The Hive, the Great Disaster, the Anomaly, and Eris--this is all the lore you need for Shadowkeep.
Destiny 2's Shadowkeep expansion takes players back to the moon for the first time in two years. The location was a huge part of the first Destiny, with a ton of lore and backstory attached to it. The moon is the major stronghold of the enemy faction known as the Hive, and working through the Shadowkeep campaign reveals a little more about their plans and motivations as part of the ongoing story started all the way back in Destiny 1's expansion, The Dark Below. Shadowkeep also brings back a character essential to Guardians' understanding of the Hive--Eris Morn.
If you're not familiar with the first Destiny, Eris Morn was a former Hunter who spent years hiding in the moon's tunnels, trapped with the Hive. She's been fundamentally changed by the experience, but her knowledge has been invaluable. She helped players take down Crota, the son of the Hive god-king Oryx, and then Oryx himself. Those events have had far-reaching consequences for Destiny's ongoing story, reaching all the way to the events of the Forsaken expansion and beyond.
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Eris's return is already advancing the story set up by Forsaken and the events set in motion by Destiny 1's expansion, The Taken King. Here's all the lore you need to know to get ready for the story of Eris Morn and Shadowkeep.
Some Hive History
There's a lot of interesting Hive backstory that we know about thanks to the Books of Sorrow, the Hive's creation myth. It tells the story about how Oryx, Savathun, and Xivu Arath, the three main Hive gods and leaders, came to be. There's a lot to go into, but here's the gist: the three were originally sisters and members of a race that lived in a gas giant called the Fundament, where they were a weak race that led short, brutal lives before often being killed by predators. Their father, the Osmium King, was betrayed by a close adviser to another race, and the three sisters escaped the aftermath of that event, vowing to get their revenge.
The three sisters found a ship and used it to dive into the depths of Fundament, where they encountered Destiny's still-unclear evil force, the Darkness. There, they were promised power by a group of evil, parasitic worms--taking the worms into their bodies in a symbiotic relationship is what turned the three into the first Hive. The three sisters became Oryx, Savathun, and Xivu Arath, and they forced the rest of their species to accept the worms, turning them into the Hive more or less as we fight them in Destiny 2. The worms feed on violence, which is why the Hive is constantly conquering and killing other species.
At the same time, each of the three leaders had to feed their worms according to their specific nature, or be consumed by them--Oryx had to constantly seek knowledge, Savathun had to constantly exercise cunning, and Xivu Arath had to constantly test her strength.
The Hive worship the Sword-Logic, the means of their power, which states that only the strongest things were allowed to survive. The Hive are constantly waging war in order to create the Final Shape of the Universe--the ultimate perfection, in which only the strongest survive and everything else is destroyed. The three siblings also repeatedly killed each other to continually push each other to become stronger and more perfect. With their magic, they created "throne worlds" in the dimension known as the Ascendant Realm, which allowed them to become immortal. Even if their physical bodies were destroyed, a portion of their souls would remain in the Ascendant Realm, allowing them to eventually reconstitute themselves. The Hive gods existed for millions of years, conquering and destroying through the Sword-Logic. They also pursued the Traveler, the big robot space god at the heart of Destiny, and the source of the power that turns Destiny players into immortal superheroes: the Light.
During the Hive leaders' constant wars on each other, a few notable things happened. Oryx killed his patron worm god and gained the power to Take other creatures, corrupting them with the Darkness and bending them to his will. Later, Savathun tricked Oryx's son, Crota, into opening a tear into another reality, which allowed the time-traveling robots known as the Vex to invade Oryx's throne world. During that invasion, the Vex attempted to simulate Oryx and his ability to Take, creating a Vex mind called Quria. Oryx eventually used his power to Take Quria, and gifted the Vex mind to Savathun. He also chucked Crota through a Vex gate as punishment for his failure, forcing his son to go on a lengthy campaign against the Vex through time and space.
Eventually, Savathun and Xivu Arath left Oryx, striking out on their own to become stronger. Savathun took her forces and flew through a black hole, but it's not clear where that sent them.
The Disaster On The Moon
Oryx sent Crota to track down the traveler, which eventually led him and his forces to our solar system. They set up shop on the moon, where they've created huge subterranean complexes, buildings, and shrines. Crota had a whole bunch of powerful generals, worshippers, and subordinates, making him a serious threat, and eventually, he launched an attack on Earth.
Guardians managed to repel Crota's invasion of Earth, but only just barely. In response, the Vanguard mounted a massive counter-attack to retake the moon that included thousands of Guardians. That mission became known as the Great Disaster. Thousands of Guardians were killed by Crota's forces, thanks to his power to absorb and snuff out their Light. Among those lost was Wei Ning, the legendary Guardian who created the Fighting Lion Exotic grenade launcher.
The Vanguard retreated in the wake of the battle, and the moon was declared off-limits, and the Hive there seemed to go dormant. Not everybody listened to the rules about leaving the moon alone, however.
Eris Morn And Her Fireteam
Wei Ning's death had a profound effect on her love, a Guardian named Eriana-3. Eriana began looking for a way to avenge Wei Ning and destroy Crota. She first recruited Eris Morn in her quest for vengeance, and together, the two started searching for a way to destroy Crota and circumvent the Hive magic that gives him apparent immortality.
To get that info, they sought out Toland, the Shattered, an exiled Guardian who'd grown obsessed with the Hive. Despite his apparent madness, Eriana and Eris recruited Toland to their team, and he told them what they needed to know: that they could kill Crota for good if they destroyed him in the Ascendant Realm. Armed with Toland's information about Crota and his minions and something of a plan, the group added three more to their number: Guardians Sai Mota, Vell Tarlowe, and Omar Agah. Together, they formed a raid team and headed to the moon to destroy Crota and get Eriana's revenge.
The mission was doomed almost from the start. As the group descended into the Hellmouth, they found their Light drained by Hive magic, which meant they struggled to heal and resurrect themselves as they fought through innumerable Hive enemies. One by one, the members of the fireteam were killed, until only Eris remained. Toland had his body destroyed by a Hive Deathsinger but survived as a spirit in the Ascendant Realm, and Eriana managed to challenge Crota but died in the attempt. Eris survived, but her Ghost did not, and she found herself trapped in the Hive's tunnels and warrens.
Somehow, Eris stayed alive amid the Hive for years, hiding in the shadows and following the whispers she heard from the bones of an Ahamkara (like Riven, the wish-granting boss of the Forsaken raid Last Wish) to find her way back out. Along the way, she lost her Ghost, but learned to utilize some Hive magic--even stealing three of their eyes to use as her own.
She eventually made her way back to the Tower in the first Destiny expansion, The Dark Below. There, she recruited a raid team of player Guardians to finish what she'd started. They managed to descend into the Hellmouth, and using what Eris had learned during her years there, destroyed the Oversoul and killed Crota once and for all.
Oryx Strikes Back
Crota's death eventually drew the wrath of Oryx, the Taken King. As detailed in the Hive's creation myth, the Books of Sorrow, Oryx is one of the original three Hive, and was revered among their society as a god. When Oryx showed up in the solar system aboard his ship, the Dreadnaught, he first encountered the Awoken of the Reef and their queen, Mara Sov. The Awoken fleet managed to greatly damage the Hive's armada, but the Dreadnaught itself went mostly undamaged. In the end, Oryx used his own Oversoul weapon to destroy almost all of the Awoken fleet, and seemingly, Mara Sov as well.
The Awoken went on believing Mara was dead until the events of Forsaken, but in fact, she and Eris Morn had planned for Oryx's arrival. Mara used the power of the Dreaming City to create her own throne world in the Ascendant Realm, the same as the Hive did--which allowed her spirit to survive even if her physical body was destroyed.
Meanwhile, Eris recruited player Guardians to once again battle the Hive. This time, they had to infiltrate the Dreadnaught, which was both Oryx's flagship, his greatest weapon, and his throne world, the source of his immortality. With Eris's guidance, the Guardians managed to kill Oryx just like they had Crota, destroying him in the Ascendant Realm.
With Oryx destroyed, the Hive wouldn't mount another serious threat until Forsaken, when the Taken managed to attack and occupy the Awoken Dreaming City. Through lore in Forsaken and beyond, it started to become apparent what had really been happening throughout the second year of Destiny 2: Oryx's sister, the Witch Queen Savathun, was attacking the Dreaming City--and the rest of the solar system.
In a behind-the-scenes way, Savathun has been the big enemy of most of Destiny 2. She's been quietly working in the solar system ever since Oryx's death. Quria, the Vex mind Oryx Took, apparently managed to simulate Oryx's power, and is using it to build a new Taken army. It also managed to Take Riven, the Awoken's Ahamkara that lives in the Dreaming City. With Riven under her control, Savathun used the creature to convince Mara Sov's brother, Uldren, to open the way to the Dreaming City. She also used Riven and Quria to curse the city with its three-week time loop. It seems Savathun has been using the time loop and the repeated deaths of Riven and her daughter, Dul Incaru, to gain power. Savathun's ultimate goal is to reach the Distributary, a pocket universe where the Awoken lived, immortal, for thousands of years. The thing is, the Distributary experiences time at a different rate than the rest of the universe. Being there would allow Savathun to spend eons accumulating power while much less time passed in the normal universe. Basically, Savathun wants to gain access to the Distributary to become a god, and she's using the curse of the Dreaming City to do it.
Mara Sov is working against Savathun, however, with both Eris's help and that of other allies, including the Nine. We're still not sure what exactly Mara is up to--she's been missing for some time, although Guardians were previously able to visit her in her Ascendant Realm throne world.
We also know that Savathun has been actively messing with other events around the solar system in conjunction with her attempts to take the Dreaming City. A Hive ritual directed by Savathun is at the heart of the Savathun's Song Strike on Titan, and Lake of Shadows sees new Taken, apparently created by Quria, attacking the EDZ on Earth. The most recent raid, Crown of Sorrows, was the result of Savathun's attempt to conquer Calus, the Cabal emperor in exile who hangs out on the Leviathan over Nessus. Savathun left the crown for Calus to find, hoping he would don it in an attempt to control the Hive. Instead, Calus created a new minion in Gahlran and forced him to wear the crown--it drove him insane and gave the Hive a foothold on the Leviathan, which was why players had to band together in the raid to take him out.
We don't know exactly what Eris Morn has been up to for the last two years, but she's been missing since after the defeat of Oryx. Bungie filled in some of the gaps in five narrative previews it posted on its website, which explain that Eris has been working with Mara since before Oryx's invasion, in preparation for everything that has happened in Forsaken and beyond. Part of that preparation sent Eris back to the moon, working to find out more information about the Hive.
While there, Eris made some interesting discoveries. She saw ghostly visions of her lost fireteam, and she encountered the spirit of Toland once again--not a ghost, but the real thing. Toland suggested that the attempt on Crota years earlier and its dismal failure might have been orchestrated by Savathun's manipulations and that Eris's survival might not have been an accident or a matter of luck.
A little is known about what Eris has been up to on the moon. She's apparently discovered something important tied to the Hive, which has drummed up Nightmares--spooky versions both dead Guardians who haunt the moon, as well as revitalized past enemies that we've defeated along the way throughout the Destiny games. They seem to be tied to the Darkness, the evil power worshiped by the Hive and the Vex. Shadowkeep is set to seemingly advance Destiny's story as relates to the Darkness with new discoveries to be made under its surface. The Hive have also raised a new fortress, the red Shadowkeep, on the moon, and we don't yet know what that's all about.
Still, we don't exactly know what Eris has discovered or what her agenda is in bringing us back to the moon.
Other Hanging Threads: Medusa, The Anomaly, The Vex, And The Pyramid Ships
There are a few other interesting things scattered around in Destiny 2 lore that also relate to Eris and the campaign on the moon. One lore book discovered in the Dreaming City, Truth to Power, starts out appearing to be a series of messages sent by Eris Morn to players. Continue reading, however, and "Eris" later reveals herself to be Medusa, a warmind that was aboard one of the colony ships full of people who eventually became the Awoken back during the Collapse, the event in Destiny's history in which the Darkness arrived in the solar system to attack the Traveler. Medusa's messages are weird and a bit confusing--it's still not clear what its deal is. And by the end of the lore book, whoever is sending them again claims to be Eris.
Meanwhile, Bungie's physical Collector's Edition for Shadowkeep sheds a little more light on what might be creating the Nightmares and what players are going to discover on the moon. It details the Anomaly, a strange, spherical black object Clovis Bray scientists discovered on the moon back during the Golden Age, before the Collapse. Apparently, the Anomaly was a "transceiver," sending and receiving signals from some distant, unidentified person or thing. The Anomaly also had strange psychological effects on the people studying it, which included giving them vivid nightmares. Eventually, Clovis Bray scientists encased the Anomaly in "the cladding," a ridiculously complex series of safety measures meant to contain the thing and minimize its effects on the people studying it. We've seen the Anomaly in Destiny 1--it was at the center of the moon-based Crucible map of the same name. Before they stopped studying them, though, it seems the signals corrupted the minds of the human scientists trying to figure them out. A journal included in the CE chronicles the slow degeneration of the lead scientist in charge of the project, but it's not clear what eventually happened to the team.
And then there's the Vex. We know that the Season of the Undying, the next live content drop heading to Destiny 2 with Shadowkeep, is all about the Vex's response to what the Hive is up to and an eventual invasion of the moon from the Black Garden. We're still waiting on more information about the Vex's goals, but it's worth reiterating the Vex's ties with the Hive. As mentioned, Savathun tricked Crota into allowing the Hive into the Ascendant Realm, and Crota fought the Hive for a whole long time after that happened. Savathun controls Quria, which is significant to the on-going Taken threat in the solar system and specifically in the Dreaming City. And we know the Vex are coming from the Black Garden, a major location in Destiny 1--where players destroyed the Heart of the Black Garden, a big orb of seething Darkness goo.
Finally, there are the pyramid-like ships we last saw during the post-credits scene of the Destiny 2 vanilla campaign, which were seemingly awoken when the Traveler revived at the end of Destiny 2's story. When the Traveler let out a burst of light to destroy Ghaul, that burst continued to move through space until it hit the ships. We've seen hints about the ships since then--a hologram showed one in Mara's throne world, and the CE's journal has a few drawn on some of its pages. In the very first mission of Shadowkeep, you'll discover the pyramids are central to the Shadowkeep story.
All of that info feels significant when thinking about where Destiny 2's story seems to be heading next. We'll have to work our way through Shadowkeep to find out just exactly what's going on.