After Alis Li takes Mara on a tour of their new world, the two work together to begin calling the rest of the Awoken back from the void:

Two became four, and the four called out, and so the four became eight. In this manner, conjured forth by their doubling, the sleepers did awaken. In time the awoken spilled across the face of the world, and their number was forty thousand eight hundred ninety one. They drank of the sweet rain, and they ate of the fruit of the forest, and the starlight pooled as clear oil on their skin. First of their tongues was Speech, and the first of their hunting weapons was the bow.

We also learn some specifics about the Yang Liwei. The colony ship carried a total of 40,891 crew and colonists. An interesting thing happened when the ship fell into the blackhole created by the opposing powers of Light and Darkness. 40,000 of the ship’s compliment don’t remember anything about their past lives seemingly because they were in cryosleep when the Traveler rescued the Yang Liwei. But the other 891 do remember at least some of where they came from. These 891 seem to be treated as just a little bit more special.

It’s also kinda fun to see bows mentioned since the new bow class weapons played such a nice role in Destiny. They’ll even come up in the Awoken’s story in some fun, unexpected ways later.

So, after a time of branching out and exploring their new world, the Awoken, or at least their various leaders, come together for a great council to try and work some things out. There’s a lot that comes out of this council:

First is a census. We know there are initially 40,891 Awoken, but now they classify themselves into three categories: 30,111 women, 10,295 men, and 485 other. We’ve always had very strong hints that the Awoken of the Reef were a matriarchal society. Recall that in the Reef, the Awoken were lead by a Queen. The liaison to the Guardians was Petra Venj. Most of the Paladins (the commanders of their military forces) were women. Now we begin to see why.

Second, we have three main speakers at the council. Alis Li speaks first saying:

We were granted this world by a covenant with high powers, and in that covenant, we yielded our claim to our history. We abandoned what came before, but in doing so, we cast off all our debts. Look forward! Let us explore this infant cosmos, and revel in its glories!

Next comes an Awoken named Owome An who represents the 40,000 who do not remember their past. She come at things from a different point of view:

We are alien here. We must climb up our worldline, back to the place from which we came. I call for a vote.

The third speaker, Mara Sov, did not actually speak in public. But, in private meetings organized by her brother, she offered up her own interpretation of things:

I think that we came here as safe harbor, and we cannot forever remain. I remember the danger was appalling. I remember we were born in death. I think we must gather ourselves carefully until the time is right.

From these three viewpoints you can kinda see how the council came up with its next nine verdicts. I’m going to list each one and offer a bit of commentary on a few of them as we go.

  • 1st, that the people were Awoken, and they were immortal. I wonder a bit how they figured out they were immortal. How long does it take to determine that you aren’t aging?
  • 2nd, that this world was Tributary of another, but that it was forbidden to seek any way to rejoin the mother stream. For this reason, it would be called the Distributary, for that was the proper name for a river that branches from the mother and does not return. The name Distributary will come up in the future. Remember it.
  • 3rd, that the Awoken should multiply in wombs of flesh and machine, but only after the most careful forecast of population and ecology, and only under the supervision of those who knew the good technology; for each new child would be immortal. We see later that the Yang Liwei, which the Awoken now call the Shipspire, has the ability to brith and or possibly clone animals. Presumably, the Awoken also use the former starship’s facilities early on to bolster their numbers more quickly than would have otherwise been possible.
  • 4th, that those wise in the good technology should be heralded and heeded, so that the eu-technology could be preserved. They would be eutechs. Is it the 891 that remembered the good technology? Or did the 40,000 retain knowledge of their jobs and advanced skills, just not their pasts? If one or the other of those is true it could have been an interesting mix up in the political power dynamic.
  • 5th, that the women should hold care and protection of the men and the others until more could be born. This is how we get a mostly female military and government in the Reef.
  • 6th, that the purpose of the Awoken should be to know and love the cosmos.
  • 7th, that the Awoken were created out of covenant with Light and Darkness, but the covenant was complete, and no further debt would ever be called, except the duty of the Second Verdict to remain on the Distributary. Sure sounds like Alis Li wrote this one, doesn’t it?
  • 8th, that the Awoken were whole in themselves, and they existed in balance.
  • 9th, Ninth, that there would be no vote, but instead Alis Li would be recognized as Queen. Her first pronunciation was that there would be no secrets among Awoken.

The final ninth verdict was a critical one. It seems somewhat natural that Alis Li became Queen. She was the first to wake. She more or less created the planet the Awoken now live on. And she was, in her former life, a competent, insightful leader. But that part about secrets is also important, as we’re told:

For Alis knew of the quiet council around Mara, and although she was neither jealous nor afraid, she remembered it carefully as a spark that might catch.

That spark does catch. And it leads to a civil war… that we’ll cover next time. There’s a lot going on with the Awoken politically and I want to make sure every bit gets the attention that it deserves. But until then, look back at what we’ve already learned! The origin and creation of the Awoken, one of Destiny’s great mysteries, is now known to us!

Oh yeah, one more thing. There were Nine Verdicts and there is The Nine we keep hearing about. Any relation? I’m not sure. The Emissaries of The Nine seem Awoken-ish. And I saw a neat theory the other day that we’ll get to eventually. But for now, at least, I don’t believe there is any definitive proof linking these Nine Verdicts to The Nine.

Editor’s Note: Since this post was made, we’ve learned more about The Nine. We’ll talk about them someday, but for now, they seem completely unrelated to this part of the Awoken’s story. 

Chapters Referenced:
Ecstasiate III