Lore:The Singular Exegete

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"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.

The Singular Exegete is a Lore book introduced in the Season of Arrivals in Destiny 2. Entries are acquired by completing the weekly Interference mission. Entries are decoded transmissions from the Darkness, communicated through the Io Pyramid, as translated and annotated by Eris Morn. They also serve as reports to the Vanguard, as well as her personal reflections and notes on the matter.

PROTECTED[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

Reference obvious. The enemy insinuates that we are hobbled by the Traveler's protection; denied our full potential. This is expected. Our foe comprehends only violence and its beauty.

[Personal notes, scratched in Hive leather with a flake of Ionian stone.]

The tired insinuation that protection is weakness. I expected more from our great foe. When we hunted the first trespasser on the Moon, I discovered the journal of a Golden Age commander. Kuang Xuan had faith and training. Still, the Darkness seduced her. And THIS is the insidious power that turned her against her god?

I am learning to cook. I salvaged a hot plate back on the Moon. It was vacuum welded to the countertop, and I had to cut it free. (My hands ache, but they are steadier.)

Cousin Asher, you would find the concept of vacuum welding upsetting—press two sheets of metal together in void, and their atoms cannot tell which sheet they belong to. They cross freely. The two become one.

I sleep beside an intruding Pyramid. I am deep in its shadow. Back in the Tower, beneath the Traveler, could they understand how I am vacuum welded to the enemy?

Ikora would understand. She studied the Taken with me, despite the risks. And Zavala values foresight. But he also fears the next Lysander, the next Toland. The next Rezyl Azzir. He fears what I could teach his Guardians. He is weary of being the one to say "No," when all his Guardians shout "Yes, yes!" But it is his duty, and he loves when duty hurts.

[Forceful, angled cuts—]

I am afraid I am afraid that if I go on I will lose everything I have regained all my peace all my trusts all my hopes and I will even destroy my dear friend who fights where I cannot

[A blank space.]

I need to make a wok. I am going to take an angle grinder to the rotor disc from an old rover. I must find cooking oil to season it. I will search through cousin's old caches tomorrow.

Tonight, I cook fried rice. Rice and raisins will come from my stores. The recipe calls for "pineapple." Is this a joke? A pine-flavored apple? I will substitute breadfruit, if I can find it.

EGGSHELL[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

The bird cannot fly until it leaves the eggshell. The enemy continues to suggest that we must abandon the Traveler. This is a good sign. It would not need to entice us if it could destroy us without effort.

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

Tidal volcanism and Jupiter's plasma breath made Io into a treasure trove of chemistry for the Traveler's work. A good wok must be seasoned in the same way. I am heating it with sunflower oil from cousin Asher's cache. There were many fine things, all untouched. He denies himself.

I ache from the hike. Ikora says I am full of hairline fractures and deep muscle trauma. I never noticed until other pains had healed. The illusions of recovery: one pain obscures another.

There is danger in this traffic with the Pyramid. Kuang Xuan's logs make that plain. But I must continue. I MUST continue. What worth have I ever been, except that I know the enemy?

(More worth, Mara would remind me. I am more than my uses.)

So:

What bird would we become if we left the Traveler behind?

There are four obvious examples. We might survive as raiders on the edge. We might take the enemy's sacrament and become its slave. We might abandon our humanity for machines. We might rise up in war and build an empire.

Yet none of these four can be the answer. Fallen, Vex, Cabal, and Hive all covet the Traveler. They have not left it behind.

If all things beyond the Traveler's protection fall under the suzerainty of Darkness—not because they serve it but because they are obedient to its law—then to leave the Traveler would be to join the enemy. There would be no other way.

Even so, I am proof otherwise. I move between. There is not only grey between black and white; all the colors are there. And am I not necessary? I would be lost without those who led me back to the Light, but if I had not been there to guide them down into Darkness, they would all be dead…

Who would we become if we were all like Eris Morn?

Ah—my wok is on fire—

WHITE[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

The color white exists as a symbol of uniformity, sterility, and sameness. "In Light, there is only death." The same message VIP #2014 received in the lunar Pyramid. Again, uninteresting.

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

I do not believe the Darkness has returned to destroy the Traveler. Surely, it could have done that while the Traveler was maimed and stranded. Why wait for a sign that the Light had returned to its strength?

Perhaps the Darkness has returned for us. Guardians are the Traveler's final memorial. We are its selfless legacy and last argument.

The color white—stasis, blankness, bone—

Flag of truce.

This is an opportunity. We must do as we did before. Encounter the enemy's power, learn what we can, and report back. And if we return with nothing but beautiful and violent words, then we will study them as scripture and find some way to turn the enemy's power to our use, just as it wishes to turn us to its purpose.

My wok is filthy with burnt oil. I need baking soda to clean it, but there is no trona on Io. Instead, I bubbled carbon dioxide through sodium hydroxide (it burnt like Hive blood) and retrieved enough soda to clean the wok.

While I was scrubbing, a young Guardian approached. She had an ancient name. Akkadian, perhaps, or Sumerian. She said that she had heard of me, and she wanted to help me search for knowledge.

I snapped at her to bring me a pine-apple. I know I was cruel.

CUSP[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

This is a threat. The enemy implies we are on the edge of a second Collapse. There are intimations of a repeated mistake—an error we will make again. Perhaps it is a demand for surrender.

[Personal notes, scratched in Hive leather with a flake of Ionian stone.]

The Collapse was a murder. A genocide. Why does the enemy imply it was OUR error?

I was born long after the Golden Age, but I do feel loyalty to that time, and compassion. Humanity thought it was immortal. So did I, once.

WHAT SHOULD WE HAVE LEARNED FROM THE COLLAPSE?

—That we are weak—obvious, and false. No.

—That we made errors in our defense—our enemy is not a strategy instructor. No.

—That everything grown must die, hope is futile, etc.—tiresome. Death may be inevitable, but life is worth fighting for to protect and extend. No.

—That the Traveler is using us for its own ends. Then why would it sacrifice itself? No.

—That the Darkness is not OUR enemy. It is only the Traveler's enemy.

Does the enemy suggest we should have turned on the Traveler during the Collapse? Cracked it like an egg?

I see shades of the prisoner's dilemma that occupied Kuang Xuan. If Traveler and humanity cooperate, both suffer. If humanity maims the Traveler as it tries to flee, both are destroyed. But if the Traveler chooses to help us, and we turn against it, offer it to the enemy…

The enemy suggests this would have been our salvation.

For now, I subsist on thick pemmican and vitamin paste. I crave fresh food. I must invite someone to share this meal I will someday cook. My palate is… toughened. I will need a taster.

Perhaps I should not have sent the Sumerian woman away.

GIFT[edit]

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

Something new has blossomed in the Cradle. A gift to reward my attention. It terrifies me, and the more afraid I am, the more I want to accept it. I came to learn from what I fear most. The more I am afraid, the more there is to learn.

The shoot is a single silver branch, with leaves like down. I think they are tiny feathers.

Is it some thorn of Savathûn's, sent to bring disaster?

No. I know it is not; that would be too simple. It is from the black Pyramid. It was meant for me.

I will let it grow and see if it bears fruit.

It is true that I am watched by many Guardians, and doubted, and mocked. But this is the price of connectedness. This is proof, no matter how bitter, that I am part of something larger. Others look to me for guidance, so I choose to be worthy of that trust. I choose to tell Zavala what I have found.

I will even invite him to see it.

CONTRAST[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

Another rhetorical gambit. The enemy presents itself as part of a natural cycle. Like a stalking wolf, it simply obeys its nature. How can we hate it for that?

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

There are jaded Guardians, strangers to true loss, who claim that the Traveler has ulterior motives, and the Darkness is a natural force. They worship grey. For them, the line between right and wrong is fine as silk and just as easy to cut.

Fools. Evil is real, even in a world of grey. It must be named and fought, because left unchecked, it takes everything. Those who excuse and deny evil's existence are its greatest allies; those who mistake its causes for moral justification are its favorite pawns.

Yet the Pyramid challenges me. Would not the Light destroy the Darkness, just as Darkness would destroy the Light? Why do we call a change "evil" when it is natural and inevitable, like Earth's winters or the sun's spots?

Because some changes must be resisted. If we did not prepare for winter, we would die in it. We would cease to exist.

…so now I find myself using the enemy's philosophy to justify my opposition to the enemy. A neat little trap.

Is winter evil? It CAUSES evil. It leads us into evil choices through scarcity and pain. But winter is the result of natural circumstance. Even if it had a mind, it could never choose to become an endless summer. It would always hurt us, simply by being itself. Does that make it evil?

And if we were to build shelters and weapons out of ice, would we become evil?

Survival in winter requires wintercraft. Survival in darkness requires… a new idea of good and evil. One that will not collapse into moral indifference.

Or we will all be Dredgens in the end.

YES[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

A lapse. Nothing meaningful emerged from our work this time except vague affirmation. Perhaps I have misinterpreted the results.

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

"Yes." It approves of my interest. It encourages me. When Darkness reaches for you, you should flinch away. But I do not. This approval… excites me. Am I already in its power? Is this a declaration of its triumph?

When I was a Guardian, I went on a dive to gather salvage from an ancient submarine. We plunged so deep that the air itself became intoxicating. Hypnotized by our own beauty, we stared into each other's helmets, drunk on our distance from the world. But when we surfaced—

Agony.

I feel that depth pressing on me now. My fingers and my ears ache. The enemy's excitement terrifies me. It cannot give; it cannot be made to give. The Fallen call it "that astonishing ability to evade being robbed." It can only take. What could this YES mean except that it has taken something from me?

My course is set. I did not tell Zavala. I take this onto myself in the hope of helping others.

[a small space]

—the Sumerian woman returned at last. She found an arcology garden on Titan. On the manifest—pine-apple! Pine-apples are real!

She is a power, this Guardian. But there are many as bright, or brighter. It is perseverance that makes the difference. We will see if this one perseveres. I sent her to bring me pine-apple seeds.

Her name is Enina. She has white, innocent eyes.

I will not give up my work. Not until I have fried rice with pine-apple and raisins. And not until I know exactly what is coming.

UNBORN[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

It preaches the philosophy of the Books of Sorrow, Yor's scriptures, and the unveiled fragments. The Traveler is a false creator, guarding its creations with false law. We are dead things made in the shape of the dead. The only true law is violent winnowing. Whatever cannot hold on to existence does not deserve existence. And so forth.

At least it is consistent.

[Personal notes, scratched in Hive leather with a flake of Ionian stone.]

The enemy suggests that our rebirth was an evil mistake. How Gnostic—they were a cult (a fleet? a school? a horde?) who believed that the source of all suffering was not in our poor choices but an error of the world's Creator. A false, deluded god. Mara would laugh, or weep.

Was my rebirth an evil?

It is true that Guardians are reborn to face pain. We are endlessly besieged by a tortured cosmos. Secretly, I believe that most of us fall to exhaustion. Our Ghosts love us and let us curl up inside, to rest.

My Ghost Brya died to save me. If she were returned… would I want immortality again?

I do fear immortality without choice. I would not want to go on as a prisoner in Vex glass, or a spirit trapped in the Sea of Screams…

But my life is not a prison or a trap.

[Deep cuts, full of stone dust:]

It is NOT.

PURITY[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

This logograph suggests purification through reduction, ablution, or sacrifice. It may draw an ironic comparison between the Taken and our own relationship to the Traveler. I am sure the idea that we are "Light Taken" is a popular heresy, but the difference should be plain. We do not lose the capacity to choose; we make our own fate.

[Personal notes, scratched in Hive leather with a flake of Ionian stone.]

The translation is not as clear as I suggested to Zavala. As I told my friend, "purity" is hardly pure of meaning. There are many interpretations…

As a student of Hive lore, purity makes me recall the Final Shape: that which remains when all that can be removed has been removed. But the Hive are a skeletal cult of misery and reduction. The true enemy is rich with nuance. It challenges me: Why does the Traveler strip us of our old identities?

As a Guardian, I never craved a past. Everything I cared for was in front of me. I could see my people, I could touch them, I could fight for them.

But then I lost my Ghost and the Light. Trapped in the gunpowder tunnels of the disemboweled Moon, I cursed the Traveler. It left no childhood memories to comfort me. No parents or cherished friends waiting in the City. No one to whom I could devote my return. Just Eriana, Sai, Omar, and Vell. Haunting me.

Of course—I have never considered this before—there is a more generous interpretation of the Traveler's amnesia.

The Traveler believes that if we are freed of our past wounds and fears, given power and a new start, we will choose to be good. We will abandon all lesser causes to defend humanity. We will choose others over ourselves.

Perhaps this is why the Traveler never speaks. Its voice is too loud to be anything but coercion. It waits, breathless, for us to make our own choice.

[a small space]

Enina's Ghost sent me a message. She found viable pine-apple seeds in an arcology vault. She wants me to grow them.

CONVICTION[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

The enemy is convinced of the rightness of its cause. Uninteresting.

[Personal notes, scratched in Hive leather with a flake of Ionian stone.]

I saw a strange Ghost yesterday, lurking among my supplies. Normally, they do not come this close, even when their Guardians do. They fear possession by the Pyramid.

But this one had the air of a spy.

The enemy warns me of great atrocities couched in valor, violence born from supreme conviction. This message is an extension of the "camouflage" logograph. A warning against my own comrades.

Sometimes, death comes not from a disease but the body's immune reaction. Under pressure, oxygen becomes poison. Good things, Mara says, can make us sick…

Zavala is not a martinet. He is a strategist. His Guardians are all tacticians. They love when some grand new threat appears; but when it is defeated, they become restless, and they use their bold victories as proof that Zavala is a timid leader.

But he is not swayed by the hot-blooded elite. He fears victory disease. What will happen when our mighty newborn Guardians, accustomed to swift victory, meet a grinding, tedious foe?

And he worries for the thousands and thousands of weaker Lightbearers who rush after their heroes and die forever. No more Ghosts are being created. We are pouring from a shallow cup.

He would do anything to protect the Last City. Such is his conviction.

Would he kill me, if he thought I was turned? I think it would wound him horribly. But he does love to be hurt by his duty…

[a small space]

Enina returned with the pine-apple seeds.

Io does not support agriculture, so I made loam out of treated soil, asteroid powder, and a bacterial paste that looks like bouillon. I will plant the pine-apple seeds in this little garden. I hope their roots are not too big. I have only a little room to grow.

PETULANT[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

A rebuke to Savathûn for her interference. Perhaps she is jealous of our direct access to the Pyramid. She led the Hive to the Darkness, but she has had eons to regret that choice. Could we exploit this?

[Personal notes, scratched in Hive leather with a flake of Ionian stone.]

I find the Guardians' collective study humiliating. Their channels are full of open speculation about me. Is she a hapless lackey of Queen Mara? An ancient proto-Hive matron? And why did she offer to trade a bag of quartz-chip datastores for a pound of breadfruit?

Savathûn, Queen of All Encrypts. Savathûn, who has distorted these messages so badly that only the tenacious Drifter can unscramble them.

Why does the Hive trickster want to prevent our contact with her god?

Simplest answer: It is all a trick. "You did exactly as I required," is her retort to any defeat. How can her plans be foiled when no one understands what they are?

But would she dare defy the Deep Itself?

Perhaps she would. Savathûn's wretched existence is bound to the need to confuse. To understand her is to destroy her. Is she still set on luring us into a black hole, some newborn universe where she can be a true god? Or was that a lie too?

Am I on the verge of some discovery that threatens her?

Jupiter is always straight above. At night, the whole sky is afire, tons of sulfur burning in the flux tube that connects Io to the Jovian pole. I burn my trash and the smoke drifts up forever. The radio howls like wolves.

I am lonely.

CAMOUFLAGE[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

Meaning unclear. Perhaps simply a threat. "We are hidden closer than you know."

[Personal notes, knotted in a codex of Hive gut.]

Now I am hiding the truth even from my own friend. I do not want to make them distrust the Vanguard. But I am sure that this warning is genuine… and that it points to a threat in our own ranks. There are inflections to this logograph that speak of a killer hidden in plain sight.

I must not become paranoid, as Kuang Xuan did—but I think the warning is for me. I think the enemy wants me safe from my own kind, so that I will continue to receive its messages. (And share them with my friend? Is that my true purpose? Am I only a conduit for their corruption?)

I am convinced that the absolute interdict upon knowledge of the Darkness is misguided. We CAN understand the enemy without falling under its sway. If I can pass through Darkness and return, so can others. Perhaps… under my guidance.

Perhaps I can be a teacher.

Mara would be horrified if she knew—afraid for me—but my Queen herself stole Oryx's power. Can communion with the black fleet be so much more dangerous?

I planted the pine-apples. They have already blossomed. The Golden Age agriculturalists must have tweaked them for growth and hardiness. Little purple thistles—they delight me. Enina asks after their health.

I am suspicious of her. She is too eager to please. And who knows which faction that snooping Ghost reports to? Was it hers?

FALLING[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

Another threat of imminent disaster. You declared a new Golden Age, and our enemy declares a second Collapse. They imply it is already in motion. Alarming.

[Personal notes, scored in Hive leather with a knife.]

Free fall is indistinguishable from a stable orbit until you strike the ground. Are we already falling? Is our doom fixed? Have I missed the signs this time?

I should ask Osiris. I should ask Ikora. I should ask my Queen. I should conjure wretched Toland from the Sea of Screams and wring the truth from him. But would I be believed? "There goes old Eris," they will say, "howling about fingertips and revenge again. She is lonely, so she prophesies doom."

Zavala would believe me, but he would also call me in for rest. Ikora would set me in a library and take care of me, and I would be too glad of it to leave. I cannot. I cannot. Even my Queen knows that some secrets must be kept in solitude. She will understand.

She trusts me.

I look forward to sharing a meal together.

CONTACT[edit]

[Report by VanNet encrypted router.]

At last, another substantive message. The enemy's influence in our system may be more extensive than we realize. You must look for signs of its effect. Errors or crashes in Vex constructs. Eruptions of empowered or self-destructive Hive sorcery. Newly created Scorn. Revels and expeditions by the worshippers of the narcissist emperor.

[Personal notes, shaved into quartz with a surgical stylus.]

Our enemies are turning to the Darkness. The Red Legion is broken; the Almighty destroyed. The remaining Cabal will either join Calus's death cult or seek his daughter, Caiatl. And the Fallen—we have driven them to the edge of survival. Turned them against each other. How many will look to the Whirlwind for an advantage over their rivals? By pushing them from the Light, we have groomed more supplicants for the Darkness.

We are in an arms race. If we do not learn to use our greater enemy's power, our lesser enemies surely will.

I confronted Enina about the strange Ghost. It was not hers, she protested. I asked her why she had been so generous to me, so eager to please.

She confessed that she had come on behalf of her fireteam: Guardians who are champions in the Drifter's strange games. They wish to learn the ways of the Darkness itself. To descend into the underworld, like ancient Inanna, and return. They want what I have learned here.

How easily they might be corrupted. And yet it thrills me to know that I would not be alone in my work…

I sent her away. I fear the Witch Queen's spies.

The pine-apple blossoms are still growing. But now I stare at the purple flowers in the black soil and I wonder about poison.

I am no longer hungry.