Iron Banter: This Week In Destiny 2


With a lull in Destiny 2 content for a bit, let’s guess at what’s coming next for the story.

Phil Hornshaw

Just about every week brings something new to Destiny 2, whether it’s story beats, new activities, or interesting new combinations of elements that let players devastate each other in the Crucible. Iron Banter is our weekly look at what’s going on in the world of Destiny and a rundown of what’s drawing our attention across the solar system. (Sorry, I don’t have an April Fools’ joke ready, so this is just going to be an actual, serious column.)

We’re six weeks beyond the launch of The Witch Queen, and things have slowed down and relaxed a bit. The major story beats of the Season of the Risen seem to be over, Rhulk has been dealt with, and we’re coasting through some high-level content like Grandmaster Nightfall Strikes and the Master version of Vow of the Disciple as we wait for Destiny’s next content season to roll around at the end of May.


Now Playing: Opinion: The Witch Queen Is Destiny 2’s Best Campaign Yet

The lull makes this a good time to look to the future to speculate where things are going next. Coming out of The Witch Queen’s campaign, with Savathun and Rhulk now dead, it’s an open question as to where things are headed. But The Witch Queen has left us with some clues as to what might be on the horizon, as has the Season of the Risen. We might have just wrecked a couple of tyrants, but there are two more who seem to be about to step back into the spotlight: Calus and Rasputin.

Given everything that’s been happening lately, it seems it’s only a matter of time until deposed Cabal emperor Calus shows back up in the solar system. He was a fairly major force for most of Destiny 2’s life, hanging out in the Leviathan and providing entertainment to Guardians who liked his whole vibe. There’s a ton of interesting Calus lore, but most recently, his attempts to commune with the Darkness–and, it now seems obvious, the Witness itself–have made a big impact.

Last year, we heard about Calus’s seemingly successful attempts aboard the Glykon during the Presage mission. After fighting Rhulk and Savathun, we now have a slightly better idea of what Presage was presaging.

It really looks like Calus is attempting to become a new Disciple of the Witness, just like Rhulk was, and it seems very likely that we’re soon going to face Calus as a real enemy, once and for all. That’ll be a shakeup, since Calus has been our semi-evil pal for quite a while. Before there was an alliance with Caiatl, Calus’s daughter and the new Cabal empress, we were at least on pretty friendly terms with Calus. That was before he went full nihilist with the Witness, though.

Calus got incredibly close to the Darkness--what did it do to him?
Calus got incredibly close to the Darkness–what did it do to him?

The Vox Obscura mission has set up Calus’s return pretty substantially. He apparently has new loyalist forces operating on the returned Mars, using a base there as a means to contact other Cabal and turn them to his cause. And it’s working–Caiatl mentions during some of the Vox Obscura missions that she’s suffering from a ton of defections, partially because of Calus’s influence and partially because of her decision to team up with the Vanguard against him. We also hear about how Calus can rebuild his army through genetic engineering and cloning capabilities aboard the Leviathan–that’s where he got all those soldiers to begin with.

The question is where these efforts will leave Calus and what he’ll be like when he eventually returns. He has always been a gluttonous, hedonistic character, interested in the pleasures of life. But if you read some of the lore from the Season of Opulence, you get a behind-the-scenes look at Calus. He’s not the huge, vibrant, powerful creature we fought during the Leviathan raid (in fact, that Calus was a super-strong robot lookalike and not the emperor himself, and there are hundreds or even thousands more of those aboard the Leviathan). Instead, he’s a frail old man who’s approaching the end of his life, and that seemingly is what has driven him to search for the Witness in earnest.

Will Calus be changed by the Darkness and the Witness, and if so, into what? Or will the Witness reject him–and what will that do to the emperor? Destiny’s story could go a couple of different ways with this, and that’s to say nothing of the idea that there could be some serious complications when the game combines our past with Calus and our current alliance with Caiatl. There’s a lot of baggage to unpack there, and it seems we’ll be dealing with all of it pretty soon.

That said, we’re currently in what could be considered a Cabal season, which suggests it could be a bit before we have another one. There’s also another tyrant, Rasputin, to consider. The AI warmind’s story was left hanging, as the incredibly powerful computer was absolutely annihilated by the Darkness in the Season of Arrivals. As we’ve since learned, however, that wasn’t the end of Rasputin’s story.

There's more about Rasputin we haven't discovered--and uncovering it would make a good dungeon....
There’s more about Rasputin we haven’t discovered–and uncovering it would make a good dungeon….

Back when the fleet arrived, Ana Bray managed to nab part of Rasputin’s program and save it before the whole computer system was torched. She’s been working for more than a year to get the warmind integrated into an Exo body. That story thread could get picked up any time, but it seems likely it’ll happen fairly soon, thanks to a hint at the end of The Witch Queen.

After completing The Lure case on the Evidence Board and claiming your Exotic glaive, there’s one last file that mentions a Rasputin bunker called “Nefele Stronghold.” The case doesn’t have many other details and the Hidden basically put the investigation on hold after that, but even getting a lead on Rasputin stuff feels significant.

Current speculation is that Nefele Stronghold is likely one of the dungeons Bungie is releasing in Destiny 2 this year, but heading to that location would dovetail nicely with a season dealing with the Rasputin situation. Before Beyond Light, in the Season of the Worthy, we learned about Rasputin’s ties to the Iron Lords, specifically Felwinter, and SIVA, the Golden Age nanotechnology that took over a huge chunk of the Cosmodrome in Destiny 1. All those ideas are just hanging right now, but we could easily return to them–especially given how big a part of the story Saladin has been lately. It seems like Rasputin may well show up in Destiny 2 as a real character in a human-size body soon, and when that happens, there will probably be a reckoning with the stuff that Rasputin is responsible for, both positive and negative.

We may also find out, finally, whether Rasputin shot the Traveler. It’s a bit of speculation that I’m back to thinking might have actually happened–which is surprising given that the theory has been a spinfoil hat joke for years.

Ever notice how the Traveler looks all wrecked on the bottom? Almost like someone shot it...from the Earth....
Ever notice how the Traveler looks all wrecked on the bottom? Almost like someone shot it…from the Earth….

The last thing that’s really pointing toward the future is all the stuff Savathun left behind before her death–namely, the communications we get from the Altars of Reflection each week, and the “two lies, two truths” game she keeps playing. It’s impossible to know if any of the things she says are lies or truths (honestly, I think even the “two lies, two truths” premise is probably a lie), but she does a good job of mixing in truthful-sounding things and ideas that are supported by Destiny lore and storytelling. It’s hard to say what’s deception and what’s truth with Savathun, but the question of why she would leave these messages for us at all is an important one. She wants something from us, and I continue to think it’s that she’s trying to steer us toward friendship rather than more animosity.

A recent “two lies, two truths” game is of particular interest to me, not just because of the concepts but because Bungie stole it for a tweet, which feels like it elevates it somewhat–this is something the developer thought more players should see, even if they didn’t get it in the game. Maybe that’s just because it’s a fun Savathun moment, or maybe it’s because there’s additional importance here.

Two lies. Two truths. Savathûn’s games continue.

💠 The Traveler will leave.
💠 The Traveler will fall.
💠 The Traveler is not the only one of its kind.
💠 The Hive are not the last to be chosen by the Light.

What is true and what is false? 🤔

— Destiny 2 (@DestinyTheGame) April 1, 2022

It seems pretty clear that we’re facing either the Traveler’s destruction or its desertion in the future; the next expansion is called Lightfall, after all. But I think the last item on Savathun’s list, that “The Hive are not the last to be chosen by the Light,” is fun to think about.

Back before The Witch Queen, I speculated that the Hive wouldn’t steal the Light, but that it would be freely given to them by the Traveler, and we learned during the campaign that that was true. We don’t know why the Traveler made that choice, but my guess at the time was that the Traveler is getting a little worried about humanity getting too cozy with the Darkness. We’re wielding Stasis, we’re accepting weapons from the Black Fleet, and now we have special abilities granted to us by both Light and Darkness. Some Guardians have already fallen to the dark side. The Traveler might be looking for a new army to protect it, and that’s why it chose the Hive.

In one clip from the Altars of Reflection, Savathun says something along those lines–the Traveler gave her the Light because we’re making it nervous. And if the Traveler picked the Hive as a backup plan should the Guardians fall to Darkness, it would make sense that it could do the same thing again, since the Hive situation hasn’t necessarily worked out in its favor; instead of gaining an extra army, the Traveler accidentally created a situation where Guardians and Hive Lightbearers are fighting each other, rather than the Witness.

If the Traveler were to pick another race, maybe as it gets desperate in the run-up to Lightfall, I could see it looking to the Fallen. Apart from humanity, the Eliksni are most devoted to the Traveler, and some still worship it. The Eliksni chased the Traveler across the cosmos after it abandoned them; it might see them as a viable alternative to humanity and the Hive. That could have some seriously important consequences itself, though.

Right now, we have a tenuous alliance with a group of Eliksni refugees, and it’s building toward mutual understanding. Like with our alliance with the Cabal, there’s a lot of bad blood between humanity and the Eliksni, but there are scarier enemies on the horizon that necessitate working together. What’s more, the Eliksni need us. They’re in a bad way and we’ve taken them in, and we’ve helped each other through that arrangement.

An excellent lore tidbit in among the Hidden's files in The Witch Queen mentions a former Eliksni Archon in Mithrax's house, who we learned in the Achilles Weaves a Cocoon lore book was responsible for the sack of London.
An excellent lore tidbit in among the Hidden’s files in The Witch Queen mentions a former Eliksni Archon in Mithrax’s house, who we learned in the Achilles Weaves a Cocoon lore book was responsible for the sack of London.

The thing is, the Eliksni in the City kind of have no other choice but to be cool to humans. Guardians are, after all, super powerful immortal beings who have spent centuries killing Fallen. To some degree, that makes the Eliksni subordinate to humanity; it’s in their interest to ignore the awful history between the species to facilitate survival right now, and if that history influenced them to fight us out of anger or vengeance, Guardians would annihilate them. They have no choice but to be nice to us, because we are powerful.

That dynamic would change drastically if the Eliksni were gifted the Light. Suddenly, both species would be on equal footing in terms of power, and the Eliksni might not see their current arrangement as a benefit. With Eliksni Guardians in the mix, the House of Light would no longer have to accept humanity dictating the terms of our alliance. And maybe some Eliksni would start to think about the bad things that have happened over the centuries, or even during the last year, as well as their feelings of abandonment by the Traveler, and start to wonder how they could use their new power to take revenge.

That’s a situation that’s not too far from the war we’re seeing with the Hive right now, but the idea that the Traveler might go for another species to protect it, only for it to backfire again, fits nicely in the Lightfall framework and the story as it’s currently being told. We’re obviously working toward a situation in which enemies are becoming friends as we face the Darkness’s full might, but there’s no way that situation won’t be without complications. The existence of Hive Lightbearers calling into question the Traveler’s motivations is one such complication. Angry, empowered Eliksni Guardians would be another excellent one.

But hey, that’s all speculative. We do have a sense that Calus and Rasputin are on the docket for the near future, and there’s no way Savathun is done with us yet. I’m very interested to see what shape the story takes over the next year, with Lightfall on the horizon. Bungie went and made itself some big shoes to fill with the lead-up to The Witch Queen, and it should want to have the lead-up to Lightfall be similarly powerful and dramatic–at least, as much as it possibly can without years of backstory to build on in the same way it did for Savathun. I think we can expect some big twists this year.

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