Chapter 3

"Eyes up, New Lights."

Shaw Han spoke to the group of Guardians assembled at the edge of the Cosmodrome. A field of ancient automobiles spread out behind him.

The Guardians gathered at uneasy attention, fidgeting in their new armor. Han leapt onto the hood of a rusted-out car so he could be seen over the massive Titans standing in the front.

"You may have heard they're coming for you," Han said. "That the Hive God of Trickery got her claws on the Light somehow, and now she's sending the toughest baddies humanity has ever faced to drain the life from your carcasses."

Han shrugged.

"You heard right."

The Guardians lifted their weapons and eyed the skies warily.

"They're coming to the Cosmodrome because the stories they're most frightened of have their beginnings here. They want to wipe out a whole generation of Guardians at its source." Han pointed at the Guardians, who were still holding their weapons anxiously. "They think that they can hit you while you're all still green, before you've got your feet under you. They think you'll go down easy."

A haggard crow, cawing harshly, rose from somewhere within the sea of twisted metal. Han smiled and pulled a small canister from his belt, gave it a sharp twist, and tossed it carelessly into the row of cars behind him.

The Guardians leaned forward in anticipation, but nothing happened.

"And that's where they're wrong," he continued.

"They have the Light, same as you. They're strong, same as you. But you kicked your way out of your coffins right here in the heart of Old Russia—like so many of the greats before you—and you found yourself in the Vanguard."

Han waited for a moment as if tasting the air.

"And being part of the Vanguard… that means something. The most powerful warriors the world has ever known are here for you. Ikora, Zavala, Saladin, Shaxx, Saint-14… the Guardians who have driven the Hive back into their holes again and again—they're up in the Tower, and they have your back."

"Show them you're willing to fight for the Vanguard, and they'll show you things you wouldn't believe. You'll learn how to weave a shield out of starlight. You'll learn how to wield a blade as hot as the sun—"

Behind him, a sudden explosion sent a geyser of dirt and rusted metal high into the air. The startled Guardians huddled together.

"—and you'll learn the importance of Tripmine Grenades," Han finished as he turned. Through the settling dust, he could make out the crumpled remains of a Lucent Hive Knight.

"One second," he said.

He crept toward the remains, shot his hand into the clearing smoke, and withdrew it with a Hive Ghost squirming in his fist.

The Ghost's sharp shell dug into Han's palm. Red blood flowed down over its flickering green iris.

"You're all going to die here!" it hissed.

Han leapt back onto the hood of the car, still holding the Ghost tightly. "Ghosts are tough to kill—both ours and theirs," he said. "It takes overwhelming firepower, or a special kind of weapon. Something outside the laws of cause and effect. Something paracausal."

Han fixed his gaze on the assembled Guardians and crushed the Ghost in his fist. It burst in a flash of bubbling flame.

"Something like us," Han said. "Like you."

A roar echoed from the distant forest. Dark flames erupted from the tree line as Wizards took to the sky. The ground shook as a clot of bellowing Ogres tore across the field, flinging the remains of ruined cars aside as they charged.

"You," shouted Han over the cacophony, "each and every one of you are weapons, chosen by the Light. And sure, so are these Hive, and they're every bit as strong as you—when you're alone."

"But being part of the Vanguard?" Han turned toward the Hive army. His gun began to glow a brilliant gold.

"That means you're never alone."

And when the Lucent Hive reached Shaw Han, eager to feast on the New Lights… they met the Vanguard instead.