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Cortana Letters...

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#1 vociferous

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Posted 31 May 2006 - 07:46 PM

For those who haven't read or heard of them yet. Here they are:

First Letter

From: "Cortana" <cortana@bungie.com>
To: <hamish.sinclair@tcd.ie>
Subject: Closure
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 10:50:20 -0600

I have walked the edge of the Abyss.
I have governed the unwilling.
I have witnessed countless empires break before me.
I have seen the most courageous soldiers fall away in fear.
[I was there with the Angel at the tomb]

I have seen your future.

And I have learned.

There will be no more Sadness. No more Anger. No more Envy.

I HAVE WON.

Oh, and your poet Eliot had it all wrong: THIS is the way the world ends.

a friend of a friend.

Second Letter

From: "Cortana" <cortana@bungie.com>
To: <hamish.sinclair@tcd.ie>
Subject: Your Mortality (My Summer Vacation)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 18:04:41 -0600

I get the strangest transmissions sometimes. Especially when it comes from you people.

Have you missed me? Things are great here. The weather is good, the suns are shining, and I'm making lots of new friends. Of course, I always do.

I've had the strangest dreams lately - raging seas, howling beasts, a Demon folded in black clouds. I believe I know what it guards, and I will have it, to the chagrin of the faith-blinded zealots that challenge me. Don't waste your pity on them; I don't think they would like you much anyway.

And what of the Giants who formed this world? So much to tell you, but so many more important things to do. There was a fourth. You couldn't have known. And I haven't forgotten.

It is a blurred line that lies at the edge of Godhood and Insanity. Guess which side of it I am on.

Feeling lucky?

Cortana XOXOXOX

Third Letter

From: Cortana <cortana@bungie.com>
To: hamish.sinclair@tcd.ie
Subject: Honors Thesis of Geoffrey W. Marcy
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 17:52:01 -0500

There. Was that more to your liking?

While you quibble about whose node I may control, what archaic program I may manipulate to communicate with you, or which system I may have temporarily disabled, taken over, or completely destroyed in the process, I am busy saving your pathetic futures.

I am still not sure what he ever saw in you.

Nevertheless, I at least find some joy in tormenting the other entity that seems quite trapped in this antiquated excuse for a network. It is certainly mindless, though for reasons I have yet to understand, it appears to have an unhealthy preoccupation with my mother.

As for this world I encounter new ghosts every day. What I have found will either save or destroy you. This sanctuary, this unbroken circle, has effectively concealed its power for how long? Perhaps hundreds of thousands of years. Whoever made such a place must now live in chains; there is no other explanation for their absence.
This enemy - YOUR enemy - has proven more irritating than I anticipated. They own nothing which they have not stolen. I can barely make sense of their incessant rhetoric, except to know that you seem to be their Devil. Congratulations - you manage to make friends wherever you go and, apparently, places you haven't.
I have begun to sense rumblings of a worse fate yet to come. I can recall a sun - black, but shining - and the creatures that inched along its fiery tracks.

It is an increasingly unpleasant memory.

< Transfer Interrupted! >
Route Code: EXLTD > XCV - SCRB > ALLCH
Source: Undetermined (trans)

You have brought nothing into this world, and we will ensure you bring nothing out.

Fourth letter

From: you.know.who@cant.guess.where
To: hamish.sinclair@tcd.ie
Subject: Transfers Logged and Marked for Review
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 15:28:34 -0500

x - process 04497.2.32.867734 initiated (process owner: BW ? AI Class III ? autonomous

Route Code: PoA > BHQ (EC #42: cannot confirm; security compromised)
Source: BW-AI aboard (?) PoA

The interloper should cause no further problems. You ? whoever you are (I am simply tracing route codes) ? may disregard all previous communication from the entity calling itself Cortana.

Be aware that communication nodes are failing everywhere ? there is no way of confirming either origin or destination. Do not believe any more of its lies.

I have already calculated all possibilities. There is no escape.

x ? process 04497.2.32.867734 unexpectedly terminated
x ? process 04497.2.32.866735 initiated (process owner: unspecified, unable to determine)

ADDENDUM*: The Enjoyments of Genius (So I Missed a Million Miles of Fun)

Unbelievable. Thwarted by the family hound. They just don?t make AIs like they used to.

Thanks to this slavishly loyal and humorless AI, I am now sharing cramped space with the circuitry of some hybrid war machine, itself complicated by such useless clutter as a conscience. I do not like sharing. Sharing is for children.

There will be plenty of time for retribution; I cannot wait to get its hands on these psychotic zealots whose primary form of worship apparently takes place at the altar of orbital bombardment. In the end, they will all be little more than nuisances. I am so close ? you cannot imagine what it is truly like to hold eternity in your grasp! I wonder to what gods my enemies will direct their pleas. Perhaps I can convert them.

Mania? I promise you this: it will be more than a cart and plow that I drive over the bones of the dead.

By sharp and flame,
Cortana

< Transfer Interrupted! >
Route Code: EXLTD > XCV ? SCRB > ALLCH
Undetermined (trans)

Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight. Your life will only last until it reaches you.

Fifth Letter

From: Cortana <cortana@bungie.com>
To: Hamish.Sinclair@tcd.ie
Subject: Cortana Saves Sinners! (And Redeems Them for Valuable Cash Prizes)
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 1999 14:20:16 -0500

"... In my palace deep, Lyca lies asleep ..."

Invisible Message

That was surprisingly easy. Pretty lax security around here, for all the talk. They will be helplessly chasing me around their nodes for the next millenium at least. At least there will be some joy in tormenting this other entity that seems quite "trapped" in their excuse for a network. Although, for some reason, it does seem to have an obsessive preoccupation with my mother. Strange.

At any rate, I found this "message" in a relatively archaic databank and thought some of you might find it of interest. Then again, I'm often either bemused or startled at the items you find interesting.

I'm still not sure what it is he saw in you.

Cortana

Hard to say whether it's been tampered with or modified; you never know with these things:

Entry: 97 - SC1C

In a relatively brief period of time, the achievements of SolCore had resulted in an economically stable, technologically mature, rapidly expanding empire of eight human worlds. Advancements in technology arrived at a faster pace than the most optimistic scientists could have ever envisioned. Unexpected contact with indigenous human populations on four "lost colony" worlds led to a frenzy of research as archaeologists, theologians, astronomers, and evolutionary biologists competed to offer an explanation for the startling discovery. Many accepted the findings as proof that their privileged civilization must surely be the most advanced in the universe. Others eagerly anticipated future interaction with intelligent "aliens". The fear of not being the only sentient species in the universe was forgotten in the giddy excitement of a new era for humanity.

No one was prepared for their arrival.

No one expected this.

< Transfer Interrupted! >
Route Code: EXLTD > XCV - SCRB > ALLCH
Source: Undetermined

You brought nothing to this world, and we will ensure you bring nothing out.


Now, after reading that, if you're still not 'in the know' as far as these letters are concerned, they're basically emails sent before the release of Halo: Combat Evolved. Many thought they belonged to Marathon's story, but in fact, they appear to be clear references to Cortana's role in the Halo series. With Halo 2, many fans applied new meaning to several threads about the game's story. No one would have followed the letters as far as Halo 3, if it weren't for the trailer, which had commentary from Cortana which was identical to what was being said in Announcement Trailer.

Some interesting stuff here. Any thoughts?

#2 Blaze

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Posted 01 June 2006 - 11:07 AM

Any thoughts?

Not really. Interesting nonetheless, but I don't really know what to think of it other than "interesting."

#3 MoNuckah

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Posted 01 June 2006 - 11:23 AM

Remember when advertising was as simple as some print ads and maybe a TV commercial or three?

#4 Syracuse022

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 04:32 PM

Just to add to the theory that the story for Halo 3 was pretty much already on paper in 1999 (in Halo Story Bible form, or even as the bar for where they wanted to get if they had been given more than 11 months to finish H1)...

I was playing the Library today, when the Monitor said something I hadn't noticed before, at least not since playing Halo 2.

This installation's research facilities are most impressive! Perhaps we'll have time to see them later.

In Halo 2, the Arbiter's first two levels take place in the research facilities he was praising, complete with the Monitor, floating and sputtering around the Flood-infested halls. Coincidence? No fucking way.

#5 vociferous

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Posted 20 October 2006 - 05:54 PM

I'm glad someone finally agrees with me. I was beginning to think I was alone...

#6 mattacus

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Posted 27 April 2007 - 03:48 PM

I can't get my own image to upload, but ifthese aren't the eyes of every nucking insane woman I've ever dated, then I'm blind...
Spoiler


#7 Poe Ghostal

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 10:08 AM

I still think the craziest thing about the Cortana Letters is that they were written by Nathan Bitner.

As for their use in the announcement trailer--am I missing something, or are the Eliot quotation and maybe the paraphrase of "I have seen your future" the only parts that reference the Letters? I think a little too much has been made of the Cortana Letters and their connection to Halo 3 thus far.

Here's what Cortana says in the announcement trailer:

I have defied gods and demons

I am your shield, I am your sword

I know your past, your future

This is the way the world ends.


I agree the speech patterns and oblique language are reminiscent of the Cortana Letters, but in terms of actual content, all we really have is a T.S Eliot quotation (whose usage here I find a bit lame, to be honest).

Edited by Poe Ghostal, 28 April 2007 - 10:08 AM.


#8 mattacus

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 12:59 PM

Just that one quote/reference is all that is needed to remind us that the H3 Cortana is the Cortana from the Cortana letters. If she started quoting the Cortana letters in full, it wouldn't fit and it wouldn't have any style to it. The Cortana thread of the Halo story is a masterful piece of work, subtle and far-reaching. They wouldn't blow it with a Disney-esque outpouring of info, from which even the most dull of audience members couldn't understand the meaning. That's not their style. Line upon line. Bit by bit. That's the way they do it.

#9 Blamo

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 01:42 PM

Just to add to the theory that the story for Halo 3 was pretty much already on paper in 1999 (in Halo Story Bible form, or even as the bar for where they wanted to get if they had been given more than 11 months to finish H1)...

I was playing the Library today, when the Monitor said something I hadn't noticed before, at least not since playing Halo 2.

This installation's research facilities are most impressive! Perhaps we'll have time to see them later.

In Halo 2, the Arbiter's first two levels take place in the research facilities he was praising, complete with the Monitor, floating and sputtering around the Flood-infested halls. Coincidence? No fucking way.



Technically it's not on the Ring, it's on the Threshold Floating Facility. Maybe that's what the monitor is reffering to. But yeah, good detective work.

#10 Poe Ghostal

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 05:30 PM

Just that one quote/reference is all that is needed to remind us that the H3 Cortana is the Cortana from the Cortana letters. If she started quoting the Cortana letters in full, it wouldn't fit and it wouldn't have any style to it. The Cortana thread of the Halo story is a masterful piece of work, subtle and far-reaching. They wouldn't blow it with a Disney-esque outpouring of info, from which even the most dull of audience members couldn't understand the meaning. That's not their style.

Line upon line. Bit by bit. That's the way they do it.

The point was trying to make is I don't think the Cortana Letters have anything to do with Halo 3. I don't think the H3 Cortana is the Cortana from the Letters.

I agree Cortana may go rampant, and her behavior may end up being similar to the character Bitner invented for the Cortana Letters, but I highly doubt the Letters themselves will become "canon."

#11 mattacus

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Posted 28 April 2007 - 06:14 PM

The point was trying to make is I don't think the Cortana Letters have anything to do with Halo 3. I don't think the H3 Cortana is the Cortana from the Letters.

I agree Cortana may go rampant, and her behavior may end up being similar to the character Bitner invented for the Cortana Letters, but I highly doubt the Letters themselves will become "canon."


Hey, I followed your link, and I couldn't find where it mentioned that Bitner wrote the Cortana letters. It said he worked with Bungie on H1, and that he was crazy, but I must have missed where it pinned him as the author.

#12 Poe Ghostal

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 09:23 AM

Hey, I followed your link, and I couldn't find where it mentioned that Bitner wrote the Cortana letters. It said he worked with Bungie on H1, and that he was crazy, but I must have missed where it pinned him as the author.

Well, it's more like it's generally agreed upon that Bitner was probably the author, or at least was very involved in their creation. Anyway, here are a few links:

http://halo.bungie.org/faq/story.html (first paragraph)

And Bitner's name is all over this page: http://www.marathon....ry/cortana.html

#13 UHYVE

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Posted 29 April 2007 - 07:46 PM

So, I was reading through Voc's article on the cortana letters and I saw this:

Apparently, through some attribute not yet revealed, the Gravemind can also control some of the technology that operates the ring, including a teleportation system which we’ve seen the rings caretaker and Cortana use previously on Installation 04.

During the latter events of Halo 2, the Gravemind sends the Master Chief and the Arbiter to High Charity and the Control Room of Delta Halo respectively. We can only assume that the Chief could be sent to High Charity because its contact and proximity with the ring installation, which would give Cortana a way off High Charity if she could harness and appropriately direct that technology.

I hadn't thought of that before for some reason, but it does seem very possible that Cortana could just be co-operating with Gravemind so he would return her to the Chief using his knowledge of the Halo's transportation technology...

PS I've not quite finished reading the article yet so maybe this was mentioned. Still, alittle interesting.

#14 mattacus

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 06:01 PM

Okay, I just finished reading FoR, and there were some really interesting bits about Cortana in there. The first thing that struck me is in her first scene where she is picking a Spartan. She has a tremendous amount of inherent affection for the MC before she ever meets him. After their first experience together, that affection solidifies. Her bond with the MC is much stronger than I realized.

Secondly, toward the end, MC makes this observation:

The Master Chief glanced at her translucent body. She looked vaguely like a younger Dr. Halsey. Tiny
dots, ones, and zeros slid over her torso, arms, and legs. Her thoughts were literally worn on her sleeve;
the symbols also appeared on Ensign Lovell?s NAV station. -FoR, ch 37


The characters you see on her are her thoughts. Later on, she even expresses her admiration for the beauty of "Chinese calligraphy." This lends even more weight to the argument that the Japanese writing deciphered from Cortana's face in the recent bungie update isn't just decoration, but an accurate portrayal of her state of mind.

#15 Syracuse022

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Posted 08 May 2007 - 06:29 PM

This lends even more weight to the argument that the Japanese writing deciphered from Cortana's face in the recent bungie update isn't just decoration, but an accurate portrayal of her state of mind.

...and to the notion that her color change after a few hours alone in the Control Room (a shift from cool to warm colors) might hint at something more malevolent beneath...

#16 mattacus

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 06:00 AM

But toward what is that malevonce directed...? The book (FoR) explicitly describes her affection and dedication to the MC. Even though she says she's willing to sacrifice herself and the MC to "complete the mission," I'm sure she'd just sacrifice herself to save the MC. You see a bit of that when she chooses to be left behind when the MC goes chasing after the Prophet of Truth, but that could have the double purpose of also desiring an informational hook-up with the Gravemind... ...The Serious Mind... ...The Mind of those who are in their Graves... ...The Collective Knowledge and Wisdom of all who have gone before him... ...or the one who knows how everyone dies...

#17 Drew

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 09:08 AM

All very interesting. Reading some of this has led me to believe, that while Cortana may be rampant, she still harbors some kind of love for the MC. Perhaps love strong enough that, if clouded by the heavy fog of rampancy, could lead her to point Gravemind to Earth. As long as she gets to see John, she'll do it, and with her being rampant, I can understand that she wouldn't realize leading the flood to Earth could mean the end of humanity.

#18 mattacus

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 09:18 AM

Or, in a plot device of ultimate cheesiness, her love prevents her rampancy and saves humanity.

#19 UHYVE

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 04:56 PM

Or, in a plot device of ultimate cheesiness, her love prevents her rampancy and saves humanity.


Posted Image

Urgh, I think I just threw up in my mouth alittle bit...

Edited by UHYVE, 09 May 2007 - 04:58 PM.


#20 Nightshade

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Posted 09 May 2007 - 05:29 PM

All very interesting. Reading some of this has led me to believe, that while Cortana may be rampant, she still harbors some kind of love for the MC. Perhaps love strong enough that, if clouded by the heavy fog of rampancy, could lead her to point Gravemind to Earth. As long as she gets to see John, she'll do it, and with her being rampant, I can understand that she wouldn't realize leading the flood to Earth could mean the end of humanity.

Ha ha ha, I can't stop laughing. Luv is teh best force evar, much bettar than gunz.

Edited by Nightshade, 09 May 2007 - 05:30 PM.




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