We don't know what the future has in store for Orta, but she must remain open to any possibility. The world may need Orta even more than she needs the world.
I have often wondered why Azel created Orta, but as always, the games left us with more questions than answers. It seems like Orta’s story ended when it had only just begun. This was only the beginning, but the beginning of what? One can’t help but wonder out loud. Orta embarked on a journey of self-discovery that saw her return to her roots only to discover that there is no fate but what we make for ourselves. We have to make our own fate or others will do it for us. Where will fate take her I wonder? Perhaps Orta will find herself out there somewhere in the midst of it all without having her future be decided for her, and forge her own destiny of her own free will. Few have the power to make that guarantee. Is she one of them? In reality, finding ourselves is a journey that never ends.
Abadd doesn't understand Orta.
When Orta and the dragon who rescued her meet the els-enora at the end of episode 5 of Panzer Dragoon Orta, they are forced to fight the creature because it blocks their escape and gives them no other choice. However, Orta starts having regrets about trying to kill the mutated monster once she sees that it was only defending its young. Soon after, laser beams rain down from the sky on the creature and its family, lighting up the horizon. Then Abadd descends from above on his dragonmare and without warning puts a premature end to them all with arrows of light that cut through them like a hot knife through butter. Abadd asks Orta if she is incapable of killing such a simple creature almost as if he is puzzled by her hesitance to kill it herself. Orta does not hide the fact that she is the polar opposite of Abadd, shouting that he didn’t need to kill them, then asks:
Abadd… Why? Why do you kill?
To which Abadd replies:
That is my… I am… I… I am unable to complete my primary directive. That is why I need you. Follow me.
Orta and Abadd have a difference of opinion.
Abadd’s voice then stutters and rewinds like a broken record trying to go back instead of forward. He couldn’t answer the question because he didn’t have an answer, or that answer existed somewhere in his mind where he was not allowed to go. Something stopped Abadd from questioning his own actions. He was just doing whatever was necessary to complete his mission (that being to resurrect his fallen masters from the dead which was “100% impossible” in his own words). On the other hand, this sequence of events shows that Orta has a conscience. Needless to say, that’s a rare thing in a world of inhuman monsters with no empathy and human beings who have lost their humanity as if it were dead weight that needed to be cut loose to stop dragging everyone down.
Mobo said that the Empire was chasing “that Drone to get him to make more dragonmares for them”, which is clearly referring to Abadd specifically, on top of chasing Orta. Orta wasn’t the only one being chased by the Empire, while Abadd himself was searching for Orta to make more drones. The question is: in whose image? Somewhere in Orta’s DNA was the key to unlocking the secret of how she could reproduce when other drones could not.
In light of past events, the Ancients who built the Towers didn’t seem to believe in competing in the arena of ideas, or even in competition itself. On the contrary, they believed in controlled competition for their benefit simply because no one had the power to stop them. The Ancients who created the Towers were like the very forces of nature they sought to control. They would not stop unless stopped, yet wanted to put a dam in the way of everyone else’s nature. In the end the rulers of the ancient times became the victims of their own efficiency that taught them to do anything to win in a race for control. They were a dam blocking the sheer crushing weight of a tidal wave of human nature when they were the ones who needed to slow down.
A belief in too much control and too little freedom isn’t one we should be so eager to embrace if it only succeeds in benefiting a chosen few when everyone can win; without a balance of power, tyranny is inevitable. To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner because 51% of the people can control the other 49%, resulting in what was said to be a “tyranny of the majority”. Even in the case where the majority rules but doesn’t impose their will on others through force, we only end up with a soft tyranny with soft kills that result in the death of ideas instead of hard kills that end the lives of the people who give birth to them. Like that old saying goes, a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf, so the process of self-correction always needs to be protected in order for a consensus defined morality to be perfected. As you can see, not everyone believes in a consensus.
When Orta visits Sestren’s memory banks in Forbidden Memories she finds a message left behind by Azel, and this is where Orta discovers the truth about her origins. It’s revealed that Azel created the orphaned girl and that Orta was the product of the union of both a human and drone.
Azel then says: “Orta…Your name is Orta”, saying the name twice as if she is trying to draw attention to the fact that the word has meaning. This strikes me as a deliberate way to convey to both Orta and players that there is meaning to be found here, and indeed, there is. Orta is a Latin word meaning rebirth or dawn. No doubt this name was chosen deliberately to allegorically symbolize a new beginning through the main character for both her and the Panzer Dragoon series itself. The future was reborn in the form of Orta from the ashes of the past.
We are the makers of our own fate.
In the message, Azel reflects on the meaning of life and wonders why we were brought into what she calls “this wretched world”. She tells Orta that we can only believe in our own free will and travel our own chosen pathes almost as if free will itself was a lie that couldn’t exist without that belief and unless we willed it into being. It’s as if Azel was making her own truth from a lie, and what she really meant was that free will can’t exist in a literal sense unless we believe in it enough to make it real, or at least make it real to us.
Sometimes we have to pave our own path out of nothing because nothing is all we are given, and in the end the only meaning that life has is what we give it. I wonder if Azel was literally living a lie in order to give her life meaning where there was none before. Maybe Azel needed to live a lie to bring her to life. After all, from her perspective as a drone, life began as a slave and ended as a slave without a master.
Azel said that Orta was the “only answer” to her fruitless searches, which naturally begs the question: search for what? You’d have to play the previous game to find the answer to that question. Panzer Dragoon Saga ends with Azel searching for Edge and it leaves you wondering if she ever found him. Edge didn’t return from Sestren, and this was one story that didn’t seem to have a happy ending, but Azel still searched for him even in the knowledge that he was probably never coming back nevertheless. The end of Edge’s story was the beginning of hers. The truth about Edge’s fate finally emerges when Abadd reveals that Azel used her own DNA and the DNA of the human found in Sestren to create Orta. Azel didn’t find Edge alive, but she did find him. She probably hoped to find him via another Tower, but in the end all she found was Edge’s DNA, so found him in Orta instead. Edge literally lived on in Orta. As long as she was alive then he was alive too, and he didn’t die in vain. I don’t have a hard time believing that Edge was dead, because if Edge were alive, he never would have let his daughter grow up alone.
Azel also said that Orta had the power to change the world because she was born from the DNA of both a human and drone, but we have no idea what exactly she meant by that. We have been kept in suspense because not having all the answers keeps us asking questions and leaves us hungering for those answers. On one hand, there’s no harm in speculating. On the other, we’d have to wait and see. All we can gather from this is that Orta is no doubt destined to play a bigger role in the future.
In her search, Azel must have realised how important it was to have the illusion of free will when this world often decides people’s futures for them (especially from her own experience), and how important it was to not take that illusion away from anyone. It’s almost impossible to be truly free because you are a slave to everything around you. You may not want to have to breathe air, but your body doesn’t give you a choice. To know the true meaning of free is the impossible dream, but that doesn’t stop us from trying. The greater the amount of choices we have, the greater the illusion of free will. The fewer choices we have, the narrower the illusion becomes. Maybe it’s a beautiful lie that we need to last forever like we need air to breathe.
Was Orta left alone in the world in order to force her to learn how to survive on her own? That’s one way of forcing self-reliance out of a person, assuming they have the will to live. Either they learn how to rely on themselves and not rely on others, or they simply perish to a world that does not care. It’s like throwing someone into the deep end of the deepest of oceans without swimming lessons in order to teach them to learn how to swim. They either learn how to tread water or drown. Life simply doesn’t give them a choice when death isn’t an option. Nothing trains someone to survive faster than frightening them into living with the imminent threat of death. That’s a high price to pay for true freedom. Too high. We pay it gladly?
Even alone, life can be devoid of purpose with no one to guide you in the right direction. It’s a dilemma for anyone aware of the choice between the two. Follow someone else or follow no one but yourself? Be a slave, or live a life where you are lost and never found? Without something to strive for we are nothing. We are shaped more by the journey than the destination, so the journey can never end. In the greater scheme of things we are unimportant. What’s important to know is that nearly everything we are is copied from the world around us. Maybe Orta’s conscience can pave the way through uncharted waters. It seems that Azel imparted some of her wisdom to Orta in the hopes that Orta would decide her own fate. Orta may be more significant than she realises. Ideas are ripples that can build up into tides and touch all those around them.
We look up to successful people as if they already know the way and can only emulate their success. We can only walk down a path that others have walked before, lest we find ourselves lost in the middle of nowhere. People need to lean on each other but not to the point where others become a crutch. If we lean too hard, then we may end up dragging the whole world down with us. Sometimes we have to fall to learn how to stand on our own, because sometimes we cannot foresee the consequences of our own actions. We need to be reminded because we are often all too quick to forget. If there’s anything to be gained from pain, it’s that it teaches us to avoid it. Life speaks in the only language that we understand: the language of tough love. Without mutually beneficial relationships we all fall together. Somone will always possess what someone else lacks like the separate pieces of a jigsaw puzzle slowly coming together; without all the pieces we cannot create the bigger picture.
Here we see an early prototype model of Abadd.
The word “drone” seems to be a descriptive term to describe unquestioning slaves. Like ants or bees, it’s more than merely descriptive when a person’s identity is without an identity of their own. He may have been out of his mind, but at least Abadd had a reason to live. Finding a different way to bring back his dead masters by making more reflections of them to reflect their will gave purpose to an otherwise purposeless existence. He wanted drones to inherit the world to carry on their legacy like the Empire who wanted the world to belong to man once again by living off the technology of the Ancient Age. Why Orta chooses to exist when we could all choose not to exist at all if we wanted is up to her. What Orta is and what that allows her to do is another story. Free will is not free in the sense that we can do anything; we can only do the best with what we have. Even when seemingly free, we are slaves to things beyond our control.
The way I see things, Orta is a half human half drone hybrid who literally bridges the gap between both races. It’s her destiny. Both drones and humans were once slaves to the will of the Ancients which is something that no one should be quick to forget. It would be fitting to say that drones were literal slaves to their will, while humans were enslaved to their own past by being caged like wild animals and cut out of the world like a cancer spreading out of control. By being reduced to almost nothing, people couldn’t even threaten themselves nevermind the planet; even the freedom to choose a different path was stolen from them. And once free, now people don’t know what to do with that freedom other than follow in the footsteps of the Ancients who paid the ultimate price for their mistakes. However, the existence of Orta presents everyone with a rare opportunity to learn from those past mistakes, for neither human nor drone can survive without the help of the other in a world where the past literally comes back to haunt the present. Azel gave Orta the power to make a difference.
Abadd was a sentient being who seems to have been twisted to fit the vision of being a well-oiled cog in a machine all in the name of relentless efficiency because he obeys his fallen masters without question even though they are no longer alive to give him orders. He spends the entire game chasing their ghosts, and it’s enough to make you wonder how one sentient being could do that to another. Unfortunately, it’s too profitable for people to succumb to the darker side of nature. We become worthless unless we become more monstrous than monsters without the slightest semblance of our true humanity if we live in that world of might makes right.
Cycles of dependency have to be broken because people become too settled in their ways for their own good, and a willing slave is the most enslaved of them all. Azel discovered that for herself by going against her own nature (i.e. to serve others) to create Orta, whereas Abadd never even considered the possibility. Needless to say, breaking your own programming once it becomes second nature is never easy, but if the result is breaking away from the flow that’s on the verge of an abyss, who’s the real winner here?
There will always be more ancient technology to abuse, and there will always be people who can never have enough power, but by creating a world where conscience itself rules in their place, it will hold us back when we are standing on the edge of self-destruction because we will remind each other that we exist. Our eyes will be opened to a future where people are not nature’s mistakes destined to be corrected with death because they could not learn how to live in balance with nature without reaching the tipping point. We forget that actions have consequences and some actions have consequences for us all that teach us not to walk down the same path. Unless lessons are learned, people will war all the way to their own self-destruction eventually to become nothing more than one of many already extinct species. If limiting power in the knowledge and wisdom that no one can be trusted with absolute power leads to no one committing suicide for the rest of us, then again I ask, who’s the real winner here? Nature doesn’t reward the strongest. It rewards those who can adapt; there’s no escaping consequences. End of story. If we slow down, then we will at least have a future. But we never slow down, and thereby race towards the end of days.
Abadd needs Orta to reproduce himself.
Conscience is (unique to) a point of view. It’s subjective. However, when that point of view is shared by the majority of people, it becomes a force of nature all by itself. Who would you rather have rule the world? Orta or Abadd? Both have different notions of what is right and what is wrong. Abadd knows neither really, only what is necessary to complete his mission. To serve. To that end, he probably couldn’t understand why Orta was even created and what Orta’s creator had in mind for her in the first place. All I know is, people like Orta are unique in a world that needs more of their uniqueness, lest we become a reflection of nature itself without a conscience that cares, and wage war against the rest of creation without giving it a second thought. Perhaps Abadd doesn’t even see killing as the taking of life, only the removal of something that stands between him and his objective that is standing in the way. After all, all nature knows is who wins and who dies. All that matters to time are results. All we are to the universe are numbers in a sea of numbers, but we are not seeing through the universe’s eyes like Abadd does. We mean nothing to the universe, but we mean the world to each other. When you take empathy out of the picture, we become nothing but a soulless force of nature. The difference between Abadd and Orta is like night and day; they are like contrasting colors that contrast with each other to the point where one cannot blend with the other without drowning in it.
The Seekers had every reason to distrust Orta, because drones are seen as biomonsters or living weapons of the old world in human form. It’s not surprising to expect that reaction, so Orta and the other remaining drones have a lot to prove if they hope to forge a new one. Especially when everyone expects her to unleash her potential on the world as if it were a weapon. In the case of Orta, she is the future itself in human form. Orta is a source of creation, and anything that can create can out-create destruction and rely on itself instead of be forced to steal from what little that remains. The more we rely on others, the less we rely on ourselves. If the Empire couldn’t salvage the old world technology, then the Imperials would be forced to make it themselves; they simply wouldn’t have a choice. People would have to learn every single tiny detail before they could gain a true understanding of the power they hoped to wield. Then maybe their hearts would catch up with their minds. Instead, people seem forever content to take the path of least resistance and never truly earn their knowledge. Welcome to humanity.
Gash called Orta “the seed of our future” for a reason; seeds grow. The future in a world that may not have one isn’t something you just let slip through your fingers. If people have the potential to make themselves extinct, then nothing can save them unless we face the source of the problem which created the supposed necessity for conflict in the first place. War is born more from a desire to have power over others than it is from necessity, but we risk never knowing the difference.
Orta is only a child in a world that does not let you remain one for long, yet she has the potential to bring light to where there was once only darkness. Unfortunately for her, this is a very dark world indeed.
In the end, Panzer Dragoon Orta had a damned compelling story to tell for a mere rail shooter (as opposed to an RPG which is more suited to exploring these worlds within worlds). We should keep the memory of Panzer Dragoon alive in the hopes that it will inspire future games to follow in its footsteps. Considering that money doesn’t grow on trees and that games have to ruthlessly supply demand to even be conceived, we should be grateful that we were ever given the chance to enjoy this game or this series for that matter; we were lucky to even see it. If there’s no demand for thought-provoking stories, then blame the market for simply having no desire to explore them. Hold that thought and keep it in mind. In a world where people lose attention before they even realise it, it’s hard to bring depth across to them unless you can bait that attention with bite sizes of meaning that holds infinitely more like a magnet for curiosity. The seed can still be planted in your mind.