Bite-sized Backstory 30: The Noble Queen and the Scatter (Destiny)

by Ragashingo ⌂, Official DBO Cryptarch, Saturday, August 19, 2017, 15:59 (2531 days ago)


When the Eliksni came to our system, the various houses did what they always did. As Variks says:

House Winter, attack. House Devils, plot. House Kings, plan. House Wolves circle. House Judgment... wait.

- Variks The Loyal

The attacks the House of Winter performed are referred to in Draksis, Winter Kell:

Kell of the Wintership Simiks-fel, has been an elusive target for the Vanguards. After his countless raids on jumpship reclamation convoys, Cayde-6 personally upped the bounty on him. With confirmed sightings of the Kell in the Ishtar Sink, the time to strike is now.

The result of which is seen in Ghost Fragment: Hunter:

She leaves the rifle and walks across the naked obsidian into the swarm firing from the hip as she goes, each kick of the old revolver a word, Draksis, Draksis, Kell of Winter, Kell of hate, lord of the kingdom of her vendetta. Her jaw aches. She used to imagine biting out his throat with armored teeth.

The stone smokes around her where the arc fire lashes it and the shrapnel guns throw up leaves of obsidian like glass butterflies. She shoots her bandoliers dry and a team of Vandals in glassy stealth leap up to rush her with knives but she raises her hand and burns them down with the golden gun, laughing, crying out Draksis, Draksis, I am come!

She kills them all and takes the next ridge, high above the Cinders. She can see the blue-green pools and the cave mouths where the Vex lights dance. And there among them, gowned in smoke and ash, is the long shark shape of a Ketch, a Wintership, the Kell's ship, come down to nest.

Which eventually leads to us boarding Simiks-fel and killing Draksis ourselves in Destiny. We get to see a lot of the House of Devils plotting firsthand as well. They try to capture Rasputin in Destiny and they eventually try to take control of SIVA in Rise of Iron.

The House of Kings we see very little of. There’s that one meeting between the House of Wolves and House of Kings that we break up. The one deep in the Cosmodrome around that hologram of the Traveler. But other than that, the Kings are very cautious and generally do not stick their necks out.

Now, the House of Wolves? At some point after the Eliksni fight their long running skirmishes against the Iron Lords, and after the establishment of the City, all the Eliksni houses put their heads together and plan a massive attack. The House of Wolves is apparently intended to be the muscle:

The transmission was broadcasted on all Fallen frequencies. Lacking, at the time, the ability to crack Fallen encryptions, the Master of Crows could discern only that the Fallen Houses were all talking to each other. That was a thing that had never happened before.

Then the Techeuns looked Earthward—and saw the Fallen there becoming bolder. Tactics suggested they were planning a massive attack. We had no interplanetary arrays—no way to warn Earth. We thought we would be able to do nothing but watch.

But then the Wolves arrived from the Jovians. Their army was hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions strong: a dark wave that washed over the Reef, rushing toward the Earth. As soon as we saw them it was clear that if the Wolves reached Earth, the City would fall.

- WANTED: Skolas, Kell of Kells

So, while some houses like the Devils essentially parked themselves right on top of the homeworld of the immortal, unkillable Guardians, the Wolves had been somewhere far away past Mars and past even the asteroid belt. Arriving from the Jovians means that the House of Wolves had taken up residence on or near Jupiter’s moons.

We’re also told in Vestian Outpost, Queen’s Bay that:

the Reef's sunward side, the Vestian Outpost marks the flightpath any Guardian must take to access the Queen's realm. Beyond it lies the Vestian Web, the heart of the Reef built around the asteroid 4 Vesta.

That would put the Reef here some 2.5AU (21 light minutes) from the Sun:

(Click to embiggen)

By contrast, Ceres is a little farther out at roughly 2.7AU.

(Click to embiggen)

But, of course, these two asteroids are in constant motion and depending on exactly when Destiny takes place they might be closer together or on opposite sides of the sun from each other.

The WANTED: Skolas, Kell of Kells Grimoire Card then continues with:

Seemingly oblivious to our existence, the bulk of the Wolf fleet stopped to regroup at Ceres. The Queen's decision was this: attack the House of Wolves, thereby saving Earth but revealing the Reef's presence to any and all enemies in the quadrant; or remain silent, preserving the Reef's invisibility but allowing the City to perish.

Her Harbingers ripped into Ceres, destroying the asteroid and killing Virixas, Kell of Wolves and more than half his House.

That a pretty bold move by Queen Mara Sov, but we actually have a more detailed look at it in Ghost Fragment: Fallen 4. This is one of my favorite scenes in all of the Grimoire so I’m going to post it in its entirety:

This happens long ago, but not too long to matter.

Ceres rules the Asteroid Belt. Ceres is the white queen of this space, four hundred million kilometers from the Sun. Ceres is round. Round means power, out here: nothing else in the Belt is big enough to crush itself into a sphere with its own gravity. Ceres has its own chemical stars. Shavings of salt and ice that glint in orbit. Like a crown.

There are other lights, newer stars, newer crowns. Warship engines. Another queen is coming to conquer Ceres, because Ceres is full of warrens and shipyards and habitats, because Ceres is round and lucky as a Servitor. Because Ceres is full of the Wolves she wants to rule.

Shark-fierce ships gather in squadrons and tribes. Skiffs. Ketches. The Kell of Wolves has a fleet gathered here. The Kell of Wolves heard the call, and summoned the House of Wolves to prepare for the great battle on Earth. The salvation of the Kell's people depends on their ability to shatter the City. It's a matter of survival.

Now the Wolf fleet turns to meet the Queen.

See the squadrons of Skiffs wrapping themselves in stealth, cold and transparent, knifing out invisible and brave? See the Ketches like broad blades, the bright thoughts of a Servitor guiding them to battle? See them turning, accelerating, waking up their jammers and their arc guns? All doomed. The Kell of Wolves will never make it to the Twilight Gap. The Kell of Wolves put all that strength in one place, and now the Queen of the Reef is coming to break it.

Out there, coming out of the dark, are the Awoken. Not so great a fleet, is it? Little fighters scattered around like four-pointed thorns. Destroyers and frigates and salvaged hulls pulled out of the Reef. And right at the front, at the speartip, flies the Queen.

The Wolf Kell, practical, brave, tallies strength of metal and equipment. The Kell considers the chance that the Awoken have some secret weapon, something gleaned from hulks in the Reef or whispered up by the witches, and sets that chance aside. The Kell thinks the House of Wolves can win decisively. So the Kell sends challenge and warning. I AM LORD OF WOLVES, the Kell sends. YOU ARE AN EMPTY THING WITH TWO DEAD SOULS. THIS IS MY HOUSE. THESE ARE MY TERMS. SURRENDER AND I WILL ONLY TAKE YOUR SHIPS.

The Awoken fleet cuts their engines. Drifts. Wolf strike elements, torpedo-armed Skiffs hidden under jamming and camouflage, find their firing solutions.

The Queen's ship broadcasts. I AM NOBLE TOO, she says, OH LORD OF WOLVES.

The Kell doesn't mind a little banter before the kill. It gives the Wolf ships longer to draw the battle away from Ceres. The Kell replies. YOU HAVE NO LINE. YOU HAVE NO POWER. Captains and Barons signal their readiness, Skolas and Pirsis and Irxis, Drevis, Peekis, Parixas, all of them bound by fear and loyalty, all ready for war.

STARLIGHT WAS MY MOTHER. The Queen's ship whispers in eerie erratic radio bursts. Servitors begin to report a strange taste in the void. AND MY FATHER WAS THE DARK.

Here, at last, too late, the Kell begins to feel fear. CALL ON THEM, THEN, the Kell sends, one last mocking signal before death and ruin, AND SEE WHAT HELP THEY OFFER.

So the Queen calls, as only she can. Every Servitor in every Ketch hears it. Every Captain and Baron roars at their underlings as sensors go blind, as firing solutions falter, as reactors stutter and power systems hum with induction. Stealth fails. Space warps. The House of Wolves shouts in spikes of war-code, maneuvers wild, fires blind.

Behind the Queen's ship, the Harbingers awaken.

The Queen’s line there “I am noble too, oh Lord of Wolves. Starlight was my mother; and my father was the dark.” gives me chills each time I read it. We don’t really know what that means yet, but clearly the Queen is not nobody! Cayde-6 once said of her:

And who's the best at cutthroat politics? That's right, her Majesty, the Queen of the Reef.

Whatever happens— I want you to remember that she knows, more than anyone else I've met, how to set one foe against another.

- Prison of Elders, The Reef

So, what happens next?

Her Harbingers ripped into Ceres, destroying the asteroid and killing Virixas, Kell of Wolves and more than half his House. The remaining Wolves scattered, burrowing deep into the Belt for cover. There, new claimants to the Kellship quickly arose: Irxis, Wolf Baroness; Parixas, the Howling; and Skolas, the Rabid.

- WANTED: Skolas, Kell of Kells

The Awoken win a decisive victory here, but, as we’ll soon see, the conflicts that the Queen just kicked off aren’t called the Reef Wars for nothing!

Previous: 29: The Eliksni vs. The Iron Lords
Next: 31: Meanwhile! At Twilight Gap!

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