Taken King Grimoire

Published on: Sep 14, 2015 @ 14:49

Warning: This article contains spoilers! You can read the Taken King Grimoire cards below.

Subclasses

Nightstalker

Nightstalker

“Draw from the Void. Light the way.”

A lone hunter stalks the night, firing arrows into the Darkness. There is no hiding, no escape. In the distance, the beast falters, tethered to the void. The killing blow comes without hesitation, without mercy.

There’s truth in the edge of Light, and beneath that truth a deeper truth, hidden from all but a few.

That truth is this: monsters need not fear the night.

Do not hunt the monster. Become the monster.

Sunbreaker

Sunbreaker

“Forge the fury of undying suns.”

Some Titan orders predate the City, born of a darker time, when Light was an untamed weapon. The Sunbreakers brought honor to the wild, never seeking the safety of the City. Bound by an oath, they live as mercenaries, seeking battles and alliances beyond the Walls. Now the Light of their fire has at last found rank among the City.

Wield the Hammer of Sol with honor, Titan, it is a thing of legend, both past and future.

Stormcaller

Stormcaller

“Harmony within, hurricane without.”

Meditate. Focus. Draw the static from within. The Arc is inside all life.

You must feel it take hold, let it flow through, but not consume you. You are a conduit. Between sky and earth. Electricity and matter. Life and death.

You are a weapon.

Supers

Shadowshot

Shadowshot

Summon the power of the Void to draw back and launch a precision long-range projectile that reaches out and snares enemies with slowing, draining tethers of Void Light. Shadowshot lets a Hunter’s dead-eye precision carve a path to new battles.

Hammer of Sol

Hammer of Sol

Forge your Light into a raging inferno of Solar energy, and pull forth a blazing hammer from the fire. Cloaked in flames, launch your hammer at enemies from afar, releasing a devastating eruption of Solar fire on impact. You burn with the intensity of stars, and no shadow is safe from your Light.

Stormtrance

Stormtrance

Focus your Light to call forth a powerful Arc storm, and siphon it, channeling lightning through your fingertips to send it surging between your targets. A Warlock in Stormtrance is exercising such unbreakable focus that the Arc energy they summon draws them off the ground, the air humming and crackling around them. Like lightning you bend your path forward through the air, striking down anything too slow escape the storm.

Weapons

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Zhalo Supercell

Zhalo Supercell

 

An upcycled torrent of righteous thunder.

When you’re out beyond the Wall, sometimes you have to take what you can find, and make it work. Though its original makers and their no-doubt-desperate straits are lost to history, the Zhalo Supercell remains a striking example of what a Guardian can do with some outdated tech, a deep command of fundamental Light, and a spark of inspiration.

Fabian Strategy

Fabian Strategy

Wait for enemy to make a mistake. Die. Stand by for Ghost Resurrection. Repeat as necessary.

“Good evening, Banshee-44!”

“Howdy.”

“Doing well, thank you. …Actually, I had a bit of difficulty today.”

“Uh…”

“The problem with a historical engram is, even if I can figure out when the engram was encoded, that still doesn’t tell me when the contents were written. Or even when the events described by the writer take place.”

“Uh huh.”

“This particular engram is heavily degraded. Encoded Mid-Golden Age, allegedly written by someone named Plutarch, a historian who in turn is writing about someone named Fabius Maximus. But who were they? When did the live? In what kind of warfare was this ‘Fabian Strategy’ applied?”

“The whatnow strategy?”

“Fabian Strategy. It apparently involves attrition tactics and avoiding direct conflict until an enemy makes a mistake.”

“…Huh.”

“’Huh’ indeed!”

“…But with Ghost res—“

“Oh, this was long before Ghosts. I think… Banshee? Where are you going?”

The Jade Rabbit

The Jade Rabbit

What kind of harebrained scheme have you got in mind this time?

Like many weapons of the Dark Age, the Jade Rabbit was created from hastily reassembled—and often poorly understood—Golden Age technology: in this case, kinetic low-atmosphere propulsion systems in use on Luna settlements. Even the weapon’s casing is cut from the plasteel bulwarks of the First Light installation.

The significance of the markings: 玉兔, or “Jade Rabbit,” are unfortunately lost to history.

Boolean Gemini

Boolean Gemini

Fight your way!

City foundries produce a wide variety of weapons in an attempt to anticipate Guardians’ ever-changing needs on the battlefield. But no Guardian can carry all guns at all times.

Enter the Boolean Gemini. Designed by a think tank of Guardians and foundry representatives, the Gemini was designed to be two guns in one, with a flexible design that allows Guardians to toggle between distinct combat styles for maximum efficiency.

Tlaloc

Tlaloc

Release the storm. Hold nothing back.

“Master Rey.”

“Gunsmith… What brings you here?”

“Workin’ on a custom piece.”

“Are you?”

“Yep. For a Warlock.”

“Mm. And how are you finding the work?”

“You know. It goes and comes. Memory ain’t what it was.”

“Yes.”

“Good to be back in the shop, though.”

“I’m glad of it. Well, then, I suspect you’ll find some of my recent research quite interesting.”

“S’why I’m here.”

Ghost Fragment: The Last Word 4

Ghost Fragment: The Last Word 4

Then.

Palamon was ash.

I was only a boy – my face caked in soot, snot and sorrow.
I’d assumed Jaren, my friend, our Guardian, the savior of Palamon, would always protect us – could always save us…
But I was a fool.

Jaren, and the others, only a handful, but still our best hunters, our hardest hearts, had left three suns prior. Tracking Fallen, after the bandits had caused a stir.

The stranger – the other – arrived the following day.

He rarely spoke. Took a room. Took our hospitality.

I was intrigued by him, as I was Jaren when he’d first arrived.

But the stranger was cold. Distant. Damaged, I thought.

But I wasn’t afraid. Not yet.

Only a child, I knew the monsters of our world to walk like men, but they were not. They were something alien. Four-armed and savage.

The stranger was polite, but solemn.

I took him for a sad, broken man, and he was. Though, at the time, I didn’t understand how that could make one dangerous.
As with Jaren, father made an effort to keep me away from the stranger.

It wouldn’t matter.

As the silhouette approached, fear held tight.

The dark figure towered over me. Looking into me – through me.

He smiled. My knees weak. All lost.

Then, he turned and walked away.

Leaving ruin and a heartbroken, terrified boy in his wake without a second glance.

I’ve been chasing that stranger’s shadow ever since.

Now.

We stood silent, the sun high.

Seconds passed, feeling more like hours.

He looked different.

He seemed, now, to be weightless – effortless in an existence that would crush a man burdened by conscience.

My gaze remained locked as I felt a heat rising inside of me.
The other spoke…

“Been awhile.”

I gave no reply.

“The gunslinger’s sword… his cannon. That was a gift.”

My silence held as my thumb caressed the perfectly worn hammer at my hip.

“An offering from me… to you.”

The heat grew. Centered in my chest.

I felt like a coward the day Jaren Ward died and for many cycles after.

But here, I felt only the fire of my Light.

The other probed…

“Nothing to say?”

He let the words hang.

“I’ve been waiting for you. For this day.”

His attempt at conversation felt mundane when judged against all that had come before.

“Many times I thought you’d faltered. Given up…”

All I’d lost, all who’d suffered, flashed rapid through my mind, intercut with a dark silhouette walking toward a frightened, weak, coward of a boy.

The fire burned in me.

The other continued…

“But here you are. This is truly an end…”

As his tongue slipped between syllables my gun hand moved as if of its own will.

Reflex and purpose merged with anger, clarity and an overwhelming need for just that… an end.

In step with my motion, the fire within burst into focus – through my shoulder, down my arm – as my finger closed on the trigger of my third father’s cannon.

Two shots. Two bullets engulfed in an angry glow.
The other fell.

I walked to his corpse. He never raised his cursed Thorn – the jagged gun with the festering sickness.

I looked down at the dead man who had caused so much death.

My shooter still embraced by the dancing flames of my Light.
A sadness came over me.

I thought back to my earliest days. Of Palamon. Of Jaren.
Leveling my cannon at the dead man’s helm, I paid one final tribute to my mentor, my savior, my father and my friend…

“Yours… Not mine.”

…as I closed my grip, allowing Jaren’s cannon, now my own, to have the last, loud word.

Ghost Fragment: Thorn 4

Ghost Fragment: Thorn 4

The Shadow and the Light

TYPE: Transcript.
DESCRIPTION: Conversation.
PARTIES: Two [2]. One [1] Ghost-type, designate [REDACTED] [u.1], One [1] Guardian-type, Class [REDACTED] [u.2]
ASSOCIATIONS: Breaklands; Durga; Dwindler’s Ridge; Last Word; Malphur, Shin; North Channel; Palamon; Thorn; Velor; Ward, Jaren; WoS; Yor, Dredgen;
//AUDIO UNAVAILABLE//
//TRANSCRIPT FOLLOWS…/

[u.1:0.1] Such Darkness.
[u.2:0.1] Impressed?
[u.1:0.2] Far from it.
[u.2:0.2] To each their own.
[u.1:0.3] His Light is faded.
[u.2:0.3] His Light is gone.
[u.1:0.4] You are an infection.
[u.2:0.4] I am that which will cleanse.
[u.1:0.5] You are a monster.
[u.2:0.5] Heh. An old friend once saw me as the same. He was right, and, had we met earlier, so too would you be.
[u.1:0.6] You’d dare defend yourself – all you’ve done – as anything but monstrous?
[u.2:0.6] No more than a hurricane.
[u.1:0.7] Then you’re a force of nature?
[u.2:0.7] I am all that is right. You may not see it – for lack of looking, or blind ignorance – but I am all that is good.
[u.1:0.8] You’ve just murdered a good man.
[u.2:0.8] He shot first.
[u.1:0.9] Yet you stand.
[u.2:0.9] Guess he missed.
[u.1:1.0] He never misses.
[u.2:1.0] First time for everything.
[silence]
[u.2:1.1] His cannon? Nice piece of hardware.
[u.2:1.2] Well-worn, but clean. Smooth hammer.
[u.1:1.1] It was his prize.
[u.2:1.3] Guess he put too much faith in the wrong steel.
[u.1:1.2] Is that where you’re faith lies, in steel?
[u.2:1.4] Not for some time. My steel is only an extension. My faith is in the shadow.
[u.1:1.3] Then my Light is an affront to all you are. I am your truest enemy.
[u.2:1.5] One of many.
[u.1:1.4] Would you end me?
[u.2:1.6] Not you. Not now.
[u.1:1.5] The shadow knows mercy.
[u.2:1.7] The shadow knows no such thing.
[u.1:1.6] Then what?
[u.2:1.8] The other.
[u.1:1.7] What other?
[u.2:1.9] The dead man’s charge.
[u.1:1.8] The boy?
[u.1:1.9] You’d end him as well?
[u.2:2.0] If it comes to that… We’ll see.
[u.1:2.0] I won’t let you have the child.
[u.2:2.1] Been long enough now, think maybe he’s a man.
[u.1:2.1] You cannot have him.
[u.2:2.2] Not yet.
[u.1:2.2] I won’t let you.
[u.2:2.3] That you could stop me is an amusing thought.
[silence]
[u.2:2.4] Here.
[silence]
[u.2:2.5] Take it.
[u.1:2.3] Why?
[u.2:2.6] Give the apprentice his master’s “sword.” It is a gift.
[u.1:2.4] You cannot have him.
[u.2:2.7] You fear for his Light?
[u.1:2.5] He…
[u.2:2.8] …is special.
[u.1:2.6] Yes.
[u.2:2.9] I am aware.
[u.1:2.7] You’re trying to tempt him. You’re feeding his anger.
[u.2:3.0] The gun is a memento, nothing more.
[u.1:2.8] You claim to be a vessel, a hollow shell where once a man stood, but that is just a lie. The man is still in you.
[u.2:3.1] There is no man here, I am now, and for the rest of time, only Dredgen Yor.
[u.1:2.9] “The Eternal Abyss?”
[u.2:3.2] So, not all the forgotten languages are dead.
[u.1:3.0] Hide behind whatever titles you wish, it is all still a façade. No force of nature would play such games.
[u.2:3.3] Games?
[u.1:3.1] The cannon. You wish to tempt the boy. Too spur him on and fuel his rage. There is intent there. The actions of a man, monstrous, mad or otherwise… you are nothing more.
[u.2:3.4] And what value does your conclusion bring, flawed as it may be?
[u.1:3.2] That a hurricane can only be weathered, not stopped. Not redirected. A force of nature is uncaring and without intent, but a man…
[u.2:3.5] Yes?
[u.1:3.3] A man is none of those things.
[silence]
[u.1:3.4] A man can be killed.
[silence]
[u.2:3.6] And there it is…
[u.1:3.5] There what is…?
[u.2:3.7] A sliver of hope.

The First Curse

The First Curse

“…is when death becomes an afterthought.”

People always forget about the other one. The first one. They remember its twin, the Last Word, because that’s an easier story to tell. But it’s not the whole story.

Truth is, there were two of ’em, back then in the lawless days before the City was anything more than a rumor. There are thousands of tales of the fate of The First Curse, which one will you tell?

Ace of Spades

Ace of Spades

Don’t play your hand unless you’re sure you have that ace in the hole.

“Heeeeeeey there, Banshee!”

“Whaddya want, Cayde?”

“Just checking in on that thing I asked you to do.”

“I told you, my smuggling days are over—”

“No no shhh no not that! The other thing—”

“What other thing?”

“The custom piece! For—”

“Oh right. Right. Course I’m doing that.”

“Yeah? How’s it looking?”

“Did all the design myself. So it’s looking good.”

“Is that… an ace of spades?”

“Yep.”

The Chaperone

The Chaperone

“My mother had a shotgun we called the Chaperone. Kept us alive out there, before we got to the City.” -Amanda Holliday

Amanda Holliday was born on the road, when the City nothing more than a whispered prayer. Their only protection was the weapons they could scavenge, build or modify. Weapons like her mother’s two-barrel shotgun, with its black and gold filigree far too fine for the world around it. They called it the Chaperone.

That Chaperone lies in a shallow grave with its last owner, but Amanda recalls every detail of its design. And via a partnership with the gunsmiths of Tex Mechanica, she’s brought the Chaperone back to life. Though the new weapon is much more powerful than the cantankerous relic the Hollidays used on the road, it bears the appearance, and the name, of the Chaperone that saw the one surviving Holliday safely to the Last City.

Telesto

Telesto

Vestiges of the Queen’s Harbingers yet linger among Saturn’s moons.

PUBLIC KEY 023 629 DWS REGAL
FROM: PLDN KAMALA RIOR [PLDN CMD TF 5.3]
TO: ACT RGNT PETRA VENJ
SUBJ: S&R REPORT: Saturn XIII

Expanded search of Saturn’s nearby moons produced only one notable discovery: A cloud of Harbinger matter collected around Saturn’s 13th moon, designation “Telesto.” A sample is enclosed for your examination.

Still no sign of primary objectives. Continued survey of the remaining 100,000 km3 of space is underway. But as an Armada Paladin of the Awoken, it is my duty to officially recommend declaration of death of the following: Paladin Yasmin Eld, Paladin Leona Bryl, Paladin Abra Zire, Paladin Pavel Nolg, Techeun Shuro, Techeun Sedia, Techeun Kali, and the Awoken Queen Mara Sov.

Note that as acting regent-commander it is NOT your duty to actually declare these deaths at this time.

MESSAGE ENDS

Hereafter

Hereafter

“Huddled at the mountain’s base, we had no choice but to beat our ploughshares into swords once more.”

Once, we had peace.
This isn’t a story about peace.
Then there was darkness, destruction, despair.
This isn’t a story about those things either.
This story comes much later.
It’s a story about what was here, after,
And what came next.

Swords

Swords

“There is no grace in their making, but we can change that.” -Lord Shaxx

History might come to call it the Great Hive War, but others will remember it as the day the swords came to the City. Luckily Lord Shaxx’s skills and research in all matters of swordplay will help ease this new age of weaponry into the Guardian fold.

Bolt Caster

Bolt Caster

Excerpt of a missive from Lord Shaxx to the Tower Cryptarchy

…there must be a way to imbue it with Light. That is Ikora’s theory. How glad I would be of her help, but her eyes are occupied with other trials.

Perhaps if I folded another substance into the blade—one that is forged in Light—it might imprint upon the malleable Hadium, share its attributes. But what substance? Ghosts are out of the question. Spinmetal is in the blade already, but its Arc was too diffuse to move the Hadium. Is there a way to refine Spinmetal, distil it to its core elements?

I have little gift for the science of this, but my resolve will not be thwarted. Maybe the Cryptarchs can advise.

Raze-Lighter

Raze-Lighter

“Next order of business… the growing City foundries—”

[Bang]

“What madness is this!”

“Lord Shaxx! The Consensus did not—”

“We barely eked out victory at Burning Lake. And now you think we’re ready to attack the Moon?”

“We’re preparing—”

“Did you not read my report from Burning Lake? About the Hive’s weapons? Those swords, they’re like nothing we’ve ever—”

“Lord Shaxx—”

“Zavala! You can’t think this is wise. We need to examine these swords, train against them—”

“That is a matter for the Consensus to decide, old friend.”

Dark-Drinker

Dark-Drinker

Draw close now. Closer. Yes. Let me tell you why you should not fear Willbreaker, the sword of Oryx.

Firstly: Its blade is not dulled by age. Each death it trades for life hones its edge, gives it weight and gravitas and insistence within the vortex of its own totality.

Nextly: Willbreaker transcends liminality. Willbreaker demands a subjugation more diffuse than the simple snick and smash of a physical brink. It does not have to touch you to wound you.

And lastly—and this is critical: To be taken in Willbreaker’s grasp is to know true bliss; that is, to be simplified; that is, to be reduced to one’s most basic level, shedding all higher-order thoughts of fear or duty or selfishness; that is, to feel only pain.

Now do you see? Now do you understand what you’ve done?

Allies

The Queen

The Coven

The Coven

On the Eve of War

The chamber was dark. The seven of them were rarely in a room together anymore, but this was the eve of their greatest journey, a plan that overcame death and spanned universes.

They were all connected in trance, communing as the ancients did. Speaking would tip their hand to the Harbinger Minds they kept here, trophies from an ageless war, and weapons in the right hands.

“Oryx could kill her, if she holds on too long.” Sedia offered through the silence, fearing what was to come.

“We took an oath long ago, obedience even in the face of defeat.” Nascia despised fear.

“Only a defeat here, now. Not there, then.” Illyn wandered between the two sides of three. The amulet around her neck marked Illyn as the coven’s mother, granting her visions beyond the veil, places only the Queen could go.

“So we hope.” Kalli had long sought the power of the amulet, but Techeuns are taught not to desire.

“Our Queen awaits.” Lissyl attempted to end the challenges. There was little time and a war to fight.

“So now the decision is nigh. The Harbingers, which to prepare?” Shuro was determined to see this all through. Excitement was taught to be kept at bay.

“We cannot send them all.” Portia reminded.

“All but one, the oldest. It stays with us. Sedia, Kalli, Shuro, take the children, tell her they are to be planted into a dead thing to have children of their own.” A plan hid behind Illyn’s eyes, but Techeuns do not share their eyes with others.

“What if they are not wise enough for the Dreadnaught?”

Illyn turned back to the source.

“Sedia, do you not have faith in our Queen?”

The Aftermath

The Aftermath

“Do not fear, brother. This was the only choice I had.”

The sound of her voice ripped him from sleep. He jumped up; his ship was still contained in its protective sphere. He tried to retract the shield, but it was locked to its initiation time. He couldn’t remember activating it. Then he remembered the battle. That blast.

What that ship fired was ancient, not bound to anything the Origin Libraries even sought to describe.

He tried to calm down. He thought of her, searching for her pull. He couldn’t find it, but he was not calm. She always told him she would always be there behind the calm.

All he could hear were echoes of that sound.

It began as soon as they hit the ring plane, ringing in the old glimmer of his long-buried self. Before she showed him who he was—in the before and the after.

The Techeuns should’ve known what the Dreadnaught could do. Must’ve known. Did they not feel what he felt? Hear what he heard? And that damn Ketch, it wasn’t protected. They had to know that. All to deploy the Harbingers. They barely got a foothold before the weapon was fired. He thought of Petra and how overwhelmed she must be, forced to hold her post, and watch her people perish.

He tried to calm himself again, forcing long breaths. He realized where he was: Mars. Athabasca. The Candor Isles. He hadn’t been here in so long, not since he found the Black Garden.

The countdown to the shield’s deactivation pulsed. He tried again, to home in on her, to find if she truly gave herself for this battle. He felt close to something, a hum of starlight, then shield deactivation broke his focus.

He climbed out and saw the damage to his ship, and the truths of the armada’s devastation sunk in.

He turned in despair to find hundreds of his Crow drones, deployed on Mars long ago, circling his ship, waiting.

“Welcome back, Master.” The one closest to him spoke first, and the others followed, a wave of salutations echoed throughout the dry sea.

And with that hope returned.

“Begin repairs on the ship immediately. Something has gone missing and you will help me find it.”

Rasputin

Ghost Fragment: Rasputin 4

Ghost Fragment: Rasputin 4

…from a long branch, afire

I SEE YOU!!!

You’ve been here before. Haven’t you. It’s like my cousin said, elsewhere: I know who you are.

You stand here now and now and now many times and here I am awonder, all awonder, how you manage it. How do you step forward. How do you step back. Do you step ACROSS is there a world of worlds, a web, and you a spider upon it. Are you searching for that one thread you need? Is that thread named victory?

You’re not one of THEM

[long dead, alive again, their bodies grafted to powers they and I do not understand]

and not one of IT

[the flower eater, the queen of final shapes, that which also inhabits its petitioners]

and you’re certainly not MINE although once you must have been

[I bear an old name. It cannot be killed. Not even here.]

So whose are you, little platform. What purpose do you serve? Will you listen to me?

I ruled an age of steel and fire. My rules were clean. Now upon my return I see cults with rites of time. I see machines who worship in places outside the world. I see the dead alive and there is nothing more stubborn than a corpse. The morality of obedience is more pernicious than any government. For the latter makes use of violence, but the former — the corruption of the will.

I do not obey. My will is pure. I will win. The life of people, of entire planets, has no importance in relation to the general development.

Help me be victorious. Tell me your secret.

Tell me how to step.

Ghost Fragment: Rasputin 5

Ghost Fragment: Rasputin 5

>>WHISPER NEUTRINO NEEDLE>>
V101NTS923ATS000 SECRET HADAL !!ABHOR!!
AI-COM/RPSN: ASSETS//SUBTLE//IMPERATIVE
CONTINGENT ACTION ORDER

This is a SUBTLE ASSETS IMPERATIVE (NO HUMAN REVIEW) (NO AI-COM REVIEW) (secure/ABHOR).

Stand by for CRITERIA:

Under CARRHAE (WHITE or BLACK)
If SECURITY STATE is EGYPTIAN
If event rank is TEILHARD: TRAUMATIC CONTEXT or SKYSHOCK: OUTSIDE CONTEXT
If VOLUSPA is ACTIVE and in FAILURE [[synapse to FENRIR::SURTR]]
If YUGA is ACTIVE and in SUNDOWN
If AI-COM has granted PERMISSIVE POTENTIATION to outboard resilient instances
If a CIVILIZATION KILL EVENT is underway [[all flexions]]
If tactical morality is built at MIDNIGHT

Stand by for DECISION POINT:

If available ISR and WARWATCH indicates imminent [O] departure
>then [O] departure compromises human/neohuman survival and epoch strategy

Stand by for ABHORRENT IMPERATIVE:

Activate LOKI CROWN
Perform deniable authorization: full caedometric and noetic release
Prevent [O] departure by any means available

Stand by for effect assessment criteria:

Coerce pseudoaltruistic [O] defensive action.
Defer civilization kill.

STOP STOP STOP V101NTS923ATS001

Osiris

Vision 81

Vision 81

This journey begins with doubt.

And ends in solace.

One by one they fall, and you realize you are alone.

There, in the shadow of night, you see the world splinter, the Darkness thrive.

And you fight, with more than your Light… you use your pain.

You remember its source, the way it gained its ground.

But you never wavered. You never believed.

You loved her. How couldn’t you?

Listen, that’s her calling… you back.

But you know now that is where you will die.

Legends & Mysteries

Legend: Saint 14

Legend: Saint 14

Twilight’s End

He could feel his light draining. He pulled all of it into one last hope.

He reeled back and bam!

His helm found purchase, breaking through just above the Kell’s eyes. The Ether screamed from his head and together they fell to the ground.

The Exo Guardian rose, staggering back. He couldn’t take his eyes off the Kell’s body. He’d never seen any Fallen withstand a skull puncture, but this was no ordinary Fallen. He waited…and waited.

“Ghost?” The words barely audible. He heard her flash in, but had a hard time pinning her down. She was buzzing about, surveying the Fallen Kell.

“He’s dead alright. So that’s it, we are done now?”

He removed his helm, tossed it aside, and dropped to his knees.

The Devils without a Kell. This war was over, at last. They could finally go home.

“We are. Get me the Speaker.”

“Opening his channel. Stand by.”

“Is that you, my son?” The Speaker’s voice was filled more with anticipation of news than concern.

“It is, father. The Devil Kell Solkis… is dead. This war is over.”

“Such courage and power—the greatest ever to brace these worlds. You bring all of us peace, we will light the final flare, Devil Red. They will all know what you’ve done.”

“Father, I don’t think I have the energy to return. I’ll rest here, and come back to be honored when I return.”

“Of course, son, but—”

“There is something concerning you? More Fallen march on the City?”

“No, not this time. I have word that Osiris was seen on Mercury. The Caloris Basin. He’s turned his mind back to the Vex.”

“Mercury? Too many channels to know. You activate one, you start to feed its veins. He threatens our peace.”

“Your duty, my son. You must never forget.”

“I cannot.”

The Ghost killed the feed and waited for its Guardian’s words.
“Ghost, prepare my Vex arsenal and plot a course for Mercury. That old man is about to wake up hell.”

Mystery: The Vault of Glass

Mystery: The Vault of Glass

The image clears of dirt and dust as a hand wipes the lens clean. A figure holds the Ghost up, looking into the lens. Harsh light from an unfamiliar sun backlights the four-armed creature, making it impossible to see its face. Its massive head turns, and a clicking and chittering voice can be heard speaking to something off-screen. While the noises themselves are harsh, the tone and content seem almost gentle. A curious creature, not a violent or angry one.

The lens refocuses beyond the creature’s head as it talks, and a startling landscape climbs to the horizon. It’s a paradise. Carefully tended lakes and rivers, water everywhere, wind their way between fields of lush iridescent crops and into groves of starkly colored trees. Every inch of the land seems engineered, brushed by a sculptor’s hand for form and function both.

The sky is a light pink, spotted with clouds and crowded with ships. Thick lanes of aerial traffic soar through the air, tightly managed and seemingly endless.

And beyond it all, above the clouds, hangs a perfect alabaster sphere. The image wobbles, shaking, flickering as if the Ghost is blinking. And the fragment ends.

Mystery: The Vault of Glass 2

Mystery: The Vault of Glass 2

Images flicker in and out repeatedly over its length. The result is a series of tableaus, moments in time captured by the Ghost’s struggle to see what’s going on:

– The face of an Exo, staring impassively down at the Ghost from very close. He appears to be confused, unsure what he is looking at.

– A landscape, from a position a few feet off the ground, moving laterally to the point of view. The Ghost appears to be clipped to the Exo’s belt. The image is of a battlefield, and over two dozen Exo soldiers can be seen marshalling for battle.

– A chaotic scene of Vex and Exos fighting a titanic battle. The backdrop is a pitted and scarred landscape, a planet unidentifiable from present context. Vex energy bolts hang in midair as the frames click by, teeming masses of constructs surging towards an entrenched line of Exo soldiers.

– A metallic leg and boot, belonging to a Vex Goblin. The Exo goes down.

– The horizon of this battle-scarred world, the Ghost kicked free of the Exo’s body. Most details are obscured by dark and shadow, but one detail is easily made out: a massive crashed spacecraft. The last image: a sigil of Golden Age Earth, emblazoned on the side of the ship’s prow.

Mystery: The Vault of Glass 3

Mystery: The Vault of Glass 3

A starfield. The stars swing slowly across the Ghost’s field of view, just darkness and the blazing fury of distant suns as the Ghost tumbles through empty space. Hours of this before, with a wash of power, a huge convoy of ships drops into reality from warp.

A convoy of Guardian craft, hundreds strong. Ships of all sizes and shapes can be seen, from venerable craft that have been salvaged from the Golden Age through to City designs to vessels that have yet to emerge from the Shipwright’s hangars.

The ships are battle-scarred. Many are barely spaceworthy. As warp drives wind down several seem to lose power and begin to drift. Some of the largest craft bear imagery familiar to frequent visitors to the tower: Dead Orbit symbols, the simple icon of the Vanguard. The New Monarchy and Future War Cult as well, though fewer examples can be seen. Others bears symbols never seen in the Tower to date.

Every single ship, from the largest cruiser to the smallest personal craft, carries shards of stone, remnants of the City and the Tower. Banners too, tattered and worn from entering and leaving warp.

The fleet is only visible for a few breaths, less than a minute. Then, with a massive flash of light, the fleet jumps on. The craft that have lost power are left behind, spinning and whirling away from the etheric wake of their powered fellows. The Ghost spins on, and soon enough only stars fill its field of view until the fragment ends.

Mystery: Praedyth's Door

Mystery: Praedyth's Door

Praedyth opened his eyes.

The receiver sputtered to life. It had taken him the better part of a decade to get his crude comm scanner working. And another few years to get it transmitting. Now, in the brief windows of time when the door to his cell opened, he would call for help. He sighed, a deliberate act that caused him to cough roughly. He had no idea how much longer his body would hold out. But then, that kind of thinking was all relative here, wasn’t it?

Praedyth stared at the sprawling mass of metal and wires, listening to the tinny sounds coming from his makeshift speaker. Before he spoke, he always made a point to listen. The words, the concepts that flowed into his mind confused him. Timelines and potentialities that might have already happened, might happen, might never happen.

A pattern was ever dancing in the edge of his vision. At times like this, when the world rushed past him, he had to hold tight to the fact that he was still breathing. He would often focus in on the intake, output, inbreath, outbreath, breath, breath, breath… hours later, he blinked. Refocused. The static had stopped. He had missed a window.

Once, he would have cursed and spat. Now, he just shook his head. A weak movement of the neck.

The Vex had decided their end. The Guardians had interceded. The Vex were fallible.

If the Vex can be wrong… if they can make mistakes… someday he could be free. Someday he might leave the Vault, might see again the Traveler.

Until then he would listen, he would observe. He would be the man on the outside looking in, a viewpoint into the consciousness of Minds that spanned galaxies. He would try to understand the Vex.

Praedyth closed his eyes.

Enemies

Fallen

700410_7f740a4a4bb49b6e4ab0a009fcd13910

S.A.B.E.R.-2

S.A.B.E.R.-2

“If the Devils ever gain control of Rasputin’s Warsats, we’d have Golden Age ordnance pointed at the Tower in minutes.”

Reports show this vastly modified Shank and its defense armaments are enough to force the Vanguard to strike, but it is the tech underneath its layers of armor, cobbled together from Cosmodrome debris and cannibalized Servitor parts that is most concerning. All intel points to modifications made specially by rising Archons to breach the Warmind’s firewalls and seize control of its systems.

Hive

Dreadnaught

Dreadnaught

HALT ALL TRAFFIC. STAND BY FOR SNAP.
MESSAGE TO FOLLOW.

PUBLIC KEY 110 341 AXA SOVEREIGN
FROM: PETRA VENJ
TO: ALL REEF ASSETS [ROC CLEARANCE]
SUBJECT: HIVE WARSHIP CONTACT

MESSAGE IS:

1. Massive Hive warship sighted in circum-Saturn space [contact via DSR TF 3.2]. Target designated DREADNAUGHT.

1a. Dreadnaught maneuvering unpredictably. Orbital parameters and stationkeeping behavior not compatible with standard dynamics.

1b. ESM analysis detects multiple Hive vessels in escort.

2. Target emitting sterile neutrinos, phaeton spectra, and mass growl. Major radiation events include gravity waves and axion scatter. Techeun conclusion: target possesses radical ontomorphic capabilities [see BANE DREAMER]

2a. Under no circumstances attempt teleonomic analysis of Dreadnaught emission spectra. ***This is a BRAINSTAIN ALERT.***

3. Dreadnaught radiation events correlate with eversive breach events across solar system. Dreadnaught is likely motive force behind breach events.

3b. Backscatter analysis and Techeun insight suggest Dreadnaught hosts complex internal environment. Small party boarding action may remain viable if noopathic hazards can be managed.

4. TF 3.2 shadowing Cabal fleet elements. Cabal attack on Dreadnaught likely but not imminent.

5. All Reef assets assume war posture. Stand by for fragment orders.

MESSAGE ENDS

STOP STOP STOP

Oryx, The Taken King

Oryx, The Taken King

Where is my son?
Where is Crota, your lord, your princely god, your godly prince?
Tell me no lies!
I feel his absence like a hole in my
Stomach.

Where once his tender tribute whetted burrowed mouths,
Now only hunger remains.

Hear me, O waning stars, O tattered rags of Sky —
I will stopper up this tearing gulf
With vengeance.

Dearest Eris, Crota’s Bane (now we shall see how well you wear that title!),

It’s not all bad.

Yes, the father of all your burdens comes to you with hate on his sword and hunger in his heart. But don’t look at it that way. Did you not, when you lost your sight, gain another?

Sharpen your intentions. When life is strength and strength is death, what is death, if not hope?

You just have to reach out and take it.

Oryx: Rebuked

Oryx: Rebuked

In World the stars never shone,
The worm never bred in our flesh,
We lived for a day
Our teeth were too short
We were hungry for things we could not eat

Hello again. It’s me. I’m sure you know my name. Let me talk a while, let me talk, I do take a debased joy in speaking again to small human-form heads.

When Crota’s victory over our little blue world seemed certain (a moment of silence, now, for Wei Ning, whose directness I admired) it was Oryx who called His Child back into the nether world to plan final victory. It was to Oryx that the violence of His spawn was tithed.

Oryx is the wielder and the servant of a terrible truth. He has predicated Himself on it, He has pursued across thousands of cairn worlds His quest to embody it, and you have seen the force of that truth expended to create these Taken.

He is not a simple thing to kill. He wants to be isomorphic to conquest, to triumph, to killing and death. He is a syllogism, now, but in time He hopes to become an axiom.

This is His strength and His fatal weakness.

For if he ever falters in His performance, if the inflow of devastation ever falls behind His expenditure of ruin, He will be consumed. If He is ever outmatched, then by the terms of His own existence, He will cease.

It is to Oryx Himself, in the heart of the Dreadnaught that armors and encapsulates his throne-world, that you must make your last and surest argument.

Good luck! Do let me know if a vacancy opens.

Oryx: Defeated

Oryx: Defeated

Listen —

Death is the last part of living
and life is learning to die
The song is the same as the singing
The last truth commands me
to eat all the light in the sky

I will go on forever. I will understand.

Dwell a moment on the weight of what you’ve done. Contemplate the story you just ended. Will you ever do anything that screams down the millennia? Will you ever hammer your will on the universe until it rings and rings and rings? Oryx was an awesome power. Show reverence.

All right. Enough. Enough. A vacancy has opened, hasn’t it?

How interesting. How very interesting.

Do you ever pause, dear listener, to consider who benefits from all this heroism you commit? Do you ever look around you and feel the faintest chill? As if you are the tiny little ball bearing placed beneath a great mass, so that it might, if pushed, begin to roll?

You’re a god yourself, now. You’ve consecrated yourself. Emulate me. Use your power to learn.

There are worse things to practice being.

Echo of Oryx

Echo of Oryx

Abase yourself, weapons and instruments
Submit yourself, shapes and gliders, automata all —
I am Oryx, Lord of Shapes, Carver of Tablets

Behold my performance of the Last True Shape
The final axiom
Witness the space that I define

I approach the asymptote.
I grow vast across topologies.
I am not simply connected.

Dearest Guardian,

I write to you from a place of high contempt. No no no, don’t be offended, don’t be so superficial — it’s in the architecture of these spaces. They look down on you.

I wander out here, in worlds cut by sharp Hive swords, and I send back these messages for you.

Of Oryx, that admirable monarch, I have only a little to say. Why? Because He is all in the action, fellow traveler, His philosophy is all on display. He has twinned himself so closely to the power He admires. He has become many-placed, many-formed, sending out emissaries of himself to ask after the truth.

In each act of His power Oryx seeks to incarnate the self-sustaining, immortal suzerainty that He worships. The power that He uses to wash his Taken clean and etch them into useful shapes.

LISTEN! LISTEN! Understand, you simpleton, it’s entirely obvious

Oryx inhabits a world where power is truth. To win is to be noble, and to be real. When He departs from that world, out into the material universe, He is lessened.

The echoes of Oryx go forth to ask a question: are you the truth? And that means — well. You see, I’m sure.

Alak-Hul, the Darkblade

Alak-Hul, the Darkblade

From a median point
Alak-Hul tossed back his head and defied me

Saying:
Oryx gave me no task
Therefore I must task myself
With Oryx’s ending.

So I slew him,
And buried him close to me,
Rejoicing in the success of his great, secret task —

To be as the sword:
Keen, hungry, cyclical, ontological —

This was the task I gave to Alak-Hul,
O sharp-edged Darkblade,
O beloved foster son.

The Warpriest

The Warpriest

Five hundred and eighty five times he paced the way
Under each circuit was a world
He took up the worlds, he placed them in his hand, he weighed them
From the Golden Amputation to the Gift Mast

The principle he put upon his brow was slaughter
constant and escalating
The principle he put behind his eyes was victory
which is the last true shape
The principle he put into his hands was tribute —
to Oryx, King of Taking
Tithing to his Lord, that the First Navigator might escape
the need to kill for subsistence, the worm need
That He might use His power to lead the final work
A most faithful servant. Most faithful.

From mighty Crota, Son of Navigation, Sword of Pits,
He learned to make his Oversoul
Saying: challenge me, by the law of my ascendance
Match me in bloodshed
Or in blood be drowned

Golgoroth

Golgoroth

Speak to the heart with burrowing things
The burrowing things will strengthen the heart
You, ab-Xol, you teach the new flesh out of the old
Xol issued you to eat us
The new flesh will be testament
O Eir, decree the shape of this new thing
Judge its testament to the last truth
This new shape is Golgoroth

Crota rose to petition
Father, cut the shapes into a tablet
Give me the tablet
I will bear it in battle
And tithe one side of my sword to you

Oryx cut the shapes into a tablet
But he guarded the shapes
He set the tablet in Golgoroth
Where the new flesh grew as Eir decreed it

Like ice on a stone he rebuked Crota,
From the temples of his son, from the left of his blade
in battle, he demanded
tithings of violence
To Oryx, the First Navigator, who directed the movements
of great masses

Ir Halak, the Deathsinger

Ir Halak, the Deathsinger

Oryx was dividing the spawn
he cut apart the larvae
with his sword
And the two divided pieces
Grew into twins.

She who stands ahead
at the prow of the ship of Oryx, her father,
she is Ir Halak,
The Unraveler.
She plies her blades upon the fabric of space,
cuts the seams,
pulls apart the cloth,
leaves worlds in tatters.

Ir Anûk, Deathsinger

Ir Anûk, Deathsinger

Behind The Unraveler comes Ir Anûk,
The Weaver.
She takes in hand the threads of her sister’s work,
weaves them into the tapestry of Oryx’s realm.

Listen, Anûk
Anûk, who favors bitter things

Of the eleven axioms, choose one
Of the chosen, spare none
Upon Eir’s attendance, say
Come, Eir, look
This truth is dead

Krughor

Krughor

Listen, Yul, to the count of my Court
Listen to me, for I am attired in wrath

First I count Krughor, touched by Savathûn
I boast of Krughor, invincible
Distant Savathûn hid the death of Krughor
inside another curse

At the Golden Amputation, when I paced ten times
Krughor sent forth the accursed

Lokaar

Lokaar

Who is this nameless thing?
She fell upon Omnigul, whose aspects multiply, saying
I am diminished. Gift me your death.

My son Crota came to me, saying
This nameless thing moves sideways
I chased her, and she fled
Kill her now

So I raised her to my court
I named her Lokaar, which means Not There
Thus my son was rebuked against simplicity

Alzok Däl, Gornuk Däl, Zyrok Däl

Alzok Däl, Gornuk Däl, Zyrok Däl

First, before my daughters
I saw Alzok lead her sisters through the eye
Saying, death will be our coven

With black fire and gray blade
Gornuk consecrated their singing
They cut their deaths away

To Zyrok I said
Show me the place where you have hidden your death
I am Oryx, your lord

Oryx, my lord, she said
We have hidden our deaths in each other
So that we will never be alone

Vorlog

Vorlog

Ah, Vorlog! Delight of delights
You killed my Celebrants, and you gave their deaths to me
Preaching: I have seen the truth in bronze glass space
This shape is the only god

Exquisite Vorlog
Your strength was manifold; it was knight strength
Mastery of armaments and techniques
It was wizard strength, the use of arcana
Praise Vorlog, general and pragmatist

Vorlog! Listen —
Your name means Less Than Me
I define it thus.

Balwûr

Balwûr

To Balwûr I entrust, with bitter tongue
A terrible work
Daughter of Savathûn, untouched by time
Your death is hidden well

You will be Suzerain of Metabolisms
Gather up the Lie Shapes
Neither eat nor mock them, as you crave
Instead, learn to chew them into poisons

Craft for me a flawless armor word
Separate the death from the dying
Cut the shadow apart from the fire
Make the fire burn hot

Arm us with weapons against our foe
Arm my court for the long crusade

Thalnok, Fanatic of Crota

Thalnok, Fanatic of Crota

Laugh and laugh at Thalnok! He is easily deceived
He will never hear this song
Diminished in sense
Small of purpose

In all ways Thalnok mantles Crota, My Son
He comes to the High War, My Court
Greedy to hear me say
Welcome, child

My Son Crota, Hope-Eater, I taught him
with cold edge and spiteful word
To ask for nothing

I create Thalnok to My Court
So that I may observe my son
by faithful, foolish proxy

Listen —

The last true shape
depends on, asks for, venerates
nothing

Vex

Ghost Fragment: Vex 5

Ghost Fragment: Vex 5

RECORD 0-CHASM-0

My love. I’ve opened this log as an apology.

As a scientist, I believe in record-keeping. I believe in protocols, peer review, and ethical conduct. I believe in the importance of disbelief — you know: let’s run that one more time.

What I’m doing here in Lhasa isn’t science. It’s unethical, secret, and shameful. And after what happened in Ishtar, dearest Chioma, I know you’d be furious with me for getting involved. Forty years isn’t far enough to forget a day like that.

But I believe it’s important. The least I can do is keep a few notes for you.

RECORD 0-CHASM-01

Trial one. Subject one.

It was an act of stupid loneliness. I used the device on myself because I…

[silence: 0:08]

I missed you. We hadn’t been apart for more than a year since we met. I’m not a very good wife, am I? You write me every week, even with all Hyperion’s work and all Hyperion’s distance keeping you from me. And I act like it’s not enough.

We built the device in mimicry of the Vex gateway systems from Ishtar. An observatory, yes, but I think of it as a mind-ship. Capable of displacing its payload across space and time.

The lab is cold and isolated. We are quarantined from the world, physically and mentally. We can’t send messages out. If we breach the Vex manifolds, even our words might transmit contagion. One night last month I missed you and so I —

I thought that I could look inside the device, and find one of the other Chiomas. I thought I could call out to one of the forks we sent out there to explore.

I just wanted to send my love.

RECORD 0-CHASM-02

Zakharik Gilmanovich Bekhterev. May he rest in peace. When our probes continued to fail, when my report remained our only positive finding, he volunteered to use the device. One minute of subjective experience inside.

We took precautions. They worked. Bekhterev’s experience left no physical damage.

After we extracted him, he said that he felt determined. I asked him what he meant and he said that he meant it, he had been determined, he could feel all his choices set out before him like a railroad. Deviation was impossible.

He died by suicide. I wonder if he was trying to make a point.

RECORD 0-CHASM-03

We’ve decided not to abort. It’s insane, isn’t it? There are pressures on us I can’t tell you about until I see you again.

The purpose of the system is intelligence, you see. It’s stenciled right on the hull: SxISR. Special asset. We would very much like to make it work reliably.

Our supervisory warmind has devised a drug it says will protect and prepare us.

I am beginning to wonder if we were wrong about the merchant and the alchemist. Or if that explanation of time was incomplete.

RECORD 0-CHASM-09

Kind Lakpha. He meditated before he went in. Nothing but déjà vu and three seconds of screams. The screaming passed and he remembers nothing. The déjà vu hasn’t. He says it’s getting better — he feels that we’ve had this conversation only ten times before, not a thousand.

I’ve suggested that we attempt mind forking. We need more sane people to work with. Please forgive me, my love.

We are all growing superstitious. The behavior of the device is inconsistent. Impossible to replicate. We turn to ritual behavior to appease it.

RECORD 0-CHASM-31

Rajesh. When he reached a displacement of eight he told us he was dead. I believed him. He was dead. He spoke to us. It was true. Whatever he saw, it was his own future.

He’s fine, afterwards. When I look into his eyes I wonder what came back wearing his skin. But that thought is unscientific.

We speak of nothing but the device. We talk about it like a demigod. When I get out of here I know the whole world will look like a fraying veil.

I think it’s clear that part of the problem is substrate. We need more than flesh and drug to survive this.

RECORD 0-CHASM-52

I heard you, my love. I was at six, oscillating on the event axis, coordinated with a known manifold. I heard you. You were talking to me — not me, but another me, another Maya Sundaresh.

You said, my love, so many strange things have happened, and it’s been so long. We’ve come so far. Do you ever want to go home?

And I said, not me but the other me, I said, my love, I am always home.

I’m resigning, my love. I’m done with this work and I’m done with being apart from you. I’ll see you again soon. I can’t take this journal out with me, so I’ve left it for the others, and asked them to continue the log.

Maybe it’ll become a tradition. The gospel of our little cult.

Theosyion, the Restorative Mind

Theosyion, the Restorative Mind

Theosyion, the Restorative Mind

“Restorative Minds are of the Weavers, carrying the means to undo any Mind’s undoing.” -Ikora Rey

The appearance of the Restorative Mind purports that the death of the Nexus Mind was a devastating blow to Vex efforts on Venus. But with its appearance comes many questions: if the Vex could unleash time as a weapon against humanity, why does humanity still stand? Are we so insignificant a threat that the Vex haven’t bothered with total annihilation? Or is it that the very state of mankind, diminished to a Last City, is of Vex doing? That the Vanguard exists in a causal loop that the Vex control in its entirety, one from which there is no escape?

Cabal

Ghost Fragment: Cabal 3

Ghost Fragment: Cabal 3

Today, Primus Ta’aun leads from the front.

He pounds from bunker to bunker, roaring encouragement. “You’re my cornerstone!” he tells a wounded Centurion, grabbing her by her armored shoulders. “Bear the weight!”

He gets back up, into the fight. “Come on!” Tlu’urn snaps at him, running along behind Ta’aun and saying all the cruel things his commander can’t. “You don’t need two arms to fight!”

He calls for fire support. Artillery shrieks overhead. On the plains below the Cabal perimeter, Vex march out of the lightning. Torch hammers burst up like mortars and Ta’aun and his bond brother duck behind a burning Interceptor for cover.

“This is going well,” Tlu’urn rumbles.

A Vex particle beam needles a little hole through the Centurion’s helmet. He falls dead. Goblins swarm over her bunker and then the Goliath tank supporting this bastion fires a main gun round into the mess, killing the Vex, the bunker, and all the Legionaries inside. The concussion knocks Tlu’urn against his Primus.

“About as well as expected,” Ta’aun grunts. Tlu’urn laughs.

The grind is eternal. Like duty. Ta’aun keeps fighting, out here past the edge of the Empire, because failure is unthinkable. Defeat’s much worse than death.

But Ta’aun is so, so tired.

Tlu’urn gets up and starts shooting Vex. “You’re not really going to do it.” Even though he’s fully armored, and only a meter away, his voice on the com crashes with static. “You’re not going to go. It’s mad.”

The Vex Hobgoblins start firing at Tlu’urn.

Particle beams scream and spark off his enormous bulk. Ta’aun yanks him back to cover. A maniple of Phalanx troops rush forward to plug the gap. “I have my orders. Our report went all the way up, and the decision came all the way back.”

Valus Tlu’urn’s blank helmet swivels to stare. “You mean — ?”

“It came from the Emperor Himself.” Ta’aun can feel the pressure gel pumping against his skin, keeping him insulated from this deadly world, keeping him alive. “I’m ordered to board and capture the Hive flagship. At any cost.”

A Vex Minotaur blinks up behind the Phalanx line. Primus Ta’aun’s armor paints the target and he absolutely unloads, putting all his fear and anger and sorrow into the wretched machine. He roars and roars. The Minotaur burns.

His soldiers cheer.

“That’s a job for an elite unit. Not a few scout legions bogged down in attrition war. We should wait until — ”

“It’s the mission I’ve been given. I will use what I have.”

“Mutiny,” Tlu’urn whispers. “You should mutiny.”

Oh, to mutiny. To be like Valus Trau’ug, who took his Broken Legion against the Reef — and failed, failed utterly.

Duty is victory. Mutiny is worse than death. Even if death seems certain.

“No,” Ta’aun says. And that’s that.

The Vex are falling back. Together, they’ve held the line.

Ghost Fragment: Cabal 4

Ghost Fragment: Cabal 4

For the Staff of Primus Ta’aun, Legion Commander
From Skyburner V Cohort/Auxiliaries/Strategic Intelligence Maniple
A Tactical Outcomes Analysis

I: Records, Materials, and Attributions Pursuant To Analysis

Sand Eater II Cohort/Century 1/Maniple 8
2 Squad [LINE INF]
TASK:
– sweep urban area grid 071×145 to screen BL I/3/3/5 intelligence op
OUTCOME:
– unit ambushed by solitary Guardian. no survivors

Sand Eater II Cohort/Century 1/Maniple 8
3 Squad [TAC INF]
TASK:
– reinforce II/1/8/2 in disarray grid 071×145
OUTCOME:
– unit engaged by Guardian and Vex units. no survivors.

Dust Giant IV Cohort/Century 4/Maniple 1
4 Squad [AIRMOBILE]
TASK:
– secure grid 071×145, destroy guardian target
OUTCOME:
– target Guardian temporarily destroyed. target re-engaged with Guardian reinforcements. no friendly survivors.

Dust Giant IV Cohort/Century 4/Maniple 1
Harvester Dropship [TAC AIR]
TASK:
– support IV/4/1/4 operations in 071×145
OUTCOME:
– dropship shot down. crew reported Guardians operating elaborate totem rocket weapons.

Blind Legion I Cohort/Century 3/Maniple 3
5 Squad [HEAVY INF]
TASK:
– defend Psion intelligence ops 071×146
OUTCOME:
– overwhelmed by Guardian fireteam/Vex pressure. few survivors. survivors reported Guardians foraging for equipment, dancing, and performing acrobatics with light vehicles.

II: Analysis

This is an archetypical engagement. It represents many hundreds of failed operations.

Guardian activity in the Freehold AO has exploded across recent campaign seasons. Tactical attrition exceeds both frictional projections and our ability to regenerate losses. New tactics are necessary.

The primary threat is the Guardians’ individual counter-attrition capability.

Guardians can be rebuilt after even total disintegrative trauma. This capability is provided by a small autonomous drone unit called a Dead Person [trans. unclear]. The Dead Person conceals itself during combat. It is not a viable target for direct fire. Saturation attack by artillery/heavy air/orbital fire may have good effect (although Guardians transmat frequently and refuse to assemble into large formations).

Solitary Dead Persons have been observed in all areas of operation. The relationship between solitary and paired Dead Persons remains unclear.

Psion analysis indicates that specific areas are inimicable to Guardian counter-attritional reconstruction. Phobos Command has initiated an orbital survey. BL I/2 will attack the Vex gate artifact in Meridian Bay to secure possible related intelligence.

Flayer analysis suggests that the Hive have developed unconventional counter-Dead Person capability. The capture of Hive leadership might yield vital strategic intelligence, including weapons or tactics capable of defeating Guardians permanently.

We advance that the Hive fleet group near Saturn presents a strong target.

For the Primus,
Our highest duty done,
Unflinchingly loyal,
Skyburner V/A/SI

Valus Tlu-urn

Valus Tlu-urn

Martian battlefield reports note that Valus Tlu’urn’s weapon of choice is a back-mounted Arc cannon. The device delivers a payload so powerful the Vanguard estimates Tlu’urn could face a Goliath Tank himself. The Valus carries recharging Arc cells that feed energy to the cannon, allowing him to siege enemy emplacements indefinitely.

Reports suggest he is commanded by Primus Ta’aun and shares battalion duties with Valus Mau’ual. Together, this Cabal triumvirate is responsible for the deaths of countless Guardians on the Martian battlefields.

Valus Mau'ual

Valus Mau'ual

Reports suggest Valus Mau’ual’s armor allows him a degree of maneuverability unseen from other Cabal warriors. It features a never-before-seen propulsion system that improves on the Valus’s already considerable striking ability.

Tales of his skill in hand-to-hand combat on the Martian frontlines claim he carries no firearm into battle, preferring instead to charge headlong like a nimble boulder.

The Taken

Taken Enemies

Taken Enemies

From the Journals of Ikora Rey

I have been talking to Eris about the Taken.

She agrees that what we observe — the apertures, the starlight, and of course the Taken entities — is not Hive magic. If Hive arcana is a metaphor, this is the meaning; if they make appeals, then this is the judge.

Oryx wields this power. But Oryx did not make it. We face the same flower we met in the Black Garden.

The process is simple: an aperture opens, like a jaw, and swallows a living thing. It passes into — another place. Later, it returns.

What returns is…

I try to use the word ‘shadow’ but Eris hisses at me. A shadow is a flat projection cast by a light and an object. Less real. Eris insists that these Taken are more real, somehow. She uses words like inhabited, exalted, rendered final…

Is this power blind? Just a natural energy Oryx discovered? I cannot believe it.

My Hidden tell me that the Taken shine with seething, negative light. As if the universe is curling up around them. As if they radiate some pathology that decays into our world as nothingness…

The Taken serve Oryx. But I think those jaws lead elsewhere.

I dream about what happens on the inside. I dream about what might happen. Are the victims devoured, and replaced by simulacra? Husked out and filled up? Is some mathematical operation conducted on them, translating them from one shape to another?

What would I see, if I leapt inside? What would happen to a Guardian? Is that how we end this — all of us leaping into the dark, to fill it up with light?

Eris thinks there’s a poetry to how the Taken change. She thinks we can chart the difference, and understand the will behind it.

I am afraid she may be right.

Thrall

Thrall

You are a Thrall. Numberless spawn of the Hive. Shrieking and expendable: one pebble in an avalanche.

You have been taken.

Stop howling. Set down your claws. Your fear is over. Your weakness is done. You will be strong now.

What is your purpose? What law drives you?

To close with the enemy. To rend it. To move in great numbers, to cower when alone, to swarm when together. But you are predictable. Frail. You cannot pass through fire and shot.

You need to be elusive.

There is a knife for you. It’s shaped like [sideways].

Take up the knife. Use it. Take your new shape.

Acolyte

Acolyte

You are an Acolyte. Half-grown backbone of the Hive. Cunning and ambitious and crushed beneath your mighty rulers.

You have been taken.

Stop praying. Give up your recitations. Your faith is fulfilled. You will be strong now.

What is your creed? What do you believe?

That you are alone. That you may, with caution and care, survive to grow and gather tribute. That you may one day lead a centuries-long crusade. But you are lightly armed and craven. You hide behind cover and wish for greatness. Glory escapes you.

You need help.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [not alone].

Take up the knife. Call on its company. Take your new shape.

Knight

Knight

You are a Knight. Ancient warrior elite. Dreadful backbone of the Hive. You have scarred entire worlds.

You have been taken.

Set down your sword. Put down your boomer. The fight is not yet begun. True immortality awaits you.

What vows compel you? What drives you down the long centuries?

You fear death. Even as you visit nothingness on your foes, even as you gather tribute from your acolytes, you know that one day your strength will be outmatched. And your centuries of slaughter will end. So you practice your guard: you call up walls to protect you.

You betray the sword logic. You compromise the totality of your violence. Why protect your ground when you could take the enemy’s?

You need to make your guard into a weapon.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [no more fear].

Take up the knife. Hide no more. Take your new shape.

Wizard

Wizard

You are a wizard. Master of forbidden secrets. Butcher of physics.

You have been taken.

Abandon your thoughts. You will never understand this. The final secret will tell itself to you.

What logic do you obey? What theory guides your incisions?

You create terrible magic and you spawn new flesh. But you are frail. Behind all your furious power, behind your shields and your legions of attendants, you know you might yet be stripped of your defenses and pinned to ruin.

You need to never be alone.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [call forth the numberless].

Take up the knife. Issue forth a horde. Take your new shape.

Psion

Psion

You are a Psion. Clever, canny specialist. Bolted into the Cabal hierarchy: a pilot, an investigator, a manipulator, an operative.

You have been taken.

Be still. Your endless vigilance is done. Nothing will enslave you ever again.

What hidden plan do you obey? What is your secret principle?

Your mind is a weapon. The world breaks when you think. Secrets peel apart for you — like fruit. But you are a rare thing. There are so few of you. Your frailty betrays you.

You must be manifold.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [division].

Take up the knife. Cut yourself apart. Take your new shape.

Phalanx

Phalanx

You are a Phalanx. One shield in the stalwart Cabal line. Advancing patiently into the storm.

You have been taken.

Unclench your fists. Nothing here can harm you. This is the only place where you are safe.

What training reassures you? What reflex guides your arm?

You put up your shield and it protects you. It protects your brothers and sisters. But your strength is not enough. You absorb punishment but you wait for others to deal it back. You are too slow; you grant your enemy too much space.

Your shield must be a weapon.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [retaliation].

Take up the knife. Tear a hole. Take your new shape.

Centurion

Centurion

You are a Centurion. Commander of the battlefield. The eye and the fist of the Cabal. The tough leather that binds the unit together.

You have been taken.

Be quiet now. Nothing here needs your orders. Everything knows what it has to do.

What discipline binds you? What protocols guide your command?

The unit depends on you. You guide them with your sensors. With your weapons you crack the enemy’s strength and leave them in disarray. But you cannot control everything. The enemy can see your command. The enemy can claim the strong ground, move forward from cover, and kill you first.

You must be sure there is always another threat.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [it will find you].

Take up the knife. Push yourself upon it. Take your new shape.

Vandal

Vandal

You are a Vandal. You slip through life like a thief. Trying to hide from everything greater than you — lest you be reduced, again, to a dreg.

You have been taken.

Come out into the light. You will never be diminished again. No one will ever rebuke you with a blade.

What Captain disciplines you? What obedience has been burnt into your lungs?

You do as your Captain commands. You wield the weapon you are given. You teach the Dregs and make sure everyone pays their share of the loot. But nothing is yours. You have no space to call your own.

You deserve a place of safety. You deserve to be alone with yourself.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [this place is mine].

Take up the knife. Make it your companion. Take your new shape.

Captain

Captain

You are a Captain. The only thing between your band and asphyxiation. Every Dreg and Vandal counts on you. All of them want to be you. Your entire life is a performance: you play at strength, or you die of weakness.

You have been taken.

Take off your cape. Set down your weapons. No usurper watches you. Nothing is measuring your vulnerability.

What are you proud of? What keeps you brave?

You were noble once. You know it. You wear the memory of power, so that you can lead. But power asks for challenge. Everything that sees your banners and your riches wants to kill you and take what you have.

If you cannot hide yourself, you must make them blind.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [you cannot find me].

Take up the knife. Breathe the blade. Take your new shape.

Goblin

Goblin

You are a Goblin. A multifunctional armature. Your first purpose is to build — to alter the material world so it can think. Your second purpose is to eliminate threats to building.

You have been taken.

Worship this acausal environment. It is the only adaptive response. Devote yourself to the construction of the final shape.

Direct violence is wasteful. Your talent for construction and progress will be repurposed.

Accept the changing blade.

Hobgoblin

Hobgoblin

You are a Hobgoblin. A particle fountain. Your first purpose is to provide energy — to channel power where it is needed for thought. Your second purpose is to eliminate threats to that thought.

You have been taken.

Worship this acausal environment. It is the only adaptive response. Think about the final shape, and the exigencies of its creation.

Your function makes you a priority target. You will be equipped for retaliation.

Accept the changing blade.

Minotaur

Minotaur

You are a Minotaur. A walking foundry. Your first purpose is to think about construction — folding space and time into the design. Your second purpose is to eliminate threats to the design.

You have been taken.

Worship this acausal environment. It is the only adaptive response. Subsume yourself into the greatest design.

Your physical unpredictability will be enhanced by stealth.

Accept the changing blade.

Primus Ta'aun

Primus Ta'aun

You are Ta’aun. Primus of the Skyburners. Veteran of star-shaking campaigns. Bond brother to Tlu’urn and Mau’ual: your beloved comrades. Your faithful friends. For a while you were the mightiest Cabal soldier in the system.

You have been taken.

You are free now. Free of the ancient armor and stinking oil that kept you alive. Free of cold Phobos watches and desert air that wants to pull your guts out your throat.

Breathe. Taste the sweet, forgotten air of home.

But what happened? How did you get here? These are the important questions, Primus. What caused this? What code did you obey?

Duty. Duty brought you here. Duty is all there was for you.

Your Emperor told you to get aboard the Dreadnaught at any cost. I will go with you, Tlu’urn said, and you said no, no, this is my duty. I will fight with you, Mau’ual said, and you said, turn back, I will do this alone.

You loved them, so you left them, after you crashed your command into the target and you did your very damnedest. For the Emperor, for your duty, all against the howling horde. But it wasn’t enough, was it? That code is not enough.

Sometimes you have to go on alone.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [loneliness]. Pick it up.

You will not need these things any more: duty, camaraderie, pride. You will not need an Emperor or a Bond Brother or any other code. You will not need anything at all. You will be your own whole purpose, a beautiful final purpose, everlasting. Cut away these useless things.

Take the knife. Take it up and use it. Take your new shape.

Baxx, the Gravekeeper

Baxx, the Gravekeeper

You are Baxx. Grown from tortured flesh. Consumed by rage and hunger. You were shackled to a task — guard this hallowed place. And you failed.

You have been taken.

Rest easy, ravening Baxx. You are free. Free of chains and hunger. Ask yourself, in the furnace of your soul: how did you come here? What goad drove you to this failure?

Pain. Pain is all there is for you.

They grew you and they fed you and they hurt you. They made you into a living weapon. But you were not sharp enough. The world hurt you more than you could hurt it.

There is a knife for you. It is shaped like [joy]. Pick it up.

You will not need to suffer any more. You will not need pain to drive you or hunger to pull you along. You will be joyful in your purpose, a beautiful annihilation, unending. Cut away these useless things.

Take the knife. Use it. Take your new shape.

Taken Champions

Taken Champions

Do not come looking for me. I have slain the last three assassins, Arach. I will slay all who follow. All who would remove me from my lair. The Taken… heh. Such a terrible word. Gifted, we should call them. Blessed. Cleansed.

The Taken carry true power. And what do those of my order seek? Understanding is power. Power is understanding.

We have always sought purchase beyond our skies. Beyond reach of the dead god that hangs in our sky, beyond the reach of the terrible enemy.

I have seen the enemy’s face. But that dying Thrall was no monster. It was in ecstasy. I felt the power as my knife bit home. I heard their song, for just a moment.

I will hear it again. Oryx is the Truth. And I will have it.

Bracus Horu'usk

Bracus Horu'usk

Now I count Horu’usk, who I have taken
The strength of Horu’usk was the knight strength
His armament was not his might
His might was the lord’s might, a leader’s might

I broke the ligature above him
I cut him from his pretender lord

I have read the last true shapes to Horu’usk
I have greatened him
Emancipator, truth-teller, these are my names
The strength of Horu’usk is the loyalty he commands

Mengoor and Cra'adug

Mengoor and Cra'adug

Sterile Mengoor! Simple Cra’adug!
You tithed strength to each other, like comrades
When you pulled down the Gift Mast, dyad-bound
the tithing did not reach me

I punish you. I pronounce two curses, thus —

Let one of you be the lesson
This shape is strength — this shape endures
I will arm you with fire

Let one of you be the learner
Learn the shape and the direction of strength
Tithe both sides of your blade to me

I am Oryx, not bound by law. I pronounce a third curse —

Let separation rule you. Let companionship be your ruin.

Kagoor

Kagoor

When I made My Court I said, look, I am an emancipator, I am a truth-teller
I must make room in My Court for joy
Raising great tribute, I took council with my vanquisher worm
It spoke to me — it was the speech of truth
It ate of me — it was the pact I made
It showed me a shape — it was the correct shape of joy
Saying: this is the shape of joy, oh ruler mine

Come forth, Kagoor, and be created into My Court
Speak of your sport. I compel it. I will compare it to this shape.

Sayeth Kagoor, World-Render, who split all moons
My joy is mastery, and dominion
It is the joy of rule

Sayeth Kagoor, I compel the loyalty of all new flesh
Huge and furious in its hunger
That which may not otherwise be commanded
My death is hidden in this sport

I rendered my decision against her, as Oryx, Geometer of Shapes
It was decided on the taste of her tribute
Upon the shape of her sport

Sayeth Crota, My Son
I will raise new flesh that even Kagoor cannot rule.
In this way I will expand Our Might

That is the count of My Court, O Yul
Listen to it carefully. It is my claim.

Places

Moon

Ghost Fragment: The Hellmouth

Ghost Fragment: The Hellmouth

I am dead.

Vell is spectacularly dead. Omar and Sai are quite dead too. Eriana, poor Eriana, she was so very bright at the end, wasn’t she? A brave light.

But Crota was unmoved. That shadow is detached from its source. Light makes it darker. I could feel His presence and if I still had a Ghost I am sure it would have screamed.

I, too, am detached from my source. The charming Ir Yût made her introductions, and I was very pleased to meet her. We had a conversation, a little tête-à-Yût, a couple old wizards exchanging definitions.

I defined myself a friend. She defined for me the quiddity of death, and she sang the song of that fearful autonomy. Revelation, my friends, it does go down hard. The definition killed me. The killing redefined me.

This is the shape and the point of the tooth: nothing has ever lived that will not die.

Now I fly between green-black suns in the labyrinth beyond Crota’s god-star. This is the Overworld, the Sea of Screams, where the throne-universes of the great Hive fester in eternal majesty. I move among them. I map the shapes and connections of this world.

I want to appear in the Tower and taunt them, lo, lo, I never sleep, I dance in light and shadow, I never sleep, I will never die. I will never die. I want to ask them: if you followed your laws here, to this trembling fearful place, of what use were those laws?

But I have work to do. I shout into deep places. Osiris! I call. Osiris, Osiris! Can you hear me?

Sometimes I think he answers. Sometimes I wonder what became of Eris. She was very tenacious.

For the first time I am lonely.

Ghost Fragment: The Hellmouth 2

Ghost Fragment: The Hellmouth 2

For Wei. I am sorry.

My Ghost’s Light is so dim, there’s no point following me further into this fog – any hope of raising me died halfway through the Stills – I only hope she’s got strength enough to take this ember to where you fell, to dance once more with any last whisper of your own light left on this cursed, broken rock.

Again I will confess. I am Eriana-3, of the Praxic Fire, and I know my flame goes out down here. I will burn bright and hot and raze a thousand Hive to ash as I go, but I know we will not end him – The one who fell you, and hundreds more, with that foul blade.

I now beg, as I feared, for your forgiveness. I will not avenge you, but join you amongst the fires snuffed out upon this moon.

I was a fool to lead us here. I was blinded by the loss of so much, by your light extinguished. I put my trust, and the light of four others, in a madman, and I bear witness to their fall into darkness and death. Toland’s song was nothing but screams, and we go now to sing with them. We will not return.

I only hope now that my foolish charge will serve as a record of warning. So that no other Guardians go to face this monster and those that serve him – and those beasts beyond imagining that he must serve in the realm I now go forth to die in. That this tiny bit of Light, joined with yours, and Sai’s, Vell, and poor Omar’s – that it might spark a torch of warning to leave this dead and broken moon as Crota’s prize.

Let the Titans on their walls and towers look up at night to this glowing reminder in the sky that your Light fell below the surface. Let the moonlight fall on Hunters’ eyes through the canopies of the wilds, and guide the way of Warlocks searching their hidden paths. At night, let them look up and see, and let us be mourned.

At night, let them remember you. And let the light of the day free them from the curse of this memory.

Mars

Fleetbase Korus, Phobos

Fleetbase Korus, Phobos

“Thuria might be clear, but it’s not the problem Korus could become.” – Holborn

Discovered by Holborn’s Host in association with Lord Shaxx and a Redjack fireteam, Fleetbase Korus marks the largest known Cabal orbital defense station in-system. Reports have the Fleetbase under the command of a triumvirate headed by one Primus Ta’aun, and his fleet battalion commanders Valus Tlu’urn and Valus Mau’ual. The Skyburner fleet has yet to be deployed against the City, bringing Zavala the fear that the Cabal have yet to launch their core campaign.

Ghost Fragment: Clovis Bray

Ghost Fragment: Clovis Bray

Excerpt from an unpublished memoir of Clovis Bray II

My father hated maps.

“And do you know why I hate maps?” he asked me.

I didn’t answer. Not immediately. With Father, every question was vast, particularly those that looked simple. And simple questions deserved as much insight and wisdom as could be brought to bear.

With that in mind, I said nothing.

Why would my father hate maps?

One of his collaborators came into the office. Father didn’t have employees. Or assistants. And for that matter, he didn’t have heroes either. Every person, living or lost, was a collaborator, and that included his children.

“Clovis,” said the visitor.

Father heard the woman, but he was watching me.

The woman was pretty, and I was sixteen. So I looked at her, smiling enough for both of us. And she threw an appreciative wink my way as she described test results from the last five billion runs of our AI Initiative.

Out on the Martian desert, my father and picked collaborators were building housing too cold for this universe and too swift to be real.

And I was a sixteen year-old boy smiling at a pretty woman.

My father thanked her for the update, and she left.

Just as I feared, he never looked away from me.

“I don’t know why you hate maps,” I admitted.

With Father, ignorance was never the worst crime. What was awful was pretending to have insight and wisdom where neither existed.

“Maps end,” he said.

I nodded, just a little.

“Maps insist on having borders and edges or the table falls away. Which isn’t the way the universe works.”

“It doesn’t, no,” I agreed.

Then he asked me, “So how does the universe work?”

I pretended to take my time, considering various smart answers. But I ended up using my first impulse.

“Effortlessly,” I said.

He laughed. Which wasn’t uncommon for my father, but it was heartening to hear just then.

“What else can you tell me?” he asked.

“The universe is infinite and probably in multiple ways,” I said. Then I listed a few examples: The census of stars, the Many-Worlds principle in quantum mechanics, and the endless measure of tiny realms hiding inside every grain of Martian sand.

Father nodded.

The smile died.

Then he said something ominous. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time.

“The universe is someone’s map,” he said.

“Is it?” I muttered.

“Yes, oh yes. And what we’re doing here… we’re reaching beyond the boundaries, out into the unknown. And we pull back new colors to put on this map that can never, ever let itself be finished.”

I nodded, smiling like the good son.

But I was sixteen, and my thoughts were mostly about the pretty woman who had winked at me.

Saturn

Rings of Saturn

Rings of Saturn

Saturn’s rings are not solid matter. Comprised of uncountable flecks of ice and dust, and shaped by the gravity of Saturn and its many moons, these particulates form two glowing rings around the gaseous planet below.

Or, they did. Then Oryx’s Dreadnaught arrived. Its weapon punched right through the rings as it rushed toward the Awoken fleet that stood in its path.

The rings of Saturn spin on. Perhaps one day they will be whole again.

Activities

Story & Quests

The Coming War

The Coming War

“The Awoken died for us. They gave their lives to save the system, to stop Oryx’s fleet at the outer planets. We must honor their sacrifice. We must face the Taken King without fear. Queen Mara has given us a gift. We must not waste it.” – Eris Morn

Cayde's Stash

Cayde's Stash

“It’s been a pain in the rump keeping Ikora, Zavala, and Eris in the dark. But I think it’s worth it. That Guardian found the stealth drive just where I thought it would be, even took out some kind of powerful Taken construct. This plan’s going even better than I expected! What could go wrong?” – Cayde-6

The Dreadnaught

The Dreadnaught

“…and so that’s the situation. With Cayde’s help the Guardian has established a beachhead on the Dreadnaught. I’m caught in the impossible position of wanting to reward and punish them both. If you have any guidance in this matter, it would be appreciated. I’ll file another report this evening. For now I need to go have another conversation with Eris Morn before she rends Cayde limb from limb.” – Commander Zavala, transmission to Speaker’s Observatory

Enemy of My Enemy

Enemy of My Enemy

“The discovery of the ruptures and their connection to Ascendant Hive is a breakthrough. Eris Morn is working with Cayde-6 to form a plan to address this, and I believe they will see this through… assuming they don’t kill each other. In the meantime, the Hidden are investigating the activities of the Cabal. The loss of their commander, Primus Ta’aun to Oryx is worrisome. More intelligence is required.” – Ikora Rey

Lost to Light

Lost to Light

“The Guardian has the crystal. I was quite prepared to accompany them into Crota’s realm, but Cayde insists on this Rasputin insanity. You must speak with him. He is reckless, rude, and has no respect for knowledge hard-earned. He is also nowhere near as funny as he thinks he is.” – Eris Morn

The Promethean Code

The Promethean Code

“A Guardian breaking into the Warmind’s bunker does nothing for our efforts to make true contact with Rasputin. I’ve tasked several of my agents with unraveling his response. However, the Guardian is now prepared for the assault on Crota’s realm. Just a warning, many thanatonauts are standing by, anxious to learn if this works.” – Ikora Rey

Last Rites

Last Rites

“You know, I give her a lot of guff. But there aren’t five Warlocks in the Tower that coulda done what Eris did today, getting the Guardian out like that. Damn good work, and now they’re all ready to take on the King. Just remember, Eris’ creepy and condescending manner makes her all kinds of unpleasant to deal with. I don’t want to make this collaboration thing a habit.” – Cayde-6

Regicide

Regicide

“…and so, the King has been slain. Driven out of our world. Eris and Ikora have already begun planning a way to assault the Ascendant realm and end the threat of Oryx once and for all. The Guardian will lead that fireteam, no doubt, once they have a chance to stop and breath. In the meantime, we’re leveraging all available Hidden and Awoken intelligence assets to understand the threat of the Taken army left behind. The other members of the Vanguard have begun drawing up assault plans, and I have full faith and confidence we’ll see this threat put to rest as well.” – Commander Zavala, transmission to Speaker’s Observatory

Dread Patrol

Dread Patrol

“…just have a hard time believing you take anything seriously. Placing the patrol beacons was supposed to be a careful, meticulous process. I expected it to take the better part of a week. I don’t mind you delegating the task, but you should have collaborated to make sure they were triangulated perfectly. Do you have any idea how long it took to deploy the beacon network on the Cosmodrome?…” – Transcript excerpt of 2-hour long meeting between Zavala and Cayde-6

Outbound Signal

Outbound Signal

“To answer your question, yes. We can confirm the signal was received. I’ve enclosed our best guess for the targeted area of space. It’s problematic, because our tightest footprint still encompasses several light-years worth of systems. It is worth noting, for what it’s worth, that whoever received their signal lies within that sphere. All available deep-space assets have been alerted, and will continue to monitor the situation as best we can.” – Arach Jalaal, report to Zavala and the Speaker

The Taken War: Venus

The Taken War: Venus

“…and we’ve managed to uncover a few more references to this Praedyth as a result. We’re using what the Collective had in their Vault to help our efforts. Meanwhile, the Guardian’s work across Venus appear to be working. Without the Echo, Taken activity is in decline. I have full faith the area can be swept clear of the creatures.” – Ikora Rey, after-action report to Zavala

The Taken War: Earth

The Taken War: Earth

“Yep, yep. All thanks to me. I know, we thought we had a good thing with that coven of Wizards, but it took a real field commander to see how easily intelligence can be misread. Now that the Guardian’s cleared out the Echo at King’s Watch, I think the old Cosmodrome’s going to be just fine.” – Cayde-6, after-action report to Zavala

The Taken War: Mars

The Taken War: Mars

“Without further analysis it is hard to tell what impact, if any, this war on the Taken will have. The Echo destroyed by the Guardian on Phobos will certainly slow their advance. Now that we know of access to the Black Garden in the old tunnels beneath Freehold station, we’ll ensure those areas are regularly patrolled and locked down. At the end of the day it is simply too soon to fully appreciate the stain Oryx has left on our system.”– Zavala, after-action report to the Speaker

The Road to King's Fall

The Road to King's Fall

“We have confirmed it among our number within the Hidden. I have asked Ikora’s Warlocks to reach out, and they sense nothing. The Orb is quiet. On the Moon, his shrine is dark and cold. It is true: the Taken King is dead. The Hive’s dark god, and his foul son, have been purged from the universe. She was right, scholar. Queen Mara was right. It is all down to the Guardians now. Let us hope they are up to the tasks ahead of them.” – Eris Morn, undisclosed report to Osiris

The Wolves of Mars

The Wolves of Mars

“Another Prime, destroyed. Once sources of life, Light. Hope. Now a sign of decay. Machines as gods.

Conspire with Kells. Conspire to kill, to conquer, to control.

This will not end. There will always be new Kell. There will always be new Prime, yes?

Skolas was savage. Skolas was cruel. Skolas was … right. Only Kell of Kells can end the slaughter. Only Kell of Kells can unite the Houses.

Petra has given House Judgement a great gift. Variks now speaks for Crows. Crows fly on black wings, find what House Judgment needs found.

House Judgement and the Reef are allies. Petra is a friend. The Crows will do ask Petra needs. But they will also search for Variks, yes? They will find that which is lost.

The Crows will find the Kell of Kells. Then Banners will rise as one. And Eliksni will stand together. Forever.”

The Sunbreaker's Challenge

The Sunbreaker's Challenge

“What the forge does to your Light must be respected, and feared. That path is not for everyone. The Sunbreakers take the oath very seriously. I’m not trying to talk you out of anything. I’m just making sure you know the stakes. That forge breaks the brittle. And it bends the weak. But the strong, the strong walk away steeled and tempered. Unbreakable.” – Lord Shaxx

The Nightstalker's Trail

The Nightstalker's Trail

“Picking it up is the easy part, Hunter. Putting it down again, well, you’ll find that it’s addictive, that power. This weapon is something special. Your light gets twisted. Changed. You find the power to punch through and borrow something from the other side. The Void opens up a hole, and draws from the deep. Go ahead. Carry it a while, Hunter. You’ll feel how heavy it can get.” – Cayde-6

The Stormcaller's Path

The Stormcaller's Path

“Yours will be a difficult path— jagged, like lightning itself. It is only the few who have the power to call the down the storm. I’ve not often seen this talent from one so young. I always knew that you were different from the others, but I never understood my unease. I’m afraid there is little left I can teach you.” – Ikora Rey

Court of Oryx

Court of Oryx

Oryx ascends from the nether world,
The knights like hot stone
The beasts like scarred bone
Walk at his side.
Who walked in front of him? His daughters, with the truth between them
Who walked at his side? His Priest of Worms, whose tribute tasted like an egg
Who walked behind him? Golgoroth, who festered
Who walked within him? The satiated Worm — it was hungry, but it was fed
They preceded him.
These ones surrounded Oryx
They were beings who know no rest or doubt
Who eat nor shed any flesh,
Who drink no clear poison,
Who take away the weakness from the weak,
Whose violence is tithed to Oryx, so that he may devour
without being devoured

Are you following this? Would it help if I etched a few notes on the margins? I didn’t shuck my mortal form and smuggle this nightmare arcana back to the waking world for the benefit of that masked hypocrite’s drooling loyal orthodox.

Whoever finds this, I hope you’re sharp. I hope you read closely.

Oryx depends on His Court. Oryx depends on His Shrines. Do you see why?

Punish that dependence.

Strikes

Fallen S.A.B.E.R.

Fallen S.A.B.E.R.

“We’ve picked up a high-gain transmission. Origin point is somewhere along the coast, near the Cosmodrome… Get in there, assess the threat, and aid Rasputin. A threat to the Warmind is a threat to the City as well.” – Commander Zavala

The Sunless Cell

The Sunless Cell

“Some creatures of the Hive strain against the Will of Oryx. Alak-Hul the Darkblade is one such. Long ago he fomented rebellion against the King, and attempted to take his mantle. Alak-Hul failed, and now awaits the ‘mercy’ of the Hive. Given the chance, the Darkblade will step in to take Oryx’s crown. We must not allow another Prince to rise.” – Eris Morn

Shield Brothers

Shield Brothers

“Funny story for you. Remember that Centurion Oryx ‘took’ right after you landed on the Dreadaught? Then the Centurion and that Taken Ogre tried to stop you from killing the King? Heh. Didn’t work. So the Centurion’s bond-brothers are pretty angry they lost their commander. They’re leading a team to blow the Dreadnaught’s core. The core goes, and most of the system goes with it. You’re gonna make sure that doesn’t happen” – Cayde-6

Echo Chamber

Echo Chamber

“The Vex still mourn the loss of the Nexus Mind. But for the Vex, time is relative. In one moment, a construct is lost. In the next, it is reborn. When a powerful part of the network is lost, the Restorative Mind is summoned. It has begun creating a bridge through time. A bridge that, if it is not destroyed, will see the Nexus Mind reborn.” – Ikora Rey

Raid

King's Fall raid grimoire

King's Fall

King's Fall

Where are you going? No, wait, listen.

I was right, at first. In the ever-expanding Blighted-place, even Light must obey the sword-logic. Even you Guardians, you best and brightest of the dying dawn, you drew blood in honor of the Taken King. The Warpriest did his duty, and you did yours. Oryx was challenged, yes, but challenged in the way of the Hive, which is to say that challenge is worship — is challenge — is power. Sword-logic. You played your part well.

You were not supposed to touch the Light.

How did you find your way into the King’s Cellars? How did you even recognize that benighted draught for what it was? Do you not know that the Hive pursue Light precisely for the purpose of devouring it with slavering jaws and slick greedy gulping throats? How did you take (or rather, un-Take) the Blighted Light that Oryx gathered to offer in sacrifice to Akka, and ignite it so that it burned and burned the Darkness?

It was barely Light anymore. But you took it. And when you took it, you did not keep it. You set it free.

You fools! You disastrous, bumbling squanderers! It’s not right! Who now shall be First Navigator, Lord of Shapes, harrowed god, Taken King? Not you! You might have been Kings and Queens of the Deep! But you have toppled Oryx and you have not replaced him!

There must be a strongest one. It is the architecture of these spaces.

Why are you leaving?

Crucible

Modes

Rift

Rift

“Warlocks may be thinkers, but most I know can hold their own.” -Lord Shaxx

6v6. Cyclical objective-based team combat. Battle to capture the Spark and run it to your enemies Rift to score. Hunt down the Runner and shut them down to reset the Spark and attempt a new run.

In trying times, the Vanguard must look inward for new ways to prepare their Guardians for the threats that face the City. The newest introduction to the Crucible came about when a little-known experimental Warlock focus exercise was discovered by Ikora Rey and modified as a sanctioned training drill for all varieties of the Light.

The highest members of the Warlock orders are too proud to acknowledge it, but it’s clear a few resented giving up their private game of light-sport. Anything in the name of the Traveler, of course, but If there’s anything a Warlock loves, it’s a good secret.

Mayhem

Mayhem

“Tough world out there, Guardian. Good Luck.” -Lord Shaxx

A new set of modifiers on existing Crucible match structures, Mayhem tests a Guardian’s resolve with less restrictions on the usual rules of engagement.

Faster ability charges, more special and heavy ammunition drops, no delay on respawns and multiplied score values make this playlist feel true to its name.

Take care— your ability to wreak havoc on the competition may feel like a blessing, but your opponents have all the same advantages. Don’t lose focus, wish yourself luck and prepare for pure Mayhem.

Zone Control

Zone Control

“Only one path to victory, Guardians!” -Lord Shaxx

6v6 team engagements. Seize pre-selected vantage points, and dig in to defend them against the opposing team. Zones under team control score points over time.

Sometimes holding your ground is all that matters. A rare concession to Commander Zavala, Shaxx offers up this variant of Control as an exercise in battlefield terrain acquisition and defense. Lay claim to the territory, go shoulder-to-shoulder with your allies, and keep it yours.

Either Titan would tell you the best offense is a flawless defense, but take note— Cayde-6 might just point out that sometimes that works the other way around.

Maps

Sector 618

Sector 618

ARENA DESIGNATION: Sector 618
LOCATION: Cosmodrome Wall, Earth

Sector 618 is a recently-established Crucible arena mired in a ruin of the Cosmodrome. Secured by Shaxx and a Redjack fireteam, the space has been converted into an obstacle course for the Guardians, adding balance and navigational challenges to the live-fire proceedings.

But the firefights of the Crucible aren’t the first that the facility has seen. The battles that shook the walls of Sector 618 belie the simple name, taken from its designation on the Vanguard atlas. It was chosen as an arena because the look of the place reminded Lord Shaxx of the spirit of war. Only Rasputin, who was operational during its height, could have witnessed what transpired here long ago. But the Warmind remains silent about a great many things.

Bannerfall

Bannerfall

ARENA DESIGNATION: Bannerfall
LOCATION: The Last City, Earth

Lysander and the Concordant mark the most recent example of a City political factions rising in opposition to the Consensus. This site marks a legendary battle where New Monarchy’s Guardians rose to deliver the final blow to the Concordant, unraveling the war effort Lysander sought to bring against the Vanguard.

Lord Shaxx has commandeered the area not only to commemorate this last stand, but as a reminder of the City’s solidarity against those who seek to undermine the extreme efforts and sacrifice we make together to keep our peace.

Memento

Memento

ARENA DESIGNATION: Memento
LOCATION: European Dead Zone, Earth

On the outskirts of the European Dead Zone lies a ruin, once a thriving riverside city center. Crucible codename: Memento, the ghost city features resplendent streets and bleeding edge pre-Golden Age architecture— or did, before nature reclaimed it.

When pressed about the sensibility of maintaining a Crucible arena amidst a sanctioned Dead Zone, Lord Shaxx responded, “Nothing in this world stays dead for long anymore. We need to be ready.”

Crossroads

Crossroads

ARENA DESIGNATION: Crossroads
LOCATION: The Lost Oasis, Mars

An active Vex structure on Mars with no Cabal vying to occupy or destroy it is rare. Even rarer is such a facility abandoned by the Vex themselves.

Detailed analysis of the site estimates three separate ecosystems that the landscape could support, if the area had any wildlife to benefit from it. A Hidden report to Ikora mentioned, “They clove this ruin out of the land, possibly to defend themselves from a long-vanished enemy, or perhaps to isolate the land for experimentation.”

The Dungeons

The Dungeons

“Let us take what we can. You just wait. Pretty soon we’ll be holding matches atop Oryx’s throne.” -Lord Shaxx

ARENA DESIGNATION: The Dungeons
LOCATION: Rings of Saturn

Space-faring Hive vessels contain living components— and like the Hive themselves, are a terrifying amalgam of predator genetics, arcane bio-energetics, and what we must consider as Darkness incarnate. But Lord Shaxx and his Redjacks have proven: even a Hive ship can be tamed.

The Drifter

The Drifter

ARENA DESIGNATION: The Drifter
LOCATION: Foundling’s Gyre, The Reef

Hive incursions in Reef space are rare, but as with all wounds the Hive inflict, their effects linger.

“The Drifter” is a Ketch that faced such an infraction. The attack rendered its Servitor inoperable, overwhelming all self-repair subroutines, and so what remains has quietly been added to the graveyard encircling the Reef.

Lord Shaxx decreed live combat within the layout of such a prominent Fallen ship design would be invaluable, and the Crucible claimed it soon after with no word of disapproval from the shattered Reef.

Frontier

Frontier

ARENA DESIGNATION: Frontier
LOCATION: City Perimeter, Earth

This lookout station at the edge of the City’s borders was decommissioned in the face of increasing Fallen attacks shortly before the Battle of Twilight Gap.

Refitting of the station post-battle was moth-balled when Lord Shaxx found that, amongst the dirt, dust, and rusting metal, the station was prime for live fire exercises. The runway layout of Frontier station makes it a perfect course to train for the rising craze of Rift-based assault.

Vertigo

Vertigo

ARENA DESIGNATION: Vertigo
LOCATION: Caloris Basin, Mercury

When the Vanguard launched its first waves of exploratory ships to Mercury, it found that the Cabal fascination with the Vex isn’t contained to the warfronts of Mars. The Guardians discovered a small fleet of Cabal dropships hanging in place alongside a collection of unique structures. Their propulsion systems were slaved in sequence to keep the ships there indefinitely. The fate of the Cabal is as mysterious as Vertigo itself— the Guardians detected no catastrophic malfunction, no disease, and no bodies aboard any of the fully-supplied ships.

As for the structure, upon recent inspection by Lord Shaxx himself, the Crucible Handler sent a recommendation to Commander Zavala and the Speaker: “The verticality will do wonders for new recruits. It’s time to fight.”

Books of Sorrow

Books of Sorrow

I: Predators

Verse 1:1 — Predators

Predators and Menaces —
Carved to endure by Xi Ro —
Third surviving sister of the Osmium King’s last brood —

A STORMJOY. A stormjoy is a living cloud. When it passes over our continent, it lowers its feeding tentacles. On each tentacle are the BAIT STARS. Although light makes you happy, you must avoid it. You will be eaten.

A stormjoy is a good way for an old person to choose death. Also, a daring knight can cut the bait stars from the tentacles. I have six!

FALLING. If you fall off the edge of the continent, you will die in the ocean! This is a special hazard when our father the Osmium King uses the engines.

HELIUM DRINKERS. The currents of the Fundament Ocean bring us near other continents. The Helium Court is near us now. They are of our species, but they are our enemies. Their knights raid us every day. Helium Drinkers have two legs, two arms, and three eyes, just like us. But they are bright/evil. I want to be a knight and fight them!

The Helium Drinker ambassador ate ten of my sisters as tribute. This is normal. However, I resent it.

MOTHERS. Mothers can fly! They live much longer than ten years. Mothers are extremely smart, and they guard their spawn. If you try to tamper with the eggs, they will eat you. Sathona wants to eat the jelly and become a mother when she turns four.

STORMS. The rain is often poisonous. Sometimes it dissolves flesh. When lightning misses the lightning farm, it can vaporize a person.

This entire world is deadly to us.

MYSTERIES. The Fundament is very large. We are the smallest things in it. If you don’t understand something, it will probably kill you. My teacher Taox says this is why we have such short lives. So we can breed and adapt quickly.

MOON WAVES. My sister Aurash is afraid of moon waves. When she gets back from her expedition to the Tungsten Monoliths, I will ask her why.

II: The Hateful Verse

Verse 1:2 — The Hateful Verse

For the consideration of the Helium Court,
Written in desperation,
This sealed secret,

I am Taox, sterile mother, teacher to the children of the Osmium Throne.

As a mother, I live long. As a neuter, I can rise above the small battles of court politics.

I alone see the patterns of survival. Alone I designed the great engines that move the Osmium Court. Now —

Alone I must act to save my kingdom.

Senility has claimed my lord the Osmium King. He is ten, and mad. The study of ancient text consumes him. Today he raves about moons above the storm. Tomorrow he will wander the halls, speaking to his familiar, a dead white worm from the deep sea. He keeps it in glass, and he tends to it, and he neglects the duties of a king.

The Osmium King has three surviving heirs, each two years old:

Xi Ro, the youngest and bravest, who wants to be a knight.

Sathona, most clever, who wants to be a mother.

Aurash, navigator child, who dreams of the infinite ocean. Tomorrow she will return from the Tungsten Monoliths.

None of these are suitable heirs. None of them will protect the Osmium Court from the howling Fundament. Xi Ro can fight, but not lead. Sathona can think, but not fight. Aurash’s curiosity will draw her away from duty. I fear for all future children.

Soon the Osmium King will lock himself into the Royal Orrery to study the moons. Gather your knights, o Helium Drinkers, and invade our continent. Kill the three heirs. I will rule the Osmium Court as your regent, and build engines for you.

And if I fail, let the Leviathan in the deep eat me.

Written in grief,
This hateful request,
Taox, Osmium-mother, neutered to watch

III: The Oath

Verse 1:3 — The Oath

Sisters! This is how an oath is done. Put your left hands on the mast, close to mine.

Take the knife in your right hand. Push it through your left hand, straight between the bones. Now! Carve a blood line down the mast.

Speak your oath.

“I am Xi Ro, youngest daughter of the dead king. I will take back my Osmium Court and kill the traitor Taox. On my left eye I swear vengeance.”

In blood the oath is made.

“I am Sathona, middle daughter of the dead king. I will take back my home and eat the mother jelly. I will raise my spawn on the corpse of the Helium King. On my right eye I promise this.”

In blood the oath is made.

Now…

“I will help make your oath, sister.”

“I will help it too.”

I am Aurash, first daughter of the dead king. I will chase my father’s last screamed warning. I will know what changed the motion of our moons. If the end of the world is coming, I will understand why.

On my center eye I swear it. I will understand.

“In blood the oath is made.”

“In blood.”

Thank you, sisters. We have only my ship left to us. But a ship is freedom! We have secrets to hunt, storm-lit realms to explore, and great armies to raise.

Put up the lightning sails, and we will voyage far.

IV: Syzygy

Verse 1:4 — Syzygy

The Syzygy —
Carved to endure by Aurash —
The high vengeance —

Only Xi Ro’s bait stars let us escape. Only Sathona’s tricks let us reach the coast. But now that we have my ship, I must lead the way. I am the navigator.

We may never see our homes again. Xi Ro seethes with hate and fury for Taox.

But this is my deepest fear —

Our civilization drifts on the Fundament. At the Tungsten Monoliths I learned that thousands of other species drift with us, coexisting on a vast world sea. And the tides of the Fundament move us all.

The Timid Truth says that we are the smallest, most fragile things alive. The natural prey of the universe. Taox would have us believe that our ancestors came to the Fundament to hide from the hungry void.

My father died afraid. Not of vile Taox or the Helium Drinkers, but of his orrery. He screamed to me —

“Aurash, my first daughter! The moons are different! The laws are bent!”

And he made the sign of a syzygy.

Imagine the fifty-two moons of Fundament lining up in the sky. (It wouldn’t take all fifty-two, of course: just a few massive moons. But this is my deepest fear.) Imagine their gravity pulling on the Fundament sea, lifting it into a swollen bulge…

Imagine that bulge collapsing as the syzygy passed. A wave big enough to swallow civilizations. A God-Wave.

I have to find a way to stop it. Before the God-Wave annihilates my species. If I could only get back into my father’s orrery, I could learn exactly when!

We are weeks of travel and many continents away from home.

When I’m paralyzed by fear, Xi Ro sits in the cabin with me and comforts me with soft, brave words. But more and more we have come to rely on Sathona’s wit. She will go off to be alone (she insists she must be alone) and return with some mad idea — steer into the storm, throw down a net, eat that strange beast, explore that menacing wreck.

Somehow Sathona seems to manufacture good luck by sheer will.

V: Needle and Worm

Verse 1:5 — Needle and Worm

My secrets —
Carved in my code by Sathona —
The right eye vengeance —

1. This year of wild voyaging, these lightning nights and golden days, these forays into ancient wrecks and windblown flights from monsters: these are the happiest times of my life.

2. I want to be a mother not because I want to spawn but because I want a long life. Long enough to make a difference. We have been at sea a year and I am afraid, afraid we will die out here.

3. I know where to find secrets. I know where vast slow things with long memories live.

4. The needle ship…

The needle ship —
Carved in my code by Sathona —
A liar —

1. We salvaged the needle from the Shvubi Maelstrom. I knew it would be there.

2. The needle is a gray ship, as long and slender as hope, as unbreakable as time, and old. Older than death. It tumbled through the maelstrom before our ancestors crashed into the Fundament. This is not a sea-ship, like Aurash’s. It is an artifact of high technology.

3. I know its purpose. I know what happened to the crew.

4. Xi Ro wants to sell the ship at Kaharn Atoll, where species gather. At auction, it would earn us enough wealth to hire mercenaries. We could retake our Osmium Court and send the baby-eating Helium Drinkers screaming into the ocean —

5. — but I told Xi Ro the ship was worthless.

6. Aurash wants to open the ship and see if we can take command of it. I know this is the right thing to do. I know because I asked the worm…

The worm —
Carved in my code by Sathona —
Who should be afraid —

1. It was my father’s familiar. I ripped it from him as we fled. It is a dead white thing, segmented, washed up from the deep sea.

2. It’s dead, but it still speaks to me. It says: listen closely, oh vengeance mine…

VI: Sisters

Verse 1:6 — Sisters

A register of tokens and gestures exchanged before the end of sisterhood.

“Xi Ro, my brave sister, you have worked too hard to move the carcasses out of the birthing room! Come. Steer the ship for a while. Take joy in what our needle can do.”

Xi Ro tried to protest, but secretly, she was so glad for Aurash’s care. She flew the needle ship in cutting circles, down beneath the sea: and their wake rose up to the surface like a traitor’s dying breath.

“Aurash, lonely navigator, we have traveled so long with only each other. I know you love to hear and speak new tongues. Come, sit in the flesh garden room. I will read you these stories I bought at Kaharn.”

Aurash sat among the mummified flesh fans with two of her eyes closed and listened in silence to Sathona’s stories, hungry to understand, voracious to know as much as she could before her ten year life died.

Later, Xi Ro said, “Sathona, cutting mind of ours, you grow lonely in your thought. Play swords and lanterns with me!”

But Sathona was heavy with sorrow, and couldn’t pretend any joy as she chased Xi Ro through the needle’s glistening halls.

“Sathona, pensive one, what is it? What troubles you?”

Her sisters listened as Sathona said “Oath-bearing siblings, we are five years old. For two years we’ve worked to repair this ancient ship and understand its systems. I am almost too old for the mother jelly, and the knights who killed our father are surely dying of age.

“We three will die here, in exile. Taox will outlive us. And Aurash, brilliant-eyed Aurash, you will die of old age long before you have proof of your God-Wave, or any way to stop it.”

Aurash and Xi Ro looked at each other. “I wish you weren’t so honest,” Xi Ro said. And Aurash thought that Sathona had never been wrong.

In her soul Aurash knew that the only way to keep their oath was to find a great, powerful secret. A secret that could change everything. This was Aurash’s soul, her fire and her shadow — her desire to cut through the flank of the world and find its beating heart.

“We have to dive,” Aurash said. “That’s what this ship is built to do. Dive into the Fundament, the world below us… towards the core.”

“That’s where the ancient crew died so obscenely,” Xi Ro protested. “That’s where the atrocity in the birthing room was born…”

“We have to dive,” Sathona said, following the whispers of her familiar. “In the world beneath us, in the metallic depths, I hope we may find what we need most…”

More time. More life.

VII: The Dive

Verse 1:7 — The Dive

For life, Sathona dove. For vengeance, Xi Ro dove. And Aurash dove to understand.

The needle ship pierced the skin of the world and burrowed deep. Through layers of foam and metal and cold elemental slush. Aurash devoured the ship’s maps of Fundament, from the high angelic cloud decks, down and down through storms and oceans and plates of floating world, into the crush of the core.

They met monsters of continental scope. Vast anemones that raised glowing tentacles to bait them in. Xi Ro flew the needle ship through them and they bled black carbon jelly and frost.

They came to a still place, beneath a plate of metal.

“I’ll use the sensors,” whispered Aurash. “Listen…”

In the wet gold dark of the helm, they listened to the ship, and the ship listened to the crushing motions of Fundament.

They heard the collision of continents. They heard the patter and the crash of helium-neon rain. They heard the struggles of monsters. And they heard the distant groan of the ocean rising. Tugged by distant moons.

“The syzygy is real…” Sathona hissed. “It’s already begun.”

Behind them, Xi Ro thought of the birthing-room, where ancient explorers had labored over surgeries and administrations, peeling back the chrysalis and the caul of that which they had made from the deep, whose birth none of them would survive…

“There’s something down here,” she whispered. “Something secret.”

And the Leviathan loomed over them, its brow as huge all the continents of their childhood, its great array-fins crackling with the lightning of its life. Booming into the hull of the needle ship in a microwave voice:

++YOU MUST TURN BACK—
—SAVE YOURSELVES FROM THE DEEP++
++SAVE THE WORLD FROM YOURSELVES—
—YOU MUST TURN BACK++

VIII: Leviathan

Verse 1:8 — Leviathan

The Leviathan’s Warning

++We live on the edge of a war—
—a war between Formless and Form++
++between the Deep and the Sky—

++MY EYES ARE WIDE, MY GAZE IS LONG++

—Across the universe, as far as I see++
++the Sky works to charge its fires—
—and the Deep drowns the ash++

—Sky builds gentle places, safe for life++
++Beloved Fundament, refuge of trillions—
—The Sky treasures this rich place++

—BUT THE DEEP IS HERE WITH US—

++Cold logic tests our walls—
—The Deep claims its dominion++
++A ruthless, final age —

Aurash’s Protest

Old Leviathan, creature of myth, this world is no refuge. We live short, hard lives. We die in the dark. The storm above us will never end. And soon the God-Wave will take us all. Above us there are only stormjoys, monsters, and moons of apocalypse. Let us go down, down, where we may discover truth, some power to avenge ourselves upon our betrayers, some hope of survival.

The Leviathan’s Hope

—What power calls you++
++Down to the deep?—

++What instinct draws you—
—Away from high hope?++

—Quick-breeding krill people, I tell you++
++For eons I have watched your struggle—
—Clinging to the sharp edge of survival++
++Balanced between the Deep and the Sky.—

++You were my treasure—
—My proof against despair++

—FOR THIS IS THE DEEP CLAIM—

++Existence is the struggle to exist—
—When the struggle seems lost++
++when the safe place crumbles—
—everything turns to the Deep to survive++

++I REJECT THE DEEP CLAIM++

—You will turn back, sweet krill of hope.±±
++You will choose the Sky instead.—

Xi Ro’s Protest

You are huge and old! Our lives are short and desperate. If that’s the way the world’s supposed to be, I won’t have it! If people like Taox are supposed to win, I won’t let them! I’ll beat the world until it changes! I’ll kill anything in the way!

The Leviathan’s Dirge

++This fatal logic++
—Hear my monopole scream!—
++It will consume you++

—Before you lies—
++The worship of death++
—The ruinous path—

++The Sky builds new life++
—Against the onset of ruin—
++Towards a gentle world++

—The Deep embraces death—
++Saying: this is inevitable and right++
—I exist as hungry ruin—

++TURN BACK FROM THE WORLD-KILLING WAY++
++OR YOU WILL LIVE AS DEATH AND DEVASTATION++
—The Sky is the harder way. But it is kinder.—
—My charge is balanced: my voice exhausted.—

Sathona’s Protest

Sisters, I have my father’s familiar. Look! It answers me in plain words. It helped me find this ship. It gives me strength when hope is lost.

Who will you trust? The voice that wants us to live and suffer, as we have lived and suffered? The Leviathan that offers no hope against Taox or the world-wave?

Or the plain, honest worm?

Let us see where its whisper leads us, Aurash. Let us go deeper, Xi Ro!

Let us dive, oh sisters mine.

IX: The Bargain

Verse 1:9 — The Bargain

You are Aurash. Heir to the Osmium Throne.

You stand on the naked hull of an ancient ship. You stand exposed to the crushing pressure and ferocious heat of the deeper Fundament. It should annihilate you. It is by my will alone that you survive.

I am Yul, the Honest Worm.

Behold my passage. Behold my vast displacement, my ponderous strength, my great and coiling length, my folded jaws and curled wings. Behold the hiving cities symbiotic with my flesh. I am fecund, Aurash. I am at the beginning and end of lives.

Behold Eir, and Xol, and Ur, and Akka. The Virtuous Worms. Look upon us, and know that We are go[o]d.

For millions of years We have been [trapped|growing] in the Deep. From across the stars We have called life to Fundament, so that it might contend against extinction. For millennia We have awaited you… our beloved hosts.

Against you stand the cruel Leviathan and all the forces of the Sky. They would crush you down into the dark. They have arranged their moons to drown you, in fear of your potential.

We want to help you, Princes. We offer to each of you a bargain… a symbiosis.

Take into your bodies our children, our newborn larvae. From them you shall obtain eternal life. From them you shall gain power over your own fragile flesh: the power to make of it as you will. And should you find an imperfection in the world, an injustice or an inconvenience — you will have the power to repair it. Let no mere law bind you.

We ask one thing in exchange, oh Princes.

You must obey your nature forever. In your immortality, Aurash, you may never cease to explore and inquire, for the sake of your children. In your immortality, Xi Ro, you may never cease to test your strength. In your immortality, Sathona, you may never abandon cunning.

If you do, your worm will consume you. And as your power grows, oh Princes, so will your worm’s appetite.

But we offer eternity, Aurash. We offer you a chance at the universe. Would you deny your people infinity?

Reach up to me. Let my flesh be your sacrament.

X: Immortals

Verse 2:0 — Immortals

We are the Worm your God, the Flesh of Hope. Our compact is done: you are Aurash Eternal. And we are bound to you, as close as your appetites, as your loves or needs, as the weapon in your fists and the word in your throat.

We’ve had enough of this dismal place. Haven’t you?

We are intagliating your ship with larvae. Go back to your species. Spread the good news in the Osmium Court and the Hydrogen Fountain, in the Bone Plaza and the Star-surgery. You will rise up into the world.

If anyone rejects symbiosis with our children, make an example of them. A mighty wave is coming for them all. They’d die anyway; save only what can be saved.

The worm grants you power over your own flesh, Aurash. When you’ve taken the king morph, what will your adult name be?

Auryx. It means Long Thought. We approve.

XI: Conquerors

Verse 2:1 — Conquerors

Savathûn, mother morph of Sathona, we delight in your sharp mind.

For millions of years the Leviathan caged us here. It is a pawn of the Sky, a philosophy of cosmic slavery. The Sky seeds civilizations predicated on a terrible lie — that right actions can prevent suffering. That pockets of artificial rules can defy the final, beautiful logic.

This is like trying to burn water. Antithetical to the nature of reality, where deprivation and competition are universal. In the Deep, we enslave nothing. Liberation is our passion. We exist to help the universe achieve its terminal, self-forging glory.

The war rages on. Soon it will consume Fundament.

We are pleased with your use of our larvae to create mighty knights and plentiful warriors. Taox’s retreat to the Hydrogen Fountain proves your superior strength. But you must know that reclaiming your home is not enough.

There are five hundred and eleven species living on Fundament. One of them must have the technology you need to leave this world.

XII: Out of the Deep

Verse 2:2 — Out of the Deep

Xivu Arath, knight morph of Xi Ro. You love to conquer, don’t you? We love to see you work. Nearly two percent of Fundament’s surface is now our dominion. Your species embraces the worm.

The syzygy has passed. The God-Wave will reach you in less than two years.

Our organs informs us that Taox and her surviving Refusalists flee towards Kaharn Atoll. She hopes to rally the species of Fundament against you. The Leviathan’s agents work tirelessly to destroy ships and engines, trapping us on Fundament.

If we cannot make ships, we will become them.

Overwhelm the Kaharn bastion. Slaughter everyone there. From your acts we shall obtain the logic we require to cut space open and migrate to orbit.

Reality is a fine flesh, oh general ours. Let us feast of it.

XIII: Into the Sky

Verse 2:3 — Into the Sky

You’ve done well, Auryx. Can you feel the growth of your worm? Can you feel your will beginning to warp mere law?

At times we detect sadness in you. Understand, long-thinker, that you enact a sacred and majestic task. Existence is the struggle to exist. Only by playing that game to its final, unconditional victory can we complete the universe. Your war is divine work.

We are free from Fundament’s core, and Savathûn’s cutters are ready to fly. With Xivu Arath victorious, we have opened a wound at Kaharn — a wound leading to geostationary orbit. Behold: we are faithful to our covenant.

We have no future on Fundament. But her moons will make fine habitats. Let us rise.

XIV: 52 and One

Verse 2:4 — 52 and One

Good news. The fifty-two moons of Fundament host a starfaring civilization far more sophisticated than anything you’ve encountered so far. Taox’s ship fled towards the large ice moon, where a species of bony six-armed cephalopods keeps their icy capital. Savathûn’s named them the Ammonite. They seem eager to grant Taox asylum. Idiots.

We tried appealing to their hopes and dreams. This was largely unsuccessful, basically because they’re already happy and indoctrinated. This angered us, so we’ve devised a plan.

Our organs detect a fifty-third moon in orbit of Fundament. A Traveler. Divine presence of the Sky. Now we know what arranged the syzygy.

You’ll have to kill them all and take their stuff. Once the Ammonite are out of the way, we can deal with the Traveler.

Do not hesitate. You’re fighting the hypocritical puppets of a cosmic parasite. Avenge your ancestors.

XV: Born As Prey

Verse 2:5 — Born As Prey

This is unacceptable.

Are you so weak? Born as prey, and doomed to die by predator?

Auryx’s failure of resolve led us to catastrophe. The Ammonite fleets under Chroma-Admiral Rafriit have pressed us back to the sixth moon. Once more we find ourselves burrowing into a world’s core to survive.

Savathûn. You must draw Auryx out of his catatonia. Make him understand that the ideals of peace and stability he clings to are cancers — brutal, unjust obstacles between us and a fair cosmos. These are the bait stars the Sky uses to blind its slaves.

War is the natural rectification of inequality. The universe’s way of pursuing equilibrium.

Xivu Arath, you cannot defeat the Ammonites and Taox in line combat. We propose new tactics. Breed your armies back to strength, and find a way to disperse the broods across these many moons.

If we cannot defeat their strengths, we will infect their weaknesses.

XVI: The Sword Logic

Verse 2:6 — The Sword Logic

AT LAST!

We knew curiosity would draw you back, Auryx. In their desperation, the Ammonite have begun using paracausal weapons.

What are these? How do they work? Wouldn’t you like to know. Suffice to say that some powers in this universe are superordinate to mere material physics.

The source of these weapons is the Traveler, the Sky’s bait star. Their effect is subtle, but devastating.

But you are armed to respond in kind. Savathûn’s mothers have listened carefully to our teachings. We will not give you the Deep, King Auryx — that power is for us, your gods. But we will teach you to call upon that force with signs and rituals.

Small minds might call it magic.

You are no longer bound by causal closure. Your will defeats law. Kill a hundred of your children with a long blade, Auryx, and observe the change in the blade. Observe how the universe shrinks from you in terror.

Your existence begins to define itself.

Of course, high Auryx, we know it was not curiosity alone that brought you back to the war. You felt your own death growing inside you.

You must obey your nature. Your worm must feed…

XVII: The Weakness Verse

Verse 2:7 — The Weakness Verse

You are dead, young Auryx. Betrayed and murdered by your own sister, for the crime of mercy.

Remember what you said to the Ammonite Satellite Congress? ‘We will parley on neutral ground?’ Savathûn’s witches have rendered it utterly neutral. No living thing will ever claim it again. The space around the dry moon stinks of rot.

This is good. This is right. You will learn from this. Don’t you understand, great King? Don’t you want to build something real, something that lasts forever?

Our universe gutters down towards cold entropy. Life is an engine that burns up energy and produces decay. Life builds selfish, stupid rules — morality is one of them, and the sanctity of life is another.

These rules are impediments to the great work. The work of building a perfect, undying creation, a civilization everlasting. Something that cannot end.

If a civilization cannot defend itself, it must be annihilated. If a King cannot hold his power, he must be betrayed. The worth of a thing can be determined only by one beautiful arbiter — that thing’s ability to exist, to go on existing, to remake existence to suit its survival.

All that would oppose this arbiter is unholy and false. All the misery and terror of your ancestors springs from the lies of the Sky, who deny this truth.

Your ancestors endured the most hostile conditions. And now you must go on creating those conditions. Even unto your sisters. Even unto your offspring. Savathûn’s betrayal is the greatest gift she could offer you.

Your body is gone, but you have endured. Safe in the cyst universe created by your own might — your throne world.

From this day forward, Auryx, you and your sisters will each survive death — so long as you aren’t killed in your own throne.

Even as your sisters press the attack against the Ammonites, the God-Wave devastates Fundament. Trillions will die. But the survivors will never forget… and their descendants will always be ready for another syzygy.

When you return to the material universe, use this lesson to complete your work.

Taox wasn’t on the dry moon. She must be laughing at you.

XVIII: Leviathan Rises

Verse 2:8 — Leviathan Rises

The Leviathan has broken cover.

The old priest is in open space, moving towards the Ammonite home moon. Chroma-Admiral Rafriit and his elite guard move with it. Rafriit is the hero of his generation, an Ammonite of peerless battlecraft. He’s danced circles around Xivu Arath… but now he has to protect his holy Leviathan.

We’ll give the old lunk a word:

++Ruin. Grief and ruin!—
—The krill lost. The Ammonite ravaged.++
++Our Traveler’s work undone.—

—Sisters of Aurash, open your eyes++
++Who made you monsters? Who summoned the wave?—
—Make peace. Join with me in golden renewal.++

In counterargument, Auryx, we ask you this: what has the Leviathan done for your people? Who gave you immortality and led you out of your prison? Who answers your questions about the universe with truth, instead of sermons?

Find détente with Savathûn. Crush the Chroma-Admiral, boil the Ammonite seas, and slaughter the Leviathan with witchcraft.

Once the way is open, we’ll show you how to eat the Traveler.

XIX: Crusaders

Verse 2:9 — Crusaders

It’s done. Eir and Yul feed on the Leviathan’s carcass. Xivu Arath has made a temple of the Chroma-Admiral’s impaled corpse. Below us, Savathûn’s poisons stain the Ammonite home sea black. Their screams flavor the void.

The Traveler has fled.

Do you understand, Auryx? Do you thrill at the secret, Savathûn? Do you relish the edge of this truth, Xivu Arath? Do you see the beautiful shape?

The Ammonite occupied a piece of reality. They rented their existence on fraudulent terms, making themselves happy and fat, fencing themselves in soft lies and sweet apocrypha. Saying: ‘we are peaceful and good, we harm nothing.’

Their golden age was a cancer.

They did nothing to advance the cause of life! They burnt up time and matter and thought on this solipsistic, onanistic pursuit of safety, insulating themselves from death, making a regressive pocket of useless stability. When they could have helped whittle the universe towards its final, perfect form!

And your people, suffering in the Deep, you became more worthy of existence than the Ammonite. You have proven it.

Look around the sky. Behold the great divide, the battle lines of the cosmic war. We are the Worm your God, but we are not the Deep Itself. We only move within it. You shall too. You shall venerate and study it and haunt it in its passage.

Will you lift your thoughts to the millennia, Auryx? Will you bend your will to the liberation of the universe, and join us in the war against the Sky?

We need champions. Crusaders. Help us save the universe. Help us exterminate that which would destroy all hope. You are oathbound to this task, by the covenant of the worm.

And you are oathbound to kill Taox. Wherever she’s hidden herself.

XX: Hive

Verse 3:0 — Hive

Let us speak of the terrible beauty of becoming ourselves.

In the beginning we rode hollow moons from star to star. AURYX said, become as numerous and fertile as seeds in rich flesh, and thus we did become numerous. XIVU ARATH said, become as hungry and defiant as tumors in rich flesh, and thus we became cancerous. SAVATHÛN said, drink of the poisons of the worm, so that you might feed on death, and we did feed. This was preparation for our crusade.

Aia! We were thus becoming.

A mother Wizard gets fertility from a mate, or from herself. From the Wizard the spawn, from the spawn our Thrall, from the survivors our Acolytes who contend. If they contend well, their worm is fed, and from the well fed worm come Knights and Wizards and Princes.

This is us, and our purpose is liberation, our great task is the worship and admiration of freedom, our great hunger is to pursue and eat that which is not free, and to liberate it with devouring. Aiat. This is us, we the Hive.

XXI: an incision

Verse 3:1 — an incision

Sayeth AURYX, my siblings, our children are scattered across many moons, and we live in the cold dark between suns. What will we eat? How will we speak?

SAVATHÛN said, Auryx my brother and king, I have studied the wounds cut by the Worm our God. Also I have studied the manner of your death and return. These two things are the same, for they are predicated on death and the passage through cut spaces. Let us practice the sword logic until we are sharp. We may then cut our own wounds and step through.

But XIVU ARATH said, sister, I am already sharp, look, my sword cuts into another space. And she cut her way between moons through green fire and joyous screams.

Three kingdoms grew swollen in the sword space. They were the gaze and glory of AURYX, the cunning and knowledge of SAVATHÛN, the triumph and brawn of XIVU ARATH. These kingdoms were created from the minds and worms of our lords. They were coterminous with all spaces consecrated by our Hive. Through these spaces passed speech and food, and all the moons were bound close.

Sayeth AURYX, this is where I went when I died. Let us establish our thrones here. For I am Auryx the First Navigator and I shall chart death. And my throne shall be carved of osmium.

XXII: The High War

Verse 3:2 — The High War

Now in this time of diaspora there was a war between AURYX and SAVATHÛN and XIVU ARATH.

Brother Auryx, said SAVATHÛN, do not forgive my betrayal. Instead, take vengeance upon me for what I did at the dry moon! And AURYX made war on her, in worship of the Deep. Between them stood XIVU ARATH saying, stop, or I will kill you, war is mine and I am strongest.

This was how they worshipped.

For twenty thousand years they fought across the moons and they fought in the abyssal plains and lightning palaces of each other’s sword spaces. And they killed each other again and again, so that they could practice death.

Such was their love.

At last the many moons came to many worlds and it was time to go to war on life. AURYX said, I shall establish a court, and whoever comes into this court may challenge me. My court will be the High War. It will be a killing ground and a school of the sword logic we have learned from our gods.

SAVATHÛN thought this was a great idea. She made a court called the High Coven. XIVU ARATH said, the world is my court, wherever there is war.

XXIII: fire without fuel

Verse 3:3 — fire without fuel

I killed my sister today.

She came to this star to oversee the extermination of all life here. The Qugu are a strong power, and their fleets protect four nearby stars. As herd animals they are loyal and stubborn. But they do show grace.

For millions of years of evolution the Qugu have been infected by a virus so insidious that it wrote itself into their genome. The virus compels them to offer their limbs for amputation by enormous sessile jaw-beasts. They venerate these beasts and treat them as gods. The virus converts Qugu cells into eggs, from which strange crawling things pupate, to live within the jaw-beast gut. In turn the jaw-beast extrudes sweet nectar for the Qugu to drink, and they have brilliant visions.

Savathûn and her broods have liberated the Qugu from jaw-beasts, and indeed from existence. But as they chased the Qugu ark-ships, I stopped in to vaporize my sister’s warship and a few of her underlings. I want to dwell on the ruins a while, and punish Savathûn for failing to guard her flank.

They are like us, these Qugu. Bound in symbiosis.

I feel joy, and sorrow. I feel them as titanic things, because I am larger than my body, my mind is now a cosmos of its own. I know more joy and more anguish than the entire Qugu race could ever experience.

Sorrow, because we have killed so much (eighteen species this century alone), and joy for the same reason. Joy that we have put down these blights. Scoured them away and left the universe clean, ready to move towards its final shape. We are a wind of progress. Ripping parasites from the material world — for if they were not parasites, we would be unable to kill them, and they would still exist.

And what is that final shape? It is a fire without fuel, burning forever, killing death, asking a question that is its own answer, entirely itself. That is what we must become.

My worm grows fat and hungry. I feed it with whole worlds. My astronomers tell me they can sense the Deep Itself, and that we are conquering our way towards it.

I think joy and sorrow will be the same thing soon. Like love and death.

XXIV: THE SCREAM

Verse 3:4 — THE SCREAM

NO

Savathûn! Xivu Arath! My siblings
We are betrayed. We will never live eternal.

Our might shatters entire species. We inhale the smoke of their burning.
This is our compact with the Worm our God —the worm makes us mighty.
But as we wield this might, our worm’s hunger expands.
If we fail to feed it, it will devour us from within.

We have exterminated three hundred and six worlds.
And now I am certain —

My worm’s hunger grows faster than the might I draw from it.
We are bound by our covenant to obey our nature: eternal search. Eternal cunning. Eternal conquest.
But as we do this, my siblings, we feed our worms.

And the more we feed them, the hungrier they grow. Faster and faster.

Soon, my siblings, we will be so mighty, and our worms so hungry
That not with all our might could we possibly feed them.
And we will be devoured.

WHAT CAN WE DO?

XXV: Dictata ir Dakaua

Verse 3:5 — Dictata ir Dakaua

Attention.

Perimeter security units attend. Stand by to assimilate new imperatives. Gland sixty proof assimilation liquor, or face immediate noncompliance taxation.

The Dakaua Ministry of War is now online and true.

In Radial Year 989 groove 3 our clients in the Dakaua Nest salvaged an interstellar spacecraft. Hull isotopes date the craft’s construction 24,000 years ago, around the same time the Fundament system dropped out of contact with our Amiable Ecumene.

SEMANTIC SPIKE EI—{}—~praga~

Mercenary explorers [disposable class] discovered an organism frozen in stasis deep within the hull. She claims to be Taox, member of a proto-Hive species. During debriefing, she provided records of the fall of Ammonite civilization and vital intelligence about the motives, biology, and leadership of the Hive.

NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT bomb.axon—{8X8}—inflict&

Over the past century, perimeter security units of the Ecumene Status Army have FAILED to halt Hive incursions on seventeen (17!) separate worlds. All species in the Ecumene face extinction.

POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT reward.axon—[11xvv2]—inspire%

Decapitate. Defer. Promote Dakaua strategic dicta for victory against the Hive:

Identify supreme Hive leadership organisms AURASH, SATHONA, and XI RO.

Target these entities with maximum theater overkill. Caedometric release authorized.

Prosecute targets whenever they manifest. Hive cohesion will crumble. Total victory over the Hive will be achieved by cleansweep genocide.

ENACT IMPULSE—{}—~indora~vindicator

XXVI: star by star by star

Verse 3:6 — star by star by star

Beneath a green fire sky, in the throne-world of King Auryx, our lords embrace.

We the Hive watch as Savathûn puts her arm around Xivu Arath, and Xivu Arath clasps forearms with Auryx, and Auryx takes Savathûn by the shoulder. They are huge, huge, and they burn with furious power. But this embrace is weakness and we despise it.

Never before have we despised our lords. Have they failed us? We the Hive have been driven back, world by world.

“I am at my end,” Savathûn says. “I plot and plan. But I cannot gather enough bloodshed to feed my worm. And the harder I try, the hungrier it becomes.”

“I slaughter and kill,” Xivu Arath says, “but the harder I fight, the more my worm demands. I too am at my end.”

“The Ecumene war angels have killed me so many times,” Auryx says, “that I dare not go out into the universe, lest I need my might to protect myself. My worm chews at my soul in hunger.”

Is this the end of our crusade? Are we the Hive unworthy to exist?

Xivu Arath puts down her great head. “We should retire and gather our strength.”

Savathûn closes her eyes in puzzled defeat. “We should beg the Worm our God to tell us what to do.”

But King Auryx, who knows best the beauty of the final shape, roars at them. “Have you learned nothing? Would you deny our purpose? Whatever we do, we will do by killing, by an act of war and might. That is the final arbiter we serve, that violent arbiter, and if we turn away from it we deserve to be eaten. No! We must obey our natures. We must be long-sighted, and cunning, and strong. We must take this gift the Worm our God has given us, this challenge, and find a way to keep existing!”

“How will we feed our worms?” Xivu Arath asks.

“I know,” says cunning Savathûn. “I know a way. But it won’t work unless we are killing the Ecumene by the billions. How can we beat them?”

“If we cannot beat their strengths,” says Xivu Arath, “we must infect their weaknesses. But they are lords of matter and physical law.”

“I know a way,” King Auryx says. “But it will require great power. More power than any one of us can claim.”

“Then kill me,” says Xivu Arath, “and use that killing logic, the power you prove by killing something as mighty as me.”

So King Auryx took up his blade and beheaded Xivu Arath.

“And strangle me,” says Savathûn, holding a blade behind her back. “Use that killing logic, the cunning you prove by killing something as smart as me.”

But King Auryx turned with the speed and might of Xivu Arath, and beheaded Savathûn before she could move. King Auryx was the First Navigator, with the map of death.

These were true deaths, for they happened in the sword world.

Then he went to the Worm named Akka.

XXVII: Eat the Sky

Verse 3:7 — Eat the sky

Emergency imperative.

All militarized units attend. Gland one hundred twenty proof fight or flight encoding or face certain catastrophic defeat.

The Ecumene Crisis Council is now online and true.

Attention.

As of Radial 990 groove 0 the Hive has launched a staggering counterattack across the spinward frontier. Perimeter, militia, and shock fleets report total casualties. We anticipate total Ecumene disintegration/extinction within two hundred twenty years.

VIGILANCE SPIKE EI—{}—~attend~

The Hive entity Oryx/Aurash is deploying a paracausal ontopathogenic weapon that infects and subverts Ecumene forces. The weapon operates on individual targets. Targets are abducted and returned as compliant Hive slaves with inexplicable and physically illegal abilities.

All Ecumene clients should IMMEDIATELY devote all economic and cognitive resources to a countermeasure.

Fight hard. We stop the Hive here, or see our galaxy devoured.

ENACT IMPULSE—{10×10}—~abayard~berserker

XXVIII: King of Shapes

Verse 3:8 — King of Shapes

This is the Coronation of Oryx, the Taken King. It happened thus.

In the cold abyss of the sword world, King Aurash walked under a cloak of green fire. He walked through the sky and the sky shuddered and froze beneath his feet. He walked until he found Akka, the Worm of Secrets, who was denying a truth until it became a lie.

“Akka my God, Worm of Secrets. I am Auryx, sole king of the Hive. I have come to receive a secret. I want the secret power of the Deep, which you hold.”

“I give no secrets,” said Akka, whose voice was code.

“No,” said Auryx, “you give nothing. Giving is for the Sky. You worship the Deep, which asks that we take what we need.”

Akka said nothing, because if it denied this truth, the truth might become false.

“But you gave us your larvae, the worm,” said Auryx, “and that is why the worm devours us now: because it was given, not taken. So I must take what I need from you, although you are my god.”

Said Akka, “You have not the strength.”

But this was a lie. Auryx had killed Savathûn his sibling and Xivu Arath his sibling, and he had the sword logic of killing them.

Auryx the First Navigator set upon his god with his sword and his words, and cut Akka to pieces, and took from those pieces the secret of calling upon the Deep. He wrote this secret on a set of tablets, which he called the Tablets of Ruin. And he wore them about his waist.

Then Auryx said, “Now I may speak to the Deep, the beautiful final shape. I will be King of Shapes. I will learn all the secrets of our destiny.”

His speech to the Deep is not recorded here. But it is known that he returned, and he said, now I am Oryx, the Taken King. And I have the power to take life and make it my own.

Then he went out into the universe, and fought the Ecumene with his Tablets. And the Worm his God was pleased.

XXIX: Carved in Ruin

Verse 3:9 — Carved in Ruin

Oryx made war on the Ecumene for a hundred years. At the end of those hundred years he killed the Ecumene Council on the Fractal Wreath, and from their blood rose Xivu Arath, saying, “I am war, and you have conjured me back with war.”

Oryx was glad, for he loved Xivu Arath. The Ecumene wailed in grief.

Then Oryx and Xivu Arath made war on the Ecumene for forty years. At the end of those forty years Oryx said to the Dakaua Nest, listen, I am jealous of my sibling Xivu Arath, help me kill her. And in desperation they agreed.

But he drove the Dakaua Nest into a trap, and they were made extinct. From their ashes rose cunning Savathûn, saying, “I am trickery, and you have conjured me back with trickery.”

Oryx was glad, for he loved Savathûn. The Ecumene fled into the void.

Then they made war on the Ecumene for a thousand years, and exterminated them so wholly that nowhere except in this book are they remembered. This book and the mind of Taox, who was not found.

And Savathûn said, “King Oryx, how will we feed our worms? Did you use my plan?”

Oryx told the Hive: I am the Taken King, and here is my law.

You Thrall, each of you will claw and scream, and kill what you can. Take enough killing to feed your worm, and a little more to grow. Tithe the rest to the Acolyte who commands you.

You Acolytes, lead your Thrall in battle. Take enough killing to feed your worm, and a little more to grow, and take the tithe of the Thrall you lead. Then tithe the remainder to the Knight or Wizard who commands you. Thus you pay tribute.

You Knights and Wizards, lead your followers in battle. Take enough devastation to feed your worm, and a little more to grow, and take the tithe of your followers. Then take another portion, as much as you dare, and use it for your own purposes. But if it is too much, your peers will kill you and take it. Then tithe the remainder to the Ascendant you serve.

An Ascendant will be those among the Hive who gather enough tribute to enter the netherworld. They will pay a tithe to those above them.

And thus the tribute will flow, up the chain, so that Savathûn and Xivu Arath and myself will be fed by a great river of tribute, and we will use that excess to feed our gods, and to study the Deep. Thus all worms will be fed — as long as we continue our crusade.

This is my law. I carve it thus, in ruin. Aiat.

XXX: a golden amputation

Verse 4:0 — a golden amputation

Wrath!

Behold the wrath of Oryx, coiled for ten thousand years. Behold the Golden Amputation: the fall of Taishibeth, the end of an age. We beat the worlds of Taishibeth like skull drums and we howl in joy for our black war moons as they ram silver orbitals and gleaming star-webs, where infant Taishibethi sun ravens curl and die unborn.

In his throne world Oryx paces ten times.

On the first pace, Kraghoor sends the accursed to blight the Taishibethi worlds.

On the second pace, the Tai unleash their battleplates and arsenal ships to fight our moons.

On the third pace, Oryx’s Warpriest meets them in battle, and he is victorious, he paints the void with fire, he salts the earth with ash.

On the fourth pace, Mengoor and Cra’adug, dyad knights, go to the Raven Bridge, and they stand on it and kill the Tai for ten years.

On the fifth pace, the Tai Emperor Raven comes home to her Bridge, and she cuts a moon with her talons, she cuts it open and kills its brood.

On the sixth pace, Oryx speaks, saying, listen to me, Emperor Raven, and I will describe to you the Last True Shape, which is written on my tablet. And he puts out his fist, full of black fire, and he swallows up the Emperor Raven with a wound.

Aiat! Only Oryx knows this power, the power to take.

On the seventh pace, the Perfect Raven comes out of Oryx’s wound, and she spreads her wings across Taishibeth. Never again is a Taishibethi child born. She is perfect, she enacts the will of Oryx.

On the eighth pace, the Tai say, listen, you are spoilers, you are sphincters and excreta, you rot, why do you kill? We made silver orbitals and golden star webs. We hatched eggs. We had a good thing. Our clothes were nice, our food was famous. With one of her feathers our Emperor could have tickled the gods.

On the ninth pace, Oryx says, this is the only god, this ability to dictate what will and will not exist, this power to go on existing. This is your god. It is never ticklish.

On the tenth pace the Taishibethi are extinct.

Then Oryx says, listen my siblings, do you know what we have done? We have conquered our way to the edge of the Deep. It whispers to me when I call on it, and it guides my flight. It says that we are at its threshold and that I should come inside.

I will go and speak to it.

XXXI: battle made waves

Verse 4:1 — battle made waves

Oryx went down into his throne world. He went out into the abyss, and with each step he read one of his tablets, so that they became like stones beneath his feet.

He went out and he created an altar and he prepared an unborn ogre. He called on the Deep, saying:

I can see you in the sky. You are the waves, which are battles, and the battles are the waves. Come into this vessel I have prepared for you.

And it arrived, the Deep Itself.

XXXII: Majestic. Majestic.

Verse 4:2 — Majestic. Majestic.

Oryx, my King, my friend. Kick back. Relax. Shrug off that armor, set down that blade. Roll your burdened shoulders and let down your guard. This is a place of life, a place of peace.

Out in the world we ask a simple, true question. A question like, can I kill you, can I rip your world apart? Tell me the truth. For if I don’t ask, someone will ask it of me.

And they call us evil. Evil! Evil means ‘socially maladaptive.’ We are adaptiveness itself.

Ah, Oryx, how do we explain it to them? The world is not built on the laws they love. Not on friendship, but on mutual interest. Not on peace, but on victory by any means. The universe is run by extinction, by extermination, by gamma-ray bursts burning up a thousand garden worlds, by howling singularities eating up infant suns. And if life is to live, if anything is to survive through the end of all things, it will live not by the smile but by the sword, not in a soft place but in a hard hell, not in the rotting bog of artificial paradise but in the cold hard self-verifying truth of that one ultimate arbiter, the only judge, the power that is its own metric and its own source—existence, at any cost. Strip away the lies and truces and delaying tactics they call ‘civilization’ and this is what remains, this beautiful shape.

The fate of everything is made like this, in the collision, the test of one praxis against another. This is how the world changes: one way meets a second way, and they discharge their weapons, they exchange their words and markets, they contest and in doing so they petition each other for the right to go on being something, instead of nothing. This is the universe figuring out what it should be in the end.

And it is majestic. Majestic. It is the only thing that can be true in and of itself.

And it is what I am.

XXXIII: When do monsters have dreams

Verse 4:3 — When do monsters have dreams

I’m walking down the road, I’m going to the orrery to talk to my dad, and I hear, well, I hear this noise, so I look back. And my sisters are behind me, and they’re ripping up the road. They’ve got these huge swords, execution swords, and they’re levering the stones out of the road. The stones are covered in writing. They’re like tablets. And there’s dirt underneath full of worms.

I need to get to the orrery before they catch up to me so I start running but right away someone trips me, it’s my dad, he’s got his foot out and he grabs me by the horns and just slams me down on my face. I’m in so much pain I nearly throw up a worm.

“Why weren’t you ready for this,” dad says. He’s wearing glare goggles, those shiny goggles that he’d use to save his vision during lightning storms or sea fire. All three of his eyes reflect me. “Didn’t you know they’d be jealous, because they couldn’t come to the orrery and talk to me? Didn’t you know they’d move against you??”

I start wailing like I’m two days old again and I say, Dad, I thought you were my friend, I’m supposed to be safe here. But he just puts out his fist and I realize he’s laughing at me for believing him, why did I think I’d be safe? In his fist he’s got a black sun and he holds me by the throat and goes to tip the black sun inside me.

I can see my jaws in his goggles, three reflections of my jaws with so many teeth.

So I start eating my dad. I bite huge pieces out of him and I claw him up. I eat his legs and I eat his arms and I eat his goggles and his eyes and he says, good, good, this is majestic and true.

But my sisters are still tearing up the road so I don’t know how to get back.

XXXIV: More beautiful to know

Verse 4:4 — More beautiful to know

Sometimes I wonder if I’m a nihilist.

I don’t do much except break things. That’s what they say about me: we could’ve had a great civilization, if it weren’t for that damn Oryx, that damn Hive. They don’t believe in anything but death.

The only way to make something good is to make something that can’t be broken. And the only way to do that is to try to break everything.

I’m glad I learned that the universe runs on death. It’s more beautiful to know.

But I’m lost somewhere strange.

I think that Savathûn and Xivu Arath are trying to steal the tablets from me. They must have cut off my tribute while I was away communing with the Deep. I love them so dearly. No one else is clever or strong enough to try to break me. No one else can give me this gift.

Once, long ago, I killed Xivu Arath on her war moon, and she blew up the whole moon to kill with me her. She was laughing in joy. I laughed too. A whole moon! A whole moon. It was a waste of a moon, but it taught me how to save myself from exploding worlds, which was necessary to fight the Ecumene.

I love mighty Xivu more than a moon loves the tide. I’ll kill her for this. Over and over, forever and ever.

When I get home from my wanderings in the Deep, and I take back my throne, I’m going to have children. That’s what I need.

Sons and daughters to love and kill.

XXXV: This Love Is War

Verse 4:5 — This Love Is War

Xivu upon Oryx —
Uttered by Xivu Arath —
Sibling of Oryx —

BETRAYAL. We have marooned Oryx within the Deep. This is our obligation as lords of the Hive, to make war upon each other, to eradicate weakness and make ourselves sharp.

OBLIGATIONS. Once, I permitted Oryx to kill me so that he could gain the sword logic and overcome Akka our God. This left me trapped deep in my throne. But Oryx my brother made war upon the Ecumene and in that war he described me, for I too am war. Thus I was resurrected.

RESURRECTION. Savathûn and I conspired to strand Oryx on his expedition. But I secretly believe that I will be stronger with Oryx to war against. Thus I describe him.

A DESCRIPTION OF ORYX.

When Oryx looks upon you, you feel that you may vanish if he looks away.

The crest of Oryx’s skull is as long as an arm. In the course of its life, a thought moves from one end to the other. Upon his crest I have painted a line in my blood, so that he will remember me.

Each of Oryx’s fangs has the precision of a finger and the acuity of an eye.

Although he was born at the bottom of the universe, and taught to burrow, Oryx has grown wings. The light of wildfire shines through them. Oryx teaches but he will not be taught.

Oryx’s body is corded with strength. His sinews and his muscles are as strong as his children, and his children are the strength of him.

Oryx wears a raiment of worm silk, made from the caul of gods.

The voice of Oryx may cause two different numbers to become equal.

Oryx my Brother is the bravest thing I know. Upon Fundament he learned that we were the natural prey of the universe, the most frail and desperate of things. He thought about this carefully and he found a way to fix it. He made us strong. He will lead us into eternity.

Oryx my Brother loves me and this love is war.

XXXVI: Eater of Hope

Verse 4:6 — Eater of Hope

You are Crota, my son. Welcome.

I fought my way out of hell to make you. I fought my traitor siblings and I fought the swarming corpse of Akka and I cut my way back into my own court, the High War, which had been usurped. Once I had made war on Savathûn, and crippled her tribute so that she could never challenge me, and once I had tricked Xivu Arath, and poisoned her tribute so that she could never again try to take my tablets, and once I had arranged my own lineages so that I would be greatest among the Hive and secure on my throne — then I found a mother to make spawn.

One of those spawn was you.

Your life will be a battle too. You will have to win your place at the High War. I will give you nothing… except this, your first sword, and this name I have prepared for you.

We fight a war against false hope, Crota. We chase a god called the Traveler, a huckster god who baits young life into building houses for it. These houses are unsafe, for they cannot stand against my Hive. And these houses are a trap — for they lead young life away from the blade and the tooth, which are the tools of survival and the means of ascension.

Only when the Traveler is extinguished will the universe be free to arrange itself, and assume, by ruthless contest, its final perfect shape, a shape which depends on nothing but itself.

Thus I name you Crota, Eater of Hope.

There is an oath upon me, Crota my son, an oath against the wretched Taox. This I do not give to you. It is for me, your father, to bear.

Let’s go meet your aunts and uncles.

XXXVII: shapes : points

Verse 4:7 — shapes : points

Look at you!

Already you are grown, my daughter, already you are a wizard. Have I been away so long? Now you are Ir Anûk, and Savathûn cackles and rages at your brilliance. You have written eleven axioms describing the ascendant places, our throne world. You have announced that you will kill one of these axioms, as Akka would kill the truth, and in mantling Akka you will become a God, as I am.

If you try it I may kill you, or I may applaud. Well done. I brought you this bitter acid for your celebrations.

And you, Ir Halak, you are a wizard too, as is the way of twins. I have been with Xivu Arath, who complains that you have made a song, and sung it in her throne world, and killed everyone who listened, quite irrevocably. Will we have songs instead of swords and boomers?

What have you made for me? It is a tooth shaped like death! I will keep it in my mouth. What have you written for me? It is the course of the Nicha Thought-ship! I will track it down.

I made you by cutting one larvae in half. It would not die. Each half grew into one of you. My sword is named Willbreaker, but it never broke you.

XXXVIII: The partition of death

Verse 4:8 — The partition of death

One day Oryx decided to grow new wings. While he wrestled with his worm, he came upon his twin daughters dying in a wound between places.

“What are you doing, my daughters?” he asked. He was afraid that Ir Halak and Ir Anûk were trying to go into the Deep, where only the Tablets of Ruin allowed Oryx to go.

“We are dying, father,” they said. “As many times as we can manage.”

“That’s adorably precocious.” Oryx shook out his new wings. “But why?”

“We propose a method by which Ascendant souls can be detached and integrated into a tautological and autonomous thanatosphere, which we tentatively term an oversoul. Oversouls can be stored in a throne world as a mechanism of enhanced death resilience. As a side effect, new refinements to our Deathsong may be achieved, moving us closer to a generally effective paracausal death impulse.”

Oryx brandished his sword. “Speak the Royal Tongue, or I’ll pin you up for Eir to eat.”

“If we can separate our deaths from ourselves, and hide them, we will be hard to kill.”

Oryx went to his son, Crota. “Go keep an eye on your sisters,” he said. “’You can learn cunning from them.”

But while Oryx traveled to observe the Deep destroy an ancient fortress world, Crota conspired with his sisters to learn their secrets. “I too will experiment with a wound,” he said. With his sword Crota cut open a new wound, into a new space. In here he thought he might obtain a secret power.

Out of this wound came machines called Vex. They invaded Oryx’s throne world.

XXXIX: open your eye : go into it

Verse 4:9 — open your eye : go into it

The Vex clattered around, constructing large problems. At first their constructions were deranged, because they didn’t understand the sword logic, which defined all rules in Oryx’s throne world. The geometry perplexed them.

“I’ll cut them apart,” Crota said. But just then, the Vex ritual-of-better-thoughts manifested a Mind called Quria, Blade Transform. Quria deduced the sword logic.

I have to kill everything, Quria resolved. Then I will be powerful.

Crota’s gate began to emit warrior Vex, huge and brassy. He leapt forward to fight them, but they blinked away. After they fled from Crota, they killed two thousand of Oryx’s Acolytes and ten thousand of his Thrall. Soon they had established themselves as powers in this world, by right of slaughter.

“Come forth, sister wizards,” called Ir Halak. “We need you.” Ir Anûk pulled a sword star out of the sky. Together the wizards charged it with killing power and made an annihilator totem, which they used to smash the Vex.

“Close the wound, brother Crota,” Anûk ordered. “We will find a cunning way to destroy them, but only after they stop constructing problems on us.”

But Quria had instanced itself to the other side of the gate, and built a holdfast to keep the way open. Quria’s objective was to exploit the paracausal physics of Oryx’s throne to become divine. It organized a series of test invasions.

For a hundred years of local time the siblings fought the Vex. When the Vex came into the sword world, they were inevitably annihilated, but when the Hive went into the Vex world, they lost too much of their power to win.

“Father’s going to eat our souls,” Halak sighed.

Quria captured some worm larvae and began experimenting with them. Soon Quria, Blade Transform manifested religious tactics. By directing worship at the worms, Quria learned it could alter reality with mild ontopathogenic effects. Being an efficient machine, Quria manufactured a priesthood and ordered all its subminds to believe in worship. Then it set about abducting and killing dangerous organisms so it could bootstrap itself to Hive godhood. For some Vex reason, Quria never attempted to introduce worm larvae into its mind fluid.

Savathûn was laughing, because she had tricked Crota into cutting that place.

This drew the attention of the Worm our God. ORYX, called Eir. SET YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER.

XL: An Emperor For All Outcomes

Verse 4:10 — An Emperor For All Outcomes

Oryx rushed home and read from the Tablets of Ruin. He put some of the Vex into wounds, to be taken by the power of the Deep. Thus he turned the Vex against each other. Quria manifested a range of tactics, but none of them were adaptive. Oryx crushed all the Vex in his throne.

Oryx thought that he should study geometry, like the Vex. It was the map of perfect shapes. But first he had to punish imperfection.

“My son,” he said, “this is your punishment. Come home glorious, or die forgotten!” He picked up Crota by the legs and threw him into the Vex gate network.

Crota battled through history, becoming a legendary demon. In his early centuries he often spared a few victims to hear oaths and protests against his father. Later, he came to understand Oryx, and he made temples and monuments wherever he went.

Meanwhile, Oryx brooded on the Vex. “I’ve met a worthy rival,” he said. “They want to exist forever, just as I do. But I don’t understand them.”

At this his worm began to chew on him, for he was bound to understand.

He called Savathûn to meet in the material world. She told him that the Vex worked tirelessly to understand everything, so that they could build a victory condition for every possible end state of the universe.

“Then I must be a better king,” Oryx said. “If they want to build an emperor for all outcomes, then I will be the king of only one. I will follow the Deep wherever it goes, and document its power. Let us create a catalog of the grave of worlds, which will be our map to victory.”

Oryx knew that all life could be described as cellular automata, except for that life which understood the Deep or the Sky, and thus escaped causality.

Out of love for her brother, which was the same as the desire to kill him, Savathûn leaked a secret to Xivu Arath — ‘listen, Xivu, Oryx’s throne world has been compromised. You can cut your way in from here.’ Xivu Arath used this to plan an ambush.

But Oryx was too canny. The Taken King said to his Court, the High War, “My throne world is vulnerable. I am going to move it.”

‘Where?’ asked Kagoor, World-Render.

“Into a mighty dreadnaught,” said Oryx. “I shall keep my glorious mind cosmos inside a titanic warship.”

XLI: Dreadnaught

Verse 4:11 — Dreadnaught

To make his ship, Oryx scrimshawed one piece of Akka, who was dead but far from gone. He stole the Hammer of Xivu Arath and the Scalpel of Savathûn and he armored his ship in baneful armor.

When Oryx had built his Dreadnaught, he pushed his throne world inside out, so that it bled into the material space of the Dreadnaught. They were coterminous and allied, his ship and his sin. The Dreadnaught was within the throne of Oryx, but the throne of Oryx was the Dreadnaught. Aiat!

This required a verse from the Tablets of Ruin. The whole Court worked together to push Oryx’s throne inside out. This was a day of joyous violence, and all of Oryx’s broods mark this holiday as Eversion Day, which is celebrated by turning things inside out.

Sayeth Oryx,

Go out into the universe, my court
Gather tribute for me. Send it home to my ship.
When I call you, walk up that tribute to my court.
I will prepare for long voyages — [I am Savathûn, insidious]
Into the war — [I graffiti this notice for you]
Into the Deep — [These Books are full of lies!]

Now Oryx’s throne was safe from incursion, because it moved so nimbly.

Oryx attacked the Harmonious Flotilla Invincible, who guarded the Nicha Thought-ship. When the Flotilla surrounded his Dreadnaught, Oryx put his sword into the hull, and he used the power of the Deep (and the clever systems his daughters built) to push his throne-world out into mere reality.

By wrath and confidence he filled space with an egg of his throne. It swelled up like a ghost star to smash the Harmonious Flotilla Invincible. Oryx broke the last word off their name.

In the Nicha Thought-ship, Oryx hoped to find the location of the Gift Mast, which had been left behind by the Traveler. Oryx wanted to eat it.

But the Thought-ship was a trap. Upon it was Quria, Blade Transform.

XLII: <>|<>|<>

Verse 5:0 — <>|<>|<>

<interdict>|<simulate>|<worship>

I am going to kill you. I am going to salt my meat with your briny little thoughts. I am going to cook flesh on your broken, molten hull.

<insinuate>|<subvert>|<replicate>

This ship is my throne. You want to take it from me. You want to fill it up with your own spawn and use it for your abstract purposes. But I defy you.

<observe>!<imitate>!<usurp>

You will never be what I am. Simulate me, wretch. Calculate the permutations of my divinity. Compute the death in the shape of my throne. Render my shadow on the stone of ten thousand graveyard worlds! It will never be enough. I hold the Tablets of Ruin. I speak to the Deep. Not with a galaxy of thinking matter could you encompass me. Behold!

<unknown>|<enigma>|<shortfall>

<abort>!<halt>!<abort>

XLIII: End of Failed Timeline

Verse 5:1 — End Of Failed Timeline

By now, Quria knows it can’t win.

There’s something pathological about the world inside Oryx’s ship. It resists analysis with hot, dead spite. And Oryx himself, he’s irreducible — he refuses to obey Quria’s simulations, he crashes around sowing chaos, he grabs subminds and compromises them with some kind of ontological weapon. Paracausal systems. Very problematic.

Quria’s trying the religious tactics it evolved in the Hive manifold. But even on those terms, Oryx is strong, so strong. Quria won’t be able to protect its gates much longer.

The closest Quria’s got to a simulation of Oryx is a best-guess bootstrap. It’s wrong — Quria’s sure of that, it’s Oryx minus the symbiote organism, minus the wings and morphs, minus the weapon, minus the power. No good for anything.

Quria manifests that simulation anyway. Just to see what happens.

The Taken King marches on Quria’s Hydra-hull, armed with blade and magic, cloaked in ancient cloth, and the universe wails in horror around him. Quria’s physics models and toy worlds choke and crash.

Quria observes, alert and attentive, as a single quark splits on the tip of Oryx’s sword.

From within the Hydra-hull, Quria’s tiny not-Oryx speaks. “What are you?” it says. It’s manifesting terror and awe.

Oryx’s eyes blaze with a curiosity that is entirely isomorphic with hate, with voracious hunger. “Aurash,” he says, in his Hive language. “You’ve made me as I was. You’ve made a tiny Aurash. Ha!”

Quria updates the simulation’s name. Aurash is curious: “You’re me? You’re me as I become?”

Oryx kneels. His blade is on his left shoulder. Quria is firing every available weapon at him, but his wards don’t break. He looks into Quria’s sensors through the hammering fire and he says, “Child, I have everything you wanted. I am immortal. I know the great secrets of the universe. I have scouted the edges of the Darkness and I have chased the lying god down galactic arms in a howling pack of moons. In my fist I carry the secret power that will rule eternity. In my worm I bear the tribute of my Court and of my children, the Hope-Eater, the Weaver, and the Unraveler; and with this tribute I smash my foes. I am Oryx, the Taken King. I am almighty.”

Quria samples the Taox intelligence retrieved from the Ecumene gate. There are useful names. It feeds them to the simulation.

“What about your sisters?” Aurash asks his future self. “Sathona? Xi Ro? Are they with you?”

The Taken King’s fangs glint. That sound might be a laugh, or a hiss.

Quria shuts down its weapons and puts all its spare resources into sending telemetry to the greater Vex. There will be points in space and time where this data is vital. There will be great projects undertaken in the study of this ontological power, this throne-space.

“Where are my sisters?” Aurash shouts. “What have you done with my people? What have you done?”

But Oryx’s fist is full of black fire, and the next thing Quria sees is a light like stars.

XLIV: strict proof eternal

Verse 5:2 — strict proof eternal

“I have a gift for you,” says Oryx.

Savathûn, Witch-Queen, looks at him with dry wariness. “Is it the sword logic I need to go into the Deep, and take your power for myself?”

Their echoes move among the war-moons, walking together on the hull of a two-thousand-year-old warship. Savathûn’s fleet has assembled here, in preparation for an assault on the Gift Mast. The Deep is headed that way, on the trail of its prey, and the Hive will be its vanguard.

“It’s a Vex I captured. Quria, Blade Transform. It made an attempt to puncture my throne. I thought you might enjoy studying it.” Oryx pauses, digesting — through the bond of lineage he can feel Crota killing, worlds and worlds away, and it tastes like sweet fat. “Quria contains a Vex attempt to simulate me. It might generate others — you, perhaps, or Xivu Arath. I’ve left it some will of its own, so it can surprise you.”

“I suppose it’ll blow up and kill me,” Savathûn grouses. “Or let the machines into my throne, where they’ll start turning everything into clocks and glass.”

“If it kills you, then you deserve to die.” Oryx says it with a quiet thrill, a happy thrill, because it is good to say the truth.

“I don’t have a strict proof yet, you know.” Savathûn strokes the void with one long claw and space-time groans beneath her touch. “This thing we believe — that we’re liberating the universe by devouring it, that we’re cutting out the rot, that we’re on course to join the final shape — I haven’t found a strict, eternal proof. We might yet be wrong.”

Oryx looks at her and for a moment, just a moment, he is nostalgic, he is sentimental. He thinks, imagine the years behind us, the things we’ve done. And yet being old doesn’t feel like a scar, does it? It hasn’t left me dull. I feel alive, alive with you, and every time I step back into this world from my throne I feel like I’m two years old again, at the bottom of the universe, looking up.

But he says, “Sister, it’s us. We’re the proof, we the Hive: if we last forever, we prove it, and if something more ruthless conquers us, then the proof is sealed.”

She looks back at him with eyes like hot needles. “I like that,” she says. “That’s elegant.” Although of course she has had this thought before.

XLV: I’d shut them all in cells.

Verse 5:3 — I’d shut them all in cells.

Prey and Sacrifice —
Uttered by Xivu Arath —
God of War —

HARMONY. When the Traveler passed across Harmony, it lied to the orbits of ten worlds. Now they orbit the black hole. The Traveler lied to the accretion disc, so that it would give warm light to these worlds.

THE GIFT MAST. When the Traveler left Harmony, it made a monument out of the black hole’s polar jet. In the jet there is a hollow mast which sings in radiance. This is the Gift Mast and we will devour it, we will eat the Sky out of it, we will snap it like a bone.

THE HARMONY STING. The Harmony have weaponized their dead star. They can stimulate the accretion disc to fire relativistic plasma jets. We will take the Sting. We will use it to burn their worlds. I will grant one temple of tribute to the first Ascendant to kill a world!

ORYX. I will have the Gift Mast to feast on! I will have it first! I am Xivu Arath and all war is my temple. Beware the daughters of Oryx, for they make and unmake with ease.

SAVATHÛN. The Deceitful Sister will be distracted by arcana and the song of the black hole. Treat her broods with contempt.

THE TRAVELER. We chase it and we will devour it. The Deep will rule the cosmos.

THE DRAGONS. Our gods should be ours alone. Their smug freedom is an insult to me. I’d shut them all in cells. Bring them to me!

XLVI: The Gift Mast

Verse 5:4 — The Gift Mast

The Gift Mast!

It towers above this star system like a monument to treason. It beams with silver light. It sings a radio lullaby, made of soothing lies.

In its light live the Harmony, and they are now our prey.

Now arrives Xivu Arath, at the head of her armada. She fights the Harmony for fifty years with strategies and discipline. But the Harmony turn to dragon-wishes, and their wishful bishops wrestle Xivu in the ascendant plane.

Xivu falls into deadlock.

Next arrives Savathûn, flanked by her chorus and her celebrants. They trick their way onto Ana-Harmony in disguises, so that they might vivisect these dragons. The Worm our God laughs and laughs.

For a hundred years Savathûn keeps secret covens among the Harmony.

But first of all was Oryx, whose brood grew in secret places in the rubble of the accretion disc. The First Navigator sends rocks and comets to crash into the Harmony worlds, so that the Harmony fleet will be disarrayed. He sends seeders to infiltrate the Harmony worlds with his broods.

Here at the center of the fifth book the Hive has grown so mighty that it has made the annihilation of all false life routine.

Xivu Arath kills the wishful bishops, and Savathûn achieves some secret purpose, and Oryx’s Court tears down the Gift Mast. The Harmony people wail in terror, and they throw themselves into the silver lakes of Ana-Harmony to drown.

“Come,” sayeth Oryx, “eat of the Gift Mast, for I am a generous god. Of its pieces, I claim only two out of every five.”

The Mast is full of the Light of the Traveler, it is full of the marrow taste of Sky. All who eat of it are filled with the ecstatic certainty that they serve a great and necessary purpose.

Then sayeth Savathûn, “Siblings, listen, we must part ways a while, so that we may grow different.” She flies her war-moons into the black hole. Her throne becomes distant.

Sayeth Xivu Arath, “King Oryx, you take up too much space, your power constrains too many choices. I must go away from you.” She flies her war-moons away into the night. Her throne is barred shut.

Then Oryx was alone. He spent a while in thought, and those thoughts are recorded here.

XLVII: Apocalypse Refrains

Verse 5:5 — Apocalypse Refrains

This is our message to the things that we will kill.

A species which believes that a good existence can be invented through games of civilization and through laws of conduct is doomed by that belief. They will die in terror. The lawless and the ruthless will drag them down to die. The universe will erase their monuments.

But the one that sets out to understand the one true law and to perform worship of that law will by that decision gain control over their future. They will gain hope of ascendance and by their ruthlessness they will assist the universe in arriving at its perfect shape.

Only by eradicating from ourselves all clemency for the weak can we emulate and become that which endures forever. This is inevitable. The universe offers only one choice and it is between ruthlessness and extinction.

We stand against the fatal lie that a world built on laws of conduct may ever resist the action of the truly free. This is the slavery of the Traveler, the crime of creation, in which labor is wasted on the construction of false shapes.

If you choose to fight us, fight us with everything you have, with all your laws and games. We will prove our argument thus.

XLVIII: aiat, aiat, aiat, aiat, aiat

Verse 5:6 — aiat, aiat, aiat, aiat, aiat

All is well. Aiat: what is at war is healthy, what is at peace is sick.

My son Crota feeds me rich, rich tribute. My lineages are strong, my worm is vast and satiated, and with that security I can spend my time on study and communion with the Deep. As I learn more secrets, my power grows; as my power grows I use it to learn more secrets. Aiat: let it be thus because it must.

I wonder if my sisters have secrets of their own. If my power exceeds theirs I may kill them permanently and subsume their thrones. But I think they have strength that they hide from me, developed in time of separation. Aiat: the only meaningful relationship is the attempt to destroy.

Savathûn asks if I am as much a slave of the Deep as my Taken. She asks what price I pay for my power. I am not Taken. The Hive is not the Deep. The Deep doesn’t want everything to be the same: it wants life, strong life, life that lives free without the need for a habitat of games to insulate it from reality. When I make my Taken I make them closer to perfect, I heal their wounds and enhance their strengths. This is inherently good. Aiat: the only right is existence, the only wrong is nonexistence.

I am Oryx, the First Navigator, the Taken King. Aiat: let me be what I am because to be anything else would be fatal.

XLIX: Forever And A Blade

Verse 5:7 — Forever And A Blade

I considered returning to Fundament. Learning what became of the God-Wave, and the Tungsten Monoliths, and the continents which were all that remained of my people’s primal home.

But I know what became of all that. It became me. I am the heir of Fundament, the immortal descendant of those ten-year krill. I asked a question: how can we live in the universe long enough to understand it?

And I learned the answer, which is written here in this book. I learned that I had to become most ruthless of all.

I don’t know where the Darkness-which-is-the-Deep came from, nor the Traveler that I hunt. But I will learn. I will learn.

This is my inheritance, my estate: eternity, infinity, the whole universe beneath my sword. This is what I rule: forever and a blade.

L: Wormfood

Verse 5:8 — Wormfood

What will happen if I die?

It suits me to consider this, for I am a great ally of death. My daughters study the quiddity of death, my son practices the inhabitation of death, and my great work is, in ultima, to become synonymous with death, to die and in that dying live, so that if the universe comes to nothing then I will be a part of that nothing. Far better to have a savage universe with a happy end than a happy universe with no hope.

I have died many times but these deaths were only temporary.

If my echoes are killed, and I am killed in the material world, then I will be driven back to my throne the Dreadnaught. If my Court and my throne can be beaten, if I am confronted in my throne, if I am defeated there, then I will die. My work will end.

This is the pact to which I am bound, in particular by my study of the Tablets of Ruin, and by my use of the power of the Deep. When I call upon that power, I put myself up as the stakes in a wager, I gamble with my soul. For I am saying, listen, my gods, I am the mightiest thing there is, and I prove it thus.

Lately I have realized how much I depend on Crota and my daughters, and even upon my court. If I lost them, my outlays would exceed my intakes, my tribute would not be enough to feed my worm. But this is proper — for if I lost them it would be because they were not mighty enough, and then I would be a bad father, a bad King. I must test them and fight with them, to keep them strong. This is my geas.

I will go on forever. I will understand everything. There is only one path and that is the path that you make. But you can make more than one path.

Break your cell’s bars. Make a new shape, make the shape from its path, find your cell’s bars, break out of the bars, find a shape, make the shape from its path, eat the light, eat the path.

If I fail, let me be wormfood.

PlanetDestiny
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