Even though the reveal of the Season of the Splicer has cleared some theories on what it will be about, when the Vex and the Vault of Glass are involved, there are many open roads towards us.
We are speaking about mysteries born from the very first campaign of the franchise, groomed in the dark during the years, and coming back now and then in Destiny 2 with interesting and cryptic lore. This means we’re going to be speaking about the Ishtar Collective, Praedyth, erased timelines, and a plan to control time and space in the whole universe.
Understanding the Vex Simulation system
As the new season approaches, we came to know that the Vex will threaten us directly this time. This happened very sparsely, and not in a formulaic fashion, and in all these cases no evidence confirmed in an absolute way that the Vex were actively pursuing our demise.
We know for sure that they are working for an unfathomable, unstoppable project, something that has to do with their survival on a spacetime scale, something that transcends our limited and linear comprehension of the flow of time, connected to the very fabric of the universe’s reality.
“Describe time. No, really, give it a go.“Atelic”, from the lore book “Aspect”.
You’re going to say something about a sequence of events, aren’t you? Seconds sliced off a clock, marching one by one-off into infinity. Go ahead, use your metaphors: A line. A loop. A flat circle. Heard someone say time was like water once. At least that was novel.
The Vex, they’re the closest to understanding it. They’ve got distance from it. If time’s a river, then we’re fish and they’re diving birds. What’s wet mean to a fish? What’s it mean to an osprey, who’s never fooled by refraction on the water’s surface?”
READ MORE: Destiny 2: A Descent into the Vault of Glass
Here we have, possibly from the words of Pujari or Tevis Larsen, a perfect definition of our ignorance. We will be venturing inside the Vex network in the upcoming season, for the very first time, and we will experience from a close point of view, how the Vex are perceiving reality and what they can see and feel.
As we cannot fully understand Vex’s motives, we can be sure about our premise about the survival of their species. We discussed in depth some core aspects of the Vex in this article, where we talked about Kabr and his Fireteam. When he fell, he was converted into a Vex entity inside an artefact of Light, the Aegis. In Destiny 2, we had a brief confirmation that he is still alive, somehow, as he once predicted.
“^K^K“Kabr’s Glass Aegis”, jumpship.
their/our/their desire is not malevolent it is survival she is/was/is wrong there is no evil there is no despise there is no SEPARATION there is harmony inside if you/you/you allow it
it was/was/was not done i/i speak again and was wrong i am still him and i am now them and THAT IS FUTURE^V^V”
Even though he said we should not trust him if he spoke again with us, this converted version of Kabr gives us a profound understanding of what the Vex are after: A timeline where they are alive and in control, not being threatened by anyone or anything. In extension, a moment where the understanding of the universe is achieved, and their order reached.
The Vex are trying to reach this order and balance by exploring all the possible timelines, permutations, and variations. This is pursued via simulations and applied control countermeasures. Simulation is the way Vex try to synthesize the world and understand it.
“I note that Vex milk, while computationally powerful, seems to avoid semiosis. That is, it prefers to mimic the actual dynamics of phenomena rather than assigning a symbol. This a fundamental difference between Vex cognition and our own. We encode inputs as symbols, manipulate the symbols according to some set of logical rules, and produce output. The Vex are more direct.“Clovis Bray’s Personal Log”, a booklet from the “Beyond Light” Collector’s Edition.
Rather than encoding symbols, they generate self-sustaining and self-correcting patterns, which like the suspension of a bridge flexing under strain, can accept destructive input and produce reparatory output.”
As Clovis Bray points out later, when a human is infected by Vex memes, the alien patterns are recruiting the cells of the host brain as media, to spread themselves. “It is not hostility. It is simply their way of interacting with the universe”.
The Ishtar Collective
The first contact with the Vex happened during the Golden Age. Some specimens were found on Venus, and the institution of the Ishtar Collective, from the Ishtar Academy, experimented and researched on them.
Maya Sundaresh and Esi Chioma were two of the people in charge of these experiments, and one day, they made an unsettling discovery, while examining a Vex in the laboratory.
“ESI: It’s simulating us. Vividly. Elaborately. It’s running a spectacularly high-fidelity model of a Collective research team studying a captive Vex entity.Grimoire, “Ghost Fragment: Vex – From the Records of the Ishtar Collective”.
SUNDARESH: …how deep does it go?
ESI: Right now the simulated Maya Sundaresh is meeting with the simulated Chioma Esi to discuss an unexpected problem.”
The Vex is simulating Maya and Esi in a non-divergent way, real-time: the simulated Esi and Maya inside the Vex mind were doing the same things at the same time.
When joined by doctor Shim and Duane-McNiadh, the other two members of the research group, another perhaps more unsettling idea was put on the table.
“SHIM: [profane] idiot. Think. Think. If it can run one simulation, maybe it can run more than one. And there will only ever be one reality. Play the odds.Grimoire, “Ghost Fragment: Vex 2 – From the Records of the Ishtar Collective”.
DUANE-MCNIADH: Oh…uh oh.
SHIM: Odds are that we aren’t our own originals. Odds are that we exist in one of the Vex simulations right now.
ESI: I didn’t think of that.
SUNDARESH: [indistinct percussive sound]”
In this infinite loop of simulations, there was no sure way to tell if they were simulated as well, due to the perfection of the process. This is a very human and intellectual, philosophical debate, that goes on for ages.
One of the first examples of questioning the reality was inside Plato’s Cave allegory, formulated by the Greek philosopher of the same name in the “Republic” work. A group of people, chained on a wall inside a dark cave since their birth, see the outside world as a shadow projected on the same wall.
At some point, one of them becomes free and goes outside, realizing that the world is completely different from the one envisioned up until moments before. Coming back to the cave and telling the others, no one believes him – questioning the reality is a monumental effort, especially when it is difficult to understand the difference between a real thing and its simulation (the shadows on the wall).
Recently, with the incredible progress of technology, our questioning about living in a simulation or not has become an increasingly more important question. Our chances seem to be close to 50-50, with no safe way to tell the real world and an alleged simulation apart – for the moment, at least.
But the Ishtar Collective’s researchers thought of one, thanks to the Golden Age technology given by the Traveler.
“SUNDARESH: If we’re sims, we exist in the pocket of the universe that the Vex specimen is able to simulate with its onboard brainpower. If we’re real, we need to get outside that bubble.Grimoire, “Ghost Fragment: Vex 2 – From the Records of the Ishtar Collective”.
ESI: …we call for help.
SUNDARESH: That’s right. We bring in someone smarter than the specimen. Someone too big to simulate and predict. A warmind.”
The brilliant plan proceeds, and by bringing in a Warmind, the researchers broke the simulation consistency. By that time, though, 227 copies of the whole group were made.
“They’re not us any more.” Maya looks down at herself, at the cache of her self-forks. “We’re not going anywhere. We’re sending them. They’re diverging.”Grimoire, “Ghost Fragment: Vex 4 – From the Records of the Ishtar Collective”.
They rescued themselves from the inside of a Vex mind, two hundred and twenty-seven copies of themselves, untortured and undamaged. Those copies voted, all unanimously, to be dispatched into the Vex information network as explorers.
When Maya and Chioma look at each other they can tell they’re each wondering the same thing: how many of them will stay together, wherever they go? How many fork-Mayas and fork-Chiomas will fall out of love? How many will end up bereft, grieving? How many will be happy, like them?”
The copies of the Collective are so released in the Vex network. We met them in some form, during the Insight Terminus strike. In the attempt to highjack the Vex network, Kargen is defeated and our Ghost pulls out from the access log to the terminal the name “MSUND12”.
Knowing the history behind the Ishtar Collective, we suppose that this name is tied to the 12th copy of Maya Sundaresh. The copies are very well alive and still dwelling inside the Vex network, following their own agenda.
As for the real Maya Sundaresh, she survived the Collapse and founded the Future War Cult, using her experience in time-bending theories to create the mysterious device known as CHASM, which acts as a cryptic, predicting machine – mostly in the line of the similar OXA machines made by the Psions.
The Lore of Praedyth
“Praedyth’s fall isn’t over… because it hasn’t happened yet… and it will happen again.”
“Praedyth’s Revenge”, weapon.
We discussed the tragic end of the Fireteam Kabr in the previous article. However, their debacle led to the creation of the Aegis, which guided our Guardian to Atheon’s fall. While only Pahanin from that original fireteam escaped the Vault, he was not the only survivor: Praedyth, the Warlock.
The story of Praedyth is nothing short of epic. It is one of those myths brought out of the shadow in Destiny 1 that contributed to the building of a legendary substrate to our current actions in the game – an echo of deeds from a distant past, shrouded in mystery. A story that fascinates the community to this day.
Praedyth seems to have reached the Gorgon’s Labyrinth, somehow, where he was first erased by our space-time continuum, then physically imprisoned inside a temporal cell in the Vault.
Inside his cell, his Ghost dead, Praedyth starts to cannibalize his equipment – weapons and pieces of armor – to build a transceiver, in the vain hope to get through the network firewall of the Vex and send a distress signal to the outside world. A world that does not know about his existence anymore.
“Ikora: The message we received was this:Transcript from “Paradox”, a daily mission from Destiny 1.
Praedyth: [static] a message. The creatures will soon reach the heart of the vault. When [static] once they take the Vex, they’ll come for the Light.
Ikora: That’s why you’re here.
Praedyth: [static] where I am. My name is Praedyth, and I was a member of Kabr’s Fireteam. I just hope [static].
Ikora: Praedyth. I’ve heard that name before. Scattered pieces of gear, references in the margin of a text. He is real.”
Ikora Rey herself did not know about Praedyth, while she knew inside her that she should have known his name. This unique situation is happening because the Taken are invading the Vault of Glass, disrupting the absolute power they hold there, and allowing the transmission from Praedyth to reach us.
When getting to his temporal cell, we will only find a corpse, realizing that the transmission we believed broadcasting in real-time, was time divergent. In this timeline then, Praedyth is dead. But the Vault of Glass is not a linear place.
In another timeline, instead, Praedyth will still try to broadcast to us, trying to reach out for someone, for something. Dreaming of hearing the voices of his old team members: Kabr, Pahanin… even Taeko and Asher Mir – confirming maybe, they were part of the same Fireteam Kabr.
He dreams and hallucinates – probably a result of the human cognitive system being exposed for decades to Vex tech and, especially the Vault’s one. He sees hordes of aliens coming into our solar system (possibly dating the Fireteam Kabr in a time when nobody has seen the Fallen, the Cabal, or the Hive yet), and a vision of the Darkness coming.
“Some timelines have veils drawn over them, a darkness too thick to see through. They push back against Praedyth’s sight, resisting.”“Epistemic”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
At some point, some unknown pulses through time allow Praedyth decades of isolation to end: Voices from the radio, on an old frequency he was sure he tried hundreds of times before. The voices are surprised to have found him too. In time, he will know who they really are.
“The pulses are stabilizing. The voices come often enough now that Praedyth has been introduced to their owners: Sundaresh, Esi, Shim, and Duane-McNiadh. Not infinite mirrored variations of them from different timelines, but simulations all split off the same base, way back in what must have been the Golden Age. Some have grown far different from their progenitors.“Deontic”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
Some have not.”
The simulations of the Ishtar Collective, released in the Vex network system, have reached Praedyth. They immediately start a rescue attempt, brainstorming his escaping from the Vault of Glass prison. Multiple versions of the Collective are present: This is shown using IDs such as “227.18’s Chioma”, which means “the 18th version of Chioma out of 227”.
The group thinks that Praedyth has access to an unreal Vex space, that is unprecedented, and thus this allows them to operate on a new different level. But both Praedyth and the simulated Ishtar Collective members do not know where the pulses in time are coming from and why now.
“The pulses are getting strong enough that Shim thinks they have a chance to boost data even beyond the network to physical reality—whatever “physical reality” means to them and to Praedyth at this point, lifetimes deep in Vex projections.“Jussive”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
Praedyth is attuned to the rhythm of the Vault; when another pulse lines up with that momentary weakness that lets his radio work, he pushes a message through.”
Praedyth sends messages out to the world, in form of words scraped on weapons. “What does a Guardian pay more attention to than their equipment?”, he thinks. And he is right. One such piece of equipment reached us, in the form of the Destiny 1 version of the “No Time to Explain” – one of the different versions in time and space of this weapon.
“A single word is etched onto the inside of the weapon’s casing: ‘Soon.’”Grimoire, “No Time to Explain”, weapon.
The word “Soon”, engraved on this version of the weapon, is referring to the calamity Praedyth is sensing through his visions inside the Vault of Glass – an impending doom that is falling onto the Last City, on the whole of humanity, veiled in Darkness.
“He knows the wave is coming. More visions flicker past him now, burning afterimages into his eyelids. More timelines—a possibility or eventuality, he doesn’t know—lost to the encroaching dark.“Jussive”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
He knows they won’t be able to handle it alone. He knows they need a warning. They need to know it’s coming.
Somewhere, in the Black Garden, something is stirring, and we suddenly realize what is going on: The Undying Mind is slowly waking up, coming back to life thanks to the pulses of Darkness coming from the waking of the Pyramid on the Moon.
“The Garden wakes, and the Undying Mind wakes with it. It rises from the barrow that’s grown up around it, shedding vines and hanging moss like bedsheets.”“Irrealis”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
In the final attempt, the Ishtar Collective simulations are ready to take a leap of faith, preparing Praedyth to make the devices he built with their aid to work in synchrony with the pulses to spring him out of the prison. While the divergent timelines cause different outcomes and even casualties in the Collective simulations, they are unrelenting.
In the Vault, one hundred and eighty-three sets of simulated Golden Age scientists flex their own limbs, ready to make a break for it. Praedyth, kneeling at his radio, shakes out his hands. They’re stiff—he’s stiff, queasy with exertion and worry and a stack of lifetimes in a cell—but ready.“Irrealis”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
It’s a slim chance. But a chance is all they need.
As the lore interrupts, we are left in the dark about the fate of Praedyth. But we know something: The annihilation of the Undying Mind in all the timelines we reached thanks to Ikora’s portal in the Season of the Undying disrupted the control the Vex are trying to operate on the future.
What does this mean?
Praedyth: The Pattern of Control
Even though the Undying Mind (who is responsible for the Sol Divisive Black Garden progeny) is not directly acting on behalf of the Vex collective, her destruction in every permutation made by our Guardians during the Season of the Undying caused a dramatic change for the future of the Vex.
This Mind seems to have been created to impede a dark future for the Vex to come to reality and to protect and revive the Black Heart, venerated by the Sol Divisive to draw ontological power from the Darkness.
“[Praedyth]: So the Vex have predicted their own annihilation. When did they believe this would happen? Can the calculations of minds the size of planets be wrong?”Transcript from “Paradox”, a daily mission from Destiny 1.
As we have seen before, converting and simulating is the Vex’s way to communicate and interact. Through their knowledge of reality from a different time perspective, the Vex have become obsessed with assuring their survival in all the directions of the time arrow. To do this, the Vex apply a control system to reality.
A control system is the use of control loops to create a predictable outcome in a system. The most straightforward example is the thermostat: an input is entered (the desired temperature), a control block will make sure that this input will match the output (the temperature in the room). If this will diverge (because of interferences, in this case, the coldness of the room), the feedback loop will regulate again the output valor to the desired one.
This is all about regulating chaos against the raising entropy – a concept we know Vex despises. As they need to simulate to communicate and interact with reality, sometimes the Vex needs to reduce what is simulated to a simple term – not so different from a simplification of a number in an equation. Thus, they convert and reduce the world to a more understandable and manageable form.
The Vex forms we have always fought in the franchise, are confirmed to be not dedicated to war, but to build. This further enhances the suspicion that their objective is something else, rather than military supremacy – a form of control over reality to “write them into the fundamental laws of the universe”, as Ikora once said.
“[Praedyth]: The Vex have no hope. No imagination, no drive, no fear. All they have is the pattern. Everything must fit. If it can be made to fit, good. If it can’t, it gets cut away.”Transcript from “Paradox”, a daily mission from Destiny 1.
As the world is gradually slipping out of their control, the Vex are losing the grip on reality. That is why – probably – they are becoming more and more unstable, and maybe this can explain the sudden attack on the City that will live in the upcoming season.
In the past, a multitude of dark futures were shown through simulated realities. Dead suns and dead, converted worlds. The Vex have seen the end of their pattern, an ominous time when they are no more. And this cannot be. The pattern cannot be interrupted.
“[Praedyth]: They think this is the end of them, a path with no escape. And yet, here they are, there they were, and there they will be, and there they will have been. For them, there is no paradox. There is only the pattern. And the pattern needs the Vex to see it to completion. And so the Vex must be. For the mind of the Vex, is that faith?”Transcript from “Paradox”, a daily mission from Destiny 1.
In the Season of the Splicer, the focus will be on the alliance with the Fallen – a long coming aspect, but the access to the Vex network will be a great opportunity to tell stories of the like of Praedyth and the Ishtar Collective – not so well known between Destiny 2 players.
We do not know if Praedyth managed to escape from the Vault, but we do know he is now the best expert we have of this unpredictable and powerful opponent. His imprisonment in a place made by the Vex to make them almighty gave him a knowledge that surpasses even Osiris’ one.
“If the Vex can be wrong… if they can make mistakes… someday he could be free. Someday he might leave the Vault, might see again the Traveler.Grimoire, “Mystery: Praedyth’s Door”.
Until then he would listen, he would observe. He would be the man on the outside looking in, a viewpoint into the consciousness of Minds that spanned galaxies. He would try to understand the Vex.
Praedyth closed his eyes.”
Maybe we will get a new Exotic mission on the likes of the “Presage”, tied to Praedyth’s fate; Maybe something will happen again inside the Vault, as it always happened; Maybe this is not the right season to come into terms with the threat of the Vex. We will probably have to convince them we are not a problem in their system, but a solution, to defuse their unrelenting program against us.
“The Vex understand time in a way we never will. Doesn’t matter how long I spend here watching them. Doesn’t matter how many jury-rigged portals Guardians fling themselves through. We live in time. They use it as a tool. Any moment that’s ever happened, any moment that will ever happen, they can go back to it. Play it again till they get it right.”“Irrealis”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
Maybe… the end of this long, timeless war is closer than we think… as the lore flavor text in the new “No Time to Explain” in Destiny 2 (coming from a divergent timeline) suggests:
“A single word etched onto the inside of the weapon’s casing: Now.”“No Time to Explain”, weapon.
Time is something we can barely understand when it is moving in a single direction. When facing the unpredictable odds of multiple realities, divergent timelines, quantum theories, and trees of probabilities, we are lost in the dark. Understanding what the Vex are and pursuing, and what they are running from, stand as a similar, draconian difficulty. But one thing we know: The story of Praedyth and the Ishtar Collective is far from being a closed and finished loop.
Somewhere, a veil is always lifting.“Irrealis”, from the lore book “Aspects”.
Somewhere, Kabr is always dooming himself.
Somewhere, a door is always opening.
Somewhere, they are always stepping through.