Warning, this contains endgame spoilers for Bastion. Also, press play on the soundtrack video for the best experience.
The end of our current civilisation is a scenario that many forms of media have tackled in the past, and on a personal level I am a fan of such fiction. Fallout tackles this through how the world copes post nuclear war, while The Last Of Us takes the route of a collapse through disease.
Bastion follows a route of destruction, known as the Calamity, that manages to literally blow the world apart. It’s the culmination of a cold war between the Caelondian and the Ura societies; even though the battlefields are quiet doesn’t mean either nation had stopped trying to annihilate each other in the name of peace.
The Kid, the game’s silent protagonist, ventures to Bastion which was the place all Caelondians were instructed to go to during danger. When there, he discovers only Rucks, a fellow survivor and narrator of the game. It’s here we first really learn of the Calamity and the fact that there are almost no survivors, at least on Caelondia’s end. During his quest, The Kid eventually discovers two other survivors in the ruins of Caelondia, Zulf and Zia who are both Ura.
It’s with the introduction of these two characters that the true nature of the relationship between the nations really rears its head. The ruins of Caelondia look very bright and beautiful, reflecting the image that the nation wanted to project to the world, but below that beauty lay the dark and murderous heart of evil.
You see, the Calamity is the result of Caelondia’s desire to commit genocide upon the Ura people, even forcing one of them to help build the weapon. That person was Ura’s father, Venn, but he sabotaged the weapon just before the Caelondians triggered it, which must make him a hero.
Here we have a man forced to build a weapon so powerful that it could literally split the world, and he was building it to kill his home, his friends, and his family. Venn tried to stop the madness and turned the weapon on his masters, sacrificing himself in the process. It wipes the Caelondians out, a genocide brought upon themselves.
The Ura knew nothing of this and thought peace existed between themselves and the Caelondian, only discovering the treachery and sacrifice after the Calamity occurred. This is because Zulf discovers the truth and flees back to Ura territory, which has almost been destroyed too, though there are more survivors who now have a renewed fear of Caelondia.
First the Ura attack Bastion, trying to destroy every trace of it so they can’t be attacked again. However when Zulf goes back to Ura territory, he is blamed for drawing The Kid there too, bringing more death upon the victimised society. They beat him but The Kid has the choice to save him. If he does then he leaves Ura territory with Zulf.
The Ura now try to rebuild a world unexpectedly taken away from them, through no fault of their own but even this can be undone thanks to the choice of The Kid and The Kid alone. He has a choice to either restore the world to a point before the Calamity or move any remaining Caelondians to a new world. Maybe the Ura wanted to start again without the Caelondians but they don’t have a say in the matter, only The Kid really does.
Rucks tells The Kid this but the question remains: who is Rucks? Who is this man who knows everything about Bastion, the Calamity and what the device can do? Did he help build Bastion, learn the secrets of the world before the Calamity. He is a mystery, kind of like Book from Firefly, a wise man with a mysterious past.
If the world is reset then what stops the Caelondians from trying again? Nothing, because no one will remember the events of the first time. For all we know this isn’t the first time The Kid or anyone else has made the decision to turn back the clock and hope things turn out better. This situation may have played out dozens, maybe hundreds of times before with the Calamity always being the conclusion.
The second option is the best option for all involved. The Caelondians get their own place, and the Ura are left to live. Both societies can rebuild independent of each other, in their own peace and no threat of genocide could be used against each other. They’ll live apart and the memory of one attempted genocide will make both nations think before they try it again.