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Commander Zavala is an Awoken Guardian who serves as the Vanguard of the Titan class, and overall Vanguard Commander of The Last City. Stern and uncompromising, Zavala's only goal is to safeguard humanity within the Last City against all threats. He oversees all Guardian military operations, and led the Guardians to victory in both the Taken War and Red War. In the aftermath of both conflicts, Zavala has become increasingly isolated and reluctant to commit Guardians to conflicts outside of the Last City.
Early life and Career as a Guardian
Zavala was revived by his stalwart Ghost, Targe, as a Guardian in the bowels of a shattered spaceship wreck along a shoreline. With absolutely no memory of his past, a trait typical of Guardians, he began a journey to the Traveler due to its very light re-conceiving him. He encountered many Fallen on his journey and, during a battle against an Eliksni Vandal, he was swiftly cut down and revived by Targe for the first time. He claimed a Fallen spear as a weapon after his victory, quickly fleeing when he spotted a Skiff landing nearby. After slaying another group of Fallen, one Vandal shot him in the back as it was dying, killing Zavala again. Once Targe revived him once more, he found an auto rifle on one of the Fallen and took it with him. Upon reaching the Traveler, Zavala discovered a humble encampment of refugees below it with other Guardians acting as its defenders, including another Titan named Shaxx. Zavala also met a spiritual leader called The Speaker as he preached around a campfire, claiming to speak the word of the Traveler.
Remaining in the encampment, Zavala aided refugees as they arrived. The camp soon grew into a village, eventually becoming The Last City of Earth. When the City was assaulted by angered Eliksni, Zavala fought alongside Warlord Shaxx and his fellow Guardians to protect the citizens and the Traveler. When he spotted the future Hunter Vanguard Cayde-6 and a group of civilians being chased by a pack of Vandals and Dregs, Zavala used his Fist of Havoc to destroy the raiders. Following the battle, he helped construct walls around the Last City with the aid of other Guardians, including Shaxx, Ikora Rey, and Sloane.
Commander of the Vanguard
Battle of the Twilight Gap
While the City was preparing for an assault by the combined forces of all the Fallen houses, tensions between the Speaker and Vanguard Commander Osiris reached a breaking point. Zavala, having recently become the Titan Vanguard by replacing Saint-14, attended a meeting of the Consensus without Osiris present. When the New Monarchy representative protested that Osiris was absent, Zavala announced that Ikora would be filling in for Osiris. The Speaker asked her to formally become the new Warlock Vanguard, which she accepted. The Speaker then proclaimed that he was exiling Osiris from the Last City and thus named Zavala as the new Vanguard Commander in place of the troublesome Warlock.
When Zavala learned that the Hunter Anastasia Bray was investigating her past life, which Guardians were discouraged from doing, he confronted her in the Tower's plaza. He told her that in addition to the inappropriateness of keeping her previous life's name, he believed her research was causing her to neglect her duties to the Last City. Ana argued that her past was useful to the Last City and may be why the Traveler brought her back, but Zavala countered that she was brought back to be a Guardian and fight for the future. Their argument was interrupted by the Hunter Vanguard Andal Brask, who informed them that the Fallen were assaulting Twilight Gap.
Zavala led the Battle of the Twilight Gap against the Fallen, fighting alongside Ana. She continued to try to convince Zavala that her research was worthwhile, but was attacked by a Fallen Captain. Zavala ordered her to fall back and attempted to cut down the Captain with his Thunderlord, but Ana was knocked off a cliff by the Captain and believed dead by Zavala and the rest of the Last City in the aftermath of the battle.
Although the Last City emerged victorious at the Battle of the Twilight Gap, they had to deal with continued Fallen assaults, as the House of Devils laid constant siege to the City. In addition, the House of Wolves, which had been prevented from joining the battle due to Queen Mara Sov of the Reef attacking their fleet and starting the Reef Wars, carried out terrorist attacks on the City. Zavala fought against the Silent Fang, expert Wolf saboteurs who would sneak into the City and go on rampages in crowded residential districts.
Overseeing the Vanguard
As Commander, multiple factions approached Zavala to try and gain his support. In particular, he was approached by New Monarchy via Executor Hideo, and was offered to be made king of the City if he had joined their faction, but he refused, likely not wanting to reignite the Faction Wars. He also turned away Arach Jalaal of Dead Orbit when he pleaded with Zavala for support.
A crisis eventually erupted on Venus following the usage of Ahamkara by Guardians to grant numerous wishes, which led to the paracasual beings gaining enough strength to begin reshaping reality on the planet. Zavala and the rest of the City's leadership decided that the creatures needed to be wiped out and began the Great Ahamkara Hunt. A year into the Hunt, Zavala fought alongside Shaxx and the Hunter Eris Morn against one of the creatures and mortally wounded it. He and Eris watched from a distance and Shaxx sat next to the Ahamkara and placed a hand on its snout. Eris wondered if he was gloating, but Zavala noted his friend was not the type and agreed with her second guess that Shaxx was in fact mourning its death. The two Guardians had to quickly shield their eyes as the creature began glowing and then exploded, and they were disturbed to find Shaxx now standing in a crater covered in green flames. Zavala and Eris both began to speak, but Shaxx quieted them as whispers began to build around them, a phenomenon they had all become used to fighting the Ahamkara.
After the Vanguard learned that the Hive were not a myth and remained on Earth and the Moon, Zavala commanded the Last City's forces during the Battle of Burning Lake. The Vanguard barely won a victory there, but the Consensus began planning an invasion of the Moon to drive their ancient enemy away. As the Consensus met, Shaxx interrupted them and declared their intentions folly and that the Hive had weapons like none they had ever seen that required further study, like their Light-draining swords. As his old friend pleaded with Zavala to reconsider the invasion, he gently told Shaxx that this would be a matter for the Consensus to decide, not him. Zavala and the Consensus failing to heed Shaxx's warnings resulted in The Great Disaster, as thousands of Guardians perished attempting to retake the Moon for humanity. Zavala supported the Speaker's creation of a Lunar Interdiction that forbade anyone from traveling to the Moon in the hopes of restricting the Hive's movement.
During a meeting of the Consensus, it was agreed that the Concordat and its leader Lysander would be exiled following their unsuccessful bid to overthrow the Speaker. Zavala agreed to handle the reassignment of the Guardians pledged to the faction, although he believed it would be difficult due to how loyal Lysander's followers were. The meeting then turned to a discussion of who should replace the Concordat on the Consensus, and Zavala supported the Future War Cult's inclusion, considering their focus on combat more useful to the Last City than dangerous. When his predecessor as Vanguard Commander, Osiris, tried to broker a contract between the City and a mercenary group of Titans called the Sunbreakers, Zavala found the terms of the deal unacceptable and rejected it, causing the Sunbreakers to hate the Vanguard and Zavala. In return, Zavala erased nearly every mention of the Sunbreakers from the City's records.
Decades after the Battle of the Twilight Gap, Zavala learned that an individual was accessing the Bray Archive at the Fu'an Institute Library. He met with Owl Sector agent Camrin Dumuzi to inquire about the identity of the researcher, hoping that his old friend Ana Bray was still alive. Carmin protested that she was only supposed to be reporting to Quist, but Zavala informed her that he had been granted oversight over all Bray Archive issues. The Owl Sector agent informed him that the individual was named Staysa Pak and was just a civilian. Zavala sighed and sadly lamented that Ana must really be dead, causing Carmin to question who he was referring to. He deflected the question and told her that she had done a good job and keep him apprised if anything changed, unaware that Staysa Pak was an alias for Ana.
The Rising Darkness
Hunting the Fallen
Zavala greeted a newly risen Guardian who had been revived by their Ghost in the Cosmodrome in Old Russia. After providing them with basic supplies and Glimmer, he noted that their weapon was an antique and sent them to get a new one from Banshee-44. When the Guardian returned, Zavala informed them that their ship had been restored by Amanda Holliday, but that they needed a warp drive so they could explore the system. He ordered them to return to the Cosmodrome and find a replacement. The Guardian succeeded in their task and killed Riksis, Devil Archon of the House of Devils. Zavala was impressed that such a new Guardian killed such a high-value target and decided to continue testing the Guardian by sending them back to the Cosmodrome to scout the Jovian and Terrestrial complexes to discover what the Fallen were doing there. He also suspected that the loss of an Archon would cause the Devils to increase protection around their Prime Servitor, Sepiks Prime.
When the Guardian reported back, Zavala learned that the Hive were infesting the Cosmodrome and that the Warmind Rasputin was alive and active there as well, but the Fallen were hunting for him. He thanked the Guardian for their work and asked them to speak with Ikora to continue looking for Rasputin and protect him from the Fallen. The Guardian's work with Ikora led to the reactivation of a terrestrial array in the Cosmodrome that Guardians aligned with Dead Orbit had failed to retake, although Rasputin took control of the array and used to connect with defense systems across the solar system. Zavala praised the Guardian for their success, and resolved to find some way to convince Rasputin to help the Vanguard in their wars. He also gave them their next mission, which he believed would test their limits: to form a fireteam and destroy Sepiks Prime, the Servitor that was the House of Devils machine-god and directed all their actions in the Cosmodrome. As the fireteam headed for the Devils' Lair, Zavala briefed the fireteam and stated that the Last City would never be safe unless the Fallen's leadership was eliminated. The team succeeded in their mission, and Zavala was pleased with Sepiks destruction, but stated that even though this would weaken the House of Devils, they would no doubt find other means to survive. When the Guardian returned to Zavala, the Vanguard Commander mused that the dream of a safe City was fragile, but their efforts had brought it closer to reality. Zavala asked them to enjoy the start of their legend as a Guardian, but to also know that their hardest battles still lay in the future.
Zavala later learned that the Guardian slew Draksis, the Kell of the House of Winter, on Venus aboard his Ketch Simiks-Fel. He congratulated the Guardian and admitted that he felt glad about the demise of Draksis, who had led the House of Winter during the Battle of the Twilight Gap and continued to raid the Last City and its allies in the decades since. Zavala noted that while many Guardians were eager to explore the downed Wintership, he was content with another Fallen threat having been eliminated from the system and thanked the Guardian once more.
Strikes Against the Darkness
Zavala attended the Speaker's address in the Tower plaza alongside Ikora, Cayde, and dozens of other Guardian's following the Guardian from the Cosmodrome's victory in the Black Garden and the destruction of the Black Heart. Despite this great blow against the Darkness, Zavala began preparing new operations to ensure the Last City's enemies did not have a chance to recover. He first turned his attention to the Cabal, as the Guardian's efforts to reach the Black Garden had drawn the Vanguard into a war with the Cabal on Mars, whether they wanted it or not. Zavala decided to eliminate their leadership one-by-one in order to break their chain of command and liberate the lost city of Freehold from their grip, and selected Valus Ta'aurc as the first target. He dispatched the Guardian and a strike team to assassinate the leader of the Siege Dancers, directing them to his Imperial Land Tank in the Rubicon Wastes. Ta'aurc was killed by the strike team, and Zavala congratulated his Guardians, but warned them that although the Cabal were weakened, they were sure to send more fleets and legions to the system and that they must be ready to face them as well.
With the Cabal dealt a great blow, Zavala turned his attention to the Vex. Meeting with Ikora, they discussed The Undying Mind, which was mentioned in riddles left by Osiris and Ikora feared was attempting to undo the destruction of the Black Heart. They were joined by Cayde, and together the three Vanguard leaders resolved to destroy the Undying Mind before it could lock the Black Garden out of time once more. Zavala alerted the Speaker of the situation and authorized a strike to eliminate the powerful Vex axis mind.
The Taken War
The War Begins
Confronting the Taken King
Mending Relations with the Sunbreakers
With the threat that the Taken posed to the solar system, Zavala began to consolidate all Vanguard forces and sought to rebuild relations with groups that had left or been exiled from the City. Amongst these groups were the Sunbreakers, an order of Titans who utilized Solar Light and had close ties to Osiris. Having rejected a deal with them long ago, Zavala now regretted that decision, and upon learning that a legion of them had been spotted for the first time in years in the Ishtar Collective on Venus, he requested that The Guardian serve as his representative and meet with them. Monitoring the Guardian's progress, Zavala detected a Sunbreaker beacon that was intermixed with a Vex signal and discovered it contained a message from Empyreal Magistrate Ouros ordering a retreat through a Vex gate and that the Sunbreakers had been there for a task related to Osiris. The Guardian subsequently learned that the Sunbreakers managed to open the gate and flee to their Forge on Mercury.
As the Guardian headed to Mercury, Zavala admitted that he was responsible for the schism between the Vanguard and the Sunbreakers, and warned them that they hated Zavala. Tracing the Sunbreakers to The Burning Shrine, the Guardian impressed Ouros and was granted the power to utilize the Hammer of Sol, along with any other Guardian who proved worthy. The Guardian returned to Zavala, who lamented the exile of the Sunbreaker's and reflected on the mistakes of his youth. He was glad that their fire had now returned to the City and would once again keep it safe, strong, and warm.
Age of Triumph
The Red War
Fall of the Last City
On the anniversary of the Battle of Six Fronts, the Last City and its Guardians were preparing to celebrate the unity of the City and foundation of the Vanguard. Zavala met with Ikora and Cayde in the Hall of Guardians when trouble with the Skyline Defense Systems was reported and the communications systems became blocked. He wondered if it was just the storm around the Last City that was interfering with their systems, but Ikora then reported that all of their satellites had been destroyed. As he peered into the storm, Zavala witnessed dozens of Cabal warships emerge from the clouds and ordered the entire City to battle stations. As the Cabal began to assault the Tower with a missile barrage, Zavala created a Ward of Dawn and ordered the command center's staff to take cover within. Zavala strained against the unending barrage, but held his Ward as the Hall of Guardians fell apart around them.
Having survived the destruction of the Hall, Zavala, Ikora, and Cayde spread out throughout the Tower to protect and evacuate its staff. While Lord Shaxx gathered survivors in the hallways, Zavala rallied Guardians in the plaza as the evacuation shuttles ferried away survivors. The Young Wolf soon joined the battle, and Ikora contacted identified their attackers as the Cabal's Red Legion, an elite unit that had never known defeat. Zavala declared that the Red Legion had never faced Guardians before, but Ikora protested that the Red Legion was assaulting the Traveler. Despite this, Zavala ordered the Guardians to focus on the evacuation, and declared the Traveler would have to wait. The Young Wolf then joined Zavala in the plaza alongside other Guardians, and they held off several waves of Cabal until the last shuttle left, although Ikora reported that the Speaker had never made it onto his transport. Zavala ordered the Young Wolf to assist Ikora, but they discovered the Speaker had already been captured by the Red Legion. As Ikora pursued the Cabal, Zavala ordered the Young Wolf to meet Amanda Holliday's ship at the north tower so she could assist them in assault the Cabal flagship, The Immortal. As the Young Wolf infiltrated the warship, Zavala contacted Cayde and asked for his status, but the comms were breaking up and he barely heard that the Hunter Vanguard was low on ammo and his concern for Ikora. Zavala informed Cayde that no one had heard from Ikora since she followed the Cabal, and ordered his Guardians to form up on him.
Zavala continued to fight alongside his Guardians in the City's streets until he received word from the Young Wolf's Ghost that the shields of The Immortal had been disabled. Glancing into the sky, Zavala saw the Red Legion's flagship lose it protective barrier and ordered all units to concentrate fire on the vessel. As he leapt over his cover to launch himself at the Cabal, Zavala was about to let loose a rare smile when he felt an intense pain that knocked the air form his lungs and caused him to drop his weapon. Unsure of what happened, Zavala attempted to gather his Light and smash the Cabal with lightning, but found that he had been severed from the Light. His surprise allowed a Cabal soldier to shoot him in the side, sending him to the ground. Zavala despaired for a moment over the loss of the Light before finding resolve in the fact his Guardians and the citizens of the Last City were still depending on him to lead and fight. With a roar, the Vanguard Commander launched himself back to his feet, ready to fight and die for his people.
Knowing the battle for the City was lost, Zavala began organizing a retreat from humanity's last stronghold and contacted Amanda for an extraction. The pilot angrily refused, noting she was not his chauffeur and that thousands of people like her were trapped in the City. Zavala understood her anger, but noted that with the Light gone, they were all the same now and that their chances to regroup decreased every moment they remained. He countered her argument that he could fly his own ship out of the City by noting she was the best pilot in the system and the only one who could keep their ships going after they retreated. She protested again that they could not just abandon the trapped civilians. Although he felt guilty for doing so, Zavala told her that he believed that humanity's only chance for survival was to flee now with who they could, which convinced Amanda to pick him up.
The retreat from the Last City succeeded, but at a heavy cost. Seventy-three ships were destroyed attempting to break through the Red Legion's blockade, and the rest only made it through due to the Cabal's focus on Earth. Horrified by the loss of the City and the casualties suffered during the retreat, Zavala struggled to think of his next move, knowing only that he had to stay ahead of whatever Dominus Ghaul was planning. As he bemoaned his lack of information, Deputy Commander Sloane arrived, and the presence of his trusted second-in-command allowed Zavala to relax for just one moment.
Retreat to Titan
Zavala worked with Sloane and Amanda to find a rally point, and the three settled on Saturn's moon of Titan. Zavala began working on a message to be broadcast throughout the system to rally Guardians to Titan, but Sloane and Amanda disliked his initial recordings, noting he made it sound like they had already lost the war. Sloane wanted him to be more inspiring and present more of a plan, but Zavala refused to lie to his people and ordered the message to be sent out, believing that he owed them the truth at the very least.
Upon arriving on Titan, the resistance secured a landing zone, but soon discovered that the New Pacific Arcology was infested with Savathûn's Hive, leading to many deaths among the Light-less Guardians. Sloane reported that both teams of Guardians sent to scout the facility were killed, but reported back that nearly the entire Arcology was occupied by the Hive. Zavala shot down her suggestion of storming the Arcology and stared up at the Hive Dreadnaught in Saturn's rings, lamenting on his choice to come to a moon that lay in the shadow of the City's greatest enemy and that the treasures of the Golden Age mattered little in the face of Hive demons. Sloane tried once more to convince him to assault the Hive, but he cut her off and order all Vanguard forces to fall back across the bridge to their landing zone and to post guards on their side of the bridge only before dismissing her.
When the Young Wolf arrived on Titan to aid the resistance, Zavala warned them away, declaring that too many Lightless Guardians had already fallen to the Hive. However, their Ghost informed him that they had regained the Light, stunning Zavala. Sloane redirected the Young Wolf to the command center at Siren's Watch, and Zavala asked them to be careful in their assault. As they began their mission, Zavala explained to them why he had come to Titan, although he now bitterly regretted his decision. While the Young Wolf made progress, Zavala disagreed with Sloane's assessment that once they secured the control center they could plan a counter-offensive and be at the City's gates soon, noting it would not be so easy. After a Hive ritual was disrupted, the Young Wolf's Ghost suggested they should consult Eris Morn on which god they had been attempting to commune with, but Zavala revealed that no one had seen Eris, or Cayde and Ikora, since the Last City fell. After the breeding ground at the control room was cleared out, Zavala and Sloane flew to meet the Young Wolf there. As Sloane began setting up the command center, Zavala spoke with the Young Wolf on the landing platform, and expressed hope that if the Light had managed to find its way back to them, then perhaps it could be restored to the other Guardians as well. However, he was worried about what would happen before then, as many more Lightless Guardians would fall in the meantime, and wondered what they were without the Light. Shaking off his despair, Zavala directed the Young Wolf to restore power to the platforms by reactivating the New Pacific Arcology's wave energy convertors, which had been damaged by the Hive's occupation.
After sending the Guardian into the New Pacific Arcology to procure a CPU to decrypt high-level Cabal transmissions, Zavala learns about The Almighty, a massive Cabal warship constructed to destroy suns and it has been placed outside of the Solar System's sun. While most despaired on the hopelessness of the situation, Zavala's resolve remains strong, declaring that with what was left of the Vanguard's forces, they would launch an assault on the Almighty but before he does so, Zavala states he needs his old fireteam. He needs Ikora and Cayde.
Sending the Guardian to find the Hunter and Warlock Vanguard, they succeed in finding them while disrupting Cabal operations in the System. Zavala is reunited with his comrades on Earth at The Farm where they discuss a strategy to take down the Almighty, liberate the Last City and free the Traveler. He learns from Ikora that they cannot destroy the Almighty without causing a chain-reaction that would destroy the sun along with it. Nonetheless, Zavala suggests they get the Guardian on board to permanently disable the Warship while the Vanguards forces would sneak into the Last City to liberate their home and take down Ghaul. Cayde also provides a Vex teleporter that would allow them to reach the Dominus quickly. Hawthorne provides the means to sneak into the Last City and a plan to get the Guardian to the Almighty as well. The Guardian would steal the security pass and personal ship of Thumos, the Unbroken to reach the Almighty while Hawthorne aids the Vanguard.
The Guardian succeed in disabling the Almighty which allows Zavala to initiate their attack to liberate the Last City. Despite having no Light to aid them, Zavala and the Vanguard's forces succeed in taking out Cabal troops and checkpoints but was almost killed by a Red Legion soldier. Thankfully, he was saved by Hawthorne, who thanks her and calls her a Guardian. As the Guardian returns to join the fight, Zavala and his team hold off the Red Legion as they get to their position while Cayde sets up the teleporter. The Guardian reached them, wounded but alive, and use the teleporter to infiltrate Ghaul's command ship, the Immortal, near the Cage. There the Guardian faces off and defeats Ghaul, ending the life of the Dominus. In the chaos, the Traveler awakens after centuries of slumber and restores the Light, driving the Red Legion from the Last City.
A New Golden Age?
With the City reclaimed and the Traveler awake, Zavala congratulates the Guardian while proclaiming this the start of new Golden Age for all humanity. As the fighting calmed down, Zavala and the Vanguard set up a new base near the ruins of the Tower while reinstating the Strike protocols to battle the enemies of the City once again.
With the Speaker's death, Zavala became the acting head of the Consensus. At the first meeting of the Consensus held after the reclamation of the Last City, Executor Hideo protested that only a Speaker could call them to order, and Lakshmi-2 asked what the bylaws said about choosing a new one. Zavala informed them that there was no process for choosing a new Speaker, and Ikora suggested that they would have to create one. Until then, Zavala stated that they would move forward without a Speaker, with all the members of the Consensus having to work together without a formal leader to keep the City running and safe.
After learning that Guardian Ariadne Gris had painted a dragon onto her Sparrow, the Dinas Emrys, the Consensus summoned her before them. Zavala demanded to know if she had been in contact with an Ahamkara, which she denied and insisted that she did it because dragons are cool. As the other members of the Consensus questioned Ariadne, Zavala asked for Ikora's opinion on the matter. Ikora admitted she was not paying attention, and joked that Ariadne obviously had not been in contact with an Ahamkara because she did not win in the Sparrow Racing League often. Zavala ended the inquiry by declaring that the Consensus' official stance on the matter was that the dragon symbol was cool.
At a subsequent meeting of the Consensus, Zavala asked the Titan Callisto Yin to join them, and thanked her for saving the Firebreak Order's sacred Fire Victorious, lit by the legendary Titan Wei Ning, from Firebreak Plaza during the fall of the City. Hideo informed them that repairs to the Plaza were nearly done and the Fire Victorious could be returned in a relighting ceremony soon, but Yin informed the Consensus that the Fire Victorious would not be returning to the City in the same fashion as before. Each member of the Firebreak Order would now carry some of the fire with them in the shell of their Ghosts in order to spread Wei Ning's eternal flame to each battlefield they fought on.
In the months after the Last City's liberation, Zavala began going through the Speaker's restricted files and learned many secrets that had been kept hidden from the Vanguard and Consensus. Among those files was the true location of Rasputin at the BrayTech Futurescape in the Hellas Basin on Mars, not within the Cosmodrome. The Speaker and Lord Saladin had deliberately misled Zavala and the others in order to keep Rasputin hidden and most of his power frozen beneath the ice caps of Mars, as they did not trust the Warmind. Now armed with the knowledge of Rasputin's role in the destruction of the Iron Lords, Zavala agreed with their fears and no longer viewed Rasputin as a potential ally, but rather a potential enemy that had become mentally broken following the Collapse. He was therefore alarmed when Ikora informed him that the Traveler's awakening had caused the ice caps to melt and begin revealing the BrayTech Futurescape and Rasputin's hub. Pouring over the files, Zavala discovered a secret entrance into the Warmind's vault and resolved to eliminate Rasputin personally and without informing Ikora or Cayde, as he believed Ikora would wish to use the Warmind's knowledge and ignore the dangers while Cayde was too busy filling the Prison of Elders.
Upon arriving on Mars, Zavala discovered that he was not the only one searching for Rasputin, as Anastasia Bray was still alive and receiving assistance from the Young Wolf. The Vanguard Commander intercepted the wayward Hunter and the Guardian when they neared the Warmind's core, expressing disappointment in the Guardian for getting involved and anger at Ana for faking her death and not standing by the Last City against Ghaul and the Red Legion. Zavala believed that Rasputin was nothing but a broken weapon, too dangerous to be left alone but too unpredictable to use. He reasoned that all previous attempts to make contact with the ancient Warmind were met with silence or hostility and as such, Rasputin cannot be trusted. Ana, however, remained convinced she could communicate with Rasputin and that he will listen to her. However, their argument was interrupted by tremors to which Zavala explains that the Warmind was not the only thing awakened by the Warsat impacts. A hidden Hive army, the Grasp of Nokris, had emerged to lay claim to Mars and destroy Rasputin in the name of the Worm God Xol, Will of the Thousands and its herald, Nokris, a heretic to the generic Hive and the disowned son of Oryx.
Working together with the Guardian and Ana, Zavala comes up with a plan to lure Xol into a trap using something the Worm God cannot resist, a shard of the Traveler. The Guardian succeeds in acquiring a shard laced with Light and brings it to Mars. Ana meanwhile, continues to discuss her case in getting Rasputin to aid them, as she believes without the Warmind's power, Xol would be too powerful for the Guardian. Zavala remained unconvinced, believing that the Guardian would be able to handle it, as they have faced insurmountable odds before. However, as the Guardians reached the junction point of the caves beneath Mars where the Hive have made their fortress, they encounter Xol's herald, Nokris. The Guardians defeat the herald after a fierce battle but are nearly killed by the Worm God after it arrives to take the shard. With no other option and Xol nearing the Warmind core, Zavala goes with Ana's plan in using the Valkyrie Warmind weapon to kill the Worm God before it destroys Rasputin.
Traversing through the facility to forge a powerful Valkyrie weapon, the Guardian battles with Xol outside the core and after a harrowing battle, they succeed in killing the Worm God. With the battle over, Zavala joined Ana and the Young Wolf in entering the center of the core to speak with Rasputin directly. To his immense discomfort, the Warmind proclaimed that it would define the realities of its own existence by stretching its reach across and beyond the system, ensuring that no threat would go unseen and that it will defend humanity but on its own terms. Ana, however, reassures him that everything remains under control. From then on, while Zavala remains distrustful of Rasputin, he allows Ana and the Guardian to work with it to combat the warring factions in the system, principally what remains of Xol's forces on Mars.
Crisis in the Reef
Several months after the events on Mars, Zavala and Ikora were left a letter by Cayde admonishing them for not catching him sneaking out of the Tower once again. He informed them that he was heading to the Reef to assist Petra Venj out with a few issues for a couple days and would ask the Young Wolf for backup if he needed it. The letter also asked if Zavala had figured out his tell when playing cards yet and recommended he play a few hands with Banshee-44, who might take pity and tell him what it was if he lost enough. However, issues within the Reef quickly escalated as massive breakout within the Prison of Elders led to the release of not only countless deadly prisoners but also the freedom of the Fallen Scorn, undead and mutant Fallen. Cayde-6, the Young Wolf, and Petra arrived at the prison to contain the chaos but their mission ended in tragedy as Cayde found himself surrounded by the Scorn's Barons and his Ghost Sundance was killed. The mad Prince Uldren Sov, who had become the leader of the Scorn, executed the Hunter Vanguard with the Ace of Spades before the Young Wolf or Petra could arrive to save Cayde.
Upon the return of Cayde's body to the Tower, Zavala mourned the loss of his comrade and friend with Ikora and the Young Wolf. The Warlock Vanguard, enraged at Cayde's murder, declared that the every Guardian would arm themselves and storm the Reef to kill Uldren. However, Zavala refuses, citing the recent conflicts that have already reduced their strength and that they must focus on the awakened Traveler and the Last City instead of pursuing vengeance. Thus, Zavala was willing to let Uldren and his Scorn have the Reef. Ikora accused him of being a coward, a accusation Zavala accepted if it meant he did not have to bury anymore friends. However, the Young Wolf interjected and declared that he would not have to, as they would deal with Uldren themselves.
Zavala spoke to the the Young Wolf before they departed the Tower, which surprised the Commander, as he had assumed they would have already left on their unsanctioned mission. He admitted that he knew better than trying to convince them not to go, as that would only insult them both, but he reminded them that the escapees from the Prison of Elders were running rampart across the system and the Vanguard was stretched too thin to stop them all. As such, the Young Wolf would have no support from the Vanguard if they did choose to wage a war in the Reef seeking vengeance.
In the Tangled Shore, the Young Wolf forged an uneasy alliance with the Fallen mob boss, The Spider, to aid them in hunting down Uldren and his Scorn Barons. One-by-one, the Guardian succeeded in striking down the Scorn Barons and ruining their unscrupulous plans. At the mysterious Awoken Watchtower, the Young Wolf and Petra finally managed to confront Uldren, who was weakened and at their mercy after being mauled by the Voice of Riven. The two completed their mission to avenge Cayde-6 and recovered the Ace of Spades from the traitor Prince's corpse. Upon the Young Wolf's return to the Tower, Zavala sternly stated that while he did not shed a tear for Uldren's death and would have ended him personally in another lifetime, he believed that the Guardian risked much in storming the Reef on their own accord. Zavala was certain that Uldren's death would have consequences in the future and hoped that the Young Wolf was prepared to deal with them.
After it was discovered that Queen Mara Sov still lived and that the Taken were invading the Dreaming City, Zavala listened to Paladin Kamala Rior as she addressed Guardians gathered in the Tower's plaza. The Awoken commander appealed for them to come aid the Reef's military in driving the Taken out of their sacred city in the name of a shared future, reminding them all that the Awoken had fought the House of Wolves and Oryx as humanity's shield, and in exchange she offered treasure and knowledge from the Reef for the Last City. Zavala, despite his earlier reservations about getting involved in the struggle, called out that the Vanguard would stand alongside the Awoken of the Reef. Seeing the look of shock upon Rior's face, Zavala offered her an apologetic smile for not coming to their aid before.
An Uncertain Future
Zavala is first heard in the opening mission of Shadowkeep, A Mysterious Disturbance, reporting a large scale amount of seismic activity. He ordered Guardian to report to the Moon to eliminate the Hive, with assistance from the Forces of the City. As fighting broke out on the Lunar Battlegrounds, he reminded the Guardians they should not compare this battle to the Great Disaster and that the City would not let the past repeat itself. Once the Guardian forces moved closer to the Scarlet Keep, he admitted the Vanguard had been closely monitoring the Hive's activity but had not yet discovered the purpose of the fortress. He later stepped away to let Ikora handle the situation on Luna.
The Vex Invasion
Another threat soon emerged on the Moon when Vex invasion portals from the Black Garden began to open and waves of platforms flooded the Moon. As Zavala continued to direct operations across the Moon and the rest of the solar system, he had Ikora take the lead on dealing with the Vex invasion with the assistance of the Young Wolf. When the Young Wolf next visited him, Zavala thanked them for taking the invasion seriously and revealed that worried he at times about their perspective, having killed literal gods. He noted that the Vex would not be launching this invasion if they did not believing they would win due to their calculating nature and had no doubt factor the Young Wolf into their plans. However, he trusted them and Ikora to find a way to halt the Vex invasion and wished them good luck.
Following the final battle against the Undying Mind and contending with the time crisis on Mercury, the Guardians performed something Zavala considered impossible: saving Saint-14. With the aid of Osiris and his Sundial machine, the Guardian was able to travel to the past and save Saint-14 from his death at the hands of the Vex. Bringing him to the present, Zavala expresses his astonishment towards the Guardians noting that no matter the trial, the Guardian never wavered. Even so, Zavala tasked the Guardian to help Saint-14 in reacclimatizing in the Last City.
Halting The Almighty
After the Guardians missions involving the Sundial thwarted a Cabal plot to subvert time, Zavala got involved in a mission with Ana Bray where a force of the Red Legion were seizing the crippled Almighty superweapon. As Zavala and Ana managed to clear their sections of the ship of enemies, they discovered, to their horror, that the Cabal destroyed the navigation and stabilizer systems of the vessel, leaving the ship adrift towards Earth, the Last City being its direct target. Without any controls to change The Almighty's course or having the ordnance capable of destroying the ship, Ana believes that their only hope to save their home lies with Rasputin. Zavala vehemently opposes Ana's suggestion in cooperating with the ancient Warmind, noting that Rasputin's priorities and motives are not to be trusted, despite his vow of protecting humanity. However, with no other alternatives, Zavala allows the Guardians and Ana to interact with Rasputin and get his cooperation.
While Ana and the Guardian are able to get Rasputin on board with their mission to stop the Almighty, the Warmind tells them to head to the EDZ where a secret bunker is located. As the Guardian travels to the bunker, Zavala and Ana arrive first to secure the area but run into a raiding party of pillaging House of Dusk Fallen. As Zavala defends Ana as she attempts to gain access to the bunker's mainframe, the Guardian arrives and clears the remainder of the Fallen and the Pillaging Captain leading them. With the area secured, Ana works to creating a connection with Rasputin, in which Zavala once again voices his distrust of the Warmind but Ana Bray continues to have faith that Rasputin is on their side and that he needs a little faith. Even so, Zavala merely states that between Ana and Rasputin, he will put his faith in Ana. After their discussion, Ana succeeds in establishing a link with Rasputin, allowing the bunker to power up and Rasputin the means to create weapons for Guardians.
Wishing to send a message to the Cabal who were threatening the City once more, Zavala asked the Guardian to retrieve The Fourth Horseman from the Vanguard vault. As he provided them the keycard to the vault, Zavala warned them that they needed to pass through his office to reach it and requested they not violate his trust and leave his personal effects alone. Zavala was stunned when the Guardian returned and reported that the Vanguard's access codes to the vault had been rescinded and the weapon stolen. He vowed to boost security measures to prevent similar breaches in the future, and lamented that someone had used the current crisis to steal the weapon. Seeking answers, Zavala ordered the Guardian to visit Ana on Mars and use BrayTech equipment to track the weapon down.
Later on, as the Guardians worked on powering up the Io Seraph Bunker and connecting it to Rasputin's mainframe, Zavala sought out the Warmind to make sure he understood the stakes and was on the City's side. Rasputin answered by showing him a galaxy map displaying how close the Pyramid Fleet was to the Solar System. Zavala understood this and questions Rasputin if this is what had his attention, whether to fight, rebuild or run. Zavala soon found his Ghost hijacked by Rasputin, who relayed various messages from the Collapse, from those who did not survive. Zavala finally came to understand that while the Warmind had given everything for a cause that was swept away, he had nonetheless survived through the Collapse and was now afraid to fail humanity again. The Titan Vanguard finally came to an understanding with Rasputin, resolving that once The Almighty had been broken, the City would devote whatever resources the Warmind needed and when the time came, they would stand together as allies, equals, and Guardians.
After months of painstaking preparations in activating Rasputin's Seraph Bunkers and rearming them, the Warmind launched his countermeasure against The Almighty just as the superweapon could be visually seen from the Tower. Zavala and the Tower's citizens watched as Rasputin's arsenal broke through The Almighty's shields and dealt a critical hit to the ship's core, causing it explode in spectacular fashion. Though debris narrowly scrapped the Tower, the main rubble of the ship crashed into the mountains outside of the City's outskirts, saving humanity's home from destruction. Proudly, Zavala declared this victory was possible thanks to the Guardian and to Rasputin - and with alliances with those like the Warmind, he wondered on who could stop them now.
Challenging The Arrival
A few days after the Almighty's destruction, the fleet of Pyramids Rasputin was tracking closed in on the system, with one of them landing on Io. After Rasputin's failed attempt to shoot the Pyramid down, he summons Eris to provide intel on the Pyramid. Eris ignores him and goes to the landing site of the Pyramid, so he sends the Guardian after her. They find her and bring her to the City, where she tells Zavala that Savathûn, the Witch-Queen is jamming messages being broadcast from the Pyramid. Zavala tries to talk her out of it, but Eris returns to the Cradle to find a way past the Witch-Queen's jamming and learn what the Pyramid is trying to tell them.
Later, Zavala meets with the Future War Cult, Dead Orbit, and New Monarchy representatives. Along with Ikora, he tells them of Rasputin's defeat and their Hidden asset studying the new threat. Despite the gravity of the situation, each factions wants things to be done their way, putting their desire for more influence ahead of the danger. Zavala placates them by offering access to their intel on the lunar Pyramid and Rasputin's damaged systems in exchange for their aid with preparations for the new threat. It works, and as they disperse, Ikora warns that he is offering too many concessions. He counters that the Pyramid matters more than faction politics before instructing her to reach out to Eris, as he cannot predict how the groups will react when they learn she is their agent on Io.
When Pyramid ships appeared above Mercury, Titan, and Mars, Zavala spoke with the Young Wolf and noted that the Traveler still did nothing to combat the threat of its ancient enemy. He declared the Guardians would defend the system, and asked for the Young Wolf to go to the front lines while Eris continued her research on Io to close the Vanguard's ranks together and unite them against the Darkness. His first requests were to coordinate with Asher Mir on Io's surface and get his suggestions about their next steps, and then go to Titan and see what Deputy-Commander Sloane needed. He suspected she would want to fight and destroy the Pyramids if possible, and encouraged the Young Wolf to aid her in that effort. The Young Wolf reported back that Sloane was investigating new Hive activity on Titan, while Asher believed the Vex were being studied by the Pyramids. Zavala noted gravely that the Darkness was pushing ever further into their territory, his anger causing the air around him to crackle with Arc energy. He requested that the Young Wolf now travel to Mars and inform Ana of what they had learned of the Pyramids and assist her however they could. Lastly, he wished for them to inform Brother Vance on Mercury of the situation due to the strategic value of the Infinite Forest, although it was not a high priority. He then softly noted to himself that there was much they could not afford to lose. When the Young Wolf returned from their last two missions, Zavala reviewed their reports on each planet. He was pleased with the reports on Sloane and Ana, believing Sloane to be one of their best and felt comfortable giving her time to come up with a plan, while he hoped that Ana's belief that part of Rasputin survived was true for all of their sakes. However, he was skeptical of Asher and needed him to have theories that produced results quickly. Zavala also expressed concern about Vance's troubling and fanatical behavior, noting they needed him clearheaded in this crisis. Although most of the Vanguard's holdings remained secure, Zavala was tense and asked the Young Wolf to continue to aid the four outpost leaders and thanked them for their help so far before turning back towards the Traveler and pondering the Vanguard's next move.
Several weeks later, Zavala received messages from Sloane requesting a ship to assist in evacuating important cargo, while Asher requested more assistance in securing data on Io. Zavala summoned the Young Wolf once more, and informed them that attempting to prepare for battle across four worlds had spread them too thin and that he was changing their priority from preparing for battle to evacuation. He informed them of Sloane and Asher's requests, noting that such a message from Sloane was essentially a distress call and that he wanted her to return to the Last City upon finishing her mission. He reflexively thanked the Guardian for their assistance, although he was already thinking of what he needed to do next.
Following the Darkness's arrival, the worlds of Mercury, Mars, Titan and Io have gone dark, forcing Zavala to recall most lightless civilians behind the Last City's walls for their protection. To gain any more knowledge on the Darkness, Zavala orders countless Guardians to scout out the System, with the Young Wolf heading to Europa to survey the Pyramid located there. While there, the Guardian discovered a large Fallen army, the House of Salvation, powered by a force related to the Darkness. Further, they located Variks and, despite his unwitting role in Cayde-6's death, they agree to help the Eliksni scribe to combat these dark Fallen and their leader, Eramis, the Kell of Darkness.
As the Young Wolf worked with Variks in dismantling Eramis's powerbase and safeguard fleeing Eliksni to the House of Light, they learned the ability to wield the same power as Eramis, the ability of Stasis, granting them the power needed to combat the Dark Kell and her forces. As Eramis began to lose her lieutenants to the Guardians, she travelled to the Cosmodrome but was spotted by Vanguard scouts. With this information, Zavala makes a personal trip to Europa to inform the Young Wolf, meeting them at the Exo Stranger's camp in Beyond. Admitting that he understood things less every day, Zavala suspected that Eramis was getting desperate and sought to find something from the House of Devils to aid her. He also cautioned the Young Wolf of "fighting fire with fire" with Stasis and that while he understood why they were doing it, he disapproved of them using something related to that which seeks to bring another Collapse. Zavala asked them to to stay true to the Light and not be led astray as he and the Last City needed them and to not lose sight of who they are.
Following the fall of Eramis, Zavala began making plans to secure Europa and finish off the rest of the leaderless House of Salvation. He negotiated with the Reef to grant temporary immunity to Variks for as long as he assisted them on Europa, although Zavala felt uncomfortable with the situation due to the Scribe's role in Cayde's death. Zavala requested that the Young Wolf report to him in the Tower and briefed them on the situation. Although glad Eramis was gone, he did express continued concern over using the Darkness. Determined to secure the Golden Age secrets on Europa from their foes, Zavala ordered repeated focused strikes against House Salvation to keep them disorganized.
The Guardians would continue their vigilance over Europa and it would lead them to conflict with Kridis, the Dark Priestess, who took command of what remained of the House of Salvation. Variks has the Guardian confront the Dark Priestess, both to remove a powerful leader and to prevent her from bringing Eramis back, as she claimed to have the power to do so. Regardless of her devotion to Eramis's cause and her power over Stasis, the Guardian is successful in slaying Kridis, removing one of the last of Eramis's council.
When the Young Wolf returned from slaying Kridis, Zavala thanked them for their efforts but turned his concerns from the Fallen to the continued use of Stasis. Noting that Guardians were not immune to corruption and that they had been divided by the pursuit of power before, Zavala was determined to see that they remained devoted to the Light. Believing that if they compromised the Vanguard would break and already seeing fractures forming over the use of the Darkness, Zavala declared that the Vanguard's official position was that the Guardians could not use Stasis and asked the Young Wolf to help show the people of the Last City the way through their example.
Clash of the Chosen
Disrupting the Rites
Zavala soon received an invitation from Empress Caiatl, whose fleet of Imperial Cabal had recently arrived in the Sol System, to meet and discuss the Black Fleet and Hive. Accompanied by Osiris, Zavala met with the Empress and her guards aboard one of their ships. The Empress offered peace between them, but Zavala was sceptical of her intent until she admitted that the Cabal homeworld of Torobatl had fallen to the Hive. Zavala offered his sympathies to her for her loss, but when she offered an alliance, Osiris advised Zavala that the Cabal did not ally but conquer and that Caiatl had betrayed her father Calus and would betray them as well. The Empress called her father soft and stated that he lacked ambition, which humanity did as well, and suggested they would not survive unless Zavala expanded his horizons. She offered for them to join the Cabal Empire and a spot on her War Council to Zavala, but required them to bow before her. Zavala rejected the offer, and Caiatl's guards immediately prepared for a fight. However, the Empress signalled her guards to stand down and allowed them to leave with a warning that they would meet on the battlefield.
Returning to the Last City, Zavala met with Ikora, who passed along intelligence that pointed to the Imperial Land Tank Halphas Electus on Nessus being key to the Caiatl's operations. Zavala dispatched the Young Wolf and other Guardians to strike at the site and gather intelligence. As the battle began, the Young Wolf recovered intelligence revealing that Commander Dracus was leading the operation. Zavala informed them that Dracus was a former Legionary of the Red Legion turned warlord and responsible for murdering many Lightless Guardians during the Red War. He ordered them to eliminate Dracus in retribution for those slain Guardians and to deny Caiatl from gaining him as a key commander in her efforts to reintegrate the Red Legion into the Cabal Empire.
After the elimination of Dracus and the recovery of a Bell of Conquests from him, Zavala directed the Young Wolf to travel to the newly completed H.E.L.M., which would serve as Vanguard's center of operations for any emerging crises around the system. When they reached the war table Zavala appeared before them as a hologram and congratulated them on their successful mission. He then briefed them on what had transpired with Caiatl and that the information they recovered revealed Caiatl was conducting Rites of Proving to put together a War Council from the remnants of the Red Legion and other Cabal in the system. To prevent this, Zavala ordered the creation of a task force led by Lord Saladin Forge to interfere with their Rites and eliminate key Cabal commanders. He assigned Osiris to advise Saladin, and the former Warlock recruited a new Hunter called Crow as a recon expert while Amanda provided air support to their strikes. Zavala hoped that by preventing the Cabal from unifying around new leadership they could avoid triggering another all-out war in the system.
As the task force began its work, Zavala and Saladin began clashing as the Iron Lord advocated for the Vanguard to enter an all-out war with the Cabal. Despite the tension between them, Zavala invited his former mentor to their regular game of go at a courtyard built into the side of the City wall. Zavala emerged victorious and Saladin noted he was surprised by the invitation. Hesitating momentarily, Zavala admitted that he did find Saladin's dissension on strategy frustrating and wished his old friend would have more respect for his position. He pushed back against Saladin's desire for war by noting that they would take thousands of casualties driving her out of the Sol System and leave themselves vulnerable to other threats. The Iron Lord accused him of making excuses to avoid hard choices and stated that all victories came with sacrifices. Zavala shot back that to him, those so-called sacrifices would be the consequences of his failure before noting that there were other currencies in war besides a body count. Saladin warned that he might not have a choice one day about who and what to sacrifice. Seeing his friend burdened by his past losses, Zavala reached out to him and apologized for being a disappointment to him as Commander. However, Saladin refuted that notion, declaring that Zavala had exceeded all his hopes but had yet to reach his full potential. As the Iron Lord prepared to depart, Zavala told him that he would expect his obedience in the coming fight, keeping a steady gaze on Saladin as the Iron Lord attempted to joke that an old wolf like him would not be tamed. His former mentor relented and noted that they both opposed Caiatl's terms and that would be enough. Zavala placed a hand on Saladin's shoulder and noted it was good to see him outside of his duties. As the Iron Lord left, Zavala looked back at their games and studied the result.
A Voice in the Darkness
A week later, Zavala was informed by Master Rahool of a distress signal sent by the Hunter Katabasis that had been exposed to the Darkness. The Cryptarch traced the point of origin to the wreck of the Glykon Volatus, a Cabal Carrier belonging to the deposed Emperor Calus. Concerned about what Katabasis was doing on the ship and the involvement of the Darkness, Zavala decided to send the Young Wolf in to investigate. Briefing the Young Wolf, Zavala noted that while distress signals were far too common now, he wanted this one investigated as soon as possible before Caiatl had the chance to respond, as she too would likely have intercepted it and was seeking information about her deposed father's activities. He also urged them to be cautious and take a team while Osiris operated as command for the mission.
The Young Wolf returned and reported disturbing findings: the Glykon was overtaken by a mysterious growth related to the Darkness and experiments that Calus and his Scribe Amsot had been preforming aboard the carrier. Furthermore, the experiments involved the Scorn and exposing them to the Darkness energy of the anomaly left where Mars once was. Katabasis was found dead on the bridge of the Glykon, impaled upon the mysterious growths and with his Ghost missing. The Young Wolf returned with the Hunter's rifle, the Dead Man's Tale. Zavala admired the craftsmanship of the weapon, identifying it as a unreported custom design from Tex Mechanica. Noting that since it did not officially exist he could not confiscate it, Zavala returned the weapon to the Young Wolf, considering them a good caretaker for the gun. Reflecting upon their findings, his mood turned grim and he asked them to keep him appraised of any more findings from further expeditions aboard the derelict carrier.
Phantoms in the Garden
As the struggle against Caiatl's Cabal continued, Zavala went out one night to clear his head with a stroll in the Last City's first garden, which he had helped dig centuries prior. He remarked to Targe that there was nothing better than a midnight stroll, but he sensed his Ghost's silent disapproval and acknowledged that he should rest, but after inhaling deep he claimed that he believed this counted. As he wandered the garden, Zavala reflected on how far the City had come and all they sacrificed. He then stared up at the Traveler and softly noted his amazement at how they had survived for so long thanks to its gifts. As he and Targe stared at the Traveler, both had the same thought on their minds: was it still watching over them, or were they on their own against the Darkness? Zavala's reverie was soon interrupted when he felt eyes watching him, and he turned to see a the face of Uldren Sov watching him from the shadows of nearby bushes. Before he could react Uldren shouted a warning and Zavala heard a snapping noise in the trees behind him. Spinning around with his gun in hand Zavala swiftly killed a Psion that had been preparing to assassinate him. Believing the assassin was sent by Caiatl, Zavala turned back to where he saw Uldren but now saw nothing. Zavala told the Young Wolf of what transpired, unsure if what he saw had been real, and admitted that after having trouble sleeping he was sure he would not be able to rest at all now.
Ikora visited him in the Tower's courtyard in the wake of the assassination attempt. After not responding to her attempts at conversation, Zavala admitted after a long silence that he kept seeing "his" face. Ikora believed he was talking about Cayde, but Zavala corrected her and admitted it was Uldren's. He stated that he felt like he kept seeing him in crowds and explained what had happened in the garden. Zavala recalled the stories Eva Levante told during the Festival of the Lost about spirits of the dead haunting the living. He assumed that he was falling back on folklore to explain what he saw as the truth would be too difficult to confront otherwise. After a few more minutes of silence, Zavala stated that they would know if Uldren was back. Ikora placed a hand on his shoulder and reassured him that they would know. Placing his own hand over hers, the two continued to stare out at the City.
The Final Rite
After several more battles against the Cabal, Zavala met with Osiris, Saladin, and the Young Wolf in the H.E.L.M. to discuss how they would end their conflict with Caiatl. Immediately upon his arrival, Saladin began demanding to know why they were not engaged in a full-scale war with the Cabal after all that had happened. Zavala reminded his former mentor that this was not an easy decision, but Osiris noted it might be inevitable given the Cabal's proud warrior nature and cautioned that if they did not end it soon the situation would spiral out of control. Saladin advocated eliminating Caiatl and that they could wipe out the rest in a matter of weeks. Zavala protested that doing so would lower them to their foe's level while Osiris doubted Caiatl would be so easily killed. The Warlock did suggest thinking like them though, proposing they challenge her to a final Rite of Proving with the winner dictating terms. Zavala and Saladin were skeptical, noting that while Caiatl might agree and hold true to her word if the Vanguard won, there was no guarantee her followers would. The Commander was swayed by Osiris noting that it was a gamble and questioned if he was willing to bet on their Guardians. Zavala stated he was and ordered Osiris to make preparations while he reached out to the Empress. Saladin began to address him in opposition to the plan, but Zavala cut him off and thanked them all for their cooperation. Nodding in farewell, Zavala departed from the H.E.L.M.
Caiatl accepted Zavala's challenge, causing the Commander to request the Young Wolf meet him at the Tower. He asked them to be the Vanguard's champion in the Rite and explained to them the potential outcomes. Should Caiatl's champion, Ignovun, prevail, Nessus would be ceded to the Cabal Zavala would be forced to join Caiatl's War Council as Bracus Zavala to ensure the Vanguard's loyalty as a hostage. If the Young Wolf and their strike team proved victorious, then all Cabal would withdraw from Earth and cease all hostilities towards humanity. Adamant that the Cabal could not win, Zavala warned them that Ignovun awaited them deep within the Halphas Electus on Nessus. While an assault on the Imperial Land Tank was deemed impossible, Zavala was confidant that the Young Wolf's talent for achieving the impossible would lead them to victory once more.
As the final Rite began, Zavala issued the formal challenge to Caiatl. The Empress accepted it, but warned that reaching her champion would not be easy as a legion of sworn soldiers stood between the Guardians and Ignovun. The two leaders debated the worthiness of their causes and why they fought as the Young Wolf led the strike deeper into the Halphas Electus, with Zavala lamenting all the lives lost needlessly and suggesting that Caiatl was on the verge of becoming a tyrant like her father Calus and Dominus Ghaul. He had the Guardians take the opportunity to sabotage key systems aboard the Imperial Land Tank before they engaged Ignovun. Though the battle was fierce, the Young Wolf and their strike team emerged victorious. Zavala was impressed by Ignovun and Caiatal's honor in defeat and they subsequently arranged a meeting between them to solidify the terms of the armistice.
The Truth Behind the Mask
Zavala traveled to Nessus with Crow, who had been assigned as his bodyguard by Osiris in the aftermath of the assassination attempt in the Last City. They met with Caiatl, two of her bodyguards, and the Psion Valir to engage in a formal ceremony to end the conflict. Zavala, Targe, and Crow watched as the Empress cut her palm with a ceremonial blade and vowed that blood would be the last spilt between their species. As Valir approached to hand Zavala the blade, Targe was suddenly entrapped by Light-draining cage and disabled. Zavala fell to his knees and the Light left him and Valir charged him with the blade. However, Crow threw himself between Zavala and the fatal blow, while Caiatl killed Valir for his treachery. Zavala looked at her in shock as she vowed that she had not ordered his assassination and sent one of her bodyguards to pursue the sniper who disabled Targe. Crow freed Targe from the cage and the Light swiftly returned to Zavala. Turning to his savior, Zavala asked Crow if he was alright but was shocked to discover that beneath the damaged mask of Crow was the face of Uldren Sov. Zavala quickly realized what this meant, but rather than hold Crow's past life against him he offered the Lightbearer his hand to stand up.
Speaking with Crow during the return trip to the Last City, Zavala learned that Osiris, the Young Wolf, and Ikora had all been aware of the Hunter's former identity but hid it from him. Knowing that many Guardians and other citizens of the Last City would not be as accepting of Crow, Zavala offered him official instatement as a Guardian and recon agent of the Vanguard with orders to lay low and investigate the Psion conspiracy behind the Light-draining tech and attempts on Zavala's life. Zavala confronted Ikora upon his return to the Last City, but she insisted to him that Uldren was dead and that she had not lied. Speaking with the Young Wolf afterwards, Zavala angrily told them that without trust they would fall to infighting just as the Cabal's leadership had. Crow would remain on recon duties until Zavala determined the best path forward with him. He then stated that he was sure Caiatl would honor the armistice, but noted it was not an alliance, and that the Cabal who remained on Earth in defiance of Caiatl's orders were now criminals who the Vanguard could deal without issue. Zavala was sure that Saladin would not approve, but the Commander wanted Caiatl's forces to serve as an additional buffer between them and Xivu Arath's horde.
A Much Needed Break
The Endless Night
The day after the closing ceremony of the Guardian Games, Zavala's concerns about the Vex became a reality when the machines covered the Last City in a simulation that blanketed it in an Endless Night and drained the City's power. Desperate for a solution, Zavala supported Ikora's decision to offer the Eliksni House of Light sanctuary within the Last City in exchange for Mithrax, Kell of Light's aid in destroying the Vex simulation. This decision was opposed by the other three members of the Consensus, who viewed the Eliksni's presence in the Last City as a threat.
Zavala and Ikora summoned Crow to his office to inform him that he would not be assigned to work with the House of Light despite his close ties to the Eliksni. The Hunter was outraged at their decision and questioned how long he would be on trial for a crime that he did not even remember or know about. Sympathizing with the young Guardian, Zavala turned to him and explained that with the Consensus already hitting them on allowing the Eliksni into the City, they could not afford to also have them discover his presence and grant them more political ammunition. However, Crow questioned if there was not more than politics behind the decision, noting the looks they had on their faces in his presence when they thought he could not see, which caused Zavala to grow more frustrated with the Hunter. Ikora convinced Crow that he needed to remain hidden for now to prevent his friends from getting hurt, but as he left she warned Zavala that he would go to Osiris. He was unconcerned, noting that if Osiris was half the leader he had shown himself to be in the past months he would tell Crow the same things. The two settled into silence as they pondered the delicate situation before eventually agreeing that they did not believe they could protect Crow for much longer.
The political situation in the City quickly soured as Lakshmi-2 began making public broadcasts criticizing the Vanguard's decisions and leadership while also stirring up hatred against the Eliksni. On one late night, Zavala found his vision blurring as he sorted through field reports on increased Vex activity, assaults on Vanguard operations, and conflicts between humans and Eliksni within the City. As he tried to collect his thoughts, Targe manifested and pondered if this was the best use of his time. Zavala was surprised, as Targe did not usually speak unprompted, and noted he had not asked his Ghost's opinion. Targe retorted that he had not offered one and requested that Zavala talk to Ana again to relieve he and Ikora of some of the Vanguard's workload. As Zavala began to note there was no way to convince her, his comm unit chimed with an incoming transmission from Empress Caiatl. Despite Targe's protests he answered the voice only call and asked what he owed to her calling. The Cabal Empress questioned him about the ongoing situation in the City and expressed concern over what would to their armistice should Zavala lose power. Zavala reassured her he was still there and wondered why she was really calling. After a brief pause, Caiatl dropped her performative airs and told him that Lakshmi's broadcasts were reaching her fleet and warned that her voice of dissent could quickly turn into a knife in the back. Unsure of how to respond, Zavala took inspiration from Cayde to wing it and declared that he had weathered such threats before and not to project her own guilt for overthrowing her father in a coup onto what was happening in the City. The Empress was impressed by his retort and countered that her only regrets lay in helping Ghaul transform the Empire into an easy target for Xivu Arath, a fate she had no wish to see visited upon Zavala. He questioned how she would counsel him, and recognized in her voice the sound of a friend when she warned that the Darkness had many hands and if he would recognize it amongst his advisors before it struck.
When Mithrax's old fireteam returned to the City, they sought to consult the Commander regarding the long-term plans concerning Eliksni settlement in the Last City. Zavala admitted there was no long-term plan yet, but he hoped that in time the Eliksni would live beside the human citizens in peace and harmony. He also pointed to Ikora, who had been standing in the doorway this whole time, and said it was actually her idea. Ikora questioned the fireteam as to why they were here and not in the Eliksni Quarter with Mithrax, and when they explained there was corrently some tension between the three, she nodded understandingly and said that family struggles could be challenging, even with found family. With her hand on the back of Zavala's chair, she told the Guardians she was sure they would find a way to work this out. The Vanguard then tasked them with contacting a newly minted Hunter, supposedly Crow, and keeping him company on his mission outside of the City.
When Lakshmi unwittingly opened a Vex portal in the Botza District, Zavala rushed to aid Mithrax and Saint-14 alongside the Guardians, Ikora and Amanda Holliday. He was later present at the memorial ceremony, speaking with the Eliksni survivors. Once night had enwrapped the Tower, he snuck out to the memorial once more; there, he lit a candle and lost himself in memories of his late wife, a mortal woman who had died a long time ago. He felt an urge to imagine her speaking and smiling at him from the memory, but figured there was no use to dwell on the fantasy as he wanted to preserve her perfectly as she was, and moved away to return to his duties as a Commander once more.
Truth Comes Out
Following Saint-14's and the Guardian's quest to locate Osiris and the uncomfortable revelations of who the Warlock had truly been that whole time, Zavala blamed himself for not realizing Savathûn's machinations earlier. He recalled all the times he had trusted Osiris and counseled with him, and not even once seen anything suspicious about his supposed friend.
Alerted by Lord Saladin about Savathûn's presence in the Dreaming City and her pact with Mara Sov, Caiatl considered attacking the Awoken to destroy the Witch-Queen forever; she issued a message to Zavala, asking him--through a vision shown to him by a Psion--if he would aid her in executing the task. Zavala saw the destruction of the Dreaming City brought forth by Cabal warships, the deaths of countless Awoken including Petra Venj and the Queen, and the true purpose of the attack: shatters of Savathûn's body, destroyed at her most vulnerable moment. He realized a war would break out later, but it would be a small one, and that only his and Caiatl's hands would truly be stained by the blood spilled in order to achieve peace. Presented with the scope of collateral damage this strike would cause, he denied the Empress' request.
The Witch Queen
Following the Guardian's adventures in the Reef, where Savathûn managed to escape but Osiris was returned albeit comatose, Mars had mysteriously returned leading Ikora and her Hidden to conduct an investigation on the red planet's state. Unfortunately, the Witch Queen had reappeared upon her vessel, The Lure, where the Guardian encountered a disturbing new enemy: Hive Lightbearers with their own Ghosts, the Lucent Brood. Believing that the Witch Queen had stolen the Light, Ikora and the Guardian continue a thorough investigation and discovered, to their horror, that Savathûn had actually died not long after she escaped the Reef and the Traveler had a Ghost resurrect her. Further, they learned that the Witch Queen is planning on sealing the Traveler away in her Throne World which would permanently cut the Guardians off from the Light and leave the Last City completely vulnerable.
Bringing this truth to the Zavala and the Vanguard, the Titan would be left incredulous, refusing to believe the Traveler would give one of the most devious foes humanity had ever faced, the Light, even after Eris Morn explained the Traveler's behavior of uplifting civilizations and then abandoning them. Regardless of being unable to fathom the Traveler's decision, Ikora Rey believed that it didn't matter, stating that if Savathûn succeeds in her plan, then humanity would not be able to stop the Darkness, led by an entity they learned to be called The Witness. After a struggle and a shocking revelation, the Guardian had succeeded in disrupting the Witch Queen's ritual and killing her, saving the Traveler from being sealed away, but Savathûn's Ghost, Immaru, had escaped, leading the Lucent Brood in the Witch Queen's absence.
As the Guardian initially infiltrated Savathûn's vessel, they unintentionally engaged with Empress Caiatl's Red Legion, threatening the Last City's armistice with the Cabal. Managing to organize a meeting with the empress, Zavala also invited the Guardian to help him avoid creating another conflict with the Cabal. With Lord Saladin and Crow also present, Zavala was able to get Empress Caiatl not only forgiving the Guardian for the Cabal deaths but also on board in combating against the threat of the Lucent Brood.
Despite Saladin's misgivings, he was placed in charge of the campaign against the Lucent Brood, Operation Elbrus, while Zavala himself often mediated between the Iron Lord and the Cabal Empress. After a time, the Guardians made progress alongside Caiatl's Cabal in capturing Lucent Brood leaders where the empress's best Psion would put them in a neither-alive-nor-dead state and glean their minds for intel. Though Zavala found this method unnerving, he nonetheless complied with it for the sake of the Last City and of the Vanguard's alliance with the Cabal. However, Crow was more unnerved about it and spoke out against it. Zavala had Saladin try to teach Crow lessons regarding consequences using his experiences, the Iron Lord reluctantly agreed as he often found the scout reckless and impulsive.
Ultimately, Caiatl's psion learned from the Lucent Hive's minds that the Lucent Brood are planning on seizing control over the Scarlet Keep from Xivu Arath's forces and make it the center point of a ritual to summon an invasion force to attack Earth using Light they had stolen from slain Guardians. With Caiatl's fleet in position surrounding the Keep, the Guardians fight their way to the ritual's center and slay the Lucent leaders, thwarting the invasion. However, expecting Crow to lend support, the scout was no where to be found and Zavala would learn, to his dismay, that despite Saladin's lessons, Crow still disagreed with the method in how the Vanguard gained the necessary intel, leading him to recklessly shut down the machine keeping the hive in their deathless state, which unwittingly killed Caiatl's psion in the process. Empress Caiatl learns of this and, enraged, demands Crows life in accordance with Cabal justice.
In the Tower Hanger, presiding over Crow's actions, Zavala, while not wanting to jeopardize the Vanguard's growing alliance with the Cabal, is unwilling to hand over Crow to the empress. Though Crow resigned himself to his fate, Saladin steps in and offers his own life in exchange. Commending the Iron Lord's bravery in the face of death, Empress Caiatl agrees but instead has him become a bracus on her war council for the rest of his days. Though Crow attempts to appeal to Zavala, the Vanguard Commander silences him. Though saddened to see his old friend and mentor leave, Zavala is nonetheless grateful that his actions saved the Vanguard's alliance with the Cabal.
Zavala would also provide tactical aid to the Guardians as they investigated the rise of Cabal desertion within Caiatl's ranks at the Empress's request. After a series of raids on a base overseen by the deserters, the Guardians, Zavala and Caiatl would deduce that the deserters are being led by the traitor Yirix, the psion who orchestrated the assassination attempt on Zavala. Further, they learn that Yirix's operations are likely being funded by Calus, Caiatl's father, after finding treasure that was located on the Leviathan.
Haunted by the Past
Upon the re-arrival of the Leviathan within the system of Sol, Zavala took it upon himself to take part in the investigation into its activity. Stationed within the orbit of Luna, the former Cabal Emperor Calus sought to create a connection between the Leviathan and the Pyramid on Earth's moon. This caused Nightmares to emerge en masse within the derelict halls of the Leviathan, tormenting those who get too close. Seeking to interrupt this and prevent an enemy gaining unknown power, Zavala authorized the mission, Operation Midas, and took part in a ritual conducted by Eris Morn, binding his own personal Nightmare to be used in an attempt to cut Calus' connection with the Lunar Pyramid. This took the form of Zavala's wife, Safiyah, from long ago when Zavala was still a protégé of Saladin Forge.
As stoic as ever, Zavala sought not to speak directly about the subject of his Nightmare, though was willing for those who do know to relay information about it to other Vanguard members. Eris Morn reveals to the Guardian the tale of Zavala, his wife and their adopted son, Hakim, who he lost in battle centuries ago. To sever the connection to the Pyramid, Eris asks Zavala to confront the Nightmare, but the guilt of his past perceived failings prevents Zavala from completing the ritual of severance, even as the Guardian managed to slay the Nightmare of Kethiks, Grief Unforgiven, the embodiment of Zavala's guilt and the apparition of the Fallen who killed Hakim. After spending a week in thought over the situation, Zavala comes to accept that he must let go of those past failings, for he had tried his best and nothing could be done to change the outcome of the past. Upon doing so, he manages to convert the Nightmare of Safiyah into the Memory of Safiyah, finally granting Zavala a measure of peace and forgiveness. This helps inch the Vanguard and Cabal coalition towards its goal of stopping Calus' current activity, but it comes at a cost. Zavala admits that the Traveler isn't his "god", and the words of his Nightmare appear to have darkened his belief in the Traveler as a benevolent entity. However, Zavala admits the old adage, that Guardians "make their own fate", Traveler or not.
Unfortunately, despite their efforts in severing all of Calus's connections between the Leviathan and the Lunar Pyramid, the former emperor had succeeded in what he intended: to become a new Disciple of the Witness and gain entry into the Pyramid to claim its power. However, as the transformation hadn't been complete yet, Eris was able to put together a Severance Ritual of a much larger scale to prevent Calus from taking control of the Pyramid but required not only the Guardian's and Zavala's aid but also that of Crow and Caiatl. Racing to the Leviathan to begin the ritual, Zavala would find himself overwhelmed by Scorn forces but managed to place his amplifiers. Despite being unable to lend aid, the Guardians and Caiatl managed to enter into the Pyramid and confront Calus at the Chantry of the Darkest Hour. Against the odds, they managed to push Calus back, preventing him from claiming the Pyramid's power. Zavala would be present as Caiatl confirmed that her father had given himself over to the Witness and would gaze on as the Memory of Safiyah dissipated. Left completely exhausted by the entire ordeal, Zavala sits down upon his knees but would be comforted by his allies.
Personality and traits
Resolute, experienced, strong and charismatic, Zavala is a perfect exemplar of the Titan class of Guardian and a gifted leader that leads the Vanguard with the utmost determination. Zavala's first priority is the protection of the Last City and takes that charge seriously. No matter what force that seeks the destruction of the Last City, Zavala would face that enemy head-on. His one true goal is to defeat the Last City's enemies and reclaim the Solar System. Zavala has complete faith in the Guardians purpose in defending those in need. For this reason, he doesn't approve of those who doubt the Guardians abilities while espousing the dangers of the Last City's enemies, such as Eris Morn. Despite this, Zavala finds the value and skills in everyone and will defer to their advice when needed.
While Zavala is a capable, strategic leader, he can appear rigid and orthodox to others, especially Cayde-6, whose care-free attitude annoys Zavala to no end. While he would prefer people to follow orders and the chain-of-command, he will admit when an unorthodox strategy works. Though he can at times clash with Cayde, he nonetheless considers Cayde both a teammate and a friend. In contrast, he gets along well with Ikora Rey, though he has little patience for Warlock curiosity.
The only time Zavala ever doubted himself and the Guardians as a whole was when the Last City fell to the Red Legion at the beginning of the Red War. As it was his duty to protect the Last City, Zavala felt he failed at everything he was meant to protect. Though he originally sought to counterattack, Zavala's spirit nearly broke after losing Lightless Guardians to the Hive in a foolhardy attempt on Titan. He was even questioning if without the Light, was he even a Guardian anymore. It was only The Guardians efforts and learning of their restored Light did Zavala regain hope. Even after learning about the Almighty and its threat, Zavala's resolve remained strong, determined to defeat those who threaten the very existence of everything he knows. Zavala's overall confidence is restored after the liberation of the Last City and the awakening of the Traveler.
A new conflicted side of Zavala emerges when his friend and comrade, Cayde-6 was murdered by the renegade prince, Uldren Sov and his Scorn Barons. Though Zavala heavily mourned his friend, he struggled with his personal desire for justice and his duty to protect the Last City. While he related to Ikora's stern demand to end Uldren for his crimes, as Zavala stated that he refuses to bury more friends following the Red War, he knew that the Last City couldn't afford to conduct a manhunt. Despite this, the Guardian vowed to claim revenge by killing Uldren and the Scorn by taking the Reef in force. Though he declared the Reef out of their reach and reminded the Guardian of the risks their unsanctioned mission could bring, Zavala didn't stop the Guardian in their mission. Upon their success and the Scorn's failure, Zavala neither praised nor condemned the Guardian for their efforts, as he continues to be concerned over the consequences Uldren's death could bring.
Despite this, Zavala is capable of admitting a mistake or realizing there was more going on than he initially suspected. Instead of a personal vendetta against a rogue prince, the Guardians uncovered dark plots that threaten not only the Reef but the Last City as well. When the Awoken begged for the Last City's aid, informing them that the Taken have invaded the Dreaming City, Zavala regretted in not taking action sooner and thus agreed to stand with the Reef.
A running characterization with Zavala is his strong distrust with the ancient Warmind, Rasputin, believing the machine cannot be trusted with protecting humanity and its interests. Though Zavala once admitted that Rasputin may have been designed and built to defend humanity, time and the Collapse has left Rasputin, in Zavala's words, "a broken weapon", too dangerous to use but cannot be left unattended. Only when he has no other options at all would Zavala even consider getting involved with Rasputin. He would ultimately reach an accord with the ancient Warmind during the threat of the Almighty and would be left shocked when learning that Rasputin was silenced by the Darkness.
Another main trait of Zavala's is his rigidness in his stance towards what he believes is acceptable for Guardians, such as his strong reluctance towards Lightbearers wielding the Darkness-affiliated ability of Stasis, unlike Ikora Rey who has grown to tolerate it. Further, Zavala is adamant that the Traveler chose humanity and gifted them the Light for a reason, with its sacrifice during the Collapse as valid proof of it. However, after seeing the Traveler's supposed inaction during the Black Fleet's arrival would shaken this faith. Zavala would ultimately be left almost speechless and in near denial after learning that the Traveler resurrected the Hive Witch Queen, Savathûn, as a Lightbearer, unable to fathom that one of humanity's greatest foes was given the Light. Ultimately, while Zavala wouldn't pronounce the Traveler as his god, he would stand resolute that Guardians make their own fate.
Despite his rather rigid and orthodox stance, Zavala is more open-minded than he appears as he accepted Ikora Rey's alliance with the Eliksni House of Light and was at the forefront in creating an armistice with the Cabal Empress Caiatl, even getting into an argument with his old teacher Lord Saladin who advocated open war with the Cabal. Most notably, he accepted Crow into the Vanguard despite his former identity as the murderer of his friend and comrade, Cayde-6.
In Season of the Haunted, Zavala's regrets and grief would be forced to the surface after spending decades burying it. In fact, it was his own painful past that motivates his policy of discouraging Guardians from looking into their pasts. Crow would even remark that he couldn't imagine a Zavala before the Vanguard with Eris clarifying that he wished it as such, sacrificing that he used to be a husband, a father, even as a man, just to be seen as the Vanguard's commander. However, the Nightmare of Safiyah, would scorn him for this, claiming he puts duty first over his heart. Even after failing in the severance ritual and being forced to face his grief, Zavala remained heavily reluctant to confide in anyone, not seeing what good it would do. Ultimately, Eris would see that Zavala still carries a great deal of guilt in the death of his son, Hakim, and longs for Safiyah's forgiveness for that, even though it wasn't his fault. It was only after receiving comfort and support from his friends and allies did be finally gain the resolve to move past his grief and find forgiveness.
Though most wouldn't really notice or even know it, Zavala does possess a sense of humor but very rarely shows it as he feels he must remain serious in the mission to protect the Last City. It's mostly subtle but he does make lighthearted comments that actually makes those around him, mainly his oldest friends, smile.
Commander Zavala serves as the Vanguard Tactician upon completion of the Red War campaign. Vanguard Tactician tokens earned from strikes can be turned into Zavala to receive Vanguard Tactician Engrams, which can reward Vanguard weapons and armor.
During the Shadowkeep expansion:
Idle dialogue from Beyond Light
Idle dialogue from Season of the Chosen (before the ceasefire)
Idle dialogue from Season of the Chosen (after the ceasefire)
List of appearances