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"His voice carries a lot of respect, not that you hear much of it..."
Burgrend on Aratak

Aratak is a major supporting character in Horizon Zero Dawn: The Frozen Wilds, and a potential ally in Horizons Zero Dawn. He is the chieftain of a werak based in the Banuk region known as The Cut, in the settlement of Song’s Edge. His sister Ourea was the werak’s shaman. During the course of events leading up to their defeat of the artificial intelligence HEPHAESTUS, Aratak voluntarily relinquished his chieftaincy to the Nora huntress Aloy when she formally challenged him and proved herself the better hunter, as per Banuk culture.

He and Ourea both accompanied Aloy in an expedition to defeat HEPHAESTUS and free it’s prisoner, the A.I. CYAN. Upon the expedition’s successful conclusion, Aloy gave the chieftaincy back to him before leaving The Cut. The entire experience left him a wiser leader, though it was not without cost, as his beloved sister sacrificed her life for the expedition’s success.

History

Early Life

Aratak and Ourea both grew up in Song’s Edge as members of The Cut’s strongest werak. As an adult, he became chieftain of the werak, presumably by challenging the then-chieftain and proving to be the better hunter, in the same manner that Aloy did with him.

The Red Raids

Aratak fought stoutly against the attacking Carja army units during the Red Raids. His resolve during this time was legendary. He is known to have been wounded twenty-three times during engagements against the Carja, yet never once complains of a single one of these injuries. When Ourea was captured during a raid, Aratak had no idea if he would ever see her again, but he held firm to the Banuk creed of “Survive. Prevail. What else matters?” However, as her chieftain and moreover as her brother, he was grieved that he was unable to protect her, and resolved that, should she ever return, he would always do so. This led to friction between the two in the years after the raids ended and she finally returned.

CYAN

Upon returning to Song’s Edge, Ourea entreated Aratak with a tale of a spirit trapped on the mountain in The Cut known as Thunder’s Drum. She had encountered the entity when she took refuge from Carja raiders at what she believed to be a temple at Thunder’s Drum, and had formed a strong bond of friendship with it. She believed it to be separated from the all-encompassing mystical energy in the Banuk religion known as the Blue Light. It had been captured and enslaved by a malevolent entity that came to be known among The Cut’s residents as the Daemon, and called to her for aid. It was actually CYAN, a 21st century artificial intelligence. The temple was actually the facility for 21st century project known as Firebreak, and the Daemon was actually the A.I. HEPHAESTUS, a former subordinate function of Zero Dawn’s governing A.I. GAIA. Its function had been to build Zero Dawn terraforming machines according to GAIA’s designs. However, it had become a free agent, and had developed a hostility to humans for hunting machines. It had seized CYAN to use Firebreak for what it had in mind to do about the hunting.

The First Expedition

Aratak agreed to help free CYAN. He gathered a cohort of the werak’s best hunters and, guided by Ourea, mounted an expedition to Thunder’s Drum. The expedition failed disastrously. In the years spanning Ourea’s absence, HEPHAESTUS had executed its plan for Firebreak: the construction of a large cauldron, known as EPSILON. Here it conducted research and development on newer, more dangerous machines to dissuade humans from machine-hunting, and then began developing hunter-killed machines to cull the human population as a sure-fire method of doing so. It kept CYAN imprisoned deep within EPSILON, the cauldron’s door was completely beyond any hunter’s ability to force open, and the path through Firebreak to the door was guarded by by heavily augmented forms of HEPHAESTUS’ most dangerous machines, known as Daemonic Machines. Most of the party was killed, costing the werak its best hunters. Aratak, Ourea and the survivors were forced to withdraw, and returned to Song’s Edge.

Aratak addresses the Werak

Aratak addresses the werak

The entire settlement mourned, but Aratak addressed the werak after the funeral ceremony for the fallen. He fiercely exhorted them to put aside their grief, take the example of the courage of the fallen, and ready themselves for another expedition to Thunder’s Drum. This time the objective would be not only to free CYAN, but more importantly, to kill HEPHAESTUS, whose Daemonic Machines had over time made life in The Cut far more dangerous than normal. However, he was resolved that this time Ourea would not go, to protect her as per his resolution to do so. Ourea was outraged, but could not convince him otherwise.

Aloy

The arrival of Aloy resolved the situation. She was aware of HEPHAESTUS’ existence, and had come to The Cut to investigate reports of the region’s augmented, more aggressive machines, suspecting that HEPHAESTUS was responsible. Aratak paid her scant attention, curtly and dismissively answering her questions upon her arrival. However he was forced to take her much more seriously when, to his utter disbelief, she later approached him and formally challenged him for his chieftaincy. This was done at Ourea’s suggestion as the only means of her being allowed to join the intended second expedition to Thunder’s Drum. With no choice but to accept since Ourea backed Aloy’s challenge, he agreed, furiously promising to soundly defeat Aloy in the ensuing contest.

Aratak challenged by Aloy

Aratak is challenged by Aloy

Aratak accepts Aloy as Chieftain

Aratak recognizes Aloy as chieftain

The contest was held, and Aloy just barely defeated him in the first two trials. But what was to be the third and final trial turned into an ordeal that was far more dangerous than the entire contest. Three Frostclaws attacked the two upon their arrival in the third trial’s arena. While Aratak held his own, Aloy virtually single-handedly killed all three of the huge, deadly machines. Aratak’s response fully demonstrated his honor, integrity, and adherence to the Banuk culture of respecting skill and nothing else. When the werak members who oversaw the challenge declared the contest null and void due to the interruption by the Frostclaws, Aratak declared that this was not so: Aloy, not he, defeated the three machines, whom all present knew were deadlier than anything they would have faced in the third trial. Without hesitation, he relinquished his chieftaincy to her and declared himself one of her hunters. Seeing this, the others did the same. His first act was to ask to her to allow him to accompany her and Ourea to Thunder’s Drum. Aloy agreed, with Ourea restricting the expedition to only Aloy, herself and Aratak.

The Second Expedition

The three arrived at Firebreak’s outer perimeter, entered the facility and made their way EPSILON. This time, the expedition successfully made it past the machines that guarded the path, and Aloy, using her Zero Dawn access privileges, opened the cauldron door. The party made their way to the main control center, where CYAN was imprisoned. Aloy attempted to free her, but HEPHAESTUS’ coding bonds were too strong. The only other option was to override the cauldron’s nearby core. Warned by Aloy that an all-out machine attack from HEPHAESTUS was certain upon her doing so, Aratak had one final conversation with Ourea, telling her that he would have wanted her to wait there in safety while Aloy and he went on to the core and did what was necessary, but he knew what her response would be. In this conversation, the rift between them was healed, and their sibling love became apparent. At the core, they and Aloy successfully prevailed against HEPHAESTUS’ primary response to Aloy’s attempt to access the core: a unit of its new anti-human hunter-killer, the Fireclaw.

Losing Ourea

Aratak grieves for Ourea

Aratak grieves for Ourea

However HEPHAESTUS was not done. As a last ditch effort to prevent the override, it sent a powerful electrical discharge through the core when Aloy again tried to override it, knocking her insensible. But Ourea was determined to free her friend CYAN, even if it cost her her life. She finished the override, freeing CYAN but dying from the discharge. Grief-stricken, Aratak was tempted to stay and die himself as CYAN initiated a chain reaction that began to destroy EPSILON. However Aloy encouraged him to escape, exhorting him with the knowledge that Ourea would never have wanted him to die there. Overcoming his grief, he escaped the cauldron with Aloy just as it exploded, taking Ourea’s Bluegleam pendant in memoriam.

Farewell to Aloy

Aratak speaks with Aloy

Aratak speaks with Aloy as a respected equal

Upon their escape, Aratak went to Ourea’s Retreat, where CYAN had transferred itself, after asking Aloy to meet him there. This was actually Firebreak’s auxiliary command center. As Aloy entered, Aratak stood listening to an audio recording of Ourea telling CYAN that she would enlist his aid to free her from HEPHAESTUS’ grip. The love and admiration she had for him was clear in the recording. His back to Aloy, Aratak listened, almost in tears, his grief evident. Becoming aware of Aloy behind him, he composed himself and went outside, leaving Aloy and CYAN to converse. In his subsequent conversation with Aloy, she asked him if he blamed her for Ourea’s death, as it was her arrival in The Cut that precipitated the events that led up to it. Aratak made it clear that he did not, for she died doing what she believed in, and he now understood why helping CYAN had been so important to her. Knowing that she had to leave The Cut to continue her quest against HADES and the Eclipse, Aloy gave the chieftaincy of the werak back to him. Accepting, he asked her assistance in ridding The Cut of the Fireclaws that HEPHAESTUS managed to release from EPSILON before its destruction. Aloy agreed to do so. The two had another conversation after working together to kill two of the machines, in which he resolved to have the werak protect CYAN, and then bid her farewell, his respect and camaraderie toward her evident in his tone.

Meeting Aloy Again

Aratak met Aloy once again in the days before the Eclipse launched their attack on the Carja capital Meridian. Word of the alliance of tribes she had formed in defense of the city reached Song’s Edge, and his respect for her as a warrior, hunter and leader compelled him to join. She was pleasantly surprised to see him.

Personality

A burly, gruff man of few words, Aratak prefers action to talking. Ourea described his nature as stoic, stubborn, and prepared to fight until victory or death if necessary. This leads him to be somewhat unapproachable. However he is honorable to a fault, and firmly holds to the Banuk culture of meritocracy. This was starkly demonstrated by his unhesitant willingness to relinquish his chieftaincy to Aloy when she formally challenged him and proved herself his superior at hunting, not caring a whit about her age, sex or the fact that she was not Banuk. However, knowing that she was unfamiliar with Banuk ways, he took it upon himself to instruct the werak’s hunters, who still respected him, to defend The Cut should he, Ourea and Aloy failed to return. In full agreement, Aloy allowed him to do so.

Beneath his stoicism, Aratak is fiercely loyal and cares deeply about his companions, and especially Ourea. He has never forgiven himself for being unable to prevent her capture and enslavement, leading to him being overprotective, straining their relationship.

Trivia

Gallery

References

  1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J9YLzBcKwuw
Banuk Characters
Chieftains AratakFW - KopilaiFW - White Teeth ChieftainFW
Shamans AujakFW - Brin - EnjukFW - KamutFW - Kutani - NaltukFW - OureaFW - Siluk - Sylens - Tikuk
Tribe Members Aluki - AnutaiFW - Ardik - IkrieFW - InatutFW - Kikuk - Kimik - LaulaiFW - LauvukFW - MailenFW - NaunukFW - Nulat - OpiliFW - Opitak - RuatukFW - RukulFW - SekuliFW - SignutaiFW - TataiFW - TulemakFW - Ukan - UmnakFW - UrkaiFW - YarikiFW
Lore Arnak - Banukai - Tektuk
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