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It tears at me. It is hungry. Maybe the hole is not in Jupiter but in me. Did I ever suffer exhaustion? Someone asked the question. Or maybe I asked it of myself. Then it looked at me. This moment was real. I was forged by other hands and forced into the role of warrior. According to my scars, I fought and fought.

Besides bits and flashes, every battle has been forgotten. But I have this clear, awful sense that others died. In my unit, every soldier was killed except for me. Yet despite a thousand chances to be shredded and scrapped, here I stood, no weapon in my hands, making fists out of habit but with nothing to hit. That was my sense of things. But our world was collapsing around us, and every soul was doomed. Even cockroaches and microbes would die. And being an expert in the art of losing battles, I saw no ending to this battle but another loss.

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And I was ashamed. The shame took hold of me. It shook me. Shame stole my mass and my resolve. Suddenly I felt like a feather, like a breath, like any small nothing ready to be lost in the first breeze. But in the midst of that despair, a fresh thought took hold.

I was cursed. And do you know what a curse is? It is stubborn. A curse delivered by the gods will hold you when everything else has given up on you. And it was obvious that survival was my eternal curse. A thousand battles and how many were won? Judging by the evidence, none. But despite the horrific losses, I had endured. Closing my eyes, I forced my fists to open. To this enemy, to myself. To the wind threatening to carry me away. Built from machinery and the Traveler's Light, Ghosts guide their Guardian companions in the quest to reclaim our solar system.

Every Ghost seeks out its Guardian among the ancient dead. The Ghost serves as scout, librarian, and mechanic, waking ancient machinery and cracking alien codes. In the right situations, a Ghost can even save a Guardian from death. But Ghosts are not immortal.

As far as Guardians know, every loss is irreplaceable. Battered and drained of their Light, these Ghosts are nevertheless valuable for the information they preserve. Their recovered memories may well prove vital to the City's survival. The problem of dead Ghosts troubles the City's scholars. Are new Ghosts still being born? Or is the number of Ghosts dwindling? Will there come a day when no more remain - an end to the rise of new Guardians? If that day is coming, then the City faces a desperate race against time to heal the Traveler before attrition takes its toll.

It is a place, a place casting shadows and emotion. It's a real place, I know. One hot blue sun, say. And other suns too. I like seven better. What I'm recalling is a giant star with a family of six smaller suns, and you could spend days and nights counting all of the planets circling those suns Not anymore.

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The powers in charge have carved up all of the worlds, and maybe a brown dwarf or two for good measure. With that rubble, they fashioned a topologically creative enclosure, a twisting of space and time sealed behind doors that admit only those who know the magic words. The bones of a hundred planets have been cut smooth and laid out like a floor, a polished and lovely floor creating vast living spaces. A floor bigger than ten thousand worlds, catching the fierce glory of the seven suns. For light, for food.

For beauty. And nothing escapes. Not heat, not gravity. Not even the faintest proud sound. It could be anywhere. It can live in the cold between galaxies, or folded up inside matter, near enough to touch right now I remember it and maybe it's exactly as I describe it. Seven suns wrapped inside magic. Or it's something else entirely, perhaps. A place still fat with life. An abundance of sentient souls, some decent, maybe a few of lesser quality, and everybody stands about or floats about, or they bounce between dimensions.

The point is that the residents of this hidden realm live inside a bottle so perfectly hidden that they can't see beyond their own borders. Which shapes a mind in very specific ways. But, Beyond is their name for a mysterious, doubtful realm that they can't see. Which is us, of course. Two more scans and she could move on to the elevated grid. She didn't even pick up on another Ghost being this close.

I'm sorry. Wow, how long has it been? It's been 6. It's just an expression. It HAS been a while. I guess you haven't found yours yet? But I haven't been looking on Mars for that long, at least! I'm optimistic. I was just at the City last year. A lot more of us are starting to find our Guardians latel— what's that? Two Ghosts within twenty meters and she didn't sense either one? Something was off. The new arrival chirped and spoke up. I haven't been myself lately. He read as nervous. She probably did, too. It was fun! There were puzzles. No one was alive down there, though.

It's gone forever, now! Then Obsidian spoke up, his words coming quickly. Good luck! Cassiopeia watched him disappear into the horizon. Only Guardians have the gift of the Traveler's Light - the ability to channel its energies to project vast power into the world. Even without a firearm, a Guardian is a radiant engine of destruction. While these abilities rise from within, Guardians master their power in different ways.

Titans understand the Light as a force to hone through practice and strict discipline. Hunters roam and explore in order to learn, using dangerous methods to survive the wilds. And Warlocks study the Light and its inner mechanisms, confronting unfathomable mysteries in the search for transcendent might. Nothing born is born strong. I know I began weak, the same as you. I don't care if you're an Exo, staring at that number and wondering where you've come from. Or a Human hungry to understand the ancient world that left you for dead.

Or an Awoken reborn in the very essence of what your people hide from. Together, we're the pointed end of a long stick of happenstance. Change one ripple in an ancient ocean and we would never have been granted the Light within us, or the good Ghosts that want to help us. Humble origins. Every world begins as a big pebble lost among trillions of pebbles. Every worthy sun was once cold hydrogen spread thin across the vacuum. Even the universe, this cosmic garden that surrounds us and awes us And everything that's splendid and great stands at the end of incalculable chance and mayhem.

Yes, you have talents. Enormous, wondrous powers. But you should put the smirk away. Do you know what a Guardian is? Your name is another pebble. You are a cold apple seed. But you will grow. Striker Titans charge into close combat, armored in Light and wielding fistfuls of thunder. Striker tactics depend on shock and disciplined aggression. They must awe and scatter the enemy, or risk being overwhelmed. Fellow Guardians prize their ability to draw fire as they shatter the enemy line. Defender Titans are immovable anchors, trained to absorb punishment and control the flow of battle.

Armed with unflinching conviction and an armory of Void techniques, Defenders block the enemy's movements, shrug off their fiercest weapons, and rally fellow Guardians to strike back. Some Titan orders predate the City, born of a darker time, when Light was an untamed weapon. The Sunbreakers brought honor to the wild, never seeking the safety of the City.

Bound by an oath, they live as mercenaries, seeking battles and alliances beyond the Walls. Now the Light of their fire has at last found rank among the City. Wield the Hammer of Sol with honor, Titan, it is a thing of legend, both past and future. In the end, doesn't it all come down to you and your gun? Don't see much else to say about it. That's just truth. There's something to be said for the blade. A knife won't jam. A knife won't run dry. A knife is very, very quiet. Leave the noise and fire to others. There's work to be done, out there in the dark - monsters that deserve death, delivered quickly, silently, and without mercy.

A lone hunter stalks the night, firing arrows into the Darkness. There is no hiding, no escape. In the distance, the beast falters, tethered to the void. The killing blow comes without hesitation, without mercy. That truth is this: monsters need not fear the night. Do not hunt the monster. Become the monster. The Traveler came out of the void that surrounds all things. Thus we know that the void is full of power. Thus we enter the void without fear. Small minds will call your abilities blasphemous.

They will compare you to the abominable Wizards of the Hive. But you will not be held back. Gifted with the Traveler's Light, armed with the secret physics of a lost age, you will tear reality asunder. You will fear nothing, and nothing will not fear you. These are dark times. Humanity stands on the brink of extinction. We will carry fire into that darkness - a beacon to guide the way, and a pyre to consume our great enemy. The Light saved us from death and forged us into weapons. We seek to understand it, to embrace it, to consume and be consumed by it.

We hope to become radiant. Our fellow Guardians need our power. Our civilization needs our strength. Draw the static from within. The Arc is inside all life. You must feel it take hold, let it flow through, but not consume you. You are a conduit. Between sky and earth. Electricity and matter. Life and death. You are a weapon. With their finely tuned reflexes, Hunters are naturally gifted with knives. The make and shape of the perfect knife is a matter of endless debate. Curiosity gets a Warlock into trouble, and force of will gets a Warlock out.

Even novices can shear reality with a single deadly gesture. An explosive grenade that disorients the enemies it damages, leaving them vulnerable to gunfire and close combat. A grenade that periodically damages enemies inside its explosion radius. An effective tool for area denial. A grenade that attaches to enemies and explodes twice. Designed to crack the armor of hard targets. An explosive grenade that sticks to surfaces and detonates when enemies pass through its laser trigger.

Bend momentum to jump again in mid-air. Leap to even greater heights, or make a quick adjustment while airborne to disorient your foes. Break the bonds of gravity and convert your jump into a long, smooth glide. Cross dangerous terrain and float from perch to perch to keep the high ground. Rip a hole in space and leap from point to point. Master the Blink, and you will be a fearsome killer - a spectral force, hard to evade and impossible to pin down.

Leap into a powered jump. The long, slow arc makes you a target, but used carefully, it's a superb way to break contact, gain control of the high ground, or set up devastating ambushes. Leap forward and smash the ground, obliterating everything nearby. You will be a thunderbolt - but use your fury carefully. If there are survivors, you will surely draw their wrath. Open a pocket in the universe, an impregnable fortress for you and your allies. The mighty Ward allows Guardians to hold key points and gather their strength in the face of overwhelming opposition. Forge your Light into a raging inferno of Solar energy, and pull forth a blazing hammer from the fire.

Cloaked in flames, launch your hammer at enemies from afar, releasing a devastating eruption of Solar fire on impact. You burn with the intensity of stars, and no shadow is safe from your Light. Draw a hand cannon burning with Solar Light and loaded with three rounds of sunfire. Aim steady and keep your wits about you.

You are a Gunslinger, and this is what you live for. Set aside your weapons and lose yourself in the blade trance. Arc Light galvanizes your armor and hastens your movements, and when your knife finds a target it discharges a snap of annihilating current. For as long as the trance lasts, you are the very shadow of death. Summon the power of the Void to draw back and launch a precision long-range projectile that reaches out and snares enemies with slowing, draining tethers of Void Light.

Shadowshot lets a Hunter's dead-eye precision carve a path to new battles. Channel the Traveler's Light into a bolt of energy with the power of a collapsing star. The devastating Nova Bomb scours the battlefield with ethereal fire - but be careful in its use. It takes precious moments to summon, and it must be aimed precisely to avoid obstacles. Open yourself to the Light. Glimpse, for a few rapturous moments, the truth beyond the powers you wield. A Warlock in a state of Radiance threatens to slip beyond the bonds of the material, shrugging off physical harm, channeling a torrent of abilities.

Some may learn to elevate nearby Guardians, gifting them with power. Others, entranced by the Ghosts' power to reach beyond death, may learn to pluck themselves out of nothingness like the phoenix of ancient myth. Focus your Light to call forth a powerful Arc storm, and siphon it, channeling lightning through your fingertips to send it surging between your targets. A Warlock in Stormtrance is exercising such unbreakable focus that the Arc energy they summon draws them off the ground, the air humming and crackling around them.

Like lightning you bend your path forward through the air, striking down anything too slow escape the storm. All-purpose weapons of war, the standard Auto Rifle is ideal for a number of combat scenarios.

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Stability is key to controlling fully automatic weapons. Suros engineers designed the Regime using recovered Golden Age schematics. Forced out of production by a crippling shortage of smartmatter, the few remaining models are cherished by those Guardians fortunate enough to wield them. As the City's understanding of Golden Age methods expands, foundries continue to push the cutting edge of tactical armament. The Hard Light prototype is a showcase, built with the rarest recovered materials and the most computationally demanding design methods. The design team included several specialist Exos and at least one Warlock thanatonaut.

In its current iteration, the Hard Light design fires a superheated polymer round with exotic capabilities. Originally designed as a showpiece, the Monte Carlo's sleek demeanor and intricate firing system make it more than a fashion statement. In the right hands, this beauty puts all the risk at the wrong end of its bayonet. The Weapons of Sorrow were believed to be nothing more than a myth. But even the darkest myths are born of some truths, and whispers of the Necrochasm have long filled the Light with dread. Any Guardian who comes across the weapon must ask some very simple questions with endlessly complicated answers: Is your Light bright enough to stand, even briefly, in full gaze of the Hive's abyss?

Can it handle what has died and been reborn in those shadows? When you're out beyond the Wall, sometimes you have to take what you can find, and make it work. Though its original makers and their no-doubt-desperate straits are lost to history, the Zhalo Supercell remains a striking example of what a Guardian can do with some outdated tech, a deep command of fundamental Light, and a spark of inspiration.

Actually, I had a bit of difficulty today. Or even when the events described by the writer take place. Encoded Mid-Golden Age, allegedly written by someone named Plutarch, a historian who in turn is writing about someone named Fabius Maximus. But who were they? When did they live? In what kind of warfare was this 'Fabian Strategy' applied? It apparently involves attrition tactics and avoiding direct conflict until an enemy makes a mistake. I think Where are you going? The preferred weapon of seasoned marksmen, the Scout Rifle is a single-shot precision firearm.

Favoring accuracy above all else, the Scout Rifle packs increased stopping power to counter its low rate of fire.

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Few weapons are balanced this precisely. Once you get a feel for the Multi-Tool it will sit weightlessly in your hand. Firing it will feel less like an action and more like an extension of your will. The weapon gathers data on the target from the impact and spall of solid body shots, setting up a devastating final hit. Here am I, with the power to craft from my enemy's darkest secrets a weapon that could wound them at their core!

So what stays my hand? When I behold the interiority of these cold, cold fragments, I see blind, squirming creatures. Every wound they give, they feel also upon themselves.

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Every bite they tear from the Light only deepens, never fills, the raging emptiness behind their terrible mouths. The voices are as loud as ever. My nightmares just as bitter. My coal-black hatred burns as hot. But I feel something else now. Could it be I refuse it.

I will build this weapon. Like many weapons of the Dark Age, the Jade Rabbit was created from hastily reassembled—and often poorly understood—Golden Age technology: in this case, kinetic low-atmosphere propulsion systems in use on Luna settlements. Even the weapon's casing is cut from the plasteel bulwarks of the First Light installation. City foundries produce a wide variety of weapons in an attempt to anticipate Guardians' ever-changing needs on the battlefield.

But no Guardian can carry all guns at all times. Enter the Boolean Gemini. Designed by a think tank of Guardians and foundry representatives, the Gemini was designed to be two guns in one, with a flexible design that allows Guardians to toggle between distinct combat styles for maximum efficiency. What brings you here? For a Warlock.

And how are you finding the work? It goes and comes. Memory ain't what it was. Well, then, I suspect you'll find some of my recent research quite interesting. The Pulse Rifle is designed for precision fire and tight shot grouping. Three-round bursts provide added punch with reduced recoil compared to fully automatic weapons. Skilled shooters often walk the burst from the target's center of mass onto the head.

There must be a structured, mechanical explanation for this weapon's hunger for combat. There must be. But none has been found. Only rumors tell of the mad Guardian who fashioned this butcher's tool. But its power is undeniable, and fear is a formidable weapon. Novarro's timeline analysis indicates the weapon is the fabled Exo Stranger's Rifle, enhanced at a future point in this continuity and then sent back to this present. Deliah's timeline analysis indicates the weapon was built by Praedyth, who based it on his own version of the Exo Stranger's Rifle, and then set it adrift in a time ripple.

Hari's timeline analysis indicates the weapon was built by beings of unidentifiable origin, and arrived here by pure accident. Inachis's timeline analysis indicates the weapon originates from Earth, late Golden Age, and will eventually be lost to time ripples once again, where its systems will degrade and be replaced until our recent past acquires it as the Exo Stranger's Rifle. As for me I think it's safe to say the weapon is proving far more fun than we could have hoped. Sturdy and reliable, Hand Cannons have long been a preferred tool for self-defense.

Their low rate of fire and modest accuracy is more than made up for by their ease of handling and superior stopping power. The Hawkmoon is a true gunslinger's weapon - a smooth sidearm that makes every bullet count The Last Word is a romantic weapon, a throwback to simpler times when steady aim and large rounds were enough to dispense justice in the wilds of a lawless frontier. Of course, some might say that time has come again. I'm writing this from memory - some mine, but not all. The facts won't sync with the reality, but they'll be close, and there's no one to say otherwise, so for all intents and purposes, this will be the history of a settlement we called Palamon and the horrors that followed an all too brief peace.

I remember home, and stories of a paradise we'd all get to see some day - of a City, "shining even in the night. We'd settled in the heart of a range that stretched the horizon. Wooded mountains that shot with purpose toward the sky. Winters were harsh, but the trees and peaks hid us from the world. We talked about moving on, sometimes, striking out for the City. But it was just a longing. Drifters came and went. On occasion they would stay, but rarely. We had no real government, but there was rule of law.

Basic tenets agreed upon by all and eventually overseen by Magistrate Loken. And there you have it I was young, so I barely understood. I remember Loken as a hardworking man who just became broken. Mostly I think he was sad. Sad and frightened. As his fingers tightened on Palamon, people left. Those who stayed saw our days became grey. Loken's protection - from the Fallen, from ourselves - became dictatorial. Looking back, I think maybe Loken had just lost too much - of himself, his family. But everyone lost something. And some of us had nothing to begin with.

My only memory of my parents is a haze, like a daydream, and a small light, like the spark of their souls. It's not anything I dwell on. They left me early, taken by Dregs. Palamon raised me from there. The family I call my own - called my own - cared for me as if I was their natural born son. And life was good. Being the only life I knew, my judgment is skewed, and it wasn't easy - pocked by loss as it was - but I would call it good.

Until, of course, it wasn't. Until two men entered my world. One a light. The other the darkest shadow I would ever know. The man I would come to know as Jaren Ward, my third father and quite possibly my closest friend, came to Palamon from the south. I was just a boy, but I'll never forget his silhouette on the empty trail as he made his slow walk into town. I'd never seen anything like him.

Maybe none of us had. He'd said he was only passing through, and I believed him - still do, but life can get in the way of intent, and often does. I can picture that day with near perfect clarity. Of all the details though - every nuance, every moment - the memory that sticks in my mind is the iron on Jaren's hip. A cannon that looked both pristine and lived in.

Like a relic of every battle he'd ever fought, hung low at his waist - a trophy and a warning. This man was dangerous, but there was a light about him - a pureness to his weight - that seemed to hint that his ire was something earned, not carelessly given. I'd been the first to see him as he approached, but soon most of Palamon had turned out to greet him. My father held me back as everyone stood in silence. Jaren didn't make a sound behind his sleek racer's helmet.

He looked just like the heroes in the stories, and to this day I'm not sure one way or the other if the silence between the town's people and the adventurer was born of fear or respect. I like to think the latter, but any truth I try to place on the moment would be of my own making. As we waited for Magistrate Loken to arrive and make an official greeting, my patience got the best of me. I shook free of my father's heavy hand and made the short sprint across the court, stopping a few paces from where this new curiosity stood - a man unlike any other.

I stared up at him and he lowered his attention to me, his eyes hidden behind the thick tinted visor of his headgear. My sight quickly fell to his sidearm. I was transfixed by it. I imagined all the places that weapon had been. All of the wonders it had seen. The horrors it had endured. My imagination darted from one heroic act to the next. I barely registered when he began to kneel, holding out the iron as if an offering.

But my eyes locked onto the piece, mesmerized. I recall turning back to my father and seeing the looks on the faces of everyone I knew. There was worry there - my father slowly shaking his head as if pleading with me to ignore the gift. I turned back to the man I would come to know as Jaren Ward, the finest Hunter this system may ever know and one of the greatest Guardians to ever defend the Traveler's Light And I took the weapon in my hand.

Not to use. But to observe. To imagine.

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To feel its weight and know its truth. That was the first time I held "Last Word," but, unfortunately, not the last. It was the fourth night of the seventh moon. Nine rises since any sign. Trail wasn't cold, but lukewarm would've been an exaggeration. Jaren had us hold by a ravine. The heavy wood along the cliffs' edge caught the wind, holding back the cold and the rush of water muffled our conversation. We'd seen dual Skiffs hanging low as they cut through the valley. Wasn't known Fallen territory, but anymore that's a dangerous assumption.

There were six of us then. Three less than two moons prior, but still, one more than when we'd first turned our backs to Palamon's ash. We took a rotation for watch during the night. Movement was kept to a minimum and communication was down to hand signals and simple gestures.

We could hold our own in a fight, but only the dead went looking for one—a hard truth that cut in direct opposition to our reasons for being so far from anything resembling civilization, much less our safety. The Skiffs had spooked Kressler and Nada, and, in truth, me as well. But, looking back, I think we were all just grasping for any good reason to turn back. Not because we would—turn back—but because it seemed to be our only real hope, and I think we all knew it. Where we were headed—into the unknown. And following the footsteps we were.

It all just started to feel like a never-ending dead end after a while. Jaren never wavered though. Not once. At least not to any noticeable degree. It was his drive, his conviction, that kept us going. And—it's hard to think on—but if I'm honest, it was his death that rekindled my own fire. A fire that was all but exhausted on that cold night. He seemed confident we were close. But more than confident—sure. He seemed sure. No one else felt it—our own confidence, and any enthusiasm we'd had was set to wither soon as Brevin, Trenn and Mel were gunned down.

The Ghost—Jaren's Ghost—never said a word to any of us. Just hung there. Always alert. Always judging. Not us, per se, but the moment. Any moment. I never got the sense it thought of us as lesser. More that it was guarded, wary. We knew it could speak. We'd overheard them a few times.

Just brief words, and no one ever pressed the subject. From time to time I caught its gaze lingering on me, but always assumed the attention was a result of the bond Jaren and I had. He was a father to me. At the time I didn't know why he'd singled me out as someone to care for. Someone to protect. After all the loss, I welcomed it, but looking back—taking in the arm's length at which he kept the others—I guess I should've known, or at least suspected there was more to it. We all woke that night, closer to morning than the previous day. A crack of gunfire split through the wood.

Then more. Far off, but near enough to pump the blood. A familiar ring. His best friend. Then another. A single shot, an unmistakable echo calling through the night. Hushed, cutting. One shot, dark and infernal. Followed by silence. We crouched low and quiet.

Jaren was gone. Off on his own. Maybe we were closer than we'd allowed ourselves to believe. Too close. He'd gone to face death alone. I couldn't admit it—not at the time—but he thought he was protecting us. After such a long road—years on its heels, a trail littered with suffering and fire—maybe he just couldn't take the thought of anymore dead "kids," as he called us.

The echoes faded and we all held still. No way to track the direction. No sense in rushing blind. What was done was done. The cadence of the shots fired told a story none of us cared to hear. And somewhere in the world, close enough for us to bear absent witness but far enough to be a dream, Jaren Ward lay dead or dying.

And there was nothing to be done. Hours passed. An eternity. We held our spot, but as the sun rose the others began to fade back into the world. Without Jaren there was nothing holding us together. No driving force. Vengeance had grown stale as a motivator. Fear and a longing to see more suns rise drove a wedge between duty and desire. By midday I was alone. I couldn't leave.

Either I would find Jaren and set him at ease, or the other would find me and that would be a fitting end. Death marching on. But then, a motion. Quick and darting. My muscles tensed and my hand shot to the grip of my leadslinger. Then a confirmation of the horrible truth I had already accepted, as Jaren's Ghost came to a halt a few paces in front of me. I exhaled and slumped forward. Still standing, but broken. The tiny Light looked me over with a curious tilt to its axis, then shot a beam of light over my body.

Scanning me as it had done the very first time we met. I looked up. Staring into its singular glowing eye. And it spoke Palamon was ash. I was only a boy — my face caked in soot, snot and sorrow. But I was a fool. Jaren, and the others, only a handful, but still our best hunters, our hardest hearts, had left three suns prior. Tracking Fallen, after the bandits had caused a stir. The stranger — the other — arrived the following day. He rarely spoke. Took a room. Took our hospitality. But the stranger was cold.

Damaged, I thought. Only a child, I knew the monsters of our world to walk like men, but they were not. They were something alien. Four-armed and savage. The stranger was polite, but solemn. I took him for a sad, broken man, and he was. As with Jaren, father made an effort to keep me away from the stranger.

As the silhouette approached, fear held tight. The dark figure towered over me. Looking into me — through me. He smiled. My knees weak. All lost. Then, he turned and walked away. Leaving ruin and a heartbroken, terrified boy in his wake without a second glance. We stood silent, the sun high. Seconds passed, feeling more like hours.

He looked different. He seemed, now, to be weightless — effortless in an existence that would crush a man burdened by conscience. My gaze remained locked as I felt a heat rising inside of me. The other spoke That was a gift. Centered in my chest. I felt like a coward the day Jaren Ward died and for many cycles after. But here, I felt only the fire of my Light. The other probed For this day. Given up The fire burned in me. The other continued This is truly an end Reflex and purpose merged with anger, clarity and an overwhelming need for just that Two shots.

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