“PASSION AND PARADOX. \ AID THE VISION. \ SIMPLICITY REQUIRES COMPLEXITY. \ RESENT THE JOKE. \ GLIMPSE THE CHASM.”
— Last recorded thoughts of Atheon, Time’s Conflux
Among all the machinations of Vex, none presented such a clear and present danger to the very pillars of reality as the Vault of Glass, at least in theory. Thus far, the Vault has been the only clear example of the Vex being capable of controlling time, not simply simulating it. If such a power were to go unchallenged, then it is likely that the Vex would already have succeeded in their goal: to become synonymous with reality itself. However, like many of their experiments, it was doomed to fail from the start.
There is no logical reason that Atheon, the Vex Mind at the center of the Vault, should not have succeeded. Every fact pointed toward victory, every defense was impenetrable in its own right, the chance of failure was so minuscule, it may well have not existed. But failure occurred regardless, crushing the Vex’s attempts to ingrain themselves across the entirety of the Universe’s timeline.
The Skeleton Key
“I have destroyed myself to do this. They have taken my Ghost. They are in my blood and brain. But now there is hope.
“I have made a wound in the Vault. I have pierced it and let in the Light. Bathe in it, and be cleansed. Look to it, and understand:
“From my own Light and from the thinking flesh of the Vex I made a shield. The shield is your deliverance. It will break the unbreakable. It will change your fate.
“Bind yourself to the shield. Bind yourself to me. And if you abandon your purpose, let the Vault consume you, as it consumed me.
“Now it is done. If I speak again, I am not Kabr.”
-Last Words of Kabr, the Legionless
Included among the defenders of the Vault were constructs such as the Templar and its Oracles, the hand and eyes by which the future was changed. The oracles looked along the possible timelines for a desired outcome, such as the death of an intruder, or even their nonexistence, and the Templar pulled that outcome into the present, or perhaps directs the present toward that future, cementing it into reality. The first fireteam to attempt to raid the Vault of Glass, led by Kabr the Legionless, encountered this ability first hand. Three of the six Guardians are forever lost, erased from history so completely that not even Kabr was capable of recalling who they were. The only reason Kabr did not share this fate of oblivion is because he left something behind by which he could be remembered, irrefutable proof of his existence. As the Templar ripped his very existence out of time, the strong-willed Titan forged his own light into the Aegis, an object which the Vex discovered that they could not affect in the slightest. Guardians themselves have a physical body rooted in reality, with Toland the Shattered being a notable exception. It is this body that is vulnerable to death and change, however, their Light is paracasual in nature, and thus cannot be changed through such mundane forces as time. The Aegis, a pure shield of Light, was the key that was needed to open the Vault of Glass and destroy what was within. Much later, another team of Guardians, led by the one who would become Crota’s End, entered the Vault and made use of the Aegis to combat Atheon, Time’s Conflux, through which an infinite number of possible timelines flowed. For all of Atheon’s power, time simply could not touch the Light. The fireteam remained connected even when flung centuries in opposite directions in history. Gathering under the protection of Kabr’s Aegis, the Guardians exerted their will upon Atheon, destroying it, and putting a stop to the Vex’s abilities to influence time, even if it may not be permanent.
“Praedyth’s fall isn’t over… because it hasn’t happened yet… and it will happen again.”
Of the six Guardians that entered the Vault, only two escaped the Templar’s wrath. The first, Pahanin, managed to flee back to the surface. He developed a crippling fear of being alone, and so created the Super Good Advice, a machine gun with an AI, so that he would always have someone with him. Sadly, there was no safety in numbers for Pahanin, as he was later murdered by the fallen Guardian Dredgen Yor.
The final member of Kabr’s fireteam was not so lucky as to escape the Vault. Discovering a secret passageway, Praedyth found himself within the Gorgon’s maze. Compared to his fate, being erased from time could almost be considered merciful. The Gorgons are said to have the ability to decide what is and what is not real, and anything within their gaze is subject to being erased within seconds. It goes beyond this, as the Gorgons seem to be able to look along an individual’s timeline and selectively delete or move them from portions, past and future, as they wish. Praedyth became a myth to most, with only his guns and a few references to him within the Ishtar Collective serving as evidence of his existence. But Praedyth was not deleted entirely, as the other victims of the Vault were, he was set adrift in time, lost for an eternity. The timelines became so twisted that Praedyth has simultaneously been dead for thousands of years, his corpse lying in the dust of the Maze, while also not yet dying until thousands of years into the future. The unfortunate Warlock was partially aware of his fate, and witnessed countless timeline flow through the Vault, noting that there was always a commonality: a mysterious Exo, wrapped in a cloak and wielding a unique rifle. For a while, the reason for Praedyth’s continued (albeit partial) existence was unclear, but Oryx’s invasion of the system illuminated the Vex’s purpose. The Taken, another paracausal threat outside of the Vault’s influence, were destined to eventually consume the Vex entirely, annihilating them. Praedyth, during one point in his timeline, was used as bait via a distress signal in order to draw another Guardian, the only thing capable of stopping the Taken completely, to the Vault. The end result was that the Vex were saved, which overall was likely the better outcome. Far better to have the Vex alone, who can be overcome, than give their incredible power to something as dangerous as the Taken. The danger of that outcome can be seen in something like Quria, Blade Transform, a Taken Hydra who is able to simulate Oryx so precisely that it is capable of creating new Taken. This would mean that an entire race of Taken Minds would be able to accurately simulate the Light, and thus be able to combat it on an even, paracausal playing field.
Though the Vex’s attempts to harness time failed, there is no guarantee they will not try again. Even should they leave the timelines alone, other Collectives are actively investigating different avenues by which they might ensure their victory. Some, like Panoptes’ intention to let the Light and Dark destroy each other have been thus far unsuccessful, and their lead Minds destroyed. But others, such as the Sole Divisive who protect the Black Garden, have yet to show their full hand, and could very well be the end of everything that doesn’t fit within their perfect machine.