“I speak often of the power of the City as a symbol. But never forget, it is a real place. The home to living, breathing people. A home that would not exist without your efforts. Down below us stretches the last free city on Earth. And it is here because of your strength, your deeds. Do not forget this, Guardian. It is why we are here.” —Zavala
Welcome back Guardians. Today we are covering the Lore of Zavala. He is the center piece of the Tower and it seems only appropriate to better understand his backstory as D2 approaches. Zavala travels to Titan following the destruction of the Tower, and as you will see, this is against every fibre of his character. It is extremely out of place for him to abandon his people and I cannot wait to see how this is discussed in Destiny 2.
As usual, whenever I upload a video on youtube, I will be live streaming over on Twitch. Also you can read this script over on my website.
This is myelin games and I hope you enjoy this latest destiny lore episode.
Let’s start with information from the Destiny 2 Zavala trailer. Unfortunately, there was not a huge amount of information revealed, but the most important thing to note was that Zavala was revived for the very first time on Earth. He was already Awoken. We do not know much about how the Awoken were created, but we do know that they were created during the Collapse, people that were trying to escape the Darkness were caught in space and somehow transformed into the Awoken. The Awoken grimoire card reads,
“It is said that the Awoken were born in the Collapse, descended from those who tried to flee its wrath. Something happened to them out on the edge of the deep black, and they were forever changed.”
Furthermore, when the Queen is trying to intimidate Skolas during the Reef Wars, she implies that the Awoken creation involved both Light and Darkness. In The Ghost Fragment: Fallen 4 grimoire card, the Queen says this to Skolas,
STARLIGHT WAS MY MOTHER. The Queen’s ship whispers in eerie erratic radio bursts. Servitors begin to report a strange taste in the void. AND MY FATHER WAS THE DARK.
Whilst none of this confirms how the Awoken were created, I do think it reasonable to say that the Awoken were created after the Collapse, when humans tried to flee, and somehow they were transformed and there seems to be a hint of this clash between light and dark.
So applying this to Zavala, we see Zavala revived in a crashed ship. Unfortunately, I could not see any symbols on the ship or Zavala’s armour to provide any further clues, however I assume that Zavala attempted to escape earth during the Collapse, was transformed into an Awoken on the fringe of Light and Dark, and then plummeted back to earth, where his ghost would find and revive him.
We also see Zavala, come into contact with the Speaker before the City was built, and we see Zavala assist with building the Walls of the city, as well as defend the City against the Fallen. This puts Zavala in a really interesting position, he is potentially apart of the first born awoken, as well as integral to the development and protection of the City from one of the earliest possible times.
In the D2 trailer Zavala arrives in the City before the walls are built, and so I assume that Zavala helped defend the City from the Fallen at two major battles, the Battle of Six Fronts and the Battle of Twilight Gap. Whilst we do not know the exact timeline for these events, the City Age grimoire suggests that construction on the City walls begun prior to Six Fronts and Twilight Gap, however this is still quite interpretive. The City Age grimoire card reads,
When did the City Age begin? Perhaps when the bulk of the world’s survivors lived beneath the Traveler, rather than in the wilderness. Or when the Titans raised the first wall. Or at Six Fronts, when the City first faced coordinated, overwhelming attack – and repelled it decisively.
I interpret this card as listing the events in chronological order, when did the City age begin, survivors gather, walls built and then six fronts. Was Zavala is not specifically mentioned at this battle, considering his early arrival in the City prior to the Wall building, I like to think that he did assist. Other characters who were known to assist at the Battle of Six Fronts, included the Iron Lords.
The Iron Banner grimoire card reads,
“Only the strong are welcome here.” Lord Saladin Forge, hero of the Twilight Gap
The Lords of Iron, ancient warriors from the City’s founding, have no time for mollycoddling. The City remembers Felwinter and Jolder, Skorri and Timur, Radegast and Gheleon and the others, for their invincible patrols during Six Fronts and the Wall-building. The Iron Banner asks Guardians to live up to that legend.
Even though Lord Saladin is more commonly known as the hero of Twilight Gap, this card suggest that the Iron Lords were there during Six Fronts and so I assume Lord Saladin was also present. He may not have commanded the City defenses during Six Fronts, like he did at Twilight Gap, but I think it reasonably that he was there. On a quick side note, you can see why the timeline is confusing, because this card mentions Six Fronts first and then the Wall-building. Personally, I think that the building of the walls had started but were not yet complete during the battle of six fronts.
Regardless, the reason why it would be cool for Lord Saladin to be at the Battle of Six Fronts, is that Lord Saladin becomes the mentor for Shaxx and Zavala. This is told to us in the Iron Banner Rep card,
A hero to the City and a legend in his own right, Saladin Forge led the City’s defense during the Battle for the Twilight Gap. His protégés, Commander Zavala and Lord Shaxx, now lead the Tower’s Vanguard and the Crucible, respectively. Saladin remains close to Zavala, though his relationship with Shaxx has been strained since the Twilight Gap.
So, if Lord Saladin was at the battle of Six Fronts and so was Zavala and Shaxx, this may in fact have been what lead to the mentorship, their first major battle together, which would lead to Lord Saladin taking Zavala and Shaxx on as his prtoeges.
Even though Zavala’s presence at Six Fronts is not confirmed, the cool thing about him possibly being there, is he would have also met Osiris, and likely witnessed Osiris’s appointment to the Vanguard Commander. The Osiris grimoire card says this about Osiris,
You were a mighty warrior. I watched you at Six Fronts, and heeded the call of Saint-14 to appoint you Vanguard Commander, even when the Concordat claimed to have records proving you were a Golden Age experiment mis-incarnated as a human by an inept Ghost. Saint-14 assured me you were just a man without much patience for obfuscation.
The card would continue to explain Osiris’s obsession with the Vex, Darkness, Ahamkara amongst other things, and then his disappearance from the Tower. So potentially, Zavala saw Osiris be appointed as Vanguard Commander and then fail. This makes for some excellent contrast between these characters, because Zavala as the new Vanguard Commander, is somewhat the opposite of Osiris, he would never question the Traveler, stands for law, order and protection of the last remaining city.
I really like the idea of Zavala witnessing Osiris fail at being the Vanguard Commander, and then placing this enormous amount of pressure on himself to do better.
Lets summarize so far, Zavala may be a first born awoken that crashed back to earth, he likely was present at the start of the City age taking part in both the Battle of Six Fronts and the Battle of Twilight Gap, Lord Saladin would become his mentor and there is potential that he witnessed the downfall of Osiris as Vanguard Commander.
This, brings us to the modern-day Zavala who we see right now, our Titan Leader and Vanguard Commander, who’s commitment to protect the City is an obsession. Let’s discuss the personality of Zavala and the command structure of the Vanguard. During the events of the SIVA outbreak, Zavala says this,
Ikora is correct. Our commission is to protect the City, under all conditions, in all circumstances. We cannot risk the health of our citizens for this, this—whimsy.
Numerous grimoire cards and in-game dialogue supports Zavala constant commitment to protecting the City, The Devil’s Lair grimoire card reads,
“The Fallen will continue to claw at the walls of our City, unless we strike them down.”
The Fallen SABER grimoire card reads,
“We’ve picked up a high-gain transmission. Origin point is somewhere along the coast, near the Cosmodrome… Get in there, assess the threat, and aid Rasputin. A threat to the Warmind is a threat to the City as well.”
And Scourge of Winter reads,
“I will admit to a very personal satisfaction at the death of Draksis. He hurt my City and he hurt my friends.
Amanda Holliday best describes Zavala by Saying,
“The first time I met Zavala, I was really intimidated. He’s kind of a lot to take in, you know? But then we got to talking about the City and the Walls and how we’re all going to die
and the nine hundred things that want to wipe us out. And I realized he’s actually much scarier than most people give him credit for.”
I think you get the point, for the most part, Zavala sends guardians on strikes to eliminate threats to the City, to defend the city and its people. Everything he does, everything he order’s others to do, has a single purpose, protect the City.
Let’s talk about the Command structure. Essentially, as Vanguard Commander, everyone except the Speaker reports to Zavala, that includes Ikora Rey and Cayde-6. There are even cards that show the Factions report to Zavala. Zavala then reports to the Speaker. The Regicide card is a good example of this, as Zavala takes intelligence from the Vanguard and the Hidden, reporting it to Speaker.
Without doubt, Zavala has seniority over Cayde and Ikora, and the ability to reprimand them if required, this is nicely illustrated in the Dread Patrol and the Dreadnaught grimoire card, where Zavala is deciding whether to punish Cayde-6 for aiding us to board the Dreadnaught. In the Dreadnaught card, Zavala asks for advice from the Speaker, the card reads,
“…and so that’s the situation. With Cayde’s help the Guardian has established a beachhead on the Dreadnaught. I’m caught in the impossible position of wanting to reward and punish them both. If you have any guidance in this matter, it would be appreciated. I’ll file another report this evening. For now I need to go have another conversation with Eris Morn before she rends Cayde limb from limb.”
– Commander Zavala, transmission to Traveler’s Observatory
What is hilarious is that it seems that Cayde did receive some sort of punishment for the mission as the Dread Patrol grimoire card reads,
“…just have a hard time believing you take anything seriously. Placing the patrol beacons was supposed to be a careful, meticulous process. I expected it to take the better part of a week. I don’t mind you delegating the task, but you should have collaborated to make sure they were triangulated perfectly. Do you have any idea how long it took to deploy the beacon network on the Cosmodrome?…” – Transcript excerpt of 2-hour long meeting between Zavala and Cayde-6
You can just imagine the discomfort Cayde felt having to endure a two hour long meeting with Zavala. From this cards, you also get a sense to the serious amount of paperwork, as in writing reports and general management of the Tower, he needs to talk to Eris to ensure she does not hurt Cayde!
This also helps to develop Zavala’s character as extremely rule based and strict. His dedication to the protection of the City is so unwavering that he follows the rules and order to the point, structure must be maintained. This is demonstrated in the Raze Lighter grimoire card, where Zavala refuses to agree with Shaxx, saying that the Consensus must decide it reads,
“Zavala! You can’t think this is wise. We need to examine these swords, train against them—”
“That is a matter for the Consensus to decide, old friend.”
Essentially, even with their friendship, Zavala refuses to break protocol, refuses to do a favor, simply saying the Consensus must decide old friend. Also, as you can see, whilst everyone may report to Zavala, the Consensus still has a role for managing the City.
Throughout the history of the City, Zavala has been there, he has kept the civilians safe, he has protected the last remaining City for the longest period of time, he helped build the walls, and defended them fiercely, he constantly organized groups of guardians to counter strike the enemy at every moment to ensure the City’s survival…
So you can only imagine the pain Zavala is feeling for him to have left Earth, left everything that he stood for, why did he leave? Because he failed, he failed to do the one thing he promised to do, protect the City and its citizens.
Go to the Titan Guardian and bring Zavala home, we need his leadership now more than ever.
That concludes this latest Destiny lore episode, if you would like to support the channel leave the word, “City” to symbolize the sole purpose of Zavala since his resurrection.
As usual, it has been a pleasure, this is myelin games. Peace.