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|Political and military information|
The Black Fleet
Controls the Black Fleet as its master.
- "We have seen enough. The children of Sol cry out for salvation. You promised them life, but deliver only death, as you have for so many before. Enough. Enough death. Enough life. You have no pieces left to place. The game is over.
Do not be afraid. Your pale heart holds the key.
This time... There is no escape."
- — The Witness to The Traveler
The Witness, also known as the Entity, or the Voice in the Darkness, is an immensely powerful Darkness-wielding being who commands the Black Fleet. It is the main antagonist of the Destiny series, having pursued The Traveler for eons as part of its ultimate goal of bringing upon about the Final Shape. It is served by the Disciples, powerful beings from a variety of species and backgrounds who also wield the Darkness and follow the Witness' teachings.
The Ancient Past
- "I stand before a being with a thousand names. It whispers one: The Witness. Remember it. Remember that name."
- — Savathûn
The history of the Witness is almost totally unknown. Contradictory statements from Savathûn claim both that the Witness was once a mortal creature whose race was empowered by either the Light or the Darkness and that the Witness itself birthed the Darkness. At some point, the Witness, for currently not explained reasons, had devoted itself to pursuing the Traveler and bringing about the Final Shape.
The Witness' origins may be connected to the mysterious paracausal entity known as the Veil; Nezarec describes the Veil as "the sapid secret of the Witness' first victims," suggesting that the Veil was involved somehow with the start of the Witness' crusade.
The Recruitment of a Disciple
- ""Love for them made you weak. Power over them made you strong. Upon reflection, you are filled with regret. Believing yourself to be under the spell of the Regime. Believing your actions in their tenure to be wrong. But morality, oh dear Rhulk, is subjective. And now that you are all that remains of Lubrae, isn't it time you made the rules? Isn't it time you looked back upon your life with pride? After all, your actions brought you to us. And only we can help you emerge from your cocoon."
"We…? What even are you?"
"We are your salvation. We are your judgment. And soon we will be… your Witness.""
- — The Witness and Rhulk.
Billions of years ago, the Witness visited a dying world called Lubrae, which had degenerated into a military dictatorship after the Traveler had blessed and left their civilization. There, it encountered a warrior named Rhulk, who had fallen into a chasm after being betrayed by his family and clan. The Witness healed Rhulk's injuries and gifted him a remade and empowered version of his Glaive, and told him that his destiny was to bring ruin to Lubrae. Rhulk went on to massacre the people of the city above the chasm, and eventually destroyed his entire planet by using the Upended to destroy Lubrae's Sapphiric Sun. As Rhulk fell once more into the chasm, the Witness saved him again by bringing him aboard its Pyramid. There, it converted Rhulk to worship of the Darkness by showing how, from the perspective of the Darkness, the lives that had been lost on Lubrae were never worth anything to begin with, and that he had proven his worth by destroying them and surviving the extinction of his species by his own hand. This caused Rhulk to swear himself to the Witness as one of its Disciples.
Subjugation of the Worms
The Witness later visited the solar system of Fundament along with Rhulk, tasking the latter with subjugating the Worms as slaves to further its goals.
The Birth of the Hive
- "These frail siblings will soon be claimed by the Light... Unless we claim them first. We will tell the most cunning sibling of cataclysm. A prophecy... of a great loss."
- — The Witness observing the Krill.
The Witness played a key role in the ascension of the Hive on Fundament by telepathically communicating with the young Sathona via her Worm familiar, telling her that the Osmium Court was in imminent danger of destruction by a tidal wave generated by a syzygy. In reality, there was no such danger: the Witness merely wanted to claim the Krill as servants of the Darkness before the Traveler could arrive and uplift them along with the Ammonites.
Sometime after the Witness created the Hive, the Darkness-wielding Ecumene and Qugu were rendered extinct by them. Their use of the Darkness is not reported in the Books of Sorrow, suggesting that either Oryx or the Witness itself excised this fact, presumably due to its seeming contradiction with the Witness' ideology. This projection of the Witness's will onto the Darkness itself continued in this manner for billions of years, successfully rendering the two indistinguishable from each other to its targets.
The Witness had a direct role in the Collapse, alongside its Disciples and Savathûn, the Witch Queen. According to Savathûn's Worm, the Witness intended to destroy the Traveler but was somehow tricked by Savathûn into sparing it instead. As a result of this deception, humanity survived while the Witness and its Black Fleet were driven back to intergalactic space, where they would remain for centuries before the Traveler revealed its continued existence at the end of the Red War.
Meeting with Calus
- "We have come upon the end of the world, and I've stared into its expanse. It has whispered into my ear, and I am enlightened. Death is coming, and It has made me Its herald. The end will eat everything."
- — Calus to his Loyalists
During his exile aboard the Leviathan, the deposed Cabal Emperor Calus and his Loyalists encountered an anomalous void in deep space, described as a total absence of "light, dark, life, death (...) anything, even of absence itself". Donning a pressure gel suit, Calus went out to the exterior of the Leviathan to inspect his surroundings. He received a vision from the void, showing a fleet of unknown ships and a coming cataclysm that would annihilate all life in the universe. The void then told Calus that he would be its herald, to spread the news of the coming end.
- "You made it...we have heard your cries for help. And soon, we will answer."
- "Who are you?"
- "Don't you recognize us? We are not your friend. We are not your enemy. We are your... salvation. "
- — The Witness and The Guardian
When Eris Morn awakened the Pyramid beneath the Moon, the Darkness emanating from it reached out to the Guardian investigating her whereabouts and began to invade their Ghost. When they return equipped with Dreambane Armor, the Pyramid invites the Guardian inside where whispers of the Witness' presence could fully possess their Ghost. It is there the Voice in the Darkness coldly denounces the Light as a weakness which had brought only death to those it "blessed", citing the Great Disaster, the Red War, and the death of Cayde-6 as examples of its numerous failures. Once the Guardian reached the statue at the center of the Pyramid, they are offered the Unknown Artifact as "respite", granting them a vision of the Black Garden. It is there that the Witness reveals themselves to the Guardian having taken their form against a backdrop of the Black Fleet. The Witness addresses the Guardian having heard humanity's cries for help and that they would soon answer, claiming that they are neither friend nor enemy, but instead their "salvation".
Season of Arrivals
- "You bring weapons. You will not need them. We offer only truth."
- — The Witness
Several days after the Almighty's destruction, the Witness would assert its fleet of mysterious Pyramid Ships and push into the solar system, with one ship accompanied by Pyramid Scales going to Io. Detecting the oncoming threat, Rasputin uses his Warsat network around the moon of Jupiter in an effort to shoot down the vessel. Sadly, his countermeasures have no effect, and the Pyramid responds by completely disabling the Warmind and his systems, leaving the Guardians to fend for themselves.
The Pyramids would be drawn to Io as it is the last place to be touched by the Traveler and station itself over a strange tree that has grown in the center of the collection of raised rocks. Both Eris Morn and the Young Wolf are also attracted to the moon, with Eris arriving in an attempt to commune with the Pyramids once again and the Young Wolf being sent by Commander Zavala to retrieve the lightless Hunter.
Upon arrival, the Guardian is drawn to a small disturbance on the edge of the cliff overlooking the largest of the Pyramids, where they are once again ensnared by the vessel, with the Witness communicating through their Ghost. However, before the Witness could do anything else, they are saved by an intervention from Savathûn who transports them to the Ascendant Realm where they are forced to fight both Taken and Hive. They fight the Witch Queen's forces back and forth through realities until Eris brings them to the Tree of Silver Wings directly under the Pyramid. Here, after another bout with the Taken, the Guardian retrieves an artifact called the Seed of Silver Wings that, once charged, will allow Eris to listen to the Witness' messages without the Witch Queen's interference.
Soon, the Pyramid ships would spread further beyond Io, with three more ships now above Saturn's moon of Titan overseeing the New Pacific Arcology, near the BrayTech Futurescape on Mars, and above the Caloris Basin in Mercury. The Pyramid on Io also began rapidly deploying Pyramid Scales, which could be seen flying to and from the vessel, in order to presumably prepare the moon for terraforming. It is unknown where the rest of the fleet was at the time. In response, Zavala had deployed the Young Wolf to their allies on the four planets and moons with the presence of the Pyramids to begin preparations for a mass exodus and retreat back to The Last City. However, after completing a series of tasks Commander Sloane, Brother Vance, and Asher Mir would opt to stay with Ana Bray being the only V.I.P to return to the City but not after saving what remains of Rasputin with the help of the Young Wolf.
In the following weeks, Guardians were pulled into the Ascendant Realm, reminiscent of the Court of Oryx on the Dreadnaught, this time encountering Nokris, Savathun's supplicant. Upon defeating him, the Witness was able to complete its message, while forcibly transporting the Guardians aboard a room within the Io Pyramid, telling Guardians there is an ancient power deep beneath the surface of Europa and that it must be embraced, displaying statues of each race approaching a central Pyramid, with a lone shadow lingering over the Fallen.
Almost half a year after the Pyramids returned, the worlds of Mercury, Mars, Io, and Titan had all disappeared from the system, hidden by the Witness. The status of the Pyramid Fleet is unknown, but it is presumed that they are holding position along the outer reaches of the system after being driven back by the Traveler healing itself.
During Beyond Light, the Guardian follows the guidance of the Witness and travels to Europa. Here, they acquire the power of Stasis. Alongside empowering the Guardian, the Witness also appears to be working up an army of Fallen, by tempting Eramis and her followers into embracing Stasis so that they can destroy the Traveler. However, Eramis appears to fall short of the Witness' expectations, with her becoming encased in Stasis after failing to defeat the Guardian.
It is revealed that Clovis Bray had been in contact with the Witness in some form during the Golden Age. After discovery of an artifact on Luna, he was guided to come to Europa by it, disguising his mission as simple corporate research and exploration. Under the influence of what he came to call "Clarity", he had a Vex gate built using a stolen Vex unit belonging to the Ishtar Collective. Using this gate, he was able to travel to a blue giant star system, which the Vex appeared to have under control. Kidnapping more Vex units from this system, he experimented with the radiolarian fluid inside the Vex, exposing it to the statue he had discovered on Europa, leading to revolutions in Exo production.
Ultimately, the Vex would invade Europa through the constructed gate and begin wiping out all life they could find, as well as begin transforming the moon into another a Machine World. Clovis Bray's fledgling colony would be destroyed in an all-out war against the invading machines, eventually leading to its abandonment. Whether this was a test by the Witness to see if Clovis Bray had what it took to be a Disciple or not is currently unknown, though going by what is known about the Witness and how it selects for Disciples, it seems likely.
Season of the Chosen
As the object of Calus' nihilistic fascinations, the Witness was contacted again by the exiled former Emperor. Calus felt like the Witness' actions did not meet up to his expectations, and sought an audience with it to receive an explanation. Utilizing the Scorn and the Crown of Sorrow, Calus focused their minds to allow conversation with the Witness. This led to the disappearance of Calus, as he was whisked away during a communion, leaving behind his Loyalists to die at the hands of an Egregore infestation.
Season of the Lost
Though not making any direct appearances or communications itself, it is apparent that the Witness has declared the capture of Savathûn to be an imperative, transferring ownership of the Taken from the Witch Queen to her sister, Xivu Arath, God of War.
The Witch Queen
Mars would later return under mysterious circumstances, but with regions of its surface having been temporally displaced, displaying what appears to be the Golden Age. However it is later revealed the Savathûn, after her revival as a Lightbearer, used the Witness' power to take worlds, to bring Mars back from its anomalous state.
As told by her during the Parasitic Pilgrimage mission, the Awoken Queen Mara Sov encountered the Witness beyond the heliopause of the Sol system. There, it showed her a vision of the impending future upon its arrival, and subsequently offered the Awoken Queen the opportunity to become one of its Disciples. The Queen refused and fought the Witness and its armies throughout the ascendant plane before returning to the Dreaming City.
After Savathûn, the Witch Queen was reborn in the Light, only to have her plan to steal the Traveler thwarted by the Guardians, the Witness addressed the Traveler, declaring that it had "seen enough" and would take action to "save" the denizens of Sol.
Season of the Haunted
Within the events of the Leviathan's return, it becomes clear that Calus has been selected as a Disciple in all but name. The Witness has encouraged Calus further in understanding the goal of the "final shape", and appears to have directed him to join his consciousness with the Pyramid upon Earth's moon. Though he is stopped from completing this action, it is made clear to all involved that the Witness is seriously returning, taking steps to cement its position in a coming war.
Season of Plunder and the Seraph
Following Calus becoming its latest Disciple, the Witness released Eramis from her Stasis prison. Whispering to the Fallen Kell, the Witness demanded Eramis gather relics of Darkness that were lost during the Dark Ages, or be lost to oblivion in her frozen prison. Bitter, enraged, and casting aside her original calls for Eliksni unity, Eramis agreed, was set free, and began searching for the relics by rallying the Old Crews. In truth, the relics Eramis sought contained pieces of one of The Witness's Disciples, Nezarec, whose body was left calcified and rotting within the Lunar Pyramid before the first Fallen crews arrived in the Sol System.
Ultimately, despite Eramis's best efforts, the Shipstealer failed to gather the relics as tasked before the Guardians could. As punishment for the one-time Kell of Darkness' failure, The Witness allowed Xivu Arath to corrupt the majority of her House of Salvation into the War God's Wrathborn, and raised those who personally served under Eramis as new Scorn, to aid Xivu Arath in her efforts to prepare the system for The Witness's arrival.
Yet, The Witness would gain a Pyrrhic victory through Eramis's efforts and that of the Wrathborn. Though Eramis managed to gain access to the Warsat network, even personally encouraging her to let the Traveler feel her pain, the Witness failed to destroy the Traveler thanks to Rasputin's sacrifice. However, during these moments, the Traveler looked as if it were leaving Earth. As it hung in Earth's lower orbit, Eramis, incredulous that the Traveler wasn't abandoning humanity as it had done to the Eliksni, asked why it was doing so. The Witness responded, stating that it simply had no place left to run to. The Witness and its Pyramid fleet, along with a vessel containing its latest Disciple, Calus, had arrived in the Sol System, passing Jupiter.
As the Black Fleet moved on the Traveler, the Vanguard attempted to engage the Pyramids and Calus' Shadow Legion vessels. In response, the Witness commanded several Pyramids to eject a pulse of Resonant energy, obliterating several Vanguard ships. Immediately after this, the Traveler responded by emitting a beam of Light, which struck the Witness' personal Pyramid, Essence, and ruptured its outer hull while causing paracausal flora to bloom over its surface. Despite standing directly within the beam, the Witness was utterly unaffected, and left the confines of its ship to move through the beam toward the Traveler. As Shayura, Aisha, and Reed-7 attempted to intercept it, the Witness responded with a gesture that reduced the approaching ships and Reed specifically to neatly-sliced segments.
As the Witness moved closer to the Traveler, eight Pyramids took up formation around the Traveler and emitted a concerted pulse of Resonance, shutting down the firing of the paracausal beam, damaging the H.E.L.M and destroying more Vanguard ships in orbit. Upon finishing its approach, the Witness reached out to the Traveler, and was granted a vision of the Sol system which revealed the location of The Veil. The Witness then commanded Calus to travel to Neptune to claim the artifact.
Throughout the conflict between Calus and the Guardian, the Witness requests progress reports from its Disciple, appearing to Calus in what appears to be visions of shattered glass. Its frustration increases as Calus makes excuses with each report, as the Guardian continues to frustrate efforts to claim the Veil. Upon Calus himself boiling over with annoyance at the Witness' appraisal of him as a failure, the Witness snaps and shows its wrath, towering over Calus and causing blood to seep from beneath his helmet. However, this is revealed to occur within a daydream of Calus', showing the Witness has full dominion over even the private thoughts of its minions.
However, it appears that sending Calus to secure the Veil may have been a ruse. Upon the defeat of Calus in the chamber containing the Veil, the Witness remotely possessed the Guardian's Ghost, using it as a medium to create a link between the Veil and the Traveler. The Guardian's presence at the Veil may have been intended all along, as previously the Ghost had been possessed by the Witness and projected an image of Calus giving a progress report to the Witness, divulging the objectives of the Shadow Legion on Neptune to the Guardian. Such information would spur them on to confront Calus in the end.
With the link created between the Veil and the Traveler, the Witness was able to create a triangular incision upon the Traveler's surface, creating a triangular portal in front of the incision. The Pyramid ships surrounding the Traveler were then pulled into this portal, with the Witness following shortly afterwards. With this action, the Traveler appears to be completely inert, Ghosts unable to feel its presence, and no instruments or devices owned by the Coalition forces have been able to penetrate the portal successfully. At present, where the Witness has gone, and what it is currently doing, are both totally unknown.
Personality and traits
The Witness is a tall, pale-skinned humanoid being. Most of its features are obscured by its metallic robe-like clothing, which constantly ripples and shifts seemingly of its own accord. Its long black cloak emanates the same resonance as other Darkness artifacts have done. Among its most notable features is a column of white "smoke" that is continually billowing from the top of its head, which forms a multitude of humanoid faces as it spreads and dissipates. Its true face is partially concealed, but it can be seen to have large, dark eyes and a rectangular pattern of gray lines on its brow and forehead.
The Witness is an extremely powerful wielder of the Darkness, perhaps more so than any other being in the universe. It is evidently capable of using the Darkness to move entire planets between realities, causing them to disappear from the physical plane to a realm under the Witness's complete control; this is suggested to be a more refined application of the same powers that enable the creation of Taken. When Mars reappeared in the Sol System after having vanished following the arrival of the Pyramids, the surface of the world was covered with patches of terrain that appeared to have been temporally displaced, showing Mars as it had been at various points in the past.
The Witness has also displayed a number of other terrifyingly powerful abilities, presumably also stemming from its mastery of the Darkness. During the Black Fleet's final assault on the Traveler, the Witness was able to effortlessly withstand a blast of pure Light emitted by the Traveler, and neutralized incoming Guardians in Jumpships with a mere gesture that reduced the vessels and their occupants to neatly-sliced segments. It has also demonstrated the ability to take command of Ghosts, using them as proxies to speak to Guardians or other beings. Additionally, it can manifest visions of itself from a great distance to communicate with its servants, with its image being projected through what resembles a plane of shattered glass appearing in midair.
At times the Witness leaves a series of "afterimages" of itself while in motion; for example, when moving its arms, multiple ghostly silhouettes of its arms will repeat the gesture after a delay. The significance of this is unknown.
The Witness appears to be single-mindedly devoted to bringing about the Final Shape, an end-state to the universe in which the only things that exist are those that defeat all obstacles to their existence and remain existing forever. It seems to be extremely hostile towards the idea that the Darkness can be used for any purpose outside of invoking the Final Shape; according to records found aboard the Witness' personal Pyramid, the civilizations known as the Ecumene and Qugu used the Darkness for peaceful purposes, but no mention of this is made in the Books of Sorrow, which record the extermination of both species by the Witness' servant race the Hive.
The Witness seems to always refer to itself in the plural; Savathûn also makes reference to the Witness having "many selves". This suggests that the Witness may be a gestalt entity or collective consciousness of some kind.
The Witness appears to possess a very calm and stoic personality, almost never expressing any perceptible emotion even in the face of setbacks to its plans. It has been seen to speak in a flattering, almost mentor-like tone when talking directly towards the Guardians or its Disciples. However, according to Mara Sov, beneath its seemingly emotionless facade the Witness harbors a constant, burning rage, and its Disciples and other followers all fear incurring its wrath. Savathûn, herself a god who had the power of the Light and resurrection, would rather sequester the Traveler than attempt to confront the Witness directly. Eramis, once freed from her Stasis cocoon, is explicitly motivated by fear of what the Witness will do to her and her House now that she has failed to gather the pieces of Nezarec and failed to activate Abhorrent Imperative. Rhulk, although much more subtle about it, is quick to beg the Witness for forgiveness upon his final defeat. Calus, normally unflappable and full of braggadocio that the Witness is wasting its power, is quickly cowed by the wrath of the Witness, who quickly looms large upon Calus in anger at his commentary.
- A seemingly abstract tree-like symbol is often seen in association with the Witness; this symbol or ones closely resembling it can be seen in the symbol for the Witness used in the Vow of the Disciple Raid, on the side of the Upended, and on the floor of the "planetarium" room within the Witness' personal Pyramid. A "sculpture" resembling the symbol can also be seen piercing the sarcophagus of Nezarec in the Root of Nightmares Raid. The significance of this symbol is as yet unknown.
- Although the only listed voice actor for The Witness is Brett Dalton, it often speaks with multiple voices simultaneously. The speculated, non-exhaustive list of other voice actors for The Witness include: Debra Wilson (Savathun), Brandon O’Neill (Crow), and Mara Junot (Ikora Rey).
List of appearances
- Destiny 2
- Shadowkeep (First appearance)
- Season of Arrivals (Mentioned only)
- Beyond Light (Mentioned only)
- Season of the Chosen (Mentioned only)
- Season of the Lost (Mentioned only)
- The Witch Queen (First identified as The Witness)
- Season of the Haunted (Mentioned only)
- Season of Plunder (Mentioned only)
- Season of the Seraph
- Season of Defiance (Mentioned only)
- Season of the Deep (Mentioned only)
- Shadowkeep (First appearance)
- ^ https://www.bungie.net/en/Explore/Detail/News/47849
- ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, "At the beginning, they stood in thrall of the Formless One, and they offered themselves to its depth.", Grasp of Eir
- ^ Bungie (2015/9/15), Destiny: The Taken King Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, "They had a choice. They chose the hunger. They chose the Formless One. They chose the Worm Gods.", "Worm Gods' Boon"
- ^ Bungie (2022/2/22), Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - The Mirror
- ^ Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Provoked
- ^ a b Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Lamented
- ^ Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Lore: Shattered Suns: Liberated
- ^ Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Armor lore: Resonant Fury Helm
- ^ Bungie (2022/2/22), Destiny 2: The Witch Queen - Quest: The Witch Queen (Quest): Step 17: Speak with Ikora on Mars
- ^ Bungie (2019/6/4), Destiny 2: Season of Opulence, Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, The Chronicon: DLXXIX.
- ^ Bungie (2017/12/5), Destiny 2: Curse of Osiris Playstation 4, Activision Blizzard, I Am Alive
- ^ Bungie (2019/10/11), Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, A Mysterious Disturbance
- ^ Bungie (2019/10/11), Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, Beyond