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The Awoken are a humanoid race sharing common ancestry with Earth humans. They descend from the crew and passengers of the Yang Liwei, a colony ship that disappeared in a spacetime anomaly during the Collapse. Time in the Distributary, the homeworld of the Awoken, flows differently, and Awoken society has had thousands upon thousands of years to flourish and build. At some point in their history, a massive expedition fleet led by Mara Sov and her brother Uldren Sov left the anomaly and returned to the Solar system. Thousands of Awoken abandoned the expedition and found their way to the Last City to reunite with humanity and give rise to new Earthborn Awoken, while Mara Sov carved out a recluse kingdom in the Reef and reigned over Reefborn Awoken and subjugated Fallen. This Awoken kingdom was plunged into disarray by consecutive disasters of the Wolf rebellion, the Taken War, and the Scorn insurrection, eventually relying on the Vanguard's help to survive.
Beyond physical appearances, the Awoken seem to possess powers and abilities beyond their human ancestors. The Techeuns are a particularly notable example, though ordinary Awoken can also experience visions in the form of dreams. This is a side effect of them being within Earth's universe-within the Distributary, the Awoken do not have paracausal abilities, but are so intertwined with the fabric of its existence that they do not age past a certain point.
It is said the Awoken were born in the Collapse, descended from those humans who tried to flee its wrath. Something happened to them out on the edge of the deep Black, and they were forever changed. After their race was formed, they took up residence in the Asteroid Belt, constructing cities and habitats like the Dreaming City. Today many Awoken live in the Reef, aloof and mysterious, but others returned to Earth, where their descendants now fight for the City. Earthborn Awoken sometimes venture out to the Reef, hoping to learn its secrets—but find no special welcome from the reclusive Queen.
In Forsaken, it is revealed the Awoken are the descendants of the crew and passengers of the Yang Liwei, codenamed Exodus Green, a generation ship that left Earth shortly before the Collapse in an attempt to find a way to live without the Traveler. The ship refused to take a side when the Darkness attacked the Traveler. During the initial sparring between the two acausal entities, the ship was at the centerpiece of a kugelblitz, a black hole-like anomaly in space time that sucked it and all its inhabitants into a newborn pocket universe. The Yang Liwei's 891 crewmembers and 40,000 passengers were annihilated and lost their physical forms, becoming beings of pure potential. Mara Sov, a low-ranking crewmember, was the first person to enter the kugelblitz just before the ship. She reassembled her own disembodied conscience, manipulate the Distributary's physical laws to shape it into an earthly paradise of a planet and create a new body for herself. Together with the ship's captain Alis Li, who awakened the same way, Mara Sov induced other disembodied humans from the Yang Liwei to awaken as well and reincarnate into new blue-skinned, star-eyed bodies, having only vague memories about their past.
The Distributary years
The first generation of the Awoken consisted of reborn humans from Yang Liwei, including 30,111 women, 10,295 men, and 485 other. The Distributary Awoken were immortal: they did not age, though could die from trauma. Initially, they lived a simple life, eating of the fruit of the forest and hunting animals with bows. Time in the Distributary moves faster that in the Solar System; while centuries passed on Earth, it was thousands of years for the Distributary.
It was initally assumed that Alis Li, the ship's captain, was the first to awaken, to shape the world and to awake the others; Mara Sov kept her primogeniture in secret even from Alis Li, while manipulating the Awoken politics from behind. The nine verdicts established by a grand council defined the new's civilization identity, ethics and politics; captain Alis Li was elected the first Queen. The verdicts allowed the Awoken to procreate and bear new children, as immortal as they were, and encouraged the research and development of "good technology" salvaged from the Yang Liwei, crashed as a spire planted into the bedrock of the Distributary.
Philosophical disputes gave rise to two major movements, forest-dwelling Eccaleists and city-dwelling Sanguine; while the Eccaleist believed that Awoken owed a debt to the cosmos and have to resolve the primordial conflict that created their world, the Sanguine said they their immortality is a reward from cosmic powers and they do not owe anything to anybody. An Eccaleist preacher Diasyrm instigated the Theodicy War by accusing the Queen Alis Li of deicide, or the killing of gods; she explained that the Queen could have made the Awoken truly immortal, free of want or suffering, but betrayed her people by creating them mortal. Many Awoken perished over years of bloodshed; in the end, the peace was signed on Mara Sov's terms. Diasyrm mysteriously vanished and some time later Queen Alis Li abdicated, surrending her powers. Queen Alis' successors embraced the Eccaleist philosophy, supporing the massive space exploration program orchestrated by Mara Sov. The succession of these Queens included Nguya Pin and Devna Tel.
At some time, a scholarly order of Gensym Scribes rose to power; they conspired to support Sjur Eido, a Paladin and hero of the Theodicy War, in her intent to kill Mara Sov for alleged murder of Diasyrm. Sjur Eido lost a duel to Mara Sov's brother Uldren Sov and became Mara Sov's fervent supporter, while Mara Sov used the failed conspiracy to subjugate the Gensym Scribes and accelerate the space program. Eventually, Mara Sov completed her long-running game by leading an exodus of tens of thousands of Eccaleist Awoken into space, leaving the Distributary behind.
The flotilla arrived at the Reef during the early City Age. After some initial encounters with the Fallen and upon receiving reconnaisance date about Earth, the Traveler and the sorry state of humanity, about a third of the expedition members voted to go to Earth and join the Last City, despite Mara Sov's prohibition. Some of them even used salvaged Human spacecraft to flee the flotilla. Failing to keep order, Mara Sov agreed for thousands of rebels to leave and reunite with humanity on Earth; thus the next generations of the Awoken people were split into Reefborn and Earthborn. Mara Sov was proclaimed Queen of the Reef on 4 Vesta; at the same time, some Fallen Baron detected ships moving towards Earth and traced their paths back to Vesta. This first major assault was repealed, but the Awoken of the Reef had to militarize and finding superior weapons to fight back. At the Queen's order, her brother Uldren Sov scoured the Solar System for "a power unknown to all the other powers of this world" and discovered a young Ahamkara called Riven; Mara Sov's covenant with this creature laid a foundation for the Reef's prosperity.
Noticing the Fallen massing to destroy the Last City in an effort to steal back the Great Machine, the Queen chose to intervene and keep the oblivious out system House of Wolves from joining their brethren on Earth. While the House of Wolves had hundreds of thousands and probably millions of fighters, the Awoken used cunning and advanced weaponry. Striking suddenly, the Awoken fleet destroyed Ceres with a single salvo of the Harbingers, taking down half of the Wolves' fleet stationed here and the Kell Virixas himself. The remaining Wolves were scattered across the Reef and found themselves in a civil war between three Barons Irxis, Parixas and Skolas, each wanting to claim the Kellship for themselves. The Reef Awoken launched a several-year-long campaign that whittled the Fallen's numbers and nobility to insignificance. This war involved a long siege of the asteroid Pallas by Pirsis and his fleet, with neither side willing to use their firepower in fear of hitting their own troops. Eventually, Awoken commander Hallam Fen managed to break the stalemate by creating an enormous visual illusion of another salvo of Harbingers, thus scaring Pirsis's ships off without a single actual shot being fired. Another major engagement was in the Hildian Asteroids where the Awoken used the Charybdis, a gravity weapon strong enough to catch an asteroid Tinette and hurl it at another asteroid Fortuna which served as the Fallen fleet base. Even though Skolas defeated his contenders and proclaimed himself the Kell of Wolves, Variks, a Wolf scribe disillusioned with Skolas, defected over to the Queen's side. Thanks to this betrayal the remaining Wolves were defeated in the decisive battle of Cybele and Skolas was taken prisoner.
In the aftermath of the Reef wars, Skolas and most of the Wolf nobility were incarcerated in the Prison of Elders, and Variks declared Mara Sov the new Kell of Wolves. A large number of Wolf prisoners sworn fealty to her, thus joining the Reefborn Awoken under Mara Sov's rule; some of these Fallen even became part of the Royal Awoken Guard. The Queen gifted Skolas to her allies, the Nine, for their role in defeating the Fallen but they released the Wolf Kell, beginning the Wolf Rebellion and forced the Reef to open itself to Guardian access.
Dreaming City and Eleusinia
The Dreaming City is a Reef structure of an immense scale, built on an flat disc and hidden by a massive cloaking device. A special stabilizing ring below the disc maintains the City's atmosphere, catching any escaping water and returning it back. The Dreaming City was built by Mara Sov and Techeun Illyn, the Coven Mother; this artificial world was nothing but bare rocks when they started..
In the aftermath of the Wolf Rebellion, Mara Sov forged a secret alliance with the human Hunter Eris Morn, Earth's most knowledgeable expert on the Hive after the death of Toland, the Shattered. The immediate reason for this alliance was the threat of Oryx, the Taken King and his armies of Hive searching for vengeance against Guardians. To rally the Awoken against this inescapable invasion, Eris agreed to deploy her vast expertise of the Hive's technology and magic that she learned whilst on the Moon. This included her knowledge of the Sword Logic, the Ascendant realm and the art of creating throne worlds.
The Awoken built the Blind Well, an energy borehole in the fabric of space and time drilled by Riven and aided by Techeuns Lissyl and Sedia, in a great cathedral on the eastern shore of the Dreaming City. The gate at the bottom of the Blind Well was built by Kalli and Shuro Chi inside in a hall they named "The Confluence". Illyn used copious tinctures of Queensfoil to reach the Ascendant Realm and began construction from the other side, sorting the threads of reality on a vast metaphysical loom. Thus, Mara, Riven and the Techeuns built an isolated pocket universe and named it Eleusinia; Mara's third throne after the Distributary and Vesta. In the ascendant halls of Eleusinia, Mara carved a statue for Sjur Eido after her death during the Reef Wars. The Blind Well would be used as a cross-world tunnel between the Solar System and Eleusinia and required a continuous multi-week charge of paracausal energies for operation.
Some time after the construction of Eleusinia, Mara Sov was contacted by the Ancients, a group of mysterious entities describing themselves as "the nothing-space fabric". They possessed three Techeuns, including Kelda Wadj, the Allteacher, and used them as mouthpieces to converse with Mara. Mara Sov agreed to a deal proposed by the Ancients and Kelda Wadj's body was destroyed to be turned into a singularity. This singularity would then be the Awoken used to construct the Oracle Engine, a sophisticated machine used for communication and transportation between planes of reality.
The Taken War
The Awoken were among the first to respond to Oryx's invasion. Attacking his fleet out around Saturn, the Queen and her Witches sacrificed themselves to fire the Harbingers, mysterious weapons or entities of incredible power, at the Hive Dreadnaught. Despite destroying a good portion of Oryx's fleet there were no marks made upon the flagship, and shortly thereafter Oryx ended the battle with a single blow from his cannon.
Despite a significant loss of Reef leadership, including the Queen and a missing Prince, the Reef aided the City and its Guardians in destroying Oryx's Taken. Setting bounties upon several lieutenants the Reef oversaw their extermination and eventual rooting out of the Taken Blights in conjunction with the Vanguard. During this conflict Petra Venj, Acting Regent-Commander, continued to search for the missing Queen and preventing a resurging House of Wolves from regrouping on Mars. With the aid of Variks and the Guardians the nascent Wolf house was scattered again.
Betrayal of a Prince
Following the resurgence of Uldren Sov, he led a rogue Fallen house known as the Scorn against The Reef, betraying his own people, and driving the Reef-borne Awoken into complete chaos and disarray. Cayde-6 was murdered in the Scorn's escape from the Prison of Elders, and Reef agents were forced to work with Guardian forces to prevent the total collapse of their society.
Though the Guardian managed to topple the Scorn's chaotic reign over the Reef and brought Uldren to justice for his crimes, the Awoken's home remains a dangerous place as remnants of the Scorn's forces continue to prowl over the Reef. Petra, the remaining Paladins and Techeuns barely maintain what's left of the Awoken's Reef civilizations, even as the Scorn and a newly resurgent Taken force plague the Dreaming City, the mysterious homeland of the Awoken.
A Thousand Voices
As the Guardians and the Awoken worked together in maintaining the remaining Scorn within the Reef, the Dreaming City's opening and the darkness spreading from it was grim news for the Awoken. Knowing the danger the threat poses to the Solar System, Petra Venj was forced to reveal one to the Awoken's deepest secrets that lay within the City: Riven of a Thousand Voices, the last living Ahamkara. It was soon discovered that Riven had been Taken when Oryx invaded the Reef during the Taken War and partially brought the Dreaming City into the Ascendant Realm. However, after Oryx's death, Riven was aimless but soon gained a new master, Savathûn, the Witch-Queen of the Hive, and together, they sought to corrupt the homeland of the Awoken and eventually breach into the Distributary.
To accomplish her goals, Riven orchestrated the Scorn's rise to power and used Uldren as her puppet, corrupting the prince while posing as his sister. Though the Scorn failed against the Guardians, Uldren succeeded in his purpose of opening the way into the Dreaming City, giving Riven a chance to break free.
After confirming that Mara Sov is in fact alive, Petra and the Awoken were able to gain the Vanguard's support after the revelation of the Taken's return spurred them into action. Gathering a Raid team strong enough to kill Riven, the Guardians assaulted the Dreaming City. While proceeding through the City, the Guardians managed to free some of the Techeuns from Taken corruption and eventually confronted Riven herself in her true gigantic, draconic form.
Despite her vast Taken powers, Riven's physical form was destroyed and her blighted heart brought before the Techeuns to be cleansed. Unfortunately, before that could happen, Riven's scheme came full circle as she performed one last wish for her master: to curse the Dreaming City with a Taken plague.
Though Riven was silenced once and for all, her plan succeeded as Taken forces began to heavily corrupt the Dreaming City. Worse, the Hive and Taken managed to capture Eleusinia, Mara Sov's Throne World, as a staging ground. Savathûn then began the next stage of her plan by having her daughter, Dûl Incaru, the Eternal Return, find a way to invade the Distributary.
Wanting to prevent the birthplace of the Awoken from being invaded and defiled, Mara Sov tasks the Guardians to destroy the Hive and Taken infesting her Throne World. After a perilous struggle through the ruins of Eleusina, the Guardians managed to destroy Dûl Incaru and seemingly reverse the Taken corruption in the Dreaming City.
Unfortunately, this victory was short-lived, as the Taken corruption soon returned as it appeared the City was caught in a time-loop created by Quria, Blade Transform. This forces the Guardians to partake in the same battle over and over again.
List of appearances