Today marks the beginning of Season of the Haunted, a new chapter in the ongoing story of Destiny 2. New players and veteran Guardians alike are heeding the call as a returning threat has suddenly emerged in our galaxy. It is in this new Season that we find references to tragic conspiracies, relatable familial strife, and the unwavering desire—no, the need—to party like it’s the end of the universe.
These references are all chapters in a story that began long before our Guardians and will hopefully survive long after their Light fades away. As we discover characters, locations, and items, new parts of that story click into place like space-magic puzzle pieces. And wouldn’t you know, there’s someone at Bungie dedicated to solving puzzles.
We sat down to discuss some of the elements present in Season of the Haunted, where this tale began, and how the rift that formed long ago between an iconic emperor and his daughter brought the ghosts of the past to humanity’s doorstep.
Without further ado, I present Bungie’s Destiny historian, Ashley Flanagan.
Legendary Lore: An Emperor Adrift
Richard Barrick: Thank you so much for spending this time with us today. Let’s start off with who you are and how you got here.
Ashley Flanagan: My name’s Ash. I’m Bungie’s Destiny historian. This is not the first time I’ve been a historian of sorts, although not always for video games. I have a masters in Roman history and I used to teach that as an adjunct professor for a couple years—which is super relevant to the Cabal stuff we’re going to talk about today. I got into games about ten years ago when some friends of mine started working on an indie video game and asked me if I wanted to do some writing for it.
Having a background in real-world history feels relevant to that because I’m pretty good at sifting through information and identifying what’s a reliable source. An unusual thing about Destiny is that a lot of our lore is filtered through characters who can be unreliable narrators—I mean, are you going to take what Savathûn says at face value?
Well, it sounds like you’re the perfect person to talk to about Season of the Haunted—there are two elements to the Season that become much cooler when you know more about them, Calus and his massive planet-devouring ship, the Leviathan. Let’s start with Calus; who is he?
Calus is the former emperor of the Cabal. Most of the Cabal players run into are in the military, so it’s easy to think of all of Cabal culture as being super militaristic. But Calus is different in that he’s a bit of a hedonist. He thinks that the military is a means to an end, and that end is having a good time all the time. Everyone else can have a good time too (as long as they don’t get in his way). Because of this, by most accounts Calus was a pretty popular emperor.
But this also led to him making enemies in the military. His reign came to an end when Caiatl (his daughter) and a bunch of his closest confidants conspired to depose him in an event known as the Midnight Coup.
To hear Calus tell it, their one big mistake was that he was too popular to kill. So, the solution they came up with was to put him on a ship, disable the navigation system, and send it into the depths of space.
So, Calus was exiled and drifted through the stars on the Leviathan until one day when he looked out into the void and had a profound experience w