Within the universe of Borderlands, Sirens are people with mystical, unknown backgrounds and incredible powers, and are distinguishable by the tattoos running down one half of their body.
Only six Sirens can exist at any given time, as revealed by Handsome Jack. At the time of Borderlands 2's release, three were known: Lilith, Maya, and Angel. Outside of the games, Borderlands: Origins issue 2 confirms that Crimson Lance leader Commandant Steele was the fourth Siren until her death.
Borderlands 3 features three more Sirens: Troy and Tyreen Calypso, who lead the Children of the Vault, who can leech life and power from other beings; and Amara, who can summon multiple arms. There are mentions of Dido, a former Siren queen of Athenas and an acquaintance of Typhon DeLeon, and Nyriad, the first Siren ever who witnessed the fate of the Eridians and the creation of the Great Vault. Maya would then take in and train young Siren apprentice Ava, who eventually inherits Maya's powers for herself. Lastly, Patricia Tannis would reveal herself as a Siren who inherited Angel's abilities, developing powers shortly after Angel's death.
Another unconfirmed Siren was Typhon's wife and mother of the Calypso twins, Leda. Both Troy and Typhon note that Calypsos have a Siren heritage, and that she helped to kill a Vault monster, a feat only a Siren can accomplish. As she died shortly after giving birth to the twins, her Siren powers were presumably transferred to them.
There are reportedly six Sirens in existence at the time that the events in Borderlands take place (noteworthy, there are also six inhabited galaxies in the games' universe). The player character Lilith is one of them, and part of the reason that she is on Pandora involves searching for another whom she believes to be on the planet. The Siren she seeks is most probably Commandant Steele, due to Steele being the only known Siren besides Lilith during the story of Borderlands. A third Siren to appear in the Borderlands series is Angel from Borderlands, an enigmatic character who was confirmed as a Siren in Borderlands 2. The full extent of Angel's abilities are unknown, however, she makes references to performing a "Phaseshift" when hacking technology. In Borderlands 2, one of the player characters is a Siren named Maya.
Tattoos are a side-effect of being a Siren. The tattoos of all known and suspected Sirens, appear on one half of the body. Seemingly they channel their powers through the arm that possesses the tattoos, which is often seen when Maya uses her power, Phaselock (but this could be because she always holds a weapon in her right hand). The tattoos appear to cover them from foot to scalp, as seen in the special edition customization skin for Maya. Whether or not it is the same for other known Sirens is unconfirmed.
Sirens thrive on Eridium ore, a mineral that became abundant on Pandora after the events of Borderlands. Patricia Tannis suggests that, because of their relationship with Eridium, there should be a connection between Sirens, the Vaults, and the Eridians. This connection is not between Eridium and the individual Siren, as Angel mentions that Maya has no previous connection to Eridium in ECHO recordings.
Siren powers are enhanced through the use of Eridium. This is seen at several points in Borderlands 2; where Lilith used Eridium to enhance her phasewalk ability and heal herself. This is also seen when Handsome Jack uses Eridium to increase Angel's powers. Overconsumption of the material will have negative side effects- Lilith shows signs of addiction to the substance, and Angel, being fed enormous amounts over a long period of time, eventually required a constant feed in order to maintain life function. Furthermore, Angel died shortly after her Eridium supply was cut off.
Borderlands 3 introduces the Calypso twins, who possess the ability to steal the lifeforce and powers of other beings. Tyreen is able to feed on any living creature, whereas her parasitic twin Troy is only able to feed from other Sirens. The twins come into the possession of both Lilith and Maya's powers, although they are later returned or passed on to other people. Their father confirms their Siren heritage in an audiolog on the Eridian homeworld, making Troy the first known male with Siren powers.
Siren abilities appear to manifest themselves in other beings if their current host dies, as evidenced when Tannis unknowingly inherits Angel's phaseshift abilities after her death. This is confirmed by logs left behind by Nyriad, an ancient Siren who worked with the Eridians to trap The Destroyer.
The Death of a Siren
When a Siren passes away they either elect a successor who they pass their powers to, or they fail to name such a successor and their powers are thrown into the universe, finding a new host of its own volition. Nyriad ponders on whenever or not these powers are a blessing or a curse.
While similar in many aspects, each Siren possesses a unique power that makes them different from the rest of their brethren. Some shared characteristics between all known Sirens are the unique markings that appear to cover the left side of their body, the ability to pass on their powers to an heir and the ability to manifest wings. All Sirens are also capable of using Eridium to amplify their powers to a greater extent.
Tyreen and Tannis both demonstrated the ability to “leech” the power of the Vault Beasts, however it is unknown how Tannis was able to do this or if this is an ability that all Sirens share.
Known Siren Powers
Phasewalk is a Siren ability used by Lilith which allows her to bridge the gap between dimensions, allowing her to teleport both herself and others across space-time. She is also seen using this ability to inflict damage upon structures and people by twisting the time-space in a specific area, creating an explosion.
Phaselock is an ability first shown by Maya and later passed to Troy Calypso unwillingly and then later to Ava. Phaselock is the ability to lock an object or person in place by manipulating time-space around them, creating what appears to be a “black hole”. This ability can also be used to affect objects and people at a large distance as demonstrated by Troy when he used Phaselock to infuse his bandit followers with power, creating the Anointed. We also saw this ability when Troy charged Elpis, the moon of Pandora and the Vault Key required to open the Great Vault.
Phaseshift was an ability originally possessed by Angel, the daughter of Handsome Jack and was later passed to Patricia Tannis after Angel’s demise at the hand of the third generation of Vault Hunters. This power allowed Angel to control and communicate with electric machinery at will and could manifest uncontrollably when she was under distress. We see this uncontrollable use of this power when Angel is taken captive by a bandit and loses control over her powers, killing the bandit and her mother in the progress. Patricia Tannis displays similar powers, but to the player’s knowledge she has never lost control over her powers.
Phasetrance is the ability used by Amara in Borderlands 3. This ability allows her to manifest six arms from her back which she can use for different purposes. She is able to manifest a giant arm underneath an enemy, trapping them much like Maya’s Phaselock ability, Amara calls this ability Phasegrasp. Amara is also able to use these arms to deliver devastating physical attacks in the form of her Phaseslam ability. Finally she is able to send an Astral Projection of herself forward along with her arms. This will damage all objects and people in its path and is named Phasecast.
Tyreen Calypso’s Power
The unnamed power of Tyreen Calypso was the ability previously possessed by the Siren Nyriad. This ability allowed Tyreen to absorb the living energy of all living beings to increase her own power. She demonstrated the use of this ability when she stole Lilith’s Phasewalk ability and later when she absorbed The Destroyer, becoming one with it. Her brother, Troy Calypso also possessed a form of this power but was only able to absorb the power of other Sirens.
- The Sirens draw their name from the Sirens of Greek mythology; according to legend, Sirens were a group of extremely dangerous human-sized vultures with human heads whose faces constantly changed. They lured sailors to their death by seducing them with their singing. This is reminiscent of Lilith, as she is often portrayed as a seductress as well.
- All sirens currently known have shown the ability to generate wings when using their powers. Lilith's wings appear when using the Phoenix skill, while Maya's appear when Blight Phoenix is active. Angel's wings are shown when her true form as a Siren is revealed. Commandant Steele and Amara do not generate wings; the former is because she never was shown using her abilities while the latter can uniquely manifest up to six arms that array themselves in a wing-like formation behind her back.
- The connection between the Sirens and the Eridians is further demonstrated in Borderlands The Pre-Sequel. While the player is working their way through the Eleseer map towards The Vault, it is revealed that Lilith had been following the player the whole time. The Guardians made no effort to stop her, and she says it was 'almost as if they wanted her to get to The Vault'.
- The theme of Sirens was also presented in Borderlands comics, thus events depicted in comic series aren't part of the Borderlands canon universe.
- In the Borderlands Origins #2 "Lilith" comic, upon her father's death, a young Lilith is visited by a very old Siren who tells her of her powers and that there are others in the universe like her. She promptly dies, but the comic shows the other known Sirens, and two mysterious figures in hoods.
- In the Tannis and the Vault comics, the fifth Siren Asha greeted vault hunters that came into Fyrestone on Marcus's bus until she was caught in an explosion and fell into a coma. She went by the name "Tate" and was under the care of Tannis while in her coma. She was completely brain dead, and it is unclear whether or not Tannis had anything to do with her revival. She later awoke and helped the Vault Hunters and Tannis retrieve that last piece of the vault key from a Rakk hive. She did this by using her powers, which according to her, grant her the ability to "control the beasts of any planet".
- Troy Calypso is the only known male siren to have ever existed. The circumstances surrounding his existence seem to suggest that conjoined twins are able to circumvent the female restriction.
- Eridian writing in Borderlands 3 (Eridian Writings: "Brighter" and "Warning") reveal that there were 7 sirens. Nyriad was the "Leech" and went to die at a location where her power would not find a new host.