Chapter 2

"And if Mara demands his extradition?" Ikora crossed her arms behind her back and arched her eyebrow at Zavala. The Vanguard leaders were sequestered in Zavala's office—a terse missive from Petra Venj lay at issue between them.

"Then we'll happily accommodate her," the commander responded with a wry smile. "But I suspect Mara's attention is elsewhere."

"Perhaps she needs a reminder," Ikora floated casually. "It would give us the political cover to act."

"It would," Zavala frowned. "But even if we evict him, I'm reluctant to send him back to the Reef."

Ikora chuckled dryly. "A fate worse than death. I can only imagine what the Techeuns have dreamed up for him."

"Besides," the commander said, "turning an asylum-seeker over to the Awoken would needlessly provoke the Eliksni." He tried to keep his tone light, but it betrayed him as he felt the seeds of an argument start to form.

"True," Ikora shrugged, "but Spider's very presence in the City is a provocation. You saw what happened when the House of Light arrived. All the unjustified hatred."

Zavala grunted in reluctant acknowledgement.

"In Spider's case, the anger would be entirely justified," Ikora pressed, trying to forestall Zavala's inevitable objection. "He would give critics of Eliksni resettlement plenty of fresh ammunition. It would set relations back by a year. And we've only just stabilized."

"You're right," he conceded. "Spider's more trouble than he's worth."

Ikora sighed. "If I'm right, then why are you about to fight me on this?"

Zavala smiled softly. They knew each other so well.

"Two reasons," he replied. "First, Spider is something of a… cultural liaison between the Eliksni and humanity. He was welcoming to Guardians when most of the Shore was still a war zone."

"Is that how you're framing his Ghost shell collection? Cultural exchange?" Ikora wrinkled her nose in distaste. "That's a mark against on my ledger."

"Mine as well," Zavala replied. "But we have to accept the Eliksni for who they are. Warts and all. If we're going to live with them, we have to understand them. And nobody understands both sides like Spider."

"And second?" Ikora prompted.

"We never know who might become an ally." Zavala gestured in the direction of the Eliksni Quarter below. "The number of Guardians that Mithrax has killed over the years…" He trailed off with a shake of his head.

"But now Mithrax fights for the Last City as his home," he continued, turning back to Ikora. "It was unimaginable even a decade ago, but here we are. And in Eido, I see the first real hope for collective peace in my lifetime. Not just a cease-fire, but a real peace."

Zavala shrugged. "In a century or two, who knows what Spider might become."

Ikora narrowed her eyes and pressed her lips together in firm disapproval. Zavala smiled to himself, knowing he had won.