members are all the family they have, and in this moment of weakness, Aisha has to hope that family is enough to make it through the darkness.
Or, failing that, enough to make the journey worth taking.