"Ghaul commanded you to die for his vanity. I ask only that you fight at my side for the empire. The choice is yours." —Empress Caiatl
(A burst of electricity shatters a tree, showering Nessus's vermillion fauna across the battlefield.)
Vatoc the Psion had been a coward before, and not even just once. As he braced behind a Vex tower and clutched his empty rifle, he recalled his legacy of hasty retreats.
He had run from Wire Rifle enfilades and soulfire barrages on the detritus flotillas of the Reef.
He had fled the relentless advance of the chronomatons, nearly boiling in his suit amidst mercurial deserts.
Most of all, he had run from the Light-infested husks, the undying Guardians of Sol. Time and again, he saved his own neck, only for the Legion to find a new assignment and cast him back into the fray; they knew he was weak, but with Legionaries falling in droves, there was no other choice.
(A roar sweeps through the canyon as a smoking Thresher tumbles end over end into oblivion.)
Vatoc bore no guilt over his survival; to a Psion, survival was all you had. There was no honor to be gained, no advancement within ranks, no wealth to be accumulated. All the Legion left you with was your life, and Vatoc was going to make sure it lasted as long as possible.
But that was before Ghaul had been melted down to atoms and scattered across the stars. Before the failed gambit with the Warlock's time device. Before the Almighty, gleaming triumph of the Legion, was tossed like a pebble and swatted aside by an indifferent god.
Now came Empress Caiatl, and with her, the promise of something Vatoc never imagined he would have: freedom. The full might of the empire had arrived in a cavalcade of frigates and carriers, filling the space between worlds with destructive power. For the first time in his life, Vatoc's choice was not merely just to survive, but a choice of what to live for.
(A Colossus barks a rallying cry; a cacophony of Slug Rifles echoes in response.)
The battle swelled around him and his compatriots fell. He could see the route to safety. Dark crevasses tucked between tepui where he could run and hide. Where he knew he could survive.
(Vatoc reloads his rifle and sings an oath to his empress.)
He had been a coward before, but no longer.