The Hidden Dossier

From Destinypedia, the Destiny wiki

(Redirected from Hidden Dossier)
Destiny-GhostConstruct.png
Boons I grant you, oh bearer mine, but debts must be paid in time.
This section is currently under construction and needs to be improved. Please refer to the talk page for more info. You can help by editing the page.
Destiny-GhostConstruct.png
"And my vanquisher will read that book, seeking the weapon, and they will come to understand me, where I have been and where I was going."
The following is a verbatim transcription of an official document for archival reasons. As the original content is transcribed word-for-word, any possible discrepancies and/or errors are included.
Hidden Dossier Cover.png

The Hidden Dossier is the book contained within The Witch Queen Collector's Edition.[1] It is a collection of documents, messages, and other relevant files from Hidden Agents, compiled by Ikora Rey. In addition to the 48 pages within the CE book, there are an additional 30 pages resulting from the ARG involving buyers of the Collector's Edition.[2] These pages begin with the Letter From Mithrax to Ikora.

Text in this color indicates handwritten notes made by Ikora Rey, or occasionally signatures signed by other characters.

Letter From Ikora[Note 1]

Guardian,

I hesitate. I am touched by doubt.

We must speak clearly. But you can't talk precisely without knowing precisely who you're
talking to. (Think of everything we said to Osiris—) I feel as if I know you.
But have I ever allowed you to know me?

I used to act as fast as I thought, and sometimes much faster. That's youth. Eventually I
made too many mistakes to ignore; that's youth too, ignoring your mistakes until they pile up
and topple. I dug myself out. I learned to keep myself hidden. Hidden purpose, hidden
knowledge. A hidden Ikora, and for the world, a face of perfect composure and intent.
Even when we lost the Traveler, I went to Io to hide my confusion.

I am going to try to un-hide myself.

I may frighten or confuse you. I am not an easy person to know.

This is a folio of intelligence reports from my Hidden network. It will illuminate the events
leading up to the current apokalypsis. In the original Koine Greek, that word means unveiling,
and also revelation.

In the spirit of unveiling I have also included fragments of my own personal writing about
the nature of Darkness and Light. They are less the work of Ikora Rey the great Warlock
Vanguard than of ikora rey, the unfashioned and uncertain woman.

In the early Books of Sorrow, Savathun scribbles a warning that Oryx's text is
full of lies. Mara Sov's hagiography and self-indictment, the Marasenna,
warns the reader to remember that it is narrated in the first person, even and especially
when it pretends to be objective.

Truth is always edited by the truthteller.

I give you no such warning. This is the unaltered truth of what I know and who I am.
May it bring you to the clarity I have sought.


Ikora

The Hidden Dossier

((01))


Beginnings offer you no power.
It is what you do that is in your power;
it is how you end which counts.

SUBJ: INITIAL REPORT ON UNPAIRED GHOST COMMUNITIES

((02))


ACCESS: MOST RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: Z2TET3C4WZTLRL8NV5KS$IKO-006
REP#: 1851-GHOSTS-SUS
AGENT(S): CHA-319


SUBJ: INITIAL REPORT ON UNPAIRED GHOST
COMMUNITIES


1. Hey friend!

2. I know I'm not allowed to say that to the Warlock
Vanguard or to IKO-006, but given that we're under
double-trouble encryption, I'm going to say it anyway.
How's your whole mess in the City? Glad I missed all that...

3. I've completed my "Ethnographic Survey of Itinerant
Unpaired Ghosts Who Prefer Intra-Ghost Interactions."
It'll make a neat paper. As a cover story, it was pretty
good! These Ghosts tend to be thoughtful and introverted,
so like most introverts, they respond well to people who
are interested in their thoughts. And they seemed to find it
very self-affirming to dislike me! I guess it's nice to confirm
you still prefer yourself to other people.

4. These introverted Ghosts spend a lot of time hovering in
circles, philosophizing. The longer they've been away from
people (sorry, Human people—Ghosts are people, too),
the less they care about hovering at head height or facing
each other when they talk. After a few months, they'll just
scatter around a space facing every whichway, like they're
each posing for a photo. When they're not talking, I get the
feeling that they're just... sensing. The same way they can
divine the character of a long-dead corpse. Whatever you
want to call that faculty, they're using it.

5. Speaking of, are we still doing the sunyata friendship
thing? Treating each other as sacred voids? If so, I'm
allowed to say anything to you, and you are allowed to say
anything to me, and we each trust the other to receive it
without hurt. So I'm allowed to say—I'm not sure people
out here like you very much, Ikora. They don't know who
you are; they don't have a sense of what you stand for.

And you know, I do get that. I had to sneak up on you
in your private library to surprise you and (I know you
INSIST I didn't really surprise you, but still...) even then,

((03))


you talked to me about circles. Circles! Do you know
what the Traveler's reawakening meant for the geometry
of circles? You told me it changed everything about the
semiotic role of circles in some paracausal invocation of
the Light. And I'm going to tell you the truth, which is,
you didn't want to talk to me, so you talked about circles
instead. I know people who can talk in circles, but you're
the only one who can do it by talking about circles. I really
admire your efficiency.

6. These Ghosts without Guardians argue about two things.
One is the exact nature of their connection to their
undiscovered Guardian. Is each Ghost predestined to find
one and exactly one soul to raise as a Guardian? Or does
each Ghost have a taste, a set of preferences that many
dead people might satisfy? Could a Ghost potentially raise
anyone? Does the choice of a partner lie within the Ghost,
or is it a mission assigned by the Traveler?

7. They also argue over how one should interact with their
chosen Guardian. Should Ghosts accede to whatever
their partner demands? Or is a Ghost's relationship
with a Guardian a negotiated bond between equals and
codependents? Heavy stuff. But I guess it's the same
argument people always have about their relationships. Is
there such a thing as true love, or just the love we decide
we're going to make work?

8. What is this thing we do, Ikora? Are you my one true
love, am I yours? We agreed it's not love like most people
have love. Nobody's getting married or turning up arm-
in-arm at the Crimson Ball. It's a special and radical kind
of friendship, right? That's what you said. An endogenous
need to strike the lies away from another soul. It's the
promise to seek truth in each other without mercy or fear,
but always with compassion.

((04))


So: speaking mercilessly and fearlessly, but with
compassion, where is our friendship now? What does it
mean? Does it mean that I check in on you every few years
and otherwise just let you do your thing? Is that your
nature—to draw away forever while I chase after you and
nag to be sure you're all right? Friend, you are not Mara
Sov, and I am not one of her cadre. I'm not doing that. I
want to see more of you, and I want you to want that.

9. Maybe I shouldn't expect a lot of personal insight from
the woman who wrote the Hidden creed. Which reads, and
I quote, "Find thy self. Know thy self. Destroy thy self."
But I'm really worried that if people don't know you, they
might end up destroying you. Our much-foreshadowed
Stranger saw the future, Ikora. You were dead. Dead
because someone you trusted turned on all of us.

10. Can't end on nine paragraphs. Too spooky! I noticed
one common thread among these unpaired Ghosts. They
REALLY like the Books of Sorrow. Ever since Eris
deciphered the calcified fragments, Guardians have been
fascinated by the history of the Hive. But these Ghosts—I
don't think it's fascination. I think it's pity. They see
the Hive as an exploited underclass, for goodness' sake!
Victims of a cosmic parasite that tricked the poor krill
into eternal slavery. No wonder they haven't found their
Guardians. They don't want to help anyone kill Hive!

But this is troubling, isn't it? Because if Ghosts can decide
that they have moral qualms with raising Guardians, and if
they can convince other Ghosts to follow suit... we're going
to need a program of counter-persuasion. We'll have to start
keeping an eye on the morale and loyalty of our own Ghosts.

This way lies a terrible future.


MESSAGE ENDS

FIRST CALLING OF THE HIDDEN, ANNOTATED

((05))


I feel the need to ground my commentary here with anecdote.

1. Find thy self.

To be Osiris's student was to orbit a star. The man would occlude you if you let him; and if you
came too close, you would be burnt. It became tempting to define yourself only by your distance and
angle with relation to him: "Today he is distracted but warm, so I am at a close approach but a high
inclination." This was a mistake. You must know who you are with respect to yourself. This is not an
emotional allegory! If you intend to conduct thanatonautics alongside a teacher, to die and become
as fire and return to life, you must know what parts of you are yours!

Accurate knowledge is impossible if you do not understand
the device by which knowledge is obtained. One of
humanity's most monumental achievements is the metric
system, an enduring system of measure usable by all
people in all situations. But the metric system had a flaw:
its units were defined by physical objects. The standard
kilogram was an ingot of platinum and iridium. This
ingot changed over time, as all material things must; and
therefore, it was unreliable. The metric system was not
completed until the kilogram found a truer, more absolute
definition based on pure knowledge: in this case, Planck's
universal constant.

In the future, we may discover that Planck's constant
varies between different volumes of the multiverse. If we
do, we will need to find a truer definition of the kilogram.
So it is that this is the first step—finding thy self— so
that you may know the instrument by which you obtain
knowledge, and it is ever ongoing.

2. Know thy self.

I thought I knew my self. I'd fought in the Crucible, which requires self-knowledge to check the
impulses that control most Crucible players. ("I'll go straight to the ammo drop again; this time, it'll
turn out differently." No, fool, it will not!) I'd flown high-risk scouting missions far from Earth, and
always returned. I had even bargained with an Ahamkara and, I thought, come out ahead. What I
had wished for was a teacher greater than me.

But I did not know my self. I could find myself, certainly, but the map is not the territory. Just
because I could locate Ikora Rey did not mean I could enter Ikora Rey and understand her: and if
you do not know the interior mechanism of a device, you do not know what the device will do.

I found myself in a place of crisis. The Vanguard had determined that the Ahamkara had to be
made extinct. But to confront Ahamkara, you must know and accept exactly what it is you desire—
you must let it pass through you without either repudiation or longing, or it will become a wish for
the Ahamkara to feed upon. And oh, the longings I hated to have! To shatter Ophiuchus, to astound
my critics with a display of my full power, to die alongside Osiris and be reborn as one being in an

((06))


eternity of fire, to burn poor Chalco to a temporary, smoking smear and laugh at her astonishment...
we are all full of these perverse impetuosities.

It is one thing to purge yourself of all incorrect and unacceptable thought. It is another to know it
and accept it and to let it be.

When you have reliable instruments of measurement,
you may then measure yourself. Truth is universal, but
universal truth can only be acquired through personal
truth. This is the foundational paradox of Gnosticism. To
know anything beyond the self requires self-knowledge, but
the self cannot be known without understanding the laws
that drive it, which can only be known by observing the
world. How do we escape this cycle?

This conundrum offers an escape from the Boltzmann-
brain solipsistic trap. The trap asks us, "How do you know
that you are not the only thing in existence, and that the
universe you perceive is not a random moment emerged
from chaos?" The answer is that a randomly emerged
illusionary brain, the product of a probabilistic demiurge,
is cosmically unlikely to contain both the memory of
and imaginary universe and knowledge of consistent
mathematical and physical laws of which describe that
whole. If the world is an illusion, then why would it
produce the illusion of a physics that can be consistently
explain its existence? Which is more probable: that we and
all we see are an enormous coincidence, or that reality is
in fact determined and evolved by a consistent set of laws?
The existence of an objective reality is more probable. If
objective reality really exists, we exist in it. The truth that we see
in the world around us allow us to induce the truth of our
own persistent existence.

To know thy self is not to only look within but also
without. It is impossible to know thy self without
knowledge of the universe.

3. Destroy thy self.

When I battled Azirim, he defeated me. He showed me that he could make all my desires real,
and I succumbed. It was Wei Ning who broke me out of the trance-of-creation I had fallen into,
moments before I manifested a wish from the quantum vacuum: four dead strangers returned to life,
forgiven their desperate grab for my Ghost, so that I could forgive myself for how quickly and lethally
I had responded. If I had finished the wish and fashioned them, I would have annihilated myself,
Ophiuchus, and everything around us in a particle-antiparticle catastrophe.

What Wei Ning did was punch me in the head so gently that I only got a concussion. I do not advise
this as a way to destroy the self. But as an analogy, it is useful.

((07))


When you have located your self, destroy your self. Grip
your self like a hand shaking a hand, find the weak places,
and squeeze. Throw your self at yourself like a rising
tide upon an ancient fortress. Do not stop when your
soft places are eroded. You must continue until nothing
remains. In this manner, you will gain two vital gnoses: the
revealed knowledge of your own strengths and failings,
and the practiced knowledge of how to reconstruct your
self when destroyed.

In one Gnostic tradition, our universe is the creation of
Barbelo and Sophia, whose mimicry of the Unknown
God's emanations gave rise to Yaldabaoth, the lion-headed
serpent. Yaldabaoth the Demiurge crafted our world and
the Archons that rule it in mimicry of the true spiritual
world, which is called pleroma. Upon creating humanity,
Yaldabaoth declared itself the truth creator, unaware that it
itself was only a mimic of the Unknown God.

The key understanding here lies not in the fabulism, nor
even in Yaldabaoth's failure to destroy itself and reveal the
truth, but in the relationship between the Gnostic tradition
and the Book of Genesis. This Gnostic tale comes before
the traditional Genesis, totally recontextualizing it—even
destroying it. In retaliation for this transformation, the
Gnostics were destroyed by more orthodox faith.

We cannot understand ourselves unless we know our
own origins; and we cannot accept our origins unless are
willing to destroy ourselves.

4. Shed thy self.

When I battled Madhir, he tried the same trick as Azirim. But I simply became someone else. I
do not mean that I pretended to be someone else. I mean that I allowed Madhir to change me into
someone who Madhir could not tempt.

I laugh much less since that day. But I am more content.

Rub at the thin, dry outer parts of yourself. Crawl shining
and wet from that outer husk.

All misjudgement is caused by the failure to shed the self.
We constantly make poor decisions, knowing that they will
hurt us and isolate us, because these decisions allow us
to sustain our stories of who we are. When we are angry,
we choose to act in anger, even if we know we could de-
escalate. When we are wounded, we make the choices a
wounded person would make, even when we know these
choices will deepen the wound. Who would do otherwise?

((08))


To refuse the choice we want is to make is to refuse our self,
and that makes us afraid. We are afraid to change who we
are. Unless we have a habit, a natural capability to escape
our own nature. So we must acquire that capability.

It is impossible to escape the cage of the self by any means except shedding.

5. Embrace a new skin.

I was at the Great Disaster, when the Vanguard rallied its Guardians against omens of doom
centered on our moon. We used the same group tactics against Crota that we had employed against
the Ahamkara. It is hard to withstand many Guardians, and hard to use paracausal trickery to
derange many minds at once.

Swiftly and terribly, we learned our error. The sword logic finds the weakest part of a structure and
destroys it. A mass of Guardians is full of joints and weaknesses to cut through. Today, we fight in
fireteams of three: a triangle, the basic shape of a truss; the strongest shape in nature.

We, the eternally reborn Guardians, agelessly returning to our favorite state, failed to learn the real
lesson of the Great Ahamkara Hunt: that in order to assume a new form, you must cast off the old
one. The Ahamkara succeeded in that transformation. We failed.

When you have left behind the dry husk of your self, you
will find yourself in the strata of dry husks, an infinite
compost of uninhabited might-yet-be. In order to don
another self, you must enter it and embrace it wholly.
You must accept it without reservation. This is terrifying,
because to wholly accept transformation is to wholly
accept death.

This is the confrontation with the ego death, the
psyche death, the collapse of connections between the
mediotemporal and higher cortical brain networks.

Its successful resolution comes with the understanding
that there is no persistent self, only a set of rules by which
we temper our own changes. That which does not change
at all is dead. That which changes wholly explodes. We are
the middle course. We are the place between the dead coal
and the blazing fire.

6. Become the many.

I was a solitary adventurer, but I had to become a leader and teacher. I do not mean that I have
become greater or gained a higher authority. I mean that I have learned to surrender my own desires
in favor of acting for a common good. The needs of many impel me. This was not a balm for all
difficulties; it created new problems. I nearly lost Ophiuchus this way: he was my complement,
the strength to counterpose my weaknesses. And when I tried to become someone who existed for
everyone, I left him nothing to exist for at all.

((09))


This path is not a simple one. I sometimes lose sight of which way is forward.

This step is simple, which is why it is the hardest of all.
When you have mastered the ability to escape yourself, and<
then take on a new self, you will then abandon the need to
be a self.

This is easiest for the Dawnblade, who understands the "self"
as a perturbation of a field, like a vortex in water—a place
of constant change, not separate from but continuous with
the surrounding universe. For Hunters, this step may arrive
from study of the natural world, or from immersion in the
Human communities around us. For Titans, devotion to
duty or to the perfection of certain acts is the natural path.

All must arrive at this realization in their own way.

7. We are as unseen. We are as death.

I failed the Traveler, and I failed Cayde.

I asked Zavala to declare war on the Reef and to affix Uldren Sov's head on the queen's empty
throne. I had lost my self; I did not know my self; I did not destroy my self. If I had, I would have
done nothing. But in the Red War, I could only do nothing, and so now, doing nothing felt like a
trap. I wanted to do something; and so, I argued we should go into Savathûn's snare.

I spoke bitter words about Zavala then. But he was right. If we had done nothing, the curse would never have taken the Dreaming City.

Failure visits us as inevitably as death. But we are reborn. There are no second chances, not for any
choice we make: but there is always the chance to do better at the next one.

Death comes unseen to all of us, and we do not know the
hour of its coming or the face it will wear.

We are the Hidden, and we must be as death. They do not
know the hour of our approach or the face we will wear.
All knowledge ends in us; and yet, we are beyond knowing.

But as Hidden, we must also accept that we do not see all,
and we do not know the hour of our own death. We are
the final repository of knowledge, as the grave is the final
library. But we cannot know our own death until it has
taken us beyond all knowing.

How is it possible to fully know oneself when oneself will
not be finished and complete until death?

There is a right answer to this paradox.

((010))

//


We are all going to die

it's all right to be afraid to be angry to be alone with the thought for a while you know
you'll never be alone after you die so loneliness is only for the living and being alone is being
fiercely alive

The trick is to make sure we do not all die at once.

Some of us will die and some will go on. And then those who went on will die, but more will
go on. And this cycle will continue, and as long as it does, something of us will be part of it.
Three and a half billion years ago, something came to life on Earth, and we are all part of it.
It has never died.

We are all going to die; but not yet. Not yet.


//

CONSENSUS PERSONAL

((011))

VANCINCTAN CMDR ZAVALA >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

This is your latest move? Ikora, I'm hurt. Placing that stone at
6x24 is clearly suboptimal. You're going easy on me, and I won't
have it.

REY >> ZAVALA

Trust me. I have a feeling it'll make a more interesting game. If
you don't believe me, put the game state into a go engine.

ZAVALA >> REY

Balderdash. The fact that you have a 50.41% win rate against
me doesn't mean you can afford to treat me like I'm not here.
By my reading, my whole position on the left flank is quite
harmonious. I have the advantage in liberties and in initiative.
You may have the better sense for the abstract game, Ikora, but
I am a better logistician. And I know that 6x24 undermines
your endgame.

REY >> ZAVALA

Playing the conventional move here will drive this game into an
echo of those we've played before. Just a joseki writ large; we
already know those moves. Whereas 6x24 puts us in a totally
new board state.

ZAVALA >> REY

I'll get back to you after the Consensus meeting, or you'll be
distracted the whole time trying to think up your reply.

SUBJ: LATEST STASIS BEHAVIORS

((012))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 2CA9SXUO2C$IKO-006
REP#: 091-STASIS-TEST
AGENT(S): TRU-135


SUBJ: LATEST STASIS BEHAVIORS

1. Now I know you think I'm a steady old hand so you give
me the weird jobs on the theory that if I spook then it's
worth getting spooked. But this one has me worried. Does
no one any good to play with fire. Or cold as the case may
be. Either way you get burnt.


2. All right here are my observations on the use of Stasis.


The virulence of Stasis against other Guardians has
generally decreased. Withering Blade doesn't bite so deep
or freeze so solid. Glacial Quake won't catch so many cold-
footed. Now why is this?


Partly I reckon that Guardians have learned to counteract
the effects of Stasis with their own Light. Heat what's cold
and whatnot. But the experimentalists out here mutter that
Stasis has a mind of its own: which is strange right because
they all insist that "the Darkness comes from within us,"
that it's a part of them, some residue of the Cambrian
explosion or whatever. The real Darkness was inside us all
along. Which is it? Is Darkness in all of us or has it got a
mind of its own? We need to answer that question.


Let's say they're right and Stasis has in some way changed
itself. Why would Stasis weaken its effect against other
Guardians? I'll tell you exactly why. Same reason a virus
evolves a strain that won't kill its host. People were
turning against Stasis, didn't like what it was doing to
their Crucible. So Stasis made itself nicer. So we'd keep on
using it. If Stasis was better than what the Traveler gave
us we wouldn't be able to accept it as just another colorful
species of whoopass. We might get scared of it.


But this way it's nice and balanced. Everything kept in
proper balance. And doesn't "balance" sound like a goal
worth striving for?


((013))

3. Now you asked me to keep an eye out for signs of cruelty
among the Stasis users. But it strikes me there's a
problem here. In the old days we would call it "statistical
comorbidity" but maybe you fancy Warlocks have
some deeper understanding of synchronicity or hidden
concordance or whatnot. What I mean is can we tell if
Stasis makes people cruel or reckless or in the best cases
very bold? I see Stasis users who shouldn't have any kind
of power, never mind Stasis. And I see decent Guardians
who took to Stasis as an urgent necessity. It's the old
question about Thorn. Was Dredgen Yor corrupted by his
weapon? Or did he just need an excuse?


Maybe Stasis really is just a tool. Maybe the only moral
valence it has is what we bring to it.


4. Cowlick still refuses to examine the Stasis crystals with
her own unique senses and I'm not gonna make her. Poor
Ghost shouldn't have to stare into what hurts her. Best
details she could get with secular instruments attached.
However Cowlick is pleased as pinch to go over the results
and come up with theories. I'll leave the "Flack parametric
analysis" and all the other numbers to her…


5. Now I do know something about viruses from my frontier
medicine days. I know that gentler strains of a virus have
a competitive advantage if they keep their host alive long
enough to jump to a new one. So we can imagine Stasis
as a virus, maybe even a virus with purpose—limiting its
virulence so as to get at the rest of us.


But we've got to remember that a virus only evolves to
go easy on its host when that makes it more successful.
It's a myth that all diseases evolve to coexist peacefully
with us. A virus will crank up its lethality to 99% so long
as that viciousness also lets it reach a new host. If a virus
could make people explode like rotten balloons and infect
everyone nearby, a virus would do it. Viruses don't give
a damn for anything except making more of themselves.


((014))

They certainly don't give a damn for their own long-term
viability—they're too stupid to think that far in advance.


So keep that in mind when it comes to assessing the safety
of Stasis. After all it is a power we use to explode each
other like rotten balloons.


And keep in mind also that a virus isn't evil. It just wants
to exist. If there really is a distinction between Stasis-as-a-
power and the voice in those ships, if one can be separated
from the other, then maybe Stasis isn't intrinsically
corrupting. Or maybe it is corrupting but only when it's
tied to the voice behind it. Maybe we can wrest it free. Who
knows? Not me.


Truce out.



MESSAGE ENDS

Mara said there was a difference between Darkness as a force and the will that guided it. But there
is no question that the interlopers led us to stasis.

The enemy has given us a tool. Does that make the tool the enemy?

APPENDED FILE: COWLICK'S ANALYSIS OF STASIS

The Stasis crystals aren't water ice. Obvious enough, but I
thought I'd get it out of the way. The extraordinary property of
Stasis is its ability to create ordered structures from chaos—
it doesn't care what kind of matter is available; it just sucks
entropy out of the system until it's got a crystal. The crystal's
not exactly chemical. The normal electromagnetic interactions
between atoms are suppressed in favor of something weirder. A
bit like spinmetal.


Examination by scanning and tunneling electron microscope
(plus X-ray crystallography and neutron diffraction, if we
want to be exhaustive) revealed a highly ordered crystalline
structure at the nanometer scale. Results included a lot of lens
artifacts, so I had to resort to makeshift ptychography. But I've
attached what I could see. As far as I can tell, we're looking at
conventional baryonic matter—not reifled virtual matter, space
time at a true-zero energy state, an excitation of some novel
field, or (Traveler save us from VanNet theories) super-extremal
naked black holes masquerading as particles.


((015))

(Now, I am a little disappointed to discover that the super
vacuum hypothesis is out. Quantum physics says it's impossible
to know the exact energy state of a volume of space, and "zero"
is an exact energy state—so it's physically illegal for a volume
of space to have zero energy when observed. That's why we
get random virtual particles popping in out of the void; they're
created and destroyed by the energy of emptiness. Some Warlocks
thought that if you carried out the impossible task of sucking
ALL the energy out of a volume of space-time, nulling out even
the zero-point fluctuations and achieving a True Void, then you
could achieve a physical regime where space and time themselves
ceased to exist. Instead, you'd get a "space-time condensate," a
superfluid vacuum capable of interacting with itself to generate
structure. In this theory, the Stasis crystals were a cold so deep
that they froze space-time itself! It had a certain elegance, but
either the True Void does not exist, or it is not here attained, or I
am just misinterpreting this data.)


The crystalline structure of the Stasis material is both spatial
and temporal: it forms ordered patterns in three dimensions, and
those patterns evolve over time without outside energy input.
I've tried bootstrapping several models, but when I compare the
predictions to the actual behavior of the crystal, the R-factor
is always garbage. (I don't have the equipment to open up the
Calabi-Yau manifold and peek at extra dimensions here, sorry.
Maybe I'd glimpse the paracausal truth of the Darkness and start
dividing in half until you had a planet full of Cowlicks and Truces
all complaining.)


There's some funny stuff going on within the crystal structure:
long-range multiparticle interactions that might require
paracausal intervention to sustain. The crystal also soaks up
incident motion and energy, which it converts into mechanical
work: this is how these crystals form so rapidly, and why they're
surrounded by such intense cold. (Think of it like a nucleation
event in a false vacuum; the crystal keeps expanding because
it's energetically favorable for it to do so, as long as its surface
area-to-volume ratio is sufficiently high.) It's also why they retain
significant structural-impact volatility (they shatter really well).
When you've stored so much energy in a dense lattice, you're
already most of the way to a bomb. All high-energy chemical
explosives are crystalline.


The actual structure of the crystal is... hard to characterize. The
mass has some spooky quantum characteristics, behaving like a
superfluid condensate complete with vortices, so it's hard to get
information on specific areas—you get domains of the crystals
behaving as single particles.

((016))

By poking random spots, I've got the idea that the crystal is
composed of different isomer territories which compete along
their boundaries to recruit each other. The isomer domains
also generate mutants within themselves, which spread and
take over if they have superior recruiting properties; I've even
seen encysted "laboratories" where mutants compete before
the winners breach the barrier and spill into the surrounding
lattice. Our three queens in action again? I promise not to dive
into Bieberbach's theorem and abelian subgroups, but there's
some fascinating math going on here.


Now if you're up on your theory (which I am), you know that
crystal structures are closely tied to symmetry groups, which
by Noether's theorem, are mathematically equivalent to
conservation laws: they're descriptions of the ways you can
transform a physical system without breaking the rules of that
system. All those old kooks were right: crystals are the basis of
reality! Sort of. It was spontaneous (read: quantum) breaking of
symmetries that created our universe—random perturbations
that caused uniform fields to depart their symmetrical but
unstable initial state and settle into one of many possible
configurations permitted by the laws of physics. Like a ball
rolling down the symmetrical peak of a fashionable sombrero
and settling somewhere on the brim.


So that's high-level cosmology. But at the lowest levels of
condensed matter physics, the crystals we're looking at here
are a product of the same spontaneous symmetry breaking
mechanism. Matter cooling down abruptly, generating structure.


What I'm getting at is that the "Stasis ice" is produced by
the same mechanisms that created the entire universe from
nothing. Cold order from hot chaos. Wild, huh? Makes you
wonder if we could use the Light to heat everything back up to
the primordial fire. Let it all cool down into a different shape.
Maybe even a better one.


But that's the optimist in me talking.


Mathematical details appended.


P.S. Something unnerving just occurred to me. The Stasis
crystals probably contain domains of superconductive electron
flow. And space-time crystals are one way to implement
a quantum computer. Those are both very rich media for
computation. If there's evolution occurring within the crystals,
as domains compete for advantage... that might favor domains
with useful internal simulation of the world around them.
Almost Vexy.


((017))

There might be cognition and computation happening in the
Stasis crystals: thoughts in the crystals themselves, in that short
span between their creation and destruction. Tiny swarming
minds created and annihilated in the detonation of a grenade.
Maybe something to put Shimizu on…



END APPENDMENT

Hidden Dossier Diagram1.png

((018))

//


If no one likes me, humanity will go extinct

Arrogance pure arrogance but the awful thing is it's true. Given no guidance Guardians will go to their own ruin, they will saunter up to Ahamkara and Dredgens and the Winnower itself. (Give them the option to turn all their Ghosts into little black pyramids and half of them would take it.)
And we can only lead them if they like us–
They liked Cayde because he lightened them. Cayde made himself a walking joke because jokes are delightful and everyone will follow a delight.
I am not a good joker.
Cannot know every Guardian. The Tower sees hundreds of thousands of visits a day, you cannot know them all, they cannot know you. So if you are not their friend, then what are you? You have to be an idea, a caricature, a meme infecting their minds. An easily reproduced token of who you are. Shaxx shouts. Zavala fathers. Eris avenges.
I do not fit into a joke; I do not fit into a cliché. I thought that was all right: my job is to know what will happen next, to have the paths ready for others to lead them down. If they do not like me, well, I don't always like myself.
But now–
Do they like me enough to believe me? To believe in me?
Or will they rush to someone funnier? Someone more comfortable? Someone who has more to offer than uncertainty and complexity and doubt? Lies are always more comfortable than the truth. Lies can be tailored to fit.
I am supposed to be their bulwark against lies, but what if they like liars more than me?

//

VANNET PERSONAL

((019))



ANTOWGUESTACC/ 6cc842de4888f9899a1f0e9ed97c2efa >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

Hey Ikora,


Did it ever occur to you that ERAMIS is a common language anagram for AM ERIS? It's funny how Three Eyes works for you, but now she works with me. Maybe you weren't giving her enough chances to grow.


No salutation entered,


“VIP #1316”



VANTOWGUESTACC/6cc842de4888f9899alf0e9ed97c2efa >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

Hey Ikora,


Did you sign off on this? Zavala ordered a search of my ship to get samples of my plants? "There are known similarities between your vessel's infestation and the growths aboard the derelict Glykon Volatus." Tell the big guy that if he wants to get at my garden, he'd better start pounding some Primevals.


Transmat firing,


D



VANTOWGUESTACC/6cc842de4888f9899alf0e9ed97c2efa >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

Hey Ikora,


I hate ice planets. Nothing good ever happens on an ice planet. You can't even burn guts for heat when there's no air.


You and I used to push the edge of the map, remember? My crew ended up out past Neptune, exploring dwarf planets full of monoliths. But you—now you're the one in the Tower, collecting the reports, making the maps.


I always wanted to say, I admire you for throwing everything behind the hunt for Prince Udon. At least you know how to stick up for your crew.


Catch you soon,


Noman

((020))

Hidden Dossier Diagram2.png

((021))

//


Dear Ikora Rey,


I am a low power Guardian. Very big fanatic of your work as Warlock caravan guard. Excuse any male propisms as I was raised without knowledge of modern language or devices due to some deficit of otherways agreeable Host. Arc heologists tell me I am female Qadan recovered from strata of Mesolithic battle site at Jebel Sahaba in Egypt and I may be up to thirteen thousand years old. Perhaps this has caused great strain in process of my re-surrection. (Original birth is not called a surrection? Death is not called a desurrection?) So I do not know much modern language or possess good weapon instincts. Sometimes think Ghost left me old fashioned on purpose due to too much love of anthropological science.


I educate myself on modern skills. This involves many conversations with comrade Guardians. I know from position of my remains that I died in a massacre. Violence of human against human is very troubling to me. So I am often upset by attitude of jaded Guardian towards Light spirit. Many Guardians read Unveiling scriptures and discuss perspective of enemy Darkness. Many Guardians prefer chatty Darkness to silent unspeaking Light. Now we have stasis, very cool. Guardians bored of Light and want to massacre each other with Darkness.


I think this happens because the Light no longer has a Speaker to speak for it. Many texts have been written to give voice to Darkness. Light is taken for granted due to silence and lack of things to argue about. Silence mistaken for complacency or impotence. Air is always silent and we need it to live; so we forget it until the flood or the storm.


Would you please use your formidable knowledge to produce an exegesis of Light which will command respect of jaded Guardians who do not let me sit at campfire because I am too straight edge.


Thank you,
Sen-Aret


//

SUBJ: REQUEST FOR CLARIFIED/UPDATED STANCE ON STASIS USERS

((022))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED DECRYPTION HEY: 2CA9SXU020$IKO-006 REP#: 093-STASIS-DIR AGENT(S): AUN-326

SUBJ: REQUEST FOR CLARIFIED/UPDATED STANCE ON STASIS USERS

1. “To be a Warlock is to understand true power." You said that. Do we, as Warlocks, truly understand Stasis? Do we understand the long-term implications of tacitly permitting the use of the Darkness? The answer is no. Our enemy's short-term planning horizon is millennial. By the time we recognize our damnation, it will be too late. We are not gambling with Human survival—we are surrendering it to the enemy.


2. You have questioned my purposes before, and I have questioned yours. Let me do so again. I have seen Ghosts—not just Guardians, but their Ghosts—who spit at the name of the Traveler. Have they freely chosen to turn against the Light that made them? If so, this is dangerous. Or have they turned out of loyalty to their Guardians? If so, they are the victims of abuse. Why do we allow this? Say: no more. Say: this must end.


3. I promised I would hunt down the corrupt, and I keep my promises. But again and again, I hear the renegades make the same excuse. The Traveler is silent. The Traveler is still. Meanwhile, the enemy whispers its offers. At least the enemy seems to care..


4. Zavala has forbidden the use of Stasis. He has personally asked prominent Guardians to abstain from using it. He has been ignored, mocked, and diminished. Yet all sanctioned punishments of rogue Stasis-using Guardians have been kept covert. When will we be allowed to make open arrests? Are we now afraid of rebellion by our own Guardians? Isn't that proof that we should have acted sooner? This all began with that groveling opossum the Drifter. We let him acclimate our Guardians to eating from the metaphysical garbage bin, the filth and folly of the Dark.


5. You have written philosophy on the Warlock disciplines. Where is your exegesis of Stasis? I thought you would be

((023))

first to call out its blatantly manipulative manifestation as a sparkling crystal. It is obvious that this tovyetic, elemental aesthetic is meant to set Guardians at ease—to exploit our comfort with ideas of the Light as fire, lightning, and shadow. Ice is an easy and natural opposite to fire; it carries a suggestion of proper symmetry. And the way Stasis was given to the Fallen? Obvious attempt to provoke jealousy and competition. It is easy to pick up a weapon your enemy has already used against you. Turnabout is fair play.


6. If you give credit to stories of alternate timelines, then we know Eris Morn is capable of betraying and destroying humanity. Are we to do nothing to prepare? Are we to ignore her slow shift from an attitude of absolute rejection of Darkness to a wary acceptance of Stasis as "wintercraft"? What do we do if she goes further?


7. I show the rest of the world only iron certitude, but I have nothing but questions for you. Do not make me fight for the future of Guardians and all we guard by sending you unanswered memos.


8. Ikora, what are we doing? If you believe the Unveiling texts, the Traveler made a gamble on us. It said: "Here I wager that, given power over physics and the trust of absolute freedom, people will choose to build and protect a gentle kingdom ringed in spears. And not fall to temptation. And not surrender to division. And never yield to the cynicism that says, everyone else is so good that I can afford to be a little evil." Aren't we failing that trust?


9. Tell me you haven't used Stasis. Tell me you haven't.


MESSAGE ENDS

((024))


MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: 1K0-006
TO: AUN-326


I'm working on something. Eris deserves our grace and our trust. She’s been through so much. Once she was only driven by revenge. Now it is the possibility of fellowship that sustains her. Don't take that away.


REPLY ENDS


MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: AUN-326
TO: IKO-006


It's not a question of her desserts. I'm a Praxic. Practically speaking, I can't ignore a possible threat. And you didn't answer my question.


REPLY ENDS


MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: IKO-006
TO: AUN-326


If you can't trust me, you can't trust anyone. Let's speak of praxis. As far as we know, the Darkness has defeated the Traveler in every previous encounter. For the entire lifespan of the universe. The only difference this time is the presence of Guardians. We have been entrusted with the power to make our own choices. Maybe one of those choices is to do what the Traveler cannot—to find a balance between Light and Darkness. If this is the last battle, the final stand for the fate of all creation, we cannot afford to ignore possibilities.


REPLY ENDS


MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: AUN-326
TO: IKO-006


That's a good point. But if finding that balance is the key to victory, why is our enemy so eager to suggest it to us? And you still haven't answered my question.


REPLY ENDS

((025))


MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: IKO-006
TO: AUN-326


Of course I haven't used it. I need to be flawless as a leader. I need to be twice as good, twice as often. I can't afford an indiscretion like Stasis.


REPLY ENDS

Hidden Dossier Diagram3.png

((026))

//


An Exegesis of the Light, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


How to Understand Light, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


Why The Light Is Not Boring, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


What Illuminates Us, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


lt Is Natural for Guardians to Prefer the New and Rare but Let's Be Cautious About It, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


Everyone Wanted A Gjallarhorn But Look What Happened When You All Got One, or, Why Mass Tendencies in Guardian Behavior Can In Retrospect Be Destructive, by Ikora Rey

Ninth Draft


I'm Not Your Mom But Sometimes Mothers Have Good Advice, by Ikora Rey

Second Draft


There's A Reason We Switched From Edgewalker to Bladedancer, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


Familiarity Shouldn't Breed Contempt, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


Puppies, Wheat Bread, and Doing What's Right: Transgressive Thrills and Contempt for the Wholesome, by Ikora Rey

First Draft

Why The Need To Commit Violence In Defense of Life Predisposes Us to Moral Compromise by I Can't Find A Good Title

First Draft


When The Truth Is Not In the Middle: Why The Everyday Need for Compromise Tricks Us Into Grand Moral quivalfislfajskl;g jds;gldhfgoiprtpjg

First Drafs


Guardians Won't Read This Unless It Drops An Engram Anyway, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


They'll Just Say "Ikora Should've Died Instead of Cayde, Cayde Would've Been Down With Stasis" And Throw It Out, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


I Hate Philosophy And Want To Go Back To The Crucible, by Ikora Rey

First Draft


Delete All Those Things I Wrote No This Isn't A Title Ophiuchus Just Delete Them All, by Ikora Rey

First Draft




//

CONSENSUS PERSONAL

((027))



VANCINCTAN CMDR ZAVALA >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

I have a philosophical disagreement with your decision to make the more interesting move instead of the move that brings you closer to victory. The point of a game is to exercise the faculties of war and creation. If you aren't trying to win, you undermine that exercise.



REY>> ZAVALA

Both our faculties will be better exercised by facing the unknown.



ZAVALA >> REY

But the point of a game is not to achieve the maximum beneficial exercise for both our faculties. It is to achieve victory for yourself. The enemy will never choose to do something interesting for both sides. The enemy will choose to win.



REY >> ZAVALA

I want to play out the situation after 6x24. I played to achieve what I want.



ZAVALA >> REY

Metagaming! How am I to get any satisfaction from beating you if you don't play to win?



REY >> ZAVALA

I'll get back to you after Consensus. I don't want you to spend the whole session planning your reply.

SUBJ: PERSONAL EXAMINATION OF THE GLYKON VOLATUS DERELICT

((028))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED DECRYPTION KEY: 2CA9SXU02C$IKO-006 REP: 21230-INCID-GLYKON AGENT(S): 1K0-006

SUBJ: PERSONAL EXAMINATION OF THE GLYKON VOLATUS DERELICT

1. As the site of a numinous encounter with the Darkness, the Glykon Volatus derelict deserved my direct inspection. I will record here only what I can add to past reports.


2. The sarcophilous growths overrunning the ship are a clever trick, aren't they? To pass the densest thickets, you must link with them. Engineered to remind one of the need to use Darkness to fight Darkness. When I joined the link, I felt what others have reported: a collective haunting The presence of all those who were devoured by the ship.


3. Why is it that so many places touched by Darkness carry a sense of memory? The nightmares we fought on the Moon. These haunted growths. The Taken, who are the product of a literal taking of the will. Even the Unveiling missives, delivered in a clear and casual first person. The common element of identity, memory, consciousness. While the Light is impersonal and silent: it is everywhere and in all things, but invisibly so. Silently so.


Why should memory and identity belong to the Darkness? Pujari claimed that it was important to understand why Guardians return without an identity. Do we understand why?


If memory and identity belong to the Darkness, does Darkness itself have an identity? A personality? A voice?


Is this voice the same as the Darkness itself?


4. Savathûn in her Osiris mask personally oversaw the first expedition to the Glykon Volatus. What did she gain? Was she confirming the success of a game against Calus—an assassination by proxy? Listen to the comments she made. "Those spores are harmonizing with a nearby concentration of Darkness." How casually she speaks of the Darkness, like it is another substance to gather and pump. Did she mean to trick us into treating Darkness instrumentally? Just fluid, just a black ooze of evil.

((029))

Corruption depicted as something you could ladle with a spoon. Would a non-Human intelligence recognize fungus and fluid as signs of true evil? Or are these anthropomorphic symbols, tapping into our fear of rot?


If they are symbols—what are they meant to communicate?


5. True evil feels like Nazino Island. I visited it years ago, searching for a lost friend. The earth seemed cold and dry and thick. When it rained, there was this smell...Ophiuchus wouldn't speak above a whisper. The river Ob has dried and withdrawn, so the island has become a mountain in a sea of forest. But something other than trees grows there. I swear it.


We found a place where lightning had struck more than once, and I dug. Found Human bones; fibula and tibia and long femurs. All with knife marks. Scraped clean of meat. We do not know exactly what happened on Nazino, but Ophi whispered to me what he felt: a faceless machine, grinding over innocent life, lubricated by neglect and indifferent compliance. Indifferent to the suffering it caused. And like a vast slug, it left a stain behind.


But is what I felt Human evil, or universal evil? Is there a difference? Is there a malice which all species of all psychologies could agree upon?


The mark of suffering lingered on Nazino Island. It lingers on the Glykon Volatus. What makes evil stain a place? By what media, in what ink or bile is that evil written?


Which is easier to remember—happiness or suffering? Which stains deeper? On the Moon, we met only nightmares. Do only nightmares linger...?


Ha. Maybe the answer is right beside me. We are all haunted our own Ghost, aren't we?


((030))

6. The documents found aboard the Glykon Volatus attest to Calus's belief in a presence on the far side of his contact ritual. An observer. Is there a wielder of Darkness, as we are wielders of Light? One, or many? When Oryx called the Darkness down into an Ogre to speak with him, was this the voice that answered? Mara says there is a distinction between Darkness and its chief exponent.


7. A single, dominant wielder would suit the ideology of the Darkness, as expressed in the Books of Sorrow and the Unveiling missives—one leader who has either extinguished or subjugated all others. Winnowed them down to only the most necessary and effective form. We are many Guardians, a complex plurality of Light, against one Dark agency.


8. In the face of the malignant and continuous suffering aboard this ship, Katabasis's Ghost Gilgamesh gave up on his Guardian. It demanded to be destroyed as relief from the pain of a hopeless existence. Katabasis was left to suffer an unspeakable fate. We're all familiar with stories of lapsed or mistreated Ghosts, whether from the Dredgens or from personal encounters with VIP #3015 and the sadly departed Asher Mir. We've all heard of Guardians who wanted to refuse further resurrection. But this level of despair on the Ghost's part is unique. And if prolonged close contact with agencies of the Darkness has this effect on all Ghosts, can we expect a massive failure of Ghost morale? A general turn towards pessimism and antinatalism?


9. Against overwhelming fear, we must find a way to articulate the strength and value of the Light. Despair and apathy have killed more Guardians than any other force. Hope will be our most important armor in the war to come. We must find a way to show our fighting Guardians and their Ghosts that even when they wield Stasis, they do not turn their backs on the Light.


MESSAGE ENDS

((031))

Hidden Dossier Diagram4.png

VANNET PERSONAL

((032))

IAMTHECRUC SHAXX >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

dear ikora rey, champion of the crucible, memorable pain in my arse,


resting my voice as i dictate this, my ghost forbids me to incinerate myself so i can return with a fresh throat. guardians did admire that trick. they called me the bellowing phoenix! ha ha! reborn in fire to shout again!


you wrote to me about ghost morale in the crucible. how do the fretful things stay happy when their guardians die so much? the truth is, ikora, that the crucible attracts those who have a tolerance for fat lips and burnt fingers, the ghosts are not bothered by their charges' annihilation so long as it is all in the game.


but i did notice a change in the tone of the crucible when i let my natural enthusiasm shine through! reprimands were not encouraging the improvement i wanted. even the audience felt sour and sad when i chastened a newcomer.


the answer was behavioral therapy! accompanied by a course of nootropics to promote neural plasticity and fight depression! by the end of the sessions, i was battering straight through the walls of the clinic in my excitement to show the world who i was! i visited city hospitals and helped children learn how to squeeze the illness straight out of their own shadows, i once headbutted a probability kiln so hard that it produced a live cabal centurion, which i then arm wrestled into submission! when i brought my new excitement to the crucible, i delighted my players and my audience.


we all have our fears and regrets, certainly. have i ever told you about my night of passion with queen mara sov? the passion we shared was pothos, the longing for freedom. this was before oryx and before my own renewal. I longed for freedom from my duties; she longed for freedom from her doom. the tempest is a play saturated with the yearning for freedom! it is also concerned with the relationship between master and servant; and when i had finished reciting it, mara asked me to tell her stories of the once-servant who she yearned to meet again as an equal.


sjur eido! the woman i named a tempest!


i told her stories of my friendship with sjur eido and her great bow. mara told me of the lost distributary, and of eido's quest to assassinate her in revenge for the diasyrm, i challenged the

((033))

obvious lies in this story—the sjur eido I knew, dragon slayer whose arrows pierced illusion, would never have hesitated to kill, no matter how beautiful her target! and how could sjur, who shrugged off talk of gods as nothing of her concern, have also been a fanatical servant of this diasyrm, who cared only for lost divinity? inconsistent! and therefore a lie!


mara was delighted by my disbelief, she told me that she would tell me the truth about sjur if i would only take off my helmet, so she could look into the eyes that had gazed so often on her beloved.


did you know that pothos is another name for asphodelia, the white flower of the awoken? white flower of longing.


ikora, here is a question i long to have answered: why did you leave the crucible?


shaxx



VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY - IAMTHECRUC SHAXX


Dear Shaxx, Lord of the Crucible,


You and I both know that the Crucible I fought in was darker and more dangerous than the games you run today. Remember Thalor?


The truth is that I could not afford to be both Warlock Vanguard and a Crucible champion. To fight in the Crucible is to show the whole world the limits of your power.


I could not afford to lose and be revealed as limited. But more importantly, I could not afford to win. What would they say if they knew what I could really do? The danger I could be?


Properly yours,


Ikora Rey

SUBJ: FOLLOWUP ON AFFIDAVIT FOR INCID #12059

((034))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED DECRYPTION KEY: 2CA9SXUO2C$IKO-006 REP#: 12059-INCID-LUN-FOLLOWUP AGENT(S): FEN-092

SUBJ: FOLLOWUP ON AFFIDAVIT FOR INCID #12059

1. Fenchurch (and Neville!) reporting in. I've finally been able to sit ERI-223 down for a few moments and ask her about the vision I experienced on Luna. (See my affidavit regarding #12059.) In short, I saw VIP #0704 tending to ERI-223's wounds in the wreckage of a destroyed vessel. This was prior to the discovery of the Pyramid on Luna. I now believe the wreckage was from a ship of the same type: one of the intruders that presaged the disappearance of Mars, Io, Tita and Mercury.


2. ERI-223 was reticent to discuss whether the event in my vision had actually occurred. I expressed my frustration with her evasiveness, given the distance I had traveled and my well-established loyalties. ERI-223 invoked the threat of SAV as a reason to favor secrecy. I asked whether she had been too much influenced by VIP #0704's habits of distrust. She did not reply. As a social gesture, I offered to share my pineapple fried rice, which caused her tremendous distress. After collecting the remnants of the meal, I left.


3. Later that day, ERI-223 approached me to apologize and attempt the conversation again. I was moved and allowed her to open the topic on her own terms. After an elliptical conversation regarding the emotional burden of her role as a constant harbinger of worse to come, ERI-223 confirmed that my vision had actually occurred.


4. According to ERI-223's account, during the time between the Tangled Shore crisis and the discovery of the lunar Pyramid, VIP #0704 was in contact with VIP #0101 regarding the approaching intruders. VIP #0101, familiar with the difficulties of recursing time loops, urged #0704 to break out of the Dreaming City and move against the intruders. In #0101's past timeline or timelines (I am not convinced she has been entirely truthful about how she moves between times; would make sense for her to protect her method of transit, given the scale of betrayal she has witnessed), the Awoken never broke SAV's curse on the Dreaming City, and #0704 expended vital resources there, which were sorely missed during the later stages of the conflict.

((035))

5. VIP #0704 was reluctant to leave her people, but decided, as ERI-223 put it, "that it was better to do something than nothing, even if that something was the wrong thing." VIP #0704 struck a deal with #0101: #0101 would provide data that a future Rasputin had used to track the intruder ships, and #0704 would provide the raw paracausal power that Rasputin lacked. ERI-223 was involved because #0704 had recently extracted her from Crota's abandoned throne world, and felt an emotional debt to #0704 over past service regarding the defeat of VIP #2015. This was fortuitous.


6. VIP #0704 exploited past traffic with the Nine as well as her own personal experience with the intruders' stealth capabilities to disperse an array of "synthetic aperture mass growl observatories" coordinated by AI-COM/XBLK and possibly other deep-orbit AI systems. The observatories used future technology provided by #0101 to localize an interloper ship near the dwarf planet 136199 Eris. ERI-223 was not amused by this coincidence. (I induce she was actually quite disturbed).


7. VIP #0704 refused to deploy any Awoken fleet assets or Fallen mercenaries in the confrontation, and even excluded her own Techeuns from the planning. ERI-223 suggests, with what I view as some protectiveness, that #0704 felt it was time for the burden of sacrifice to fall on her rather than upon her citizens or pawns.


The journey to 136199 Eris was very difficult for ERI-223. VIP #0704 had charged herself with some metaphysical quality salvaged from VIP #2015 , which made it extremely difficult. for Eris to tolerate her presence. VIP #0704 was reticent and snappish; probably lingering trauma from her death in the similar battle at Saturn. Whatever transpired between them remains private.


8. ERI-223 was unwilling to precisely describe the encounter with the intruder. It did not react to their presence as they matched orbits. VIP #0704 went on EVA and at one point removed her suit, I believe, but am not certain, that #0704 either contacted or entered the intruder. Whatever happened next led to VIP

((036))

#0704's death. It is unclear to me whether the intruder was at all damaged, or whether the debris field I saw on the surface of 136199 Eris was related to this encounter.


9. ERI-223 recalled VIP #0704 from her throne by Hive ritual, which required both women to confront SAV/INCAR at great personal risk. The two then descended to the surface of Eris to explore the wreckage there. There was an incident (it may have been an attack, or an accident caused by volatile debris or by interaction with 136199 Eris's frozen methane surface), and ERI-223 was badly wounded. Although ERI 223 has techniques to survive in hostile environments, they were disrupted and she was exposed to near-vacuum. VIP #0704 deployed a shelter and treated the wounds in what I interpolate was a moment of reconciliation and perhaps genuine tenderness between them. ERI-223 attempted to show me the scar, although I declined.


At this point, concerned that they might not survive to make a report, ERI-223 imprinted a log of their journey on a fragment of debris and transmitted it to Luna via Hive manifold, along with a compulsion for any lesser Hive to bring the fragment to a Guardian. This is how it came to me.


10. I am left with more questions. Was the presence of a debris field on the surface totally unrelated to the ship in orbit? If it was related, did VIP #0704 destroy it; and if so, why has she not shared this capability with us? Faced with the skepticism and distrust of so many Guardians (a distrust that has persisted despite #0101's reports that in multiple possible futures, #0704 died fighting alongside our forces in the final reckoning), surely #0704 would want to advertise her victory. If she did destroy that Pyramid ship, was it a one-off event that she will be unable to reproduce? Perhaps she has to physically contact a Pyramid to destroy it, and the Pyramids have now rendered this impossible. Or perhaps she approached in the disguise of VIP #2015, a disguise which is now compromised. VIP #0704 remains a difficult and inscrutable ally.


MESSAGE ENDS

((037))


MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: IKO-006
TO: FEN-092


Mara is a thorny problem. Understand that she sees herself as a queen on a chessboard. Opposite her stands Savathûn. They are in a war of understanding—who will get to the truth of the other first? In this war, honesty is fatal. Giving the enemy accurate information about you helps them remove degrees of freedom from their model of you. It helps them come a little closer to perfectly predicting you.


Savathûn would delight to see Mara Taken. Mara would certainly see Savathûn dead and extinguished.


Secrets and encryption are central to Mara's philosophy, and so too to the entire Awoken consciousness. She is their Lucifer, their Melek Taus or Feanor, the one who led a bloody exodus from heaven to fight for the mortal world. Remember the words of their scripture: "Creation is built on secrets and the encryptions that keep those secrets safe."


If Mara botches her endgame against Savathûn and against the entity that she believes rules in Darkness, all of the sacrifices she's made will be for nothing. And she knows, thanks to Elsie, that in many possible futures her sacrifices were in vain. She knows she was betrayed by her own friend, Eris Morn.


You see why it's so hard for her to trust? She entrusted her very life to Eris. And yet even Eris turned against her, in one possible world.


Mara will never tell the truth when she can afford to lie. She will never act directly when she can afford to move a pawn. But the opposite is also true: she will never lie when she can afford to tell the truth.


She just rarely considers it safe to do so. If your enemy knows how the bomb works, they can disarm it.


I believe Mara has begun to consider that she may not be the prime executor of her own endgame. She may be just one component of the bomb—a payload or a timing device. At the end of her own journey, she is necessary but not sufficient. She can no longer fight alone.


REPLY ENDS



SUBJ: PERSONAL REPLY

((038))


ACCESS: MOST RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: Z2TET3C4WZTLRL8NV5KS$IKO-006

MESSAGE REPLY FROM: IKO-006
TO: CHA-319

SUBJ: PERSONAL REPLY

You can say "hey, friend" if you really want to. Not in public though. Without a proper chain of command, we have to get by on respect.

You asked me: what do we call this sense Ghosts have for the nature of the dead? In Warlock studies, the customary term is "insight." I have also heard "scrutiny" and (among our more worldly Hunters) "the weird eye." I asked Ophiuchus and he said he thought of it as "congruence." But I like to call it "determination." It means so many different things. Fate. Contingency. Judgment. Persistence in struggle.

Ghostsight is determination.

It wouldn't be a friendship if it stopped when we didn't talk about it. I don't think the sunyata principle involves apology, but I feel your hurt that I haven't made enough time for you. I haven't made time for most things! All my time is spent trying to answer questions. So many people want answers from me, and I have no certainty to give them.

What am I if not a source of certitude? What am I? Nothing. But it is good to be nothing, isn't it; it is good to rise above the demands of the world so we can act without compulsion.

Only what if that is an excuse? What if the act of destroying my self and making my self void so that I exist unmoved by the demands of the world and in contact with transcendent truth is just a cheat?

What if I am just absolving myself, spiritually, of my responsibility to do everything possible to protect what little Light and life remain?

What if I am being lazy? If the Traveler is the only hope we have to escape a winnowing nightmare that will devour all possible organized systems in all possible futures, then by failing to dedicate myself wholly to the Traveler's work at all hours and with all thoughts, I am failing all the beings that will be extinguished by that nightmare future. Therefore, I am guilty of causing infinite harm, making me the worst woman to have ever existed, and oh Chalco, you see what haunts me at night. You see why I escape into circles? I am possessed by doubt, manic with it, itching under my fingernails. I wake up with doubt. I meditate on doubt. I snap at people who deserve kindness

((039))

because doubt seeps out like bad caulk from the seams of me.

So now, I unload this doubt onto you. Only you; you are the only one who I will show it to. Oh Chalco—I am losing myself in doubt! Do we ban Stasis? Do we use Stasis? Do we arrest the Stasis users? Do we endorse them openly so they will not be outcasts?

Are Light and Dark meant to be balanced? Or is the Dark a subtle poison that will seep into us until we are all turned? How can I know for sure? How can I know well enough to choose, with the whole universe at stake? Not by any method I know can I understand these things! I do not have Mara’s arrogance; I cannot set the conditions of an entire future and choose for all the choosers unless I know I am doing the right thing!

Me, me, me—here I am, complaining about myself and how hard things are. This will bore you—you are a person and a person needs to know they are thought of, and I am not thinking enough of you. But isn't this what you wanted, to know what was happening inside me without needing to ask? Well, here it is, my unformatted vomitorium of doubt. We are this close to losing them all, every Guardian, returning to the Dark Ages of Warlords and factions. All that saves us is what little authority the Vanguard still retains. Is Stasis the hill we die on? We forbade the Ahamkara, and to do it, we had to make the Ahamkara extinct. Though maybe we were doing their work for them; maybe we were just propelling them along the anathematic arc and towards the unspeakable Cord they wanted to climb, out of this world and into another metaphysics that somehow sustains our own. Do we have to make Stasis extinct just as we did the Ahamkara?

I stop myself here. I remind myself of what I know.

The popularity of Stasis is a direct result of a structure of power. A system we built, here in the Vanguard, to incentivize our Guardians to respect and obey. Rewards for joining strike missions. Bounties and milestones to quantify hard work. Elite equipment for loyal performers. Everything psychologically calibrated to engage the Guardian who might otherwise lapse into a useless fugue and vanish

((040))

from the rosters of the active. We built this system, we benefited from this system, so we did not change it.

Nowhere in that system is there any place for moral judgment. Nowhere is there any ethical instruction, no request for them to evaluate their ultimate purpose. Guardians do what makes them most effective. Because we taught them to do so.

This is our fault. We made our Guardians into soldiers, not warriors for good. We led them straight to the enemy's fold: all It had to do was offer a new and intriguing way to get that Glimmer, that loot, that bounty, that victory. And It had them. I can forgive a few Guardians for doing what had to be done to defeat Eramis. But I cannot forgive myself for letting all these other Guardians follow.

And why would we teach our Guardians to question the rightness of their own actions? Guardians don't like to doubt. I urged them to meditate on their past, and I thought that'd be enough. But even the meditations were just challenges to do it again, but better.

I've been a fool, and I don't know how to fix it. Chalco, they ask me questions, and I don't know how to answer them! I can't even tell them who I am because I am afraid that who I am will not be perfect enough. And they will see the flaws in me and turn away!

—and the Traveler's reawakening DID change what circles mean, you Hunter barbarian! Perfectly squaring the circle cannot be accomplished with classical construction so long as pi is a transcendental number, because root pi is not constructable (that is, constructable by compass and a straight edge in finite steps). But paracausal invocation allows us to set root pi to an arbitrary value even in a flat manifold, and because the sphere of the awakened Traveler defines a toroid in n dimensions—oh, but this is all evading your point, isn't it?

Pujari wrote that Ghosts had disproven the existence of absolute, incorruptible good in Human beings. Because Ghosts came from the Traveler, which is an absolute good. So they should choose only the absolutely best people to become Guardians. But we got Warlords anyway, and people like Dredgen Yor, and even like the Drifter. Which proves there is no inner goodness that cannot be broken by a cruel world full of violence and privation. Of course, Pujari didn't allow for the fallibility of Ghosts.

I feel like I've just said something very important and don't know what it was.

You're right that people think I'm distant and absent. And it's because...I feel that people need confidence, not confusion. People seem confident when they don't change. So I stay remote, because what's far away seems immovable. Get too close to people, and there’s emotional

((041))

parallax—they can see how you change. They see that you're complicated inside. I can't afford that. I have to be simple for them, simple as Shaxx.

Something hurt me recently, Chalco. Something Elsie told me about her future. She said I died at Savathûn's hands. That I died brutally. And the Zavala in her future told her I died because I was stubborn and self-righteous. I know it was another Zavala, wounded and in pain. But to hear that from a man whom I respect so deeply... does he think I'm too distant? Even him? When we've shared so much...

Thank you for your report. I don't know what to call what we are, Chalco. It's just what we are. Thank you, always, for writing. Maybe I can find some clarity in action now that I've gotten this out.


REPLY ENDS

Hidden Dossier Diagram5.png

((042))

//

By the mind of Empress Caiatl, written in proxy by Her Scribe,

May the water of the Y-goblet wash this message clean of falsehood,
Each and every word in service to the people and the future of the Cabal,


It begins.


To the spymaster and biumvir of the human City, Ikora Rey,


The Empress Caiatl demands that you reveal all that you know of the current status of the deposed Calus.


Be thou now informed that the deposed Calus is wanted for high imperial crimes including the genocide of the Clipse people, perversion of the Imperial Throne for the solicitation of unnatural bribes and favors, and traffic with powers most attainted.


Be thou further informed that any collaboration with the deposed Calus either covert or overt shall be grounds for the greatest displeasure of the Empress.


It ends.


//




Hidden Dossier Diagram6.png

ENCRYPTED PERSONAL

((043))


VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY >> VANCINCTAN CMDR ZAVALA

What do you think? She wants to know if we found Calus aboard the Glykon Volatus?


ZAVALA >> REY

Certainly. She wants to know that we're not negotiating with her father behind her back. Which we're not.


Are we?


REY >> ZAVALA

I can't speak for every one of our Guardians who experienced the, ah, entertainments aboard the Leviathan. But my Hidden have absolutely no formal contact with Calus. I'm going to reply bluntly.


ZAVALA>> REY

That seems wise. Are you aware of the religious significance of the Y-goblet? It means this Psion is part of a spiritual minority. Remarkable to see the phrase used openly by a scribe the empress clearly trusts.


REY >> ZAVALA

Has someone been gifting you Cabal religious histories? And why does she call me biumvir?


ZAVALA >> REY

Because you're one of the two most powerful people in our government, Ikora.


REY >> ZAVALA

I'm relieved I didn't think of that. I don't feel like much of a ruler; Guardians only listen to me if they feel like it.


Have you considered a state marriage to Caiatl to solidify our alliance?


ZAVALA >> REY

Have you?

((044))

//

By the mind of Ikora Rey, who needs no proxy,

May this message find the Y-goblet full,
Each and every word in service to the people
and future of the City,


It begins.


We know nothing of Calus's fate. We have no interest in pursuing contact with him. Nor have we ever sought formal relations with his court. Guardians who seek his patronage do so without the approval of the Tower.


This information is offered freely as thanks for the empress's assistance during recent crises. But if we do become aware of Calus's disposition, we will not share this information unconditionally. We require that the empress provide concession or information of like value in exchange for access to our intelligence.


It ends.


//

((045))

Hidden Dossier Diagram7.png

SUBJ: STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF IKO-006

((046))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 2CA9SXUO2C$IKO-006
REP#: 54122-GUARDIAN-STAT
AGENT(S): CHA-319

SUBJ: STATISTICAL ANALYSIS OF IKO-006

1. IKO-006 has until now resisted all requests to undergo the standard test battery. I have convinced her to go on record by accusing her of vanity. Her power can't be so astonishing that to merely assess it for a private file would cause serious unrest. In exchange, I have been induced to include her own philosophical cavil in paragraph 2. Although she has very demonstratively declared that she will not read this file, I don't believe her.


2. IKO-006 comments: "Guardians insist on treating ‘power' as a monotonically increasing value with a single dimension. Guardians will casually create ordinal ranks of the ‘power’ of their comrades when, in truth (but not in fact—Light is not constrained by facts) capability with the Light is not only a multifactor landscape but strongly and stochastically influenced by circumstantial, personal, and esoteric variables. The Light is, by definition, paracausal and obeys a logic different from physical concepts like charge, heat, or angular momentum. Any analogy to these physical measurements of power' will fail to capture the true efficacy of a Guardian. Instead, we must look to self-understanding, clarity of purpose, and internalized phenomenologies and ontologies. (Witness the self-reinforcing rise of Guardian classes and subclasses as logically consistent and easily transmitted bundles of technique: essentially, Guardian cultural artifacts based on distinct interpretations of the Light; kernel logics from which implementations easily unfold. Or, put differently, optimae of discoverability in a phase space of possible techniques.) The Human or neohuman mind is an agglomeration of automatic processes, and consciousness cannot access most of them; in the same way, most of the truth of the Light is invisible to the self-inspection of the Lightbearer. Asking any Guardian, myself not excluded, to leap through a few experimental hoops is not and never will be an effective way to test either their tactical or their epistemological ability."

((047))

3. IKO-006 ranks in the upper fraction of the 99th percentile of assessed Warlocks on most available metrics of precision, restraint, and raw power. She is, in simplistic terms, a fifth sigma Guardian: 1 in 3.5 million. Given that millions of Guardians have been activated over the centuries since the Collapse, and assuming that performance of Guardians on these metrics is normally distributed, we would expect about ten Guardians of similar power to have existed. Probability favors IKO-006's existence but also her rarity: she is neither an average Guardian nor evidence for some special intervention by the Traveler. Complaints that her talents are overblown or inflated in order to reinforce her authority, or that she benefits from the special favor of a higher power, are sorely mistaken and ignorant of basic statistics. (These complaints come from the same people who ask why we haven't reconquered the whole solar system with our vast strength, forgetting how many Guardians are either in abeyance after exhaustion, still working on mastering their first subclass, or already committed to the protection of populations and resources here on Earth.)


4. It is notable that IKO-006 initially performed at only one sigma above the mean on most metrics. It was her lengthy experience in the field and in Crucible exercises which brought her to her current exemplary state. Can we determine whether this was a process of activating extraordinary latent power, or simply of honing ordinary power to an extraordinary peak? Signs point to no.


5. IKO-006 is aware that I am required to outline possible countermeasures in the event of her subversion. Of course, we are all aware that combat between Guardians is not a zero-sum contest of power. Context and tactics are decisive. Crucible champions dropped into the wilderness can be brought low by mere Fallen skirmishers; seasoned rangers may die from the first Crucible aspirant to skid knees-first into them with a shotgun. The fundamental challenge to defeating IKO-006 is that it is very difficult to create a

((048))

context she cannot master. Her talents are honed towards acquiring and processing information. It would be difficult for even a Golden Age Human to understand the timespan she has lived, or to grasp the depth and range of the intuitive mechanisms, both cognitive and paracausal, which Ikora has cultivated and internalized. She has achieved a limited clairvoyance; an arsenal of honed preconscious heuristics which deliver her, with no more effort than water flowing downhill, to her easiest path to victory. Her goal acts as an attractor in the chaotic landscape of possible futures. She is capable of correctly resolving quandaries, like the halting problem, which a Turing machine could not compute given the entire age of the universe. In the great tradition of context manipulators versus brute force, Ikora is another victory for the power of context manipulation.


6. One possible countermeasure is to create a false path to victory to decoy Ikora's senses. The paracausal nature of the Light creates some difficulty because it can interact directly with ontology. Ikora has a sense of truth qua truth. She may be aware that a deception is a deception simply because it is a deception. Therefore, a calculated fold in the tactical environment designed to draw Ikora into a vulnerable position may fail simply because it is intended to harm her.


7. If I can name a single weakness in IKO-006, it is her distaste for doubt. She thinks quickly and clearly. She is accustomed to receiving the highest quality information and subjecting it to the most pristine and multiply contingent analysis. Cut off her senses. Make her anxious, force her to doubt herself, and then flood her with contradictory and high-stakes decisions which cannot be optimized. She will either paralyze herself or turn to raw fury. The fury, at least, is predictable.


8. Test battery results attached. Remember the standard caveats about attempting to systemize and quantify a paracausal system that depends on the internal state of a weakly godlike being and its resurrected Human client.


END FILE


Pinned in one move, Chalco....

Letter From Mithrax to Ikora

((049))

Weblore the hidden dossier.jpg

//

Dear Ikora Rey,


With respectful courtesiis and the proper bow,


I have read the texts you sent. I understood very little. My thanks multiply. Truly my knowledge of Light is distinct from your own. For me, Light is in the air and the joints. It is eaten. It is received in radiation and discharged in the neuron. It is not separate from the physical world. It is the world.


You speak of Light as an intervention in reality from outside, parallel to causality. This is not my sense of Light. But as you say, I should not diminish my own kinship with Light, for it is in all places and things. So, I do not try to be a false Guardian. Instead, I preach to my people that we must be the best Eliksni we can be.


But always there is the question. Why the Great Machine left us. Why it became your Traveler and stayed to guard you. This question haunts all Eliksni. It makes us think we are Fallen. I have accepted that the Traveler is not mine to judge, but even without judgment, I am curious. Why did the Traveler leave us but remain with you?


I do not ask you for an answer. Only your thoughts.


Misraaks



//

Letter From Ikora to Mithrax

((050))

//

Dear Misraaks,

With my own proper ireliis,

What if the Traveler abandoned you out of mercy? To give you a chance?

I won't pretend to understand what your people experienced during the Whirlwind. Nor do I ask you to measure your pain against ours. I only mean this:

We know no Human settlements beyond this system. We are surrounded by Darkness, trapped at the center of a cosmic war. The Traveler's presence draws the attention of every great power in our galaxy and beyond. It protected us and gave us the Light, but in doing so, it doomed us to war against its enemies.

There is a very good chance humanity will go extinct here.

But there are Eliksni who survived the Whirlwind. There are Eliksni alive around other stars: alone and small in a dangerous universe, but free of any obligation to the Traveler. I believe that the Traveler despises coercion. I believe it would not force the responsibility of defending it upon one of its chosen species unless it had no other choice.

(Why then does it choose species to uplift in the first place? Why doom Eliksni or Humans to a confrontation with Darkness? Perhaps it will not let the Darkness coerce it into abandoning its purpose. Perhaps it doesn't value longevity the way we do; maybe it values a short, bright existence more than a long, ordinary one. I don’t know.)

When the Traveler left Riis, it gave your people a choice. Some chose to follow the Traveler. Some chose to go make new lives.

And you–you chose to stand with us against the night.

Ikora Rey

//

SUBJ: PSYCHOMETER FIELD TESTS

((051))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 2CA9SXUO2C$IKO-006
REP#: 011-PSYCHOMETER-TEST
AGENT(S): TRU-135

SUBJ: PSYCHOMETER FIELD TESTS

1. The new version works. Love all the knobs and antenna; very analog. I took readings off a hatch control out here on Europa and Cowlick was able to retrieve badly distorted voices in some kind of distress. I don’t know if it’s doing exactly what you Warlocks want, but it’s doing something all right. Cowlick says it’s probably tapping into her scrutiny, if you permit that term in your ivory halls.


2. Now, I’m not much for gadgets, so I won’t ask you how you rigged this thing. But I am one for gossip. Weren’t we closing in on some kind of workable theory of exactly how our ghosts resurrect us? One which was, if I am not mistaken, based on research by the Future War Cult? Did any of that work survive Lakshmi?


3. You know they did try to recruit me once. The Cult. Over a game of poker. Fifty-two cards in a deck don’t seem like many, this hard-ass Titan told me. But there are 80 658 175 170 943 878 571 660 636 856 403 766 975 289 505 440 883 277 824 000 000 000 000 different possible shuffles of 52 cards. You could walk back and forth across the observable universe faster than you could count all those possible shuffles. A lot faster. That’s life, she said, and she had daisies impaled on the spikes of her skull. Life is endless permutation. So many possibilities. But the rules are what matter. Who cares how the deck shuffles if you don’t know the rules of the game? We play this game over and over. Life and death. Light and Dark. But the only way you learn the rules, the only way you’re ever gonna get one of those Truces you’re named for, is if you come inside. Come into the Cult. Come on in and see. But I didn’t.


4. Another thing she told me is that you can play poker with just three cards and two players. Jack, Queen, King. Ante one, max bet one more. High card wins unless one player folds. And in this game, there are many strategies available to the first player, but very few to the second, who acts to exploit the choice made by the first. Many possibilities against few. Sounds like you’d rather be the first player,

((052))

huh? But if both players play perfectly, that second player wins in the end. Mathematical inevitability. Ain’t that something? But I said, your game’s just a toy. It’s just a contrivance. That’s not life. Life isn’t one player always exploiting and beating the other.


5. Anyway, back to testing. Might go back to Cocytus and aim this thing at the gate. See how wild it goes. If you never hear from us again, you know Truce and Cowlick finally found something too spooky.



MESSAGE ENDS

If the Light forgets while the Darkness remembers, then why does a Ghost’s power of determination let it access latent memories imprinted in the dead? That’s paradoxical. That should be a property of Darkness. How can such fundamentally opposed forces do the same thing?

Am I as shallow as those Guardians arguing over power levels? Trying to force a simple binary upon a complex spectrum… ? The Drifter talks about “spectrums of Light”–powers his Ghost can access because of its modifications. Forcing the metaphor, I thought. Light is not light. It doesn’t have frequencies or spectra. But if we are all constrained by our internalized ontology, by our tacit understanding of how the world works… maybe the circumstances of extreme survival compelled the Drifter to explore a new ontology. Maybe his Ghost achieved a new way to think about the Light.

A sacred void would not be ashamed to think that she knew less about the Light than a greasy near-cannibal with a mutilated Ghost.

I’m a bad sacred void.

CONSENSUS PERSONAL

((053))

VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY >> VANCINCTAN CMDR ZAVALA

If a game of go is meant to test two minds against each other, then I must play as my mind sees fit. I see fit to play 6x24 because I am interested in what will happen next.

ZAVALA >> REY

This isn’t a Basho haiku. Purposefully making a suboptimal move in order to make a game more “interesting” is a misunderstanding of the nature of a game. There is no reward for beautiful play in the rules of the game.

REY >> ZAVALA

Then why don’t you just turn on a go engine and compute the winning play?

ZAVALA >> REY

I want to test my mind against yours. Not some quantum cheat.

REY >> ZAVALA

But I am a paracausal cheat, Zavala.

ZAVALA >> REY

So am I. Will you take the move back?

REY >> ZAVALA

Now, now, Zavala. There are no do-overs in war. I’ve made the move I want, and both of us will benefit from it. You may be stubborn enough to hold still for eight days, but the traditions of go are older and even more obstreperous. Play the game.

ZAVALA >> REY

Oh, I’ll pinken your ears.

COUNTERCULTURAL INTELLIGENCE UPDATE REVIEW

((054))


ACCESS: RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: 2CA9SXUO2C$IKO-006
REP#:1314-FALLEN
AGENTS(S): RAN-187

SUBJ: COUNTERCULTURAL INTELLIGENCE UPDATE REVIEW

1. This agent requests review of his past predictions regarding the Fallen versus the actual outcome of events.


2. Regarding VIP #2029, Eramis the Shipstealer: “This agent… would urge the Vanguard and other interested leadership to aggressively prioritize her destruction.” Outcome: VIP #2029 was not sanctioned in time to prevent her from gaining unprecedented new abilities sourced directly from the agent of the Collapse. Although ultimately neutralized, VIP #2029 succeeded in cohering Fallen power around Europa and in destroying irreplaceable Golden Age systems and information. Conclusion: Failure to act led to disaster.


3. Regarding VIP #1121, Variks the Loyal: due to #1121’s direct responsibility for the release and death of Prince Uldren Sov, the Vanguard allowed the Reef to drive policy regarding #1121. Outcome: he escaped the Reef, joined #2029 on Europa, and helped administer her House of Salvation before AGAIN switching sides to assist the Vanguard in exchange for the safety of itinerant Fallen. Conclusion: Variks the Loyal will turncoat whenever it is advantageous and therefore cannot be trusted.


4. Regarding VIP #3987, Mithrax, self-styled “Kell of Light”: this agent urged skepticism regarding reports of #3987’s cooperation with Guardians. Those reports have since been confirmed. Outcome: VIP #3987 was welcomed into the City, with a colony of itinerant Fallen, leading to civil unrest. This ugly episode reinforces the volatility of Human-Fallen relations. To quote past report 692-FALLEN-DUS, “one or two sympathetic outliers cannot be relied upon to erase the wrongs of past centuries, nor should their good-faith efforts to correct the sins of their forebears be taken as sufficient symbolic reparation.” Note that reliable intelligence places VIP #0013, the warlord guilty of the sack of London’s survivor populations, within this Fallen colony. This agent strongly urges extradition of #0013 for

((055))

trial. The magnitude of #0013’s crimes cannot be lessened by time or personal transformation.


5. It is the strongly held opinion of this agent that the Vanguard has, in fact, “pulled its punches” since 692-FALLEN-DUS was filed. This allowed the Fallen to rally and begin another cycle of political reunion, violence, and disintegration. While there is grace in helping some Fallen, it does neither side any good to force cohabitants to compete for desperately limited resources and security. End the experiment. Induce the so-called House of Light to recover interstellar capability and seek their own destiny among the stars. This is a better hope for the future of both the Fallen and humanity than anything to be found within the City’s walls.


They certainly don’t give a damn for their own long-term viability—they’re too stupid to think that far in advance.


So keep that in mind when it comes to assessing the safety of Stasis. After all it is a power we use to explode each other like rotten balloons.


And keep in mind also that a virus isn’t evil. It just wants to exist. If there really is a distinction between Stasis-as-a-power and the voice in those ships, if one can be separated from the other, then maybe Stasis isn’t intrinsically corrupting. Or maybe it is corrupting but only when it’s tied to the voice behind it. Maybe we can wrest it free. Who knows? Not me.


Truce out.



MESSAGE ENDS

((056))

The lingering trauma of centuries. Ransom cannot get out of its shadow. Part of me cannot either.

There was once a problem in philosophy called “the explanatory gap.” Imagine a gray-scale person raised in a black-and-white room. They are taught a comprehensive scientific explanation of color, including the physics of the eye and the biology of the brain. They read lengthy and evocative descriptions of color. They taste foods and smell scents that are often associated with particular colors. They are allowed to do everything related to color except to see a color.

One day, they are allowed out of the room and into the world. They see color for the first time. They experience a thing they have never experienced before.

The explanatory gap is the difference between what they learn inside the room and what they see outside. The gap between knowing everything about color and actually seeing a color. In this gap lives the idea of “qualia,” the first-person experiences of the mind. You cannot describe or communicate qualia; you can only have them.

Is there an explanatory gap between knowing the history of Eliksni violence against humanity and living through it? Is there a gap between experiencing full-sensorium captures of that night and actually being there, in London, when the Devils finally broke the wall?

There must be. Qualia of pain and hate.

Only–

We solved the explanatory gap. Golden Age philosophers correctly identified the difference between the education of color and the experience of color. Experience occurs in the brain. Qualia, no matter how ineffable, are the result of physical processes. If the Gray Room Dweller had never experienced Red, it was because the neural correlates of the qualia Red had never been activated. Give the Gray Room Dweller a dose of hallucinogens, or an EMP to the right part of the brain, and they could experience all the colors imaginable without ever leaving their black-and-white room. The problem was never one of incommunicable experience, but one of insufficiently rich communication. We cannot write a book that evokes the experience of Red, but we can design a brain stimulus which makes a Human see red. The same goes for ancient thought experiments like Nagel’s bat, which was solved by the epistemology bridge–although there are arguments the bridge just negotiates a compatible illusion–

I wonder if Ransom would still push for the “complete extirpation of invasive Fallen from the system” if he lost his memory of all those centuries, if he had to relearn it all from books. What if he were like a newborn Guardian again? Richly educated on our bleak history with the Elisksni, but not scarred by the experience of it?

Would he still arrive at the same unshakeable conviction that they all have to go?

Or would he be missing some irreducible qualia, some pearl grown around the grit of first-person suffering?

O, Traveler. I see now!

ILLUMINATION: LIGHT AND DARKNESS MANIFEST

((057))

It all comes together. The erratic Ghosts. Ransom’s grudge. The psychometer and Glykon Volatus and Nazino Island and the go game with Zavala and the sacred void and the silence of the Light and even the Drifter’s Ghost.


It all means one thing. Darkness remembers. Light forgets.


It is about memory. Memory and forgiveness.


The prisoner’s dilemma. A relic of the days of the high carceral system.


Two criminals are interrogated in separate cells. Who committed the crime? Tell us. Tell us the other one did it, and we’ll let you go.


If both stay silent, both will get a year in jail. (The common good.)


If one blames the other, the rat goes free and the other gets 10 years. (One winner. One loser.)


If both rat out the other, both get five years in jail. (Common failure.)


The only choice an individual prisoner has is to stay silent (cooperate) or blame the other (defect). Together, their two choices make four outcomes.


Naïve rationality, which was the assumption in the first days of behavior theory, always leads to the common failure. Always. Both prisoners blame each other and go to jail for five years. No other outcome is possible. This is why:


A prisoner who stays silent (cooperates) suffers a year in jail if the other cooperates; 10 years in jail if the other turns. Possible outcomes: one year or 10 years.


A prisoner who turns on the other (defects) goes free if the other cooperates, or gets five years in jail if the other also turns. Possible outcomes: zero years or five years.


No matter what one prisoner does, the other benefits from turning on their ally. So both players will rationally defect, and rationally doom each other to five years in prison. Even though each might have escaped with just one year if they cooperated. By acting to seek the selfish best, they deny themselves the global best.


((058))

Of course, a child can see the failures of this model. What about honor among thieves? What about the punishments criminals inflict on the tattletale? What about “decent people don’t turn on each other”? Later developments in behavior theory call these influences “externalities” because they are not described by the rules of the game alone.


Now we turn to evolution. The rule that made us all. Evolution is not a simple zero-sum fight to the death. It has room for cooperation and coexistence. But it ultimately rewards systems that perpetuate their own survival. It is a local optimizer, like the players in the prisoner’s dilemma. It only cares about who is ahead now. It is impossible for evolution to reward those who sacrifice themselves for others—evolution can only reward those who benefit from the sacrifice. And the winners don’t carry the self-sacrifice gene.


The only altruism that evolves under these rules is the tit-for-tat exchange: I will help you if you help me. (Witness the gopher, infected by an alarm gene, shouting warnings about a predator, dooming itself to be eaten so that relatives who share the alarm gene can scurry to safety. Or the worker ant, which cannot reproduce except by helping its queen survive. Both ultimately act in their species’ self-interest.)


It is possible for evolution to reward altruism given to other altruists. If there is a reliable way to identify other altruists, communities of altruists can flourish. But then comes the specter of the free rider. The cheat that can fake the “I am an altruist” signal long enough to get the reward.


(How much of your life have you spent wondering whether that kind, compassionate person is truly good? Or if they just do it to get ahead?)


Some thinkers believe that all of morality is a race between the true altruist and the counterfeit. The true altruist finds new tests for true altruism. The counterfeit invents new cheats.This is called a Red Queen’s Race, for reasons I don’t know. In a Red Queen’s Race, racers must compete just to stay in the same place. Not to gain advantage, but simply to hold on to what they have in the face of competitors. Parasites are a perfect example. Living organisms must constantly evolve new defenses; parasites and cancers constantly evolve to defeat them. The body is a treasure trove of energy to steal, and the body’s systems for preventing parasites and cancer are a form of internal morality. (The Red Queen’s Race may even be why sex evolved. Constantly remixing genes is a good way to change up defenses. Of course, the Red Queen’s Race is not the only theory that explains the need to constantly adapt—but never mind!)


((059))

In evolution, the only good is self-interested good.


But we are not restricted by evolution.


We have minds. We have memories and imaginations and culture. We can imagine the consequences of our actions and select those which suit a world we want to live in. We can do this without waiting for generations of genetic change. We can enshrine the common good as a norm. We can say, “Everyone who cooperates is good, and everyone who defects is evil, and evil defectors will be harshly punished.” We can say, “By cooperating for the greatest common good, we will all be elevated, so let’s do that.”


Only—


What do we do with our cooperative good when we meet someone who defects?


A neighboring village steals our crops. A friend has us paint his roof, but he is always too busy to come paint ours. A lover shares all our secrets with a gossip. A colleague takes all the credit for a shared project.


Do we hold to our ethics and keep on cooperating? Tending our crops? Painting his roof? Telling our secrets? Watch others get a promotion? Are we, in short, going to be a sucker?


Most people would agree we must retaliate. We must answer defection with defection.


So the prisoner’s dilemma is not just restricted to evolution. Even the cognitive must play it. It is a good model of any situation where what is good for the individual is not the same as what is good for the group.


Imagine another situation:


If two villages tend their own crops, both will produce 900 bushels of grain.


If one village attacks the other, it could end up with 1,200 bushels of grain, and the other village will get none. (Whatever isn’t stolen in the attack is burned.)


If both villages go to war against each other, each will produce 500 bushels of grain, since labor is devoted to fighting.


Both villages benefit from going to war regardless of whether the other chooses war or peace. Rationally, both must attack.


((060))

But these villagers are neighbors. They will not make this decision once; they will make it every year.


This is called an iterated prisoner’s dilemma: a game in which you know you must play with the same person over and over again. You know they will remember how you treat them.


This is the value of remembering. Using knowledge of your opponent’s past behavior to influence future choices.


The villages agree to cooperate. For five years they are at peace. They maximize their total grain production as a pair, rather than seeking to have more grain than their rival.


Then, on the sixth year, a misunderstood letter or a change in leadership or the influence of an outside power makes one village attack. It has defected.


How do we reply?


That depends on the strategy we are using.


There are many strategies. Examples:


Unconditional cooperation. Cooperate no matter what the other village does. This strategy achieves the greatest total grain output, but only if it is playing against another cooperative village.


Berserker. Always attack, no matter what the other village does. It always beats the unconditional cooperator. Optimal strategy in a one-off game.


Random. Flip a coin to decide whether to attack.


Tit for tat. Do whatever the other village did last.


Punitive tit for tat. Whenever the other village attacks, attack the next two years in a row.


Learning tit for tat. Each time the other village attacks, increase the number of years you attack in response. This strategy must have memory; it needs to remember backwards more than one year.


Grim trigger. Cooperate until the other village attacks, then always attack.


Probe. Begin with an attack, then cooperate for two years. Base your further decisions on how the other village reacts.


((061))

Pavlov. Cooperate if both villages made the same move last year. Attack if you made different moves.


Equalizer. Choose to cooperate or attack so that both villages have equal expected grain yield in the long run.


Extorter. Attack in such a way that your village’s grain yield is always higher than your opponent’s, even if this means total grain yield by both villages collapses.


Then there are advanced strategies, colluders that use coded sequences of cooperation and attacks to recognize each other and form hierarchies. Never mind those for now.


The most Human strategy is some variant of tit for tat: tend to cooperate, but do unto others as they do to you. Start nothing. But if you are hit, hit back hard. Hit back harder each time.


So you punish the other village for attacking. You counterattack. Unwilling to walk away from a war they’ve already spent blood on, the other village attacks for the next two years in a row. A cycle of war begins.


If we take “A” to mean cooperating, and “X” to mean attacking (defecting), and both villages are playing tit for tat, the two villages’ behavior over the years will look like this:



AAAAAAAAAAAAAXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX


AAAAAAAAAAAAXXXXXXXXXXX
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX



They are now trapped in an infinite war.


Let’s say that the villages’ yearly grain production plunges from 1,800 bushels to 1,200 bushels in the first year of war, to 1,000 bushels each year afterwards. Yet neither side can break out of the cycle of retaliation.


The only way out is a moment of grace. Cooperation, spontaneously and for no reason, after 20 years of war. Forgiveness without cause. Unilateral mercy. Declaring peace.


This is the value of forgetting. Forget they hurt you. Forget what’s rational. Do what’s right.


((062))

Now, if the other village takes advantage of your disarmament, you will look like a damn fool. But if the other side stops fighting too, both of you can go back to the maximum global good: 1,800 bushels of wholesome grain a year.


Imagine that those bushels of grain are peoples’ lives, and you understand the urgency of grace. You feel the need to forget the past.


Ransom’s grievance with the Eliksni is a rational one, but it could doom us to another cycle of conflict.


The psychometer lets us glimpse ancient memory, not because the Light cannot remember, but because it chooses to relieve us of memory’s grief.


The Glykon Volatus is infested with the residue of evil’s touch because the Darkness is there, and the Darkness remembers the suffering aboard. Haunted, like the Nightmares on the Moon.


You win a game of go by maximizing your own personal score. But I played for a joint good, a victory not described by go’s rules. Externality drove me to cooperate when I should’ve competed. One move’s grace for Zavala, so both of us could play a better game.


And the Drifter’s poor Ghost. After centuries hoping he would become a true Guardian, after centuries of disappointment, it still sacrificed its own form to grant him another chance.



This is why the Light wipes away memory. It strikes away the pain of the past to break the pattern. To create the possibility of grace.


This is why the Dark remembers. We need to remember how we were hurt, so we can avoid being hurt again.



(I remember a Golden Age legend—a disease of the amygdala called SM syndrome. It created people without any fear. They could laugh at a man with a knife. They would try to befriend him, they would go back to the place they were attacked and look for him again. Or pick up venomous snakes out of curiosity. They had a heroic resilience to trauma. But they constantly made the same mistakes. They could not learn to avoid danger, or to act urgently to protect themselves. Wonderful neighbors, truly people of the Light. But without fear or even the memory of fear, they could not survive.)

((063))

This is the message I need! Not some sophisticated exegesis of paracausal semiotics—this one thought. Grace and memory.The Light offers escape from endless cyclic violence. The Darkness remembers the hurt that was done to us so that we cannot be exploited by those who would hurt us again.


We need the Darkness to avoid being preyed upon by those who see Light as an opportunity to feed.


But we need the Light too. The Light is the hope of grace through the grace of hope. The possibility to be more than what reason allows us. Because by acting unreasonably, we escape reasonable limits.


This is how we reconcile Light and Dark. This is the message we must teach.


Letter From Ikora to Sen-Aret

((064))

//

Dear Sen-Aret,

There is no such thing as a “low-power Guardian.” There may be armor you can’t actuate or weapons mechanisms you can’t understand. There may be techniques you have yet to master and missions you dare not attempt. But the possibility of your Light is unlimited. I mean this very seriously. A novice go player has the exact same power to place stones as a 9-dan master. The only difference between them lies in their knowledge and ability to choose. This is my firmly held and personal truth: the only difference in “power” between you and me lies in what we have learned and practiced.

Not many Guardians are brave enough to ask such questions. Maybe your age has done well by you. Your society might have been too small for leaders to rule you from far-off palaces. Maybe you were resurrected without any fear of bringing your concerns before your tribe. (I often wonder how many of the attitudes of our past lives we bring into our rebirth. But investigating this would fall into the taboo against pursuing past lives. And no Guardian would want to be told they retained ancient prejudices, even if the structures of power that once gave those prejudices their venom are long gone.)

This brings me to your treatment at the hands of other Guardians. Their curiosity about the enemy is natural, and we cannot suppress the enemy’s arguments without perversely amplifying them. Even I have begun to believe that our enemy may not be the Darkness itself, but a power or principality that commands and rules in Darkness.

But you are right. Guardians do mistake the Traveler’s silence for weakness. They do see the constant necessity of violence, and the rewards they reap through that violence, as a reason to disdain peace and virtue as dull. Guardians want action and meaning and loot. All Guardians have experienced devotion, sacrifice, and death: this separates us from the rest of humankind. But sometimes, we let this separation divide us from the ordinary good of ordinary people.

We forget what it means to live a peaceful life surrounded by the friends we choose. Because we can endure death and violence, we forget how horrible and final violence can be. The nature of your death, Sen-Aret, means you cannot forget that. You know that you were killed by other people, not by a great darkness from the stars.

The question of how to live well in a universe of indifference, cruelty, and deprivation is the ONLY question. The Light does not offer us an afterlife or an otherworldly paradise. It does not give us throne worlds or pocket universes. The Light tells us that paradise is something we have to make here.

The Darkness cautions us against mercy to our enemies. Are we fools for trying to be good, when our very survival is at stake? Maybe. But the fact that our morals sometimes make it more difficult to survive is proof they are truly good! There is not much commendable about doing a right thing when it is also the tactically correct thing. When the good thing is also the hard thing: that is when the righteous are separated from the lost.

Sen-Aret, let me tell you something I have told no one else. I know that in the end, the Darkness can win. Do you understand what I mean? By its very nature, the Darkness is the judge of what will exist and what will pass away. In the end, there may be only Darkness because all that exists will remain only by its consent.

((065))

But the Light grants us freedom from existence alone as the measurement of our worth. Oh, evolution has made us afraid of nonexistence, certainly; and it is good to fear and to avoid nonexistence because without existence, we cannot experience joy. The idea that death is an escape from suffering is a trap. Death is not an escape from anything. It is a wall, a cessation, meaningless. I do not ask anyone to embrace death. There is no possibility in death; life is our only chance to live.

Darkness helps us avoid death. It helps us to go on existing. It is necessary. We must remember what hurt us so that we will not be hurt again.

But Darkness alone points to an eternal existence of mere survival–to a universe where the only judge of a good existence is the ability to go on existing. It is the grace of the Light that grants us the dignity to choose a finite life of compassion and common good over an eternity of competitive subsistence.

The Darkness, or the being that speaks for it, claims that the extermination of all those who choose the Light is inevitable; that the universe will be inherited by morally impoverished advantage-seekers like the Vex and Hive. Logically, I cannot see an escape–so long as I accept the Darkness’s logic.

But this is exactly why we fight, Sen-Aret. Not to preserve our own lives, but to preserve the possibility that we represent. When all choices are measured by their fitness pay off–by what they do to benefit the continued existence of the chooser–the Darkness has won completely.

The most important thing we can do, the most formidable blow we can strike against our true enemy, is to offer irrational grace: to choose unreasonable hope and unreasoning compassion even if it goes against calculated advantage.

It is only by disregarding the logic of mere survival that we can create a possibility of existence outside that logic.

So. If they do not offer you a spot at the campfire. If they call you naïve. If they dislike your complaints about the casual violence of the casually violent. If they quote from the Unveiling texts, tell you how the Gardener lost because it always stopped to offer peace, and the Winnower always struck–then ask who they would rather sit by at the fire: Gardener or Winnower.

Then ask them if they would like to live in a universe where no one ever sits beside anyone else at the fire.

Never forget that even in the miserable logic of the prisoner’s dilemma, it is the cooperators who create the best world. Two cooperators will score higher, together, than two defectors ever could. A world of cooperators would defeat a world of defectors if the defectors could only be kept away from the cooperators’ bounty.

Never forget that what we achieve together, what we accomplish by leavening Darkness with Light and Light with Darkness, tempering grace with memory and memory with grace, is quite literally more than the Darkness alone can imagine. The Hive may have extinguished entire galaxies of allied life, but before the Hive came, those ecumenes accomplished titanic works. What do the Hive have to show for all their conquest? Miserable warrens and rotting moons. Even their libraries are just catalogs of death. Even their queens want a way out.

((066))

Never give up hope. If it is possible to live well, then it is worthwhile to try. If it is possible to exist by the rules of the Light, then the Darkness is forever defeated. It cannot dominate all things for all time.

Above all else, when you are in the deepest pits of despair, I offer you this: I believe that there is no reason the Traveler chose to make its stand here at Earth, instead of at Riis or any world before. I do not believe in any special quality it detected in humanity. Nor in any great tactical advantage the Traveler gained by vouchsafing its power to us. It did not release its Ghosts as a move in a scheme of incomprehensible complexity, or because we fit the criteria of an ancient plan. It did not compute the set of contingencies which could permit its own survival, a one-in-a-trillion pathway through a thicket of certain death.

I believe the Traveler simply could not bear to abandon one more infant possibility.

So it chose an act of unreasonable grace.

Clarity in action,

Ikora Rey

//

SUBJ: PERSONAL REPLY (2)

((067))


ACCESS: MOST RESTRICTED
DECRYPTION KEY: Z2TET3C4WZTLRL8NV5KS$IKO-006
MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: CHA-319
TO: IKO-006

SUBJ: PERSONAL REPLY (2)

Thank you for writing back. Determination is a good word for it.


You have a lot on your mind, and I like to hear it. I won’t tell you what to do, but I will tell you, honestly, that you can’t stop them from using Stasis. It’s here to stay. People want change; they want possibility. They’ll pick up what they can use.


Which leads me to my next big fraught question.


You once told me that you consider VIP #2014 to be a real friend. Someone you trust implicitly. But #2014 was forced to use Stasis during the events on Europa. I know #2014 is just one of a number of powerful Guardians from the Cosmodrome cohort, but there’s no question they’re an influence on their peers. I hear gossip that #2014’s Ghost is overwhelmed sometimes by the need to support a Guardian who’s taken such huge risks. He tends to minimize his own needs, rather than push back. He’s barely even confided in other Ghosts about his own repeated possession by the intruders. Silence about such an invasive trauma? While he’s working with a Guardian who is constantly forced into close contact with the traumatizer? That worries me.


How does that feel? Having a trusted friend set the precedent for Guardians using the Darkness to save the day?


And I know exactly what we are. We’re best frenemies with a history of intense mutual hurt and messy reconciliation, leaving a deep tenderness as well as an almost impenetrable knot of scars. What could be simpler?


With love,


Chalco



MESSAGE ENDS

((068))

//

MESSAGE REPLY
FROM: IKO-006
TO: CHA-319


One stone can change the whole landscape of the board.


Of course, I worry which side played that stone. But Guardians make their own fate.



MESSAGE ENDS

CONSFACDORB JALAAL >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

((069))

All right, I give up. We may have quit the Tower, but I still need your help.


For three years, we’ve had our best analysts working on the documents slipped to a Guardian via the queen’s court—the so-called “Truth to Power” manuscripts. All we’ve got to show for it are burnt fingers and bad arguments.


I appeal to the Hidden for help.


Here’s what I believe we can know with confidence:


•The author of all these documents is Savathûn.


•The documents are an extension of Savathûn’s strategy in the Dreaming City. They are cyclic, deceptive, and fond of the “you did exactly as I planned” mantra.


•There is no encrypted content. Any solvable encryption scheme would be discovered by the mass scrutiny of Ghosts. Therefore, encrypted information is little different from plaintext, so there is no purpose to adding solvably encrypted information. Any unsolvable encryption scheme would remain unsolved and is thus equally purposeless. Therefore, the true message of the documents can be obtained simply by reading the text.


•The true message concerns (a) the importance of singularities in Savathûn’s personal cosmology and/or (b) instructions on how to mantle Savathûn.


We’ve had ships sweeping the edge of the system for orbiting singularities. But we don’t know the mass of the Distributary, or Exodus Green's outward vector at the time the Distributary formed. We don’t even know if the Distributary singularity inherited the Exodus Green’s vector—leaving it on an escape trajectory into interstellar space—or if it emerged at rest with respect to the Sun—meaning, it would fall directly towards the Sun and pass through it, over and over. Add the gravitational influence of the planets, and it could be anywhere by now. We’re looking for a microscopic point in a volume larger than the solar system. We thought about using fleets of sensor mites to search for a gravitational influence— but then we realized the Nine are in competition with us to find the singularity, and they would certainly use their phantom mass to interfere.

((070))

Unless it’s been in front of us all along. Right in the sky of the Dreaming City. Could they have found some way to harness the singularity? To park it where they can guard it…? If so, we must obtain this capability.


Have you found anything we missed?


REY >> JALAAL

This isn’t a Basho haiku. Purposefully making a suboptimal move in order to make a game more “interesting” is a misunderstanding of the nature of a game. There is no reward for beautiful play in the rules of the game


JALAAL >> REY

The Truth to Power documents are Dûl Incaru's plea for her mother’s love. She wrote a biography of her mother, an attempt at understanding, in the hopes that Savathûn would also understand her. Imagine how lonely it would be to live in the High Coven, where everything, all communication, is deception. Imagine if your mother had never once told you the truth about anything.


REY >> JALAAL

This is sarcasm. I’m asking you in good faith for your help.

((071))

CONSFACDORB JALAAL >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

REY >> JALAAL

And I’m trying in good faith to lead you to the truth. The Truth to Power manuscripts are pluripotent. There are many ways to read them.


JALAAL >> REY

That sounds like an excuse for a failure to discover the true meaning.


REY >> JALAAL

You have it all backwards. You’re trying to shuffle the puzzle pieces around until you get an image. You need to know the image before you can arrange the pieces.


Think about logic. Here, we define logic as “the governing principle by which a power defines its own existence.” For example, the Hive practice sword logic.


What is the governing logic of Truth to Power?


JALAAL >> REY

Being nonsense? Being convoluted? Being misunderstood?


REY >> JALAAL

Very well, then. Study Truth to Power with an eye for how it means to be misunderstood.


JALAAL >> REY

Oh, ascended master, tell me, how are we to obtain actionable intelligence from the way the documents are meant to be misunderstood?


REY >> JALAAL

Your centuries of defeatism have left you with a bad case of learned helplessness. The documents are full of possible misunderstandings. One misunderstanding is that they are pointless, just complexity for the sake of confusion. The threads about imbaru and power-from-confusion point this way. This is the stance that most

((072))

amateur Guardian analysts seem to have settled on: it’s all a lot of nothing, and there’s nothing to understand in it.


This is plainly foolish. The text is full of useful intelligence, including an excellent explanation of the Anthem Anatheme and an apparently accurate description of how Riven preyed on Guardians to create the curse.


Another easy misunderstanding is that these pages are concerned with a “real humdinger of a scheme,” a manipulation of Hive tribute that requires Savathûn’s entry into the Distributary. This could be true; the scheme could very well exist. But if so, why would Savathûn advise us of such a scheme?


Another easy misunderstanding is that these are love letters.


Think before you laugh! The letters carefully establish a sense of shared physicality. The Eris voice asks you to center yourself in your breath and your body; it asks you to imagine her as a judoka, a swimmer, a football player. This is subtle work, Arach! It is the work of an alien that has taken on many forms and learned how to win trust in all of them.


The letters plead with us for compassion. Not-Eris describes herself as shy, pitiful, forlorn, afraid to share her true feelings for us. Not-Medusa pleads for help as she disintegrates. At the center, we find the clearest profession of love: “Thank you, sweet friend. You are a gift and a delight. You are more dear than my mother, for you have given birth to me a thousand times.”


Superficially, this is a reference to the concept of imbaru. Savathûn’s plan to predicate her existence upon the misunderstanding of others. We “give birth” to her by feeding her power.


But she also says, “Here at the center, I lie to you the truth. You have everything you need to know it, but I will give you a clue, as the duelist gives warning before she draws. The answer you seek to the Dreaming City is simple, not complex.”


So let’s not misunderstand this statement about giving birth to her.


Let’s take this at face value.


We have given birth to Savathûn. She genuinely loves us for it.


((073))

CONSFACDORB JALAAL >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

JALAAL >> REY

Are you implying that we created Savathûn by imagining her? That her presence in the Books of Sorrow, and all the things she’s done throughout more than a billion years of time, were caused by us reading the Truth to Power manuscript?


If this is what the Light does to a mind, I’m glad I was never chosen.


REY >> JALAAL

No, I don’t think that’s the right answer. Her spawning on Fundament was only one of her births. She says it herself. “You have given birth to me a thousand times.”


Look at Truth to Power simply. What are the topics it centers upon?


Black holes. Vex simulations. Ahamkara. Manipulations of Hive tribute. So our answer must involve all four of those.


Ahamkara willingly seek destruction in order to be taken as trinkets by Guardians. You must know this. You’ve tried to exploit those trinkets as thoroughly as the other factions. But do you understand the metaphysics behind their desire?


I do. I once wished to know more about Ahamkara. Wish granted.


Ahamkara believe that by transforming themselves, by metamorphosing from monsters into treasures, they become more real. More important ontologically. It is the gap between reality as is and reality as desired that they feed on, Arach. And Guardians are the richest, finest source of reality as desired that they have ever met.


What have Ahamkara artifacts ever done but instill delusions of grandeur? A solipsistic madness: “I am more real than what surrounds me”?


Why is this?


The skulls of dire Ahamkara speak to me. They know I want to know the truth, and so they whisper to me of a path they climb. They call it the Anathematic Arc.

((074))

They are going somewhere. Somewhere they consider more real. Guardians are part of how they get there.


What if Savathûn wants to go there too?


JALAAL >> REY

...if you say there is somewhere more real than here, you are implying that we are not real.


This is the simulation argument. That we are ghosts in some other world’s machine. Then there are no real stakes in our war for survival because even if we are extinguished, we were never more than phantoms.


I refuse to accept this.


REY >> JALAAL

Oh, don’t be so timid! An Arach of Dead Orbit driven to despair by the thought of other universes, when you should know the lore of Hubble volumes and Tegmark hierarchies by heart!


Our existence is real to us, vitally real, because it is ours. It’s the only one we have. Even if we are simulations or imaginations, we have an inner life as rich as any “real” living thing, and so, we are equally real! When we die, we are dead, dead, dead.


We believe there are many timelines; does that lead us to discount the reality of our own? Do we stop caring about ourselves, Ikora Rey and Arach Jalaal, because in another timeline, we are already dead? Do I punish you because in another timeline, you murdered me? What matters to us… is us.


But it is possible for realities to be concatenated. The Awoken Distributary is an infinite universe, but it exists within our universe.


The Truth to Power documents constantly return to the question of black hole singularities, to their value as computers and as secret keepers. We are told our true purpose as Guardians is to hurl all we value into a black hole. We are told that Savathûn wants to enter the Distributary and slaughter those within to gain power.


The Pathria-Good black hole cosmogenesis principle of Golden Age physics confirms that the interior of a black hole is a new universe: all black holes produce their own interior cosmos. All cosmos, including our own, are probably the interior of a black hole in a parent universe.


((075))

The Truth to Power documents want it understood that Savathûn wishes to enter the Distributary in order to gain power in our parent universe.


The suggestion here is that it is possible for actions in a concatenated universe to grant power in the parent universe.


JALAAL >> REY

What does this have to do with love letters to the Human form? With confusion for the sake of confusion? You make no sense.


REY >> JALAAL

Savathûn pretends to have a soft Human body. She apologizes and empathizes. She asks for pity, she regrets emotional vulnerability, she is even funny. She makes a game for us to play.


These are attempts to enter the mind of a Human reader.


Wherever she wants to go, it is a place with Human minds. She needs to enter those minds to reach her destination.


JALAAL >> REY

Are you actually suggesting we are concatenated within the mind of a reader?

((076))

CONSFACDORB JALAAL >> VANCINCLOCK IKORA REY

REY >> JALAAL

Wouldn’t that be something? No. The answer here is simple, not complex, certainly not a twist from early postmodern writing.


We surmise that what Savathûn wants in the Dreaming City must have to do with Ahamkara, Vex simulations, black holes, her daughter Dûl Incaru, and the manipulation of Hive tribute.


How can we relate these?


At first, we believed Savathûn wanted to use Ahamkara wishes to protect her daughter Dûl Incaru, while Dûl Incaru tried to find a way for Savathûn to enter the Distributary black hole in order to manipulate Hive tribute.


What if this is a misunderstanding?


Why would the Dreaming City tell Savathûn how to enter the Distributary? The Awoken have never tried to return to their birthplace. They believe their exodus was irreversible.


But what have the Awoken done instead?


Passed from the Distributary and into our world.


That knowledge IS in the Dreaming City. In the records of the Awoken Hulls that carried Mara’s people on their exodus.


What Savathûn wants in the Dreaming City is exactly that. Not the way into a child universe, but a way out into a parent. A parent where there are Human minds waiting to receive her, formless as imbaru, as the mist.


JALAAL >> REY

How is anyone supposed to arrive at this by studying the Truth to Power text?


REY >> JALAAL

Very easily. This is why I believe I’m right. This is the analogy our Guardian analysts failed to grasp. Look at the structure of the text.


At first, Eris is real. Then we learn Eris’s voice is a deception by Medusa. Then we learn Medusa is nested inside Quria. Then

((078))

we learn Quria is a fiction of Dûl Incaru. And at the center, Savathûn reveals herself to be the parent of it all.


We are headed inward, as if moving from parent to child universe.


Then we proceed in reverse. Savathûn is revealed to be a fiction of Dûl Incaru. Dûl Incaru a simulation by Quria, and so on.


So in the end, Truth to Power moves outwards.


Just as Savathûn plans to move. In from our universe and out to the Distributary—


Or out from our universe to its parent.


JALAAL >> REY

Oh. I see. I see! A literary structure like that is called a chiasmus, and chiasmus means “crossing point”! Like a wormhole or a portal! It was hidden in plain sight.


But then we must act urgently to stop this! Savathûn cannot be allowed to depart our universe into some reality superordinate to ours—


But now you’ll tell me: so what if she does? What can she do to us out there?


REY >> JALAAL

It’s all beside the point anyway. She may have already accomplished what she wanted. Some damn fool Guardian carried out her instructions on a dare. I don’t know why she wanted a powerful Guardian to destroy her daughter in the ruins of Mara’s throne. But she wanted it to happen. And I’m guessing the effects weren’t felt here[3].


I think she got a glimpse into a world above our own. Maybe even a kind of influence.


Of course, Savathûn is still with us. She walked among us as Osiris; she tricked us into removing her worm; she hasn’t vanished into some higher reality. I do not think she built a wormhole into another universe and walked through it—although her intrigues with the Nine have focused on creating singularities from dark matter.


She keeps a lot of irons in the fire, our Witch Queen.


I think, rather, that she sent instructions on how to mantle


((079))

her. I think the whole Truth to Power manuscript is an ova, a manual on how to behave like her, how to describe her through action and thought so completely that you become her and thus give birth to her.


It’s done in the Books of Sorrow, to recall her from true death. It might be done again.


So a part of her is out of the jar. Slithering into that other world.


Let’s hope no one there has given birth to her yet.


JALAAL >> REY

Maybe you’re the one who has it all backwards.


The Light is noncomputable. It can’t be simulated in conventional physics. That proves that any universe with the Light cannot be a simulation. Our universe can contain simulations, but it cannot be one.


Maybe this other world Savathûn’s touched is subordinate to ours after all. Maybe they are the ones who exist in our minds. A dream of a purely material world, adrift in the true cosmos of Light and Dark.


Poor frail dreams. The things she’d do to them…


Notes

  1. ^ Letter itself is a separate item, however is included on this page for the purposes of compiling transcriptions to a single page.

References