2261046232Jurassic GreenForeword to "The Book of the Forgotten" Sol is filled with monsters. More than I imagined could possibly exist in one system. So far, the list includes: Alien robots that bend time, blot out the sun, and drive people crazy. Floating witches that birth squirming hordes of cannibals, all driven to murder by parasitic worms. Armored walrus people who conquer planets and subjugate whole races. Undead mobs of rotting alien corpses, animated by Dark Ether. Clans of interstellar insects trying to steal a small planetoid for its energy signature. And most recently, ominous triangular ships of unknown origin that send spooky telepathic messages. But in my opinion, the most bizarre monsters in all of Sol are a gang of heavily armed zombies, made eternal by pint-sized cybernetic constructs (some of whom are lovers of folk tales). Sol may be a strange and crowded place, but the next time someone tells you of a bizarre new monster (like a shadowy clique of pumpkin-headed phantoms), think twice before you dismiss them. That monster may be your new neighbor. Happy Festival of the Lost! —Glint, the smallest monster
2786418824Icon of "VI - Isolation"VI - IsolationSpace is loneliness. Far removed from any of the system's planets, it is at once suffocatingly dark and blindingly bright depending on which way you turn. A jumpship sits in a fixed position in the black, engines off, oriented so its underbelly faces the glare of the distant sun. There is no true cockpit inside the Radiant Accipiter; the ship's canopy projects an image to the pilot. No frame, no obstructions, just the infinite gulf. Crow stares up at the blackness between a cluster of stars he can't identify; he wishes he were there. Where nothing is known, where everything can be new again. Glint rests in his Guardian's lap. He's accustomed to Crow's hands cradling him as though he were a small cat—but in this moment, Crow's head is instead in his hands, fingers tangled in his hair. Glint is silent, patient. He knows he has to be. Crow makes a small sound in the back of his throat and the Ghost stirs. When this is followed by an unsteady hitch in his breathing, Glint floats up, presses himself to Crow's chest, and begins to hum. Crow's hands close around him, clutching him against his heart. And that's how Glint knows: Crow is still the same inside. *** Sulfurous plumes rise from fissures in the Venusian soil. Crow marches across the planet's surface, his boots crushing thin sheets of calcium that skim across shallow, iridescent pools of water. His jumpship is perched atop a rise nearby, clear of the unstable field he now traverses. "Crow, please," Glint pleads over his Guardian's shoulder. "Can you tell me why we're here?"
2786418825Icon of "VII - Interpolation"VII - Interpolation"I hate you." It's the first thing Mara says on reaching Savathûn's crystalline prison. Her words lack heat but echo through the cavernous chamber nonetheless. "I just want to be absolutely clear on this: I hate you, and I wish nothing but pain and suffering for the rest of your miserable existence." The crystal shimmers, and Savathûn's gentle laughter ripples through Mara's mind. "I know," the Witch Queen murmurs. "I could have you jettisoned into the sun," Mara says coolly, "but unlike some creatures, I uphold my word when I give it." "But we're the same creature, are we not?" Savathûn wonders. Although Mara can't see her smile, she has no difficulty imagining what it looks like. "I am nothing like you." "No, of course not." Savathûn's voice is easy and languid. Some might mistake her for being sincere; Mara has taken the same tone too many times in her own life not to recognize it for what it is. "I thought you were a powerful, competent woman plagued by a difficult relationship with her family," Savathûn says. "Someone who weaves complicated, long-spun schemes across the arc of time's bow. My mistake." Mara stares at the crystal, clenches her jaw, and turns her back to leave. But before she can take even one step toward the door, she feels Savathûn's consciousness brush like silk against hers. "I thought you were someone who believes herself to be so smart," Savathûn purrs, "that she is easily blinded by her own ambitions and self-appointed genius. Someone who is so certain of her solutions that she fails to see the inherent peril in her plans, and yet too embarrassed to ever admit she may have gone astray." Tension knots the muscles in Mara's shoulders and back. Over the years, she has trained her face to remain a mask, but she is not always as skilled when it comes to the rest of her body. Savathûn continues. "I thought you were someone so afraid of being vulnerable, that you'd rather fail than—" "Enough." Mara rounds on Savathûn's prison with the precision of an angry viper. She does not raise her voice; instead, she lowers it. "That might work on him," she says, the last word like fire on her lips because it still pains her to refer to Crow by any name, "but you'll find my armor has fewer gaps." Power surges around her hands as she slams them against the crystalline surface. A lattice of radiant energy winds itself around Savathûn's prison, and Mara hopes that the furious drumming of her heart and intermittent flare of her nostrils will be mistaken for exertion—not a different kind of weakness. When the spell is complete, Mara steps back. Her glowing eyes dim. She wavers with fatigue, listening for the psychic echo of Savathûn's voice inside her skull. There is only silence. "Shut up," Mara breathes—a strange marriage of relief and loathing. "Shut up."
2786418822Icon of "VIII - Correspondence"VIII - CorrespondenceBrother— The Witch Queen has been banished from the Dreaming City. We are no longer bound by her secrets. You are no longer bound by your own. I have been told my trajectory leads to solitude. In truth, I believed myself arrived for some time. I would change course if given the opportunity. There was a time I feared you would lose yourself trying to follow me. That time has passed. No matter the name you take, you are unrepentantly yourself—which is to say reluctant and stubborn in ways I find enraging. And I love you for it. I ask neither forgiveness nor understanding. I offer only sanctuary—and tea, if you would be amenable. I am here if you decide to come home. —Mara
1880636496Headless HorsepowerGlint compiled as Crow made his way down an enormous metal corridor festooned with Caiatl's banners. They were directed to a room aboard the Cabal flagship; a simple space furnished for guests. When the door closed and they were finally alone again, Glint waited expectantly for Crow's usual candor. But there was none. "So," Glint finally ventured, "how is it going?" Crow hoisted himself into a massive, Cabal-sized chair and regarded Glint from the corner of his eye. "A little eye-opening. Maybe even frustrating. Or infuriating. It's… like being in a room of Saladins." Glint hovered hesitantly in front of Crow's face. "Are you nervous about meeting Caiatl? You don't need to be." "Why are you being… weird?" Crow asked with a hint of annoyance. "It's just that you don't really need me here. This is a Cabal battleship—the only thing that could hurt you here is the food." Crow snorted. "It's really not so dangerous, once you learn to sneak up on it." He paused to consider Glint's position. "You're right, though. Caiatl won't let anything happen to me. It would be a… diplomatic incident." "So, I was thinking," Glint continued, "that as long as you're safe, I could take some time to do a little research. For my collection of tall tales and legends." "You mean your stories about the cult of Pumpkin Men?" "They're called Headless Ones!" Glint chirped back. And then, with increasing urgency: "There have been credible reports for centuries from all over Sol detailing very similar phenomena, without any clear cause or link—" Crow held up his hand. "The Headless Ones," he said abruptly, cutting into Glint's analysis. Glint backed away slightly and nodded. "You're not going alone, are you?" Crow asked. "No. The Guardian said they'd go with me." Crow contemplated for what felt like a very long time to both of them. When he finally spoke, his voice was small and low. "Just promise me one thing." "Anything." "When the shooting starts… remember to keep your head." Glint's groan echoed through the halls of the battleship. It was a groan of adventure.


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