Destiny has a lot of lore. There are so many good stories that you can pursue and so many different types to read. Sci-fi, drama, epic fantasy, political intrigue, you can find all these and more, you just gotta pull on the right thread. But one of my favorite stories, and one of Destiny’s oldest and longest, has all of the above. I want to tell you the story of The Last Word, an iconic exotic hand cannon that itself has been a huge part of Destiny’s gameplay and was, at least at one point, at the top of Destiny’s multiplayer meta game. The story of The Last Word begins with a ravaged Earth and a new wave of alien invaders.

In the Dark Age, that time period after the Darkness was driven away by the Traveler but before The City was well and truly established by the victory at the Battle of Six Fronts, much of Humanity was spread across the remains of our world. Some cities, like London, apparently survived the Collapse. Probably they weren’t well off, but they were still places people could live. Then the Eliksni came. These “Fallen” aliens were fleeing their own equivalent of our Collapse. They too had barely survived an encounter with The Darkness. They were beaten and bloodied and desperate from decades or centuries of fleeing from their homeworlds all the way to our star system. They were looking for the Traveler which had abandoned them and they were looking for any advantage they could give themselves. No matter the cost. Sentient lives? Plundering the ruins of a civilization in need? The Fallen were far too desperate to give such concerns any attention. We even have some references and reports saying that the Fallen would eat humans when food ran short!

What was left of Humanity was furthered scattered by the Fallen. Cities like London fell to an enemy that still had ready access to starships and high technology. Smaller towns lived in fear, and were often forced to run for their lives when the Fallen found them. But, over time, Ghosts began searching the world for their Guardians. As decades passed, Ghost who had yet to find their Guardians took it upon themselves to help the pockets of humanity they could. A Ghost can fabricate. It can scout. It can deliver food to the hungry. We find one such Ghost assisting a small group of humans on the run.

When this group first sees this Ghost they are wary. To them, it is another alien. But, in time, they come to see it as a helper. They name the Ghost Tiānshǐ, which is Mandarin for Heaven’s Messenger. Some even think the Ghost is an actual angel! The Ghost is quick to deny this, but it keeps the name, nonetheless. Along with this small group of Humans, living presumably somewhere in or near China, is a single very young child. The child’s mother and father, and the groups as a whole, did their best to care for this baby despite the tough times they found themselves in. And the baby? It had a fascination with the Ghost. After gaining their trust, Tiānshǐ began the long task of leading the group in the directon of the The City, but one day, while hiding in a cave in order to avoid a Fallen Skiff, the worst happened. The group, some thirty strong, had lost two thirds of its members in a recent Fallen attack. And then they lost one more. We not told if the baby was sick, or malnourished, or injured, but it died there in that cave in his mother’s arms.

Tiānshǐ, who was outside keeping lookout, heard the mother’s and father’s cries and turned back and saw something new. This Ghost had been sad for a long time. It had given up fining its Guardian and had turned to help this struggling group of Humans in an effort to do at least some small amount of good. This Ghost had never seen even a hint of the Light it was looking for… until now. Back in the cave, held tightly in the grieving mother’s arms, was the Spark Tiānshǐ had never been able to find! This makes sense. Ghost only revive the dead. This child could have been the Ghost’s companion all this time but the Tiānshǐ would never have known it.

The Ghost approaches, but hesitates at first. Tiānshǐ wonders what kind of life it will be imposing on a child that was not even old enough to talk. But, quickly, Tiānshǐ remembers that its true purpose is to deliver hope, and almost as a reflex it ignites the dead child’s Light. The baby that was lifeless moments before begins crying once more stunning the eight others huddling in the cave. Tiānshǐ is proud of what it did, but the small… enormous… act of reviving the child is not something that will save this group of humans. Not all of them.

Just a few months later Tiānshǐ’s group is on the run from the Fallen again. They’d been spotted and soon they were chased down and began to take losses. The reborn child’s mother is killed. Then his father. We’re told this group had developed a bond tighter than that of a family after having shared so many close encounters, so as a matter of course, others in the group pick up the child as they continue to flee. Tiānshǐ flees with them, but it soon makes a choice. It is all but programmed to protect the child any way it can, so, when there is no other option, Tiānshǐ veers away from the group it had been guiding the last few months and makes itself a target. It successfully leads the Fallen away, but is unable to escape them. Tiānshǐ notes in its final transmission that by this point the Fallen have long learned that killing a Ghost can save many, many of their own lives in the future, so they hunt Tiānshǐ relentlessly!

In Tiānshǐ last moments, it notes that no matter what happens the child will be safe. That he has been adopted by a brave but careful man and woman who will look after him. Tiānshǐ final message, apparently picked up and archived by some other Ghost nearby, is joyous and heartbreaking:

I am not sorry for the choice I made. The child gave hope, though fleeting. What comes next for him is unknown. But there is promise in him, should he find sanctuary. Should he find guidance.

This is not a confession. This is my hope. This is my—

The next time we see this child he is now a boy named Shin Malphur who survived that fateful encounter with the Fallen and who has grown up in a small settlement called Palamon. It’s there that he meets two men, one Light, one Dark, who change the destiny of his life.

The story of The Last Word is tied to these two men at least as much as it is tied to Shin. To understand this story we need to take a look at both of these men. So that’s what we’ll do next time.