Return to the Vault

Forty-Five Minutes Ago

I take position at the back left, the location familiar, not only physically in terms of knowing where to stand just out of sniper view, but also temporally familiar. My stopwatch is not exact, but it is close enough to help with the scheduling. At second thirty-three a Vex Wyvern will materialize, and I will deal with it, frozen at that time by the Stasis turret I threw out at second twenty-nine.

Then at the minute mark, the Oracles will sing.

The Wyvern was handled as predicted and I hear the first tone and wait, seeing nothing. I hear one of the hunters on the open channel, “One.”

The second tone rings out and in front of me the note breathes to life a glowing, shimmering cube of what I would guess a Cryptarch would describe as, “Organized Paracausal Energy contained within a Vex Matrix—known as an Oracle.” What I know is that if left alone, they will Mark us for Negation, and when the Templar finishes the Ritual of Negation, the fight is over as every member of the fireteam is well, negated.

I speak on the open channel, “Two.” This is going to complicate things a little but I’ve been Two before. Another wave of Vex Harpies materializes and immediately begin firing on my position. My partner engages them with a few bursts from his pulse rifle, taking out the lead Harpy and buying me enough time to turn and engage them now that I know I am second in the sequence.

A third fireteam member checks in as the last tone rings and the pattern reveals itself. We destroy the Oracles in the order they have appeared and we are spared once again.

Another wave of Harpies, this time accompanied by a Minotaur materializes at the back. A sniper round glances off of my armor but my shield holds as I reload my shotgun in preparation for the Minotaur’s rushing teleport.

Only five more rounds to go.


I find myself someplace and sometime new. Someplace not as familiar. What I mean to say is that I have been here before, but not this time, this way.

There’s a lot of new information now, but I know a few things.

The Oracles are spawning in about ten seconds.

And the Templar is at twenty percent health and dropping.

It looks like a good pace, but I know that somehow, it is never going to feel fast enough. My Nova Bomb was expended at the beginning of the phase, something new I was trying out in this timeline, fired shortly after another fireteam member’s Tether.

We blocked a number of the Templar’s escape teleports earlier in this attempt, and that changed a lot of things. Topping the list of worst new changes were half a dozen agitated Minotaurs, an embarrassingly uncountable number of exploding Fanatics, and every single one of them converging on our fallback point.

And yet, this is the closest we have come to defeating the Templar.

I step out from behind a column and fire the last of my rockets, the Lasting Impression perk delaying the explosion in exchange for a higher damage output. That is going to sting later. I get back behind the column.

The barrage of energy and explosions from both sides is chaotic, but suddenly through it all, three tones ring out as the Oracles begin their song. None of us are in position to see them, to know the correct order in which to destroy them. They ring out once more and then fall silent.

I know one thing is certain in this timeline—we will die when the Templar completes the Ritual of Negation.

The rocket I fired finally explodes, taking a chunk of the Templar’s health, but in return it pummels the column I am hiding behind with an enthusiastic barrage of purple, and somehow angry energy.

I am out of rockets.

But I did not come here alone.

Five other separate timelines begin to merge and a future, one where the Templar is defeated is visualized.

It is possible.

Silently and collectively, a call is made. I vocalize it alongside the others.

“Ignore Oracles and push DPS.”

The Oracles, their song completed, have marked us. The Templar need only complete the Ritual of Negation, and this fight is over. The Templar will have won, again, and our collective timelines will be reset as we are negated from existence.

Two Witherhoard rounds, one aimed specifically to strike the Templar directly afflicting it with Blight, and one to hit the ground beneath the Templar for additional Area of Effect damage, fly from my right. Hammers made of Paracausal energy aligned with Solar energy strike the Templar setting them not on fire, but something far, far hotter. There are an urgent number of explosions and the staccato of gunfire that falls away as the Templar begins the Ritual of Negation.

I am unsure of the rest of the fight other than my own realization that I have swapped to a shotgun.

Which is empty.

I begin to run at the Templar, sliding down the central stairwell. I grimace as I hear the confirmation noise of the Slideshot ability, realizing that I have never checked to see exactly how many rounds that ability loaded.

Whatever number it was, it was going to have to do.

I jump to close distance, waiting until the last moment for my momentum to bring me close enough to the Templar, but not enough to bring me into the line of fire for my teammates. I aim down sights, the Templar’s singular eye taking up my entire field of view.

And I pull the trigger.

// Slideshot loads two rounds, and Fatebringer is a very crisp feeling Hand Cannon.