What’s the deal with the big floating sphere?

That’s the Traveler, a sentient and ultra-powerful being that helped guide humanity into a Golden Age of prosperity and technological advancement. But that’s recent history; long before that happened, the Traveler travels across the Cosmos for its own inscrutable purposes. While we don’t really know its motivations, we know of at least two major tasks it completes out there in the stars. First, it does its best to contain the forces of its ancient enemy, the Darkness, including a powerful and sentient race of Worms that lives in the depths of a gas giant planet called Fundament. 

Wait a second. Worms?

Yep. Really evil, super-intelligent worms. We’ll get back to them later. 

Fair enough. You said the Traveler was doing two things?

Indeed. In addition to confronting the Darkness, the Traveler visits a number of other places throughout the universe, and shares its knowledge and power with other races, including some alien races called the Ammonites and the Harmony. Eventually, the Traveler bestows its power on a noble and honor-bound species that calls itself the Eliksni. Unfortunately, a great calamity befalls the Eliksni, which they call the Whirlwind. It’s likely that this devastating event correlates to the coming of the Darkness, but we don’t know for sure, and Bungie has yet to confirm the connection. Regardless, the Traveler abandons the Eliksni, and the Whirlwind scatters the many mighty houses of that species across the stars, where they become what we call the Fallen – a nomadic race of pirates and scavengers.

So, the Traveler is wandering the universe like an intergalactic Santa Claus, and then moving on to the next species down the block?

Something like that. 

Much later, in what we know as the late 21st century, the Traveler arrives in our solar system, and eventually settles on Mars. We send a mission to Mars to investigate this odd floating globe. Three astronauts (perhaps not coincidentally, the same size as a standard fireteam) are the first to make contact with the Traveler, and they witness this powerful entity cause rain to fall on the once-barren planet. 

In the following decades, the Traveler shares much of its knowledge with humanity, teaching us to terraform planets and extend our own lifespans. We even learn enough to establish a top-secret project that results in artificial beings called Exos, a species with consciousness and true intelligence. Bungie has told us that the further specifics of the Exo origin story are yet to be revealed but are on the way in the future. Humanity also builds an interconnected network of artificially intelligent Warmind satellites, which act as an ever-broadening infrastructure system for humanity’s golden age.

Thanks to the Traveler, humanity is also able to learn the secrets of matter encryption and decoding, leading to discoveries like engram encryption, as well as a remarkable nanotechnology called SIVA – a substance that can be directed to become any other form of matter. The discovery helps catapult humanity’s terraforming and planetary settlement.

This Golden Age is the high point of human civilization, and it lasts for several centuries.

Something bad is about to happen, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, the Traveler’s enemy, the Darkness, eventually follows the Traveler to our solar system and wipes out much of our burgeoning planetary civilization. One of the artificially intelligent warminds, called Rasputin, detects the Darkness’ impending arrival, and rather than be utterly destroyed, shuts itself down in the hopes of being awoken later, as it computes there is no way to successfully combat the current threat.

In a heroic last stand that defies its previous encounters with the Darkness, the Traveler fights back rather than abandoning humanity. It expends its own enigmatic internal energy, called Light, to push away the Darkness. 

The fall of humanity’s golden age and civilization and the battle between the Traveler and the Darkness is collectively known as The Collapse. 

Many humans at this time are already fleeing Earth into space, and in the titanic conflict between Light and Darkness, they are transformed into the Awoken, a distinct species, many of whom eventually settle in the asteroid belt called the Reef. As is the case with the Exo player race, Bungie has told us that the mystery around the Awoken origin will eventually be clarified; plans are in place to unwrap that tale in some future installment of the game.

Through its sacrifice, the Traveler manages to drive off the Darkness, but in so doing, the Traveler is left nearly inert and mostly powerless. Our great golden age has collapsed, and most of humanity is wiped out.

Okay, so what’s the Darkness?

We don’t know. You can bet the answer to that question is pretty key to the long-term story of the Destiny universe.

Seems like this would all be pretty bad for humanity, right?

Yes, the few remnants of humanity fall into a new Dark Age, and we don’t know how long that lasts. 

How do we get out of that mess?

Well, the Traveler is mostly powerless, but not entirely. Even as it falls inert, it sends off tiny fragments of itself called Ghosts, with a mission to track down people of great strength, discipline, and intelligence that can be revived and made to protect humanity. 

That’s us!

Yep. That’s the Guardians. The Ghosts spread out across Earth and use the transformative power of Light to revive unique individuals to fight the good fight. 

Wait a second, revive? As in, we were dead?

Exactly. 

So we’re like zombies? 

Well, not exactly. Guardians are infused with Light, life, and sentience. But some of our enemies don’t think about it that way. In one grimoire card, a Fallen even refers to us as “dead soldiers.” They think we’re the bad guys.

I want to know more about...

...The Traveler, The Darkness, and where the Guardians came from »

...The Iron Lords, the Last City, and the founding of the Crucible »

...The creation of the Hive, the reign of Oryx, and Sword Logic »

...The Guardians’ disastrous assault against the Hive on the Moon »

...The Vex, the Cabal, and the Vault of Glass »

...The Awoken, and the Reef Wars »

...The opening acts of the Destiny base game »

...The quest to reach the Black Garden and conquering the Vault of Glass »

...The Dark Below and House of Wolves »

...The battle against the Taken King »

...The aftermath of the King’s fall, and the ongoing Taken War »

...What else I’m missing. Tell me about Dredgen Yor, SRL, the Ahamkara, and Osiris »

Next Page: The founding of humanity’s Last City, and the rise of the Iron Lords