Track and destroy the Traveler
At war with:
Unknown; billions of years old
- "This is how the world changes: one way meets a second way, and they discharge their weapons, they exchange their words and markets, they contest and in doing so they petition each other for the right to go on being something, instead of nothing. This is the universe figuring out what it should be in the end. And it is majestic. Majestic. It is the only thing that can be true in and of itself. And it is what I am. "
- —The Darkness
The Darkness, also known as the Deep, is a powerful, paracausal alien force inimical to the Light. It is the ancient enemy of the Traveler, and actively tracks it through the cosmos.  It is the main antagonist of the Destiny series.
- 1 Overview
- 2 History
- 3 The Nature of the Darkness
- 4 Common themes
- 5 Influences
- 6 Trivia
- 7 List of appearances
- 8 Gallery
- 9 References
The precise nature of the Darkness remains mysterious. While it has never been encountered directly by the Guardians, it enacts its will indirectly through numerous proxies and servants, with some of the most powerful beings worshiped as deities unto themselves. The Vex, Hive, Taken, and Scorn are all linked to this force. Whatever it truly is, it is able to grant paracausal powers to its servants, including a wide variety of offensive and defensive abilities, and the power to resurrect the dead.
The Darkness seems to desire to embody the Sword Logic and reduce all of existence into its simplest, most basic form by its rule.
The Distant Past
- "And if life is to live, if anything is to survive through the end of all things, it will live not by the smile but by the sword, not in a soft place but in a hard hell, not in the rotting bog of artificial paradise but in the cold hard self-verifying truth of that one ultimate arbiter, the only judge, the power that is its own metric and its own source—existence, at any cost."
- —The Darkness
The earliest recorded mention of the Darkness known to the Guardians comes from the Books of Sorrow, a collection of records discovered aboard the Dreadnaught of Oryx, the Taken King. The books describe the origin of the Hive on the gas giant Fundament, where three daughters of a deposed king, Aurash, Xi Ro, and Sathona, set out to save their world from a prophesied apocalypse, and in their quest encountered the massive being known as the Leviathan. The Leviathan warned them against the temptation of "The Deep," a philosophy which held that "existence is the struggle to exist," and which it claimed would lead them only to ruin and calamity. It instead told them to pursue the philosophy of "The Sky," which encouraged collaboration to build a kinder, more prosperous world, even if it meant that some deaths and misfortunes must be allowed to occur. The sisters rejected the Leviathan's advice, and dove deep into the core of their world to find the five Worms Eir, Ur, Yul, Xol, and Akka.
The Worm Gods promised to lend the sisters their paracausal powers, which they drew from the Deep, in return for the sisters becoming hosts for the Worms' larvae. The sisters agreed, and became the founders and God-rulers of what would one day become known as the Hive. The Worms taught the nascent Hive Gods of the Sword Logic, which they used to become ever more powerful.
Much later, the Hive God Auryx (who was once Aurash) slew the Worm God Akka, in order to obtain enough power from the Sword Logic to Take. He became thereafter known as Oryx, the Taken King. Some time later, he sought to commune with the Deep directly and prepared an Ogre as a sacrifice, which the Deep inhabited and used to converse with Oryx.
- "Where is the Great Machine? Where is the Great Machine?"
- —Chelchis, Kell of Stone, during the Whirlwind.
At an unknown time in the past, the Eliksni homeworld was visited by the Traveler, who ushered in an era of great prosperity and technological advancement. However, as with so many others before them, the Eliksni's Golden Age was ended when the Darkness found their civilization and decimated it, sending the Traveler fleeing and reducing the Eliskni to a race of interstellar nomads. This cataclysmic event became known in Eliksni history as the Whirlwind.
- "Something hit us. Killed our Golden Age. Nearly wiped us out. Only the Traveler saved us, and at a shattering cost."
- —Grimoire description.
The only solid information on the Darkness gathered by humanity itself comes from an ISR report from centuries ago. At that time, the Darkness appeared just beyond the edge of the Solar System in what was termed as a "TRANSIENT NEAR EXTRASOLAR EVENT", with the only means of determining that a transient event had even occurred was through the detection of a 0.3 second displacement of gravity waves, as well as anomalous interactions in the local Higgs field traced to sterile neutrino scattering. An AI observing the event, the Warmind Rasputin, was able to derive some information, based solely on the phenomena that it could detect, but was unable to ascertain its mechanism. Rasputin conducted an "Omnibus analysis" of the event's effects on local spacetime, measuring a wide range of data points including direction, distance, range, speed and size as well as a comprehensive pattern analysis of the event itself. This last set of data showed, to a certainty of "9 Sigma", a definite and measurable pattern which had a complex, almost linguistic, structure that demonstrated both intelligence and intent.
In an attempt to better understand the phenomenon by recreating all of its known variables (also known as a "bootstrap simulation"), Rasputin reran the data through a series of iterations which included a number of randomized inputs, in a process known as a Monte Carlo analysis. Despite this, it was unable to derive any definitive information about the event or its source; however, it was able to determine that whatever was behind the event was clearly a complex structure, acting with clear purpose. Rasputin concluded that the source of the event not only failed to conform to any known phenomena in the Standard Model of particle physics (thus labeling it "acausal"), it was also directed, acting with anger, and almost certain to reach the solar system in a short amount of time. As a result, the previously issued Skyshock alert was upgraded to OCP:EXTINCTION, and a number of defensive protocols were added. The Darkness nonetheless swept through the Solar System, devastating human civilization in an event called the Collapse. Only due to the Traveler's intervention did humanity survive. Seven centuries later, the Darkness was set to return.
Events of Destiny
Centuries after the Collapse, a lone Guardian encountered the Exo Stranger on Venus, and was subsequently sent on a quest to find the Black Garden. After battling through the Sol Divisive Vex and reaching the center of the Garden, the Guardian discovered an entity, the Black Heart, that the Vex seemed to revere as an object of worship. The entity could not attack the Guardian directly, but attempted to defend itself by taking control of the Sol Progeny, three enormous Vex Minotaurs. After a protracted battle, the Black Heart was apparently destroyed along with its three Sol Progeny vessels. Upon the defeat of the Black Heart, the Black Garden was relocated to Mars from its prior location, and Light began to return to the dormant and damaged Traveler.
Following the battle in the Black Garden, Ikora Rey hypothesized that the Black Heart had been an aspect of the Darkness itself.
Events of Destiny 2
After the death of Dominus Ghaul and restoration of the Light, a fleet of Darkness pyramid ships activated in response and started moving en masse toward the Milky Way. The shape of these ships bore a resemblance to the black tetrahedrons featured in the vision the Guardian experienced upon losing their Light, as well as the triangular shadow used to represent the Darkness in the opening cinematic.
Curse of Osiris
The Scorn, a faction of undead Fallen first encountered by the Guardians in a mass breakout from the Prison of Elders, were created through the use of Darkness-tainted Ether by Fikrul, the Fanatic. This "Dark Ether" was first generated when Riven drew upon Uldren Sov's internal Darkness and infused it into Ether, bringing Fikrul back from death.
The Nature of the Darkness
Because so few survived the Collapse, the exact nature of the Darkness is unclear. Several theories as to what it is have been proposed by various scholars among the Guardians and other people of the City.
- Pujari claimed that the Darkness is both a physical and moral presence, evil made tangible. It was a storm of corruption emerging from the Golden Age.
- Saint-14 argued that the Darkness was an invading armada of aliens. Some suggest that these aliens had been previously rejected by the Traveler for their sins.
- Ulan-Tan suggests that the Darkness is the necessary symmetry to the Traveler as part of a cosmic balance.
- The Monists believe the Darkness is a technologically superior force, to the point of post-singularity, and that the universe is just a simulation. Such an advanced intelligence could mimic acausality by bending the rules of the universe's programming.
- The Acataleptic Clause, and the Praxic Warlocks, believe that not only is the Darkness unknowable, but that people shouldn't bother trying to understand it and instead simply fight it.
- A heretical position from the Binary Star Cult states that the Traveler itself triggered the collapse, and used humanity as a sacrifice/proxy army in its war against the Darkness.
Toland, the Shattered understands the Darkness as the natural evolutionary endpoint of the entire universe. Since the beginning of time, everything has been in competition with everything else for no reason, other than that is the way of the universe: the law of the jungle. As atoms came into being, they defeated the "primordial broth" that preceded it. From atoms came stars, from stars came galaxies, worlds were created, and finally life arose, all due to the eternal competition.
Toland envisions a future where three archetypal "nations" compete with other: the first represents the perfect rule of law, the second represents knowledge made paramount, and the third represents sheer, total conquest. The third nation will succeed, inevitably, and in time will lead to a greater conflict between other nations which all represent the desire to conquer and dominate. The universe thus becomes a place where only the most ruthless entities succeed, to the point where they actively hunt and exterminate other life long before it can ever be a true threat. Finally, at the end of time there will be only one entity that rules the universe so absolutely that nothing will ever exist except by its consent, so it will rule forever. In essence, Toland asserts that this incontestable supremacy is the goal or driving force of the Darkness.
An alternative way of life, where law and knowledge and might worked together rather than competed, as in the case of humanity and the City, is little more than "the dream of small minds", and is unlikely to succeed against an entity of pure conquest.
Dreams of Alpha Lupi
The Dreams of Alpha Lupi poem contains a verse related to the Darkness, and possibly representative of the Darkness's own perspective. The verse explains that the universe, despite its vastness, is beholden to simple, enduring laws that shape it and give one the impression that it is inexhaustible and eternal. Life is an affront to the universe because it refuses to accept the limitations imposed on it by the natural order.
Ghost Fragment: Darkness 4 contains an excerpt of unknown origin, addressing an unknown recipient.
Its opening line: "This war is all there is for you." is also a line of dialog, spoken by Future War Cult representative Lakshmi-2, in which she asks the player what they would do if, "on some dreadful night, the Darkness were to come creeping up" and whisper the aforementioned statement to them. This would suggest that the excerpt in Ghost Fragment: Darkness 4 is the full text of that opening statement, indicating that the Darkness is addressing a Guardian, attempting to entice them into turning away from the Light, or at least plant the seeds of doubt. 
The Books of Sorrow
- "Out in the world we ask a simple, true question. A question like, can I kill you, can I rip your world apart? Tell me the truth. For if I don’t ask, someone will ask it of me. And they call us evil. Evil! Evil means ‘socially maladaptive.’ We are adaptiveness itself."
- —The Darkness
Following the arrival of Oryx, the Taken King in the Sol System, records were discovered aboard Oryx's Dreadnaught that provide new insight into the Darkness' history and nature. These records suggest that the Darkness is a manifestation or embodiment of the universal struggle for existence: whereas the Traveler seeks to nurture civilization by encouraging peace and mutual cooperation, the Darkness is dedicated to the annihilation of all beings and civilizations who do not possess the strength to survive in the face of conquest. Its eventual goal is to bring about a universe inhabited solely by those entities who have survived by defeating all opposition. To this end, it has destroyed countless planets and civilizations, either through direct action or through its disciples, such as the Hive. 
On one occasion, Oryx went deep into the Ascendant realm using the Tablets of Ruin and prepared an unborn Ogre, which he used as a vessel to summon and communicate with the Darkness, saying "I can see you in the sky. You are the waves, which are battles, and the battles are the waves. Come into this vessel I have prepared for you." It is here that the Darkness explained to Oryx how it viewed existence and how the universe functioned.
Aside from its philosophical/metaphysical characteristics, the Darkness and associated entities such as the Taken and the Dreadnaught are known to emit conventionally detectable particles and phenomena such as sterile neutrinos, axions, phaetons, and gravity waves, all of which are hypothetical particles or phenomena associated with dark matter. However, no direct connection between dark matter and the Darkness has been drawn.
- "The stars have gone out. The universe blackened: a shroud of nothingness drawn over Yang Liwei, its forty thousand sleeping passengers, its nine hundred crew, and maybe even the whole solar system. There is no way to know, because there is no way to see anything beyond the hull. The vacuum itself has become hostile to the propagation of light. Darkness surrounds them."
- —Mara Sov, Cosmogyre III
Based upon matching descriptions from Emperor Calus, the Hive, Cayde-6, and Awoken records, the Darkness seems to have the ability to project some sort of force or cloak that conceals it, and gives the impression of complete darkness surrounding an individual. Calus wrote that upon encountering the Darkness, it appeared as a complete void to him, while the Awoken reported being surrounded by a force that "made the stars go out."
Abilities & Physical Nature
- "Another wave tears through Yang Liwei. Everything in the ship simultaneously compresses and stretches as the gravity wave deforms the space-time metric. "Is it the phantom?" Li demands, as her ship thrums subsonically. "Is that phantom ship emitting these waves?""
- —Alis Li, Cosmogyre III
By Destiny 2, many depictions and allusions to the Darkness now represent it as fleet of black pyramids, or a single massive black pyramid surrounded by many smaller versions of itself. Motes of Darkness similarly appear as black tetrahedrons.
During the Collapse, the human colonists who would become the Awoken detected that they were being followed by a "phantom ship" that exposed them to gravitational waves and emitted sterile neutrinos, axions, and phaetons. Pyramids can also be seen in the vision that the Traveler sent to the the Guardian, and also in the cutscene that showed the Traveler being attacked on Io. Cayde and the Awoken reported that the Darkness has the ability to enshroud beings in some sort of force or lock that disrupts the very fabric of their being, and both parties reported it as pulling at their very form with some sort of dark tendrils or projection.
As a result, it appears that the Darkness may possess a physical form, and the "Deep" that the Hive have come to know may be the Darkness field it has been reported to produce. Oryx also reported directly communing with the Deep, so there is potentially some form of arch or head entity that either leads or speaks for the Darkness. Alternatively, the pyramidal objects associated with the Darkness may be entities analogous to the Traveler, which is a representative of the Light but not the source of Light itself.
The Drifter also encountered mysterious entities on an unknown, distant ice world that were trapped in alien monoliths. These beings had a disturbing ability to kill Ghosts from just being near them, and to silence Light itself. The beings were everywhere on the world, and were described as having a "Darkness field."
There are a handful of Guardians who fell into the darkness, notably Dredgen Yor. Yor came to desire taking innocent lives and sowing despair, claiming he had developed a hunger for it. Toland, the Shattered claimed to be able to communicate with the Darkness, whereas Eris Morn was able to survive and escape the Hellmouth wielding the very power she fought against. Eris had one time even used the power of Darkness to rescue the Guardian from being trapped in the Oversoul Throne. As noted above, it would appear that the Darkness attempts to turn Guardians away from the Light. One example is when Pujari had his vision of the Black Garden; the vision made him doubt the righteousness of the Guardians when the vision told him, "You are a dead thing made by a dead power in the shape of the dead. All you will ever do is kill. You do not belong here. This is a place of life." This hearkens back to Ghost Fragment: Darkness 4, where the Darkness calls Guardians "a dead husk" animated by "an ancient corpse," referring to the "dead" Traveler.
According to Fallen Lore, their civilization was destroyed when the Great Machine left them and the Whirlwind tore the sky. The Great Machine and Whirlwind are the Traveler and Darkness respectively, making the Fallen one of the races to survive the Darkness's devastation, and confirming Saint-14's hypothesis as partially true. A reclaimed (though corrupted) Fallen story mentions that the Fallen respect what they cannot steal from, which is "why the dark is worthy of love beyond all other love that astonishing ability to evade being robbed". When The Consul refers to the Traveler as "this great machine", this provides confirmation that the Fallen were indeed referencing the Traveler, as the Consul notes "I believe other civilizations would be more precise in their naming", perhaps a deliberate reference to the Fallen.
The Hive clearly derive their power from the Darkness, and feed on and hate the Light. The Hive religion, based around the 'Sword-Logic', closely matches Toland's theory above. The Hive made a pact with their highest gods, the Worms, who grant the powers of Darkness to the Hive. They worship the Darkness as a force of destruction, and their worship has taken the form of chronicling every planet they have seen the Darkness destroy, a massive archive known as "the World's Grave" found deep within the Hellmouth. The Hive religion has a pantheon of other gods, but one in particular, Oryx, is of significant importance. Oryx commands both the Hive and his own personal army, the Taken, by using the power of the Darkness (see below). This power he stole from his patron deity, the worm Akka, so that he could access the Darkness directly like the Worms could. Osiris prophesied that should the Spawn of Crota succeed in snuffing out the worlds of Light, Oryx's coming would be unfettered, reminiscent of the Darkness's predicted arrival.
The Vex worship the Black Heart, described by Ikora Rey as part of a greater power, presumably the Darkness. The Monist's theory about the Darkness matches the Vex's goal of programming themselves into the fabric of the universe. Osiris theorized that some Vex technology is tuned to react to the presence of the Darkness.
According to Osiris, the Vex's goal of Convergence would result in a universe where neither Darkness nor Light existed any longer. This suggests that the Vex do not revere the Darkness as a whole, or that they view the worship of the Darkness as a means to the end of eventually eliminating it.
According to a dead Ghost, the Cabal are secretly running away from a terrible power following them, presumably the Darkness.
The Cabal had some texts on their athenaeum worlds that theorized about the Darkness, with the little concrete information the texts contained about the Darkness having been recorded from the "dreams of worms". 
Evocate-General Umun'arath, Primus of All Legions, once said in reference to Cabal civilization and culture that "The war is all there is. All this is just logistical support." This echoes the above-mentioned phrase used by the Darkness and Future War Cult.
During his exile, the former emperor Calus sought the means to defeat his usurper Ghaul by exploring the secret places of the galaxy and pushing the limits of reason. He eventually crossed paths with a perfect void, most likely the Darkness itself, and resolved to become its herald. He would watch it consume the light of the universe, and all among the last of the living would know his greatness. Calus also knows of the pact that Oryx made with the Worms, comparing it to Ghaul's takeover of the legions. Calus' strange powers and his claims of "knowing the truth" about the galaxy and his mockery of the Guardians' "feeble light" implies that he may have some knowledge of the inner workings of the Darkness.
Awoken & Jovians
The Awoken were once humans, but were transformed during the Collapse upon reaching the edge of the asteroid belt. Beyond the belt, "the edge of the Deep Black", the system is totally immersed in Darkness. The events of their transformation were further detailed in the Lore book "Marasenna", which reveals that the Awoken were captured in a kugelblitz formed by the Darkness and Light battling one another in the vicinity of the Yang Liwei. As a result of this event, the Awoken were reborn as beings containing both Light and Darkness within themselves.
Likewise, the Jovians, particularly people such as Xûr, were once humans but were more heavily transformed than the Awoken by the Collapse. Legends do not offer a concrete explanation but imply that they were shaped by the Darkness.; its safe to assume the same happened to the Awoken, but to a lesser extent, due to their proximity. Though they are willing to aid humanity through Xûr, the Light is a foreign concept to Jovians and causes them pain.
Through Oryx, the Darkness can take direct possession of the other races, thus creating the Taken. When a being is Taken, they are sent to another plane of existence, where they are robbed of their free will and brainwashed by the Darkness into abandoning their former selves. They are convinced that being Taken has "liberated" them from their fears and grants them new powers. The ability to create Taken was derived from the Worm God Akka, but Oryx killed him and stole as much knowledge as he could. Reports from the Ecumene fighting Taken described them of having abilities that are "physically illegal," meaning their very existence broke all known laws of physics.
- The Darkness bears resemblance to the Armies of the Dark and its leader in Bungie's Myth series—a resurgent dark force that is the antithesis to the (forces of) Light.
- The idea of the Darkness arising from a primordial universe bears resemblance to the origins of the W'rkncacnter from Bungie's Marathon series.
- In the Standard Deviation model of statistical analysis, a value of 8σ represents a probability of approximately 99.999999999999%, which means that a 9σ value represents a certainty so close to absolute (100%) as to be statistically insignificant from it.
- The Darkness being flagged as Acausal indicates that it has no cause-effect relationship. The simplest explanation is that the event heralding its arrival had no known mechanism from which to derive said cause and effect. It is also possible that it may be acting on an effect-then-cause relationship, or that it is being directed by future inputs. The Taken are likewise described as Acausal.
- Sterile neutrinos are hypothetical particles (leptons) which do not interact via any of the Standard Model interactions (strong force, weak force, etc.) except for gravity. They are believed to be responsible for a number of unexplained astrophysical phenomena, including dark matter and dark radiation, neither of which are currently detectable through any portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, except for gravity.
- Axions are hypothetical elementary particles, initially proposed as a solution for the strong CP problem in particle physics, that may be a component of "cold" dark matter.
- Phaetons, better known as dark photons, are hypothetical particles proposed to be the electromagnetic force carrier for particles of dark matter the way regular photons serve as force carriers for conventional electromagnetism.
- Gravity waves are generated when an object or event interacts with the curvature of spacetime in such a manner as to create changes in that curvature, which then ripple outward away from the event at the speed of light (or 186,000 miles per second) in a wave-like manner. In reference to the ISR report, the event which triggered the SKYSHOCK alert lasted 0.3 seconds, which suggests that whatever displaced local spacetime during the event measures some 55,800 miles in diameter (assuming a spherical shape), making it almost twice the size of the planet Uranus (31,518 miles) and a little over three-fourths the size of Saturn (72,367 miles).
List of appearances
- Destiny (First mentioned)
- The Taken King (Mentioned only)
- Destiny 2 (First appearance)
The Darkness activating in response to the Traveler's awakening.
The Darkness consuming a human.
Disturbing concept art of a human drowning in Darkness.
A Ghost drowning in Darkness.
- ^ https://www.ishtar-collective.net/entries/sleepless
- ^ https://www.ishtar-collective.net/entries/cosmogyre-iii#book-marasenna
- ^ a b c d Gameinformer: A Player's Journey
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- ^ Cabal Booklet
- ^ It Stared Back Lore
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- ^ https://www.ishtar-collective.net/entries/sleepless