Chapter 2

As Ikora neared the console in the H.E.L.M., a voice cried out from the shadows as a figure lunged for her.

Ikora's hands moved reflexively to deflect the blow and deliver a killing strike, but she stopped after recognizing her attacker. She allowed Elsie to grab the front of her robes and shove her against the bulkhead.

"Were you even listening?" Elsie screamed, her hands shaking in frustration. "How many reports, Ikora? How many times did I tell you what I saw?"

The pain in her voice tore at Ikora.

She knew the stories almost as well as Elsie at this point: the Exo had traveled back from a future where Eris Morn held dominion over everything and even bent Savathûn to her will. It had not ended well.

Elsie pushed away and began to pace, furious.

"Elsie," Ikora said gently. "I know the future you came from. But that is not this future."

"I have seen what happens when Eris Morn has unchecked power," Elsie hissed. "I have smelled the corpses."

Ikora wanted to comfort Elsie but knew that any attempts at camaraderie would push her further away. Instead, she straightened her robes. "The Eris in your timeline was corrupted by Darkness," she said coolly. "We now understand how to wield the Darkness without becoming lost in it."

"Eris Morn was corrupted by POWER, Ikora," Elsie said. "The same power you're encouraging the Guardians to—to—" she nearly choked on the words, "—to tithe to her through Hive rituals! And you think that's somehow BETTER?!"

Ikora took a breath. "I hear you," she said with quiet authority. "And while I trust Eris, I will not lose my objectivity. If actions must be taken, I will take them."

Elsie shook her head. "I wonder if you said the same thing before your body was buried in the wreckage of the Tower."

Ikora waited. One cannot speak when the other is unwilling to listen, Osiris had once told—

"It's in her voice," Elsie said. She sounded small. She sounded truly afraid, Ikora realized. "You can hear it, even through her Hive transformation. When she speaks, she's smiling."

Elsie took a careful breath. "When she led her troops from the Scarlet Keep. When she attacked the Traveler. When she turned us against each other and I was forced to…"

Ikora reached out a hand to stop her from having to say it.

"To kill my sister," Elsie whispered, pleading for understanding. "To kill Ana. Eris was smiling that same smile."

Ikora laced her fingers together and looked at the floor.

"I won't watch it happen again," Elsie said, and her voice was ice.