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.

No Reason

I have, for no reason whatsoever, refreshed myself on the multitude of possible factors that possibly contributed to the Fall of the Roman Empire. There are no particular events happening in my personal experience, confirmed by the shared experience of those around me, driving this sudden interest in the topic.

I am simply marveling at history.

Here is a short list of factors, that again, are listed for no particular reason.

  • Economic troubles and over reliance on slave labor
  • Over-expansion and military overspending
  • The end of the Roman Climatic Optimum (Their climate changed!)
  • Connectivity of their cities encouraged the spread of what we now consider easily preventable diseases
  • Growing social divisions and gross inequality


// Roman Climatic Optimum is the name of my 1980s Transformers themed Cover Band 

It’s Nice

So recently, as in less than a week ago, my mother moved Here. I say that because it is literally seven floors below where I’m typing this out right now. This is the closest my mother has been, for a sustained period of time, in a long time.

With Mom here, I’m learning and relearning a lot of things.

How to set boundaries and reset them.

She said something the other day, a single statement from her that has me remembering my childhood and how I grew up. I guess that is inevitable when your mother comes to live in the same building.

I grew up in San Diego. More accurately, I grew up in a Filipino neighborhood named Paradise Hills. While there are, in fact hills, the location is not exactly somewhere Kubla Khan would a stately pleasure-dome decree.

That is not to say the neighborhood was bad. I have many fond memories of the neighborhood.

Rolling around on a really fast tricycle and skidding out in a cul-de-sac. Filipino barbecue, sweet and fatty and laid on top of a what I now consider to be a disconcerting amount of rice. The mom and pop Nintendo Cartridge Rental place that was absolutely not legal. Jumping dirt ramps at the end of the lane on my bike.

My first kiss, both awkward and honest in a 1984 Volkswagen Jetta.

And then there are the memories that I do not share with most friends. I never actively made the choice to hide them away or not share them. Maybe in some way, I was scared to be different. None of these memories matched up with what I had seen on TV or what my friends talked about when they recalled their childhood.

The questionable open casket funeral for my babysitter’s grandson—considering his violent death. The bent bars and broken drywall from that time someone tried to break in through my bedroom window. My bike being stolen. My skateboard being stolen.

Visiting a schoolmate and then looking at the bullet holes in the family room behind the television because someone definitely got an address wrong.

There are other hidden memories in this category, but with time and distance they had become hazy and unreal.

So when I talk to my mother and ask her what she likes the most about the new building, and she responds,

“It’s nice. Everything is locked.”

Those words confirm these memories, bring them into a sharper focus. They are my experience growing up as a child in America, and I have only just started to realize that they are just as important as anyone else’s.

// I blame the Xanadu reference on Twitter

Any Amount

It is ten-thirty in the evening and my phone is ringing, which is not usually an indicator that things are going well.

It is the Front Desk Clerk telling me that a neighbor has reported that my car’s brake lights are on for some reason.

I grab a pair of pants and a hoodie, go downstairs and verify that they are, indeed on. Not the way I left them.

After about thirty minutes of troubleshooting, I decide that the best course of action was to pull the wiring from each individual brake light, since I had access to the trunk. The better call would have been to disconnect the battery, but I was downstairs in pajamas with no tools. Satisfied that the brake lights would no longer drain the battery (but now suddenly anxious that pulling the individual brake light connections would cause a fire somehow) I went back upstairs.

The next morning, I search for “honda civic brake light not turning off.” I scrub through a few videos and find that this might be a simple fix—a plastic bumper that actuates the actual brake light switch had shattered.

I head downstairs with a flashlight and after a short forensics examination, find pieces of shattered plastic indicating that this might be the simple fix. I pull the panel and discover that a button on the switch is sticking through a gap in the brake pedal lever where the plastic tab would sit.

After heading back upstairs to pack up tools, tape, and some nickels—thanks again internet!—I was able to get the car to a state I was happy with. Brake lights functional, car starts, battery no longer draining, and car could be used in a pinch. Ordered the replacement part and then went about the rest of the day.

Thursday the part came and a short time later the plastic bumper was replaced.

Car fixed.

Thank you kind neighbor, I owe you a coffee for saving me a dead battery surprise.

Thank you internet, for providing a literal stop-button-from-going-through-a-gap solution.

“There is no use in quantifying the amount of help you give, any amount is enough.”

Ghost, Destiny 2: Beyond Light
// to be honest I didn't expect that quote either.

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