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Season of Plunder isn’t the first time Bungie has brought something swashbuckling to Destiny 2, and as it should be, the pirate-themed season has stuffed its hull with pirate-themed puns. In the first mission of the season, you recruit a pirate crew from the Forsaken expansion’s crime lord quest giver, the spider, who you can call upon in missions to help you face off against the pirate lords you’ve been dealing with Davy all along Send the season to Jones’ interstellar locker.
Early in the season, however, there was something about these alien pirates that I couldn’t stop puzzling over, and it turned out to be more irritating than a wooden leg covered in splinters. They were my crew’s names, each clearly a nod to privateer parlance. Each of the pirates you recruit is an Eliksni character, an alien race whose members tend to have names ending in sounds like “siks” or “raaks”. The crew that accompanies you on your missions consists of the venerable space sailors Flotsiks, Jetsiks, Ransiks and Halsiks.
The jokes behind some of these names are pretty obvious. Flotsiks and jetsiks are a nod to the term “flotsam and jetsam”, the spoils of a ship that has fallen overboard at sea. My immediate assumption for Ransiks was that it was a game of ‘looting’, although others I consulted suggested ‘ransom’ would more closely match the pattern established by Flotsam and Jetsam. Both are unhealthy activities that privateers have been known to engage in. It all makes sense
But then we get to Halsiks and… nothing. I racked my brains and consulted pirate friends who spend a lot of time reading history and/or playing Sea of Thieves, but nothing surfaced. I searched dictionaries for words beginning with “hal” but got stuck there too. I felt lost in fog as I struggled to solve Bungie’s mysteries of the infamous Halsiks.
Finally I had enough. During a recent interview with Destiny 2 Director Joe Blackburn and General Manager Dan McAuliffe, I jumped at the opportunity to pull the answer straight from the source. Unfortunately, Joe and Bungie’s communications director, Carlos Ascencio, were just as helpless as I was. They promised to gather the Destiny 2 writing team and come back with the solution to my annoyance. In the meantime, we’ve discussed the tone and vibe of the Lightfall expansion and its many venerable inspirations.
A message later arrived in the electronic mail; Carlos had spoken to the Destiny 2 writers. He knew the true identity of Halsiks.
As it turned out, Halsiks was hard to pinpoint because the name was not a nod to any seafaring language; it is a reference to a indeed Pirate. Halsiks is a play about Halsey, the surname of privateer John Halsey. Bungie’s writers described Halsey as a “good pirate” who operated as a privateer during the War of the Spanish Succession in the early 1700s.
In case you’re not familiar, Buccaneers were pirates working for the government – in Halsey’s case, he received a so-called “Letter of Marque” authorizing him to raid Spanish ships on behalf of the British Empire. Many famous pirates during this period got their start in the same way, engaging in legal piracy in the Atlantic as part of their governments’ war effort. And when Halsey’s letter of marque expired in 1705, like many pirates, that didn’t mean he gave up life raiding ships and stealing their cargo. Instead, he continued a life of piracy without legal sanction. Halsey spent the next few years pirating near Madagascar and in the Indian Ocean before dying in 1708 after his flotilla was devastated by a hurricane and he succumbed to a fever.
In the 1728 book A General History of the Pyrates Author Captain Charles Johnson wrote this about Halsey:
“He was brave in his own person, courteous to all his prisoners, lived loved and died regretted by his own people. His tomb was laid out in a garden of watermelons and fenced off with stockades to prevent it from being robbed by wild pigs. “
Apparently a nice guy for a Brigand, making him a good candidate for Bungie to fall back on when naming his crew. The studio also confirmed another aspect of the mystery: Ransiks is actually supposed to be a play about “looting,” though Carlos said the writing team liked the alternate take on “ransom,” too. And I personally think we should take Ransiks ransom – there’s a boss player face during the ketchcrash missions called Ransaaks, and that’s just a better take on the pun.
These are by no means the only pirate puns in Season of Plunder, although none are nearly as mysterious as Halsik’s. Besides Ransaaks there are the ketchcrash bosses Aye-I (not Aye-1, but Aye-“i”) and Skiffiksand in addition to Halsiks, you can recruit a minion called Recruit SCUR-V to your crew, along with a handful of melee fighters known as the Skiffblades. However, Halsiks stands out – it seems to be the only name that specifically refers to a real Pirate, which makes me wonder if Halsiks has a bigger role to play this season than just helping hunt down people on the bow of a ketch during our boarding promotions.
Although it wasn’t the A long journey, the adventure of uncovering the truth behind Halsiks, and the overall robber flavor of Season of Plunder makes me want more pirate lore to uncover, especially about John Halsey. I’m also hoping that we’ll find more pirate puns than just the ones we’ve seen throughout the season so far. Halsiks, Flotsiks, Jetsiks and Ransiks are quite a lot of fun, but frankly none is quite as good as Destiny 2’s ultimate pirate pun. buried treasure dungeon “Grasp of Avarice”.
Like the other puns, this one was the name of a fallen enemy, a humble but annoyingly accurate sniper squad that troubled many treasure hunters as they approached the X on the map. I am of course talking about the R-M80. Read it out loud.
As we look to the remainder of the Season of Plunder, the Destiny 2 GameSpot crew also looks to the past. September marks the fifth anniversary of Destiny 2’s release, and that makes us reflect on how the game has changed, evolved, and grown over the years. Stay tuned for lots of content celebrating Destiny 2’s anniversary and the journey we’ve all taken with it over the past five years.
In the meantime, feel free to post your best pirate puns in the comments, speculate on the future story of Season of Plunder, rant or rave about King’s Fall, or leave any interesting facts about John Halsey and other privateers that will capture your imagination.
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