Chapter 14

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

At last, another substantive message. The enemy's influence in our system may be more extensive than we realize. You must look for signs of its effect. Errors or crashes in Vex constructs. Eruptions of empowered or self-destructive Hive sorcery. Newly created Scorn. Revels and expeditions by the worshippers of the narcissist emperor.

[Personal notes, shaved into quartz with a surgical stylus.]

Our enemies are turning to the Darkness. The Red Legion is broken; the Almighty destroyed. The remaining Cabal will either join Calus's death cult or seek his daughter, Caiatl. And the Fallen—we have driven them to the edge of survival. Turned them against each other. How many will look to the Whirlwind for an advantage over their rivals? By pushing them from the Light, we have groomed more supplicants for the Darkness.

We are in an arms race. If we do not learn to use our greater enemy's power, our lesser enemies surely will.

I confronted Enina about the strange Ghost. It was not hers, she protested. I asked her why she had been so generous to me, so eager to please.

She confessed that she had come on behalf of her fireteam: Guardians who are champions in the Drifter's strange games. They wish to learn the ways of the Darkness itself. To descend into the underworld, like ancient Inanna, and return. They want what I have learned here.

How easily they might be corrupted. And yet it thrills me to know that I would not be alone in my work…

I sent her away. I fear the Witch Queen's spies.

The pine-apple blossoms are still growing. But now I stare at the purple flowers in the black soil and I wonder about poison.

I am no longer hungry.