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The Dark Ones (in original Russian the Black Ones - Чёрные) is race of sentient humanoid creatures that descended from humans that survived the nuclear holocaust and adapted to this new post-apocalyptic world. They serve as the main antagonists of both the 2002 novel and 2010 video game adaptions of Metro 2033., they also are posthumous antagonists in Metro: Last Light and Metro Exodus
Little is known about the Dark Ones, but there are many rumors, stories, and theories surrounding them. Some people say the Dark Ones were created when a group of Metro residents were kidnapped and taken to their hidden lair. Others believe that they are the next step in human evolution (Homo Novus), and others still think that they are a new subspecies of Homo Sapiens and therefore our closest relatives. There is a legend that the Dark Ones want to have peace with their human brothers and sisters and be reunited as one people.
The direct appearance of a Dark One is quite strange. They have long arms and legs, all quite thin. The arms ends large hands has long fingers. The skin color, just like many other mutants is a dark,ash grey color.
Despite their physical appearances the Dark Ones are very closely related to Humans, in terms of biology. However, the Dark Ones are much better adapted to the recently ravaged post-apocalyptic world. They are highly resistant to radiation, cold temperatures, and have extra-sensory perception.
They look weaker than other mutants, but the Dark Ones have extremely powerful telepathic powers and seem to be able to exert some telepathic control over other mutants. However, the Dark Ones seem to have a hard time controlling the mind of other sentient beings, like Humans, who have the will power to fight off their telepathic influence.
In novel they also possesed tentacles (or antennaes) on head, but in game they lacked them.
The Dark Ones are not capable of vocal communication, but they are able to communicate telepathically amongst themselves and with other beings. However, their telepathic powers are too strong for humans, and if they try to communicate with them without properly controlling these powers, they will inadvertently destroy the mind of the human who will slowly slip into insanity and die. They are able to create realistic illusions by manipulating the mind of their target, or sending him into a dream-like state. They are able to induce fear telepathically to scare their enemies away and they are also able to literally “think” their enemies to death or into a comatose state. Some people believe that they are the next step in human evolution (Homo Novus). Others, however, think that they are new subspecies of the genus Homo and our closest living relatives, just like the Neanderthals were.
Role in the novel
WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW
Dark Ones were first mentioned in book during the patrol in tunnel leading to north. Artyom (main protagonist of the novel) remembered his fight with Dark Ones - they attacked outpost of VDNKh. They were defeated only due to fact, that humans has got weapons - rifles, machine guns and pistols, from which every Dark One received "check shot" from three meters straight to the head. When Artyom's patrol ended, he encountered stranger at the station. He stranger introduced himself as "Hunter" (very uncommon in Moscow metro) and after long discussion with Artyom's stepfather he asked Artyom, if he can accompany him for moment. Hunter told Artyom about reason responsible to his appearance. Hunter heard rumors about Dark Ones in whole metro and he decided to act. In exchange for Artyom's secret (Artyom was actually responsible for Dark Ones' attacks, when he in past accidentaly let open airlock doors to Botanicheskiy sad station) he told Artyom what he want to do: he will go to Botanic Garden, where Dark Ones seat is rumored, and he will try to destroy it, or at least close the armored doors to the station, to prevent next attacks. Its unknown, if he survived - he appeared at Artyom's dreams and visions several times, but things he said were sometimes false (he told Artyom, that he closed entrance to the metro, but Dark Ones were still coming). Before he left, he gave Artyom instructions: If Hunter will not return within three days, Artyom has to go to the Polis (giant transfer between four station), find name called Melnik and tell whim whole story. Hunter also gave to Artyom message hidden in machine gun cartridge.
Artyom finally arrived to the Polis and gave Melnik the message, but before he was interviewed by Polis council. Due to specific thing he encountered, he received offer - he will find on surface certain book and he will receive something, what will help VDNKh with Dark Ones' invasion. After massacre in library on surface, Artyom failed in his quest for book, but before his companion gave him the reward - some paper in envelope. When he escaped to nearby station (he failed but received reward - how pity), he encountered Melnik and they opened the envelope together.
Inside was piece of paper with some scheme and notes. Melnik after short reading realised, that they just received map and instructions for probably last existing missile launching facility. After complicated way (Melnik had later to rescue Artyom from canibals' cult and they dealed with other threats), they eventually separated - Melnik will go with some other soldiers to missile facility, when Artyom and Ulman (another soldier) will go to Ostankino Tower , to send Melnik a coordinates for launch. Ulman went to gather enough supplies, while Artyom asked Ulman, if he can return to VDNKh. Ulman allowed, and Artyom went back to place, where everything started. When Artyom finally arrived, he saw current state of VDNKh - many tents torn apart, splashes of blood around, smell of gunpowder everywhere . . . and from one reason - Dark Ones.
After reunion with Artyom's stepfather is revealed fate of VDNKh - when Artyom was out, number of attacks doubled and it now possess significant danger for rest of metro. Other stations came with solution - next day they will blast tunnel leading to VDNKh (put explosives to tunnel leading to the Botanic Garden is impossible, due to water which can flood VDNKh after explosion). After collapse of tunnel will be VDNKh and other stations on this branch leaved to start on their own, to be exterminated by Dark Ones.
Artyom finally stood on the top of the Tower. They spotted Dark Ones' seat, Ulman sent coordinates to Melnik and missiles were on the way, but Dark Ones didn't say last word. Artyom suddenly got strong vision, prompted by Dark Ones. In this vision he saw world as Dark Ones - people are filthy, bittered bastards spitting fire and lead around themselves. Dark Ones tried to contact humans, but all of their delegations were killed, because humans considered them only as another deadly mutants. Misery finally escalated to order - kill all humans. But Dark Ones had hope - hope, that they will found someone, who can serve as speaker between two species. And this speaker is Artyom. When Artyom realized this, he turned his mind - Dark Ones wants to help us, together we will be stronger. Artyom opened the doors on the balcony (symbolical of understanding), when hundreds of Dark Ones were watching him. Now they can rebuild world destroyed by nuclear war. But before anything more could be done, first missile landed. Rest of bombardment was done and Botanical Garden was virtually leveled to the ground, together with Dark Ones' seat.