Rasputin Most Likely Shot The Traveler
With the Tower destroyed, the Last City burning and the Light of the Traveller choked under the grip of Ghaul, humanity flees to the European Dead Zone. We recoup our forces at “The Farm,” Deej explained to Playstation Access, where a shard of the Traveler exists, plunged into the Earth, yet radiating the same Light that empowered us. This proves to be our new source of strength in reclaiming our planet.
New questions arise, though. Our understanding of the Traveler has shifted since the gameplay reveal. We learn that the Traveler was once located on Io, where we are said to discover even more secrets regarding its past. But the actual logistics of The Traveler’s presence on Earth must now be questioned.
A popular and divisive theory among the Lore community is one regarding both The Traveler and Rasputin. The Grimoire reveals that during the Golden Age—as human civilization thrived under the Traveler’s blessing—the Warmind Rasputin prepared a series of plans, should the Traveler leave. He had reason to believe that humanity would be at grave risk; fears, which proved well-founded. During the Collapse, the Traveler was gravely injured, entering a form of stasis, and in its dying breath—saved humanity.
Except…speculation and doubt have been cast on its motivations. Records from across the galaxy documents it fleeing and leaving host species to die as soon as The Darkness arrived. The Ammonites, the Osmium Drinkers, the Fallen, and presumably more, were all left to wither and die.
Many believe that The Traveler attempted to flee, but was critically wounded by Rasputin, in an effort to force The Traveler to protect humanity out of self-interest. However, the prevailing public consensus across Bungie.net, Reddit and the Lore Community is that this is either untrue, or unprovable. While this may have been the case before, I believe the Destiny 2 reveal proves that this is—in fact—the case.
For this theory to cross the threshold of “speculation,” into “likely fact,” certain thresholds of certainty must be met. I’ve chosen them along the exact, specific factors that throw doubt on it.
Did the Traveler flee?
Who wounded the Traveler?
To prove this to be the case, I will prove that the Traveler almost certainly attempted to flee and Rasputin almost certainly attacked it.
The Traveler Absolutely Fled
Many Destiny players view the Traveler with a certain degree of fondness. If not based on precedent, for what it stands for. For all sci-fi’s mysterious Monoliths, the genre rarely deliver one that embodies anything deserving this reaction. The Monoliths of 2001: A Space Odyssey are cold, supernatural symbols of human progress, but their blank design is meant to be looked past. They’re merely bookmarks for points in space, meaning nothing but what the viewer interprets it to be. A mirror, rather than a canvas.
The Traveler, likewise, is a faceless orb. But it’s rounded, white, elegant and shielding. Whatever Lovecraftian horrors exist in the space beyond it are shielded from us by its gentle presence. The knowledge that it sacrificed itself so we could live brings meaning to the canvas, one that we paint on with images of the children, families and communities that we save.
A previous article questioned our distrust of the Speaker. Citing his long history of selfless benefit to our civilization, I argued, he deserved the benefit of the doubt. In it, I argued distrust as a reaction to mystery was hindering our ability to honestly assess lore, as well as potentially enjoy future character development as Bungie writes it. We should trust things at face value—until evidence shows otherwise.
I extend that courtesy to the Traveler, for its symbol of hope and its protection. But there’s evidence within 90% certainty that the Traveler planned to leave humanity for dead.
Traveler’s Husk | The European Dead Zone
The ecology we see in this screenshot is known as “Taiga.” The image generously gives us water, shoreline, stone, and forest to assess, so let’s dig in. Taiga is characterized by pine and spruce forests, as well as the proliferation of Lichen. The soil is extremely thin, and the acidic nature of evergreen needles means that the ground is often rocky, covered in light vegetation such as lichen and moss. Despite this, the variety of soil organisms that can be found in Taiga is quite high.
Taiga is found exclusively in North America and Europe. In Canada and the United States, Taiga is referred to as Boreal. The strong similarity in soil, vegetation and wildlife makes it one of the strongest cases for the existence of the Bering Land Bridge—a speculated landmass that existed between Alaska and Russia. It makes up 29% of the world’s land mass, making it the most common land biome on the planet.
The European Dead Zone is in Northern or Eastern Europe, likely in an area between mountains with a shallow lake. The low height of the bridge and the moss on the water indicates that it receives little rainfall, meaning it’s between large mountain ranges which shield it from air flow and pressure fronts. While I can’t pin down exactly what lake it is, it’s somewhere in the green portion of the map within the red circle.
We know now that The Last City is located in Nepal, directly under The Traveler—the exact location where it quite literally gave up its ghost(s). At bare, gracious minimum, the Traveler’s Shard is at least hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from The Last City.
Fact #1: The Traveler went into stasis after taking critical damage
Fact #2: The Traveler went into stasis after being in motion
The timing here is incredibly specific. The window for any of these events to occur is small: The Collapse begins—The Traveler takes critical damage while in Europe—Ghosts awaken the first Guardians, who immediately discover the Traveler in Napal. The Traveler’s lore states that “in its last dying breath, the Traveler created Ghosts,” further tightening this window, locking this schedule of events.
Part 2: Rasputin Almost Certainly Fired on The Traveler
Let’s quickly examine both the damage to the Traveler and the Shard of the Traveler in the EDZ.
The Traveler’s damage occurred on the bottom hemisphere, around the left side (when viewing from The Tower), indicating that it took damage at an angle, from the ground. In the event of an invasion by the Darkness—and whatever forces came with it—the Traveler was their primary objective, not humanity. The damage to the Traveler would have come from above, or even the side—not from below. Additionally, the scope of the damage to the Traveler—blowing a colossal piece off the monolithic structure—shows that some sort of massive, high-damage weapon was used against it.
Keep in mind that we don’t know how the Darkness manifested itself in The Collapse. It could have been a cloud of black smoke; it could have been the Squid from Watchmen; it might have been a physical army led by the Darkness. For an attack from the ground to make sense, it has to be a physical ground force. Neither a giant space monster, nor a black cloud, nor a galactic fidget spinner is attacking from the ground.
Even then, it barely makes sense for an invading army to attack such a gigantic, prone and aerial target from the ground. It’s also nigh impossible that they could land sufficient ground personnel to transport and man a super-weapon from Earth’s surface—in the center of human civilization. Further, the angle of damage seen on the Traveler would require the invading force to be positioned just under The Traveler—while simultaneously fending off humanity at its prime.
What truly nails this possibility into its coffin is that of what little the lore tells of The Collapse, it’s clear about this: the attack was a complete surprise, an effective blitzkrieg. Regardless of whatever strategy they could have used to surmount the near-impossible attack of the Traveler from the ground, we know their attack was a complete surprise—and the first recorded engagement with it was in Mumbai—not Europe. This categorically precludes a ground invasion beneath the Traveler.
What this all points back to is Rasputin. Barring the idea that humans—surprised by the attack—began shooting Ghorns into The Traveler while using Weapons of Light, only Rasputin has the sheer firepower to blow a chunk of the Traveler off. Remember, this is a dude who deployed militarized SIVA and massacred the Iron Lords. He acts with overwhelming force for the simplest objectives.
Through Occam’s Razor (The simplest solution being typically true) Rasputin almost certainly shot the Traveler. Rasputin is the only known entity to have:
Predicted that the Traveler would attempt to leave—which it did
The firepower for such a staggering show of force
A clearly stated motive—including concrete pre-conditions for doing so
A detailed plan for how it would do it.
With the information we possess, elements of the theory that were ones speculative must now be framed within the timeline that the EDZ presents us. The Traveler was in Europe before the Collapse, and it’s in Nepal now. The integral defense of the Traveler—that it would not abandon humanity—is almost certainly false.
The Traveler may be a source of our power, but as we discover how to reclaim it, we must keep in mind that it may be an amoral entity, or just one with a grander purpose that doesn’t include us. In a collapsed world of danger, space monsters and time-traveling robots—caution is a pretty good policy.