Chapter 9


We storm Europa with everything we have.

I've never seen anything like it. His strength, agility—unmatched. Vex after Vex, sliced through like butter, that Sword of his wailing like a banshee seeking vengeance, carrying the weight of thousands of lost souls.

It seems like a pain lingers inside Clovis-1. As if he fights not just for those we've lost, but to fill a void that was occupied by fear in a previous life. Likely the same fear that brought every one of us to Europa and opened the very gates of hell.

That void begins to fill once again, this time not with fear, but with love.

Dr. Bray stands valiantly alongside him, rifle in hand, leading the charge with ferocity and strength of will.

These are the leaders we needed. Leaders guided by hope.

We fall. We rise.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

We fight alongside them. Those of us who can make our way across Europa and into the Glassway where the portal resides. We fall. We rise.

11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20.

Over and over, we fight. We fall. We rise. Rinse and repeat.

21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30.

Every time, we get a little bit closer. Every time, more and more Vex bodies pile up. It infuriates them.

They flow faster, they fight harder, the numbers increase. They know now what we're after. They throw everything at us.

But Clovis-30 and Dr. Bray are unrelenting—Sword slicing effortlessly, stroke after stroke. Rifle blaring like thunder, bullet after bullet. We fall. We rise.

31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40.

The constant reboots aren't without sacrifice. A number of memory banks begin to fry from rapid overuse. A few of us are never coming back. We know this. We rise.

41, 42, 43.

We finally make it to the inner chamber of the Glassway, where the portal resides. It's barely visible, blocked by the horde of Vex that defend and pour from it.

In the midst of it all is a giant Vex, the one Dr. Bray told us about. A floating doomsday Vex with the wraparound shield that resembles a Hydra.

There is no fear in their faces. In the midst of all this, the two Brays stand strong.

They rally the few of us that remain. Lead us towards a task far beyond daunting. One that should by all rights be impossible.

But they show us the truth. That with enough courage and compassion, anything's possible. Together, they're the lament that carries the voices of every soul lost to these mindless machines.

With Clovis-43's final strike, the blade shatters into pieces. He doesn't care—the deed is done.

As the final piece of that monstrous Hydra hits the ground, we burst into cheers. The very few of us that remain. Dr. Bray lets me do the honors. After all, I was there when this all started.

The command runs. The portal shuts off. We did it.

"And now, we destroy it," Clovis-43 says. He wants it gone for good.

"No," Dr. Bray says. What? I thought she would agree.

"You know what this did. It has to go."

"Clovis. You, me, and every other Exo… we deserve the life we were promised. If this portal falls, and we die, we lose that life. And if we're gone, and the Vex find some other way back, humanity is doomed. So, let's shut it down. Hell, let's swallow the damn key. But the portal stays."

Clovis-43 sighs. "I hope I don't live to regret this."

"Same goes," she says sincerely.