Your Guardian wakes up in a room with no doors or windows, bathed in a warm light. They are seated at a table; across from them, a Fallen Dreg, looking at them intently. Instinctively, your Guardian reaches for their weapon, alarmed to discover they have none. They try summoning their Light, but can’t do much more than summon some sparks that fall to the floor and disappear. The Dreg doesn’t move, its gaze unbroken.
“Where am I?” Your Guardian asks, frustrated. “What is this?”
To their surprise, the Dreg replies.
“You are in Parlay,” it says, slowly. Your Guardian understands the Dreg perfectly.
“I demand to be let go,” the Guardian says. “Don’t you know who I am? I’m a defender—”
“A defender of what, exactly?” The Dreg cuts the Guardian off. “To the Eliksni, you are murderers. To others, you are interlopers in a cosmic conflict between forces infinitely bigger than you.”
“—a defender of Humanity, that’s what,” the Guardian spits. “You are a Fallen, our enemy! You assaulted our encampments, burned our villages down, tried to annihilate us at Twilight Gap!”
The Dreg takes a moment to consider the Guardian’s words. In the quiet pause, the Guardian thinks they can hear humming from the walls. After a while, the Dreg speaks.
“Lightbearer, I have brought you to Parlay precisely because of this divide between us. This is a place where mutual understanding can be reached, but only if both parties are willing to reach it. No matter what, at the end of our conversation, you will be free to go. Will you hear me out?” It says. The Guardian looks shocked, but they silently assent.
The Dreg takes a large breath of Ether.
“Lightbearer, do you know the history of the Eliksni?” It asks. The Guardian shakes their head. “We were once a great civilization. We built massive cities and harvested untold glimmer reserves to trade with our intrastellar neighbors. All this, before the Great Machine even graced our planet. With the understanding and technology granted to us by the Great Machine, we were able to leave our star system and explore what lay beyond. We loved the Great Machine, and we believed it loved us in return — why else would it bestow such gifts upon us?”
The Dreg pauses, perhaps assessing your Guardian’s reaction to this story. The Guardian remains stolid.
“Our Kells tell us that what happened next was truly horrifying,” The Dreg continued. “A great whirlwind destroyed our planet, killing billions of Eliksni. The survivors turned to the Great Machine, thinking it would defend us against this maelstrom. Instead, it disappeared before our eyes. The Eliksni were almost wiped out entirely.”
Finally, the Guardian speaks. “Like our Collapse.”
“Yes, very much like your Collapse,” the Dreg says. “I am a collector of history, and I have read many accounts of this time — including some from your Cayde-6. I have compared the stories and the similarities are, shall we say, striking.”
Sensing no desire to respond further, the Dreg continues. “Naturally, we chased the Great Machine in its dash across the universe, the Whirlwind never far behind. On each planet we detected the Great Machine’s presence on, we found only emptiness and despair. We scavenged what we could to keep going, even scrounging reserves of materials to concoct Ether from the numerous toxic atmospheres we landed in. Our servitors became like surrogate gods to many of us who were born and had never known better. Our Kells grew more desperate the further from home we flew.
“We were once a peaceful, egalitarian society, Lightbearer.” The Dreg chuckled. “How many Earth centuries ago was that, I wonder? No Kell or Dreg alive has ever known peace or freedom. Of course, the same may be said for Humanity, including your ilk.”
The Guardian takes another long look at the Dreg. Despite its lowly rank, the Guardian can tell this Dreg had seen combat and survived many times. Its remaining arms are scarred, and the Guardian thinks it looks more… exhausted than other Fallen they’d seen. Nevertheless, your Guardian doesn’t feel any sympathy for it or the rest of its kind.
“Dreg, the stories you tell are fascinating,” the Guardian says. “But the fact remains. You invaded our planet and laid siege to the remnants of Humanity after the Collapse. If it wasn’t for our efforts at Twilight Gap we would have been exterminated, Guardian and Human alike. You claim I am a murderer, but you saw an opportunity to finish what the very force that wiped your species out started with ours. As far as I’m concerned, that makes you an ally of the Darkness and an enemy of Humanity.”
The Dreg looks down at the table for a moment, appears to sigh, and then returns to its careful consideration of your Guardian’s eyes.
“Guardian, I refuse to believe you are so stupid.” The harshness of the Dreg’s words take the Guardian aback.
“Twilight Gap was the final gasp of a dying armada. Every House remaining in Eliksni society banded together for the first time in centuries to try and defeat you — and we failed. The remainder of our ranks were wiped out by the so-called Godslayer — or we died of nanosickness. Those of us that were left tried organizing under the House of Dusk, and our main enemy is the one we share with you! The Red Legion! That wretched Cabal force that swept across this system! The enemy you were brought low by!”
The Dreg is breathing heavily, almost shouting now.
“We Eliksni are eking out a desperate, grasping existence millions and billions of light-years from our ruined home, beset upon by the Cabal on one side and used for target practice by you damned unkillable Guardians on the other! Many of us have already left the House of Dusk. We’re aligning with the Spider, or forced to join Kell’s Scourge, just to get a small budget of Ether to survive.” The Dreg’s eyes are furious. “WE! ARE! NOT! YOUR! ENEMIES!”
The Guardian sits stunned. Finally, they speak up.
“So… what is it that you’d have us do?” they say.
The Dreg sat back down and took a moment to compose itself. The Parlay room was quiet. Not even the humming in the walls could be heard.
“You could simply stop killing us.”