- "If only he'd died with his king. But now he leads the Eclipse. I tell you, he’s the most dangerous man alive."
Helis, known as The Terror of the Sun among the Carja and Stacker of Corpses by the Oseram, is the leader of the Eclipse and the secondary antagonist of Horizon Zero Dawn. A cruel and violent but intelligent fanatic with unbreakable loyalty to his equally cruel liege Sun-King Jiran, his name was greatly feared and loathed by every tribe the Carja had raided for human sacrifice victims during Jiran’s reign. His fanaticism made him easy for the rogue artificial intelligence HADES to manipulate into becoming the main instrument by which the AI planned to reactivate the Faro Plague and destroy all life on earth. However he was ultimately defeated and killed by the young Nora woman who became his nemesis: the huntress Aloy.
Helis was the commander of the Kestrels in the service of His Radiance Jiran, 13th in the Line of Luminance. Burly and imposing, with an iron will, a disdain for material comforts, and great physical strength, he was also Jiran’s champion. His devotion to Jiran was fanatical, based on his unassailable religious belief in the infallibility of the Sun-King. He also had an equally unassailable belief in the superiority of the Carja over all other tribes. Without reservation, he supported Jiran’s cruel and brutal reign, considering it to be firm rule approved by the Sun, the Carja tribe’s deity.
From an early age, Helis believed that he was destined for greatness. During the early years of Jiran's reign, he proved himself to Jiran when he survived a training regimen that Jiran decreed would determine the men who would become his first Kestrels. This regimen involved training in the most extreme desert conditions at a location known as Sandwhisper Valley, lashed by sandstorms strong enough to scour armor. Helis was one of the first to survive, and thus became one of the first Kestrels. At some point, he married a woman who was mentally as tough and resilient as he was. He was so highly regarded by Jiran that when his wife and child died in childbirth, Jiran ordered them interred at the Alight, an honor reserved for the Sundom’s heroes and royalty. When Jiran ordered the Red Raids in response to the Derangement, Helis led many of these raids. His fanatical belief in the infallibility of the Sun-King and in Carja superiority contributed to the egregious brutality with which he treated victims, earning him his grisly nicknames.
When Jiran’s second son Avad successfully led an allied army against Jiran to overthrow him and end his atrocities, Helis was fully prepared to fight against them to the death. However, on Jiran’s order, he took Jiran’s queen Nasadi and third son Itamen to the summer palace at Sunfall. With them went other Jiran loyalists: Sun-Priests, including the High Priest Bahavas, Kestrels and Carja nobility, as well as slaves. Helis cut down any liberator who stood in their way. He and Bahavas, the two most senior of Jiran’s loyalists, established a splinter tribe from the civilians who went with them, called the Shadow Carja, with Sunfall as their capital. They declared Itamen their king, and Jiran’s true successor. However he was only a figurehead; Helis and Bahavas were the de facto rulers. Meanwhile Avad’s army liberated Meridian. Avad, forced to do so by Jiran’s refusal to surrender, killed Jiran, took the throne, ended the raids, and brought the Carja into an era of peace.
Helis and Bahavas viewed Jiran’s overthrow and Avad’s reforms with disgust, and dreamed of retaking Meridian in Jiran’s name. But they knew their military force had no chance against the Carja army. Then they were contacted by a mysterious stranger: the maverick Sylens. He offered them to introduce them to one who had the power to make their dream a reality. The two men accepted and went to the meeting place: the remains of an FAS-BOR7 Horus at a very remote and almost inaccessible location deep in the jungles of The Jewel.
There they were introduced by Sylens to the one they went to meet. Housed in the Horus’ still-functional computer core, the entity claimed to be the Devil of the Carja religion, known as the Buried Shadow. The entity was actually HADES. It wanted to gain control of Meridian so that it could access the Sundom’s most famous feature, the Spire. This was in fact one of a global network of transmission towers that has been used by Zero Dawn’s governing artificial intelligence GAIA to broadcast codes that shut down the Faro Plague centuries prior. HADES wanted to use the Spire to reactivate the Plague, though it kept this intention from Sylens. Sylens had suggested that it pose as the Buried Shadow to deceive Helis and Bahavas into creating a militarized cult that would be the army it could use to capture Meridian. HADES agreed. It was simple for it to deceive the two men, since both were completely ignorant of the ancient world and its highly advanced technology, and thus were easily persuaded that HADES was supernatural. When it quoted Carja scripture as taught by Sylens, they were convinced of its claim.
HADES offered the two men Meridian if they would serve it. Helis was at first apprehensive; his religious belief dictated that as a chosen servant of the Sun, the Buried Shadow was to be destroyed. However Bahavas convinced him to accept the offer: Jiran’s overthrow and death, which they considered the murder of the true Sun-King, had doomed the world to darkness; the Sun would be extinguished. This would destroy the world, including the Buried Shadow, for a Shadow cannot exist without the Sun. Thus by serving the Shadow, they would do more than retake Meridian in Jiran’s name; they would also save the world by putting the true Sun-King’s heir Itamen on the throne.
Thus the two men were deceived into forming the cult that would serve as as HADES’ army, dubbing it the Eclipse. Bahavas returned to Sunfall to govern the Shadow Carja while Helis became the cult’s leader. He oversaw the establishment of the cult’s main base at HADES’ location. Meanwhile Sylens developed a Focus network, allowing him and the cult’s subordinate commanders to communicate with HADES and each other over vast distances. To bolster their strength far beyond the ability of the Carja army to withstand, HADES had the Eclipse mount operations at various sites to exhume Faro Plague robots, referred to by the tribes as Corruptors and Deathbringers, which HADES activated. To gather intelligence about their enemy, Helis pressed a professional Oseram delver named Olin into the Eclipse’ service. Olin had frequently worked for Sun-King Avad’s court; this made him valuable as a spy. In characteristically cruel manner, Helis coerced him by having his family kidnapped and threatening to kill them in grisly fashion if Olin did not cooperate. He had Olin equipped with a Focus and sent him back to Avad’s court as a spy. Helis was later ordered to by HADES to kill Sylens when the latter had finished the Focus network. However, Sylens had built a back door into the network to secretly monitor communications. He heard the transmission and escaped.
The placement of Olin proved a pivotal decision that would ultimately result in the Helis’ death and HADES’ defeat. It did so by precipitating events that produced their most indomitable and capable enemy: Aloy. Olin was selected as the forward scout of a delegation to the Nora tribe to deliver an apology for the misery his father had inflicted on them during the Red Raids. The delegation arrived during the time of the tribe’s Proving, and was present to witness the festivities and ceremony the night before the ritual. It was at the ceremony that Olin met Aloy, an aspirant in the Proving. HADES saw her through Olin’s Focus. The AI was extremely alarmed at her physical appearance, recognizing her as a clone of the main ancient scientist behind Zero Dawn, Elisabet Sobeck. Aloy was therefore physically able to use the system’s master override to purge HADES, defeating it. The fact that she wore a Focus indicated that she had the technological aptitude to do so.
HADES immediately ordered her death. Helis therefore ordered all dig site commanders to immediately cease activity and bring their units to a set of coordinates in the Nora Sacred Land provided by HADES. Any Nora who saw them was to be killed, to maintain the secrecy of their existence. The coordinates marked the site of the end of the Proving: a plateau where all the participants would gather. Everyone present, including Aloy, was to be killed.The first unit to arrive initiated the attack, killing many. However Aloy successfully killed the unit, allowing many others to escape. Helis then arrived with another unit and personally attacked Aloy. She was no match for him as he held her off the ground by the neck and slit her throat. Aloy’s guardian, the Nora outcast Rost, appeared and valiantly fought Helis in her defense. But Helis prevailed, fatally stabbed Rost, and ordered the entire area razed before leaving. With Aloy seemingly dead, the cultists set explosives to do so and withdrew.
NemesisAloy survived due to Rost throwing her off the plateau to safety seconds before the explosives detonated. She went on to learn all about Helis and the Eclipse from tracking Olin down and interrogating him, and with assistance from Sylens, who was determined to stop whatever HADES was planning. Aloy doggedly disrupted every one of the Eclipse’s Faro robot recovery operations, killing all the cultists present. She briefly encountered HADES through a dead Eclipse commander’s Focus at Maker's End. Through HADES’ surprised, angry reaction on learning that she was still alive, Helis knew he had failed. Her very effective interference earned her his enmity. When she went to the ruin of the Zero Dawn Project Facility directly beneath Sunfall and inadvertently created a disturbance that alerted the Kestrels of activity in the ruin, Helis personally led a successful ambush that apprehended her. Because of her persistent disruptive attacks, Helis was convinced that her capture was the Sun’s divine plan, that she may be sacrificed to it. He confidently told her as much, savoring what he believed to be final victory over her. Moreover, in retribution for her interference, he ordered the Eclipse to conduct a genocidal campaign against the Nora, and informed her of it with great satisfaction. He then had her thrown into Sunfall’s Sun-Ring before the gathered Shadow Carja and loosed a Corrupted Behemoth upon her.
But she proved him wrong; what was to have been her public execution became his humiliation. He ended up watching as Aloy used the machine’s brute strength against it to recover her weapons and ammunition and then killed the Behemoth. Shocked, he ordered the two Corruptors that had corrupted the Behemoth to kill her. But he had to watch his plans for her death completely unravel when Sylens explosively breached the arena, entered with two overriden Striders and rescued her. He impotently watched them escape while three overriden Ravagers entered and pounced on the Corruptors, preventing pursuit. Upon her escape, she returned to the Nora Sacred Land and successfully led a last ditch effort to defeat the Eclipse and save the tribe from extinction; thus she foiled Helis yet again.
Defeat and Death
However Helis’ confidence in ultimate victory remained unshaken; the Buried Shadow, he believed, was certain to make him and the Eclipse triumphant in the end. Sometime after Aloy escaped from him, HADES’ finally ordered the attack on Meridian. Wearing his Kestrel armor, Helis was one of the first into the city. Accompanied by cultists, he ferociously cut a path through any defender who tried to stop him. None could stand in his way. None, that is, except Aloy. This time, unlike the first, she was far more experienced and ready to engage him. When she appeared, he scoffed and taunted her. As she dispatched his accompanying cultists and then turned her full attention to him, he maintained his taunts, fully convinced of his inevitable victory.
But again she proved him wrong, and this time it cost him his life. His confidence turned to uncomprehending bafflement when, after a long fight, Aloy finally incapacitated him. He dropped to his knees, unable to process his defeat. He could do nothing as Aloy ran him though, putting an end to him, and any threat that he would ever pose again. Aloy then went on to ultimately defeat HADES, bringing all of Helis’ notions of his divinely ordained destiny and his plans for returning the Carja to the blood-soaked time of Jiran’s cruel reign to naught.
Helis was intensely brutal, violent and fanatical. There was no atrocity he would not commit in service to Jiran or in Jiran’s name, or in his drive to restore what he believed to be rightful rule of the Carja. Helis believed that he had been chosen by the sun to enact its will, referring to himself as an instrument of prophecy. He looked down on material comforts, believing them to be invitations to weakness. However, as brutal and violent as he was, he was articulate and well spoken, able to verbally express his beliefs with an almost poetic eloquence, as grotesque as these beliefs were.
He was not a complete sociopath, however. Helis loved his wife, as after she slept on hard stone to be with him the night of their wedding, Helis knew that he loved her for her fortitude and strength. Despite his otherwise cruel and sadistic personality, Helis was able to love deeply, as he mourned the death of his wife and stillborn child, being touched that Sun-King Jiran would bury Helis' family alongside the royals and heroes of the Carja Sundom.
Helis was an extremely formidable hand-to-hand combatant. His skill was such that he was able to hold his own against and ultimately defeat Rost, one of the most skilled and experienced warriors in Nora history. Additionally, he was quite intelligent, able understand ancient technological concepts such as Focus communication networks. Indeed, he was versed in the technology enough to confidently issue orders over the Eclipse’s Focus network, complete with holographic data where necessary, and record holographic imaging as messages.
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- The name Helis is likely derived from Helios, the Greek god of the Sun.
- Helis' voice actor Crispin Freeman voiced Helios in the 2010 game God of War III.
- Helis shares many similarities with Grazel from White Knight Chronicles, who was also voiced by Crispin Freeman
- Both are cult leaders who seek restore a powerful nation to its former glory, with Helis leading the Eclipse to restore the Carja to a reign of terror, while Grazel leads the Magi in order to revive the Yshrenian Empire and take over the world.
- Both were manipulated into thinking they were destined to fulfill their goals, with Helis believing that he was chosen by the sun, and Grazel believing himself to be the reincarnation of Emperor Madoras.
- Both have an association with the words Sun King; Helis being the former champion of the 13th Sun-King Jiran while Grazel is the pactmaker of the Incorruptus, Aldolmaea, which is also known as the Sun King.
- Contrarily, the Horizon Zero Dawn Collector's Edition Guide states that Helis was not present during the Fall of Meridian.
- If Aloy aided Uthid and/or extracted Itamen prior to entering the Zero Dawn Project Facility, it will alter dialogue with Helis during the opening cutscene of The Terror of the Sun.
- ↑ Meridian's Fall
- ↑ History of Sunfall
- ↑ Wife
- ↑ Without Pity
- ↑ Prophecy
- ↑ Buried Shadow
- ↑ Chosen of the Sun
- ↑ A Message for Olin
- ↑ Intercepted Transmission
- ↑ Table adapted from Horizon Zero Dawn Strategy Guide (Collector's Ed.), p.263. Future Press, 2017.