"The lesson will be taught in due time, Aloy. Until then, we wait."
This article contains heavy spoilers, and may reveal plot or quest information.

A displayed listing of GAIA’s subordinate functions by Dr. Elisabet Sobeck

GAIA’s subordinate functions were its suite of nine subroutines. Working from GAIA’s permanent location at GAIA Prime, each performed a specific function in the Project Zero Dawn terraforming system under GAIA’s governance. While one was ultimately sabotaged, and thus never performed its function, the remaining eight performed as intended. Thus Zero Dawn restored life after it was eradicated by the Faro Plague.

However, subsequent events caused the nine subordinate functions to be converted into artificial intelligences themselves. All nine became free agents. One attempted to seize control of Zero Dawn, then escaped GAIA Prime when GAIA resorted to self-destructing to prevent it from doing so. The action allowing it to escape also facilitated the escape of the other eight. These developments, along with the aforementioned sabotage, directly led to events that have had far-reaching consequences for the humans of the new world that Zero Dawn created.


Each of the nine subordinate functions was developed by a senior Zero Dawn project engineer called an Alpha. He or she was a world-recognized expert in the area in which the subroutine would function, and was assisted by a project development unit of specialists in that area. GAIA itself was created by Zero Dawn’s project leader, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck.


The Faro Plague

In quarter 4 of the old earth year 2064, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck became aware of a rogue swarm of Chariot military combat automatons, designed by her former employer, the robotics and technology corporation Faro Automated Solutions. She accurately predicted that in no more than 15 months, the swarm, which became known as the Faro Plague, would completely consume the biosphere and thus eradicate all life on Earth. In response, she spearheaded Project Zero Dawn, the only chance for life to be reestablished, long after its eradication. GAIA was Zero Dawn’s governing A.I., and its nine subordinate functions performed the specific tasks of the terraforming process.


Hundreds of years after the Faro Plague left Earth completely sterile and devoid of life, GAIA’s code-breaking subordinate function MINERVA successfully brute-forced the Faro Plague’s deactivation codes and broadcast them, shutting the robots down. The subordinate functions AETHER and POSEIDON respectively detoxified Earth’s atmosphere and bodies of water using machines manufactured by the subordinate function HEPHAESTUS, while the subordinate function HADES, the system’s extinction failsafe protocol, remained on inactive standby to reverse the terraforming process should it produce conditions unsuitable for life. However, by all indications, the first terraforming attempt proved to be successful, thus HADES was never required. The subordinate functions ARTEMIS, DEMETER and ELEUTHIA respectively restored fauna, flora and the human species.

However, not all species were restored. This was due both to the failure of the Zero Dawn team to secure genetic material from all of Earth's species, and to Ted Faro's sabotage of the subordinate function APOLLO, which had been meant to educate the new humans with its archive of knowledge. Indeed, although humanity survived and returned to Earth, they have little to no knowledge of pre-extinction flora and fauna.

The Signal

In the old Earth year 3020, on 26 August at 8:45 A.M., a signal of as yet unknown origin was transmitted to GAIA at GAIA Prime.[1] This signal activated HADES and turned it and the other eight subordinate functions into highly advanced A.I.s themselves. HADES became rogue, and tried to seize control of Zero Dawn to reverse the terraforming process as per its function. Unable to fend HADES off, GAIA resorted to self-destructing, destroying GAIA Prime in an attempt to destroy HADES. But HADES created and released a virus that destroyed the coding that bound it to the facility and escaped.[2] The virus also did the same to the coding that bound the other former subordinate functions, allowing them to escape as well.

In the New World

At least two of the escaped former subordinate functions took actions that directly affected the tribes of the new world. These were HADES and HEPHAESTUS. HEPHAESTUS, the former machine manufacturing subordinate function, managed to take control of at least five of Zero Dawn’s Cauldrons. The humans of the new world, ignorant of the machines’ origins or purpose, had begun hunting them for parts and resources. This made HEPHAESTUS hostile to humans. It reprogrammed the machines in its Cauldrons to attack humans, beginning the phenomenon known among the tribes as the Derangement. This in turn led to a decade of atrocities committed by the Carja against other tribes at the behest of Sun-King Jiran, the Carja monarch. Jiran had the Carja army raid other tribes for human sacrificial offerings in hopes of ending the Derangement, in what became known as the Red Raids.[3] These raids ended when Jiran’s middle son Avad led a military campaign to depose Jiran, resulting in Jiran’s death.[4] They left a bloody and indelible stain on Carja history.

Meanwhile, HADES was bent on destroying the new biosphere created by Zero Dawn. Originally intended to facilitate a reset of the terraforming process should it fail, HADES became dedicated to erasing the terraforming process regardless of its success. This would exterminate all life yet again, this time without Zero Dawn to reestablish it. With the aid of its erstwhile servant, the wanderer Sylens, HADES deceived two leaders of the defeated Jiran loyalists, Helis and Bahavas, into forming a warrior cult in its service, known as the Eclipse. It planned to use the cult to conquer the Carja capital Meridian. This would allow it to access a Zero Dawn transmission tower known in the new world as the Spire, allowing it to broadcast a signal that would reactivate the Faro Plague, which would then devour all life as it did before. HADES and the Eclipse were ultimately defeated by the efforts of the Nora huntress Aloy before it could succeed. The plot led to the decimation of the Nora tribe, first in the Proving Massacre, then in the Eclipse’s genocidal campaign against them. It also led to a major battle for Meridian, which left the city heavily damaged.

Current Status

All the former subordinate functions remain free with the exception of HADES, who was captured and imprisoned by Sylens after its defeat. HEPHAESTUS suffered a significant setback in its drive to develop anti-human hunter killers due to Aloy, but remains free to plan again in an unknown location. No information about the whereabouts or activities of any of the others is currently available. However, DEMETER is presumably known be exerting some manifestation, in the form of metal flowers appearing at various locations throughout the various tribal lands.

Designations, Symbols and Functions


Symbol Functions


Detoxification of Earth’s atmosphere.


Archival of human history and culture.

Education of new generations of humans created in Zero Dawn Cradle facilities


Reintroduction of Earth’s faunal species from preserved genetic stocks.


Reintroduction of Earth’s floral species from preserved genetic stocks.


Reintroduction of the human species via cloning and raising of humans from genetic stocks at Cradle facilities.


Reversal of unsuccessful terraforming attempts vis-à-vis the suitability of created biospheres for sustaining life.


Manufacture of Zero Dawn terraforming machines at Cauldrons.


Brute-forcing of Faro Plague deactivation codes.

Construction of transmission towers to broadcast Plague shutdown codes.


Detoxification of Earth’s water.


Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.