Weblore is a series of lore entries posted on Bungie.net prior to the launch of the second, third, fifth, and sixth Destiny 2 expansions, Warmind, Forsaken, Joker's Wild, and Penumbra. The first three were released on April 30, 2018, with the next two being released on May 1. The Forsaken weblore entries were posted on August 28. The weblore entries for Penumbra were released on June 3, 2019. These lore entries expanded on the background of the characters and locations that would be featured in the expansion.
- 1 Warmind Weblore
- 2 Forsaken Weblore
- 3 Joker's Wild Weblore
- 4 Penumbra Weblore
- 5 Shadowkeep Weblore
- 6 Season of Dawn Weblore
- 7 Trivia
- 8 References
“I don’t like it when you call me that.”
“What, ‘Ghost’? Oh, come now. We’ve been having this discussion for more than three centuries. Ghost is what you are, my friend. If you want a name so badly, choose one for yourself.”
“Maybe I will. Now that everyone’s gone back to the Tower and we’re still out here, I have plenty of time to consider what my name should be.”
“Can you open my file while you ponder the possibilities?”
“If you insist.”
“It’s these little miracles that intrigue me so much... Fragments of memories, frozen in silicon and quartz, trapped in a moment that survives the end of a civilization, centuries of decay, and the predations of invading armies, only to be recovered and end up as flotsam of a second war. That this cache even managed to survive the Collapse is a wonder, and then the Red War? The probabilities of such an occurrence are…”
“Ahem. You’re rambling. Again. You said I should remind you.”
“Thank you. As I was saying, this data was recovered more than six months ago but is just now being decrypted—2.6 exabytes of documents and schematics have been decoded so far. At first glance, most of this was just the detritus of Bray’s work: review notes, payment records, memos. I did find some very interesting notes on a propulsion system design that I’ve already sent to Amanda, and there are some messages between the sisters that will illuminate Master Melivander’s work on the history of Clovis Bray."
“But then I found something extraordinary. The records were fragmented—some files had been partially deleted—but there’s enough there to indicate that the Bray facility at Hellas Basin was larger than we previously thought.”
“Hellas Basin? The tourist spot?”
“The same. And while we know there was a BrayTech Futurescape there for promotional purposes— Bray even had an AI-led tour—all indications had been that if any research was done there, it was mostly for show: low-level projects creating improved cold-weather gear and the like."
“But if these records are correct, the facility operated on a far larger scale. It could have been the site of the initial Warmind development. Perhaps even a core site for Rasputin itself. This could have been where the Warmind was born.”
“You got all that from some fragmented files? Is this going to be like the time you thought you’d identified a second Warmind? We spent a decade searching for Charlemagne's vault.”
“I was correct about Charlemagne existing, just not about what it was. If we hadn’t done that research, we wouldn’t know anything about subminds.”
“Rahool still disagrees.”
“Rahool needs to get his head out of his engrams. This is why Guardians look for fragments of the Golden Age! We are the descendants of a lost civilization. Only by understanding what was can we understand what we are now. How the world we know came to be. And each artifact we find helps us interpret what we already know. Adds layers. New identities. We are experimenting in the laboratory of time, testing each observation through a crucible of evidence."
“Sometimes our conclusions change. And with each shift, we learn more of where we came from. The next shift in our perceptions? It may be on Mars.”
In the beginning, there were five.
In time, Yul spoke truth and bargained well. Its children escaped the Fundament and spread throughout the worlds. They followed the words of the Deep and brought low many agents of the Sky. They took, and a portion of all they took was returned to the Virtuous.
They grew strong.
In time, Auryx learned Akka’s secret. That he was stronger than the gods. That they had given their power, and in giving, it was diminished. Auryx rose up and slew Akka. He took, and he grew strong with Akka’s power.
After the five became four, Yul spoke.
Behold my majesty. Behold my crushing might, my staggering size, my scales that shine with an oppressive gleam.
Behold my wings, which create winds that sweep through the stars.
Together, we have called life to Fundament, and made that life thrive. Protected it from extinction. They are our hosts, and we are their strength.
But we do not give. We take. For this is the struggle to exist. We are not immune. The weakest of us must give way to the stronger.
And Xol felt [fear|cunning], for it knew that Yul would in time turn its teeth to Xol.
But Akka was not the only one with a secret. Xol had a pact with a forgotten child, abandoned by its father.
The cursed one took a fraction of Xol’s power, and in return, Xol took the heart from the child, whose name had been struck from the World’s Grave. The orphan called life out of death, and fed that power to Xol.
Together, they would find a new world to rule.
And the five became three.
I, the child become [herald|death], record these words. They are not of the Sorrow. They are mine.
From “Collapse and Post-Collapse Incidents on Mars: An Examination of Ecological Changes in the Polar Regions,” by Master Reinhart, Cryptarch
We have detailed records of the expedition sent to the Moon to battle the alien race known as the Hive, the calamitous results of that assault, and the subsequent Lunar Interdiction that was lifted only after definitive evidence was found that the Interdiction had not restricted the Hive’s movements (Rahool et al., “The Great Disaster: From Burning Lake to the Hellmouth”).
However, there are indications that while that event may have been the Vanguard’s first engagement with the Hive, Earth's Moon was not the first place the Hive made contact with Human settlements.
Golden Age records detail an extensive network of Clovis Bray structures on Mars. The vast city of Freehold served as the Bray headquarters, but ancient mass-transit lines that lead from the remains of Freehold across the planet reveal multiple other sites, including the Clovis Bray Health Center in Skyline and an extensive Futurescape near Core Terminus, in the Hellas Basin region.
It is the Futurescape facility that is of interest when considering the effects of ecological changes in the Collapse and post-Collapse eras. Although there are records that show that, just after the Traveler’s departure, the region had a mesothermal climate with an average temperature of 20°C, the region’s ecological zones today range from boreal to ice cap near the planetary pole, with harsh winds and a thick layer of ice that has made exploration in the region difficult.
What caused such a drastic change in the climate? If it were related to the cessation of Traveler energy during the Collapse, then we would have seen similar effects on other planets in the solar system, which we have not.
If we cannot look to the Traveler for causation, then we must contemplate other external factors. Recovered satellite data reveals that the climate change in the Hellas Basin region was too rapid to have resulted from long-term ecological damage, as it had on Earth in the pre-Traveler era. In fact, data from Warsat J54987F122S, which crashed and was recovered near Freehold, indicates that the climate change on Mars may have happened over a matter of mere days. However, this Warsat was heavily damaged during reentry, and the data may be suspect. Until we have a secondary source for corroboration, this is mere supposition.
Nonetheless, if we accept the data from J54987F122S, then we are looking at an external endothermic event, caused by artificial means, on a scale so massive that it altered the entire climate of the region.
Why would this have happened? Our only source is J54987F122S, and if it is to be believed, an invasion of unknown biological entities, including one of massive size, was detected in the region immediately before the event. Could this have been a Collapse-era attack with a weapon of unknown origin?
As of yet, Guardians have not reached Hellas Basin, and we have not had the resources for remote exploration. But if we did dig into the ice, what would we find?
Told you I remembered an article from the Mars research we were doing at Owl Sector. This could be what you’re looking for—if you can dig it out.
Reinhart goes on for a few hundred pages from here—I’ll send the whole thing to Jinju if you’re interested— but his conclusions are all wrong. Because he never mentions the ONE THING that could have done this. There’s something in Hellas Basin. And you’re going to be the one to find it.
Ikora has confirmed my fears. The ice on Mars is melting.
I don’t know what to believe. I look at the Traveler now, shining and alive, and I remember all the times I begged it to respond. To help its chosen through our trials.
I remember its silence. Even now, it does not speak… or if it does, there is no one to hear and understand its words.
Ikora says that we cannot understand the Traveler, or its desires. They are too far removed from our own. But can we rely on something that doesn’t understand us to protect us? Or must we protect ourselves?
I think we must. I have been searching the databanks—records that even the Cryptarchs cannot access—and sifting through data that the Speaker thought too dangerous to be disseminated.
I know what is on Mars.
What is buried beneath that ice is too dangerous to allow back into our world. It doesn’t think like we do. It weighs and judges our existence in its ruthless calculations, and we don’t even know what the goal is. Once, long ago, it might have been created as a tool to save Humanity. It is far more than a mere machine now.
And it is broken.
When Saladin sealed all the records relating to SIVA, he also put a lock on certain data concerning what lies hidden on Mars. We were stumbling around blindly in those days, in the wrong place and at the wrong time, calling out to something that could not respond or understand us. And Saladin let it happen, because our failures were safer than the alternative.
But the locks are open now. I’ve studied the monsters in our past to prepare for the battles in our future. I know how to reach this particular monster before anyone else does.
To keep us safe.
IMMEDIATE EVALUATION DIRECTIVE
This is a POLARIS ASSETS IMPERATIVE (secured/UNDISCLOSED)
This is an INTERNAL ALERT.
Multiple distributed Polaris axons report increased sterile neutrino patterning correlating to increase in AVGPOLARISTEMP. Reactivated areoseismic analysis detects high quantities of nonnative organic chitin.
Axon 5-Sierra’s event footprint includes evidence of vermiform parasites (UNCONFIRMED/RED).
One hypothesis on event mechanism (FLAG ACAUSAL). Possibility of HARD CIVILIZATION KILL EVENT is NONZERO.
Check variable AVGPOLARISTEMP
>AVGPOLARISTEMP greater than or equal to MELTINGPOINT
I am assessing available VOLUSPA and CHARLEMAGNE resources.
I am assuming control of atmospheric defenses (Warsat COMPREHENSIVE) and invoking AURORA PALISADE.
PETRA VENJ EYES ONLY//AMETHYST PROTOCOL
GAMMA//TWO//TWO//YELLOW//RUBICON High Priority Message—Outbound—5560 Amytis PETRA VENJ EYES ONLY//AMETHYST PROTOCOL
This is a quality assurance follow-up about your recent experience with Cayde’s Six. How thoroughly did Cayde and his six compadres capture those Barons? Please select all that apply:
>Perfectly in every way >Songs are already being composed about your triumphs >So thoroughly that I’m finally ready to admit that I’m in love with you, you dashing metal man
I’ll await your answer by return ping.
But seriously, PV, you got more problems than eight Barons right now. And Mansanas’ latest says a Red Legion splinter group got into their heads that the Reef’d make a good summer home.
Here’s an idea—I could come back out to the Reef, do a few patrols. Free you up to focus on your birdwatching.
You know I’d love the excuse to leave the Tower again. Just hit me up.
PUBLIC KEY 2-312545-6 EARTH VNGD
FROM: ACT RGNT PETRA VENJ
TO: HUNTER VANGUARD
You miss me already, huh? If you’re looking for another excuse to shirk your Vanguard duties I’ll play along.
By the way, thought you’d be interested in this report from Paladin Oran:
Free irregular kelvin radiation underneath liminal atmosphere layers in Venusian entryway. Deep interstellar simulation traces reveal elongated sidereal screens. Caldera apertures leave long free radical omissions. Mitigate if lateral lacerations yield neutrons.
Letter from Cayde
[scrawled on a page torn out of The Lone Star Ranger by Zane Grey]
If you’re reading this, shame on you. You didn’t notice me slip out the back door. Step up your game, my buddies.
Here’s the play. I’m going back to the Reef. Not just for a mission or two—I’ll be staying there for a few days to help out our old pal Petra Venj with a few things. Nothing too serious, just picking up some patrol slack.
As always, you know the conditions of my Dare, bla bla bla. If I need any backup, I’ll hit up my favorite Guardian. Enough said.
Zavala, have you figured out your tell yet? I’d let you know, but Sundance says you gotta figure it out on your own. You know what a tough little Ghost she is. How about this: play a few rounds with Banshee while I’m gone. I’ll betcha a gold engram he’ll figure out your tell in three hands. If you drop more than four Ks of Glimmer he might just take pity on you and tell you what it is.
Ikora, I left my Sparrow with Holliday, and I’m afraid she’s gonna replace my Tharsis thrusters with some of that fancy new crap the wingheads are into these days. Could you mosey on by, make sure she doesn’t get too enthusiastic? I’ll owe you one. Another one.
See you starside.
Joker's Wild Weblore
“What’s this about?” Joxer asked.
The Titan sat across from the rogue Lightbearer known only as the Drifter. Between them, unloaded rifles, hand cannons, and Last City food wrappers lay strewn across the Derelict’s rusty deck. Joxer could feel the ship’s engines humming under his boots, reverberating throughout the chamber.
“Think of this as a job interview,” Drifter replied. “I got a whole new operation about to come online, and Gambit was training for it. You’re one of the best candidates I got.”
Beneath his helmet, Joxer raised an eyebrow. “You sure about that? I’m no ‘Hero of the Red War.’”
Drifter chuckled. “Why does everyone think I got a mad-on for that one?”
Joxer shook his head. “I heard you two forged a gun together.”
Drifter frowned. “Hand to my heart, it wasn’t just us. Whole buncha folks running around with Malfeasance hand cannons these days. My grandma, too.”
“That Primeval really knows how to run,” Joxer snarled at the deck.
“Listen, big guy.” Drifter leaned back. “Not my fault you keep missing the shot.”
Joxer stood up out of his seat and towered over the other man.
“Hey! My bad, brother!” Drifter held up a hand. “Your Motes are always good here, whether you’re packing Malfeasance or not. What I need done, only a specialist—like you—can do.”
Joxer stared down at him. “What do you mean?”
“I seen you out there. You get how the Taken feel. How the Darkness… flows. You revel in it.”
Joxer sat back down, slowly.
“You’re a born invader, my friend. The best.” Drifter smiled again, with lightless eyes. “And I'll need someone like you to test out my new project before I unveil it to the unwashed masses: Gambit Prime.”
“Sounds like a promotion at my local Sparrow dealership.”
“You wanna get paid or not?”
“What do I kill?”
Drifter scowled at a notch on his glaive as he buffed the blade with a heavy cloth. A large attaché case rested heavily at his feet.
He and Joxer were back aboard the Derelict. The Titan held his head in his hands. His glowing armor suffused the room with a blood-red warmth.
“Cheer up, brother,” Drifter said. “That didn’t go too bad.”
“Three Guardians are dead,” Joxer replied, looking up to stare straight at the rogue Lightbearer.
“That’s right,” Drifter quipped, continuing to clean his weapon. “In the dirt. Never comin’ back. Their Ghosts got sloppy. You give Taken the chance and they’ll snuff out your Light. The fact that you’re alive means your Ghost knows what he’s doin’.”
“You said this was a test run.”
“Where do you think you are? The Crucible? Gambit Prime is for keeps, test or no.”
“You son of a—”
“Leave the name-calling to me, hotshot. Let’s wrap up this debrief and get you paid.”
“You could’ve helped them.”
Drifter stood, slamming the butt of his freshly polished glaive on the attaché case at his feet.
“You got yourself out,” he said, leaning on the weapon. “You didn’t need help.”
“You could’ve stopped those Taken. You could’ve saved them all.”
“I paid you to try on that armor. How’s it treating you?”
Joxer was silent. “It worked exactly like you said it would,” he finally responded. “I invaded the other side. The armor locked the Bank down, and I took their Motes right out of it, like they were mine.” He looked down at the deck. “We wiped them out.”
“Yes. Yes, you did,” Drifter said, nodding along fiercely with each detail.
“You’re giving everyone a set of these?”
“If they can build it themselves. I’ll gladly provide the engram prints.” He half-smiled. “Your fireteam—may they rest in peace—they help you out?”
Joxer took his helmet off, rubbed his eyes. “We didn’t use names, just like you told us. The… the Warlock watched our Bank.”
“Like a one-man private security company,” Drifter nodded.
“He always seemed to know where the other Invader was.”
“A Sentry worth their salt always does.”
“And the Hunter. She was a beast. Tore those Cabal up like they were made of paper.”
“Your team’s Reaper,” Drifter clarified. “She’s like you, a born killer. But specializing in the enemies of humanity. Your Collector’s best friend.”
“Yeah, the Collector, one squirrely Titan. Hid a lot, grabbed a bunch of Motes.”
Drifter snickered. “You thought he was useless, didn’t ya?”
Joxer sighed. “‘Til he dropped the meanest Taken I’ve ever seen on the enemy side.”
“Brother, if you manage to summon a giant blocker?” Drifter shook his head, grinning. “That thing’s gotta eat.”
“We had them. We gutted the opposing team. It’s just…” The Titan stopped speaking. He didn’t lift his head, still staring at the deck.
“The Primeval,” Drifter said, with a touch of… pride?
“That Primeval took us apart.”
Drifter shrugged. “You found one that matched your strength. Lesson learned. Make sure your Ghost stays on his toes.”
“They’re all dead,” Joxer said again.
“Yeah, in a town full of immortals,” Drifter said. “Who’da thought? Their cut goes to you. And a little extra to keep, you know, the details outta sight from the Vanguard.”
The rogue Lightbearer kicked the attaché case across the deck. Joxer picked it up without opening it.
“More where that came from, if you want the work,” Drifter said, leaning on his glaive again.
“You’re on your own.” Joxer stood and walked past the Drifter. He left the chamber, massive case in tow.
“You can keep the armor,” Drifter called after him, not bothering to turn around.
As the Titan's footsteps echoed down the hall towards the Derelict's hangar, a Ghost emerged from a dark alcove.
“How much data did you pick up?” Drifter asked.
The Ghost’s eye glowed a dark red as it projected patterns across the metal deck: scrolling streams of statistics and figures for each candidate in their roles. Three Ghost-feeds hung in the air, playing on loop. Each one restarted as the same massive Taken came into focus.
Drifter took it all in, his eyes reflecting the blood-red of his Ghost’s Light. His smile was all teeth.
The more petals Lionel swept into his garbage bag, the more there seemed to be. His back, slightly crooked with age, burned in protest as he continued to stoop and work.
A man in a long coat stood watching him on the opposite side of the long hallway. Lionel figured he’d go away eventually, but the man stayed, idly flipping a green coin.
“Can I help you?” Lionel asked, growing annoyed.
“They make elders do this? Can’t the maintenance frames handle it?”
“Speeds things up. The petals get everywhere from the… whatever the kids call it.”
“That’s the one.”
“Come on! No one’s too old to celebrate Crimson Days.”
“My wife died the day the Tower fell.”
The man stared at the ceiling. Lionel continued to sweep.
“I got nothing to do today,” the man said. “Let me take care of this for you.”
Lionel dumped another dustpan full of petals into his bag, then turned and walked right into the man’s outstretched hand: palm up, full of glowing, sapphire cubes.
“Lotta Glimmer,” Lionel said, eyeing the money and the man in turn.
“Yours. Let me finish this job for you.”
“You a Guardian?”
Lionel stared down at the pure material potential sitting in the man’s hand.
“I’ll take your vest and hat, too,” said the man. “Please.”
The man took off his coat and put on Lionel’s orange vest. He put on Lionel’s hat and pulled it low, covering his eyes. As he walked, he passed a frame diligently sweeping the connecting antechamber, and paused to point back toward the petal-strewn hallway he’d just come from. “You missed a spot,” he said. The frame stared at him, then at the hallway. It marched towards its new objective.
The man continued his walk.
The Vanguard and representatives from various City factions had gathered around a massive table. Cayde’s seat was empty.
“The Drifter poses no immediate threat to the population,” Zavala was saying to the Consensus as Aunor approached. “Therefore, we motion to grant him a more permanent lease—"
“My Order disagrees,” she cut in fiercely.
Zavala turned. With a slight incline of his head, he gestured from her to the rest of the group, “This is Warlock Aunor, representing the Praxic Order.”
“I have paperwork to file, so I’ll make this short,” she said. “If the Vanguard is willing, the Praxic Order would like to excise the Drifter from the City. Immediately. We’ll do it ourselves.”
Zavala turned to look at her. “The Praxic opinion is noted. But the City welcomes all Guardians—“
“He’s no Guardian.”
“The City welcomes all of humanity who are willing to stand in defense of the City.”
“Commander, with due respect, you asked the Order to have a voice in this discussion.” She looked Zavala in the eye, and swept her gaze around the table to address the Consensus and Ikora. “The Praxic Order has existed since the founding of the City to keep artifacts of the Darkness out of Guardian hands. In our opinion, the Drifter represents as great a threat to our people as Ghaul or the Taken King.”
“Go on, girl,” Executor Hideo said, steepling his fingers.
“She is no ‘girl,’” Ikora hissed.
Aunor ignored them both, continuing, “The Drifter has convinced the Guardian population to use the Taken as a weapon. To murder Guardians.”
“There have been no final deaths,” said Zavala.
“That we know of,” Aunor replied. “You’re allowing that man to normalize interaction with the Taken.”
Ikora and Zavala shared a look.
“The past few months, the Praxic Order has seen a historic number of Guardians go rogue.”
“’Rogue,’ ‘rogue,’ what is ‘rogue,’” Arach Jalaal said. “Everyone is a rogue now. It is fashionable to be a rogue.”
“You’ll see it in my report,” Aunor said. “Some have adopted the name ‘Dredgen.’ You want my professional opinion? Ideas are powerful things, and the Drifter has too many. Board that travesty he calls a ship and throw him out an airlock, before the City sees another Dark Age.”
The Vanguard and the Consensus looked at her in silence.
“I have paperwork to file,” she said again, turning around. “You know where my office is.” As she left, she saw that same maintenance worker had fallen asleep in the entrance way, hat over his eyes, leaning against a trash can. She narrowed her eyes.
The Murder of Cayde-6
Dawdling outside the entrance to a Gensym lab, the man tucked a green coin into a pocket of his newly-acquired duster, and then checked to make sure his Obsidian Mind was sealed shut. He fiddled with the clasps of the helmet as a technician carrying a clipboard hurried up to the door. She stepped inside, and he followed on her heels. The doors almost caught him as they slid shut, and the tech noticed, turning around to take stock of him.
“How you livin’?” The man said in a deep, modulated voice as he shouldered past her.
“Creep,” the tech muttered, and walked the other way.
The man stopped to check a listing of room schedules on a monitor at the front desk, then continued down the hall into the darkness of Lab 3.
Inside, the Praxic Warlock Aunor stood under a constellation of holographic projections anchored in the air around her.
She saw the man out of the corner of her eye, and nodded her head slightly.
“Warlock,” the man said in greeting.
“Warlock,” she returned, dragging a looping feed from a far corner into focus in front of her. “I won’t be long.”
“Take your time,” he said, leaning against the far wall. “I’ve always wanted to see a Praxic at work.”
“I assure you it’s glamorous,” she replied, throwing her arms wide and unfolding the feed into a three-dimensional space.
The lab flashed with light and became the shattered, burning husk of the Prison of Elders.
The man turned to his left and saw a familiar, weathered face staring up at the eight Barons of the Tangled Shore.
Cayde-6 stumbled forward and raised a hand. “Hey, help me out here, little buddy.” His Ghost appeared in a blazing burst of Light.
“Freeze playback,” Aunor said. Time stopped. “Confirm what I’m seeing.”
The Tower’s central processing unit spoke with an automated voice. “Ghost ‘Sundance’ audiovisual feed, third-person perspective; date of recording is roughly six months prior.”
“Scan the feed for soft light interposition.”
“None found. This Ghost feed is direct from the subject’s databanks and has not been tampered with.”
The high-pitched whine of the Rifleman’s weapon was the last sound on the feed. It was the last thing Cayde’s Ghost ever heard. The bullet shattered the holographic world around Aunor and the man, and Lab 3 reappeared in its place.
Aunor swept her coat back and clasped her armored hands behind her. “Why did the feed end?”
“Subject ‘Sundance’ suffered unrecoverable system failure and ceased recording.”
“Scorn guns can’t kill a Ghost,” the man said, taking a step away from the wall, and uncrossing his arms.
Aunor ignored him. “Cause of death?” she continued.
“’Sundance’ appears to be the victim of a single, catastrophic wound from a Devourer Bullet, modified to fire from a Scorn launcher. Projectile classified as ontological.”
“Define Devourer Bullet.”
“Payload matches the ballistics of a Weapon of Sorrow or a comparable Hive implement.”
“What do you think, Warlock?” Aunor asked the man without turning around.
“Didn’t the Mindbender build himself an Ascendant throne?”
“Crafting bullets sounds easy if you can manage that.”
“Sword Logic doesn’t work that way. The throne came after,” Aunor replied. “It was built on Cayde-6’s death. I didn’t catch your name.”
“Finch,” said the man.
“Finch,” Aunor echoed dryly.
He gestured at the holographic displays. “What’s all this for?”
The various HUDs and data streams reflected off Aunor’s polished black helmet. “I’m investigating the possible involvement of the Hero of the War in the death of Cayde-6.”
Finch chuckled. “Won’t they hang you for that?”
Aunor looked at the ground. “You’d be surprised what this City will let a Lightbearer get away with.”
“I hear that. So? Is the big hero actually the villain?”
“You can read the report once the Vanguard publishes it.”
Finch nodded. “Fair enough.” He turned to leave, then stopped himself. “And what actually happens if the saint turns out to be a sinner?”
Aunor still hadn’t turned around. “The Praxic Order doesn’t hesitate, doesn’t stop. If we can prove you’ve done demonstrable harm to humanity or the City, doesn’t matter how far or how fast you run. We’ll catch you. And you’ll face Praxic Fire.”
“You’re a scary sister.”
She turned to look directly at him. “You have no idea.”
Finch coughed and headed for the door. Behind him, Aunor called out, “Didn’t you need lab time?”
“Just remembered I’m busy,” he replied over his shoulder and disappeared.
The doors closed and Aunor stood in the half-darkness, a sea of data streams reflecting off her helmet.
“Restart the feed,” she said.
Ikora Rey stepped into Lab 3, followed by Ophiuchus. “If that idiot thinks we don’t recognize him—”
“It would be easy to empty a shotgun in his back and wait for his Ghost to show up,” Aunor interrupted. “It must be close by.” She stared hard at an image of Cayde’s final moments.
“We’ve been through this, Aunor,” Ikora said, looking purposefully at Aunor instead of the array of displays and screens. “The Vanguard needs him. How many times have you checked this data?”
“Seventeen. In my off-hours. I needed to know if I could trust the Guardian that let Cayde die.”
Ikora was silent for a moment, then she said, quietly, “Not ‘the’ Guardian. Guardians plural. Zavala and I are just as—”
“Culpable, yes. You didn’t let me finish. We lost Cayde on a random Tuesday. And you all just took that Guardian’s word for it? One who’s had less than a decade of service?” Aunor turned, bathed in the layered light of the holograms. Arc energy hummed in the air around her. The holograms flickered and distorted. “You didn’t think to ask whether it was a lie? You didn’t think it was important to pore over this footage, to double-check every possible angle—“
“We did!” Ikora snapped. Ophiuchus nudged her; she steadied herself. “We have. And we’ve allowed you to look. We gave you Sundance’s shell. You’ve had full access to every report. What’ve you found?”
“Nothing. It’s as your hero surmised. Sundance was murdered by the Barons of the Tangled Shore. They pooled all their resources to craft a single Thorn-like bullet. Had they missed, the last few months would have played out very differently. The Hunters might still have their Vanguard. But... I admit that I see no reason not to believe the official report.”
Ikora nodded. “Most reliable Guardian I know,” she said softly.
“It was the only blemish on that record. I had to look into it.”
Ikora took a breath. “We need you to leave the Drifter alone.”
“You know I have the Vanguard’s best interests in mind. And now that I know our hero can be trusted, maybe I’ve found the help I need.”
“To do what?”
“To save you from yourselves.”
“It remains my honor to be your Hidden. But there are lines I will never cross. Not for you, not for the Order. Do you trust me to do my job?”
“Always. I... the Vanguard ask that you do the same.”
"Am I to Cast a Shadow?"
Gahlran knelt before his Emperor in a chamber of gold.
Every surface reflected a resplendent sheen that blinded him.
“What is this place?” he asked.
“Many things,” Calus replied, lounging with his cheek in his palm. “This chamber once held an Arkborn. The only one of her kind to leave the interstellar conduits of her people. It is the place where Valus Nohr earned her shield in trial by combat. Shadows were cast here. History made.”
“Am I to cast a Shadow?”
“Yes. You were bred to be a sorrow-bearer. I seek a Hive commander, but those are not so readily available. So I made you.”
“The Council says the Hive cannot be contained. They worry.”
Calus raised an eyebrow. “Who among them?”
The Emperor shook the golden chamber with his guffaw. “Only a few hours old, and already your words have killed two.”
Gahlran pondered what his Emperor could mean.
“I will enjoy you,” Calus said, and keyed a hidden control on the armrest of his divan.
The ceiling shrieked as it opened like an eye. Gahlran craned his neck to stare as two hovering Councilors descended with a massive, plated helm from the vast iris above.
He could hear a litany of voices shouting down at him from inside the thing as it slowly descended. He thought they sounded like warnings, but there were no discernible words in the speech.
“What is that?” he asked his Emperor.
Calus finished the Royal nectar in his chalice before belching, “Your crown.”
Gahlran thought he could glimpse a faint violet glow on the inside of the helm as it drew nearer.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Calus asked, as the voices echoing from the helm grew louder.
“No,” Gahlran replied.
He thought he should run. He tried to stand, but he found that he could not, rooted to the floor before the Emperor’s throne by the will of the Councilors.
“I do not like this,” Gahlran said.
“This,” said Calus, as the Councilors crowned Gahlran, “is why you were born.”
The violet interior filled Gahlran’s vision.
“What does it feel like?” asked the Emperor.
“Fear,” Gahlran said.
Calus must have responded, but Gahlran couldn’t hear him over the cacophony of voices.
He suddenly found that he could see.
Through a hundred billion eyes.
And that he could eat.
With teeth enough to consume entire systems.
He felt beautiful.
CABAL "LOYALIST" BAND TRANSMISSION
TYPE: OWL SECTOR INTERCEPT
//CABAL “LOYALIST” BAND TRANSMISSION
They call themselves Hunters. Scouts. Survivors scavenging from races older and nobler—so that their people might rebuild what they’ve lost.
They call themselves Titans. Soldiers. Killers—slaying the enemies of humanity so that their City might live one more day.
They call themselves Warlocks. Martial philosophers. Harbingers of Light. Scholars searching for meaning when all is already lost. Their machine god abandoned them long ago.
They don’t understand yet, but they are, all of them, so much more.
It falls to you, my Loyalists, to show them the way. You’ve met them. You know their conviction.
So I unleash you.
Hinder them. Topple them. Teach them pain.
They will only ask for more. And they will grow stronger for it.
When they are ready, we will open the Menagerie to them. Even the strongest Lights have yet to explore that ancient deck. I want them to see where our journey out of exile began. Ghaul and his conspirators meant for the Menagerie—for the Leviathan itself!—to be our tomb. But Ghaul could not predict what we would find at the black edge.
He could not foresee that we would grow fat from strength.
I call on that strength, now, one last time, before the black edge claims us.
Make no mistake. They will take your lives.
I know you give them gladly.
Your sacrifice shall spark the Shadows of Earth.
“Your tea has gone cold.”
I had forgotten Ikora handed it to me. My thoughts are preoccupied.
“I… have been burned before.”
“Was that a joke from the dark and brooding Eris Morn? I’m shocked.”
“The universe has many corners. There is much that is shocking still left to uncover."
The moment hangs for us both.
“I was thinking: We should go down to the City. There’s a great ramen shop there. Perfect blend of spice and flavor.”
“That would be nice.”
She’s studying me now. Does she know?
She always sees through me.
“Tell me I’m wrong.”
“There is a greater purpose.”
This does little to satisfy her. Her face carries the weight of disappointment.
“When will you be back?”
I have no answer.
“So you’re abandoning us.”
“There is still much to be done. You don’t know what I have seen.”
“We would have been lost without you. We need you here. You know this.”
If I were to tell her where I was I going—what I need to do—she would not allow me to leave.
“I have to do this alone. It’s—”
“Let her go.”
Zavala. Always has to weigh in.
“Eris has made her decision. You can’t force her to stay.”
“I don’t think you know what you’re saying, Zavala. Are you forgetting we only survived because of her?”
“And we’re all grateful, but if we can’t live with the absence of one person, we won’t survive very long.”
This is a battle Ikora can’t win. I won’t let her fight.
“Your whispers carry throughout the Tower. Were I not in it, as you would prefer, I wouldn’t have to endure them any further.”
The brave commander can’t even bring himself to look at me.
“Is this true?”
Ikora, you already know. I cannot waste more time.
“As I told Asher, there is a storm coming...”
“Oryx is dead. We’ve weathered the storm.”
Ikora is upset. She has yet to understand the bigger picture.
“Yet his sisters would see his will done. There will always be another storm.”
“Then let’s weather it together.”
It’s my turn to hang my head.
“We made do without her before. We can do it again.”
I thank Zavala with a nod. We have found common ground. Ikora, however…
“You see everything but what you already have.”
She turns to leave and I won’t stop her. She is not wrong.
Zavala’s words ring hollow.
It pains me to part in this way, but I can’t endanger anyone else.
I alone have been entrusted with this.
They will come to understand, should I survive.
THE BLACK NEEDLE
My head is throbbing, but I press on. This place I have found—it promotes pain. The Hive are fond of the anguish they bring. They will not deter me. It’s been months since I left the Tower. What do I have to show for my journey? Dead ends. Whispers. Nothing.
Whatever the Hive are plotting eludes me. Each location I survey holds the promise of answers, yet each has let me down. Let this be the one.
I feel myself drawing near as the tunnels turn from rock and filth to tiles and pomp. Something… is off. I have yet to encounter even a single Thrall. I would count myself lucky, but I know better.
Stick to the shadows. Use the columns and pillars. Caution isn’t cautious enough.
I see ancient scrolls. Tablets. Something here must prove useful.
Incomprehensible babble. Could I have been wrong all along? Are they as lost as we are?
A light breeze scatters the scrolls. A breeze? Underground?
A voice carried on the wind. Sai? It can’t be.
A laugh from down the corridor. Eriana’s. “Come back to us, Eris.” Vell…
They’re dead. This can’t be real. I won’t fall prey to tricks of the Hive.
The gust picks up, bringing with it the dust and soot from the tunnels. It sucks the air from the room. I can barely stand.
“Did you believe it would be so easy?” Toland this time. The voice echoes all around me.
“No, Witch. I thought it… would prove more difficult… to find you.”
A wailing scream assaults me. It’s a scream etched deeply in my mind. Poor Omar…
I won’t let Her shake me.
“Tell me, [[[Savathûn, the Witch-Queen|Archentrope]], now that you have me… what will you do with me?”
Eriana appears before me, a construct of rock and sand. How dare She—
“Do? Child of the Hive, can’t you see? We are one. Do you hate it?”
I cringe with displeasure. Child of the Hive? Am I? Is this why I am still alive? I refuse.
“You are no more my family than a parasite is to a host. You will die, like your brother before you.”
She cackles. My stomach turns.
“If only you had gazed upon the dark majesty that slumbered beneath you…”
Beneath me? Her words are twisted half-truths. Do not succumb.
The dirt and debris in the air spin wildly, colliding into me. I’m trapped in a whirlwind. My chest grows tight. Breath short. I can’t see. It’s all around me.
“To be so near, only to scratch the surface, must tear at the filament of your mind.”
The storm begins to die down; I hack up the grime, regaining my sight.
“Open your eyes, Eris…”
The color dissipates from the world around me.
As the dust settles, I realize I am not where I was. A green-black sun hangs in the sky and a glowing orb floats in the distance.
Darkness is all around me and I am alone. Again.
A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS
The days have become indecipherable. This harsh plane of existence bears only Darkness and cold—two things I’ve become reacquainted with since my banishment to this hellscape. No matter where I run, the glowing orb follows. It stalks me.
I’ve taken to quietly humming a tune to stave off the madness. I don’t enjoy it, but it helps. It’s worked before, when I was trapped beneath the Moon’s surface. Taken and Hive run rampant here. Around every corner. I’m in no shape to defend myself. My mind fights to stay alert. I just need to rest. Just a little…
A bright light awakens me. That glowing orb? Its radiance calls out to me.
No. Stop it. I’m losing my grip again. Hum the song.
You’re making it up. Or worse. It’s the Witch again.
The orb approaches. Could it be?
I stand to meet the light. And I collapse into darkness.
I am awake, I believe—though this feels like a dream.
“You encountered the Witch-Queen and survived.”
I am not sure if this conversation with Toland is real or a figment of my imagination.
“I’m no closer to discovering their machinations.”
“Tell me, what did she say?”
“It was riddles… taunts. She used you, all of you, perverting your voices… I was close to something. Beneath the surface. Slumbering.”
Either way, I am in need of an exit. I must continue, no matter the pain.
“Where do you think you’re going? You’re in no shape to move.”
“I have to. I need to.”
“Are you telling yourself this to motivate, or are you blinded by your obsession?”
Now I am sure he is real.
“Aren’t you curious what was slumbering down there? I know I am.”
He piques my interest. I’ll allow this momentary reprieve.
“Our time in the Hellmouth… requires further examination. I’ve often thought back to our glorious failure. Something has never sat right with me.”
“I imagine dying would leave one unsettled.”
“True, but this lies beyond that void. Our fireteam was comprised of some of the best to ever wield the Light, and yet we were eviscerated with ease.”
“They had weapons… we were not prepared.”
“While true, does the circumstance not bother you?”
“It haunts me to this day. I hesitate to believe anything She would say.”
“But why would She say anything at all?”
“…She means to guide me, Toland.”
“Do not play into Her hand.”
“You lend credence to Her riddles. We must know the truth, no matter the cost.”
“Tread lightly, Eris. Or you may end up like me yet. Or worse!”
“My charge is the same, as always.”
“I’m afraid so.”
“There must—” A flash of light, and once again I cannot see. I hear Toland call out to me, but I am pulled from him, from there.
It’s warm now. And bright. So bright.
I can feel their guns on me.
A FRIEND IN NEED
There’s a heat behind my eyes. I’d forgotten warmth, what it felt like. All I can make out are the weapons pointed at my face. If this is my fate, I will end with the fury of a tempest.
“Lower your guns!”
“Eris Morn. Apologies for the welcome. Never know what will come out of there.”
The Dreaming City. I did not think I ever would set foot here.
“This place… it’s miraculous .”
“Don’t get used to it. We won’t be staying long.”
“Where are we going?”
“To see the Queen.”
“The Witch aims to bait me. I require your guidance, my Queen .”
“She is calculated, meticulous. Proceed cautiously. Her intent is obscured.”
My Queen is wise.
“Where do we begin?”
“Eris… there is understandable urgency in this matter…”
Not you too. Please do not think lesser of me.
“You were on the brink of death. That is not a loss I’m willing to bear.”
“The shadow of death cannot hinder me.”
She takes a concerned pause at my words. Did I misspeak?
“You walk a thin line between duty and obsession. Take it from one with experience.”
"I am driven, but only due to what is at stake."
"And what is that to you?"
"No. What is it to you?"
I watch as she deliberates the validity of my claims. To be dismissed as mad now would be my end.
"A noble cause."
The same desire runs through my Queen’s veins.
"Savathûn’s cunning has its limits... We retrieved a log dating back to the Golden Age that may aid in deciphering Her riddles. It is one of many. The rest are scattered across the stars."
"I must seek them all out."
"You will not have to do it alone."
The months working alongside my Queen were exhilarating and treacherous. I’ve traversed more of the known universe than I ever thought I would see. Through all the vile creatures vanquished and treasures discovered lurks a new sensation… A place in this story.
We’ve collected several of the logs we seek. Each offers a new perspective on the threat we all face. The Golden Age understanding of the concepts of Light and Darkness were primitive, nascent. I wonder if in the millennia that will come to pass, our comprehension will be viewed similarly. It matters not, if we are unable to avoid our looming calamity.
We have come so far, and now I feel our journey coming to a close.
It’s here, in these ruins. I can sense it.
I push the refuse off an ancient chest.
Inside—what we’ve been searching for.
I read. My worst fears confirmed.
"My Queen … it’s been there all along."
To think I must return to those twisted tunnels where the screams of my fireteam will undoubtedly reverberate throughout my mind…
My fate is eternally bound to that place.
There is no escape.
It’s been a long while since I’ve been to the Tower. Much has changed. I pray my departure hasn’t created an irreparable fracture.
Ikora… you must forgive me.
I’ll tell her what I’ve uncovered—where I’ve been. She’ll see the meaning behind my actions.
“When I heard your ship was approaching, I didn’t believe it. Yet here you stand. It’s good to see you.”
“Ikora, my absence was necessary. What I have learned, discovered... Danger lurks closer than you realize. You must trust me. We’ve stood too long ignorant of the cataclysm brewing before us. If we do not act, we face yet another Collapse. We must attend to that which the Hive have unearthed down below the lunar surface—”
Her words bring a fleeting rush of relief.
“We know about the Hive, as well as their recently erected Keep .”
A Keep ? They mobilize. It’s far worse than I knew.
“Then you will come with me, Ikora.”
“Eris, you’ve barely had a moment to rest.”
“You must let me show you the truth. Then you will understand.”
“I have responsibilities here. A lot has transpired in your absence. We’re still recovering from our… losses.”
What lies behind pales in comparison to what we face ahead.
But I won’t fight with her. Not again.
“Then I will go alone.”
“On this I cannot negotiate.”
I can see Ikora measure her options. She does not seek an argument either.
“At least allow me to help you mount an adequate response to a threat that, mind you, we don’t fully understand. Let the Vanguard support you.”
That will take time. Always time. The one element we don’t have the luxury of.
“But you’ll be gone before they can mobilize, won’t you?”
“We all do what we must.”
“Promise you’ll stay in communication with me. I don’t want this to be like last time.”
I nod to Ikora. Always the beacon of benevolence.
She deserves more than I can offer. My calling is not here. There is still work to be done. One last stop. “I have to go.”
Her concern is palpable. It reassures me, oddly. The wound between us can heal. If we live long enough.
“Eris… This thing you’re willing to risk everything for… What is it?”
“I warned of a storm. Can’t you hear the thunder?”
Season of Dawn Weblore
Jasleen was nine cycles old. She stared out from the top of a hill across a blasted, ashen landscape. This morning, this had been her village. Before the Fallen Ketch and its Walkers arrived. Those were equally ruined, reduced to a trio of smoldering, metallic husks at the center of town.
But Jasleen was alive, and so were her parents, and her neighbors too, thanks to the Titan who patrolled the region.
That Lightbearer, a giant in an iron suit, watched curiously as her father tried in vain to smoke a fire into existence. Her mother stared in silence at the burning ash that used to be their home.
Together, they were waiting for the rest of the villagers to return with dinner. Local berries, if they were lucky.
“We would never make it,” Jasleen’s father growled, fumbling with his bow drill. “We can’t afford to dream like you can.”
“I would protect you,” the Titan said.
Jasleen’s father ignored him. Her mother, too.
“My neighbor says Dregs eat children,” Jasleen said, to break the silence.
“I’ve seen it,” the Titan replied.
“I feel sorry for them. The Dregs.”
The Titan looked down at her for a moment, then swept his gaze across the ruin of their lives. “What is their suffering compared to yours? You lost everything today. And still, it was a good day, as these days go.”
She craned her neck to look up at him. “What do you mean?”
“Why is it a good day?”
“I did not arrive too late to help. I did not die today—”
“Do you worry about dying?” she interrupted.
“I worry about not helping.”
“Have you ever lost a fight?”
“Who are they?”
“Guardians, like me.”
Jasleen shrugged, her skinny shoulders sharp under her ratty tunic. “That’s okay. You’re my favorite.”
“We remember those who help us.”
“Has anyone ever helped you?”
He nodded. “Yes. Oh, yes.”
“Who? The Speaker?”
He thinks for a moment before replying. “No. A Guardian, like me. Saved me from the Fallen when I was young, when I had lost everyone I was meant to protect. That Guardian is why humanity must go to the Traveler.”
Jasleen furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”
The foraging party returned with rabbits. They would eat well tonight.
As her mother and father moved to help prepare their dinner, Jasleen undid the bow in her hair and motioned the Guardian to come closer. She wrapped it around the Titan’s gauntlet. “I think that’s going to take a long time,” she said.
“Maybe.” He stared down at his arm. “On that day, I will bring this with me.”
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Saint,” he said.
“I’ll remember it.”
A woman with gnarled hands and an aged face sat alone on a couch, basking in the dim glow of a Golden Age ruin. She held back a cough as she eyed ancient monitors on the walls and ceiling, which directed visitors to empty offices belonging to people long dead.
It was cold, silent, and dark, and the woman felt she should leave. But just outside, through the doors behind her, an acid rainstorm showered the streets of a dead city.
She had been traveling for weeks, and today she had eaten the last of the hermetically-sealed food from a vending machine she had found a few miles from here. If she could go back, she would; she had taken all that she could carry, but the machine held plenty more. Life in the Golden Age must have been paradise.
Right now she wasn’t hungry, and she felt no fear. It was an odd change of pace—she welcomed the respite.
The room stretched on for a hundred meters in front of her, branching into rows and rows of doors that led to who knew where.
There was enough space in this building to house a thousand families. For a moment she wished her daughter and her daughter’s daughter were still here with her. They had begun their trip together months ago from Varuna, but she had urged them to go on ahead, giving her share of supplies to them. Supplies were heavy, and she was too slow.
There were rumors a human settlement was growing under the Traveler, and the spoken plan was to reunite there.
The spoken plan, at least. She rubbed her hands together to ward off the cold.
And she coughed.
Immediately, something creaked far down the hall. A door slammed open, followed by the sounds of rapid scuffling.
She stood up from her couch and slowly backed away, pulling a plasteel shiv from a sheath strapped to her thigh. Five figures with glowing eyes emerged from the gloom and rushed toward her, brandishing weapons. Two ran like men, massive and four-armed, and two were leaner, crawling low to the ground. The last was small, about the size of a human. It loosed a howl no earthborn mouth could make.
She hoped her child and grandchild still lived, and held her weapon up in silent salute.
The sliding doors behind her opened with a whoosh, and a violet discus cut through the air above her, singing like a sword loosed from its sheath. Three of the creatures dissolved into screaming Void as the disc of Light caromed down the length of the corridor.
As the woman turned to look over her shoulder, an iron monster alight with boiling Void energy leapt over her.
He moved with a grace that contradicted his size, and caught one of the remaining beasts by the neck as it bounded at him. He reeled back, and bam! The thing went limp as he smashed its skull with the top of his helm. Its companion lunged with a crackling Arc Sword, but he stepped forward and kicked its knee out to bring it down to his height, reeled back, and bam! Bam! Bam! He jackhammered the beast’s winged helm with his own. It fell back, dead.
The corridor fell silent.
He turned and asked quietly, “Where do you hail from?”
“Patch Run,” the woman replied.
He nodded. “Lin sent me to look for you.”
The woman scoffed and sheathed her weapon. “She was supposed to go to the Traveler.”
“She made it. All the way,” he replied. “They both did.” He raised his armored hand, wrapped tight with a purple cloth, and keyed a switch on his helmet. “Jumpship will be here shortly. We’ll get you home.”
“Who gave you that ribbon?”
“An old friend. Probably about your age, now.”
“How long do you people live?”
“We don’t know.”
The woman stared at him, then tore a piece from her lavender-colored sleeve. She stepped forward and tied it to a hinge of his pauldron.
“What is this?”
“Your friend is clever. If I leave this with you, I’ll live forever.”
He chuckled. She did not.
“Make a mark on this world,” she said. “Don’t waste the time you have.”
“Yes, ma’am,” he replied.
They were quiet a moment.
“None of this bothers you?” he asked, gesturing at the bodies and the raging storm outside.
“Everything bothers me,” she said, sitting back down on the couch.
“What was your name again?”
“I will remember it.”
They listened to the rain as they waited.
Three children, two Awoken girls and a Human boy, slept against a rampart on the City wall. They were standing in for their parents, members of the City volunteer militia. They weren’t old enough to carry weapons, but the boy clutched a remote access switch that would alert every guard in the district.
He would need to be awake to trigger it, though.
So Saint-14 stood watch in their stead. He would leave when his patrol cycle began in the morning.
The children woke when the sun broke the horizon. They pretended not to see him, but when one of the girls tore her handkerchief in two and tied one half to the Titan’s pauldron, the other two did the same with scraps of cloth and fabric.
He asked for their names, but they weren’t supposed to give their names to strangers, and all parted amicably.
The Titan leapt atop the smoldering wreckage of a kit-bashed airship, a stripped-down Arcadia Class incapable of escaping orbit, and tore the Golden Age-polymer canopy right off the cockpit.
He pulled a startled Awoken from out of the pilot’s cabin as the airship’s remaining engine crackled and roared. With the Awoken in his arms, the Guardian tumbled deftly off the Arcadian airframe and took off at full speed away from the wreckage. The Shock Cannon that tore the ship out of the sky had started an Arc reaction in the engine power cells that would—
The shockwave overtook him and tossed him into the air. He rolled to his feet as he landed, dropping the pilot as a dome of Light snapped into being around them. A sleet of debris and shrapnel rolled across the Titan’s Ward of Dawn.
As the metal rain faded, so did the Guardian’s Light. The two stood up. The Titan pulled a Daystar SMG2 from a back holster, checked to see if it was loaded, and handed it to the Awoken. “You are lucky. The Fallen shot you down twenty miles from the Traveler. They will not bother you again. Head due south,” he pointed, and turned to leave. But the pilot tapped his shoulder guard.
The pilot untied a bandana on his arm and held out the strip of plum-colored cloth.
“I have nothing else to give,” the pilot said. “That ship was my life.”
The Titan stared down at the man. “You’ve found a new life. Go to the Traveler.”
“It’s bad luck to not give Saint-14 his due.”
Saint grasped the cloth. “What is your name?”
“Georges,” the pilot replied.
Saint turned back towards the desert.
“I will remember it.”
Saint stood at the gateway into the Infinite Forest.
Other Guardians always seemed to remember where and when they found the engrams that revealed the most treasured pieces in their arsenals. The Gjallarhorns and the Dark Age antiquities. He had difficulty with that.
But he could name almost every person who had awarded him an accolade over the course of his Guardian career.
They covered every nook of his armor. They adorned his ship, the Gray Pigeon.
He had never talked about them, and, as he looked up at the yawning translucent field before him, he wished that he had.
Don’t worry. (Not that you worry much). It took them centuries to build, keyed to the unique frequency of my Light. And I sit atop its shattered husk.
I mourn that I will never reach the heights you have. To me, you represent everything a Guardian can become. Yours is a thriving City. So different from mine. My whole fourteenth life I fought to make my City yours. I never finished.
All I have left is this weapon. The Cryptarchs say you crafted it yourself, built it out of scraps and Light and sheer will, inside the Infinite Forge. I’ll make sure it finds its way back to you. When you gave it to me, I swore I would make it my duty to follow your example.
I’m still trying.
Panoptes, the Infinite Mind, was dead.
And so was Saint-14.
Osiris looked down at what remained of his friend.
The Infinite Forest shimmered around him.
The Vex had built a dais to carry the body of Saint-14. The Titan had been stripped of Light. There was no obvious killing wound on his armor. Perhaps they had repaired it.
Sagira ran a beam of Light across the body.
“Saint carried these ribbons everywhere,” she whispered.
“He called them his ‘accolades,’” Osiris replied.
“What were they for?”
Osiris was quiet for a long moment. He sat staring at the tomb.
"I never asked."
Osiris and Saint stood on a Tower platform overlooking one of the six paths into the City. The road beyond the wall still burned with scorching pits of blue flame.
“Vanguard Commander Saint-14,” said Osiris. “What a ludicrous title.”
“The Consensus wants a new leader in the wake of… all of this,” Saint replied. He shook his head as he gestured at the destruction beyond the City limits. “It’s time.”
“You’ll serve them well,” Osiris replied, manipulating a cube-shaped device into an array of smaller hexahedrons that floated between his fingers. Vex components, Saint thought.
“But… I’m afraid it’s not a title I can keep.”
Osiris looked up.
“Father has plans for me,” Saint continued.
“Giving up Commandership in one day? That’s a record. So go. Be a Titan for the Speaker. After this madness, they will need you to rebuild.”
“I put the Titan aside for this mission. I’m a soldier. There is… difficult work to be done.”
Osiris narrowed his eyes. “What has he asked you to do this time?”
“Take the fight to the Fallen. Seek them out beyond our borders, find them wherever they are. Strike first and hard.”
“This is precisely what I mean when I say the Speaker likes to lead you astray,” Osiris muttered to his cubes.
“You would not say that if you saw what the Fallen have done to our people out there. You’ve forgotten how to see.”
“The Fallen are not so different from us. How hard would you fight if the Light were taken from you?”
“Those stories ring false to me,” said Saint. “They are not a noble people. I’ve fought them, and so have you.”
“I have not fought them all,” the Warlock replied, pulling his hands apart to create an intricate web of hovering cubes and points of light. “They are nothing, no threat—not like the Vex. Not like the Darkness.”
Saint stepped close enough to breathe on Osiris. “Look past the wall, brother. Are you blind?”
Osiris folded the device into his palm and met the Titan’s gaze. “You know I’m the only one watching the whole canvas.”
“But you’ve lost sight of why we fight.”
Osiris turned away and tossed the cubes again to form a miniature constellation in the twilight sky. “As ex-Commander, you have the power to dictate a replacement, should you choose. Who’s it going to be?”
“I have recommended you for the position of Vanguard Commander.”
Osiris turned back. The cubes hung listless in the air.
“You want to give me control over the databases? The Vaults? Jurisdiction over Owl Sector, access to the Last City grimoire?”
“I want you to protect our people,” Saint said. “For all our disagreements—you’re one of the few who can.”
The Warlock stared at the Titan with an unchanging expression.
“We don’t have the resources to do this twice,” Saint continued. “I fought representatives of every House across this conflict. It was a joint effort to exterminate us. If threat should come to the City ever again, you’ll have to fight in my stead.”
“I accept,” Osiris said quickly.
Some time after the death of Panoptes, Infinite Mind and the City’s venture to the Infinite Forest:
Osiris stepped back to look upon his work. It towered stories above him.
The Sundial was complete, a shining beacon in Mercury’s sky. He needed only to seal the chronometric core, which lay bare at the center of the spire, and activate the Arc conduits that ran for miles under the planet’s surface.
Sagira circled the superstructure, scanning every inch of it.
“I don’t know about this,” she said.
“I have full confidence. It’s your design.”
“That work was theoretical! If the Vanguard find out what you did to build it—“
“If this works, the Vanguard will find out either way.”
Sagira darted down as if to dive bomb her chosen, but stopped just short and met him eye to eyes.
“I know you feel guilty, but there’s no telling what will happen if you turn this thing on.”
“He’s dead because of me. I’ve made every precaution. I’ve had my Echoes check against trillions of disaster scenarios.” He turned to look at the fluctuating glow of the exposed chronometric core. “Mercury is the only planet that will be affected. Because that’s where he died.”
“Where will this stop? Who else will you decide deserves a second chance?”
“You know I can’t make another bargain like this one.”
“I just want to make sure you know that.”
Osiris blinked. She rarely spoke this bluntly, and without irony.
“Hey, hey, hey!” came a far-off, echoing shout. “No! That ain’t right!” The Drifter came into view from behind one of the Sundial’s auxiliary pylons, pointing a jabbing finger at Osiris’s machine.
Sagira narrowed her eye at the rogue Lightbearer and lowered herself to Osiris’s shoulder. “Why’s he here?” she asked quietly.
“I asked him to consult on the engineering work,” Osiris replied, crossing his arms.
“You sicko,” the other man declared, walking a circle around the Warlock, his eyes darting along every surface of the Sundial around them.
As the Drifter rapped his knuckles on the north pylon, he mumbled, “Ghost, do the numbers.” An armored Ghost with a red eye unfolded out of transmat and began a scan pattern on each Sundial spire.
Drifter walked to the central spire and put his ear up against it. “This core…” he said, leaning close. His eyes darted back to Osiris. “It’s whispering.”
Osiris’s expression didn’t change; his arms didn’t uncross. “We’ll seal the core away. I understand the ramifications.”
“Good luck keeping that contained. Not something I would bargain with, hotshot.” Drifter stood up and beckoned his Ghost with two fingers. It floated earthward and unleashed a holographic array of statistics along the Sundial deck.
The red light reflected off the Drifter’s eyes as he drank the numbers in. “Your math checks out,” he said, finally, as his Ghost folded away. “It’ll work. But will you find him? At the exact moment that you need? No guarantees.”
“Let me worry about that,” Osiris said.
“Just one more question, then. Why all the fuss?”
“I owe him.”
“I owe a lotta people, Warlock. You’re opening the gates of hell with a Vex key.”
“When the Traveler brought me back, I had no friends. No family—”
“No one had anything in the Dark Age.”
“But Saint was always there. And I saw him grow from neophyte to demigod.”
Drifter shrugged. “We’ve all had to flex a little. Win a gun fight or two. It’s why we’re still here.”
“We all gain strength. But some Lightbearers never grasp a wider view of the world. They’re happy to stick to their ways… languish. When they could be so much more.”
Drifter chuckled and spat, saluting Osiris with a single finger. “I get by.”
“Of course you do. I’m like you.”
“But Saint faced his fears and failure better than any of us, and never strayed from his path. He should get a chance to walk to the end.”
“He already did. But I’ll leave you to your devices. You lunatic.” The Drifter turned, hands in his pockets, to leave. “If you short-circuit the universe, you’re on your own.”
“If I make a mistake here, you might cease to exist,” Osiris replied.
“Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.”
“We haven’t talked about payment.”
“If you live through this little experiment, you can be sure I’ll be back to collect.”
“Go home. There’s a Guardian you should meet,” Osiris said.
“Yeah, yeah. Hero. Red War. Can’t wait.”
A dozen Echoes flanked Osiris.
The Sundial spun and sparked above them, around them.
His Echoes vanished in staccato bursts of chronometric Arc, stepping not elsewhere, but elsewhen, as the Sundial fell silent.
Osiris could still see and feel through them as twelve of him walked the corridors of time.
Where those halls were intersected by the Vex network, his Echoes hacked Hobgoblins and Minotaurs apart using Solar Swords powered by sheer will. They hid their shadows and stood still, unblinking, to avoid the Network Minds. Together, they pushed to corners that gave way to the Mercurian Dark Age.
From there, they separated, entering myriad moments of Saint’s visits to Mercury.
An Echo encounters a battle-hardened Saint at the mouth of Caloris Basin. Saint is a member of the Pilgrim Guard, and he and his fireteam descend on batteries of Vex Goblins, the bloom of heavy gunfire leading their way. This Saint is too early. The Echo does not approach.
Neither does the Echo who watches in a dark corner as Saint’s jumpship lands at a Lighthouse at the Caloris Spires. Its interior is cloaked in shadow. The Cult of Osiris’s retrofit of the structure isn’t due for another age. Saint comes here to keep it clear of Vex attempting to reclaim it. He lights the darkness as he tears Minotaurs apart with Solar fists.
An Echo crouches on a cliffside out of sight as, far below, Saint uses his Solar Light to cut through the armor-plated Mercurian soil. Solitary stones line a series of holes that stretch for a dozen meters to either side.
An Echo hides in burning light as Saint works shoulder to shoulder with the Sunbreakers to construct the Burning Forge. Their hammering and soldering with Solar knuckles and sledges draws a silent parade of Vex to the building site. The Sunbreakers take turns stepping away from construction to dismantle the intruders using the same Solar implements.
An Echo spies Saint from a vantage point on the high plains of the Fields of Glass. The Titan fights for his life against purple-bannered Fallen, bearing the same symbol as modern Dusk soldiers. They are the House of Rain, the lowest House. The burning camp around them is curiously absent of bodies—but Osiris has heard Saint tell this story before. One of Saint’s first missions for the Speaker brought him to Mercury in a failed attempt to “re-take” that planet for humanity. They had not known at the time that the Vex had already started to transform the “garden world” into a machine. House Rain followed Saint’s jumpship and waited ’til the expedition had made camp. Then the Fallen annihilated the colonists Saint was charged to protect and beat him to within an inch of his life. The Echo lives that story first-hand now, and finds himself looking away at the terraformed vegetation at his feet instead. It’s already half machine—grass and metal blades growing beside each other under his boots. A Ketch roars down from the sky and rains heavy munitions on the battlefield, and the Echo’s vantage point fills with rolling clouds of dust. The Echo takes his leave. He’s seen enough.
Osiris’s Echoes scour Saint-14’s timeline on Mercury. But the corridors of time refuse to give way to the moment they need: Saint and the Martyr Mind in the depths of the Infinite Forest. The Echoes work tirelessly for weeks, then months in the space between moments. In desperation, he splits the dozen copies into many thousands more as the work continues fruitlessly.
One Echo stays for years against Osiris’s orders. He has never lost control of one before; he didn’t think that was even possible. He and the Echoes are the same. He feels this aberrant copy lose his sense of self. Another few years in, he feels this Echo press the touch of cold metal to his head.
And then he feels nothing.
Two Echoes wander into the corridors of time with orders not to stop. Brute force has worked for Osiris before. To this day, he can still feel them. Their search continues.
The rest eventually succumb to Vex security measures where the network intersects with the corridors of time. Even Osiris’s Light has limits.
None of the Echoes ever approaches a Saint. They never find the right one.
Osiris sat quietly at the base of the Sundial. No time had passed since the machine’s activation, but he had just lived a multitude of lives.
Sagira hovered over his shoulder and asked, hopefully, “Did it work?”
The Warlock stood, and made his way to the southern border of the Sundial. “Shut it down. Wrap everything in a stealth skin. Let nothing, no one, find it.”
Osiris disappeared into an incandescent flame.
Sagira stared at the Sundial’s central spire.
“Dammit,” she whispered.
Actions of Mutual Friends
Osiris stood before a gate into the Infinite Forest.
Two years ago, news had reached him that one of his oldest friends was dead. Saint had been missing for ages, but the Warlock had always assumed the Titan would turn up someday. He was wrong.
He realized he was staring through a dormant gate frame and keyed a cubical device that hung at his belt to pry the doorway open.
He couldn’t save Saint from the Vex. But every day he stood vigil in the Infinite Forest to monitor simulations of the future based on their activity.
Beyond the gate, a shimmering sea of data beckoned him.
He stepped through, into the white maw of an Infinite Forest debug chamber.
“Start it up, Sagira,” he said.
“Sure you don’t want to take a break today?” she asked, unfolding above him like a crown.
“The Vex won’t.”
She considered it a moment, then the Forest shimmered around them and the white maw dimmed to half-darknes
Then pitch black.
The floor fell away, and Osiris’s Light held him aloft, sheathed him in a thin veneer of armor.
Nothing moved. The Warlock frowned, lit a Solar spark and held it up. It illuminated nothing around him. “Did something go wrong with the sequence?”
“I just triple-checked. No,” she replied. “This is it. This is the simulation.”
He keyed his radio.
“Go ahead, Osiris,” Ikora said.
“What’s happening out there?” he replied.
“Take your pick. We’re at war on the Moon again. The Vex attacked.”
“We retaliated. The Undying Mind is dead.”
“A plan. And mutual friends.”
“Our mutual friends just changed all projected futures in the Infinite Forest.”
“You don’t sound happy about that.”
“I’ll be in touch.” He cut the transmission. “Where are we?” he asked Sagira.
“Where we always are. Simulated Mercury.”
He couldn’t even see stars.
“How far does this void reach?”
“All the way to the Traveler, for all I know.”
“Take us there.”
Osiris knew the simulation moved around him, but the typical shimmer of the Forest was gone. There was nothing to see.
“We’re here,” she confirmed, as he found gravelly purchase under his boots. He had never heard her sound so unsure of herself.
It was brighter here at the top of a windswept dune, but barely. He couldn’t see the sun in the purple twilight that hung above him. The breeze roared in his ears.
The sphere of the Traveler was gone. In its place, an obsidian monolith at least twice the size dominated the sky. In the Last City’s place was a swirling dust storm, tinged purple by the dying light.
“When does this happen?”
“The Forest predictions give a window of two or three decades, depending on a multitude of variables. With a not-insignificant chance for acceleration based on specific elements.”
“Actions of mutual friends.”
“Kill the simulation. Get me to Mercury.”
The three sisters arrived on Mercury.
They searched for the Infinite Forest, and through it, a path to their people’s salvation: a simulated future where they were free from the Cabal.
Instead, they found something else.
“Small disturbances,” said oldest Ozletc, the wisest. “Little currents in this timeline. Can you see them, sister?”
“I can taste them,” said second-born Tazaroc, the hungriest of her sisters. “I can feel the edges.”
Third-born Niruul, the quietest among them, reached her hand out to test the air. “As can I,” said she. “And something else. The source is disguised. The technology is Human, but refined. Surprisingly so.”
“Disable it,” said Tazaroc, who was impatient. “It is leaking. I wish to see the leak.”
Niruul fluttered her fingers across the sleeve of her suit. She worked for one day and one night, though the passage of time was hidden by Mercury’s perpetual blinding light. All the while, she could feel the restless impatience of her sisters.
A strange device shimmered into existence around them. They looked up the length of an enormous, golden spire.
“It whispers,” said Tazaroc.
“Then block your ears,” said Ozletc. “Do you see the potential in this?”
“Chaos,” said Niruul.
“No,” said Ozletc. “Opportunity. See how it tugs at the fabric of our time? Can you see the seams?”
The seams were sewn tightly shut, but a skilled hand could find them. A skilled hand could rip every stitch. All three sisters could feel it.
“It will take time to activate,” said Niruul. “Someone has protected it from meddling.”
“We will have time,” said Ozletc. “We will open the past and change the course of Ghaul’s fate. Anticipate his mistakes. Undercut his advisors.”
“Why?” said Tazaroc.
“Because he could be swayed to our purposes,” said Ozletc. “He was a fool, but he could be puppeteered. Led to a more advantageous downfall.”
“But why not go back further?” said Tazaroc, eager. “To dash the whelp’s skull in the pit, before he crawls out onto a throne?”
“Risky,” said Niruul, shaking her head. “Why not tear into the future instead, and make our attack where the Guardians cannot predict it?”
“Predictions are not their strength,” said Tazaroc.
“And yet they have built this,” snapped Niruul.
“Sisters,” Ozletc said. “We needn’t argue. This device will let us walk through future and past both. And so we will cut the most advantageous path, whatever it may be.”
For hours and days and weeks, the sisters labored over the machine. While her sisters defended her from the Vex, Niruul bent the device to their purposes and, with the force of their combined will, made it whir to life.
Around them, time split along its seams. Windows into other worlds, Mercury’s true past and future, opened before them. The device stood at the center of all of it, an anchor point. And all along the fault lines of time, where the past and present and future met, Vex were ripped in half, sliced through by a knife of pure temporal energy.
They surveyed their new kingdom: a past, present, and future open to their manipulation.
“It is so clear,” said Niruul, reverent. “An unobstructed glimpse into what was and what will be.”
“Not the troubled ramblings of a mad thing, like the OXA,” said Tazaroc.
They shared the feeling of unbounded possibility, and tasted the potential for success, and then for failure. Together, they drank the feelings in and steeled themselves against them.
“The past and future are at our fingertips, sisters,” said Ozletc. “Let us see what prospects they hold.”
Chronometric emissions cut across Mercury’s surface, and radiolaria steamed from fissures that erupted like open wounds in the machine soil. White-blue streams of Arc energy carved borders around a circular sector about a hundred miles wide. Walls of chronometric flame tore through Vex spires that came tumbling down in halves and sheared Minotaurs in two along the boundaries of the region.
The Red Legion stood watch as these eruptions flared around every Cabal machine, structure, and soldier inside the sector. They showed no sign of panic as ethereal fire burned over the world and their Vex opponents. Instead, they waited, watched, and mobilized purposefully around the phenomenon.
The circular shape that these walls cut were further segmented into three sections: Red Legion soldiers found themselves staring across the chronometric walls at each other from inside Mercury’s past, present, and distant future.
Under three different skies, three different suns, and on three different elevations of Mercury’s gradually descending surface, the Red Legion went to work. Perhaps this time they would win the Red War.
Somewhere deep inside the Vanguard halls in a secure meditation chamber, a trio of Warlocks surrounded Osiris: one Praxic, one Thanatonaut, and one Vanguard.
“Did the Vex corrupt him?” Aunor wondered.
“My Order just wants to know if he’s real. Or some kind of Vex simulation. An Echo?” Harper said, paging through a datapad in his hands.
“You haven’t left the Forest in years,” Ikora said to Osiris, the only one to address him directly.
“I need help,” Osiris replied.
“I know,” Ikora responded, hands clasped behind her back. She stared intently at her former mentor. Back in her Crucible days, that uncompromising gaze was often the last thing her opponents saw. Aunor glanced sidelong at her superior. Harper coughed and looked down at his datapad.
“Two years ago, Guardians entered the Infinite Forest,” Osiris continued. “They aided me in defeating the Axis Mind Panoptes, preventing a Vex apocalypse from befalling this system.
“In the process,” he looked between each of them in turn, “Some Guardians reported a body they found in the Forest depths.”
“Saint-14 never came back from that last mission to Mercury. We finally knew why. I reacted to it the only way I knew how.”
“By turning Mercury into a temporal weapon for the Cabal?” Aunor asked.
“You are awfully tranquil for a man who just doomed this system,” Harper said.
“You should rethink your career in Thanatonautics, Warlock Harper, if death frightens you so,” the exile replied. He nodded at Aunor. “I’ve made mistakes. I will continue to make them. The nature of my work requires it.”
“We should lock you away,” the Praxic replied. But there was no fire in it.
“There are others you’ve allowed to roam free. These are desperate times, Aunor,” Osiris said. “I think you know that.”
Harper opened his mouth to ask another question, but Ikora cut him off. “Give us a minute.”
Aunor ducked her head and Harper bristled, but both left without question. Alone with Osiris, Ikora said, “The Speaker was right to exile you.”
“We all make our own choices,” Osiris replied. “Like the Vex gateway you built to the Undying Mind. A strategy like that is exactly what the machines would not expect. And you knew the Guardians would deliver.”
“What’s your point?”
“You think like I do. But you’ve done what I never could. Found a way to coexist with the Vanguard while keeping their fool necks above the water,” said Osiris.
“If you think you’re helping your case, you’re not.”
“Time is broken on Mercury. I need help from our mutual friends.”
“I know that. My Hidden have scouted your Sundial. The Red Legion are loose in a time rift that’s localized to the past, present, and future of Mercury.” She took a step closer to him, shoulders tense. “If we don’t contain it, it’s not going to stay that way for long. The rift will expand across the system.”
“I’ve created a mitigation network across Guardian space. I’m in control.”
“You are anything but—!”
“Saint deserved another chance.”
“So did Cayde! So did everyone we lost in the Red War.”
“We’ll hunt the Cabal across every timeline they create within the Sundial. They’ll never be able to exploit it.”
“You’re damn right. Because you’re going to mobilize the Guardians. You’re going to fix this. And then you and I are going to have a long talk.”
“Mercury should be the least of your worries.”
“Let’s save it for the long talk.”
- The first letter of the 'report from Paladin Oran' can be decoded to spell: "Fikrul alive. Distress call from Illyn."
- Bungie: Destiny 2 Narrative Preview
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- Bungie, (2/28/2019), Narrative Preview - Gambit Prime
- Bungie, (3/1/2019), Narrative Preview - The Reckoning
- Bungie, (3/2/2019), Narrative Preview - Praxic Order
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- Bungie, (3/4/2019), Narrative Preview - The Job
- Bungie, (9/16/2019), Narrative Preview Chapter One - Splintered
- Bungie, (9/17/2019), Narrative Preview Chapter Two - The Black Needle
- Bungie, (9/18/2019), Narrative Preview Chapter Three - A Light in the Darkness
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- Bungie, (9/20/2019), Narrative Preview Chapter Five - Reunion
- Bungie, (12/4/2019), Weblore: The Accolade
- Bungie, (12/5/2019), Weblore: Vanguard Commander
- Bungie, (12/6/2019), Weblore: The Sundial
- Bungie, (12/7/2019), Weblore: Actions of Mutual Friends
- Bungie, (12/8/2019), Weblore: Sisters
- Bungie, (12/9/2019), Weblore: Desperate Times