Bite-sized Backstory 16: Oryx's Pyramid Scheme (Destiny)
For a thousand years, Oryx and his sisters must have killed billions and maybe even trillions of thinking beings who were once members of the Ecumene. We know the numbers they slaughtered were so great two ways:
1. When the Dakaua War Council first met to address the Hive threat the Hive had only destroyed somewhere around 300 worlds, and only seventeen (17!) of those were part of the Ecumene. By the time our Guardian steals data from the World’s Grave that number has risen to “thousand of worlds” and there are not many foes left for the Hive. Or at least not many that we are told about.
2. When the Ecumene had forced the Hive to a standstill, Savathûn lamented that they would need to be killing Ecumene by the billions in order to feed their worms the destruction they hungered for. But they seem to have no more hunger pains that we know of during this 1,000 year period.
Speaking of those hunger pains, Savathûn asked about them once the last of the Ecumene were extinguished. “King Oryx, how will we feed our worms? Did you use my plan?” she asks. We don’t hear Oryx’s direct answer, but we do get to hear his announcement of a plan to end the Hive’s hunger pains once and for all.
Oryx commands that his Thrall and Acolytes are to take enough killing to feed their worms plus a little more to grow their own power. The rest of the destruction they cause is to be tithed up the chain. The Thrall will tithe to the Acolyte that commands them. The Acolytes will tithe to the Knights or Wizards that command them.
Oryx’s command to his Knights and Wizards is much the same, with one exception. They too are to take enough killing to feed their worms, and a little more to grow. But before they tithe the rest, they are expected to take another portion, as much as they dare, to use for their own purposes. They then tithe whatever is left to the Ascendant Hive that they server under. So, they are expected to forge their own paths with the catch being that if they get too far out of line or too devious then their fellow Hive will get jealous and kill them in order to take possession of the excess of destruction they are keeping for themselves.
Why do the Knights and Wizards get this exception, this command to branch out and do their own things as much as they are able? Probably, Oryx wants to make sure his Hive don’t fall into a rut of all fighting the same way. More than that, though, I think it has to do with Knights and the Wizards being the final adult form the Hive. Essentially, Thrall and Acolytes are children that have to do as they are told, but Knights and Wizards (and Kings presumably, but we never hear of any other Hive Kings) are free to achieve or squander their power and earnings as little or as much as they want. This, of course, also calls back to the the way Aurash, Sathona, and Xi Ro made their own journey of destruction from childhood to adulthood back on the seas of Fundament so long ago.
Next, the Knights and Wizards who manage to steal and hold on to enough power will become Ascendant Hive once they are able to create their own throne worlds. These Hive too are commanded to tithe upward, but they are the last link in the chain as the only ones above them are Oryx, Savathûn, and Xivu Arath. We also know that Ascendant Hive are still free to do their own thing, as we know of at least one, Alak-Hul (the Darkblade from the Sunless Cell Strike) who attempts to challenge Oryx for leadership of the Hive.
Finally, the three leaders of the Hive, the three royal siblings we know so well, will use the vast flow of tribute flowing up to them to feed their own worms, grow their own power, feed the Hive’s worm gods, and to study the powers of the Deep.
I think this plan, this pyramid scheme of destruction, was the plan Savathûn spoke of. There’s no real proof of this, but it feels a bit too clever for Oryx to have come up with it on his own. Either way, this is how the Hive operate from this point on. This plan is both their command structure and their supply line. Ultimately, it will be their greatest strength and, for at least one of the three murderous royal siblings, their greatest weakness… But we won’t see that second part for quite a while.
(Many of you have seen and exploited this weakness first hand, however!)