The Awoken’s political troubles have finally come to a head. Those Awoken that had been threatening to leave in order help the people of earth actually carry out their threats. Despite the best efforts of Mara and Sjur, the first ship of those who wish to break away manages to depart the reef. Mara even tries to send a shutdown command to the ship in a similar way she had absolute control over the Hulls that took her people away from the Distributary, only to find out that it will not respond to her commands. It is one from Humanity’s golden age, not one based on the Hulls Mara’s people brought from the Distributary so her overrides have no power over it.

Once the first ship breaks away, Mara recognizes that the worst that can happen has happened, and that trying to prevent the other ships from leaving will just cause unnecessary deaths. So, Mara orders Sjur to broadcast to the other rioters that they will be allowed to leave peacefully as long as they go now. Again, we see some of the special magic possessed by the Awoken and by Mara in particular. Sjur replies that there is no need to tell them because she and all the rest of the Awoken heard Mara’s proclamation directly!

We take a little look ahead here, a little extended look at what these Awoken accomplish after the split away from Mara’s group. We’re told that they go down to the earth with a level of technology and knowledge that save thousands of lives even in just the first year. These Awoken are seen almost like angels with their glowing skin and impossible tech and strong desire to help. For the first time in years or decades, the people of Earth are able to look up into the stars and know that there’s more than just doom up there. Over the next few centuries these Awoken integrate into what’s left of human society and over time their attachment to the Distributary and the Reef and Mara fade. But, we’re told they always have a little connection to Mara, some little tie that they can still feel. I think there’s still a bit of Awoken magic linking them back to Mara Sov.

This split of Mara’s Awoken into two peoples has some immediate implications for the Reef. For one, Mara finally listens to the advice and criticism everyone around her has been dumping on her. She stops trying to treat her people as equals and finally takes her place as the Queen of the Awoken. Following the example set by Alis Li so many thousands of years ago, Mara designates the Techeuns, a group of scientists and thinkers, to explore the mysteries of the universe, and a group of Paladins who will lead the Awoken’s security and defense.

And then the Fallen attack! A single Ketch spotted the earthbound Awoken and tracked their course back to the asteroid belt. The Reef spots the large warship coming and makes it’s power known by gutting it in an instant using some of their limited supply of weapons they brought from the Distributary. But, it turns out that the Fallen are just a bit smarter than that. The Ketch didn’t just fly in confident of a sure victory. Instead, its Baron pre-deployed all his dropships so even though his ketch is destroyed in an instant, his attack force is still largely intact.

Mara, freshly crowned Queen that morning, takes to the personal defense of her people. We’re told that Sjur is encased in a full combat suit, but that Mara fights in the open. She knows that her people need to be able to spot her and be able to see her vulnerable so that they will rally to her side. And it works. With Sjur handling the larger threats, and Mara serving as a rallying force, and Uldren watching his sister’s back, the Awoken of the Reef once again put aside their differences and come together as a people.

While Mara and her brother are busy inside, Sjur is busy outside engaging the Fallen Baron and his forces in zero-g combat near the exterior of the Sacred Fire. The Fallen had attached a Spider Tank to Awoken’s largest habitat ship and it was up to Sjur to stop them. I’d love to see this scene rendered by cutscene studio Blur or someone. Sjur and a large Fallen Baron leaping among asteroids and debris. The Baron and his spider tank trying to pin Sjur down. Sjur finally ending the Baron with a single well aimed arrow through the throat. But, even with the Baron dead, Sjur still has to stop the tank from destroying the Sacred Fire.

It’s here that Sjur knows she is going to die. Remember, she told Mara that her death would be doing something incontrovertibly heroic. Her only chance to save thousands of her sisters and brothers is to hastily place an explosive charge down the tank’s main gun. When it fires next, it will detonate in a devastating backfire that Sjur knows she will be unable to get clear of. And it does. And Sjur is engulfed in the blast. And Sjur is… not killed. She’s not even harmed! How is that possible?!

Earlier, before the Fallen attack, before Mara became Queen, her lead researcher had revealed more about the research they have been doing into the Awoken’s special form of magic. Not only can every Awoken subtly affect outcomes, Mara herself seems to be the source and concentration of that power. And those subtle effects seen in other Awoken are massively increased for Mara. Simulations show that Mara’s subtle magic is so powerful that even things like weapons and bombs don’t work properly around her. The fundamental physics that would normally control a trigger mechanism of a gun or bomb are literally thousands of times less likely to function correctly if triggered near Mara Sov.

This is what saved Sjur. Mara focused her power and instead of dying, Sjur is thrown safely clear of the blast. As Sjur wonders what happened she see’s Mara’s face projected into her mind and she knows who saved her.

Next time, we’ll look at some of the more obscure connection to past Destiny lore and reach the end of the Reef’s beginning.

Chapters Referenced:

Revanche IV
Revanche V