The Light - The Ulan-tan Position

In Vanilla Destiny, we heard about Ulan-tan, a Warlock who believed that all Light is connected across time and space. His theory covered three points:

  1. The Light and the Darkness must co-exist. They balance each other out.
  2. All Light is connected across time and space, which might also apply to the Darkness if they are to be in balance.
  3. The Traveler sacrificed itself for humanity, and it’s up to us to return the favor by healing the Traveler.

In the story mission “Chamber of Night” in Destiny 1, Hive Wizards were powering a ritual which was draining the Traveler of its Light. They were doing this by using a shard of the Traveler.

Excerpt from the Chamber of Night:
“Ghost: It’s a shard of the Traveler! They were using it against the Traveler, devouring its Light.”

Even though they weren’t connected physically anymore, the fragment was able to take Light from the sphere above the City. This is one example of the Light being connected across space.

Ulan-tan’s theory got more credibility when Destiny 2 started. The Red Legion’s assault on the City focused on trapping the Traveler in a cage, restraining its Light. They were successful in their plan as well. They were able to strip Guardians of their Light just by trapping the Traveler.

Ulan-tan also believed that we could change the Light, which in turn changed us:

Bond of Symmetry:
“The Light alters us, yet all that we do with our Light alters the Light. Thus, there is symmetry." —Ulan-Tan

To show examples of this, Ulan-tan talked about different types of Light. How using this Light gave us abilities a normal person could never achieve.

“Therefore, if Light connects across space and time, what is the Void? What role does the vacuum—the absence—play? What stops the Darkness from entering into the places between the stars? The answer is simple: the Void is just another type of Light.” —Ulan-Tan

“The Sunsinger is proof that the Light is everywhere. The wings of Radiance allow a Guardian to fly beyond the veil. What further proof do you need, Speaker?” —Ulan-Tan

With the Light, we have gained new abilities and powers. Three classes and three subclasses each.

The Darkness, the theory claims that the Light and the Darkness must be in balance. Ulan-tan gave an example of two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other. If this is true, the Traveler can never wipe out the Darkness, just keep it from the civilizations the sphere touches. Ulan-tan explained that there was a truth inside this theory:

Symmetry Flight:
“…truth beyond this truth, the truth which you most dread: if we could destroy darkness, but we had to give up our Light to do so, how many of us would make that trade?”

This would mean to destroy the Darkness, Guardians would have to give up their Light, the source of their immortality. For the City, this decision is impossible. Which is was this theory is so controversial.

Time to look at Ulan-tan’s theory:

Based on this theory, all Light is connected across time and space. When Ghaul trapped the Traveler in the cage, every Guardian across the system lost their power. But our Ghosts were still operational. So, this means that the Ghosts aren’t fully dependent on the Light, which is a good sign for Guardians after the attack.

Later on, the player Guardian traveled to the EDZ where a large shard of the Traveler was located. They found some leftover Light that was changed, and regained their power. So somehow a Guardian was able to use the Light while the Traveler was still trapped in a cage.
Adding to the theory, (speculation) one way to interpret this is that there is a level where a being’s Light becomes independent from its original source. This is could mean if another Guardian, like Cayde, were to find a source of Light they could absorb to regain their powers, then they reached a level where they aren’t dependent on the Traveler for their power. The level isn’t clearly defined, the player Guardian absorbed an unknown amount of Light, there isn’t a level system we could calculate yet.

On the Darkness side of the theory:

If the Darkness can’t exist without the Light and vice versa, then the only way to win this war, would be to sacrifice our powers to erase the Darkness from the universe. Guardians would no longer be immortal, and the Awoken will be affected worse because of their connection to both sides.

This is an impossible decision for the City to make, given that most of the top Guardians gave up after losing their power for mere days. This war against the Darkness will continue as long as we hold on to the Light. As we have lived as a Guardian, Ulan-tan has been proven right more times than wrong on his theory.

As the protectors of the Last City we must make a decision in the future. Should we keep our powers and continue an endless war, or choose to the leave our powers and save ourselves and the distant planets across the universe.


First, hi all. This is very first post from me, long time lurker :slight_smile:

i have to react on your last paragraph. Do you think it is necessary that the Guardians must strip themselves off the Light first to beat the Darkness? Personally I aggree with you and Ulan-tan that Light and Darkness are two sides of one coin and one cannot exist without another, but I see it that we have to beat the Darkness WITH the Light as its opposite force and then after beating it, we will lose it. It is like in every heroic tale, one has to sacrifice something in the process to achieve a heroic goal or as one has to use all the power he has to defeat the impossible he ultimately loses that power.

So as a conclusion I would not ask if we dare to lose Light to defeat Darkness, but are we ready to lose the Light after we defeat the Darkness?

You make an excellent point, and it is at this point that I refer to how the Vanguard themselves reacted to losing their Light after the Red Legion’s invasion. Ikora nearly came to tears when she came to the conclusion that she had let the Traveler down by allowing the Red Legion to attempt to harvest the Light, and Zavala started to lose his head, even though he is one of the greatest commanders the Vanguard has ever seen. Him losing his cool in a wartime crisis is fairly worrying. Cayde got himself into another sticky situation, but he’s Cayde, so that’s no surprise. This leads me to think that many Guardians would suffer from a sort of withdrawal after losing their Light, even if they have given it up willingly to defeat the Darkness. Eventually, things could go back to being close to how they once were, but our Light is like our second set of arms. Losing our Light means we could never be the same again.

On a quick side note, can a Dreg become a Vandal again, or do they lose their arms for good?

A Dreg can grow their arms back if their docking caps are removed. :slightly_smiling_face:


I’m not sure the theory is right. The Traveler is documented as building civilizations with Light for a long time without The Darkness present. It may not even have been hunting The Traveler at the time, since the Hive is the only force we know of that it has used to do so and they did not exist for awhile.

Also, The Darkness would vanish if the Light did, which would run counter to its own stated goals as told to us in the Books of Sorrow. It doesn’t do dependency of any kind, but is also not inclined to principled suicide.

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I can understand losing our powers once the Darkness is defeated. But based on Ulan-tan’s Theory, the Darkness can’t exist at all without the Light.
And to go on Silverheart’s idea. The Hive aren’t just trying to defeat the Traveler and the Light, they are trying to become the universe itself by learning the Final Shape. The Vex also are trying to learn the shape as well. If this Shape is so important, it might be possible for the Darkness to break it’s two sided connect with the Light by becoming everything.


This has probably already been said, but Ulan-Tan’s theory is further reinforced through the final moments of the ending cutscene after the Red War campaign (the one after the credits) we see the Light wash over some destinations and at the final scene we see the Light wash over a presumably alien fleet and said fleet powering up. Some lore-masters say that this might be a yet undiscovered race of the darkness awakening with the awakening of the Traveler.

I recently read part of a fanfiction, and they mentioned something about the effect of the Light and Darkness on Guardians. They made an interesting comment on how the darkness effects the body, and the light effects the mind. Reading what you said makes me think the darkness gives our enemies strength, but leaves them mentally sound while the light gives us strength while slowly making us crazy, Food for thought.

I always saw it the other way around. Look at Oryx, the Deep twisted him and the Hive’s way of thinking. Death was an afterthought and to them love and death was the same. They gained power through killing and destruction. There are times where Guardians think of death as an afterthought as well, but we still hang onto our values and morals.

But you have to think of the hive’s morals. At the start aurysh (spells) as i saw it wanted to survive. The worms changed them and they found the best way to survive, killing everyone else. We don’t know their morals before the worms fuzed with them, but guardians have also done some interesting things. we constantly try for genocide of every other alien species. I haven’t seen any mention of a treaty between fallen and the humans even though it probably could be done.

I can understand killing to survive by the Hive. But they don’t see it that way entirely. Oryx wanted to know the Final Shape, and to learn it he killed thousands of worlds. To me it sounds like a mad man without morals. And I don’t think we could have had a treaty with the Fallen. They wanted the Traveler back, and some wanted to destroy it. The only Fallen I know that works with humans is Variks, and he still hides stuff from his own superiors.

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Here we explored some similar themes in conversation. Particularly the impulse to throw around the word “genocide” and laying blame on one side or another of Destiny’s conflict.

Personally, where I draw the line is whether or not our behavior fighting the Eliksni is conventional warfare.

What are we doing? Killing high value targets, preventing the acquisition of tactical assets, cutting off supplies and pitting them against our mutual enemies to get the pressure off our backs. The fact that these involve “go to the place and shoot the lads” is partly a reality of war and partly because this is a first person shooter.

What are we not doing? Seeking out and killing noncombatants, committing our resources to extermination rather than self-protection of the city and it’s interests. That would be more like genocide.

As things are now, conflict with the Eliksni is stuck. They want the Traveler, and we want to keep the Traveler, and regardless of the fact that we could probably share, the method by which both sides have pursued their interests so far is through violence.