Destiny (c) Bungie

Unexpected Bounty

Poker always got him into no end of trouble. Gambling in general had a habit of following that trend with him. But Cayde-6 would rather have the Light ripped out of him again and send himself to the great beyond for good, before he'd give it up though.

Still, for all the things he could have waged, losing just one of his EDZ stashes wasn't too bad. There were still plenty more he had hidden away.

"Hey there, Guardian. Found my stash already, huh?" Cayde greeted the Guardian approaching him. Saladin's Young Wolf as Shaxx liked to call him. Exactly as pretentious as the Hunter Vanguard had come to expect from old Shaxx.

But when the human Hunter failed to return his jovial barbs with some quick-witted retorts of his own, Cayde couldn't help but feel a touch hurt… and concerned, of course.

Rather than respond to his hails, the Young Wolf simply walked up to his vacant table after doing a quick check around. Then without a word, he placed down a torn scrap of old lined paper, and an image sealed within a thin layer of plastic-polymer. Cayde's faceplate raised, mimicking raised eyebrows in interest before glancing at the two papers.

"Notice somethin'? Any, uh, any kind of resemblance…?" The Young Wolf asked hesitantly, forcing the words out like they were lead.

Cayde-6 stared down at the ancient picture and the remnants of the letter. The usually expressive and jovial Exo was utterly silence, he had remained locked in his own thoughts.

The image was unmistakably of the Hunter in front of him - minus ten to fifteen years. And those eyes. The same colour grey Cayde remembered from… her.

"I know we Guardians aren't supposed to remember much about our lives? Before becoming what we are. Even you Exo have a few things scrambled in the brain-pan. But, uh… the one thing I remembered when I woke up was my name. Or… a name. 'Acker'." The Hunter went on. "I mean, surrounded by a bunch of corpses, butt-ugly Fallen and rusty wilderness in that Cosmodrone, with only this little D8 keeping me company?"

Acker lifted his hand to let his ghost rest in his palm, its single glowing eye stared at him before the Guardian dropped it back to his side. "Well it wasn't like there was anyone rushing to object or anythin'…"

Acker. Ace.

Cayde's logical circuit made the connection in fractions of a second, the thoughts stirring at that ever-present itch in the back of his memory banks. Yet despite that almost instantaneous intuitive leap, the Hunter vanguard found himself completely at a loss for words. His glowing cyan optics shifted from the picture to the Hunter in front of him.

Despite being hailed as the hero one who defeated Crota, Oryx, single-handedly destroyed the SIVA-drunk house of splicers and now Ghaul? It was amazing how Saladin's 'Young Wolf' managed to look as insecure as a young child.

Acker scratched his stubble-covered chin, casting a sidelong look at his blue and orange coloured ghost before sighing. He mustered his nerve to speak once again.

"Took a couple lifetimes for the both of us, but, uh, looks like I found you first," He swallowed hard. "… Dad."

Seconds stretched into minutes, and those seemed to stretch on for an eternity. Cayde pushed himself up to his feet. His optics moving between the image and the young man standing before him.

"Ain't no beansprout anymore, are you?" was all Cayde could manage.

"Tends to happen to us organic folk. That whole 'aging' thing make you grow up a little," Acker went on, "Aside from that, the whole 'Reborn in the Light' thing? Well... guess that leaves time a-plenty for catching up, I think?"

Following his earlier example, Cayde did a quick once-over of the room. They were alone, mercifully. No need to worry about his reputation being ruined or explaining the sudden and apparent randomness of his next action. The Exo vanguard reached out and for the first time in centuries, despite one being flesh and the other machine, a father embraced his lost son. It didn't last long, it was awkward and brief before they parted again.

"So... you're a guardian, too, huh?" Cayde tried to sound casual, taking a few steps back as if to really appraise him for the first time.

"Really?" Acker gushed in a gleefully sarcastic manner, a smirk crossing his features gesturing towards the newly awakened Traveller. "Whatever gave it away? The fact I killed Crota, killed Oryx, dealt with the House of Wolves," Acker listed off, "The fact that I stopped the SIVA crisis, dealt with the Taken War, or the fact I saved the entire damn solar system from Ghaul's galaxy-wide shit fit?"

Cayde didn't stop the chuckle from leaving his synthesised voicebox. "At least you ain't a warlock,"

Acker's shoulders slumped and his grunted in exasperation. "Oh dear Traveler, that would have been the worst. Sure, I dig a good read every now and again, but kinda prefer a sniper rifle to a library."

He scratched his stubbled chin, taking on a more serious tone.

"Hey listen, I don't… I don't see how this particularly changes anything. Regardless of what we were to each other in the past... however, many lives ago that was. And even before… finding this, I still looked up to ya and respect ya. You're my Vanguard, and my boss." Acker continued, his grey gaze landing on the ancient time-worn photo before he couldn't resist his customary habit of throwing jabs the Vanguard's way. "Granted, you're weak as piss when it comes to poker. Who taught you how to bluff? Got an absolutely terrible poker-face for someone made of metal, ya old bucket of bolts."

A flicker of annoyance flashed in the Exo's cyan optics. "This old bucket of bolts can still kick your ass. Don't get cocky, Ace." The nickname was old, but it felt good to speak it out loud again. More importantly, it felt right.

Acker pressed a hand to his torso, "Oh, I'm sorry, who saved the solar system after you got your arm and leg snipped off?"

"I can ground you, and I will."

"Oh yeah, right." Acker snorted derisively and rolled his grey eyes before his smug demeanour slowly crumbled. "Y-you wouldn't right?... Cayde...?"

"Nah, I won't. But for that 'bucket of bolts' comment, I'm thinkin' I'll send you out on a couple of bounties in the EDZ. Or - I know Sloane's got half a dozen new Hive targets causin' a fuss on Titan, and I know how you just love facing down those uglies."

Acker's swagger vanished. "Y... you're kidding?"

Cayde looked at him blankly. "Does it look like I'm joking, Ace?"

Acker whimpered.