Destiny 2: Shadowkeep finally arrives next week. With that in mind, this is the fifth in a weekly primer series exploring the state of each of the Destiny races and the mysteries still to be solved. So far we have dug into the Hive, the Cabal, the Fallen, and last week the Vex. This series will have one last entry next Tuesday, to get you hyped for the Destiny 2: Shadowkeep launch later that day. This week we look at those who lie dreaming; we turn our gaze, to the Awoken.
The Awoken straddle a line that is unique in the Destiny lore in that they have their own separate society that we are given a glimpse into. They are also distinct in that they are one of the three races that the player can choose to be when creating their Guardian. This speaks to a fundamental theme of the story of the Awoken, the idea of schism. Indeed, the Awoken can be very distinctly divided into three factions: The Distrubutary, The Reefborn, and the Earthborn. Three sects of a single people, each separate, but all one. It is with the first of these that our story begins, with the launch of the generation ships.
Guardians have seen a generation ship before, every time they launch into Nessus to see Failsafe. The Exodus Green, like the Exodus Black, was one of many ships that took to the stars to find a suitable planet for humanity to live out of the reach and influence of the Traveler. Unfortunately, the Exodus ships were met by the untimely arrival of the Darkness. What happened to the Exodus Green exactly is unknown, somehow the Darkness met the Light and the Exodus Green was caught in the crossfire and emerged in a pocket universe known now as The Distributary. The transfer changed them. Their corporeal bodies were destroyed, but their souls were reborn, formless, but unique. This rebirth happened slowly, with Mara Sov arriving first. With her arrival came the shaping of a new form for the Awoken and a renewal of their physical forms, though they were different than what they had been before. Their skin and eyes were blue; they developed unnaturally long lives, and with those lives, they built a civilization within the Distributary. Yet it was not to last.
A First Fracture
Generations came and passed, and with them came discovery. The Awoken learned about the pocket universe they dwelt in and a faction of them came to thirst for a return to the world they once knew. It is here that the first schism occurred. Mara Sov, with her brother Uldren, and best friend Sjur lead a contingent of Awoken out of the Distributary and back home to the Solar System. Their arrival was in time to see humanity’s civilization reduced to a single city. A faction within the Awoken saw the plight of their brethren and cried out to help them. It was here that Mara could have seized control, and saved the lives of so many of her Awoken to come. But she was not yet the Queen. She was not yet who she would become. So she watched them go, and accept the Traveler’s light. She watched Awoken become Earthborn and mix with the humans on Earth and become Guardians. But this was a solar system imperiled on all sides from the Cabal, Fallen, and Vex. A solar system under siege.
The Once and Future Queen
Mara had always been special, and with the departure of the Earthborn, she finally embraced that which made her so. She shared a mental almost spiritual connection with the rest of the Awoken. They loved her and their will and hers were made inviolate. Upon her ascension to queen, she organized the fallen into Corsairs to be her scouts and recon. The Techeuns were formed to study the secrets that science couldn’t reveal. Realizing the necessity for a more permanent home, she sent Uldren out to find an edge for the Awoken to protect themselves against all the forces arrayed in the Solar System. He returned, with an Ahamkara.
An Ahamkara, or wish dragon, is a creature capable of granting wishes through the power of the Antham Antheme to shape desires into reality. They arrived in the Solar System after the Traveler and Guardians sought them out for their abilities. Like all magic though, it came with a price. The Great Hunt all but extinguished the Ahamkara, but for this one. The particulars of the agreement between the Ahamkara Riven and Mara Sov are unknown, but a balance was struck between them that resulted in the creation of the Dreaming City. She created the Wishing Wall to reduce all ambiguity in her wishes that Riven could exploit, and trapped Riven there. It was a perfect system. Until everything went wrong.
Until Oryx arrived.
The End of an Era
The Awoken on the Reef had set themselves up as a buffer between whatever threats arrived in the solar system and humanity on Earth. It was a thankless job, but it was one they were proud to do. So when Oryx, upon hearing the death cries of his son Crota, arrived in the solar system, it was the Awoken who met him first. In the rings of Saturn, Mara, who had foreseen the death that was to come, led the charge against Oryx’s forces. With Uldren and three of the Techeuns by her side, they rushed to face the gravest threat the solar system had ever seen. They shattered upon it. Mara was killed. The Techeuns were Taken, and they weren’t the last. Oryx walked through the doors of the Dreaming City and there found Riven, whom he took as well and brought the Dreaming City into his Ascendant Realm.
The Awoken were left with no home. No queen. And seemingly, no future.
Yet they endured.
Those Left Behind
Petra Venj, the Queen’s Emissary became the Acting Regent Commander and brought the Guardian to help return the Dreaming City from the dire state that it had been left in after the demise of Oryx. Riven reached out and found Uldren. It was with Riven’s power that he was able to access the Darkness and with it twist the Fallen into his Scorn. Sensing his corruption and madness, Petra and Cayde-6 threw Uldren into the Prison of Elders, but he would not stay a prisoner for long. During a riot at the prison, Uldren escaped and killed Cayde-6 before escaping in search of his lost sister. Riven used her powers of illusion to make Uldren believe that Mara was alive, and he could free her in the Dreaming City. This was, of course, a trap. Uldren opened the gates of the city and freed Riven. Riven rewarded him by devouring him, though it was Petra who fired the final shot that killed him.
The Last Wish
Sometime between the death of Oryx and the opening of the Dreaming City gates by Uldren, Savathûn made contact with Riven. She sought her brother Oryx’s throne, and together with Quria, Blade Transform, a plan was devised. The Guardians, fearful of Riven’s power, built a raid team and descended deep into the heart of the Dreaming City. They killed Riven and ripped out her corrupted heart, which they then took to the Dreaming City to try and free it from the Taken corruption. This was all part of the plan. Riven survived her murder at the Guardians hands and cast one last wish that stemmed from the Guardian’s desire to save the city. The city became trapped in a three-week time loop as devised by Quria. The loop and all the death the Guardians perpetuate inside of it serves as a sacrifice to Savathûn for purposes unknown.
What is known is that somehow Mara survived her encounter with the Dreadnought and hid inside Oryx’s throne world as a disembodied spirit, much like Toland who can be found in the weekly ascendant challenges. She has reconstituted her body, again through unknown means, and players were able to see her in the Queen’s Court for some time before she vanished to parts unknown.
All of this brings us to the big questions left for the Awoken.
The Big Questions
What is Mara Sov and what is her plan?
Mara Sov may be the most compelling figure in all of Destiny lore. She is nearly inscrutable in her demeanor, yet prone to bouts of rage. She is convicted and has the power to make those convictions a reality. In a universe filled with paracausal entities, Mara Sov is one more to add to the list. Her abilities are more passive than say those of the Sword Logic or the Ahamkara. The Revanche IV Lore book describes that Mara warps reality around the Awoken to make them safer. Think of it like Domino’s powers from Deadpool. Bullets will just happen to miss, guns misfire, and bombs malfunction. These powers seem to come from a harmonization between Mara as the Awoken queen and the Awoken people themselves. How exactly it works, we will probably never know, but it is enough to wonder if it is isolated only to Mara or is it related to whoever is the queen of the Awoken?
Will Uldren Sov be the new Hunter Vanguard?
When a Guardian is resurrected by a Ghost, they have no memory of their past life. Indeed, it is forbidden for Guardians to try and learn more about their past selves. During the Season of the Drifter, we witnessed a cutscene where community favorite Ghost, Pulled Pork, resurrected Uldren Sov from his burial shroud in the Dreaming City. Since then, there has been no movement, and the position of Hunter Vanguard has stood empty. In Cayde-6’s last will and testament, he made his desires clear. Whoever killed him would be the next Hunter Vanguard. Given Uldren’s propensity for capes, he already has the style of a Hunter. Though there are few in the City who would welcome him with anything approaching open arms after he murdered everyone’s favorite Exo. It seems unlikely that we will get an answer to this in Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, but I would expect resolution to this and the Dreaming City curse in Year 3.
What Will it Take to Break the Curse?
Speaking of the Dreaming City Curse, since the first completion of the Last Wish raid, the three-week curse cycle has been in effect. No one knows how to break it. No one knows what it means when it is broken. All we know is that it is here, and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Theories have ranged from no completions of the Last Wish raid for three weeks to it being broken after 49 cycles given Bungie’s love of the number seven. The truth is probably tied into the arrival of Quria, Blade Transform. This may happen as soon as next weekend in the Garden of Salvation raid. Until then, there is nothing we as players can do to break the cycle.
What is Wish 15?
This is without a doubt the most hotly contested issue concerning the Awoken in the Destiny community. The Wall of Wishes can be found in the Last Wish raid prior to the beginning of the first encounter. It is a grid of twenty symbols arranged in a 4 x 5 grid. Each symbol can be changed to be any of the sixteen symbols found throughout the raid. A great guide for it can be found here. Data miners found the combinations for 16 wishes hidden in the Destiny code. The only problem? Wish 15 was skipped, and it is driving the community insane. Given the number of combinations (4 *10^24 roughly, thanks to Reddit) it is nearly impossible to brute force the solution. Roughly thousands of things have been tried. So much so that the raid secrets Reddit page has an entire megathread dedicated to everyone’s theories and ideas. It is the seventh chest in Vault of Glass all over again. It is a rabbit hole worthy of its own post. Once it’s solved, I’ll be the first in line to do the retrospective.
That’s all for the Awoken, join us next week as we dive into well, Destiny 2: Shadowkeep! And check out our weekly Destiny podcast breaking down all the latest on Destiny 2: Shadowkeep, The Last Word with Lord Cognito and Ebontis every Friday, your go-to looter shooter podcast.