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The Taken are Darkness-corrupted entities originating from multiple species that have been warped into the Ascendant Plane and paracausally altered to serve their given purpose. Once used by Oryx, the Taken King as his personal army, they have more recently been utilized by other powerful Darkness-aligned entities in the wake of Oryx's defeat, including Savathûn, the Witch Queen; Quria, Blade Transform; Xivu Arath, God of War; and the Taken Ahamkara, Riven. The Drifter, a rogue human Lightbearer known for experimenting with the Darkness, has also managed to achieve a level of temporary control over the Taken, while the Nine can create their own counterfeit Taken out of dark matter and sheer will.
The power to create Taken is granted by the Darkness itself, and is bestowed only to its most formidable servants. The process of Taking involves summoning a portal or aperture that rips an individual out of the universe and transports them to an unknown location within the Ascendant Plane. There, the Taken-possessed victim is met by the will of whomever Took them, who offers them a way to overcome their former weaknesses. The Taken being then returns to their original universe with new paracausal abilities and a compulsion to serve the one that Took them.
Taken versions of enemies have radically different behaviors from their standard counterparts, including new abilities designed to counter Guardian abilities. Groups of Taken can be mixed with members of different species, and can appear on Earth, Venus, Mars, Dreadnaught and Io in most activities; on the Moon, in select Destiny Story missions and certain Patrol activites in both Destiny and Destiny 2.
The Ancient Past
In the distant past, the Hive god Auryx sought to obtain the power to Take in order to help him defeat the Ecumene. He killed his two sisters to gain an audience with Akka, the Worm god of Secrets, whom he then slew in turn. Auryx stole the secrets from its flesh and wrote them upon a set of tablets he named the Tablets of Ruin. After speaking to the Deep directly, he returned, mantled as Oryx, the Taken King.
With this new power Oryx waged war upon the Ecumene and defeated them utterly over a period of one thousand, one hundred and forty years, in the process conjuring back his two sisters in the same way he had killed them.
During the Golden Amputation Oryx Took the Emperor Raven and assured the defeat of the Taishibethi When the Vex invaded his Throne world Oryx Took and turned them against one another, eventually expelling the cybernetic machines from his domain. Later, aboard the Nicha Thought-ship Oryx encountered and Took Quria, Blade Transform, the Vex mind which had orchestrated the organized invasion of his Throne, and later gifted it to his sister Savathûn as a present.
The Taken War
Main article: Taken War
The Taken War was a major, system-wide conflict fought between the Hive, led by Oryx, and all other races in the system. The war began as a direct result of the Guardians slaying Oryx's son Crota, to stop an attempted invasion of Earth. Oryx brought his fleet to Saturn and made free use of the power to Take in his assault on the Solar System. He Took Fallen, Vex, and Cabal in enormous numbers, besides his own Hive and began blighting the system with his Taken forces. When he unleashed his Dreadnaught's superweapon against Queen Mara Sov's fleet, he also Took the Techeuns Sedia, Kalli, and Shuro Chi, and through them was able to spread his Taken forces into the Dreaming City, where he Took the Ahamkara Riven.
The Taken Prince
With Oryx's defeat, his surviving Taken were released from his control and rendered independent but directionless. Oryx was assumed to be the only known entity to date to have possessed the power to Take, but following the Taken War, others such as Malok, Pride of Oryx developed the ability to manipulate Taken and their blights. In particular, with assistance from the Techeuns and Variks, the Reef was able to capture a large number of Taken within their Prison of Elders and developed a reliable method for infusing Taken energy into their arms and armor.
Two years later, during the events of the Red War, the Taken invaded the European Dead Zone and corrupted a forest outside of the Traveler's shard. Certain Taken had also mutated physically, developing two large, curving spikes on their backs. A Red Legion commander was also somehow converted into a Taken, even though Oryx had been defeated prior to the invasion. Ikora commented that these Taken were no longer leaderless, but had to be acting under a new higher power.
At some point, Red Legion Psions used their psionic powers to successfully harness and infuse Taken energy into themselves and their superiors, empowering them with Taken-powered weapons and shielding. However, this effort was stopped by The Guardian.
On Io, it was discovered by Ikora and Asher Mir, that the Taken had established a foothold on Echo Mesa after being drawn there by remnants of the Traveler's Light. They had even attempted to open a portal into the Ascendant realm, but the Guardian intervened and closed said portal.
The Taken would launch a major offensive by polluting the water supply at the EDZ through the use of Blights. However, this attempt was foiled by the Guardians who managed to destroy the Blights and slay the Taken in command of the infestation, Grask, the Consumed, a recently-Taken Red Legion commander. With confirmation that someone is assumed control over the Taken in Oryx's place, the Guardians and the Vanguard begin to suspect one of Oryx's sisters.
Meanwhile, back on Io, the Taken began to appear in greater numbers and were noted to have "interacted" with the Vex. The Guardians discovered that Taken affiliated with Quria have been kidnapping local Vex in Blights to corrupt them as Taken and form a new army after their many losses in the Taken War. Quria would summon Ir Arok, Tongue of Quria to accomplish this plan, but would be foiled by The Guardian, in which they killed Elatiox and Erosus, Ir Arok's lieutenants, and dismantle the Taken's plans of corrupting the Vex. Ir Arok would then lead an assault into the Pyramidion with the intent to capture the Vex collective like Oryx before, but would be destroyed by The Guardian, and though a large number of Vex had become corrupted, their efforts prevented the Taken from corrupting the Vex collective once more.
The Drifter, a rogue Light-bearer, managed to jury-rig his Ghost with parts salvaged from the Ghosts of his former crew, allowing it access to paracausal spectra beyond that of the Light, including the Darkness-aligned powers of the Taken. With it, the Drifter is able to create Motes of Darkness and employed them as part of a game called "Gambit", pitting Guardians against their enemies and each other in a bid to harvest these Motes for himself. Gambit would even give Guardians the experience of being Taken as "Invaders" through portals infused with sterile neutrinos. He is eventually gifted a subspace of Unknown Space from the Nine which he dubbed The Haul, where he caged the leftover Taken from Oryx's army whilst building his own. Among these Taken summoned during these Gambit matches are exceptionally powerful and ancient Taken known as Primevals, which he can summon using Motes of Darkness.
In the years following the Taken War, the Dreaming City was infested by leftover Taken and their blights undisturbed until Oryx's sister reached out towards the Taken Riven and gave her a new purpose. Now able to exert her influence from beyond her prison, Riven manipulated the partially Taken Uldren Sov into unleashing an agent of hers from the City, which the Guardian quickly killed. Petra Venj, investigating the source of Uldren's corruption and the Taken within the city, surmised Riven as the cause after having made contact with Queen Mara Sov at the Oracle Engine. At the Queen's behest, Petra enlisted the support from the Vanguard to have Riven killed and her heart cleansed of her Taken essence.
A Guardian Raid team was quickly formed and breached their way into the corrupted Keep of Voices, where they freed the Techeuns Kalli and Shuro Chi from their Taken corruption. While the Taken Riven baited the Guardians into killing her, they inadvertently made a single collective wish, allowing Riven to alter the rules of ascendancy within the Dreaming City according to Toland. In ending the Ahamkara, Riven's wish cursed the realm; warping it in-between physical reality and the Ascendant Plane while Taken energies having saturated and engulfed huge portions of the city.
As the curse continued to blight the Dreaming City for three weeks, Petra was able to identify the true source of the city's Taken curse: Dûl Incaru, a daughter of the Witch-Queen and the mastermind behind her mother's scheme to access the Distributary using the Awoken secrets found within the City, commanding the curse from Mara's desecrated throne-world of Eleusinia. Upon the third week of the curse, the Guardians charged the dimensional rift generator of the Blind Well and opened a rift into Eleusinia, where they could confront the Witch and her Fatesmith bodyguards.
However, upon the death of Dûl Incaru, the Eternal Return, the Dreaming city reverted back to the state it was in when the curse was first unleashed. The curse then spread in the same manner it had previously, with it being revealed that the curse trapped the Dreaming City within a time loop that resets whenever Dûl Incaru is killed. Through messages left by an unknown sender, it is revealed that the loop was made possible through the wish Riven granted upon her "death", and modeled upon Vex simulations overseen by Quria, Blade Transform.
After the Drifter unveiled Gambit Prime and The Reckoning to the Guardians, the Praxic Warlock Aunor Mahal determined that he had obtained the ability to create "counterfeit" Taken Primevals by coupling his banks to the "haul" gifted to him by the Nine. Among these entities are the Likeness of Nokris, Likeness of Oryx, Counterfeit Servitors, Counterfeit Phalanxes and Counterfeit Hydras.
Undeterred by the fall of the Hidden Swarm and the Guardians hunting Nightmares on Luna—Savathûn unleashed a Taken army lead by Baurisk, Envoy of Savathûn upon a massive Vex computational array on Io, with the goal of corrupting and assuming control over the supercomputer. However, the Vanguard detected a power surge beneath the Pyramidion where the array is located and sent in a fireteam to investigate. The Guardians soon discovered the feud between the Vex and Taken as they fought for control over the array, and promptly made it their mission to prevent the Taken from assuming command over machine—refusing to give the Witch-Queen another advantage.
Fighting past the array's Vex defenders and the invading Taken, the Guardians made it the center of the array where the Taken infestation was anchored in order to remove the blight. There, the Guardians confronted Baurisk, Envoy of Savathûn; slaying the Taken Incendior and clearing the array of blights, leaving to allow the Vex to finish off any lingering Taken.
Following the destruction of the Almighty, the Vanguard would confirm the arrival of the Darkness itself, with the Pyramids touching down on worlds all around the Solar System, even disabling Rasputin in the process. With their arrival, Eris Morn would attempt to meet the Pyramids on Io to learn of their intent. However, Nokris, Supplicant to Savathûn ambushed Eris with the Taken and one of Savathûn's Witness Shriekers to shroud the Cradle with the Witch-Queen's influence. The Guardian, who was ordered to follow her by Zavala, would attempt to save Eris only to be pulled into Savathûn's court, where they would be overwhelmed by Witness Shriekers until Eris rescued them from the Ascendant Plane. After pulling through her injuries, Eris and the Guardian would discover a tree of Silver Wings and harness the seed within its roots. After a heated meeting with Zavala, Eris enacts a plan to harvest the darkness from the Pyramid Scales for the seed with the help of the Drifter and help to clear up the messages with the destruction of the Witnesses corrupting them. Detecting the ploy, Savathûn would deploy her servant, Quria, Blade Transform, and its army to sabotage these darkness harvesting operations to prevent the Guardians from learning of the Darkness' messages to them.
Meanwhile, the Drifter would devise a plan to delve into the Nine's realm and meet with them once again to ask the question, "what is the Darkness?" With the help of the Guardian and Eris Morn, the Drifter's plan would then be set in motion. The Guardian would venture into a strange and paracausal portion of their realm, asked to venture deep into the bowels of this realm by the Emissary, eventually meeting with a visage of a Taken Kell and its simulated dark army. After bypassing its defenses and destroying its army, the Guardian would disperse the Kell Echo and finally gets the answer on the Darkness, learning that it isn't that different from the Light, and should be utilized as a means to survival as the Guardian did with the Motes throughout the inscrutable corners of the realm.
The nature of the Taken was once described by the Ecumene as a "ontopathogenic weapon", designed to infect and subvert Oryx's enemies into his paracausal slaves with inexplicable and physically illegal abilities. According to Oryx, the Taken serve as his ultimate embodiment of the Darkness and its sword logic philosophy; the desired final shape that is free to exist without the need to insulate itself from reality. In the case of Uldren Sov, the Taken corruption manifests starting as an uncontrollable itch beneath the eyes, turning the sclera black and gradually manifesting in dark shimmering veins across his body.
Taken are composed of sterile neutrinos and resemble their former selves for the most part, but are ghost-like, shadowed and eerily glowing, with a blindingly bright orb typically obscuring their facial features. Many Taken are seen to shiver or twitch in a disturbing manner, and their vocalizations are warped into shrieks and howls. Over time, exceptionally powerful Taken have been seen to grow pairs of black, curving spikes from their bodies. However, there appears a risk for races such as taking Vex as the Vex infect everything they touch, their self-replicating subroutines could consume the Taken from the inside out.
The Taken constantly exude a substance called Blight, which resembles a black shadowy liquid or vapor, usually crackling with energy and exhibiting the same eerie luminescence as the Taken themselves. It can flow across the ground like a viscous fluid that smells of ozone, seeping into the soil and presenting a contamination hazard when it comes into contact with water supplies.
Wherever Taken have become entrenched, spherical aggregations of Blight are commonly seen; these seem to serve a variety of purposes, including shield generators, area-denial, and interdimensional communication nodes.
Taken are unwaveringly loyal to their master, and will turn on former allies without hesitation. Even strong-willed enemies such as Vex Axis Minds or Cabal commanders are incapable of resisting this change. Although new Taken can only be created through the Taking of new victims, existing Taken will remain (albeit aimless and disorganized) indefinitely if their master is killed. A sufficiently powerful being with the ability to Take can assume control of Taken previously generated by a different individual.
While all Taken are enslaved to their master's will, more powerful Taken retain a degree of independent thought and initiative, mostly at the discretion of the master themselves, to "keep them interesting." After Oryx's defeat, the Taken Knight Malok, Pride of Oryx, attempted to seize the vacant throne for himself. Whiles the likes of Quria, Blade Transform and Riven were powerful to retain independent thought. Other Taken, such as Noru'usk, Servant of Oryx, have aspirations to ascend while many, like Keksis, the Betrayed, are lost and leaderless. With the advent of the Red War, Taken activity spiked and was more coordinated. Ikora hypothesized that the Taken were no longer leaderless, with signs pointing to Savathûn being the one controlling the Taken, possibly claiming the power to Take for herself.
By using the power of the Darkness, Oryx, the Taken King is able to create a Taken projection of himself in the form of the Echo of Oryx. These Echoes allow him to enact his will remotely where he can summon and command Taken troops. Oryx's power in an area fades once a Echo is vanquished and any Taken he summoned are recalled.
The Taken enemies that appear in The Reckoning, Gambit Prime, and the Prophecy Dungeon are not actual Taken. Instead of being living creatures corrupted by Darkness, they are artificial constructs of dark matter, created from Unknown Space and its engine of pure potential, as the Nine themselves are sentient beings of dark matter. Vanguard intelligence notes that these counterfeit Taken have low counts of sterile neutrinos, typically associated with Taken, but instead have high ambient cold dark matter. This is the reason many Taken forces encountered in Nine space are all powerful echoes in imitation of Oryx and his son, in addition to a Cabal Phalanx and a Fallen Kell.
In addition, the Drifter learned to create his own counterfeit "Primeval-like" Taken from the Nine's use of pure potential; utilizing the dark matter of the Haul and through sheer force of will. One example of this is the Likeness of Oryx as it was the scariest Hive he could think of.
Primevals are a class of Taken born from the depths of the Sea of Screams rather than beings transformed from the physical reality to the Deep. They are among the oldest and most powerful Taken, hence their name. Because of their age, Primevals are extremely powerful and ancient Taken capable of mowing down an army of Cabal from the Red Legion. Even rarer are Ascendant Primevals; including one whose heart was used to craft the Blight-infused Hand cannon, Malfeasance.
They first came into prominence in Gambit, where Guardians compete in fireteams against each other to summon and kill their respective Primeval first. By the introduction of the activity, the Drifter had the power to summon Primevals from the Ascendant plane using Motes of Dark but with no means of taming them until he was gifted a pocket of Unknown Space from the Nine. With the Haul in his possession, the Drifter could cage his poached Primevals in Nine space.
Taken Lieutenants in the Court of Oryx
Taken Lieutenants in the Dreadnaught
Taken Lieutenants in Lost Sectors
Taken Lieutenants in Flashpoints
Taken Lieutenants in Quests and Adventures
List of appearances