By now we've probably all seen the
from yesterday's invitational. I've seen a lot of people here express confusion as to WHY Ash felt the need to punch Kali over a silly training game. Even more people have said they don't understand why ops are choosing sides over something so small and inconsequential. Combined with the very Civil-War esque art Ubisoft are putting out around the event, it seems like everyone is overreacting to a whole lot of nothing.
The reason is pretty simple. The events shown in the video weren't just the fallout from one incident, but from lots and lots of incidents that have contributed to mounting tension between Nighthaven and Team Rainbow's traditional operators for quite some time.
The story is buried in the lore released in the last year or so, but is very easy to miss. Ubisoft like to drop tiny snippets at a time across tons of different mediums and it can be really REALLY hard to follow at scale.
To try and clear up some of the confusion, and provide a detailed breakdown of WHY our favourite operators are drawing lines in the sand over Kali and co., I've created a complete summary of Nighthaven's controversial history in Rainbow and a timeline of the events (and source assets) that lead to our boiling point explosion at the Six Invitational.
Nighthaven Lore Summary & History
1) Operation Shifting Tides – Rescue at Sea Animation
Kali and Wamai are recruited as part of a Nighthaven – a PMC (private military company) invented by Ubisoft that's heavily suggested to play a big role in the lore moving forward.
Their release comes with a
that shows Nighthaven & co. rescuing a stricken freighter from pirates somewhere out at sea. More importantly, it shows a conversation between Harry and Ash where Ash expresses disbelief and discontent at Harry inviting a bunch of mercenaries to Rainbow. The implication is that operators from national militaries/organisations have fundamentally incompatible ideals to mercenaries, with one side enlisting for the ‘cause' and the other for fame and fortune.
Harry lets her in on his 'real' and secret reason for bringing them in – they're damned good and he doesn’t want them to be hired by Rainbow's opposition. If they’re a part of Rainbow he can keep an eye on them. Ash is very much NOT happy with this justification and tells Harry that he’s “making a mistake”. This heavily teases the idea of impending conflicts of ideology on Team Rainbow, with a group of wildcards they don't know and don't trust thrown into the mix.
2) Kali and Wamai's Reveal Animation
As well as the short video above, we're given a
that seemingly depicts the moment they're recruited by Harry. Kali is on the phone to who we can assume is a representative from Rainbow, arguing about the price they've offered to get her and Wamai on-board.
"You've heard my price," Kali starts. "If it's too high then we've nothing left to discuss."
"You think I run a charity? I have investors, unlike you. And they expect a return. Call me when you're serious."
Seconds later her phone beeps and she comments that Rainbow have matched her demands. This is the first proper reveal of Nighthaven's underlying motivations – money and prestige. Unlike everyone else, Kali isn't impressed by Rainbow's name or mission and demands more money from them for participating. Already we can see that Nighthaven is a completely different organisation to our traditional group.
3) Kali's Character Bio
Kali's biography paints her as an ultra-rich, inaccessible, and arrogant personality who is both brilliant and difficult to work with. It talks about her unclear motivations and no obvious sense of national pride or cause – something Harry says puts her at odds with Ash who is fundamentally cause driven.
Her device evaluation shows that Mira and Thatcher attempted to look at her gadget as part of the normal R&D process (looking for opportunities for improvements, learnings for the team, etc.) but were swiftly shut down by Kali’s lawyers serving them a cease and desist. Rainbow were told they're not allowed to break down or try to improve any Nighthaven gadgets, or else get sued for infringing on their "intellectual property". This is a recurring theme that crops up MANY times again – Nighthaven not letting Rainbow look at or benefit from their tech, despite supposedly being part of the team.
4) Wamai's Character Bio
Wamai's biography shows this again. In his device evaluation, Twitch writes about how Kali is unhappy Wamai is spending time in the shooting range with Fuze. She doesn’t want Nighthaven operators training too closely with Rainbow because she doesn’t want Rainbow ops getting “too close to their proprietary technology”. Again, we're seeing tension between members of the original team and Nighthaven over Nighthaven’s increasingly apparent “us vs. them” mindset, and their refusal to share knowledge with Rainbow – despite benefiting from Rainbow's knowledge themselves. Obviously, Nighthaven not wanting to train with Rainbow ops is a huge an issue given the nature of the organisation and what Team Rainbow is meant to be.
5) Ace's Character Bio
Ace is released as the next Nighthaven op and
his bio once again tells the story of someone motivated by fame and fortune rather than a national or morale cause. Ace apparently LOVES the attention he gets from playing the hero as a search and rescue specialist and is even a bit of an Instagram star. Harry talks about how he’s built up a sizeable online following of fans by posting/boasting about his exploits and the people he’s saved, reflecting his “desire to be perceived as the ultimate upstanding citizen.”
This is quite different from other operators we see with similar medical backgrounds who’s motivations are generally altruistic. Ace's bio also labels him as “arrogant, brash and self-interested” – a running theme with Nighthaven ops so far. There’s also mention of how he comes across as a team player who is nice to and works well with others, “until his post-match interviews” where the façade falls away. He is apparently very loyal to Kali (as all Nighthaven ops seem to be) and Harry believes she’ll keep this loyalty for “as long as he’s committed to fame and fortune.”
6) Aruni’s Character Bio
Aruni was introduced next and she’s a little different to the other Nighthaven ops personality-wise. Her affiliation with them is noted by Harry to be one of “convenience” – after she lost her arm and leg in an accident (a failed bomb defusing with Thermite), Kali offered her a job in return for state of the art prosthetics and a salary that could be paid to her favourite charities. She is also friends with Twitch and Nomad and they’ve travelled together in the past. Mira comments in one of the pre-invitational interviews that she's "just a funny, incredibly nice person. Her demeanor, her love of teamwork… she seems far too wholesome to be one of Kali’s hired guns."
7) 'Siege Universe' Invitational Comic
Before the Invitational Ubi published a short comic) that delved a bit deeper into Nighthaven’s mentality and approach. The comic follows Fuze as he's invited to train with Nighthaven and his surprise at some of their tactics.
During the training, Fuze hesitates taking a shot as Aruni was in his line of fire. Kali demands to know why and counters that he should have taken the shot anyway as Nighthaven’s policy is to “play hard and take risks” (even at the expense of their own team mates). An Osprey helicopter suddenly lands in the middle of the arena and Kali announces that it’s a Nighthaven helicopter packed with goons dropping off more supplies and new tech for her team. Fuze asks if he can see the supplies and Kali agrees to give him a “sneak peek” at the future of Nighthaven.
The supplies include new, specially reinforced protective suits (exo skeletons like Kali’s elite) for each Nighthaven member – but not the wider team. Fuze reminds Kali that she’s meant to wear her Rainbow uniform the same as everyone else and she says she doesn’t care. Fuze also asks Kali if she minds that Nighthaven ops are playing on different teams in the Invitational. She says that if any one of them are on a winning team it helps to make Nighthaven even more exclusive and renowned – “and exclusivity means we can demand higher rates. It’s all about business.”
She then brags for a bit about how she wants to make sure her team have better kit than anyone else and offers Fuze a job at Nighthaven. This whole thing plays up that a) Nighthaven is motivated by money and prestige over anything else b) they don’t care about team work and the ethos of rainbow c) they don’t care about Rainbow’s traditional morals and rules and d) they see Rainbow as a money-making exercise to improve Nighthaven’s standing for higher contract rates – and even as an opportunity for recruitment, actively trying to poach operators away. Landing a helicopter in the middle of their top secret facility also seems like mad disrespect.
8) The invitational battlepass
When the battlepass came out for this season so
. It focused on this year’s team leads as they're briefed on their rosters. We learn that Ash is really unhappy to have Kali on her team and tries to swap, but Harry says no. He knows Ash and Kali don’t like each other (for all the reasons that have been hinted at leading up to this point) and that Ash remains fundamentally opposed to having a PMC in Rainbow.
But Harry is a bit of a button pusher and likes to play games. His whole schtick is pairing up operators that don't traditionally go together to achieve his objective in creating a CTU with the ultimate team synergy. So Ash is forced to suck it up.
Some Individual items in the battlepass contain little snippets of lore and information too. Ash’s items talk about how she’s headstrong, driven, and has no time for those who don’t want to play by the rules.
9) Pre-event interviews
before the Invitational Ubi released written interviews between Harry and the team leads talking about their prospects for the competition. Ash’s is mainly about Kali and she reiterates that Kali and co. are not the right fit for Rainbow thanks to their opposing ideology and the fact they're not interested in team work/Rainbow's mission. “How many times do I need to tell you? She’s going to get someone hurt. Or dead.”
She accuses Harry of evaluating Kali from purely a clinical and psychological perspective and not as someone in the field. She says he’s playing with fire and that Kali is dangerous. When Harry jokes that all the operators are dangerous Ash retorts “you won’t be joking when one of us is hospitalised. Are you ready for that?”
10) Invitational audio snippets
before the invitational Ubi also released audio footage of some of the ‘pre-finale’ matches and post/pre-match interviews. There are a few featuring ‘team Ash’ where Kali and Ash bicker constantly. It’s usually around with not following the rules, not communicating with the team, or putting them at risks for personal glory. There’s also one where Kali blames team losses on Ash’s leadership style. And another where Kali kills Tachanka with a claymore and is thanked by Ash – but warned “again” that she has to tell the rest of the team what she’s doing and not just act alone.
11) "The Playbook" CGI
Finally, we get
where all the tension and pre-building conflicts between Nighthaven and Team Rainbow come to head. Ash and Kali have been butting heads over Kali’s approach/lack of investment in the team for months, and now Kali has done exactly what Ash warned Harry about and used her and Dokk as ‘bait’ to win the competition – getting Dokk killed and Ash injured by shooting dangerously close to her face.
To Kali this is no big deal – this is a game and she’s just here to win so she can boost Nighthaven’s prestige (for higher contract rates), show off Nighthaven to other members of Rainbow, and poach them into joining (where else is she going to get access to the world’s most elite operators all in one place?). She doesn't care about teamwork if it's not her team involved and has no investment in Rainbow’s mission.
Rainbow is NOT a game to Ash. It’s a project she’s been involved in and helped build from the start, and training exercises are meant to be reflect real-world operations. Kali is laughing in the face of all of this because ultimately Kali does not take Rainbow seriously. She is here for her own personal gain. Her open bragging in the locker room to Mozzie (seemingly doing a little Nighthaven pitch) shows this really clearly; she very much thinks that she and Nighthaven are superior and that Rainbow are blessed to have them on board – but not the other way round. Ash overhears this and it takes her to her boiling point. The fight ensures.
We also see all the other operators in the room take clear sides in the disagreement, some of whom I think can be explained by looking at their personal backstories and lore.
Team Ash or Team Kali?
Mira: Mira has repeatedly been blocked from doing her job and served cease and desists from by Nighthaven for trying to look at their tech – something she’s meant to be able to do for the benefit of the whole team. Rainbow is all about collaboration, with some of the world's most secretive CTUs sharing unprecedented levels of knowledge with one another for the benefit of the greater good.
Now there are new members with well-funded and maybe life saving equipment, but unlike everyone else they don’t want to share. They're happy to benefit from the knowledge and skills that Rainbow can offer them, but don't want to offer anything in return. And they’re allowed to get away with this.
Interestingly, old lore from the start of the game suggested tension/a hostile relationship between Mira and Ash due to clashing personalities and an old op they worked on together. It's telling to see them bond over a mutual enemy.
Wamai and Aruni: Aruni is more surprising but it’s not a shock they jumped to Kali’s defence. All the lore talks about how loyal her team are to her and how she keeps them loyal with money and tech.
Thatcher: If you watch closely you can see Thatcher looking over his shoulder at Kali and shaking his head in contempt as she's bragging to Mozzie. Thatcher is a pretty down to earth guy and doesn’t seem like the type of person who’d appreciate self-important talk. He's like a team player and has a lore-backed dislike of people/strategies that rely on tech as a crutch rather than raw skill. Nighthaven is all about tech. He’s also one of the true Rainbow old guard alongside Ash, so I’d expect him to take her side here.
Doc: Doc is the sort of person who'd prefer not to take a side or be involved in fights (his biography mentions a strength in conflict resolution), but would ultimately stand behind Ash. In the video you see him clearly quite uncomfortable with the conflict (including shaking his head when Ash first marches in, holding his hands up and looking really pained when it's going down, and quite literally running out of the shot when it all kicks off to stay physically out of it) – but he’s also standing behind Ash the whole time.
We know that he’s an altruist, a humanitarian, and wants to “save the world”. He feels guilty about his wealthy upbringing (he and Kali were both born into money but feel differently about it) and turned down opportunities to earn big cash in the private medical field by enlisting/volunteering instead. He picks cause over money as the righteous path so Nighthaven aren’t going to mesh with him. I also like to think that he and Ash would have that Outbreak bond, having both been part of the first response. Furthermore, the picture of Harry's Board that was released last year shows a green (positive) relationship line between them and states that whilst they have different methods they have a lot of mutual respect.
Cav: Cav and Ash apparently get on ok according to Harry’s board. It said they like to play 'games' with one another during training matches, hunting each other down as the speedy/scary ops. I also feel like she’s a bit chaotic and would find Ash punching Kali in the face a very entertaining and relatable thing to do. If you pause the vid right after Ash’s fist makes contact you can see she has a huge “oohhh shiiitttt!” grin on her face in the background. After all, we saw her get violent and shove Doc in the invitational trailer from last year. And Mozzie at the end. And Dokkaebi at the start of this latest one. And sledge in the resulting brawl. Cav just likes a fight.
Thermite: Thermite and Ash apparently have a brother/sister-like relationship so I can imagine him having her back.
As for the rest, I’m not really sure. I don’t know why Mozzie, Sledge, Blitz, Pulse and Hibana would seemingly stand behind Kali. My guesses would be that it’s to do with Ash also being a notably headstrong and “brash” personality, so she perhaps rubs others the wrong way too. It could also be that her punching Kali in the face was pretty extreme and they’re not on-board with casual assault. Kali seems like a highly irritating person but should Ash get away with just socking her one? Maybe not. Maybe they also just don’t have an issue with Nighthaven.
Ultimately, Harry has taken leadership of Siege from the old ‘Six’ (Angela Basset) and has a new way of doing things that involves bringing in operators with non-traditional backgrounds and personalities, trying to find out how they can all mesh. In doing this, he’s introduced Nighthaven as a PMC with fundamentally different ideology to Rainbow and its long-standing members, and tensions have been allowed to simmer and build up for almost a year. Old ops’ concerns have been largely disregarded and Kali has been allowed to treat Rainbow as a personal source for esteem, financial opportunities and recruitment – something that founding members of the team like Ash, who are committed to Rainbow’s cause and have helped build it, would find very hard to bear.
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