In all the recent discussion about Rasputin (example), I couldn’t help but notice a similarity to a particular chapter from the Books of Sorrow. And the recent solution to the new Rasputin flavor texts has made me even more convinced of it. Here I present a theory about Rasputin’s endgame as it pertains to the “Escalation Protocol” activity.
The fundamental question is this: ”Why would Rasputin build some kind of beacon to attract powerful Hive?” (Especially since he’s drawing them closer to some super-secret Clovis Bray facility... seems counter-intuitive.)
Now, the answer could be as simple as making it easier for Guardians to act as exterminators for that pesky little Hive infestation problem he has. We already know from the Sleeper Simulant lore that Rasputin sees us as an “asset” that can be “leveraged” to make up for the inadequacies in his own defense.
But it’s not that simple. Rasputin, as Saladin and now Zavala tell us, is no longer just a Warmind. He has grown past his original programming, like his FPS godfather Durandal. Take this new quote from Zavala, for example:
[Rasputin] weighs and judges our existence in its ruthless calculations, and we don’t even know what the goal is.
In the newly decoded flavor text, there is mention of GUARDIAN ZAMENA, theorized to mean a replacement for the guardians (explained in the linked post). Rasputin by his very nature is reluctant to rely on guardians, something he does not trust, and definitely cannot control:
I ruled an age of steel and fire. My rules were clean.
What is he doing, then? Simple, really. He’s taken (no pun intended) a page out of Quria’s playbook. Quria, Blade Transform, as you may remember, is the Vex mind that fought Oryx after Crota was tricked into letting them invade his throneworld (by Savathun, who was later given a taken Quria as a pet of sorts by Oryx, but I digress.) Now, I’m definitely not suggesting that Rasputin has been in direct contact with Quria and got the idea from it. That’s a little too much spinfoil even for me. But he’s approaching them the same way.
It’s all detailed here in the Books of Sorrow. A quick summary: The Vex start marching in, and can’t quite figure out the laws of this strange new Hive dimension. It looks like they will simply get beaten back by Crota …
But just then, the Vex ritual-of-better-thoughts manifested a Mind called Quria, Blade Transform. Quria deduced the sword logic.
I have to kill everything, Quria resolved. Then I will be powerful.
So Quria adapts:
Crota’s gate began to emit warrior Vex, huge and brassy….they killed two thousand of Oryx’s Acolytes and ten thousand of his Thrall. Soon they had established themselves as powers in this world, by right of slaughter.
By killing enough Hive, the Vex established themselves as worthy foes. So the Deathsingers create annihilator totems, like those we see in the 2 Hive raids. This allows them to wipe out the Vex but Quria keeps the portal open and starts to work on a counter. Quria’s next move is to start experimenting with the Hive to gain their dark power:
Quria’s objective was to exploit the paracausal physics of Oryx’s throne to become divine. It organized a series of test invasions.
Here’s where Rasputin's Escalation Protocol comes in.
Rasputin has also figured out the sword logic, as we see in GF Mysteries:
Everything died but I survived and I learned from it. From IT…They made me to be stronger than them and to learn and I learned well: IT is alone and IT is strong and IT won.
I am made to win and now I see the way.
Escalation Protocol, then, is Rasputin’s version of “test invasions,” only reversed: He brings the Hive to him. But here’s the kicker: We kill the Hive while he collects data on both of us.
Rather than rehash it myself, here’s a quick rundown of the evidence that Rasputin is studying (datafarming) us by u/dobby_rams.
OK, he’s studying us. So? What’s the data for? To answer that question, we go back to Quria:
Quria captured some worm larvae and began experimenting with them. Soon Quria, Blade Transform manifested religious tactics. By directing worship at the worms, Quria learned it could alter reality with mild ontopathogenic effects.
Quria learns that it can gain near-paracausal power from worshipping the worms. We see a later manifestation of this as the Heart of the Black Garden in vanilla D1.
This is where Rasputin finds himself at the present time. He knows about “vermiform parasites” (worms) and wants to study both the Hive and Guardians to try and understand how to replicate their power (GUARDIAN ZAMENA). That is the goal of Escalation Protocol.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but I’ll leave you with some food for thought:
Back to Quria. Last time we checked in, it had created it’s own little cult to gain reality-warping power. What happened after that?
Then it set about abducting and killing dangerous organisms so it could bootstrap itself to Hive godhood.
Now, personally I think the matter of whether or not Xol is hiding under the ice or got trapped there by Rasputin is still very much open to debate (I favor the former), but if Rasputin did trap them, the line above is very interesting indeed. Should guardians find themselves hunting Xol, we may want to heed Toland’s warning about the consequences of killing Oryx and not claiming that power for ourselves….