Destiny 2

Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

destiny2 3 - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

Cabal Booklet - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

An Invitation

Our first introduction to Calus comes in the form of an invitation. If you were lucky enough to get the collector’s edition of Destiny 2 it came with, among other things, a book that served as a kind of hit list with eight names upon it: The Bodyguard: Lictor Shayotet, "the Emperor's Protector", The Scientist: Freeborn Otzot, "Psion Savant", The Celebrant: Aedile Moli Imoli, "the Everjoy", The General: Evocate-General Umun'arath, "Primus of All Legions", The Confidante: Iska'al of Fantor , My Daughter: Caiatl, "the Princess-Imperial", The Consul, and Ghaul, "The Dominus." Along with this list is an invitation from the Emperor himself for us to come and join him. Following the events of the Red War campaign we would also receive an invitation ingame via the postmaster. This began the questline for the Legend of Acrius, but it was also the narrative impetus for us to venture onto the Leviathan when it finally appeared in the skies over Nessus. Some interesting takeaways from this introduction to our beloved Emperor: he refers to us directly as “Oh Champion mine” invoking the shibboleth of the worms which was hitherto heard only in reference to the Ahamkara and the Worm Gods of the Hive.

We also get a bit of context for the OXA machine which is referenced in the Kargen strike after the boss kill. It is apparently a device that existed which allowed the scions to skry across space and potentially time. The story Calus gives about the King and the larvae is clearly a reference to the Books of Sorrow and the origins of the Hive.

Calus also curiously quotes Toland the Shattered with a line that could easily have been spoken directly by The Winnower: “nothing has ever lived that will not die.” This line is verbatim from a D1 Grimoire card “Ghost Fragment: The Hellmouth” and is also spoken in a voiced line by Toland during the subclass unlocking quest for the Warlock during the events of the Red War campaign.

Upon the death of Ghaul we go to meet with the Emperor and take his tests. First through the castellum qualification section and then to the baths where we must kill bathers and destroy censors to prevent the pools from becoming so corrupted that we cant survive. From there Calus ushers us to his pleasure gardens where we are tasked with killing warbeasts while empowered from the spores of nearby flowers. Finally we run the gauntlet and earn an audience with the man himself. Upon dealing a significant amount of damage we learn that the Calus upon whose throne we intrude is a robotic doppelganger built specifically for the test. We are rewarded for our efforts and sent home to the Tower where a certain hacked frame acts as a comms relay for the man himself whom we barter with for gear bought with coins found on the ship.

The gear we find aboard the Leviathan brings with it tales of Calus’ Shadows, an elite group of trusted warriors chosen with brutal efficiency.


Rull is a member of a species called the Clipse. There is no given description though they fight with bladed staves. Calus finds the Clipse while they are embroiled in a conflict that has hardened them into seasoned warriors. They assault the Leviathan but they are no match for the loyalists. Only Rull makes it alive to Calus and rather than killing him, Calus names him Shadow of the Clipse and tasks him with crossing a few names off his hit list. He dies at the hands of Ghaul but not before removing the stains of Iska’al and Moli Imoli.


Jarus of the Sindu was a master star pilot. Calus employed him as the helmsman of the Leviathan and as Shadow of the Sindu he was also given his own personal ship called God’s Will. His people were conquered by the Cabal and their fate at this point in our story is unknown. During his tenure as Shadow, Jarus kills Shayotet, crossing another name off Calus’ list. Jarus himself piloted his ship on a suicide mission to kill Ghaul, delivering his fellow Shadows to the Dominus’ flagship. He crashed into the ship and died on impact, though his fellow Shadows lived a bit longer to carry out the task Calus had entrusted to them.

The Fulminator:

The Fulminator is an Arkborn. Prior to the events of the Season of Opulence we had never encountered an Arkborn. They appear to be beings of sentient energy. Calus chooses her to be a Shadow and she remarks that the Leviathan is tiny by comparison to her typical domain which is apparently intersteller conduits. This is a cosmic being unfathomable to humans. There’s a small description in this sequence where Cabal reference Guardians. They refer to us as Warriors of Light and Storm Bringers. Clearly these descriptions are of stormcaller warlocks. The Fulminator’s demise comes when upon releasing her limiters in the attempt to carry out Calus’ mission she burns herself out.

Eater of Worlds Raid Gear

These lore tabs begin as a message to Ghaul. Calus reveals that he believes himself to be the last living being in the universe. He intends to move the Leviathan to its final resting place where he will witness the end of all things. He reveals a tiny bit about Ghaul’s past in his message to the Guardians that earn the gear. Ghaul was once a gladiator and a Primus before he was Dominus. He served at the right hand of Calus as Primus until the coup that left the Emperor exiled and Ghaul as sole leader. Strangely, Calus actually seems to have forgiven Ghaul. He even offers Ghaul and the Red Legion a chance to reintegrate into his loyalists. He offers Ghaul the position of Primus of the Red Legion. One has to wonder if Ghaul ever received these messages. Perhaps we killed him before the Emperor could sway him away from the Consul’s poisonous words. Maybe Ghaul did get the message but refused the offer. We’ll likely never know.

The weapons from the Raid, when read in order, tell the story of Calus’ early days with Ghaul and how he came to be the Usurper, They are as follows:

Alone as A God: Calus' address to his people as a newly crowned Emperor

Inaugural Address: Calus' first act as Emperor is to exile the Consul and sentence him to "run" through a desert wasteland

Mob Justice: Calus punishes the corrupt by stripping them of their riches and giving it to the people

ghost primus - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

Ghost Primus: Calus finds the albino Ghaul brawling in the Coliseum, impressed he appoints him Primus of the Red Legion

Conspirator: Calus has a spy follow Ghaul

Midnight Coup: Ghaul and the Consul lead a group of conspirators who exile Calus to the Leviathan and set it adrift to the farthest reaches of space. Calus is shocked to see the Consul after his own exile

it stared back - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

It Stared Back: The Leviathan comes to a stop at a seemingly infinite blackness that Calus describes as the edge of the universe. The ship is physically incapable of moving through this space. This moment changes Calus forever.

Sins of the Past: Calus declares his loyalists aboard the Leviathan the true Cabal and vows revenge against the Red Legion

Some months later, Calus invited us back to the Leviathan to deal with an issue he was having. The world-eater has consumed a portion of the partially vex-transformed Nessus and with it a massive Hydra called Argos. Argos was generating a shield that blocked up the “mouth” of the Leviathan, and while he didn’t tell us this before hand, our task was to destroy Argos and free up the Leviathan’s great maw that it might continue to devour planets and moons. We went through the underbelly to reach the Vex mind and destroyed it, nearly being consumed ourselves when the shield went down. Calus, instead of allowing us to be consumed, teleported us to the safety of his doppelganger repository where we were given new gifts. These gifts continue the story of Calus’ Shadows.

Valus Nohr

Nohr was a master tactician. She was a Phalanx under Calus’ command who helped him conquer the Clipse where Rull comes from. She lost her arm in that conflict and ultimately lost her life in Calus’ plot to assassinate Ghaul.

Feltroc the Skull-Piercer

Feltroc was a gifted markswoman. She was a Psion and had a somewhat cocky attitude. Calus enjoyed her company but refused her request that she join the Psion Council that maintains his Nightmare Realm used for punishing criminals. She got along well with Rull, her fellow Shadow. Ultimately, she was killed by neurotoxin but not before killing many Red Legion aboard Ghaul’s flagship.

Sekris, Baron of Shanks


Sekris was an Eliksni warrior old enough to remember the Whirlwind. He resented humanity for being blessed with the Traveler’s Light and he questioned every order that Calus gave. Were it not for the interference of Valus Nohr, Calus would have had him beheaded. He was a skilled mechanist and he alone worked out the secret that the Calus which interacted with the Shadows was not his true form, but one of his robotic doppelgangers. It’s unknown whether Sekris shared this secret with his fellow Shadow’s but he met his end at the hands of Ghaul so even if he did they all still took it to their graves.

A message to the contenders

Calus gifts us with a new shell for our Ghost. One that tracks the number of encounters that we complete in his series of trials aboard the Leviathan. It bears with it a note from the Emperor declaring his admiration for us and hinting once again at a job offer yet to be announced.

The Emperor begins an unhealthy and mutually beneficial obsession with us

I am Alive: Calus in response to seeing the edge of space vows to redefine his prison not as a mythological beast from the dreams of worms, but an icon for his newfound gluttony.

traitors fate - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

Traitor's Fate: In response to our defeat of Ghaul, Calus declares his love for us and promises to shower us in gifts.

zenith of your kind - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

Zenith of Your Kind: Calus becomes so enamored with our refusal to submit that he begins to become obsessed.

Last of the Legion: A Red Legion Val by the name of Ca'our steps into Ghaul's shoes and begins an uprising. He intends to conquer the system but to do that he will need arms and armor. His plan is to ransack the Leviathan to find what he needs.

the emperors envy - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

The Emperor's Envy: Val Ca'our curses Calus and declares him unworthy of his title as Emperor. He gathers followers to enact his plan to attack.

Calus calls us back to the Leviathan. Unbeknownst to us, he is being besieged by a former Val of the Red Legion. Ca’our has taken Ghaul’s place as the de facto leader and has brought a small cadre of ships to assault the world-eater in an attempt to use it to conquer the system. After a small test by Calus himself and another trip through the underbelly of the ship, we arrive just in time to see Ca’our destroy a Calus robot. The mangled husk lays inert as we set about arming the Leviathan’s weapons and destroying Ca’our’s fleet one by one. Once we take out his ships, Ca’our attempts to destroy us himself but we use the energy of the ship to empower the broken Calus robot and with its help annihilate Ca’our, bringing a swift and decisive end to the ambitious Val.

Spire of Stars raid gear:

The messages with these sets paint a picture of a very different Cabal. Calus sees the Red Legion as a pale imitation of his people. He claims they possessed a sophistication and elegance not seen in Ghaul’s Red Legion. He names many weapons and technologies known to the Cabal and notes that Ghaul has not used them, so he either doesn’t know how or has forgotten them entirely. One must wonder how long Ghaul was in power. Calus seems to have been in exile for centuries. He also claims to have come in contact with other Light-bearers in the past but none so tenacious as us. At last he makes his intentions for us known. He wishes to be the last being alive at the end of everything and he intends for there to be one ultimate Shadow of Shadows to stand at his side as the universe assumes its perfect final shape. He has been grooming us from the moment he first sent his invitation to be his Shadow of Earth and ultimately, the Shadow of Shadows.

A period of

Vanguard scouts have been monitoring the Leviathan and Calus. Referred to in reports as VIP#3801, the report indicates a growing support for the notion that Calus may be a potential ally. The scout regards Calus with suspicion and suggests that Guardians should be reeducated on the atrocities committed by the Cabal during the Red War. They even go so far as to claim that interfering in the feud between Calus and Ca’our was a mistake. Had Ca’our killed Calus, we might have been able to end the Cabal presence in the system entirely. The report ends with the scout declaring that despite regular shows of force by local Awoken corsairs, the Leviathan remains inert and non-hostile.

Meanwhile, an Awoken corsair is ferrying the exiled Cryptarch named Lavinia Umr Tawil. Her research into The Nine led her to Ahamkara and ultimately to The Awoken for answers. In a curious episode, the corsair ship detects a massive spike of Dark Matter surrounding the Leviathan. Lavinia comes to the conclusion that this is the work of The Nine and that they have some interest in Calus. Perhaps this occurrence hints at the true nature of the Emperor. Much remains uncertain.

menagerie - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.


Calus addresses his loyalists and instructs them to open the Menagerie, the space on the Leviathan that Ghaul meant for Calus to be entombed in. Calus demands that they fight and die to us and in doing so make us stronger. He intends to ready us to be his new Shadow. He sends us a message through the hacked frame Benedict 99-40 to find his barge on Nessus. There we meet another frame, Werner 99-40 who acts as our go-between for the Emperor and the gifts of the Menagerie. Along the way we begin to hear whispers of a terrible artifact that Calus brought back with him from a conquered Hive War Moon.

am i to cast a shadow - Calus: A Comprehensive Look at The Life and Lies of Our Beloved Emperor.

“Am I to cast a Shadow?”

Calus speaks to his bather warrior Gahlran. The young Cabal is only a few hours old, yet fully grown and capable of speech. He expresses fear and trepidation at the monstrous helm Calus has readied for him, but Calus’ councilors hold him steady as the Crown of Sorrow is lowered onto his head. The helmet consumes his personality and he becomes one with The Hive. Somewhere, a Witch laughs to herself.


In our time aboard the Menagerie, we find fragments of a supposedly historical document chronicling Calus’ conquests. Upon closer inspection this document contains descriptions of events yet to come. The deeper we peruse this document the more absurd its claims. It’s scribes bicker in the liner notes about whether or not the histories written are believable. It would seem Calus commissioned this document; it describes a great many frankly ridiculous events but does show some insight into the madness of Calus and the degree to which they have researched our system.


We find a journal kept by a Psion in service to Calus. This Psion names himself Match, Shadow Councilor. His journal chronicles his time aboard the Leviathan. It speaks of the great yawning chasm in spacetime that Calus found early on in is exile. How it changed his personality and gave him newfound purpose. Match tells of how the Clipse were conquered and how Rull and Nohr became Shadows. How Calus had sent them on a doomed mission to Assassinate Ghaul the Usurper, and how he had charted a course for the Sol System intending to be there at the end of all things.

Crown of Sorrow

For a final time we venture onto the Leviathan. Calus has lost control of his protégé Gahlran and we are called upon to free him from the witch's curse or die trying. By utilizing Hive magics we trade the curse back and forth amongst ourselves as we journey deep into the heart of the Leviathan. We destroy Gahlran’s deceptions and ultimately bring an end to him as the massive crown clatters to the ground. The inside is lined with Hive runes and the artifact is recovered by Calus though its whereabouts are currently unknown. With Gahlran’s destruction, Calus finally deems us worthy of the role he has so carefully prepared us for. If you have impressed the Emperor, you may find yourself wearing his title above your head. The ominous Shadow is finally cast. In celebration of your deeds you are awarded a set of armor befitting of your new role.

At the end of this long journey every name has been crossed off Calus’ list except three. Caiatl now rules the remains of the Cabal forces. Umun’arath’s fate and whereabouts are unknown. The mysterious Otzot also remains elusive, her only mention outside of the Collector’s Edition booklet being a snippet of Dialogue from our Ghost at the end of the Insight Terminus strike. What will become of Calus and the Leviathan in the coming weeks? Will his prophecy come true? Will we stand by his side as the last two beings alive in the universe as all is consumed by Darkness? We'll have to wait and see. Thank you for reading.

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