Human Nature and the Nature of Drones
Here we look back on the events seen in Panzer Dragoon Orta with the benefit of hindsight.
Division leads to war, and is what led to the downfall of the Ancient civilisation, lest we somehow forget. When ideologies come into conflict, bloodshed is inevitable. People have to learn how to work together in order to avoid that inevitability, otherwise nothing good will follow; it will always end badly. The Ancients who built the Towers used might to make right; in a world where only the strongest survive, they could not be wrong if they were the ones in control.
I want to explore how the dragon himself was the natural product of this disagreement, and was living proof that war is not the answer because it is just an endless cycle always returning to the beginning. The dragon stopped history from repeating itself and broke the cycle by bringing an end to the Ancients who planned to control the world through force. The dragon proved to the Ancients that their solutions solved nothing. He had to be worse than the Ancients in order to be better so that he could put people back on the right path. The dragon showed the world that like in nature, if we can’t find a middle ground between the extremes, then nothing can survive.
Kept in isolation, was Orta locked away from the outside world to protect her from it, or to protect the world from her? In the beginning of Panzer Dragoon Orta, we see someone literally keeping an eye on Orta long before the Empire launches its attack on Yelico Valley in order to retrieve her. Powerful search lights pushed through the darkness to illuminate their path as the Vermana and her escort ships prepared to unleash the most unstoppable arsenal of weapons the world had ever known upon their unsuspecting target below. Then we watch as the watcher races to her rescue from a first person perspective, suggesting that it was the dragon himself watching her from afar all along.
When Edge and his dragon faced Sestren in person (so to speak), Sestren said that the Divine Visitor was disobeying the ancient ones. This would imply that the Divine Visitor was meant to obey them but decided to do the very opposite for reasons of its own. You have to have masters to disobey, otherwise it wouldn’t be disobedience. Now if we assume that Sestren was referring to the dragon, then why Lundi called him the Heresy Dragon starts to make sense. If we go back in time to when we read the records found in Uru, we find that the Ancients who once lived there called the Light Wing dragon “a messenger of the gods”. Did you ever wonder why?
It’s rare to find such terminology in a futuristic setting like this outside of being a metaphor. Since they were the ones who created it, it naturally leads us to believe that this dragon was a messenger of its creators who considered themselves to be gods.
The Heresy Dragon was a heretic in the truest sense of the word because he was one of a few creations who defied the will of his creators by placing people’s destiny back into their own hands. The name “Heresy Dragon” even implies rebelling against a higher power. We may never understand his motivations or what motivated him to care. Perhaps he knew something that people didn’t. Maybe he shared the same fate. Perhaps he saw the key to unlocking people from this prison of their own making, or maybe he was simply doing what he had been programmed to do. I’d like to believe that he was so ultra-individualistic that he wanted to see the world free no matter the cost. Ultimately it’s a question that only he can answer.
In the end, sacrificing his own life to save Edge’s daughter conveys how much she, the memory of her father, and the future of the world meant to him; he wanted to keep her safe from all harm. It’s impossible to live in peace in a world that has forgotten the meaning of the word. If you truly want peace, then you have to make guarantees. The weak can only speak of justice, but the powerful can deliver it.
Even if they are nothing more than living weapons, dragons were said to be born from the fires of hell by the Empire, which is not as unbelievable as it sounds. When you consider the destruction that follows them, it’s not hard to imagine. Not hard at all. People are often shaped against their will into weapons of war by outside pressures, and thus become what they were never meant to be, but dragons are different because they were born to be weapons.
The way I see things, the Empire was the natural end result of people who will do anything to win. The people of the Empire are undeniably the makers of their own fate by virtue of simply making everything theirs through force. When people don’t have to answer to a higher power, they can do whatever they want without having to worry about consequences, save their own demise. That is what it means to be an empire. People will do anything to win for the sake of winning alone until it becomes a race that never ends until only one winner emerges to keep down all the rest who look up to that example.
The Ancients only had power because no one had the power to stop them. In that sense, the Empire were no different than the rulers of the Ancient civilisation. It’s ironic when the emperors believe that they are the heirs to the Ancient civilisation, because even if it’s a lie used to claim the right to rule over everyone else, they are the Ancients in spirit, only younger. When the Empire matures they will no doubt follow in the exact same footsteps and step into the exact same shoes. In reality, they are seeking to restore humanity’s former power while forgetting why humankind lost it in the first place. The Empire are like a moth being drawn to a flame for a sense of direction. That guiding light will only burn them to death when they reach it; I wouldn’t expect anything different from a world lost in the dark.
Sometimes you have to let people fail and make their own mistakes, because there is no better teacher than failure. Failure is a good thing because it shows you where you need to improve. It’s just not healthy when a handful of people can end the lives of everyone else - when a few can speak for all of us.
If there is no God, or no higher power to make people answer for their crimes, then man himself becomes God, because there’s nothing to stop him except for the pain and death that disciplines us to avoid harm. Nature has rules that we have to obey to survive, which make us all its prisoners lest we die. It’s not a judge and jury. It just is. But when broken, natural laws can still make an example out of someone in order to prevent others from following in its footsteps, assuming that people are alive to remember it.
The Empire were trying to control forces that were clearly beyond their control. They underestimated the technology they were salvaging because they were blind to the never-before-seen possibilities. To cut a long story short, they experimented like children playing with fire. Thus the Empire were reckless in how they had no regard for the potential consequences of their actions, which was a fatal mistake that proved to be their own undoing in the end. But when living in the dark, all you can do is feel the world around you, and even stumble over the unknown in order to find a place you can call home. We are darkness come to life.
When the world revolves around people themselves, then in essence they become their own gods. If people are never taught any different, their leaders can become God to them with a capital G. The lines between someone being a person and being a god become so blurred that it’s a difference that makes no difference. They stand out from the crowd as opposed to merely blending into the background. I believe that the Ancients suffered this fate because it is the logical end result of empowerment. When people can become immortal geniuses or even exist as immaterial beings, how else would people who couldn’t even begin to understand the science behind it describe them but in terms of gods? If you wield the power of life and death over the world, you already fit the definition of a god in the eyes of anyone without such power. Power is relative to how far you can look down. Compared to the Ancients, even we are ignorant.
Maybe the true rulers of the Ancient Age were something that we couldn’t even begin to comprehend, steering the course of human destiny from the shadows where even the Ancients themselves were nothing but pawns in a cosmic game of chess.
Iva’s father went to Yelico Valley to find what he called “research materials”. It later transpires that the Empire were hunting down Orta, who was a half human half drone hybrid, in order to operate the bio-reactor to make more dragonmares for them. The fact that he referred to her as “research materials” implies that the Empire was not planning to bring her back alive. This may have been the reason why Abadd disappeared; he wanted to find Orta before the Empire did. Maybe he couldn’t trust the Empire to bring her back alive or intact.
Fans have often wondered if Abadd made a deal with the Empire. Did his cooperation come with a price? Was Orta herself the price the Empire had to pay to secure his continued cooperation? How did the Empire even find out about Orta? Was Abadd the how in the somehow? There are too many questions and not enough answers, as always. We simply don’t have all the facts, but even vague clues are clues nonetheless. I’d wager that Abadd found Azel’s fingerprints that she left behind in Sestren, not literally of course, and traced Orta all the way back to Yelico Valley. He probably only stayed long enough to buy himself enough time to create his own dragonmare.
It is more than likely that the Empire only started searching for a new drone after Abadd disappeared, but that still doesn’t explain how the Empire found Orta in the first place. Something doesn’t add up in my eyes.
Drones cannot reproduce, yet Orta exists. We’ve often wondered how Azel created a half human half drone hybrid when Abadd could not. It has to make you curious why. What did Azel possess that Abadd lacked? He was given the task of resurrecting the Ancients themselves, which was no small task, so why couldn’t he find the same method that Azel used to create more half drones? Drones are literal keys to unlocking the power of ancient technology which puts them in the unenviable position of being hunted down by anyone who seeks to control it. My theory is that Azel was a master key, and therefore nothing was off limits to her. She was set free by the people who stole her in the Ancient Age, while Abadd was not because his masters didn’t want to risk losing control of him, his key role notwithstanding. Maybe Azel was a prototype drone or maybe she was liberated in every sense of the word. She could have even been more human than other drones, making her more compatible with human DNA. We may never know.
Abadd didn’t regard the Empire too highly if he even regarded them at all, which suggests that his masters were somehow different. He clearly wasn’t a slave to humans as a race, but a servant of a group of people somehow elevated above the rest. It’s impossible to see the bigger picture without going into specifics when it comes to a world with as much depth as Panzer Dragoon.
Abadd had to complete his mission somehow, and Orta was the only way he knew how. If Abadd’s masters could not inherit the world they had taken through force, then repopulating it with their creations was the only way to continue their legacy in his mind. The answer was waiting to be found somewhere in Orta’s DNA. The young girl gave Abadd the opportunity to give his purposeless existence purpose again, and the Empire a chance to create their own drones as well by studying her under a microscope or by using her as a breeding factory, but neither expected the dragon to thwart their plans. The rebel dragon defended the future of a world that was still trapped in the past.
Abadd performed his mission without question and without hesitation even through intense pain. All that mattered to him was completing his mission, and consequently he let nothing stand between him and his goal. His total disregard for everyone and everything around him made him fit the definition of a psychopath. But again, like it or not, he was merely the end result of soulless efficiency. Abadd was a living breathing weapon no doubt beaten into shape by his masters, and lost without them. So lost that all he knew how to do was embody their will. By questioning who she was, Orta learns that she is more than a mere weapon. A weapon does not ask questions; it only obeys commands.
Doing what is convenient isn’t the same thing as doing what is right, but the definitions often blur into one and the same. Right and wrong are defined by a consensus, meaning it’s a shared point of view. The sane and insane can easily swap places if the insane were to become the majority. The world will no longer share your point of view, and you will be left wondering what happened to the world. Ultimately, it’s a matter of perspective. You may find yourself in a world that you no longer recognize because the world no longer sees through your eyes and refuses to see from your point of view simply because there is nothing to gain from it. It may reach a point where we no longer even recognize ourselves anymore depending on how much we can bend to someone else’s will. Then all you can do is make it unprofitable for others to pretend that you don’t exist.
Craymen was ruthless because he had to be; he had to be worse than his enemy in order to defeat them. War was the only language that the Empire understood. They didn’t give him a choice.
Likewise, the Ancients were clearly divided to the point where they almost destroyed each other, and were on the verge of taking the planet with them. Rivals competing for dominance always have to be more competitive to have an edge over their competition, which shows that division is not the way forward and never will be. If the Ancients had learned how to come together, then they’d probably still be alive. Some people might believe that their way is not only the right way, but the only way, and will do whatever is necessary towards that end. People will even sacrifice the future in order to empower themselves in the present. If no one can force them to stop, then in their minds they win when in reality we all lose.
The rulers of the Ancient Age did what they thought was best for them and for the rest of the world against everyone else’s will, but the fact that they are no longer here speaks for itself. The result is all that matters in the end. Some things just aren’t meant to be, and time will be the judge. Unless you can know everything there is to know and can see into all the myriad of possible futures, you will always be experimenting with the unknown and stumbling blindly in the dark.
The Ancients were killed by division. The story shows that if people don’t come together to solve their problems then they will end up extinct. If our leaders kill everyone to save the planet without saving the people themselves, then we are already dead. What’s the point in surviving if your ideas don’t survive with you? The mentality of the Empire would have done the same thing I imagine simply because it was the most beneficial thing for them to do. Assuming that Abadd’s masters were the same Ancients who built the Towers, whether it was done to save the planet is irrelevant if some of the Ancients were planning to return. The result is the same; it benefited them.
Efficiency is a matter of perspective again, because what is efficient for you personally may not be efficient for everyone. If we put efficiency before happiness then we have forgotten why we needed to aim for higher heights in the first place. We have forgotten what we were fighting to defend.
A future cannot be born from division. We have to build a world on the foundation of the tried and true if we want to have a future built to last. If the foundation is solid enough, then we can all stand on it together. Of course, the world is going to disagree with me as always.
Change isn’t born from standing still. Change isn’t born from conformity to forces beyond your control. To kill the pain and bring death to the death that disciplines us to avoid it is my definition of change, for what is best is often defined as what is most convenient by those who play the game of life to win. Change comes from seeing through other people’s eyes to see what they see.
As that old saying goes, where there is smoke there is fire. The broken rules of this broken game make people into the monsters that they become. I wonder how Orta will break the game with her gentleness when it’s like sprinkling water over the sun. Playing God is like playing with fire. It is a shame that the only thing that can fight fire is more fire until it either has nothing left to consume or burns out in the rain. Nothing could be more tragic if you ask me, but perhaps rather than burning the world around us, we can keep ourselves warm instead.