Ikora Rey has never been much of a one for stealth. She’d rather let her shotgun close any watching eyes. Her philosophy is that you’re completely invisible once everyone around you is dead.
But somebody in the Crucible had been taking bribes to throw matches. There isn’t enough evidence for the Vanguard to take action, but when Shaxx comes to her with the name of a bar, when he rumbles, I trust your Light and your wits, Guardian—well.
It’s not the sort of bounty that she’s used to taking from him, but Ikora Rey has never backed down from a challenge.
That’s how she finds herself slouching over a tin cup filled with vodka, a headscarf wrapped around her head, fringe drooping low over her eyes. Her Light is tamped down as far as possible—she won’t be able to summon Axion Bolts worth a damn, and a Nova Bomb is clean out of the question, but no Guardian will sense her light without getting in range of her shotgun
Ikora doesn’t worry about anything that’s in range of her shotgun.
She does worry about looking mortal for long enough to catch this cheating Guardian.
The Suros representative is still sitting alone at his table. Ikora eases a glance around the bar, keeping her eyelids low, movements fluid.
Halfway through the her scan of the room, her gaze lands on a cluster of students seated together. (She guesses that’s what they are, from the thick books piled around them.) At the same time, one of them looks up.
Their eyes meet.
He’s twenty at most, tall and scrawny, with brown skin and a shock of ink-black hair. His dark eyes widen instantly, and he makes a quick, abortive gesture, knocking over his glass.
“Shun?” says the girl sitting next to him, at the same time that the boy beside him wails, “Traveler’s cleft, my notes,” and grabs a napkin.
But the student—Shun—is still staring at Ikora, and with a sort of idle amusement, she stares back, watching his flush grow deeper. Are the children of the city so bashful, these days?
Something moves in the corner of her eye. Ikora turns, and sees an Awoken striding between tables, his faded cloak still too like a Hunter’s cloak, the swell of his Light too poorly-hidden for her Warlock senses.
The culprit sits down by the Suros representative and they start to talk in low voices.
Ikora rises smoothly from her seat, fingers quietly finding Invective.
She doesn’t look back at Shun as she strides toward her prey. If he’s still watching, well, then he’ll get a show.
Takes place in the same continuity as my story Glory 0.1; Shun recognizes Ikora because he’s watched every one of her Crucible matches 15 times.
This fic was inspired by the card Ghost Fragment: The City Age 2, and also by a tumblr post that I now cannot find, which speculated that Ikora might have actually first been taught intrigue and spying by Shaxx.
I’m still not over the fact that Ikora was the one they asked permission from before trying experimental treatments on Shun. Like. Does he just have “Property of Ikora Rey” tattooed somewhere on his body? PROBABLY.
“Well,” said Quist, with a sort of dazed calm, “I suppose that was a valuable lesson.”
“I think I’m going to throw up,” said Berriole, eyes squeezed shut. She took a few deep breaths. “Maybe not.”
The bar was in the kind of shambles that could be expected when two Guardians had a violent disagreement. The blood, at least, was gone—transmatted by the unfortunate’s Guardian’s Ghost when it raised him, right before Ikora Rey took his weapons and dragged him out with her. But there were still broken glasses, overturned furniture, and shocked patrons everywhere.
The three students were crouched behind their overturned table. Quist had managed to stack the fallen books, and he was trying to gather up his loose-leaf notes, but his hands kept shaking and slipping. Berriole was hunched in on herself, while Shun held a broken shot-glass, running his thumb over the jagged edges.
“What kind of lesson?” asked Shun.
“Guardians,” Quist said flatly, “are bad news. And why are you playing with broken glass?”
“She broke it with her head,” said Shun.
“Yes! Right before she painted his brains across the wall with her shotgun!”
Berriole made an unhappy noise and took some more slow breaths.
“C'mon, that was Ikora Rey,” said Shun. “Am I the only one excited about this?”
“Yes,” said Quist. He slapped the last of his notes into a stack. “We should go.”
“Already?” asked Shun.
“Well, they clearly aren’t going to bring our fried plantains now,” Quist snapped.
“You never know,” said Shun. His smile was a little off-center. “It’s a very, um …” He trailed off, losing whatever joke he’d been about to make.
“Do we need to tell the authorities what happened?” asked Berriole, determinedly focused on the practicalities.
“The bartender can do that,” said Quist. “We should go.”
Shun did not say anything.
Shun was staring again at the broken shot-glass, still running his thumb over the edge. There had been a smudge of blood on it once, now absorbed by his skin. Ikora Rey’s blood, the blood of a Guardian raised by the Traveler, who fought like a whirlwind in the Crucible but who also protected the Last City from the Darkness. Who had helped raise its walls.
When the other Guardian threw her back, when her head slammed into their table, her eyes had stared up a moment into his. Dark, beautiful eyes—but that didn’t matter. What mattered was the dazed pain in her face. And it was lost a moment later as she pulled herself up and leapt back into the fight, but it had been real.
Shun Li had watched a hundred Crucible matches, had seen Guardians stabbed and shot and vaporized and burnt. But now, as he grasped the glass that Ikora Rey had broken with her head, he thought: they can bleed.
And that was the first time that he wanted to protect them.
- I personally see Naruto Uzumaki as one of the most determined and courageous men I’ve ever known.
Ever since he was a small child, Naruto was abandoned, shunned, demonized, bullied and lied to. He was kept in the shadows of who he was and where he had come from his entire childhood. No one believed in him. They all expected him to turn out to be a monster, just like the demon inside of him, they treated him like dirt. But Naruto still chose to smile, dust himself off and try again. He carried their words on his shoulders and longed for their acknowledgement. Instead of being discouraged by their abuse, he turned it around and used it as a way of pushing himself. As a ninja, he wasn’t considered to be particularly gifted at first, but he trained and trained and trained. Perhaps for his sake, perhaps to prove them wrong. Perhaps because he needed to have their attention on him after being deprived of it for so long. Despite his reasons, Naruto kept going, against all odds.
And boy did he prove them wrong.
- People call him dumb and stupid, while he might not be the brightest lightbulb when it comes to certain subjects. I still believe, that he’s brilliant in his own way.
Naruto has an ability to understand people’s feelings and get through them. His words have impact. The way he understood the feelings between Haku and Zabuza prove that.
- I love how he’s a positive, cheerful energy.
Naruto has one of those smiles that could make flowers grow. He lives without regrets and doesn’t go back on his word.
- He has a heart of gold, no explanation needed.
- He loves plants.
- His eyes look like the sky.
- I love his laugh and the way he scratches his neck.
- I love his character development, specially when it came to Sasuke.
Although he meant well, Naruto’s initial reasons for wanting to bring Sasuke back were selfish. He did not try to understand Sasuke’s side of the story. His reasons. His pain. But then, he managed to feel Sasuke’s loss, realized and admitted that everything Sasuke had done was understandable. Offered to shoulder Sasuke’s pain and die with him. Because he would not allow Sasuke to be alone again.
Naruto fought tooth and nail for his precious person, against the rules, against his own friends. He got down on his knees and begged for Sasuke’s life, he took a beating for him, he lost an arm. Even though he couldn’t figure out an exact explanation as to why he was doing it, Sasuke was just his other half, one he couldn’t let go of, one he was willing to give up his dreams for.
It’s because of this that I refuse to see Naruto post chapter 699 as the real Naruto. He never did the things he promised to do and failed as a Hokage and father. I still believe Kishimoto changed him into what he needed him to be in order to justify the ending and make the new generation sell. That person is not the Uzumaki Naruto I know.
Naruto has made mistakes, he’s not a perfect character although Kishimoto tries to portrait him as such. But I love him, I love him with all of my heart because his growth was undeniable. I also love him because he is ½ of the most beautiful and painful love story I’ve ever known.
SHU: How long since we last convened? QUI: I can still recall the Dawn Calamity, so not long enough.
TELL ME WHAT THE DAWN CALAMITY IS BUNGIE PLZ.
Also, these logs see to be from some sort of…internal surveillance/recording?
Also, apparently the Owl Sector doesn’t have big group meetings outside of emergencies.
SHU: Berriole’s deployed on Mars, Quist is whimpering in the corner— QUI: Slander. SHU: Correction to the record. Quist is curled up in the corner, making noises of outrage— RAM: Officially, the Vanguard suggestion of quarantine was implemented and shortly afterwards reversed due to irreparable ineffectiveness. Unofficially, they laughed at Quist
Shun likes to tease. Quist likes to maintain his dignity, but has a little humor about it. Ramos is mostly The Serious One, but isn’t above joining in the joke.
SHU: I’m Liaison to the Vanguard. It’s my job. Besides, I’m irresistibly charming. RAM: Even if? SHU: Even if.
Something that went down between Shun and Ikora that EVERYONE in Owl Sector knows. Also, Shun is “irresistibly charming” and likes to say so.
RAM: Berriole found a trove of laboratory notes in a locked section of the Dust Palace. Some dead scientist named Shirazi. Some forgotten experiment under the auspices of Willa Bray. QUI: She’s good as a bloodhound for secrets.
Berriole already has a reputation for unearthing secrets that others can’t find. Also, bloodhounds are still a thing, or at least known via records.
SHU: They’re Guardians, Quist. Means the Light has cooked their brains. Haven’t you seen them dancing in the Plaza, for no reason, with no music at all? We’ll take what we can get.
Shun may love Ikora with a pure and undying love but does not idolize Guardians. He thinks they’re kind of crazy. (BECAUSE WE ARE.)
RAM: If that’s the effect on civilians— QUI: It might have been temporary. But— RAM: The decision to lock down the City was wise. SHU: Thank you, thank you. Really, it’s too much.
Okay, this is interesting. It looks like Shun was the one to call for the quarantine on the City–possibly against objections. This means that Shun is pretty dang high in authority, and he’s definitely also someone who can be cautious and think about future consequences.
(Personally I like the idea that Shun, who has a such a burning personal dedication to Ikora, being the one who makes “the greater good” decisions, while Quist, who has an actual family, is much more moved by immediate personal loyalties.)
QUI: I’d forgotten how heavy and sweaty these were. RAM: Truth be told, I’m braver with the suits on. QUI: A hundred separate pieces, requiring buckling and zipping, though? RAM: We’ll improve the design. Eventually. But they work. Berriole’s got the most delicate tasks, and she manages. SHU: Speaking of our codebreaker. She sent a sample scraped off the sand. And this log.
They’re using the same kind of suit that Berriole is on Mars, which means they’re in actual space suits (probably) instead of just isolation suits.
Berriole’s primary role may be “codebreaker,” since she’s referred to that way here.
Ramos prefers to take precautions, and is hopeful for future technological improvements.
QUI: Trust me, you don’t want to hear Shun sing.
Shun is a terrible singer. And yet he sings often enough for Quist to know what it’s like.
QUI: Good to have you back, you hair-grayer, you cleft of the Traveler. Don’t do that again. RAM: You don’t know how happy I am to see you. SHU: What did I miss? RAM: Nothing much. QUI: Everything. You missed everything. Eva’s cooking, dancing Cabal, the man in the moon setting up shop in the Traveler. SHU: Hm. I’ll have to ask Ikora for an update. RAM: Wait until you’re walking again. QUI: So she can cut you down at the knees. SHU: Ha. Ha.
The “you don’t know how happy I am” suggests to me that Ramos didn’t enjoy taking over Shun’s position, though it’s quite possible it’s just relief that he’s alive. Quist continues to be snarky. Also, apparently Shun’s ~feelings~ for Ikora (and her lack of response) are a running joke among members of Owl Sector.
RAM: Welcome back, Berriole. We’re closing this incident. QUI: Good riddance. BER: I’ll put the final reports into the system and return the Owl Sector to standby. RAM: Before you do—for our records—any success to report, Liaison to the Vanguard Shun? SHU: None whatsoever. Warlocks are all mystery and power one minute, business as usual the next. Ah well. BER: Why are you all laughing? RAM: I’ll brief you later
OH MY GOSH. They are all, like, taking will-they-won’t-they bets on Shun and Ikora, aren’t they? I can’t even. And I’m positive that Bungie will never mention Owl Sector again, which makes this even more tantalizing, and GAH.
More importantly: Berriole mentions returning the Owl Sector to “standby.” This suggests it acts as a body only in times of crisis. Do the members spend most of their time working other jobs? This would explain why their titles (like “geographer”) don’t really match up with what they’re actually recorded working on.
This log is mostly Vanguard conversations, but there are still a few relevant bits.
ZAV: What protocols are the Owl Sector implementing? IR: The Liaison asked me what to do. CY6: That’s a new one. IR: Both the Owl Sector and my Hidden have been unable to gain control of these overrides. I suggest quarantine as a stopgap.
So we know that Shun has a reputation among the Vanguard for not asking Ikora what to do. However, he did in this case, and the quarantine was Ikora’s idea.
ZAV: The Bypass Authority’s researches have borne some fruit, I hear? IR: It’s slow going. I’m offering backup computational and decryption support, but she’s fiercely self-sufficient, like most of the Owl Sector. CY6: You mean she isn’t asking you for help. IR: I think she likes having secrets. CY6: That doesn’t sound familiar at all. IR: In spite of my reservations, she’s earned my commendation, Cayde. It’s high-risk work for a civilian.
(1) “Bypass Authority” is an important enough part of Berriole’s work that she’s known to the Vanguard by that title.
(2) Owl Sector is confirmed again as “fiercely self-sufficient.”
(3) Berriole (and perhaps by extension, the rest of Owl Sector) likes having secrets.
(4) Ikora, had reservations about Berriole at some point. Why? Or were they more general reservations about letting civilians undertake high-risk work?
IR: It could be why she sealed individual research logs. This Dr. Shirazi appears to have been fond of Persian poetry. The Bypass Authority has been able to reconstruct entire ghazals by rearranging her passphrases. CY6: I imagine the two of you purring with happiness over that. IR: I am not as fond of poetry as Zavala, but I do appreciate the historical insight. ZAV: I did not purr. Purring is not something I do.
Zavala loves poetry and totally purrs this is not relevant to Owl Sector but I just had to share it.
CY6: Do I detect some jealousy, Ikora? Are her investigations so much more fruitful than yours? Or is it that she’s created a puzzle you can’t solve? IR: None of the above. CY6: It can’t be that civilian in the hospital wing, can it? ZAV: Cayde.
Does EVERYONE in the Tower know about Shun and Ikora’s history? Probably. Will Bungie EVER TELL US that history? Certainly not.
(I started thinking about Owl Sector and timelines and Ikora’s career in the Crucible and then THIS WROTE ITSELF.)
Officially, the Crucible was not a spectator sport. It was sacred, a place where Guardians learned to master pain and fear as they trained for the defense of the City.
Unofficially, footage always leaked, bets were always made, pub brawls over the outcome of a match were not uncommon–
And if Ikora Rey was fighting, Shun Li would always find a way to watch.
“I can’t believe you dragged us out here,” Quist complained–loudly, because there was no other way he’d be heard over the rumble of the crowd. His geography textbook was balanced precariously between two pints of beer and an enormous basket of fried plaintains, and there was a spatter of hot sauce on his glasses.
“Come on.” Berriole reached over Quist’s arm to snag a plaintain. She’d given up half an hour ago and stowed her cryptography homework in her pack. “When has he not dragged us out to see her matches?”
“You know you like it,” Shun said with a grin. “Besides, this is the first time in months.”
“Final exams start tomorrow! Some of us don’t want to–”
Shun bolted upright in his seat. “GUYS, LOOK.”
On the screen over the bar, the footage had switched to the surveillance camera near the B flag. Ikora Rey slid around the corner, her shotgun barking out a rapid volley. Two Guardians went down in seconds; then Ikora rolled, dodging a fusion grenade, and killed the third with a single, shimmering slam of her palm. She stood alone, panting for breath, as the Ghosts of her fallen enemies swirled around her, transmatting the bodies.
“It can fire full auto,” Shun said reverently. “You know it regenerates ammo, right?”
“No, Shun,” said Beriole, deadpan. “I have never heard that information before. Please tell me more.”
Shun didn’t respond. He was staring raptly at the screen: Ikora had paused in her rampage across the map to capture B flag. Late afternoon sunlight shimmered golden around her like a halo.
Quist finally looked up from his textbook. “You do realize that she’s at least fifteen years older than you.”
“Nah, she’s a Guardian,” Shun said cheerfully. “Probably a hundred years older.”
“If you like older women that much, I have a grandmother. If you’re very nice, she might even pinch your cheek.”
Suddenly Berriole squeaked. “FALLEN INSCRIPTIONS ON THE WALL. GIVE ME A PEN. THAT’S AN ARCHAIC HOUSE OF STONE DIALECT.”
Shun handed her a pen; she seized Quist’s book and started furiously scribbling on the endpapers. Quist raised a hand to grab at the book, then gave up with a sigh.
On the screen, more Guardians were gathering around the flag. Ikora was already gone.
“I bet she’s going to pin them down at their spawn,” Shun said with enthusiasm.
“You know she will never, ever even talk to you, right?” said Quist.
“Doesn’t make her less amazing,” said Shun. “Besides, you never know. I am irresistibly charming.”
The way people keep confusing the Yuuya lookalikes and Yuzu lookalikes in Arc-V is something that both fascinates me and annoys me at times. So in light of #48, and the instances of confusion that occurred in that episode, I took a look at the mix-ups we’ve seen and went looking for a common theme.
Gao Guiying was a Chinese revolutionary general who fought against the Ming and Qing dynasties during the early 17th century.
Gao was raised in Mizhi City at a time when the Ming dynasty
that had ruled China for nearly 3 centuries was struggling to hold onto
power in the face of numerous popular rebellions. In 1627 Gao met the
outlaw Li Zicheng
when he was brought to the Gao family home by her brother to hide from
the authorities. Li was wanted for the murder of a local gang leader who
had been terrorizing Yanan. Gao and Li formed a fast bond while they
practiced martial arts together, with Gao repeatedly proving herself to
be a most challenging opponent for Li. The pair married and began to instruct
the local population in martial arts.
the authorities learned of Li’s whereabouts and he and the Gao family
were forced to flee their home. They joined a group of peasant rebels
among whom Gao and Li quickly rose to positions of power. In 1630 they
launched a large scale revolt. The pair split as Li led a an army of
peasant men while Gao trained and educated her own army formed entirely
of women. She established a stronghold in Changde
in the Hunan region which became known as the ‘Lady’s Base’ and would
serve as her base of operations for the next 17 years. The rebellion was
an enormous success as Gao and Li carved out their own huge territories
across China and declared them independent from Ming rule.
In 1644 Li’s forces captured the capital of Beijing, ending the Ming dynasty and declaring himself Emperor of the new Shun Dynasty
with Gao as his Empress. However Li’s reign was short-lived. The
break-up of China had created a new enemy in the form of the Machunian Qing dynasty,
who captured Beijing just months later and killed Li. Declaring herself
the greatest opponent of the Qing, Gao allied herself with her former
enemies, the Ming, some of whom still clung on in Southern China. She
became the supreme military commander in the fight against the Qing and
was given the noble title of 'Lady of the First Degree’ by the King of
Gao led the
fight against the Qing until her death in 1647. She is remembered in
Chinese culture as a remarkable leader and has appeared in novels,
plays, films and comics.