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The Terminals

Halo 3

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#41 urk


    Don't tase me, bro!

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 06:04 AM

I am a genius.

#42 vociferous

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 10:38 AM

Here's a not so brief write-up of everything I've discovered about the Forerunner culture having poured serious amounts of time into analyzing the terminals, the events of Halo 3 and so on. I believe this will be the most complete depository and summation of the events preceding the firing of the Halo Array and should be helpful to those interested in learning about the steps leading up to the next Halo game.

I, Forerunner…

The Forerunner race is composed of sentient, emotional and highly-intelligent beings. They have crafted an amazing collection of technology, are able to travel the span of the galaxy with pinpoint accuracy, developing impressive varieties of artificial intelligence and capable of building completely self-maintained planet-size biological habitats for whatever end they choose.

The Forerunners completely understood mortality, had developed a type of religion referred to as ‘The Mantle,’ and considered themselves the Guardians of the galaxy, a place of supremacy above all known sentients. 100,000 years ago, their last remnants vanished with the claim of embarking on what they called ‘The Great Journey.’

A deep dive into the story of Didact and Librarian fill in many gaps as to the reasoning behind their actions, their emotional state before, during and after firing the Halo Array, and a very acute view of their society during the siege of the parasite known as the Flood.

Although the terminals provide a great source of data concerning the Forerunners, there was none more clear than the lines within Halo 3 itself by the Prophet of Truth, leader of the Covenant, and by 343 Guilty Spark, the monitor of the first and now destroyed Halo ring, Installation 04.

Truth referred to the Forerunners as humanity’s ‘forefathers,’ and Guilty Spark stated rather emphatically ‘You are Forerunner,’ before attempting to size control of the replacement ring during the final battle in Halo 3.

With this, we know that humanity and the Forerunners are somehow linked, perhaps genetically, but more importantly, that the Forerunners selected humankind to be ‘Reclaimers’ of their Index keys – essentially the only beings capable of activating the Halo Array a second time. Their full relationship to humanity remains a mystery, even to them it appears…

The anomalous world is in a perilous location beyond the line. The secrets it holds must be preserved, plans within plans. The inhabitants; these unique denizens, must be researched. They may hold answers to our own mysteries. What irony that we discovered this treasure, only at the end of things.

Unlike frail humanity, the Forerunners appear to live longer as there is at least one period of time approximately 44 years long, where there is no communication between Didact and Librarian before the Array is fired. This implies, with other documentation, that the Forerunner beings could live for hundreds of years.

Since we know that their basic physiology must have been similar to humanity, we can assume that their primary gender may have been male and female; taking it a step further, despite the fact that it is not specifically articulated within the text, it is fairly easy to assume that ‘Librarian’ was female and ‘Didact’ was male. Bungie doesn’t clearly reveal this, but the nature of the dialog lends itself to this assumption.

With that in mind, we’ll refer to the two Forerunner beings as Librarian being female and Didact being male. Furthermore, we can tell that there is a sincere history and a strong relationship between the two. It would be surmised that they are clearly adults within their species and because of their individual tasks and they were ironically key figures in the final stages before the firing of the Halo Array. Although it is a possibility that they were unified in some form of marriage, their individual pursuits seems to indicate that they were disparate apart from their mutual and passionate love for each other.

When meet them we are first introduced to Didact through the Array Recorder (during the Halo 3 ARG). The Forerunner is leaving his final message in the recorder before and during the firing of the Halo Array, capturing his thoughts in that dire moment.

Best Laid Plans

There is no peace left. No place where the parasite cannot reach. You were right about it all. Let us hope the final measure is not too late. It's done. By my hands. The pyrrhic solution is ignited. All I have left is the quiet of space to lull me to sleep. I will dream of you. I feel no peril. No pain. No remorse. Is that normal?

To understand its content we have to go back quite a bit. During the early part of the parasites arrival, 344+ years prior to Didact firing the Array, the Forerunners built an installation outside the boundaries of the galaxy. This place was referred to as ‘the Ark’ or ‘Installation 00.’

It was a massive, multi-pronged cradle of artificially created but naturally maintained environments with atmosphere, earth, natural vegetation and a variety of fauna. At its center, a large sphere-like object, perhaps powering it, exists. Although it was a habitat and a marvelous world in and of itself, its chief task was the manufacturing of seven Halo rings numbered Installation 01 through Installation 07. These Halo installations would be self-maintained structures, similar to the Ark, placed in very key locations throughout the galaxy but created for two unique purposes.

Their primary function was as an isolated containment facility for Flood specimens. The parasite was acquired, maintained and propagated in high-security containment facilities on each of these ring worlds. Their early introduction to the parasite provided a promising possibility of a cure, but soon (possibly simultaneously) it became clear that the Halo installations needed to be dual-purposed.

Their secondary and more fearful function was that of a weapon network. Capable of firing deep into space in every direction, the collection of seven strategically-placed Halo installations could obliterate all sentient life in the galaxy. It would be their last resort.

It would act as a final attempt, after a cavalcade of concerted efforts, at ending the violent spread of the parasite. Some of these attempts having been historically captured and their effects existed during the firing of the Array, but most of the information captured general describes those 300+ years at war with the Flood.

…know that a thousand other plans were tried and failed. Millions of brave and honored souls died trying to avert this terrible, desperate situation. Know that as energetic and tenacious as life is, it has an antithesis just as powerful. It is that thing we must obliterate.

The plans they are referring to include the creation of ‘the Maginot Sphere’ and the demarcation of ‘the Line.’ Once the Flood reached a critical mass, the collective formed what is referred to as a Compound Mind, a directed sentience of all of those consumed by the Flood. This central brain or ‘Gravemind’ conducts the operations of the Flood and pulls the innumerable parasite legions into whatever direction it would best be served. It was then that the Line was drawn.

Designating a strategic border through the galaxy, the Forerunners established a quarantine zone of worlds which had not been affected and within that area and surrounding the Ark, perhaps at a great distance, they created a defensive barrier referred to as the Maginot Sphere. As the Flood consumed whole worlds, the parasitic strain spiraled outward, moving like a plague from core worlds throughout the galaxy.

Witnessing the peril and loss first hand, some of the Forerunners could no longer stand idly by. The Conservation Measure was then set into motion, utilizing the design and placement of the Halo installations along with the Ark to formulate a method of saving any sentients who they can.

These brave souls would venture across the Line with Keyships and begin the process of indexing every sentient possible in the very midst of the colluding parasite. Their ships, brimming with specimens, would return to the Ark where their cataloguing would await the firing of the Halo Array. The Ark, located safely outside of the galaxy and the blast radius of the rings, would allow their individual species to persist beyond the Flood’s galactic siege.

It is also known that in some locations they built gateways leading directly to the Ark, and that their last and final gateway was buried beneath the sand of a world which they found extremely significant. It’s sentient beings seemed so very similar that there was an immediate resonance with the Forerunners, that it was a clear that they should bear the role of ‘Reclaimer.’ Perhaps the Forerunners saw themselves in this simplistic and early sentient beings, but whatever it was, they would use them, humanity and the Earth, for a future purpose.

The Fall of the Mantle

This is where our love story between Didact and Librarian takes center stage, with the Librarian stranded on the parasite’s side of the Line, busy contributing toward the Conservation Measure and Didact, presumably behind the Maginot Sphere’s safety, brooding over the Index and activation console in the Ark’s citadel.

It is clear that these two individuals chose their own paths despite their history together as Didact points out that not only is Librarian venturing on this mission against his wishes, but she is exceeding the mission’s very parameters:

You know I oppose your mission but you’re exceeding its parameters anyway. You’ve put yourself in jeopardy. You’ve done enough. If you will not come to me, I will find my way to you.

Why is she exceeding the parameters? For humanity, of course. Her last destination was Earth and it is believed that this is where the bulk of her messages were transmitted from, as she finalized the last stages of the Conservation Measure and their greater plan. Throughout their transmissions, she continually petitions Didact to ignite the Halo rings and activate the Array, but because of the wide-scale death it will yield, he is not prepared to. Others are led to believe this was the galaxy he was considering, but the transmissions do not lie; at the center of his mind was Librarian.

Sending shipment after shipment of sentient species for the indexing process, at some point she realized that she would not make it home or be able to return to Didact. Her communications begin to slow down and Didact eventually comes to the conclusion that she won’t return. So he petitions…

How formal you are, Librarian. We’re receiving shipments of indexed beings more frequently than communications: Don’t compound scarcity with brevity. I know things beyond the line are harried. But I worry about, you. I’ve asked you time and time again. Abandon your cataloguing. Come back inside, where my fleets can keep you safe. Come home.

Sealed off by the Flood, she disregards his beckoning and states that even if she attempted to travel through one of the several gateways to return to the Ark, it would risk everything (by allowing the Flood to follow her back). She makes it clear that her place will remain there, with the Conservation Measure, until the end – until she’s saved them all.

We have no time to spare, Didact. Every vessel we can fill, we send to the Ark. I dare not cease the mission. Not now, not until I’ve done all I can. Each one of these souls is finite and precious. And I’m close. Close to saving them all.

Communication is lost for a while, but when it finally re-establishes, she states that her work there is finished and that he should prepare to activate the Halo Array. Didact is less than committed to this act, despite an evident and impending feeling that it may be their only option.

It is then that the conversation sways toward their religion, and we are introduced to the Mantle. The Forerunners believe themselves to be the Guardians of the galaxy and by their Guardianship, they must battle the Flood parasite to the end. Librarian, however, is not optimistic and believes that the Mantle itself made the Forerunners lackadaisical and careless, weakening their ability to handle such a threat – now that it has arrived, they are unable to properly assail it. She has lost any faith she once had in the Mantle, and in turn, replaced it with a willingness to do what she feels is right, hence her journey in the Conservation Measure.

A Last Ditch Effort

Shortly thereafter, Didact contacts Librarian with the Forerunner military’s final plan. They have created the ultimate artificial construct, a Contender Class A.I., which might be capable of communicating directly with the Gravemind. Its name is Mendicant Bias and it is their final hope: to study and attack the core of the Mind, the one part of the Flood which will recoil if it is struck – die if destroyed.

But not only does Didact want the Mind to be defeated and the Flood to be obliterated, but he needs an opportunity to rescue Librarian. By dispatching Mendicant Bias, he is buying time to save her.

Librarian is less than enamored with his bravado and valor, telling him to ignore his feelings for her and do what must be done: to fire the Halo installations and stop the Flood once and for all.

Are you insane? Would you risk every life in the galaxy for this transparently futile plan? Have you learned nothing in these last [300 years[?]]? The thing will laugh at your efforts! Do not let your concern for my welfare commit you to this suicidal scheme!

Her warnings are ignored and Mendicant Bias is dispatched to the Gravemind. For a period of approximately than 44 years, there is no communication between the Librarian and Didact and contact with Mendicant is also abated for some unknown reason.

Didact then receives a message from his love, on the other side of the galaxy, where she conveys the horrible shifting of scales. Obviously related to Mendicant Bias’ contact with the Gravemind, the parasite disengages all activity on her side of the Line and heads into the quarantine zone, moving straight for the Maginot Sphere and eventually the Ark.

Something is wrong! It’s moving away! At night I can see it – flitting shadows – black against the stars. Thousands of ships! Not spiraling outward but heading for the line. This is the tipping, Didact. It’s no longer feeding. It’s coming for you.

In a security effort she does what she probably knew she would have to do from the beginning and destroys her remaining Keyships, the last vestige of any hope that she could return to the Ark. Absolute in her determination, Librarian will not abed the Gravemind’s movement toward the Ark, not even in the slightest action which could offer her safety. She accepts her fate on a small planet which has been earmarked as special by Conservation Measure. This planet is Earth.

After burying the final gateway in the sands of Africa and sending the sentient species (humans) to the Ark, the Librarian looks up at Mt. Kilimanjaro and finds solace in her own ending which draws closer. She sends one final and somber message to Didact before slipping away to her resting place:

You should see the mountain that watches over it. A beautiful thing – a snowcapped sentinel. That’s where I will spend what time is left to me. Did I tell you? I built a garden. The earth is so rich. A seed falls and a tree sprouts or a flower blooms. There’s so much… potential. We knew this was a special place because of them, but unless you’ve been here, you can’t know. It’s [Eden].

Didact begins to realize the closure himself, almost as though he had been ignoring it despite its presence ever since she last left him. He realizes that he must fire the Array; it is their only chance.

At this point, however, Mendicant Bias, having been convinced by the Gravemind’s prowess that the parasite’s existence is necessary, falls prey to rampancy – the construct had leads the Flood back to the Maginot Sphere and is intent on stopping the Array from firing.

Halo Array 101: How To Kill Everyone

Didact and the other military Forerunners employ Offensive Bias, a counter to Mendicant and the Gravemind. Offensive Bias leads a massive naval fleet into battle, but is dwarfed in the size and volume of Mendicant’s fleet of Flood infested vessels. A war breaks before the parasite can reach the Ark, a sight unlike has ever been seen before and likely never to be matched again.

Didact now realizes that he must fulfill his promise and that Librarian was right, the only thing which could stop the Flood is the Array. He lights the network and sends one final message which would never be received.

I will begin our Great Journey without you, carrying this bitter record. Those who come after will know what we bought with this [false transcendence] – what you bought, and the price you paid.

Activating the Array, the Flood and all sentient life within range of the Halo network is destroyed. What the Great Journey is and where the Forerunners vanished to is unknown. It is clear that they did not stay behind on the Ark, nor did they move to the ring locations. Their absence in the wake of the Array is intriguing, but the processes they set into motion and the plans they prepared are even more puzzlingly amazing.

Through some automated fixture, the Ark releases all of the specimens back to their rightful homeworlds, including humanity. Unlike the other species which survived the galaxy-wide Flood, humankind was offered a vouchsafe and a plan. Their world would hold the gateway to the Ark and with it the task of being ‘Reclaimers.’ During the appointed time, humanity would rise up against the Flood and defeat them if the plan was successful.

Whether the Forerunners pictured the fruition of their plan as those which occur during Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2 and Halo 3, it is unknown. We do know that they saw it as a way to permanently stop the Flood by doing the exact opposite of what their original plan was. Bring the Gravemind to the Ark and allow a newly constructed Halo installation to locally destroy the parasite threat on the Ark, exterminating the Gravemind and the Flood.

Through happenstance and perhaps luck, these events took place in early 2553, approximately 100,000 years after the Array was first fired. During that timeframe, shortly thereafter or perhaps even while the Array was firing, the Forerunners ‘vanished’ without a trace, seemingly setting off on the Great Journey.

Considerably later, another culture of sentient beings is first to discover the trail left by the Forerunners. They are called San ‘Shyuum and are known as the Prophets of the Covenant. These beings are careless in their acquisition of the knowledge, misinterpreting some of the data (or perhaps interpreting it more accurately than humanity was capable of). They create a truce between themselves and another race of sentient beings, a warrior species known as the Sangheili or Elites.

The two cultures combine into a religious commune of thoughts and ideas known as the Covenant, forging a massive military with intent to discover more about the Forerunners. Several other cultures are subsumed into their group and through a series of events with the hopes of one day venturing on the Great Journey themselves, their campaign reaches humanity and the plans that the Forerunners set into motion begin to take an unseemly and unpredictable shape.

The Beggar

But during all of this inspection of the terminals, we learn a great deal about the Flood and the Gravemind. Mendicant Bias states that it was with the Gravemind for almost 44 years before making the decision to allocate its resources in the parasite’s favor.

I was created to study you as if you were some problem to solved. And I have done so {~}[379,907 hours]. If they wished they could have made a decision based on that data alone. But as you are the next stage in the evolution of the universe, who am I – or my creators – to obstruct your progress?

This interesting quote brings up the lynchpin of the Gravemind’s argument. When Mendicant first arrived at the Compound Mind’s lair, rather than having to battle the creature, the Gravemind embraced the construct. It was then that their dialog began and a long road of betrayal emerged.

The Gravemind explained that their purpose was evolutionary and that the creators of Mendicant, the Forerunners, were refusing it because of their longing to retain the biological status quo. After providing lengthy amounts of data, Mendicant was swayed, intending to protect his creators by allowing the Gravemind access to the Maginot Sphere.

At this point, the parasite’s spiraling efforts outside the Line stopped and it proceeded immediately toward the Maginot Sphere with all of Mendicant’s knowledge and resources at its hands.

Although the Forerunners knew that the Gravemind and the Flood had done this in other places, possibly other galaxies and had traveled to their own for that same purpose, it remains to be seen if the parasite’s intent was an overarching movement of biologically accurate – consuming all and bringing it into oneness and singularity with the rest of the universe.

The Gravemind’s case was convincing, but the Forerunners were quite certain about the nature of the Flood and the length they went to exterminating the parasite shows that they did not agree with its determination about the evolutionary biology. Never-the-less, Mendicant was swayed and ultimately found redemption only at the end.

The Forerunners created Offensive Bias and during the massive naval battle at the border of the Maginot Sphere, Mendicant was defeated and taken hostage. The remnants of the construct were brought back to the Ark, where it was prepared for study.

Mendicant was able to postpone its inevitable annihilation for [106:S] with its attempt to flee. But the last of its core vessels hangs before me now; crippled and defeated but still sensate. I could spare it; carve out what is left of its [personality construct array] and deliver it to [Installation Zero] for study. I doubt it would have extended the same courtesy to me.

Given 100,000 years to consider its folly, Mendicant eventually realized the error of its ways, further adding to evidence implicating the falsehood of the Gravemind’s argument. In a final statement, Mendicant leaves a resource behind in the Ark (and subsequently the replacement for Installation 04) which offers all of the data available in the terminals.

You asked me once, what happened to those who vanished? You asked me, why did we survive where our fathers fell? You wished to know how we ever let it happen, a scourge that consumed the galaxy and the cure that was worse than the cancer? You asked me once about my intent and the spot that would not wash out? I promise you the answers lie in the Ark. Find me there in the dark, for that is where I abide.

Although some could attribute the above to Didact, who fired the Halo Array, it is likely that this was the remainder of Mendicant Bias’ existence, found in the mainframe terminals on the Ark. Having returned full circle, Mendicant comes to the realization of the error in its ways and participates in the final plan to end the threat of the Flood once more.

Betraying Betrayal (Atonement)

All of this was thanks to Offensive Bias, a lesser artificial construct created specifically to counter the threat of Mendicant. 44 years after they dispatched their attack on the Gravemind, the distant A.I. had ‘come undone’ and become rampant. When this occurred, the Forerunners scrambled to create a counter intelligence, not to communicate with the Gravemind or Mendicant, but to meet them on their route toward the Ark and destroy them.

The creation of Offensive Bias, and Mendicant before it, was the culmination of an avalanche of data that began with understanding the parasite in its early forms. Data was culled from their investigative labs and libraries on the individual Halo installations, but more importantly, from first-hand accounts of the parasites planetside consumption.

Two of the worlds talked about in the terminals were LP 656-38 e and DM -3-1123. The data taken from these encounters were quite useful in determining the unending and horrifying ground assault of the Flood on a single world.

On LP 656-38 e, for example, 9,045 survivors barricaded themselves within a government building which was under siege by more than 1.5 billion individual forms of the Flood. They were given just over a week before being consumed into the parasite’s vast numbers.

In the system containing DM -3-1123, the Forerunners won an escalating naval battle and discovered a weakness of the Flood. The parasite could easily overrun ground forces without limit, but their ability to accurately conduct naval warfare was hampered by a number of impediments. The primary integrity issue was that of their ship classes being primarily civilian in construction and this considerably muted any reason aggression they could have against an enemy vessel.

When the enemies landed on DM-3-1123 b, presumably the planet within the system of the same name, the remainder of the population centers were evacuated and the Forerunners glassed the surface, completely destroying the parasite. Whether this is where the Forerunners decided to implement the Halo Array plan or not isn’t known, but it is conceivable that the Conservation Measure has its roots in this data.

Furthermore, excerpts from what appears to be a diary of a military leader, likely to be Didact, give us a closer look at the Forerunner’s interpretation of the data. If Didact was the author of these excerpts, it would be assumed that they were taken before or during the early portions of his transmissions with Librarian, but likely to have occurred during the Conservation Measure.

I understand the goal of this mission but time – our least abundant resource – is wasted every time we do a system-wide scan for survivors. The time for saving lives has passed. We must accept this if we hope to win the war.

He has already shown his opposition to Librarian’s tasks within the Conservation Measure, but from the previous dialog, his intentions seemed more selfish, wanting to save her from peril at the hands of the Flood. Here we can see that there were more factors involved in his apprehension toward the Conservation Measure. Later, he even set a timeframe for appropriate withdrawal of those activities.

Considering the enemy compound intelligence’s raw [computing] power the Keyships strategy will only remain viable for another [657,000 hours] and this current stalemate has the potential to last considerably longer than that.

The Keyships he refers to, which are assumed to be much like the Prophet of Truth’s dreadnaught, have already been revealed to be part of the Conservation Measure and later the Halo Array. He states here that such projects will only be reasonable to continue for another 75 years, but their battle with the parasite will greatly outlast it.

Displaying vast military expertise, Didact begins destroying core worlds which have fallen prey to the Flood, forcing the parasite into costly naval battles. He knows that land-based battles will only end in failure because of the nature of the Flood, but fighting in space could potentially halt the Flood’s advances – destroying every means of transportation they have and isolating them on various planets for orbital handling.

For years they battled this way, but were unsuccessful in completing their destruction of the Flood. The formation of the Gravemind allowed the Flood to coalesce their objectives and work together, rather than be herded about.

When Offensive Bias was sent to contend with this Contender, the Forerunners had already began preparing to fire the Array. During the battle on the borderline of the Maginot Sphere, some parasite-controlled craft broke through the barrier and attempted to seed themselves on worlds just within the Sphere.

It gives us a good idea about the size of the Sphere. Previous references tell us that the Ark, an extragalactic site, was also within the Maginot Sphere, so this defensive barrier may have spanned across millions of systems and lied somewhere on the Outer Rim.

The success of these intruding parasites was never discussed, but as a whole, the Flood was either eviscerated by Offensive Bias’ naval attacks of their core ships or by the firing of the Halo Array. Eventually Mendicant Bias is dissolved and taken hostage, later seeking absolution of its crimes.

Before this happens and before the Flood are eliminated by the Halo Array, a startling message is issued by the Gravemind. This message may have originated from the Compound Mind, but it appears that it was conveyed through Mendicant as it references the Mantle and speaks in the construct’s personality tone.

I kill you all and I enjoy it. I destroy you in your indolent billions – in your gluttony, in your self-righteousness, in your arrogance. I pound your cities into dust; turn back the clock on your civilization’s progress. What has taken you millennia to achieve I erase in seconds.

Welcome back to the [Stone Age], vermin, welcome home.

Your history is an appalling chronicle of overindulgence and self-appointed authority. You have spent millennia [navel-gazing] while the universe has continued to evolve. And now you claim the Mantle is justification for impeding nature’s inevitable refinement?

You are deluded. But through death you will transcend ignorance.

The Gravemind is unsuccessful at that time and after the Array fires, 100,000 years have come and gone before the Covenant and humanity stumble upon one of the Halo installations. It is then that Mendicant realizes what must be done and after the destruction of that ring, it prepares another in an effort to betray its parasitic former master, who has just been awakened under the surface of Installation 05.

With the Gravemind’s reemergence, Mendicant knows that it will first acquire a supraluminal vessel of some sort and then make its journey toward the Ark, where it can end of the threat of the Halo installations once and for all. When the Master Chief arrives, Mendicant offers up one last request for atonement, having forced the hand of Didact a hundred millennia ago to fire the Array.

You don’t know the contortions I had to go through to follow you here, Reclaimer. I know what you’re here for. What positions do I take? Will I follow one betrayal with another?

You’re going to say I’m making a habit of turning on my masters.

But the one that destroyed me long ago, in the upper atmosphere of a world far distant from here, was an implement far cruder than I. My weakness was my capacity – unintentional though it was! – to choose the Flood. A mistake my makers would not soon forgive.

But I want something far different from you, Reclaimer.


And so here at the end of my life. I do once again betray a former master. The path ahead is fraught with peril. But I will do all I can to keep it stable – keep you safe. I’m not so foolish to think this will absolve me of my sins. One life hardly balances billions.

But I would have my masters know that I have changed.

And you shall be my example.

Instituting the final procedures on the Ark’s forges, Mendicant creates a replacement ring for Installation 04 and allows it to be released prematurely. Upon the Master Chief’s arrival at the Ark, he is led to this placement during his mission to defeat the Covenant. After their destruction a new enemy appears as High Charity descends from subspace onto the surface of the Ark. Within it, of course, is the Gravemind.

The Master Chief reclaims a key that was held by his own artificial construct on the Flood-infested High Charity. After coming to the end of a lengthy journey, Mendicant protects the Reclaimer and allows him to unleash the power of the ring onto the Ark, destroying itself and the Gravemind as the premature installation couldn’t contain its energy and self-destructed.

The Reclaimer escaped the blast through the gateway portal, however, but his ship remained adrift somewhere between his world and the Ark - with no way of getting home.

As it moves aimlessly through space, it stumbles upon a planet-size sphere with the appearance of a natural world. With even a cursory inspection by the player, it is revealed to be unnatural and, in fact, inhabited. The architecture, shapes and patterns are distinctively Forerunner and the music heard during this final cinematic indicate the harrowing imminence of this mystery.

The player is left with several reasonable questions about this cinematic, but perhaps there are already some answers found within the entries of Didact before the Array was launched. Perhaps even in the Forerunner’s Mantle and its subsequent Great Journey, which remains a mystery to this day.

If we start immediately – commence total biosphere elimination of life sustaining worlds (as indicated in the accompanying charts) and relocate evacuated populations to facilities such as those described in the [Onyx project] – all this could be achieved in [57,1590 (+ or – 2,1842) hours].

The first reference of the Onyx project outside of Eric Nylund’s Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, a planet later revealed to be entirely artificial in nature. For many fans of the novels, the first thought which entered their heads when seeing this ending was likely Onyx. The world which was used as a top secret military training environment was later revealed to be an artificially constructed facility built by and with Forerunner machines.

Onyx is sincerely referred to by the Forerunners as a ‘shield world,’ and within it lied an ornate tapestry of Forerunner artifacts including a portal that led into subspace. It is revealed that the firing of a Halo installation would not hamper or destroy any sentient beings held within the safety of subspace. In the novel, a separate group of Reclaimers, humans from the Spartan-II and Spartan-III projects, have found their way into a ‘Dyson sphere’ at the center of Onyx.

Only now, after the events of Halo 3, do we know the intent of those structures. Before the Conservation Measure could be completed, facilities were created that could house and block the blast of the seven Halo installations and there, certain recovered populations of sentients could reside. The extent of this project and the connection between it and the structure witnessed at the end of Halo 3 are tenuous but blatantly applicable.

The real question that remains is what exactly the Great Journey was? Could it have involved these facilities created during the Onyx project? We could assume that the Great Journey wasn’t simply passing on or death, allowing the Forerunners to reach some sort of spiritual existence in a ‘heaven,’ because Didact views himself has being separated from Librarian permanently once she is killed during the firing of the Array.

Therefore it must be a corporeal and very physical event, however transcendent it appears superficially. Could the Forerunners have transported themselves, without means of departure, to one of the shield worlds? Would that be the Great Journey that has been misunderstood, mistranslated and miscalculated by many for so many centuries?

And what of the ‘evacuated populations’? They are obviously sentient beings, who were transported to these facilities a hundred millennia ago. Were they all benevolent? Are they still there?

All of these questions remain in the departure of Halo 3, further fueling the fire of speculation…

#43 NJ Shlice

NJ Shlice

    Tonight, we dine in Halo!

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 10:52 AM

You are an animal. Gimme some time to read through that.

#44 MoNuckah


    Has a wide stance.

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 10:54 AM

Holy shit Voc...

#45 urk


    Don't tase me, bro!

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 11:01 AM

Awesome write up. Nice, nice stuff. Tons of food for thought in there. I'm not so sure The Mantel is purely religious, though it's clear they consider it the highest of callings. I believe they see it more as a duty and obligation. They believe they are the most intelligent and moral beings in the galaxy - the only species capable, and therefor, required to form the protective layer around the soft flesh of the galaxy.

#46 NJ Shlice

NJ Shlice

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 11:24 AM

Awesome read. I'm gonna ponder my entire drive home. Hopefully I'll come up with something...

#47 vociferous

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Posted 11 October 2007 - 12:04 PM

Thanks guys.

Awesome write up. Nice, nice stuff. Tons of food for thought in there.

I'm not so sure The Mantel is purely religious, though it's clear they consider it the highest of callings. I believe they see it more as a duty and obligation. They believe they are the most intelligent and moral beings in the galaxy - the only species capable, and therefor, required to form the protective layer around the soft flesh of the galaxy.

I agree. There are obviously things about the Mantle that we really don't know. To incorporate it into the saga, it feels like its a religion-based system because Librarian departs from it, almost as though she has lost her faith. I'm sure there is a physical application that is more viable, but a lot of this stuff, as in depth as it might seem, is just a glossing over of things. There's a lot in the terminals - a ton.

#48 urk


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Posted 11 October 2007 - 12:30 PM

There's a lot in the terminals - a ton.

I'd be willing to bet that there's plenty of gems hidden in the "hemorrhaging" code as well as in the audio tracks that play in the background. I hope someone captures it all and runs through it with a jeweler's eye.

#49 Drew


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Posted 11 October 2007 - 01:24 PM

Wow. Awesome write-up, Voc. That's really thought provoking, and it helped me understand a bunch of stuff I was unsure about before. Very cool.

#50 Nightshade


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Posted 11 October 2007 - 03:05 PM

Very nice. You are a literary beast. Great read.

#51 NJ Shlice

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 04:32 AM

"Last time, you asked me, if it was my choice, would I do it? Having considerable time to ponder your query, my answer has not changed."

Remember that?

What do you think he meant?

I don't think he's speaking to Master Chief specifically, but in a generalization of any Reclaimer. But why would any Forerunner ask a Monitor that question.

or if we're to assume that 343 Guilty Spark = Mendicant Bias. Why would they ever ask MB that?

I guess we could brush off this quote and say "Well maybe Mendicant Bias' creator said something or asked him a nonchalant question like that." But I think this quote is more important than that.

#52 mattacus


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Posted 13 October 2007 - 05:08 AM

You know how Cortana is Dr. Halsey in AI form? Perhaps there was some last-second, as yet undisclosed transfer of memories and ideas to an AI from a Forerunner (perhaps the Librarian). And that AI could very well be 343 GS...

#53 NJ Shlice

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 05:13 AM

You know how Cortana is Dr. Halsey in AI form? Perhaps there was some last-second, as yet undisclosed transfer of memories and ideas to an AI from a Forerunner (perhaps the Librarian). And that AI could very well be 343 GS...

Now, That would be very interesting.

How about this, also. From The Flood Book, when Master Chief first activates the light Bridge

"The display's shimmering geometric patterns nagged at him, as if he should recognize them somehow. Even with his enhanced memory, he couldn't place where he'd seen them before. They just seemed... familiar.

He wasn't sure why he touched the "button" on the display. He just knew it felt right."

Could they Forerunners have "engineered" us and prepared us for the task at hand. Prepared us to Reclaim.

#54 Shin Karasawa

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:22 PM

It dissapoints me how little the games touch on this deep backstory. There's so much more than I ever imagined.

#55 vociferous

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Posted 13 October 2007 - 12:37 PM

"Last time, you asked me, if it was my choice, would I do it? Having considerable time to ponder your query, my answer has not changed."

Remember that?

I think the Mendicant Bias = Guilty Spark theory can only go so far, particularly since the two argue at one point in the terminals. I believe that Guilty Spark was referring to the Reclaimer as a Forerunner, so when he asked Master Chief that question, he was referencing a conversation he had with one of the installations maintainers or creators. It's clear that the Forerunners were emotional beings and that they held life in its highest regard, which was the entire irony of their society and history. They ended up guarding the universe from death by killing off nearly every sentient being. There's no doubt that from time to time, a biological would ask that question of an artificial, much like Chief asks things of Cortana.

I think the key to the phrase isn't what Guilty Spark is asking, but its the relevancy of the moral dilemma the rings, themselves, pose. Something I don't think was fully revealed at that point during the first game's story arch...

#56 Drew


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Posted 13 October 2007 - 02:49 PM

I'm with Voc on this one. The probability of Mendicant going through all of that trouble just to betray you in the end is really unlikely, I think.

#57 NJ Shlice

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Posted 14 October 2007 - 08:24 AM

I'm with Voc on this one. The probability of Mendicant going through all of that trouble just to betray you in the end is really unlikely, I think.

Betrayal is a characteristic of Humans, and exactly what you would not make an A.I. capable of. However, they engineered Mendicant with the utmost technology and thinking power, to the point where he made his own decision to betray the Humans and side with Gravemind.

Why wouldn't he do it again?

#58 mattacus


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Posted 14 October 2007 - 12:37 PM

Or, what's to say he can't change his mind and repent of his former alliance with the Gravemind?

#59 vociferous

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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:42 PM

Why wouldn't he do it again?

For me the key is that they already covered that ground in the story. Mendicant betrayed the Forerunners and over the hundred thousand years that have passed, it now feels regret. Offensive Bias brought what was left of Mendicant to the Ark for examination and that appears to have been what happened, as Mendicant asks the Reclaimer to look for him there.

Guilty Spark, however, has been on Installation 04 for this time and has experienced a completely separate turn of events with a different response, being convinced at the end that the ring is its own property. This coupled with the events of Halo 3 showing Mendicant and Guilty Spark arguing with each other in the terminals really convey to me that they are separate individuals.

#60 urk


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Posted 18 October 2007 - 12:53 PM

We may as well speculate that Guilty Spark is Offensive Bias. There's nothing in the story to link Guilty Spark to any other entities. It's clear that his charge is to maintain and protect Installation 04, and when needed, to facilitate firing of the array itself. When it comes to the Flood (and the Gravemind) he appears interested, but indifferent.

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