Poisoned Light: How Hunters Created Their Venom
Guardians wield light through three elemental forces: Solar, Void and Arc, representing nuclear, gravitational, and electromagnetic respectively. Supers, melee abilities and grenades center on utilizing these forces. These elements are also used in weapons, enhancing the kinetic damage. With fusion rifles, the elements themselves are used as the charge.
What comes with this empowerment is additional damage via burn. Anyone who’s agonized over loadouts for a raid or nightfall is familiar with the benefits of burn. But there’s one unique burn that’s seemingly uninspired by the Light: poison.
In facing a world without Light, it’s important to understand what additional tools are in our belts.
One of these is poison, and we have no idea where this was introduced into our toolbelt. Well, we’re here to find out. Because the ingenuity of Guardians will become increasingly important as we head into the dangerous warzone of Destiny 2.
The first known item to include poison was an unreleased pair of exotic Hunter gauntlets known as Ikeheka’s Hooks.
Ah, no matter; the wound is not so deep
Its exotic perk:
Touch of Venom: Hitting an enemy with a melee attack while invisible deals additional damage over time.
This is thought to have become a separate pair of exotic Hunter gauntlets we see in the final game, Khepri’s Sting.
The wound is not deep, but you know it exists—and that is enough.
Its exotic perk:
Touch of Venom: Gain invisibility after crouching in place for a short time. Melee attacking an enemy from being while invisible delivers 4x damage
This gauntlet’s evolution from conception to actual release was likely just the result of Bungie tweaking it for balance within the Crucible. It’s never been particularly useful in The Crucible, but it is extremely fun to roleplay as an assassin, delivering single hit kills from behind. Notice that Khepri’s Sting—while nominally keeping the “Touch of Venom” perk, doesn’t actually deliver poison burn. But the name does mean that what’s delivering that 4x damage is poison. In fact, the effects extend to the Gunslinger’s throwing knives. If the wielder is invisible when the knife hits its target, it delivers an instant kill. Unfortunately, throwing the knife ends invisibility, meaning you’d have to pick a target across the map, throw and enter invisibility in time for the knife to hit them. Nonetheless, the force that allows that amplified damage is poison.
But what kind of poison? It’s a bit out of place with the sci-fi tone of Destiny to imagine Guardians gathering poisonous bugs or plants to create this. Well, Whatevs-4 postulates that Guardians are using radioactive poison: weak nuclear force. Interestingly enough, this means that it’s entirely possible that the Traveller is empowering this poison.
You see, the “Solar” abilities aren’t just fire. Destiny makes it clear repeatedly in both the story and grimoire that both visually and literally that Solar abilities are based on strong nuclear force. The same power that burns in the Sun—thus the name Solar—is burning in the Hammer of Sol.
The Traveler empowers Guardians to use nuclear force. But we also need to understand that the Traveler isn’t actively creating Golden Guns, Hammers of Sol, or Fire Nades for Guardians. These manifestations are the result of disciplines that Guardians have developed. We’re create these tools by drawing on the Light, depleting it, and recharging through our connection through the Traveler. Our armor is infused with Light, and better armor specs recharge different abilities faster.
So what makes Hunters so adept at handling poison? A Hunter’s discipline is one of a scavenger, trap layer and, well, one who hunts. Something like poison naturally fits into their expertise. Of all Guardians, they’re the most naturally disposed to desire such power. Recall Khepri’s Sting, and examine its use: a strike from behind while invisible. This fits the modus operendi of a Hunter.
A Guardian by the name of Kephri created or used this power against his enemies, with staggering effectiveness. We remember his sting, and his mastery over this power. But think of Bungie’s mindset in creating this. They created a consistent universe for this to exist in. The first iteration of this tool was under the name “Ikeheka’s Hook.” Ikehekas’ non-canonical armor reflected their consistent origin for it. For us to understand his role in this, we’ll have to find a canonical example of his existence.
We find this in the Venom of Ikeheka, a Hunter Cloak sold by The Speaker.
The sigil of the snake, said to represent the fluid lethality of a true hunter
Its perks are traditional class armor fare: primary weapon focus, secondary weapon focus and increased Vanguard reputation gains.
The description of the cloak is succinct and accurate: the cloak features a sigil of a snake, looped twice, facing upwards. Snakes are associated with a venom, thus the name. The creator of such a cloak did so inspired by Ikeheka and his own mastery of poison—although the possibility that the cloak was worn by the Hunter himself. Additionally, the Speaker sells cloaks associated with past factions and groups, a grouping that this cloak was included in. Two more possibilities arise. This symbol may have been Ikehekas, or else the symbol of a guild/faction he was an influential member in. Remember that this same mastery over poison is shared by fellow Hunter, Khepri, in his creation of Khepri’s Sting.
Subclasses and their powers are the fruit of disciplines developed by Guardian cardres. The Gunslinger Hunters, Sunbreaker Titans and the Voidwalker Warlocks. The Voidwalker discipline, in particular, was developed by Toland the Shattered, who was exiled shortly thereafter. His own mastery of the Void via The Light came hand in hand with his understanding of The Darkness. A subclass, therefore, is not a distinction ordained by The Traveller.
In this regard, the mastery of poison by the Hunters falls in line with our understanding of these cadres. Khepri and Ikeheka were Hunters who came to master radioactive poison via the Light, either independently or within a group. This mastery never gained the same traction as other disciplines that became factions, but their work came to adopted among a few Hunters in the form of armor.
Even if these two characters and their lore are never expanded on in future Destiny installments, they provide an interesting insight into the breadth of utility that can mastered through the Light.