Loremaster Valandor was so occupied with the big slab of stone that he didn't even notice her approaching footsteps at first, intensely busying over the rough surface with bare hands, muttering to himself quietly.
The elder Caballite paused, straightening his back as he turned to bow to Jennifer.
"Fleet Commander. How can I help you?"
"Oh, I'm simply curious about what you're doing right now." The Titan gestured to the stone slab, and Valandor chuckled, jabbing a series of commands into a nearby console. Almost instantly, slabs of metal rose from the floor, unfolding as they did so, presenting numerous stone-carved illustrations, all of them featuring Cabal soldiers.
"I commit the deeds of Cabal to memory. It is another tradition passed down the ages, from a time when we did not have a written language. Messages and news were spread by using intricate carvings. As years passed, it became an immense honour to receive a Memory of Stone." He gestured to one of the slabs. "That one was made in celebration of Valus Ta'aurc's promotion to the post of Fleet Commander."
Jennifer took a closer look, recognising Ta'aurc's armoured bulk, kneeling before an even bigger Caballite. "And who's that?"
"That is The Emperor." Valandor spoke with such awe in his voice that Jennifer could not help but raise an eyebrow at, having noticed the emphasis on capitalisation.
"Does he have a name?"
"No." The Loremaster shook his head. "Upon swearing the inauguration wows, his life as it was had ended. Now, his duty and responsibilities are to his people, and he will bear the name of Emperor until his death or until he is succeeded."
"Wow. When you guys commit, you commit." Jennifer whistled, more than a little impressed, before looking back at the blank slab. "So, who's going to get this one?"
Valandor let out a rumbling chuckle at that. "Why, it's yours."
"Well, that's nice-WHAT? Uh, I'd like to, but I've got a thing to do at the place at that time, you know how it is." The Titan confusedly tried to backpedal out of this, but Valandor wasn't having any of it.
"You are a terrible liar, Fleet Commander. I only wish to hear your story, so that I can get started on the carving. Do humour an old man in his twilight years."
"I second that!" Ghost manifested, unbidden, and Jennifer's shoulders slumped in defeat. Seeing no other way out, she complied, regaling the Loremaster with her story, starting with how Ghost had resurrected her, having sought her out for many centuries.
If nothing else, Valandor was an attentive listener, taking notes occasionally as she described Devil Captain, Rahn, or the eldritch smiths – the Swarm Princes - of Crota's Sword whom she'd killed with their creation. Valandor had guffawed loudly at the irony of that event, glad to know such a vile weapon was no more.
She continued retelling her exploits across Earth, Moon, and Mars – even the brief forays into the Reef were carefully disseminated. But for most part, the elderly Caballite was interested in her clashes with Vex, whose time-warping powers left much to speculation.
"...I mean, I'm fairly sure that they could've gone back in time to a point where I was still as weak as Guardians get and erased me then. But clearly, they didn't, and I doubt they left me alone because they were sporting and wanted to have a proper fight, because that's not how machines think."
"Hmm..." Valandor hummed thoughtfully, typing something down on his datapad. "You said you were dead, yes? No biological functions or anything of the sort?"
"Dead as dead could get."
"Then that, I dare say, was your saving grace. But then again, I'm an old coot that might full well be talking out of his ass."
"Uh, I don't follow-" She was interrupted as Ghost darted up into air.
"It makes perfect sense, actually. I mean, we'd need to get some Warlocks to verify this, but it checks out. Since you were dead, very much so, you'd been removed from the timeline, so to speak. The Vex wouldn't need to bother with you. When I revived you, rebuilding you from Traveller's Light, the Vex either did not take note of your return, or were unable to intervene due to the unorthodox method of your rebirth."
"Ah, he understands!" Valandor nodded approvingly, a deep, rumbling chuckle emanating from his throat. "That is exactly what I mean. Then again, nothing is certain with those infernal automatons."
"Like them unable to figure out what the Heart of the Black Garden is, so they turn to worshipping it?" Ghost added helpfully.
"Oh, this I must hear. But perhaps at another time. I've held you up long enough, Fleet Commander. No doubt we've both things to do." With a respectful bow, Valandor turned his attention to the large stone slab, pulling out a number of stonemason's tools from a belt pouch, beginning his work.
A line of Legionnaires nursing various wounds drew Jennifer's attention as she unhurriedly proceeded down a hallway within her flagship – all the wounded were patiently waiting to enter the medical quarters. Curious, she quickly slipped inside, presented with the sight of the dreadnought's main authority on medicine and everything it involved – Apothecary Dhael, who was currently busy treating a bruised Legionnaire. Despite the Cabal's generally stubborn reluctance when it came to admitting themselves for medical treatment, the soldier in question remained still, so as not to incur Dhael's cantankerous wrath.
"Fleet Commander." Dhael didn't do much to acknowledge her asides from the greeting.
"Is there anything I should be concerned about? There's a pretty big line outside."
"As far as I can gather, they were partaking of some archaic type of combat simulator made centuries ago on Earth, albeit one that involves combating fictional creatures within an eldritch dimension of damnation and torment."
"Just what exactly was it?" The Titan queried, half-dreading the potential answer already.
"I believe the troops called it Doom."
"What?" Yeah, his answer didn't clear things up much.
"Apparently, the soldiers were... overexcited by its design. They took their excitement out on their fellows."
"Traveller in a handbasket..." Jennifer sighed exasperatedly. Such were consequences of being in charge of a people that easily took to everything that was even remotely military. On one hand, it helped the Cabal to see humanity in a new light once they learned of their many conflicts in the past.
On the other hand, seeing Sand Eater rookies bodyslam Vex while shouting 'Witness me!' at the top of their lungs provided much consternation for their commanders, and, by extension, plenty of headache for her.
"Alright, I'm making a new rule here. Before anything Earth-related is passed to our rank and file for cultural exchange – which has so far been a mixed success - I get to inspect it beforehand. We really don't need another repeat of this sort of rancour, now do we?"
"I couldn't agree more, Fleet Commander."
"As you were, then. If the ship blows up, I'll be in my quarters."
The remainder of the trip to the Reef was thankfully uneventful, save for several reports from unmanned craft sent to as of yet unexplored areas. Drones and such were a necessity so as not to run afoul or Rasputin-controlled weaponry, which all agreed would be a bad turn of events, indeed.
All the same, a number of mostly-intact caches and pre-Collapse warships had been discovered, and were taken back to the Reef's impressive drydocks, since the Last City had only the capacity for constructing jumpships and not much else. Albeit slowly, humanity was establishing a foothold in the solar system, ready to reclaim what was theirs. Jennifer had even, with the help Cabal tacticians, drawn up a number of plans to enact in the future, depending on how their situation changed.
No longer would they hide behind the Wall, waiting for good fortune to trickle down to them. The stars were their birthright. And it was most definitely something worth fighting for.
Mara let out a short curse as several sheets slipped from the small pile she was carrying, and bent down to pick the wayward files up. Jennifer, who'd happened to glance over at that moment, had a brief, but vicious internal struggle with her brain.
Do the thing that could have consequences.
"You have a nice butt."
Mara blushed, turning around to look at Jennifer. "Beg pardon?"
"I said, 'you have a nice butt.'"
"Ah..." Mara replied, stunned, and made a quick exit, leaving Jennifer to berate herself. Her internal self-admonishment didn't last long, however, when Mara returned, having swapped her trousers for short shorts and knee-high socks.
Jennifer couldn't help but stare, her blush intensifying as Mara sashayed over to her, hips swaying, and did a small spin, all the while the Titan was undressing her lover with her eyes.
Suddenly, she was yanked forward, ending up sprawled on top of the other woman, courtesy of two fingers hooked through a belt loop. She didn't have much time to consider her new position before Jennifer kissed her fiercely, one of the Guardian's hands settling on the Queen's rear and giving a firm squeeze. Near-immediately, Jennifer's effort was rewarded as Mara lustily moaned into her mouth.
"THEY WILL ATONE FOR THEIR SINS IN THE UNDERWORLD."
" Singin' doo-wah-diddy, diddy-dum-diddy-doo! "
"Are you quite alright?" Uldren queried, raising an eyebrow at Ghost.
" IT'S F̅ͣ̚I̘̳̖͚̭̙̥̊ͮN̝͉̩̻͋̀͆͊́ͭ̚͢E̯͔̾̄ͮͬͮ̕ͅ ."
"If you keep that up, we'll find out whether or not third time is the charm." Jennifer hummed pleasantly as Mara traced one the scars across the Titan's bare back with her fingers.
"I might just take you up on that offer. At a time when I have a sturdier bed." The monarch replied coyly, wrapping her arms around Jennifer's waist, hugging the other woman from behind, basking in the furnace-like heat the Guardian emanated.
"Y'know, if your hands go where I think they're going, I'll do you just like I do the reports I get from the Cabal – on a table and for three hours, with a ten minute break for snacks." There was no real bite in her voice, however. It was more of a challenge, if anything.
Mara did the thing, prompting Jennifer to let out a chuckle.
"Well, it's not my fault that you have such a very nice pair of breasts..." Mara cooed, pulling herself closer to Jennifer. "Scratch that, you have a very nice everything."
"Flatterer." Jennifer chuckled, turning slightly to kiss Mara. Without warning, she swept the blue-skinned seductress up in her arms, lifting her lover from the bed. Mara could only let out an eep as Jennifer pinned her against the table, both her lover's intense gaze and the cool surface against her back giving her the chills. It came as somewhat of a surprise to Mara that she rather enjoyed having control taken from her – and if she was being brutally honest to herself, being at Jennifer's mercy was a turn-on like no other.
Her internal monologue was interrupted as she felt her lover's mouth on her and everything became bliss.
Uldren hummed quietly to himself as he entered Mara's quarters, a stack of papers held in his hands. Seeing his sibling was nowhere nearby, he took it upon himself to ensure the papers would not go astray, sitting down at Mara's table, pulling the drawers open, and distributing the individual folders where they were meant to be. His task did not take too long, and he left a note on the table for his sister. As he made to leave, he noticed something was amiss.
"The table's sticky," The Prince wondered aloud. "why is it sticky?"