Destiny 2's Lightfall expansion releases on Tuesday, February 28, and it marks a significant development in the story that Bungie has been telling for almost a decade. Things are finally coming to a head and the power behind the Darkness--the Witness--has emerged. But just how did we get here?
Destiny's story is long and complicated. To truly understand everything that's happened, you need to have engaged with all of its expansions and seasonal content (much of which is no longer available), dug into lore entries, and pieced together a tremendous amount of information. The last two and a half years have been particularly notable in terms of sharing new information, as we learned more about the Darkness, the Traveler, and our role as Guardians in this long-running war--and even began to question whether long-held assumptions about who the good guys are have been correct.
To ensure you're fully up to speed when Lightfall and Season of Defiance launch on February 28, we've assembled a comprehensive recap of the story events of Beyond Light, The Witch Queen, and all of the accompanying seasons. Buckle in--this should be able to fill the remaining server downtime as you wait for your Lightfall preload to finish.
Beyond Light expansion
After the disappearance of the four planets, the Black Fleet stops its incursion, remaining on the outskirts of the Solar System. One of the pyramid ships lands on Europa, the frozen moon of Jupiter. A distress signal summons you to the moon's surface, quickly revealing that more has been going on with the Darkness than we previously knew. It turns out, the message comes from an unexpected source: Variks of House Judgment.
Variks is a character who hasn't been around for quite a while, but he was a major part of the original Destiny. Variks was loyal to Mara Sov and the Awoken, but when Mara was seemingly killed during the Battle of Saturn against Oryx, Variks disappeared. It hasn't been clear what happened to him during the intervening years, until now.
Before he left the Reef, Variks served as the warden of the Awoken's huge jail, the Prison of Elders. It was there that he found Eramis, the Ship-Stealer, an old Fallen leader. Variks came to believe that Eramis was the leader his people needed--someone who could unite the Fallen under a single banner and help them seek peace and prosperity, instead of endlessly scavenging and scraping by in the Solar System. Variks helped Eramis and her allies escape the Prison of Elders, and in so doing, also released Mara's brother, Uldren Sov, along with his Scorn Barons. It wasn't his intention, but Variks was indirectly responsible for the death of Cayde-6 at Uldren's hands.
Eramis and her followers headed to Europa, where they found Eventide, a city and research station that had once belonged to Clovis Bray during humanity's Golden Age. There, they established a safe haven for the Fallen (or Eliksni, the name they call themselves). They named their new city Riis-Reborn, after the homeworld they'd fled, Riis, when the Darkness descended on it and the Traveler abandoned them.
After the Black Fleet arrived in the Solar System, one of the ships landed on Europa, and things started to change. Eramis communed with the pyramid and was gifted with Splinters of Darkness--artifacts that allowed her to control Darkness the same way Guardians control Light. Slowly, her message stopped being one of protecting the Eliksni people and giving them a peaceful place to thrive, and more about creating a new Eliksni empire. Variks, seeing Eramis as corrupted by her new power and the influence of the Darkness, sent out a distress signal to his former Guardian allies.
You find Variks and rescue him from Eramis's forces, but quickly find out that her new Darkness abilities, the ice-based power known as Stasis, make her too powerful for you to take down on your own. Meanwhile, Variks acknowledges the role he played in Cayde-6's death, but the Vanguard decides to work with him to deal with the threat posed by Eramis.
Luckily for you, others have become aware of the power of Stasis and have been studying it, anticipating the arrival of the Black Fleet. The Drifter is joined by Eris Morn in studying Stasis, and they're aided by another unlikely figure: The Exo Stranger. We haven't seen the Stranger since the earliest days of Destiny, when she sent us to the Black Garden to destroy its heart. Now, finally, she's back, serving as a mentor in communing with the Black Pyramids and claiming the power of Stasis for ourselves. The Stranger, along with Eris and the Drifter, believe the only way to defeat the Darkness will be to use its own power against it, along with the Light. To them, Light and Darkness are just different forms of energy--neither is inherently "good" or "evil." They hope to prove that with your help, and to prepare humanity to stand against the Black Fleet and the Entity that controls it.
First, though, you need to take down Eramis. Using intelligence from Variks and your new Darkness powers, you make your way through the ruins of Europa to eliminate each of Eramis's lieutenants. As you do so, you discover what Eventide was used for. This was the facility where Clovis Bray, the man in control of the corporation that bore his name, perfected the Exo project. Exos are robot bodies with human minds downloaded into them, but modern Exos have no idea where they came from or how they came to be. Europa answers that question: They were created by Clovis with the goal of defying death and allowing humans to gain immortality. Of course, Clovis wanted this for himself most of all.
With Eramis's supporters eliminated, you're finally able to take the fight to Eramis herself. With the combined power of Light and Darkness, you're able to defeat her. In the final moments, it seems that the Darkness abandons Eramis to her fate, allowing her to be frozen solid by her Stasis powers.
There are still more threats to deal with on Europa, however. The first is Eramis's final lieutenant, who was sent to one of Clovis's most important facilities: the Deep Stone Crypt.
Deep Stone Crypt raid
The Exo Stranger summons you to venture into the Deep Stone Crypt raid, where Eramis's lieutenant, Atraks, is trying to execute the last of the Kell's plans. The Crypt is where Clovis Bray finally cracked the code of creating Exos, a program he'd struggled with for years. The Brays suffered from a degenerative genetic disease, and Clovis hoped to save himself--and to a lesser extent, his family--by unlocking the ability to transfer a human mind into an Exo body. Before he created the Deep Stone Crypt research center, the program was a failure. Clovis's own son went mad when transferred into his Exo body, literally tearing himself apart.
Venturing through the Deep Stone Crypt, you discover how Clovis solved the mystery of the Exos. After his experiments on the moon, he found something he dubbed "Clarity Control." It was a Darkness statue, identical to the one you discovered in the Garden of Salvation raid, but much larger. The statue radiates Darkness energy and seems to be a direct link to the Entity controlling the force. That intelligence guided Clovis in the creation of the Exos, telling him how to build a device that could open a portal to a Vex colony around a distant star. Clovis used the portal to capture Vex constructs and study them. The secret to making the Exos work was the introduction of the Vex's Radiolarian fluid into their design; in other words, the Darkness was the key needed to make the Exo program work, and every Exo has some Darkness within them.
Eramis wanted to use the Exo program to create an army of Fallen Exos, who would be powerful soldiers to help her build her empire. Atraks used the Deep Stone Crypt to resurrect Taniks, a vicious Fallen mercenary and cyborg who players had fought, and killed, at several points in Destiny's history.
After you defeat Atraks, Taniks attempts to destroy the Deep Stone Crypt facility by using a failsafe Clovis created in the event that Clarity Control, which he somewhat mistrusted, turned against him. Part of the Crypt was an orbital station that Clovis could drop onto the main facility, completely wiping out both. Taniks attempts to kill you by dropping the orbital station onto Europa, but you manage to stop him. The station crashes, and in the wreckage, you bring Taniks down one final time.
In the aftermath of the raid, the Exo Stranger reveals that her true identity is Elsie Bray, Clovis's granddaughter and Ana Bray's sister. What's more, Elsie is a time traveler who has been attempting to fix the timeline through her influence on you. She's seen a future where the Darkness takes over the Solar System, killing and corrupting Guardians. When Elsie first directed Guardians to the Black Garden back in Destiny 1, she altered the timeline in a key way. Since then, she has seen numerous futures but has never been able to stop the Darkness or protect her sister Ana. Our timeline is her latest attempt; here, she's guided us toward Stasis and revealed herself to Ana, hoping these changes will keep her sister from falling to corruption.
Clovis, it turns out, also still lives. He copied his mind into the computers that run the Deep Stone Crypt and Eventide research facilities, creating an AI from his personality that still exists, hidden on Europa. He also eventually downloaded himself into an Exo body just as the portal he created for his Exo research allowed the Vex to launch an invasion of Europa. In his new body, with his memories of his past life wiped, Clovis decided to help the people living in Eventide and fight the Vex. He eventually emerged victorious, but not before falling repeatedly in battle and having his mind wiped over and over as a result. That Clovis Exo still lives on--as Banshee-44, the Tower's gunsmith. The numerous resets have caused Banshee to forget his past life, and his self-sacrifice has changed him into the man Clovis had always struggled to be.
Season of the Hunt
While Eramis attempted to create her empire on Europa, the exiled Warlock Osiris was traveling the Solar System, investigating the four planets that disappeared in Season of Arrivals. Osiris discovered that, while the planets seem to have vanished, something is left behind where they used to be: a sort of Darkness anomaly.
During the course of his investigation, however, Osiris is attacked by the forces of Xivu Arath, the Hive god of war and sister to Oryx and Savathun, and his Ghost, Sagira, is destroyed. Devastated by the loss, Osiris sets off for revenge. You find him on the moon, under attack by a Hive Knight. Osiris's life is saved by, shockingly, Uldren Sov.
After players hunted down Uldren with the help of Petra Venj, he was laid to rest in the Dreaming City. That's where a Ghost named Glint found him, and Uldren was resurrected as a Guardian. Like other Guardians, the resurrected Uldren doesn't remember anything of his past life; he is, effectively, a new person. Calling himself "The Crow," this new Guardian found himself attacked and shunned for what Uldren had done to Cayde.
At some point, Crow was discovered by the Spider, the Eliksni crimelord living on the Tangled Shore. Spider recognized both who Crow had been and who he was now, and realized he could exploit the situation. He took Crow into his service, offering him a place where he could belong. Secretly, though, Spider had explosives placed inside Glint's shell; if Crow disobeyed his new master, Spider could kill his Ghost and rob him of his Lightbearer powers.
After meeting you and Osiris, Crow brings you back to Spider, where you learn that Xivu Arath has encroached on the Tangled Shore. The Hive god's forces have left strange totems across the Tangled Shore that corrupt creatures that venture near them, helping Xivu Arath raise an army from the species already present in the Solar System. Under Osiris's leadership and with Crow's help, you go on a hunt to root out and destroy these "Wrathborn" creatures before Xivu Arath can consolidate her power.
Ultimately, with Crow's help, you track down and defeat the High Celebrant, Xivu Arath's lieutenant and the creature that killed Sagira. Through working together, you and Osiris come to respect Crow, and the payment you demand from Spider for helping secure the Tangled Shore is Crow's freedom.
Through the course of the season, Crow also undergoes strange dreams, which seem to be messages from the Traveler. Those dreams guide him and you to a dam in the European Dead Zone, where the two of you discover a Shard of the Traveler attacked by Taken forces. After eliminating the Taken, you and Crow discover what the Traveler wanted you to find: Hawkmoon, a Light-infused Exotic weapon meant to help you combat the Darkness.
Season of the Chosen
While the High Celebrant was trying to get a foothold in the Solar System for Xivu Arath's forces, the Hive God of War was at work elsewhere. In Season of the Chosen, we discover that Xivu Arath attacked Torobatl, the Cabal homeworld. The Cabal and their forces, led by Calus's daughter, Empress Caiatl, were driven from their home. With nowhere else to go, Caiatl brought her people into the Solar System, hoping to rally the remnants of the Red Legion to mount a stand against the Hive.
Caiatl also turns her attention to the Vanguard and meets with Commander Zavala to broker an alliance--but fearing that she'll lose face with her generals if she's too lenient, Caiatl demands Zavala kneel before her and join the Cabal under her command. Zavala refuses Cabal control, leaving the two forces at an impasse. The Vanguard fears the possibility of another war with the Cabal, and Zavala is unwilling to let Caiatl consolidate more power in the Solar System.
Zavala, joined by his mentor, Lord Saladin, and Osiris, launches a plan to undercut Caiatl's plans. As she draws Red Legion forces to her, Caiatl has invoked an ancient Cabal tradition called the Rite of Proving, giving soldiers the opportunity to compete to become part of her war council. Under the Cabal's traditions, those who take part in the rites must answer any challengers. Saladin and Osiris send Guardians out to challenge those Cabal soldiers who might join Caiatl's war council, using the Rite of Proving to draw them out and eliminate them. It's a way to cut the Cabal's power without engaging in a full-fledged conflict with them.
Back in the Last City, Osiris serves Zavala as an adviser, and brings Crow along. He provides Crow with a mask that hides his identity, believing that no one in the City--least of all Zavala--will accept the resurrected Uldren Sov, even if Crow is a different person. While serving the Vanguard, Crow begins to suspect that Zavala could be in danger from conspirators among the Cabal, and maybe even Caiatl herself. He begins to shadow the Vanguard commander in order to keep him safe.
It turns out that Crow is right, and one night in the City, he stops an assassination attempt against Zavala. With even more reason to fear for Zavala's life, Crow works to uncover the conspirators working to eliminate the Vanguard's commander.
Meanwhile, a strange distress call is detected in the Solar System, drawing you to a derelict Cabal ship called the Glykon Volatis. With Osiris providing tactical support, you investigate the ship and discover that it was a research vessel working for Calus. Caiatl becomes aware of your investigation and also takes part, hoping to discover Calus's whereabouts so she can hunt him down. The Glykon at first seems deserted, but you soon discover it's filled with Scorn.
Repeated trips to the Glykon reveal what happened aboard the ship. Calus was searching for a way to contact the Entity behind the Darkness and hoped to do so with the Crown of Sorrow, the Hive artifact that Savathun tried to trick Calus into wearing back during the Crown of Sorrow raid. Calus had hoped to force a Scorn to wear the crown; the Scorn are undead creatures created through Darkness thanks to Riven and Savathun, so Calus experiments on them and hopes to use their connection to the Darkness to reach the Entity. The crew of the Glykon is led by a Shadow, a Guardian in Calus's service, who leaves accounts of what happened aboard the ship and its eventual downfall.
The experiments aboard the Glykon initially fail, and Calus orders the ship to fly into the anomaly left behind when Mars disappears. Using the Scorn, Calus finally did make contact with the Entity. According to the Guardian commanding the ship, the emperor then just...disappeared. Meanwhile, the crew of the Glykon found the anomaly affected them in strange ways. It twisted and rearranged the ship and damaged their mental states. Soon, the Scorn escaped their confines and revolted, killing everyone aboard the ship.
Meanwhile, the battle against Caiatl's forces reaches a crescendo when the Vanguard challenges the empress's champion and wins the Rite of Proving. Impressed, Caiatl meets Zavala to formalize a truce. During the summit, Psion forces within the empress's ranks attack Zavala, using a miniaturized version of Ghaul's Traveler net technology from the Red War to cut off Zavala's connection to his Ghost. At the last second, however, Crow saves Zavala's life, and Caiatl has the assassins killed, maintaining that the plot was not her doing. Crow's mask is knocked off, revealing his former identity to Zavala. But rather than choose to attack the man that was Uldren Sov, Zavala offers him a hand and welcomes him into the Vanguard--although he's not exactly happy that so many people close to him have been lying about Crow's identity.
Season of the Splicer
In the City, the Vex launch a strange attack: the Endless Night. The ins and outs are a little tough to explain, but basically, it's some kind of simulation that blankets the City in darkness, causing sickness and draining power.
On Europa, a group of Eliksni call for aid as the Vex attempt to hunt them down. They're loyal to Mithrax, an Eliksni with a long history with the Vanguard. In the early days of Destiny 2, there was a mission on Titan in which players chased a wiley Fallen captain to stop him from stealing Golden Age technology. The mission culminated with finding the captain locked in combat with a Hive Knight. Players could kill the knight and spare the captain, who would react with surprise, and then thank the Guardian and disappear. That act of mercy put Mithrax on a long course of choosing to forgo his history with the Fallen crews and instead start a new faction: House Light.
During the Beyond Light campaign, Variks enlisted your help to evacuate Fallen refugees who fled from conscription into Eramis's forces. Mithrax was the guy who was picking up those refugees and helping them flee to safety; House Light is loyal to the Traveler and an ally to Guardians, seeking peace for the Eliksni.
Arriving on Europa, you save Mithrax and the House Light refugees from the Vex. Mithrax reveals that he's being hunted because of what he's discovered about the Endless Night. Ikora and the Vanguard agree to give the Eliksni refugees safety in the Last City--they're allowed to stay in the section that was previously part of the Scourge of the Past raid--in exchange for Mithrax's help stopping the Vex and the Endless Night.
Mithrax is what's known as a "Sacred Splicer," an Eliksni with a special command of technology that also draws on the power of Light. With his help and an Eliksni Splicer gauntlet and with Osiris once again leading the effort, you're able to delve into the Vex network, a strange computer world that's not unlike the Ascendant Realm, but for the Vex. Within the network, Guardians search for the Vex mind responsible for the Endless Night, gaining more and more intelligence about the situation in order to put a stop to it.
Dispelling the Endless Night takes a long time, though, and meanwhile, the Darkness is taking its toll on the citizens of the City. The humans who live there are uneasy about having Fallen within their borders--these aliens have been enemies of humanity for centuries, after all, and some of the worst battles ever fought saw Fallen invaders trying to bring the Last City down once and for all. The Eliksni refugees are met with derision, racism, and eventually, violence. Lakshmi-2, the leader of the Future War Cult faction, one of the three civilian groups that make up the Last City's government, takes to making anti-Eliksni radio addresses, demagoguing to the people of the City and fomenting resentment. The ongoing Endless Night just makes things worse as the people become more angry and restless.
Eventually, expeditions into the Vex network reveal who's really behind the Endless Night: Savathun. The Hive god of cunning is making use of Quria, a Vex mind that Oryx "took" way back in Destiny's lore. The Vex are unwilling puppets under the influence of Quria and Savathun. Fighting through the network reveals Quria's location and after clearing out other Vex minds to open the path, Guardians eliminate Quria. That puts an end to the Endless Night, although it takes a while for the simulation to end.
That's when Lakshmi leaps into action. Throughout the course of the season, Lakshmi has been attempting to grow her power through political machinations. She uses a special device controlled by the Future War Cult to see possible futures, and in one, she saw herself becoming the leader of the Last City and doing away with the Eliksni she hates. Lakshmi sees the Vanguard's protection of the Eliksni as a massive failure, allowing enemies into humanity's stronghold, and she has the support of the other two civilian factions, New Monarchy and Dead Orbit, for a power grab. Lakshmi has apparently talked with Osiris about the possibility of new leadership, and she even approached Saint-14 about becoming the new head of the Vanguard. Saint, however, has been changed by his interactions with Mithrax and the Eliksni. Once a crusader against the Fallen, he now feels a kinship with them, and considers the refugees as much his people, worthy of protection, as any humans.
Lakshmi releases one last message, claiming that she has worked with Osiris to take control from the Vanguard, and opens a Vex portal in the Eliksni quarter of the City. The Vex invade, attacking the Eliksni and killing Lakshmi, but Guardians rush in to help. The battle ultimately sees Saint fighting side by side with Mithrax to protect Eliksni lives, and with your help and that of Ikora, the Vex are defeated and the portal is closed.
Osiris, watching the aftermath from the rooftops, disappears from the City, leaving everyone wondering what has happened. The attack further unites humanity with House Light, however, with a respect building between the Vanguard and Mithrax's people. The Endless Night does, in fact, end.
Season of the Lost
Osiris turns up again in the Dreaming City, asking for an audience with Mara Sov, who we last saw in the Ascendant Realm back during the Forsaken campaign. When you follow with Saint, Ikora, and Crow to find out what's going on, Osiris reveals the truth: The person you believed was Osiris for the last year was, in fact, Savathun. Using her Hive magic, Savathun has possessed or perhaps infested Osiris, puppeting his body. The real Osiris was present within his body as well, watching this all unfold, tortured by seeing his friends interact with Savathun without realizing it.
Savathun transforms into a huge, indestructible crystal to protect herself, pledging to return Osiris unharmed if Mara helps remove Savathun's worm parasite. The worm is what gives Savathun and Hive like her their Darkness-derived powers and immortality, but the worms are fed by death and conquest and always demand more. That effectively makes the Hive slaves to the worms, because the worms will consume the hosts if not continually fed. Savathun wants to be free of her worm so that she can be rid of this endless obligation, and Mara is willing to oblige--but for her own reasons.
Mara has a serious grudge against Savathun. It was Savathun who, with Riven's help, manipulated Uldren Sov into opening the way to the Dreaming City, and Savathun who trapped the Dreaming City in its endless three-week time loop for reasons we still don't fully understand. Mara wants to get her revenge, and realizes that, if she removes Savathun's worm, the Hive god will be vulnerable. So Mara pretends to cooperate with the worm-removal ritual, but intends to betray Savathun and murder her as soon as the worm is out.
In order for the ritual to take place, however, Mara needs the help of her Techeuns, a group of powerful Awoken who combine technology with a sort of magic. It was the Techeuns who finally managed to rescue Mara from the Ascendant Realm, where she's been stuck ever since the Battle of Saturn, when Oryx destroyed the Awoken fleet. In saving Mara, however, the Techeuns were scattered across the Ascendant Realm. They need to be tracked down and rescued--which is your job throughout the Season of the Lost.
Meanwhile, Savathun is hanging out in her crystal in the middle of Mara's throne in the Dreaming City, and she has nothing to do but talk to people. She talks to you about her deception as Osiris and claims she was actually trying to help you, even though everything she did seems like it was calculated to undermine the Vanguard and the Last City. Savathun has demonstrated that she's also an enemy of the Darkness--part of why she's hiding out in the Dreaming City is because she's being pursued by Xivu Arath. She claims that all her machinations were actually about helping you, and there's at least some evidence for that. Through Savathun's maneuvers, you found Crow and brought him into the Vanguard, found peace with Caiatl, and created an alliance with the Eliksni. But her true goals aren't clear.
Throughout the season, Crow struggles to deal with Mara, who dislikes the Guardian version of her brother and is grappling with her own contribution to what happened to Uldren. Crow, too, struggles with the fact that Osiris, someone who was kind to him and who he considered a friend, was actually Savathun all along. The two figures seem to be battling to influence Crow, and that culminates in a final moment in which Savathun uses her power to restore Uldren's memories to Crow. Suddenly, Crow understands who he was, what he did, and why everyone hated Uldren. It causes him to spiral, and he takes time away from the Vanguard and the Dreaming City.
With all the Techeuns finally united, Mara performs the worm ritual. It successfully removes Savathun's worm, but before Mara can close her trap, the crystal shatters and Savathun disappears. Left behind is Osiris, who has fallen into a coma but is still alive. Saint returns him to the City to be cared for, but everyone wonders what Savathun has in store for them now that she's free of her worm.
The Witch Queen expansion
Savathun doesn't reappear right away after she flees the Dreaming City, but the planet Mars suddenly does. It returns changed after its disappearance; when you head there to investigate, you find areas that are seemingly trapped at a different time, during the Golden Age. Hovering over the planet is a massive ship that belongs to Savathun. It seems weird that the Hive god would make herself known so soon after her escape, but you board the ship anyway.
What you find on board changes everything: Hive warriors who carry the power of the Light, like Guardians. They even have their own Ghosts. In order to kill these Hive for good, you have to destroy their Ghost companions, an unsettling act even after centuries of war with the death-worshiping Hive.
The ship turns out to be a portal to Savathun's throne world in the Ascendant Realm. Like Oryx's Throne World, Savathun's reflects her personality and, when she still had her worm, gave her a kind of immortality. As you venture into the strange, swampy place, you run into more Hive Lightbearers, and then Savathun herself--wielding all the same powers as a Guardian.
After escaping from the Witch Queen, you set about investigating the Throne World, trying to discover how Savathun managed to steal the power of the Light. Along the way, you uncover a strange artifact called the Enigma. And back on Mars, Ikora and her Hidden operatives discover a strange building they come to refer to as the Relic. Linked to the Darkness, the Relic allows you to look into the past of objects, which allows you to revert the artifact you found into the weapon it once was, called a glaive. The artifact is the first clue as to what's going on in the Throne World and how Savathun took control of the Light.
Investigating the Throne World further, you stumble across a Hive Ghost named Fynch, who claims to be an ally. Fynch is a conscientious objector--he found he didn't like his Hive Lightbearer, and when he was killed, Fynch refused to revive him. Fynch now provides information to you and Ikora to help you figure out what is going on with Savathun.
Venturing through the Throne World, you discover a special altar hidden within. If you place objects on the altar, you can unlock Savathun's hidden memories trapped within them. Fynch leads you to other useful artifacts, including the shell of Sagira, Osiris's Ghost, and the petrified first worm discovered by Savathun long before the birth of the Hive.
Your investigation eventually reveals two incredible truths. First, you find that the Entity behind the Darkness tricked Savathun and her siblings into embracing the worm gods and the Darkness in order to keep them from being aided by the Traveler--essentially, eons of the Hive's worship of death and genocide of whole species was all built on a lie in order to enslave them.
Next, you discover that Savathun didn't steal the Light. When Mara Sov tried to kill Savathun after the ritual to remove her worm in the Dreaming City, Mara was successful. Savathun escaped, but she was mortally wounded. Savathun made her way to a ridge bordering the Last City and begged the Traveler to help her. Moments after she died, Savathun was discovered by her Ghost, Immaru--and revived.
This is a huge revelation. Ghosts don't know why they pick the people they do to bond with and resurrect as Lightbearers. Many spend years or even centuries scanning the remains of dead people, hoping to find the one person who they'll bond with--but they can't explain why that one dead person is their Lightbearer. The interpretation by both Ghosts and followers of the Traveler is that Ghosts don't choose who should be resurrected as a Lighbearer; rather, it's the Traveler who picks. That shakes people like Zavala and Ikora to their cores; they've believed all their lives that they've been chosen by the Traveler to be Guardians. By that logic, Savathun and her Hive Lightbearers were also chosen by the Traveler. They're just as legitimate as Guardians.
Wandering throughout the Throne World to uncover Savathun's memories, however, turns out to be a trap in and of itself. We find out that Savathun left those artifacts behind specifically for us to find, and that by using them to unlock her memories, we've actually restored Savathun's memories. Like any other Guardian, Savathun didn't remember her past life when she was resurrected. She had hoped the Traveler would choose her after freeing herself from her worm, and a trail of breadcrumbs for the player to follow to help her realize her goals. With her memories restored, Savathun is free to enact the last phase of her master plan: to capture the Traveler.
The race is on to stop Savathun once and for all. The Hive god hopes to lure the Traveler into her Throne World, which would lock off the power of its Light from the rest of the world. Guardians would lose their connection to the Light, and only the Hive would maintain that power. You take on Savathun before she can do this and show her the memories that prove that she and the rest of the Hive were tricked by the Entity. Defeated, Savathun releases the Traveler and dies--but her Ghost, Immaru, manages to escape. Savathun's body is taken by the Vanguard, but with Immaru still at large, it's possible the Witch Queen could one day return.
Savathun didn't just leave you memories to trick you into restoring her as a Guardian, however. She also left behind memories for you to find that function as messages directly to you. It seems that Savathun's plans persist even after her death, and she provides you with more cryptic hints about the future. It's also through Savathun that you learn about the enigmatic Entity behind the Darkness, a being known as the Witness.
Vow of the Disciple raid
Exploring the Throne World, you discover that while the Hive essentially functioned as the Witness's army, scouring the universe at its behest, it had stopped trusting Savathun. The Witch Queen's whole deal, after all, was being cunning, and she had been working against the Witness for some time after discovering that she and the rest of the Hive had been manipulated by the worms. In response, the Witness sent one of its most powerful lieutenants, a creature known as a Disciple of the Witness named Rhulk, to keep an eye on Savathun.
You find a landed Black Fleet pyramid in the Throne World, where Rhulk made his home. The Disciple also set up a black city in the Throne World where he could create more worms, to be sure that there would never be a shortage of parasites to bind to new Hive warriors. Venturing inside, you learn that it was Rhulk who first subjugated the worm gods, forcing them to lie to and enslave the Hive.
When Savathun gained the Light, it changed her as a person, and thus, its power bled into the Throne World and reshaped it to match. That power locked Rhulk away in his pyramid, which is why Scorn have invaded the Throne World to battle the Hive there; Rhulk is trying to regain control. Inside the pyramid, he experimented with the worm parasites and the Scorn, hoping to empower the Witness's new army to make them strong enough to take on the Hive, and anyone else who might stand in his way.
Rhulk welcomes you into his pyramid, at least at first, but upon realizing you won't join him, plans to destroy you. He hopes to sunder the Throne World using a superweapon called the Upended, which Rhulk used to annihilate other planets--including his own home world. Before he can do that, however, you manage to fight your way to him and destroy the Disciple. The Vanguard is stuck continuing to fight to control both the pyramid and the Throne World, but at least for the time being, the threat to the Traveler and the threat of the Upended are gone.
Season of the Risen
Immaru is working as the commander of Savathun's forces, known as the Lucent Hive, and they're not content to stay in her Throne World. They're also venturing out into the rest of the Solar System, attacking Guardians in places like the EDZ and the Cosmodrome, but it's unclear what Immaru is trying to accomplish. The Vanguard needs more information to stop the threat of the Lucent Hive.
Zavala turns to Caiatl for help. At this point, the Vanguard and the Cabal are having warmer diplomatic relations and decide to work together. Caiatl provides her Psions to help in the operation, which is led by Lord Saladin, with Crow serving under his command. With the help of some Cabal-built machinery and a device called the Synaptic Spear, the plan for the operation is to capture Lucent Hive lieutenants and break into their minds to discover Immaru's overall plan.
As the seasonal story unfolds, you capture several Hive lieutenants and disrupt their operations on Earth, where they are killing Guardians and, apparently, harvesting their Light. After breaking into the minds of the lieutenants and severing them from their Light, they're kept in a Cabal containment apparatus in the Vanguard's special HELM command center. The containment system keeps the Hive lieutenants in a kind of limbo--neither living or dead. That allows the lead Psion to plumb their minds for information, but Crow is morally opposed to the methods. Though the Hive may be the Hive, they still deserve mercy, he believes, especially as Lightbearers. Lord Saladin agrees, but believes the information gleaned from the Hive is so important that these methods are necessary.
After enough lieutenants are gathered, Caiatl's Psion gleans enough information to determine Immaru's plan. The Lucent Hive are gathering and storing captured Light and intend to take over the Scarlet Keep on the moon, a Hive stronghold currently controlled by Xivu Arath's forces and located overtop of a Black Fleet pyramid hidden beneath the lunar surface. With the Keep, Immaru can use the captured Light to summon Savathun's Throne World to the moon, where he can launch a full-scale invasion against Earth. The idea is to depose the Guardians, with the Lucent Hive becoming the new, and only, protectors of the Traveler.
Saladin dispatches you and other Guardians to the moon, and you manage to stop the Lucent Hive. When you return to the HELM, however, you discover that Crow has accidentally killed the Psion helping with the operation by shutting down the containment system. The mistake is a monumental one, but while Crow regrets the Psion's death, he also believes the Vanguard's actions were torture for the Hive and were morally wrong.
When Caiatl finds out about the Psion's death, Crow tries to take responsibility, but Saladin instead offers himself to Caiatl in Crow's place. Instead of taking his life, Caiatl brings Saladin into her service, requiring him to serve on her war council. Saladin leaves the Vanguard and joins Caiatl, and soon climbs the ranks among her troops and becomes respected, but the loss is a major one to the Vanguard, the Guardians, and Crow himself.
While working with the Cabal during Season of the Risen, the Vanguard also discovers activity on Mars. Investigating the location in the Vox Obscura mission, you find that old Cabal facilities we last saw in Destiny 1 have been rebuilt. You fight your way through them to discover that the deserters from Caiatl's forces and rogue Psions have joined with Calus and are sending signals out to recruit more Cabal to their cause. You work with Caiatl to stop the signals and try to find out what Calus is up to, but ultimately only learn that the exiled emperor is still around and has a plan to enact of his own.
Season of the Haunted
It's not long before Calus resurfaces, in a way. His massive ship, the Leviathan, appears in orbit around the moon. As you venture aboard, you discover the place is twisted and covered with Darkness-saturated fungus, just like the Glykon, as well as infested with Nightmares, the phantom-like figures central to the Shadowkeep expansion. Calus, it seems, is attempting to commune with the pyramid buried beneath the lunar surface, and strengthening the Nightmares the pyramid creates. Zavala, Crow, and Caiatl are particularly affected by their torments.
We haven't heard much from Nightmares in a while, but Shadowkeep shed a lot of light on these strange phenomena. Thought they seem like spirits or specters of dead characters, they're actually a sort of psychological resonance--they're memories, not actual people or ghosts, born from the trauma of the people who remember them. In Shadowkeep, we helped Eris dispel the haunting memories of her fireteam, who died when they ventured into the moon's Hellmouth to destroy the Hive god Crota. Eris enlists you, Crow, and Zavala for a ritual that she hopes will bind their Nightmares and weaken Calus's power.
Once the ritual is completed, you head into the Leviathan to do some ghost-busting. The idea is that, with Eris's help, you can bind Nightmares in the Leviathan, strengthening a device called the Nightmare Harvester to use it to counteract Calus. The plan is to overcome the Nightmares haunting Crow, Zavala, and Caiatl, and finally stopping Calus from doing whatever it is he's trying to do in service of the Witness.
The story goes through some intense character moments. Crow battles with his memories of Uldren and the man he once was; Zavala seeks forgiveness for the family he lost years earlier; and Caiatl struggles over the loss of Torobatl and what she sees as the judgment of Ghaul. The story isn't just about beating each of their personal Nightmares, but about helping each of them to come to terms with their pasts and their trauma.
The season also takes players into Calus's psyche with the Duality dungeon, a sort of "mind heist" in which you try to find out what Calus is up to. What you uncover is the emperor's greatest trauma: that his daughter betrayed him. Unable to reconcile with their relationship or his own narcissism, Calus has embraced the Witness, intending to become its "Herald" and to help it achieve its goals of bringing about a second Collapse.
After helping each character come to terms with their Nightmares and reach a level of forgiveness, the team takes on Calus. Through his communion with the Witness and the Darkness anomaly, Calus has seemingly become one with the Leviathan, more a being of energy than of flesh. He's using his connection to the pyramid below to try to transfer himself into the ship, thus gaining the power of the Black Fleet and strengthening the Witness's forces. With the help of Caiatl and the transformed, calmed Nightmares of the other characters, you're able to stop Calus, cutting short his plans. He still manages to escape, but he's not successful in gaining the full power of either the pyramid or the Nightmares.
In the aftermath of the battle, however, Crow, Zavala, and Caiatl still have some personal baggage to sort out. Zavala in particular seems to take the events of Season of the Haunted pretty hard. Still, the commander has friends he can lean on, as demonstrated throughout the season, including the Cabal empress, who has become a full-on ally of the Vanguard.
Season of Plunder
After being frozen for more than a year following the end of Beyond Light, the Witness has released Eramis from her Stasis prison and charged her with locating several missing Darkness-infused relics. With Eramis back on the prowl and the wrath of Mara Sov bearing down on him, Spider, the Tangled Shore's Eliksni crime lord, contacts the Drifter to smuggle him to safety. Drifter enlists you to help with the rescue, and in return, Spider gives you access to his ketch, an Eliksni spaceship.
Your own vessel means you can sail the starry seas to take on Fallen pirate crews that Eramis has united under her banner, with the help of Drifter and Spider, as well as Mithrax and his daughter, Eido. Boarding ships and taking down their commanders allows you to gather clues about hidden treasure caches and track down the Darkness relics Eramis has been tasked with finding. Slowly, you start to gather them together, although it's not clear why the Witness wants them or what they're good for.
As Eido and Mithrax study the relics, Mithrax becomes more worried about what he's finding, and tries to shield Eido from information about the relics and her father's past. Eramis reveals the truth, however: Mithrax was once a vicious pirate leader himself, who used the relics to consolidate power. The artifacts are actually reliquaries that contain pieces of Nezarec, a dead Disciple of the Witness. The lunar pyramid was also Nezarec's tomb.
The revelations about her father have damaged Eido's relationship with Mithrax. The final cutscene of Season of the Plunder showed that Mithrax studied the Nezerec relics, which he claimed were connected by threads he could perceive and that they whispered to him. He transformed the Darkness relics and distilled its energy into a cup of tea that would raise Osiris from the unconscious state he was placed in when Savathun returned him during Season of the Lost. Having been successfully roused from his coma, Osiris indicates that he can remember some of Savathun's thoughts and fears and that she knew of a power kept secret on Neptune--likely hinting at the existence of Neomuna the new location we're headed to in the Lightfall expansion.
Season of the Seraph
When the Pyramid Fleet arrived in the Solar System in Season of Arrivals, Ana Bray encrypted the Rasputin AI core in an engram, hoping to restore him one day. Rasputin is a Warmind--extremely complex AI built during the Golden Age--capable of making use of Warsats to stop alien threats and brimming with knowledge from the Golden Age. At the start of Season of the Seraph, Ana is short on time to transfer Rasputin into an empty Exo frame, as he is effectively ready to die inside of his engram. Reluctantly, she seeks help from her grandfather Clovis Bray's AI on Europa after Osiris convinces her that Clovis would know how to fix the code.
When you arrive, Xivu Arath's Wrathborn, now including the Fallen House Salvation, have already invaded the BrayTech facility. Ana decides to move the Clovis AI into the Exo frame until they figure out what to do with Rasputin. Meanwhile, you spend the season working to gain control of the Warsat network by retrieving data from the Warmind subminds--named Malahayati and Charlemagne--and protect the Seraph orbital station where The Witness sent Eramis's Fallen to assist Xivu Arath's plans to co-opt the Warsat network.
Ana comes up with one final solution to help restore Rasputin, which calls for a visit to Felwinter's Peak--a snowy mountaintop introduced in Rise of Iron. Lord Felwinter was an Exo created by Rasputin, and his dead Ghost Felspring rested at the Iron Temple. After you transfer Rasputin's code and gather Felwinter's data, Rasputin awakens and is able to speak. Rasputin proceeds to warn Ana about how Clovis Bray's intentions during the Golden Age were worse than she thought.
Rasputin reveals Clovis only created him to exert control over humanity and replace the Traveler. He did not care to use Rasputin to protect Earth from extraterrestrial threats, as he claimed. Rasputin credits Golden Age Ana for teaching him art, history, philosophy, literature, and music since she did not want to see him become a tyrant. Rasputin showed independent thought, leaving him with the desire to save humanity at all costs, locking Clovis out to prevent his plans from coming to fruition at the time.
He goes on to claim that the current Clovis AI is as dangerous as the human, and if Clovis uploads his mind to Rasputin's network, he would achieve god-like power. Ana and Elsie then delete Clovis from the Exo frame and replace him with Rasputin, also known as Red. (However, despite this, Clovis's AI does continue to exist in the depths of the Bray Exoscience facility on Europa.)
Osiris is eager to get answers from this beacon of Golden Age secrets to understand his newfound visions and Savathun's whispers about Nefele Stronghold--claiming that Ana recognized the word "Nefele," which was uncovered from a temporal disturbance on Mars. The name Nefele Stronghold appears in submind caches, so Osiris leads you to the Seraph tower in the temporal disturbance region of Mars--where areas of Mars were set back to the Golden Age time period when the planet returned from an anomaly.
This Seraph tower was a collaborative effort between the Seraphs--Guardian-like humans appointed by Rasputin--and Ishtar Collective for extra-solar colonization and to manage subminds. A Seraph complex on Mars awakens for the first time since the Collapse and is now being tampered with by the Vex Sol Divisive in search of something at the Pillory bunker and subminds.
Rasputin assures Osiris of the existence of Nefele Stronghold but claims that he is not aware of the details. While Osiris is preoccupied with that, Mara Sov reveals a serious problem. The Vanguard's plan is to gain control of and use the Warsats for protection. But Xivu Aarth is a god of war, and her worm feeds off of violence, so using Warsats would only empower her and allow her to open the Ascendant Plane over Earth. Mara says the efforts to continue restoring Rasputin must be stopped.
For Ana, leaving Rasputin's restoration incomplete is off the table, as she has fought for his chance at redemption and believes he's learned from mistakes in the past, when he operated independently. Mara then proposes that, rather than attempt to win the fight, they aim for a stalemate by preventing Xivu Arath's forces from gaining control of the Warsats--but also not having Rasputin use them, as they originally intended.
Shortly after, Rasputin sends you to a bunker that contains classified information. This leads to another revelation that Rasputin did not shoot the Traveler to get it to stay on Earth during the Collapse--debunking long-standing theories. Rasputin attributes his decision to not do so to Ana, whom he thanks in a heartfelt message.
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Despite your efforts, House Salvation and Eramis breach the Warsat network at the Seraph orbital station. Scrambling to ensure they are not able to use the Warsats, Rasputin comes up with a plan to sacrifice himself and the Warsat network. You fight your way against Eramis and her forces to carry out Rasputin's plan and prevent the Warsats from being used against the Traveler.
Suddenly, the Traveler, which has sat above the Last City for centuries, rises into the upper atmosphere, seemingly prepared to abandon humanity. Under the command of the Witness and as revenge for abandoning the Eliksni, Eramis aims the Warsats at the Traveler, but Ana allows Rasputin and the Warsats to be destroyed just in time to stop Eramis. Although the Traveler then chooses not to abandon Earth for reasons we don't yet understand, the Witness explains to Eramis that it chose not to flee because "it has nowhere else to run." As this is said, the Black Fleet can be seen moving past Jupiter.
Rasputin leaves the Guardian one final message about a Neptunian city that is home to an object called the Veil, a paracausal object linked to the Traveler, setting up Neomuna and Lightfall's story. Intriguingly, Rasputin notes that someone had scrapped his files referencing the city, suggesting someone was eager to keep Neomuna or the Veil's existence a secret.
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