Destiny 2: Unraveling the secrets of “Presage”

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Conceived as a typical “Whispers” or “Zero Hour” style mission, the Presage soon became an activity of extreme importance for the Season of the Chosen contents, but its value is extended beyond that.

It has blended deep and complex narrative points with seasonal contents in a way that had been tried before but always failed.
Are you ready to enter the Glykon Volatus, the ghost ship that has emerged from the darkness?

Destiny 2: Glykon Volatus
Credit: Bungie

Initial Concept

While using the aforementioned missions as a starting point, the concept behind the Presage mission stems from the classic trope of the ghost ship, combined with that of mutiny. 

Initially, Matt Hand (lead designer of the mission) and the creative team pitched another background story: A Cabal ship used to transport the prisoners and gladiators of Calus, fallen apart as a revolt on board brought prisoners and slaves to take over. 

Later, this plot was dropped, in favor of a more complex narrative, which emerged precisely as a response to the linearity in storytelling required by the Season of the Chosen. 

The Destiny community has always requested a more immediate and understandable in-game narration and use of lore – a request that Bungie is progressively fulfilling and that in this last season has perhaps been favored more decisively. 

RELATED: Destiny 2: Season of the Chosen Brings New Weapons, Activities, Armor

To make the lore and the current story more understandable, however, it was necessary to render the material more linear. This led to a side effect that maybe was not entirely foreseeable: the sidetracking of the more complex and evolving plot of the Darkness.

Although what happens in the Cabal empire is mainly caused by the advancement of the Hive (and therefore, of the Darkness principles), the events related to the arrival of the Pyramids and its aftermath have been completely left aside.

Thus, the initial project of the Presage mission is scrapped, and it immediately becomes clear that the Darkness must be the real protagonist of this story.

In the wake of the brainstorming between creatives, one sentence emerges among all the others: “What if the ship came back wrong?”

Alien fanart, Ian Stewart
A reconstruction of one of the many, solitary corridors of the Nostromo, from “Alien”. Credits: Ian Stewart

Inspirations

Having chosen the path of Darkness, the need to move the setting to the horror side immediately emerges. And, just as quickly, the template of science fiction coupled with horror nuances calls for excellent inspiration sources.

Among them, Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) seems the more prominent. The idea of being hunted by predatory entities in an enclosed and claustrophobic environment like a spaceship, without the possibility of emerging outside, is the staple of the genre thanks to Alien: the result of a masterful mix of brilliant eminences such as Ridley ScottCarlo RambaldiMoebius, and HR Giger.

Destiny 2: Cassini Fleet
Credits: Bungie

Along with Alien, other similar references were used, such as the now horror-splatter cult movie Event Horizon (Poul WS Anderson, 1997). It is this last film that has perhaps the most important element in common with the Presage: a ghost ship, which returns from who knows where and carries within a pulsing heart of darkness.

Another important source of inspiration, especially for the idea of fungal invasion which we will talk about later, is the film Annihilation (Alex Garland, 2018), which presents the disturbing visual theme of transformation, of an anomaly of some kind that transmutes bodies and creates uninhabitable areas. 

As for the final phase, with the boss locked in a burning area around a giant boiler, the inspiration comes from the character of Freddy Kruger, from Nightmare on Elm Street (Wes Craven, 1984).

Having set the tone of the Presage, the designers decided to bring the Scorn on board, as the guinea pigs of a foul experiment – also a classic of sci-fi horror trope.

The lost concept of the Cassini Fleet

Several concept arts coming from the embryonic phase of Destiny 1 never made the final cut. Nonetheless, these artworks have emerged in the past and are well known in the community. 

Bungie has been progressively recovered and used this material in recent times, perhaps in the face of a tangible phase of lack of creativity in the franchise: an example is the Rasputin Exo form, Europe itself, and the city of Eventide, or the concept behind the Cryptolith possession.

The community has well responded to this salvaging and we hope that more of the original ideas will be implemented in due time.

Destiny 2: Presage level design
Credits: Bungie

From those foggy days in the inception of Destiny, another of these lost concept arts emerges, carrying an intense mystery along – a possible destination discarded by all the current iterations of Destiny, or something else entirely different. It is the concept of the Cassini Fleet.

A ghost ship, dating back to the Golden Age, keeps floating adrift in space, struck dead by the Collapse just as it was about to leave the solar system. 

This ship is part of an entire fleet that fled at the signal of the Warmind when an external and hostile force made contact in the system.  This fleet could be connected to the Exodus Project or the legendary First Fleet.

Hard to starboard! Stand by, weapons. Helm, get us out of here!” — Capt. Drystan Cor, First Fleet

“Anguish of Drystan”, weapon. 

The name “Cassini” comes from the area of the wreckage, in proximity to Saturn. The “Cassini Division ” is the name of the gap region between the brightest rings on the planet (the A and B). It is confirmed that this specific concept art was used as one of the main inspirations for the Glykon by the official article from Bungie, which uses the artwork as the cover.

We will now venture to discover the truth behind the confusing events that led to the death of the crew of the ship and unleashed dark forces aboard it. The question lingers: what happened inside the Glykon?

The Distress Signal

Zavala warns us that a mysterious distress signal has been activated at the edge of the Awoken space, near the Tangled Shore. 

Oddly, the signal carries the marker of a Guardian: as stated in the vidoc, Guardians do not usually send distress signals but have a habit to respond to them.

Destiny 2: Leviathan concept art (Calus)
Credits: Bungie

Once on the site, in the middle of the asteroid belt, we find a Cabal transport ship, the Glykon Volatus. The vessel is abandoned and adrift, the cargo compartment door open, no form of energy detected.

Once aboard, the Guardian is coordinated by Osiris and supported by Caiatl. We make our way through the maintenance tunnels and compartments, following the pipes and the electrical network, to get around the blocked routes.

Evidence of a massacre emerges, and a hostile flora has taken control of the environments, blocking the access of some areas.

The lore of the “Captain’s Log“ is the key to shed light on the prior events.

Calus Revealed

Most of this book lore is written in form of a captain’s Log by Katabasis, a Guardian who responds to an imperial invitation from Calus. He wants to be joined on the Leviathan to offer the Guardian a job. 

This immediately confirms two things after the arrival of the Pyramids in the system and the vanishing of some planets: Calus is still alive, and the Leviathan has somehow escaped the Pyramids’ reach.

Katabasis is an important element to this story since the real visage of Calus is yet to be revealed up to this moment and we finally can see him, albeit through the Guardian’s eyes:

“A clutch of Councilors watches me as they take mechanical plates from three other identical statues of Calus surrounding them. They huddle about a towering cage of filigreed alloys and woven circuitry, fitting the plates to it with sacramental focus, until the cage becomes a tomb around a pearlescent seat supporting a lonesome figure within.”

“ENTRY 1 – Charon’s Silhouette”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

The Psions, who have always been Calus’s servants, are setting up a cage where his body is imprisoned by necessity. 

The description continues after a brief interlude, in which Calus apologizes for his current situation, but states that few have seen him like this – which we agree.

“Councilors lay more thick plates over Calus’s living misery, brushing past me as they finish and exiting the room with my inhibitions. Mechanisms within the plates engage as plum light emits from the slits between them. Nacre runs smooth around the frame and into a throne-like cup of sullied nobility. Beneath the throne, hoses bubble viscous royal wine into the sealed frame. Calus looks through me, eyes like clumped chalk, as the last Councilor fastens a faceplate into position. Deep orbs illuminate in the faceplate, like wild eyes in the open pitch of night. We are alone.”

“ENTRY 1 – Charon’s Silhouette”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

The form of Calus is described as shriveled, almost transparent, unnaturally small, and gelatinous – the skin translucent. 

As we had deduced some time ago, the encounter with the Darkness during the exile on Leviathan reduced the emperor to a precarious physical state, which forced him to resort to automatons – avatars of his glorious previous presence. 

Calus’s state of mind also suffered a severe blow from the first contact with that dark force, that seems to haunt him ever since.

“When the Darkness found me adrift in the cosmos, rejected by a people I had made, I thought to have found a confidant. No—an idol. They promised to return to me, to uplift me—that we may dance together among the stars and drink of their dying ecstasy ’til the end, as one. But their chilling little fleet came and went. It was luscious, and so many tasted so much. Yet I am empty. Nothing. Trapped in this limbo of their lie”

“ENTRY 1 – Charon’s Silhouette”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

Calus, and his obsession, are the driving force behind the Glykon current state. His fixation is to make direct contact with the Darkness so that he can make it accountable for the promises he thinks there were made and not kept – as if he could reason with such abstract and unpredictable power. 

To do this, he needs a ship and other dark means… and for the ship, Calus needs Katabasis.

Destiny 2: Presage level design
Credits: Bungie

The Experiment

Teamed up with a Cabal that Katabasis affectionately calls “Batho” and with Qinziq, a Psion, Katabasis steals a ship from the Red Legion: the Glykon Volatus.

With the crew thus formed and the ship in their possession, Katabasis proceeds with Calus’s plan and heads for the Tangled Shore, where they capture a large number of Scorn. 

Destiny 2: Presage - Crown of Sorrow
Credits: Bungie

If at first, it is not clear for what reason, Katabasis learns from Batho that all this will allow Calus to take back Torobatl (the central planet of the empire, fallen to the Hive), thanks to the power of the Darkness.

Calus, therefore, knows that Torobatl has fallen and that his people are on the run, hunted by the forces of Xivu Arath, and that is why he has decided to play the last card – his last chance because he no longer has the time he thought he had.

Katabasis, through Qinziq, thus discovers the real motive behind Calus’s plan and how they will achieve contact. He takes him to the halls where they are experimenting with captured Scorn, injecting them with an enhanced dark ether, to boost what Qinziq calls a “natural connection to the Darkness, made stronger.” She goes on, telling Katabasis that the minds of the Scorn are like those of the Psions – all linked together, but that, unlike their species, they were “filled” by the will of a Baron: in this case, Fikrul. This important fact reveals that the Scorn have a collective hivemind.

“‘They subsist off the last thought imposed on them. Kill for Fikrul. For the lost prince. But…’ Qinziq presses her hand to the tank. She fixates her eye on the Scorn, and it mellows. Her words are strained. ‘…with effort, their psyche is a vessel. Through which many expressions can… commune.’ She releases the Scorn, exhausted, and it drowns again; eyes shrieking terror. “Too many for this one to inhabit.”
‘How does that help us?’
‘Calus will draw the Darkness into them, and we will squeeze from them all they know.’
‘How?’ I insist.‘When we arrive at the anomaly, you will see.’

“ENTRY 4 – Well of absence”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log “.

The destination of the Glykon is now clear: one of the anomalies left in place of the planets consumed by the Darkness during the finale of the Season of Arrivals.

The anomaly will be exploited to connect the altered Scorn to a focused source of Darkness. Calus aims to build a direct line of communication with the Darkness and demand what he believes he was promised.

The Crown of Sorrow

Once everything is set up for the experiment, Calus arrives on board. He brings the Crown of Sorrow, the nefarious artifact that Savathûn used in her attempt to infect the Leviathan with his deceptions and hordes. 

Gahlran, the Cabal chosen to wear it at the time of its discovery, had been trained and mentally conditioned by the Psions to resist the manipulation of the Witch Queen, but it was not enough: his defection forced Calus to ask again for our help, which in turn kicked off the eponymous “Crown of Sorrow” Raid.

Destiny 2: Presage - Fungal flora
Credits: Bungie

As Gahlran fell by our hands, the infection was contained and the forces of Savathûn repelled.

By the time it was brought on the Glykon, the Crown has been gilded with gold from the Castellum, for the pure hedonism of Calus, and has been carefully converted into a malleable instrument. 

Using the Crown as a conduit device – a Darkness-imbued bridge between Psions and Scorn mind, Calus will try to connect the Scorn to the anomaly of Mars, around which they orbit with the Glykon. 

“Greatness awaits us,” states the Emperor.

“I turn all my gaze to the chamber’s expansive viewing window as shutters unveil the grave of Mars. Tendrilic bands of phasing Darkness spiral from the anomaly’s core, enrapturing all of me… beckoning into the depth of its core with whispers like hooks through nervous flesh. I gape into the stimulating writhe. ‘Yes…’”

“ENTRY 6 – Excess of Avarice”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

Then the experiment begins. 

The Psions connect in turn to the Crown, and then to the Scorn, accessing the interconnected minds of the altered pawns, and then direct them all towards the literal cosmic nothingness of the anomaly – a dark expanse that sprawls towards the Glykon.

The ship trembles, shaken by immense forces that threaten to tear it apart.

“Velocity surges forward to the anomaly; the surrounding reality tears away. We hold, suspended before the writhe. It fills all sight; Nothing just beyond the bend. Time ceases, and the cosmos arcs to accommodate my will. Now.

“ENTRY 6 – Excess of Avarice”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

Despite these disturbing signs, nothing else happens. An enraged Calus explores and tears the minds of all the Scorn present, seeking the answers to his needs: the desire to rise to the greatness promised, to escape from the prison of his decaying body, to become the god of his unbridled ambitions.

The emperor repeats the experiment in the past days until the veil of reality is torn asunder and the Glykon slips into the anomaly, like crashing onto a wall – in a similar manner of an aircraft when passing through the sound barrier.

But it is a wall of void space, and Katabasis describes this as the passage of the threshold, like crossing the sunless shores of the mythical Acheron river (as the title of this lore entry suggests).

Something reaches and takes control of the ship, flowing inside the collective hivemind of the Scorn – a communion of the sort, but not quite Calus imagined.
In this conjunction of events, everyone realizes something …

“ Where is the emperor?”

“ENTRY 8 – Acheron’s Wall”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

The Horror

From this moment on, Calus has disappeared and the Glykon is deformed and altered by the forces that surround it. The Scorn are revived by a new will and guided by something unknown. 

A terrifying hunt begins, cornering Katabasis, Batho and Qinziq, claiming the lives of all on board, one after another. The terror is unleashed without end, within the metal walls that twist in the darkness of a reality now out of control: a dark, unstoppable fate has come to claim the entire ship.

Destiny 2: Dead Man's Tale Exotic Scout Rifle
Credits: Bungie

The crew, while opposing with all their strength, can do nothing against this enemy: every Scorn killed seems to come back to life without the power that only Fikrul was believed to wield; this is an unprecedented event, confirmed by the in-game dialogues between a surprised Osiris and Caiatl.

The interaction with the Darkness seems to have created a new and dangerous life form.

Blocked and with no way out, the group of survivors fights hard, making its way to the Observation Room: the plan is to disconnect the Crown of Sorrow, breaking the bond that holds the Glykon in this distorted reality. 

As Qinziq tries to disconnect the Crown, Katabasis and Batho cover her up, but soon the Guardian realizes that this will be the last battle.

Qinziq cries out. I spin on my heel to see her engulfed in black flame and the cosmos racing around us. She spreads her pain to us to hold on a few moments longer, to no avail.I look back to Bahto. Deeper past him, in the nothing, to the hulking silhouette dragging a flaming censer and I know: this is where we die.”

“ENTRY 10 – Blood in the barrel”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

Katabasis is not sure if Qinziq managed to bring Glykon back to the known universe before dying. 

He remains the only crew survivor and for months he hides in the secret compartments of the smugglers, living in the maintenance tunnels, away from the eyes of the Scorn, now connected by the Locus of Communion: A hulking Scorn armed with a burning censer that acts as a link with something that has been brought back from the Mars anomaly.

Katabasis dies over and over and his Ghost, Gilgamesh, revives him again and again. He sometimes waits for days to find a safe respawn area to bring his Guardian back, an ordeal that becomes harder and harder.
Until, to the surprise of a now demoralized Katabasis, the Ghost reveals that something has changed.

“‘You, the Traveler. You’ve kept me trapped in this death knell. Now it’s time to set us free.’
‘What does that mean?’ His words like stone weights.
‘Sever our Light, or they’ll rip you apart for a thousand lives.’
[…]
‘We can survive this.’ Katabasis holds out his palm for me. ‘Please?’
‘I don’t want survival, Katabasis.’ I drift away from him. ‘I want salvation.’
‘…It got to you,’ Katabasis sobs weakly, his epiphany complete.”

“ENTRY 12 – The Debtor’s Knife”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

Gilgamesh has been conquered by the Darkness, or at least, the philosophy of it in lieu of the desperation he is experiencing. For a likewise desperate Katabasis, there is only one thing left to do.

“‘Everything you say is a lie!’ Katabasis grasps for his rifle.
Lever-to-action.
Shot to nothingness.
Ghost to dead memory.”

“ENTRY 12 – The Debtor’s Knife”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

RELATED: Destiny 2: How to Get New Dead Man’s Tale Exotic Scout Rifle

Destiny 2: Presage - level design
Credits: Bungie

Unravel the Darkness

Without his Ghost, cornered and exhausted, Katabasis falls too, after months of hunting and hiding. His body is found entangled by the mysterious fungal plants that have conquered the ship, his weapon (the same that killed his Ghost) found at his feet: The Dead Man’s Tale.

As we managed to uncover the events prior to our arrival onboard the Glykon, what happened to the accursed ship and his crew is not so easy to fathom – by design, of course, but we can address some hints and we can put together the breadcrumbs to reach the core of the complexity of this story.

What we understand for sure is that Calus’s experiment seems to have translated the Glykon into a different plane, probably within the anomaly of Mars. This place is described as a null space, possibly the theoretical zero-point energy space that Asher Mir linked to the Pyramids while experimenting on them on Io.

Then, through the Crown of Sorrow, the connection of the Psions and the Darkness-imbued collectivity of the Scorn, something has been able to slip inside the ship, using the Locus of Communion as a host or conduit.

Parts of the captain’s Log are narrated from various angles, and one of these is probably that of the Locus himself, a Scorn formerly named Akriis who is caught the moment of the awakening, under the influence of the Darkness.

“The mind beneath this one screams to the surface.
Nothing, Scorn, a Son… Fallen… Eliksni…King…
Akriis does not bow.
Arise, commands the voice buried in whispers.
Akriis does not bow, but Akriis is dead.
Peeled away.
The spine of the Glykon breaks, its vertebrae now interchanging.
Scorn howl to herald the crossing into Nothing.
Through the Locus, they hear the whispers and obey:
Meet Salvation.’”

“ENTRY 9 – Heretical flesh”, from the lore book “Captain’s Log”.

This Scorn is the only survivor of the experiment in the long term, while the others suffered neural death. After slipping into the Mars anomaly, he is then connected to something, declared itself as “the Nothing”, with a capital “N”.

The Scorn is then awakened, and the Fikrul’s imprinting Qinziq talks about is removed: now he no longer must obsessively execute the Baron’s last order, but something else entirely – an obscure, new directive. 

This process somehow triggers a struggle within the conscience of the Scorn, who awakens for a moment after being freed from the influence of Fikrul. 

Thus, he remembers that he is this Akriis, probably the son of someone important, a member of the Eliksni species, and possibly of the House of Kings.

Destiny 2: Calus visage in the Menagerie
Credits: Bungie

But the new imprinting prevails, effectively “killing” Akriis’ mind, and exchanging with a new compulsion, suggesting we are indeed talking about Darkness: accepting “salvation”.

This is a familiar trope in Destiny, coming from the final cutscene in “Shadowkeep” campaign, and consistently remarked since then on various occasions.

The concept of salvation is not merely a physical change of condition, but the acceptance of an entire philosophy, a whole different understanding of the universe’s reality.

This vision is in direct opposition to the Light thesis, as we have seen in the deeply complex lore book “Unveiling”.

The entity behind the Darkness ideals, the Winnower, wants to convince us of its tenets, appealing to our free will and winning our approval. These lines, coming directly from the Winnower, explains its beliefs and purposes:

“You are the gardener’s final argument. It would mean everything if I could convince you that I am the right and only way.I truly value you. To the gardener, you are a means to an end. To me, you are majestic. Majestic. You are full of the only thing worth anything at all.”

“The Wager”, from the lore book “Unveiling”.

As the champions of the Light, having us defecting to the opposing principle is the main driving of the Winnower. Other factions are tempted similarly. Weak minds are overwhelmed by these concepts, while others can consider them more freely. This is why, for example, Gilgamesh decided to renounce the Light, before being destroyed by Katabasis.

Calus’s End?

The Cabal emperor’s fate is still unknown. Despite having a final answer on his physical appearance and his state of mind, after the Glykon accident he completely vanishes. Amsot, the scribe who follows the experiment, left some recordings which are read in the dialogues between Osiris and Caiatl, during the Presage mission:

“Emperor Calus has left us. His Shadow broods. The Legionaries spread rumors, saying ‘He’s merged with the Darkness. He is dead. He fights to save us.’”

Osiris, in-game dialogue from the “Presage” mission.

Caiatl responds to this report by saying it is a lie, a trick. Her father, according to her, is hiding somewhere.

The Empress is a very pragmatic Cabal and does not believe many of the esoteric and paracausal contaminations this event brings forward.

She reacts very impetuously to the mere mention of his father and therefore, we can easily guess that her hypothesis is incorrect, or at least not entirely true. 

Katabasis, in one of the recovered and decrypted dialogues, confirms this:

“I didn’t think it was true. All that talk about the Darkness – but it saw him. Something down there stared right back into Calus’s hungry eyes. And then Uldren’s rotted tykes started shrieking… and, and I knew… I knew I shouldn’t have come here.”

Katabasis, in-game dialogue from the “Presage” mission.

It is, therefore, possible that Calus has finally gotten what he wanted: at the high price of having sacrificed all his crew and allowed the Scorn to become a conduit of the Darkness, the Emperor has finally completed that dialogue begun in the years of his exile with this Entity.

The outcome of this conversation is obscure to us, and only time will tell… But following the old rule “if a character does not die on screen, then he is not dead at all”, we can anticipate that we have not seen the last of Calus yet.

Put it simply, the assets and objectives of this season were not focused to show us his final destiny. An important clue comes from hearing his words along with those of other dead characters during the mission (we will talk about this after), which may lead us to believe that if not quite dead, Calus no longer belongs to our physical plane or our conception of reality.

The Heroes' Journey schematic
The Hero’s Journey, credits: Thea Cooke

The Symbolism of the Katabasis

The name “Katabasis” is originating from the Greek language. The term implies a descent, often represented with the mythological journey into the underworld, which merges many legends of the ancient world and is an integral part of the Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell’s monomyth system. 

This is exactly what happens aboard the Glykon, a journey “beyond the threshold”, on a ship that has gone beyond the limits of our universe and its laws and has returned, bringing with it something of that forbidden and dark world. The descent into the underworld (which is not necessarily a descent into hell, as per western Catholic tradition) is confirmed by another mythological element, mentioned in the name of the Ghost of Katabasis: Gilgamesh

Famously, the ancient Sumerian hero (an archetype used in many following mythical characters, such as the Greek Heracles) is connected to one of the many mythological elements of the descent into the underworld, as part of his “hero’s journey”. 

His trusted ally and brotherly friend Enkidu found himself descending into the underworld, but his return, linked to specific dictates, failed in the same way as that described in the Orphic myths

Also, in Sumerian mythology, Enkidu is not the first to descend into the underworld: the goddess Ishtar undertake the same ordeal in the cosmological part of the myth – a goddess that connects with Gilgamesh later on, and that (by sheer coincidence) gives its name also to the famous Collective and Academy on Venus.

Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh. Credits: Public

In the lore of the “Captain’s Log”, we find names such as “Acheron” and the like, which renew the clear geographical reference of the regions of the Greek underworld, presuming the “threshold passage” of the monomyth and adapting the symbolism when slipping into the Mars anomaly.

All the elements are therefore present as the background of both a narrative and a literal expedition in a dark dimension, dominated by adverse, overwhelming forces. 

The journey in the beyond is a theme repeatedly addressed in Destiny since the most important, impossible, and unknowable beyond lies behind an insurmountable limit: Death.

This is not only a physical limit but a narrative one too. Many sci-fi and fantasy stories deal with this obstacle to progress. 

Destiny 2: The veiled statue inside the pyramids.

Destiny makes the overcoming of the limit of death one of its main themes and narrative points: The Guardians are literally undead; the Hive devised a system to isolate death and nullify it; Clovis Bray creates Exo to solve the problem of human mortality and transcend physical limits; the Ahamkaras take on a new state of life after death. And so on.

For a videogame medium, the theme of death is volatile and interdependent on the intrinsic mechanics and rules we can find in the interpretation systems, such as the Magic Circle of Huizinga and other game theories. 

The player never really dies, not in our sense of the word. The journey beyond human possibilities is therefore also a meta-realistic path, with layered meanings, influencing different aspects of the narrative.

The Entity

One particularly striking element about the Presage is the in-game dialogues between Osiris and Caiatl that bring up evidence of some presence – a mastermind behind what happened on the Glykon.

It is referred to as the Entity. As Osiris strongly states that, despite the clear connection, this Entity and the Darkness are not the same. 

It is logical to assume that Bungie is pushing forward to make a distinction between the Darkness as a force and the entities that exploit it – exactly as it was clear from the beginning that we are entities separated from the Light that we use as an agent of change.

This is confirmed by one of the dialogues between Osiris and Caiatl, a commentary on a report by the scribe Amsot.

“OSIRIS: ‘Scribe Amsot states: ‘The Emperor has shown us we chase a mirage. The Darkness is nothing but a great basin of formless thoughts. A vast tangle of composting chaos. Calus seeks the Entity who speaks through the Darkness.’
CAIATL: ‘The Darkness is a primal force? Wielded – like the Light? How simple.
OSIRIS: ‘Able to be brandished against Xivu Arath?’
CAIATL: ‘And fall into the burrow of an ambush predator? Like Umun. Like Eramis. I think not. But tools can be broken. Forces can be stopped, and those who wield them can be disarmed.’”

Osiris and Caiatl, in-game dialogue from the “Presage” mission.

The identity of the mysterious Entity seems clear at this point and can be attributed to the same veiled woman of Clarity Control – an unknown being, which we recognize only through the names that others have given it, including Clovis Bray.

The veiled woman is omnipresent in every kind of iconography related to the Pyramids. If the Pyramids are a possible emanation of an entire civilization based on the cult and exploitation of the Darkness, the Entity could be at its head, as their version of the Traveler.

This hypothesis is supported by various elements, such as the returning of the term “salvation” and the presence of the “whispers” – all key elements related to the Pyramids, the statue of the veiled woman/Clarity Control, and the Darkness. Furthermore, the space delimited by the anomaly should be maintained by a Pyramid, which overlooks the area (and in this case, the planet engulfed in the darkness, Mars).

The reports decrypted by Caiatl confirm that the Entity’s voice is generated by the anomaly, as the whispers too, though is the Locus that seems to translate it in our reality (we will see about this in a while).

Osiris suggests that the Mars anomaly is connected to all the other anomalies in the system and to some outside it too; one of these anomalies, Caiatl points out, is precisely the “void” that Calus met during his exile within the Leviathan, the same responsible for his transformation. 

From its depth, something reached out to him, speaking with the voices of known people (including his own), and explaining to him how to commune. 

The same phenomenon happens to our Guardian, when he gets on board the Glykon, through the voices of Ghaul, of Calus, of Cayde-6. Connecting the dots, this appears to be the same stratagem used by Riven at the gate of the “Last Wish” raid area. 

The dead characters voices are the whispers described in another report decrypted by Caiatl:

“Dead whispers in the walls. There is no way back.”

Caiatl, in-game dialogue from the “Presage” mission.

Communication has always seemed to be the concern of these paracausal entities. The Traveler, for example, always tried to establish communication with us: The Speakers first and then the visions we faced in Destiny 2 after the death of the last Speaker, are prominent examples.

The Darkness has always set up a dialogue with all the species encountered, such as humanity and others like the Hive. Those attempts were not always understood, as in the case of the Long Slow Whisper – a liminal message implanted in the Exo code from Clarity Control. 

Using the voices of dead people we used to know, is objectively terrifying because it creates a sense of familiarity with the horror and binds us to death; here it also has a profound meaning, which we once again find in mythology.

Destiny 2: Presage - level design
Credits: Bungie

In many religions, such as Greek, Christian, and Jewish, humanity is unable to communicate directly with the gods, due to a clear difference that unfolds on several levels: biological, existential, dimensional, philosophical. 

In the myth of Zeus and Semele, for example, we have the father of the gods being pushed by the mortal lover to reveal himself in his full, divine form – an act that annihilates the woman amidst thunderbolts.

Considering many examples of sci-fi literature and cinematography, a contact between aliens and humans is always troubled by a set of fixed obstacles, not always of idiomatic nature – such as different cultural references, the difference between high and low context language, and so on.

The example of the mythology – when a god speaks in sacred texts, for example – is just one form of this human primeval fear of not being able to communicate, of not being understood.

According to this principle, both the Traveler and the mysterious entity that hides behind the Darkness must resort to different means to establish communication. 

In the case of the latter, using the voices of people we know is one of the possible means, with the Locus of Communion acting then as a mouthpiece, a conduit just as the Metatron angel is in Dogma (Kevin Smith, 1999).

What we thought was Riven’s trick to deceive us was, perhaps, the imitation of an imitation… and if in her case Riven used his dialogues with other people’s voices, in the Presage we have snippets of meaningful dialogues, extrapolated from previous assets, often re-contextualized – an attempt to breach our cultural barriers by a common context?

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Calus’s voices, for example, are all aimed at appreciating us, promising us power and all the attention we did not get from “our people”. 

The voices of Sagira and Cayde are used to produce guilt, to force a reflection: perhaps with the power of the Darkness, we could have saved our fallen friends, implying also that they died while we wielded the Light. 

These are all arguments that the voices behind the Pyramids have always supported as we discussed, especially the Winnower, and that carry forward a specific agenda: to convince us to switch sides, to prove that there is only one right path. 

Finally, Uldren’s voice is perhaps the most emblematic case: it is Uldren being imitated by Riven – the imitation of imitation again, that is asking us to be friends. A perfect logic loop.

As the anomaly appears to be the source of the whispers, the purpose of this anomaly network could be to create spaces where Darkness influence is absolute – a bit like limited respawn zones, where Light cannot reach. 

The network could be of paramount importance to implement the final plan of the Entity that hides behind them.

Destiny 2: Fungal flora
Credits: Bungie

The Dark Flora

Katabasis observes that some kind of waves causes distortions in the ship – gravitational distortions according to Osiris, possibly an attempt from the Darkness to reshape the fabric of reality, rearranging the environments of the Glykon.

The Guardian is forced to create new maps with each wave, to avoid getting lost in the twisted metal labyrinth the ship has become. 

Reading the data of the event, Osiris reports “it is as if each permutation of the ship has found itself in the same space, at the same time”. In a nutshell, the various Glykons of all alternative dimensions and times converged at the same point and moment, due to the power of the anomaly.

Furthermore, it is noted that a fungal life form has started to grow exponentially on the Crown of Sorrow even before the experiment started. From there, it has spread like a parasite throughout the ship. 

This creepy flora is the same vegetal life form we have seen on Drifter’s jump ship, the Derelict. Eve Astra, one of the artists and designers responsible for the Presage, confirms that these are “plants attracted to the Darkness” and therefore a byproduct of dark energy.

The presence of this flora is indeed a carefully designed “warning sign”: something Darkness-related is lurking in the area. 

Eve could not reveal anything else during the video, so we assume there is still something to discover, especially if we think these plants form a bond between the Drifter’s ship and the Ascendant pocket realm attached to it: The Haul. The plants connect the Haul to the ship, sprouting from it, as can be seen from various concept arts.

In addition to this, the fungal spores seem to protect us during the exploration of dark saturated areas. This buff, “Egregore link” has an ancient and sinister meaning.

Destiny 2: Presage - level design
Credits: Bungie

The Egregore

The term comes from the Greek (from which “gregarious” is derived too). In mythology and esotericism, the egregore is an entity (with or without intellect and consciousness) that emanates from a single or collective thought, often of an elemental nature. 

In Judaism, this term indicates the angels and demons from which the Nephilim would have descended, for example. The use of this precise terminology seems to point that the collectivity of the Scorn has generated a means to evoke the Entity, which would eventually take shape in the ship, among the Scorn themselves, or even in the vegetation. 

A classic theme of possession, therefore, adds an extra horror and theological element. The use of fungal spores, in this sense, creates a “bond” (“Egregore’s link”) with the Entity or force that is transforming the Glykon, temporarily translating us into a chain-link of this communion, a member of this collective who can therefore cross the areas of darkness without being damaged – essentially, because the plants were nourished by dark energy.

It is interesting to point out that the words in the “Captain’s Log” lore book are emanated from psionic energy from some kind of “mold” that has an “imprint of memory”.

The words seem to seep into the mind of the reader and making him experience the memories – something related to the mold coming from the plants?

Destiny 2: The Drifter's Derelict
Credits (above and below): Bungie

The anticipated connection with the Drifter is a subtle one. As the same kind of plants seems to grow out from the Haul, we wonder about what kind of power The Nine are harnessing or messing with.

In one set of concept arts tied to the Derelict and its Haul, we can see how the latter looks like a colossal version of these dark plants, anchored to an asteroid fragment of sorts – similar to the spore bulbs too. 

The plants, through interaction with the portal device inside the Derelict, could be the conduit responsible for opening the portal to the Ascending pocket realm, in the same way, they allow the Guardian to cross the otherwise lethal Darkness areas of the Glykon. 

Beyond these hypotheses, what seems to be certain is that the plants and the symbolism of the egregore are clues that link the Presage, the Drifter, the anomalies, and the Nine altogether.

An interesting connection, if we also consider that some members of the Nine were engulfed with their planet (like Mercury and Mars) into the anomalies by the Pyramids.

Statue of the god Glycon
Credits: Public

The Importance of the name “Glykon”

Another character in this dark play could be Savathûn, indeed. Let us take into consideration the name of the ship itself: Glykon. 

It could be not accidental at all, as it could refer to Glycon, a god who belongs to the homonymous cult, born around 140 CE in the Roman Empire, by the hand of Alexander of Abonoteichus

The god, a leontocephaline serpent, defined as the physical manifestation of Asclepius, was entirely made up and the related cult was built ad-hoc by Alexander, a real conman and manipulator of the masses. 

The cult was quite successful until the Third Century and is a major example of how it can be possible to influence public opinion and lead many people to believe anything, especially in the religious sphere and popular beliefs.

Destiny 2: Presage - level design
Credits: Bungie

The choice of this name is not accidental: it speaks of false gods, illusions, deceptions, and lies. And who but the queen of deceptions could be behind what happened on the Glykon? It is a fascinating hypothesis, but like everything related to Savathûn, it will likely remain so.

However, it is not wise to exclude any clues related to her from any suspicious lore incidents in Destiny, simply because we cannot take any chances. 

We need to consider that the Crown of Sorrow is a device created by Savathûn in the first place, and despite the modifications made by Calus and his entourage, in the past, it has proven to be impervious to reconditioning. 

It may have been the vessel through which Savathûn witnessed the Glykon disaster. And, surely, after the Pyramids called out the Hive as interlopers at the end of the Season of the Arrivals, Savathûn needs to look at the unfolding events in the system from a cautionary distance.

Finally, it cannot be excluded that the reference to the false god is, in any case, something that can coexist with the idea of a false “salvation”: something that certainly has a double meaning and that we can identify as a real deception.

Conclusions

Considering what we have said so far and the singular fact that not all the mysteries of the Presage have been revealed yet, and that there are some locked areas still, the unraveling of the Presage is a complicated matter. 

We can rest assured that Bungie has finally taken an important step with this mission, transforming an Exotic quest into a fundamental link in the most complex narrative chain. 

In previous Exotic missions, albeit with a great atmosphere and incredible attention to level design and details, there had never been such a conjunction of lore, narrative with in-game dialogues, direct and indirect references to important characters, even resolutions for arcs that have been dormant for years. 

It is not just about placing Easter eggs or scannable items, but about building a template that, perhaps for the first time, satisfies every criterion of attraction to the franchise, towards all types of palates in the community. 

The events that emerged from the Presage are, as the name suggests, a glimpse of what awaits us, and its consequences, implied or not, will be there lingering for the foreseeable future.

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But what does the name “Presage” really mean? It is perhaps what we hope it will be: A template for future content. It is important to note that each theme dealt with has a symbolic, narrative, and design counterpart. 

The idea of transformation, of bodies, of minds; possession, loss of humanity or one’s individuality; the desperate search for communication; the horror of isolation, both in space and inside us; the terror of the unknown; the bait of false promises and burning ambitions. 

Through the call of myth, of metatext common to every civilization, of philosophy and space deconstruction, Bungie has succeeded in creating a winning formula to tell the true story of Destiny, thus creating a format that we think can be successfully used over and over for the upcoming seasons: A very linear and clear main story for the main paid content, and finally, an activity such as the Presage – entirely optional but which encompasses every fundamental element for a multi-level narrative of complexity.

The ideal container for an intricate and layered story like that of Light versus Darkness.

Last, taking up the name Presage again, we are reminded of the numerous questions left lingering by the related Bungie article:

“Where is Calus now? Has he made contact with the Darkness … or maybe something else entirely? Was this his only attempt? What is the Entity and does its existence change our understanding of the Darkness? What are these plants? What does the Drifter know about them? Could what happened on this ship happen anywhere? Could it happen in the Last City?”

 The next steps in the narrative direction of the franchise could be very related not only to the answers to these questions but on the willingness to ask them.

And Bungie, employing design and narrative, wants us to reflect on what is coming: a different form for an old threat maybe, but moreover a new risk knowledge. We should weigh more carefully the value of what we could lose.