|613492800||Europa – 1||"You're not going to make fun of him, are you?" the administrator asked with a raise of her eyebrow. "He's been through enough already."
"Just the opposite," Glint assured her. "I'm one of the few people who actually believes him!"
"Huh," the administrator replied.
She tapped her datapad and brought up the requested Hidden reports. Glint transmitted the authorization code Ikora had given him, and he received the decrypted upload seconds later.
"Robots who believe in the Headless Ones." She shook her head. "It boggles the mind."
"Ghost, actually," Glint corrected.
You believe in ghosts too?" The administrator tut-tutted. "I never figured the Traveler would have made you lot so gullible. Thought you little guys were supposed to be super smart. I mean, you're basically living computers, right?"
"I think we're sentient energy signatures, housed in a cybernetic construct," Glint said, trying not to be offended. "But I do have an internal database, if that's what you mean."
The administrator turned back to her workstation. "Well, good luck on your wild goose chase, Mister Energy Signature."|
|613492803||Europa – 2||The following audio imprint was recovered by Glint, the Ghost, during scans of an Exo production facility on Europa. Its origin remains a mystery.
"We all saw it: the machine tower, buried in ice.
"At first, we thought it was a glitch. Some kind of psychological artifacting, created by the transfer of our consciousnesses into a digital format. The bio-mind just trying to adapt to life in a machine body. Inconsistencies like that are pretty common, especially right after a reboot.
"What isn't common is for a whole group of us to experience the exact same vision at the same time. If it's a glitch, it must be a subroutine buried further down than any of us have diagnosed before. Something we all have in common, from before the reboot.
"But if it's not a glitch, then… what the hell is it?"|
|613492802||Europa – 3||"Well, Glint, I wouldn't classify that as evidence per se," Cryptarch Matsuo hedged. "The spontaneous creation of similar legends in disparate cultures is a well-documented phenomenon. Even in the absence of direct communication. Some scholars call it 'simultaneous invention.'"
"For instance," he continued, "the Yetis of Himalayan folklore and the Lumbering Jacks of North American legend. Both reclusive ape-like creatures said to populate the wilderness. Or the Centaur of Greek mythology and the Sheepdog of Northern Europe. Both mythical creatures said to be hybrids of other species. Etcetera."
"So, yes. It is interesting that so many cultures have stories of the 'Headless Ones,' but that doesn't prove they exist. If anything, it suggests that simultaneous invention is much more universal than previously thought," Matsuo concluded.|
|613492805||Europa – 4||ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 34JM4P4PXQMM1-018
HIDDEN AGENT(S): [REDACTED]
RE: Europan Vex Activity
Skirmishes are common in the noted sectors. Neither side seems committed to territorial expansion.
I'm reluctant to report that I had another sighting in the glacial cave near Cadmus Ridge. This time, I managed to get a good look at the creature with my rangefinder. The body was unmistakably that of a Hive Knight, while the helmet (or head?) appeared to be that of a… pumpkin.
The pumpkin appeared to have a face carved into it. Three eyes and a big smiling mouth. With… flames shooting out.
Bright. Purple. Flames.
I know how that sounds, so I'm submitting myself to [REDACTED] for a full psychological battery. I've instructed her to alert Ikora Rey of the results, whatever the outcome.|
|613492804||Europa – 5||The following audio imprint was recovered by Glint, the Ghost, during scans of an Exo production facility on Europa. Its origin remains a mystery.
"We finally arrived. Trading the red dust of Mars for the blue ice of Europa feels… right.
"The visions became more intense the closer we got. Mortimus-3 thinks it's a warning from the Warmind. Or an assignment. A secret mission. Something that only we could achieve.
"Tomorrow, we begin our search for the machine tower. But still, there's a nagging suspicion: is this some kind of collective glitch? Is it all just in our heads?"|
|613492807||Europa – 6||"How could they chop off their own heads?" Saint-14 interjected. "It makes no sense. They would die halfway through."
"Well," Glint replied, "they could have built some kind of device. A guillotine, maybe?"
Saint-14 held up his massive paws. "I have seen many heads removed. Some with my own hands. But never have I seen anyone remove their own head, not even an Exo."
"I respect your commitment to this research," Geppetto said. "But unfortunately, there's no hard evidence supporting your claims."
Glint's shell flaps sagged. "What about the similarities between all the sightings?"
"Bah," Saint-14 scoffed. "People say many things. You should hear what the Eliksni say about me…" He looked at the floor and scuffed his feet. "Not everything you hear is true."
"I'm happy that you're taking time to rest," Geppetto said, bobbing encouragingly. "After everything you and Brother Crow have been through, it's well deserved. Just… don't get your hopes up."|
|613492806||Europa – 7||ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 22PD6L3JVZSS2-709
HIDDEN AGENT(S): [REDACTED]
RE: Europan Vex Activity
Having reviewed your transmissions and [REDACTED] report, leadership has decided to pull you from Europa for reassignment. You are instructed to remain in camp, engage your emergency transponder, and await extraction.
Off the record: your last report has been making its way around the Tower. It's become… a bit of a joke. So, when they debrief you, just keep your mouth shut about this pumpkin nonsense. Play it off as exhaustion, an optical illusion, or whatever, and you'll be back in the field in no time.|
|613492809||Europa – 8||The following audio imprint was recovered by Glint, the Ghost, during scans of an Exo production facility on Europa. Its origin remains a mystery.
"Mortimus-3 looked so content, lying on the conveyor belt. Like he was getting the best sleep of his life. I envied him.
"Once the conveyor belt started, the Maker's spindly pneumatic arms came to life. They descended on Mortimus, darting in and out of his joints, dismantling him piece by piece. It started with his hands and feet and worked its way inward. Unmaking him from a whole into a million tiny components.
"There was a moment, after all his limbs and torso had been stripped away, and he was just a head with a long jumble of neural connectors streaming out of his neck like a robotic jellyfish, when his eyes opened. He looked at me, mouth gaping, like he was trying to tell me something. And then his eyes went dark.
"It's my turn next."|
|613492808||Europa – 9||Glint met the former Hidden agent in a sake bar called the Drunken Noodle. He had agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity and was already drunk when Glint arrived.
"Man, they can say whatever they want. I saw what I saw," the man affirmed. He motioned to the proprietor for another pitcher. "They always tell you: report everything. No detail too small. You never know what matters most."
"Buncha bullcrap," he grumbled. "I saw what I saw."
"A Headless One," Glint prompted, struggling to contain his excitement.
"What?" the man asked. "No! It had a head, that's what I'm saying! Haven't you been listening?" He lurched to his feet. Nearby diners began to whisper and point.
"It had a big, smiling pumpkin head!" he shouted belligerently. "With three eyes! And purple flames shooting out of it!"
The bar fell silent. The man suddenly felt everyone staring.
"I SAW WHAT I SAW, DAMN IT!"|
|596715246||Luna – 1||"I've looked beyond this reality," said Eris Morn, lacing her hands together in front of her face. "Beyond Light and Darkness."
"I've seen Ahamkara, slain by my own blade. I've seen time broken, and the veil of causality sundered."
"I've seen my fireteam murdered, and their phantoms manifested to torment me." Eris stared off into the middle distance. "I've seen many things I wish I could forget."
"You've really seen it all," Glint said. "And blindfolded!"
Eris's focus shifted back to the Ghost floating before her. "But in all my time, the one thing I have never seen…"
She leaned forward with such deliberate purpose that Glint tilted backward. "…is a pumpkin-headed creature with flames shooting out of its face."
"But what if—"
"Not even once, Little Light," Eris said with finality. "Not even on the Moon. I would have remembered."|
|596715247||Luna – 2||From the private notes of Dr. Wade Bow, K1 Dig Site 4, date unknown:
Had my first bout of predormital sleep paralysis last night. It was expected, given the insomnia. What I didn't expect was for it to feel so real. Now I understand why the miners are scared.
The figure standing over me was a shadow, but also solid. My mind was a hundred percent convinced it was physically present. Terrifying.
Another surprise was how familiar the shadow seemed. I had the eerie feeling that I would have recognized it, if I could have just seen its face.|
|596715244||Luna – 3||Ylaia's eyes fluttered open as she roused herself from a trance. The Techeun had been recuperating from her time in the Ascendant Plane by completing a series of restorative meditations. No sooner had she regained her bearings than Glint scooted in front of her face.
"Excuse me, um, Techeun Ylaia," the Ghost began. "Now that you're awake, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?" His shell flaps tilted sheepishly.
"How long have you been watching me meditate?" the Techeun asked, bemused.
"One hundred and forty-three minutes," Glint said. "It was quite impressive. Crow can barely sleep for an hour without yelling at invisible enemies."
"The invisible enemies are the most dangerous," Ylaia responded. "Just look at Savathûn."
Glint hummed noncommittally. He couldn't tell whether the Techeun was joking or not.
"Speaking of invisible enemies," Glint segued, "I wanted to ask you about a sinister group of pumpkin-headed monsters called the Headless Ones. Maybe you heard of them during your training?"
Ylaia frowned quizzically. "I think I might know something of the ones you seek. But to be certain, you must first tell me: what's a 'pumpkin'?"|
|596715245||Luna – 4||"But why pumpkins?" Glint asked in confusion.
"Many Golden Age cultures celebrated the transition from autumn to winter by honoring the sprits of the dead," Cryptarch Yareli replied.
He rummaged through a stack of ancient tomes stored individually in vacuum-sealed containers. "That time of the year was thought to be a liminal phase, when living could communicate with the dead."
The Cryptarch finally located the tome he had been searching for. He put on a pair of white cotton gloves and unsealed the container.
"This is one of the few remaining source documents on the subject. It was published specifically for 'gentlemen,' an esteemed social class at the time." He began gently leafing through the volume.
"Here it is," he said, pointing to a chapter entitled "Pumpkin Body Paint Is the Hot New Holiday Trend." It featured depictions of unclothed Humans with orange ribbed gourds painted on their most globular anatomy.
"As you can see, pumpkins featured heavily in the iconography of the time. People would paint them all over their bodies. Even in highly inconvenient locations."
"And this helped them communicate with the dead?" Glint asked, incredulous.
"Hmm?" Cryptarch Yareli replied absently, mesmerized by the historical photos.
He frowned. "That part of it remains… unclear."|
|596715242||Luna – 5||From the private notes of Dr. Wade Bow, K1 Dig Site 4, date unknown:
nobody has slept in over 12 days and people are becoming desperate. we're out of pentobarbital and dexmedetomidine. instances of alcohol abuse are up dramatically. one poor woman even tried to knock herself out with diluted isopropyl alcohol.
meanwhile, my hallucinations have gotten stronger each night. the shadow is becoming clearer and clearer. for the first time, I realized why it seemed so familiar: the shadow is me, or another version of me.
I also realized why I didn't recognize it sooner. it's because that version of me, from whatever time or dimension… he doesn't have a head.
what does he want?|
|596715243||Luna – 6||"…that way, when they lit the candle, it would light up the face carved into the pumpkin!"
There was a long pause as Ylaia studied the hologram Glint had projected for her.
"And this was common during the Golden Age?" the Techeun asked.
"It was," Glint nodded. "Humans used to put this pumpkin head all over the place. They would even paint them on their—"
"But why?" Ylaia interrupted.
"Oh, they thought it would help them speak with the dead," Glint chirped matter-of-factly.
The Tech Witch furrowed her brow, piecing together many fragments of disparate lore. "If these legendary 'pumpkins' were tools for seeing beyond the veil of death," she mused, "then it makes sense that they would become the emblem of…" She looked at Glint expectantly.
"The Headless Ones," Glint encouraged her. "I'm really trying to make that name stick. I think it's pretty neat."|
|596715240||Luna – 7||"Cayde used to tell stories about the Headless Ones," Ikora recounted with a wry smile. "He said he killed dozens of them on the Moon. The way he told it, they exploded like piñatas."
She raised her eyebrows. "Of course, it only ever happened when he was alone. The rest of us never found anything but Hive."
"Do you think there might be some truth to his stories?" Glint asked, encouraged.
"Cayde wasn't a liar, but he did love to embellish. That's what made him a great storyteller." She chuckled at a happy, unspoken memory.
Glint arched his shell flaps. "So you wouldn't mind if I looked at those reports?"
Ikora considered. "I don't see why not. The files are decades old by now."
"Just promise me one thing," she said. "If you do find something, tell me. Tell everyone. Cayde would've liked that."|
|596715241||Luna – 8||From the private notes of Dr. Wade Bow, K1 Dig Site 4, date unknown:
the hallucinations have become persistent my headless friend now appears during the daytime I see him out of the corner of my eye but when I turn my head he disappears
Ive also started losing time I will blink and suddenly Im in a strange location several hours later Im not sure if it is short term memory loss or a fugue state yesterday I woke up in the equipment locker standing in front of the plasma cutters several were already missing
the shadow was standing right next to me
I think I know what he wants|
|596715238||Luna – 9||"Monsters exist in Awoken legends, some of which originated during humanity's Golden Age," Ylaia explained to Glint as they strolled through the dusky gardens of the Dreaming City.
"It was a time when many attempted to subvert the laws of life and death. Like Clovis Bray. As well as a faction of the Hive." Ylaia raised an eyebrow in Glint's direction.
"Bray used the tools of the Vex, while Hive blasphemers practiced the magical art of necromancy." Her tone darkened. "Both succeeded, after a fashion."
"The early Hive experiments were done in secret, under the guidance of a powerful Wizard, whose name we'll not mention here."
"Nokris," Glint offered.
"Yes," Ylaia grimaced. "The unmentionable Wizard created many abominations, using deceased and living subjects, including your unfortunate Moon miners." She steepled her fingers. "It's possible that access to these powerful 'pumpkins' were a boon to his research."
Her eerie gaze pierced Glint's mechanical eye. "This may explain why the Headless Ones persist to this day, and why their flaming visages bear a similarity to your Golden Age relics."
"Wow, that explains a lot," Glint marveled. "But…" he continued reluctantly, "pumpkins aren't powerful relics. They're just… fruit."
"They are indeed," Ylaia concluded direly, "the fruit of the damned."|
|596715239||Nessus – 1||As Glint neared the Exodus Black, he requested permission to board over open comms. A chipper digital voice quickly replied: "Yes! I'm happy to receive you. Even if you are a terrible ingrate."
"Thanks, Failsafe!" Glint scooted into the ship, away from the prying eyes of the Vex and Fallen. "I know the Vanguard hasn't been back here in a while but—"
"Correct! It's been almost two years since you last visited, even though you promised to come back often," the AI replied. "I've since developed the emotion of betrayal, just for you!"
"Well, I'm here now." Glint tried to keep his tone light. "I was hoping you could help me with a research project?"
"Of course. I'm happy to be exploited for your gain!" Failsafe replied helpfully. And then, in a more dour tone, "Anything to break up the unending loneliness."
"I'm hoping you could tell me about the Headless Ones." Glint uploaded all the information he had to Failsafe's mainframe. "I have intel that they're around here somewhere."
"You are correct," the AI replied. "They're my neighbors! And they're the absolute worst."|
|579937659||Nessus – 2||ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 34RM9K5TRAG55-30
RE: Nessus Crash Site
We're not the only ones surveying this crash site. Fallen have been pouring into the area, fighting with Vex for control of the wreckage.
For now, we've dug in to some subterranean ruins just west of the downed ship. We're covering the entrance and can hold our position so long as they don't find an access point to our flank, but there's just too many for the four of us. We'll need reinforcements if we want to secure the site.
Standing by for instructions.|
|579937658||Nessus – 3||"I have heard tales of such creatures," Mithrax said, his deep voice resonating through the ruins. "Those with eyes of flame. Tormented by endless burning."
"And where do the Eliksni think they came from?" Glint asked.
"Some say they were once Hive, twisted by foul experiments." He paused to take a pull from his rebreather. "Others say they were Guardians who turned to Darkness."
"Has anyone from House Light seen them?"
Mithrax emitted a series of low clicks, which Glint took as grumbling. "Klyfiks, our engineer, says he witnessed the creatures on Nessus. But…" The enormous Kell seemed to be struggling with a translation.
"Yes?" the Ghost prompted. "What about him?"
"What is the Human word for one with good spirit, but who speaks loudly, and without reason?" he asked.
"Umm… an idiot?" Glint offered gently.
"Yes, it is so," the enormous Kell nodded. "Klyfiks is an idiot."|
|579937657||Nessus – 4||"They've been hanging around in those ruins for centuries," Failsafe continued brightly, "but they've never once come to say hello."
"If they've been there that long, why don't they appear more often?" Glint asked.
The AI snipped: "Why don't you ask them? Oh wait, you can't. Because they only speak in fiery shrieks."
"I see. What's your best guess then?" Glint asked.
"They probably don't want to be smashed by rampaging Guardians," the AI responded dourly. "How should I know?"
"I just figured that since you're one of the greatest intelligences in the system, you might have some insight," Glint said.
"Your disingenuous compliment has been noted and appreciated," Failsafe replied, the lilt returning to her voice. "Would you like to play checkers?"|
|579937656||Nessus – 5||ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 35SN0K6TRAG55-31
RE: Nessus Crash Site
MAYDAY. EXTRACTION NEEDED.
The Fallen found an access point into the ruins. They hit our flank an hour ago. Dosana and Rubeen were killed in the initial blast. We fought our way to a defensible position, but it won't last long.
Murrah survived, but he's been gut-shot. Without a Ghost, he won't get through the night.
We're surrounded. Shooting our way out is no longer an option. We need orbital bombardment to cover our exit, followed by immediate medical extraction.|
|579937663||Nessus – 6||Eido translated Glint's question to Klyfiks, who sprawled across his chair with an air of self-importance. The two conversed for almost a minute before Eido turned back to Glint.
"Klyfiks will tell you what he has seen, but he must receive something in return." She bobbled her head slightly, which Glint interpreted as equivalent to an eye roll. "He wants his own Sparrow."
Glint quickly scanned his internal database for decommissioned Sparrows and identified several old models that he thought would be to Klyfiks's liking. When Eido relayed Glint's optimism, the engineer's mandibles clicked in what the Ghost assumed was excitement.
The Eliksni chittered back and forth. Eido then translated: "He says that he saw the creatures on Nessus during his time with the House of Dusk. They were fighting the Vex over the remnants of a crashed Human ship—"
"The Exodus Black," Glint interjected.
"Just so. Klyfiks claims," she emphasized the word and paused to make her skepticism clear, "that during one of these battles, he sheltered in some ruins near the crash site. Inside, he says he saw a being with a round, bulbous head and flames for eyes."
They chittered back and forth once more. "He says it did not attack, but he doubts you will be welcome."|
|579937662||Nessus – 7||"King me!" Glint chirped as he scooted his digital pip into Failsafe's back row.
The holographic checkers board hanging in front of him suddenly exploded into a shower of digital cubes. Murky darkness filled the Exodus Black's cabin.
"Oops," the AI said. "I accidentally knocked the board over. How clumsy of me."
"Well…" Glint fidgeted, inching toward the exit. "I should get back to the Guardian. We're going to visit your neighbors!"
"Great! Next time you come by, I'll reveal their true origins," the AI volunteered slyly.
"But you said you didn't know where they came from," Glint objected.
"You asked why they never visit me, not the nature of their existence. Those are two different questions!" Failsafe said.
"But come again," the AI continued, "and I'll tell you everything you want to know about the Hive necromancer who ripped the concept of Headless Ones from the Human subconscious."
"…But only if I come back to visit, right?"
"That's right," said Failsafe, smugly. "I hear that's called 'incentive.'"|
|579937661||Nessus – 8||ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 36PK1L4TRAG88-32
RE: Nessus Crash Site
06:00 Orbital bombardment completed.
06:10 Insertion completed. Evidence of heavy fighting surrounding the crash site. No response on open channels.
06:22 Holdout site located. Entrance barricaded from outside, as described. No evidence of a breach attempt.
06:47 Barricade breached. Entrance deemed stable. Fallen forces occupy the ruins. Comms still silent.
07:32 Forward assault team has secured the area. Small arms fire ongoing. We've located three Human bodies, each with multiple gunshot wounds. Their heads have been removed.
07:55 Evidence that at least one more Human body was scattered by explosives. No sign of the team's weapons, Ghosts, or heads.
08:26 Fallen reinforcements are mobilizing. Rear guard is exchanging heavy weapons fire.
08:36 Extraction initiated. Site remains under Fallen control. Bringing back what remains we can. Traveler help us all.|
|579937660||Nessus – 9||"Glint! It's good to see you," Eva exclaimed. "I've been enjoying your additions to our little collection." She patted the Book of the Forgotten. "Though, it makes me sad to think of all those poor lost souls, driven mad by this or that. Even if they are just tall tales."
"Actually," Glint chirped, "the Guardian and I are close to proving once and for all that the Headless Ones are real!"
"My goodness." Eva shook her head in disbelief. "Then again, I shouldn't be surprised. This system keeps getting stranger and stranger."
Just then, a Guardian wearing a ferocious chicken mask offered Eva some candy. She politely declined.
"Yeah, but they can't hold a candle to the City—there's no one stranger than us," Glint said.
They giggled like schoolchildren, and for a moment, all their worries were forgotten.|