Gravemind is, as of yet, a mystery. Cognizant, emotional, and cunning, he is a guiding force behind the Flood found on Delta Halo 05. However, it is not known if he should be referred to as 'the' or 'a' Flood Intelligence, or whether he is a singular source/leader or a Flood form which will eventually grow under the proper conditions. It is also unknown how he manages to communicate with the other Flood and if he possesses motives and aspirations beyond the mindless hunger the Flood is typically known for. He does appear to be capable of some rather impressive feats: utilizing the Halo's teleportation grid, assimilating and linking with other life forms and machinery (Regret and 2401), and, in capturing John and the Arbiter, a sort of omnipresence. With the annexation of High Charity, its tremendous biological and technological assets, and the willingness of Cortana, the next move is certainly his...
Ah, numerology. Noting Bungie's penchant for sevens, one keen reader observes what might be a slightly more elegant instance of our favorite number.
Brian Adamson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
...the Gravemind by and large speaks in iambic septameter (Poetic style with seven beats per line):
"This one / is ma / chine and / nerve, and /has his /mind con / cluded,
"This one / is but / flesh and / faith and / is the /more de / luded "
"Silence / fills the /empty /grave, / now that / I have/ gone
"But / my mind / is not / at rest, / for questions / linger / on..."
In this case, "grave" and "gone" consume one beat for themselves [despite being single-syllable words] due to te long vowel sounds, allowing the cadence to continue. In the second line, the section "for questions" also consumes only one space, because the "for" is said very shortly.
David McCulley†(email@example.com) writes:
During the Gravemind level I wondered if Gravemind had an obvious control of Halo's teleportation system why then did he need to send the Master Chief and the Arbiter to stop the covenant from activating Halo? Why couldn't he simply teleport Flood forms right ontop of High Charity? I realised that it must have something to do with the teleportation system. During the construction of the seven Halo rings the Forerunners must have been aware of the Flood's ability to use weapons and machinery. When the Forerunners built the Halo rings and their teleportation system the Forerunners must have installed a security protocal that prevents anyone containing Flood DNA from using the teleportation grid. This explains why the Flood needed the In Amber CLad and pelicans to invade High Charity and couldn't simply teleport over.
This ties in neatly with the idea that Gravemind might be that rarest of things in this galaxy, a Flood-infected Forerunner.
If Gravemind composed poems, would we be looking at the new Chaucer here?
MoonieJohnson (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
The Flood are actually a parasite based around a central intelligence. On Halo 04, the Covenant had just released the Flood, and it had no time to gather sufficient biomass to form the command, or "Gravemind" stage. I believe that the Keyes Blob would have eventually gathered enough bodies and knowledge into it and mutate into a Gravemind, the controlling intelligence behind the Flood in an area of unknown size.
On Halo 05, the Flood had been released uncountable eons before and had had time to ravage the Halo, enought time at least to form a Gravemind. If you think about it, the first stage is the "Ranger" stage, which are defenseless parasites that form the other stages. Then there are the Combat and Incubator stages, the logical step would be for these stages forming together into a Command intelligence, that would eventually achieve sentience, as evidenced by the Gravemind.
If continued to its logical extreme, multiple Command intelligences would form together to create an even greater form, a "God" form.
For the sake of the galaxy's literacy, perhaps we should let the Flood roam free.
Do we get a peak at Gravemind being on High Charity long before the game's conclusion? Some people seem to think so. More support for that darn "Flood are plants" theory...
Twisting the knife.
Colin Shock (email@example.com) writes:
In the opening cinematic "The Gravemind" , the beginning dialogue:
CORTANA: What... is that?
GRAVEMIND: I? I am a monument to all your sins.
I think that the line "I am a monument to all your sins" means that he is saying he is here because of Cortana (or the Master Chief, after all it was coming out of his body) created the flood. But that can not be. But that could give further proof to the "humans being modern Forerunners" speculation. And because Cortana was in Master Chief when, or because she was created by humans, she could be assumed to be human.
Or, more logically, he could have been talking to Cortana the whole time. After all, our favourite fly trap does have a bit of an obsession about her. What could be Cortana's sins?
Could the Forerunner be a construct race?
And to kick off, MrBananas has a nice little forum thread entitled Making a Deal With the Devil. Not sure how much of it makes sense, but go and discourse learnedly upon important matters.
Terminus Prill (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
I've been going over what I know about the Flood, and the recomended reading list, and I've come to a few new conclusions about our virulent friend.
To compare it to Orson Scott Card's Descolada virus, which also re-writes it's victims DNA, the theory that it evolved naturally as some primitive form of life cannot be true, as something so virulent would run it's course, infecting everything around it, run out of food, and die out. Therefore, it must be man(I use the term loosely) -made. As to who made it, I can only speculate, though I think it is safe to say either the Forerunner, or their enemies, created it. From that, we can also assume that since the Flood feed on calcium stores, that the beings who created it were fairly similar to us, especailly since the virus was seemingly familiar with Humanoid genetic particles, having been able to readily infect both Humans and the Elites.
A second though I had relates to a quote of our favorite Floating Christmas Light, 343 Guilty Spark, on the level 'The Library..
"You can see how the body's been transformed by the genetic restructuring of the Flood infection. The small creatures carry spores that cause a host to mutate. The mutated host then produces spores that can pass the Flood to others. It is insidious and elegant. As long as any hosts remain, the Flood is virulent."
As long as any host remains, the flood is virulent. Hm. What happens then? Before the release of Halo 2, I always wondered if there was a planet out there with a form of the Flood that had, in the absence of hosts, developed a society as a sentient species. And they are obviously somewhat sentient
"' The Flood are already hard at work repairing your vessel. Its parasitic nature belies the Flood's intelligence.' -343 Guilty Spark"
Then Halo 2 came along, and, more importantly, Gravemind. He is quite obviously ancient, because he is not only no longer virulent, I assume, becaue he isn't mindlessly killing and reproducing. He is obviously reverting somewhat, because he seemed to have no qualms absorbing His Most Annoyingess, Regret. But he is intelligent, and to a point, brilliant.
A third thing, I'd like to put forth my own rampant speculations on a few things.
Brain Forms. They are not intelligent, nor brains. I think of them more like a keyboard, made in english, to write in chinese. A translator bewteen the flood and machinery, or dedicated wetware, if you will. All they need is a bioform that had the knowlegde to pilot/control the machine, and a little time to develop the approriate apendeges. Gravemind is not, and I stress the word 'not', a product of a brain form, for the reasons above. He is the product of an enviroment that has lacked hosts, I assume, for eons.
 From Speaker for the Dead, Xenocide, and Children of the Mind
 I would assume they would have enemies, or they wouldn't have created a weapon such as the Flood, unless the virus was an experiment gone wrong. Or, like the Descolda, a virus sent across the [galactic] void to prepare our galaxy for habitablility.
 I make no mention of the other species because, as yet, I have seen no Grunt or Jakal combat forms. Regret has also been shown assimilated. Perhaps there is a common ancestor between Elites, Humans, and Prophets?
Extra brownie points for the use of Harvard Style annotations.
I dismiss too much as 'dramatic tension' I feel. That's why I rely on people like J Esterline to point it out for me!
J Esterline (email@example.com) writes:
A quick thought: Why doesn't Gravemind intervene on the side of the Arbiter in the fight against Tartarus? After all, there is evidence of a fight for the Index earlier on. Is the outcome (the Arbiter stopping the activation of the Halos) a foregone conclusion? One would think not, given how close the Halo is to firing at the end of the fight. Maybe Gravemind's omnipresence (at least through infection forms, as commander of the Flood), or his near-omniscience, is showing a deficiency here; or, perhaps, his willingness and confidence to gamble in such a situation is exhibited? Surely he is a "sentient being" and thus susceptible to the destructive power of halo; even if being on a halo is protection (this is never stated, to my knowledge), his flood would be starved for hosts, as intended by the Forerunners. All in all, a bit of a puzzle, it seems.
It's been hinted at before, but I'm a sucker for a concise submission.
Kyle Maurer (Rykaziel@bu.edu) writes:
Of all the statements that Gravemind makes, there is one that continually surfaces in my mind.
Gravemind:: "I? I am a monument to all your sins."
I believe this statement reveals much about Graveminds origin and the fate of the Forerunner. However, the following analysis of this quote assumes that at least one thing is true :: That the Master Chief and Cortana resemble the Forerunner, and as far as the monitors of the installations and Gravemind are concerned, Humans (especially Master Chief) are regarded as Forerunner or at least meet certain criteria that would make Gravemind and the monitors assume Humans are connected in some way.
With that out of the way, let's examine the quote. The two most striking images are monument and sins. Trying to remove extreme religious symbolism, we can imply that sins means a wrongdoing, an act that goes against a natural law. A monument, is a testament, or a physical, timeless interpretation or product of an event. So to clarify Gravemind's statement, he is the product, or embodiment, of Forerunner wrongdoing.
My hypothesis, is that the Forerunner began to experiment with genetics, and got past the point of cloning, until they tried to create a new life altogether. Their intent may have been wholly moral, and wholly good, but they emerged was something terrible. As an example, the Forerunner may have given the Flood the incredible regenerating capabilities it has, thinking maybe the Flood could be used for rejuvenating an endangered species. However, whether intentional, an error in genetic code, or as nature's retaliation for trying to do what only nature can, it also had it's virus-like characteristics. The Flood, the Forerunner creation, became their demise.
Because of the Forerunner sin against nature, Gravemind, an old, old Flood form, may have been one of the earlier forms from which the rest of the Flood came from, or simply one of many very old advanced forms. He is the image, the terrible product of Forerunner arrogance, and he endures as a monument of the Forerunner's colossal sin against nature.
As for Gravemind's intentions, that remains to be seen.
It done broke.
Army Fork proposes something unique: a somewhat faulty, or at least poorly understood, Delta Halo 05. After all, why else would neither Gravemind nor the rest of his Flood brood seem at all interested in swarming the Control Room to prevent firing?
I just thought of something, could it be delta halo would not actually fire as they suspected? if it was, gravemind would have sent every flood he had to every spot where there could be a threat of halo activation to stop them from firing. But in the final fight between the arbiter and Tartarus, there are no flood present. They didn't need to go, because all that they knew would happen is that it would just fire the pulse, and the ark would be activated for it's firing. It could fire, but gravemind already knew so much that he wasn't worried about what other percieved as the threat of a halo activation. He used the Arbiter and the Chief's belief it would activate to spur them into action.
Hmmm. Check it out.
You Are What You Eat: A Gravemind Theory
Manuel Botelho (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
I just was surfin the net when i came arcoss your site. As far as Gravemind is concerned i think that he is an infected forerunner from the first realeasment of the flood.I mean think about it if the covenant and humans became infected during battles whith the flood why couldnt the forerunner. They were sentient life, yet that brings up another question. What happened to the rest of the forerunner who were infected?
Interesting and entirely feasible. The only other material Gravemind could realistically be made from would be other species who have landed in the ring during the interim (or during this landing, if he's quick!). As 343 says in the "Conversations...": "A primitive, hegemonizing swarm calling itself The Covenant has landed on installation 4, apparently seeking something specific. Exploring! Meddling! I've seen it all before. They'll record what they see and they'll leave."
However, if any of these previous races had become Flood fodder, it stands to reason that the Flood would have long since escaped, given their affinity for assimilation and repair.
Forerunner it is then :)
This won't be the last you hear of him, but I'm a sucker for Sangheili theories.
UrsusArctos (email@example.com) writes:
I thought of something after reading Manuel Bothelo's take on Gravemind (October 17). Manuel suggests that Gravemind was made out of flood-infected forerunners. One panel in the Art of Halo shows Gravemind with Sangheili(Elite) skulls for teeth.
Manuel's theory- Gravemind is made of infected forerunner
Art of Halo- Gravemind is made of infected elites (Among other things)
If the Elite part of Gravemind came from Regret's honor guards, he must have assimilated them unbelievably fast. Regret's corpse is practically untouched apart from being reanimated, so the Elite corpses should logically be in the same state. The only other explanation is that the Elite skulls came from Elites that had been on the ring well before Regret. Tie that in with the aforementioned infected forerunner theory, and what do we get? Elites were part of the Forerunner, maybe in the same sense as they are( perhaps more appropriately were) part of the Covenant.
I can't help it, I really like the whole Gravemind-Marathon idea. I know it's silly and contradicts some Bungie statements, but I like it God Damn it and I have the pretty upload button.
UrsusArctos (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes:
Narcogen pointed out that Gravemind has parallels with the Jjaro AI Thoth in Marathon. Both are directly connected to the ancient race that started it all(Jjaro/Forerunner), and both merge with an AI that has been giving orders to and helping out the player (Durandal/Cortana). And they both speak in verse.
The Marathon Story Page mentions a secret terminal called "My Own Private Thermopylae" (Thermopylae! Uh-oh...), and it had this to say about Thoth.
"Beware. The mythical Thoth was concerned
with maintaining the balance between
creation and destruction, yes and no, light
and darkness, not the triumph of one over
Do you remember the days when computers
were simple, unreasoning things you could
turn off and on like flashlights? Is
memory what we perceived or what we want?
What does Thoth think? He concerns himself
with the states of off and on, good and
evil. Isn't his perception simple?
Doesn't it have to be?
I will return."
If Gravemind and the Flood are in Thoth's role, might they have been brought into existence to bring order to the universe? If the Forerunner spread all over the galaxy along with Sentient life, all life in the galaxy and perhaps even the universe could been snuffed out, irredeemably, by the Forerunner/Sentient Life expansion. As a result, a particular entity or agency created the Flood, who spread all over the Forerunner domains, consuming all sentient life. But the flood turned out to be so powerful that they threatened to do the same thing that the Forerunner did-bring an end to all life in the galaxy, and in much less time. The flood are somehow dependent on the existence of life in the galaxy, so that they become more potent when more sentient life exists, and starve to death in the absence of any sentient life.
As a consequence, the Halo superweapons and the Ark came into existence to save all life from the Flood threat.(In the podcast, Sketch says something like "Halo 3 is going to be about the agency that built the Ark", I think around 11:51)
About Gravemind? Considering that he's been there a while and knows enough to understand that wiping out all sentient life will starve the flood of a food source anyways, he waits patiently deep in the bowels of Delta Halo along with the Flood, so that he can create a balanced universe where he and his flood can exist for millenia in equilibrium with humanity and other flood food, and without the threat of starvation either way.
Notice that, like Thoth, Gravemind does seem to go on the side of the underdog. Even though he was acting in the best interests of the Flood, he did send Master Chief and the Arbiter back to a position where they could do what they did best. Gravemind sees everything in terms of 'flood' and 'flood food' and he's intent on keeping that balance between the two(Hence no flood in the Control Room where they could've stopped Tartarus from firing the ring).
One more verse by Thoth that should tickle someone's fancy-
i was left behind
our paths conv^rge
our fates are shared
chance tears and bends
I was left behind? We know that both controllable characters (Arbiter and MC) are "left behind" in one way or the other.
Thoth:"Our paths converge. Our fates are shared."
Gravemind:"Fate had us meet as foes, but this ring will make us brothers."
Lots of people have questioned the apparent Forerunner/Flood link before. In fact there was a theory in the batch I chose not to update with. I thought it was interesting to see it here.
I am a monument to all your sins ... child of my enemy
Have you ever wondered what those lines from Halo 2 meant? Course you have, but now's your chance to post your opinion. Brian Ojeda has started a nifty thread discussing what these lines mean.
First of all, child of my enemy seems to make sense in that it is addressed to a human, which we all know are believed to be descendants of the Forerunners. The other line ... I'm not sure about. Go read!
And so we come to the post that made me think back on the nature of Gravemind.
EmptySet (email@example.com) writes:
This is how I always interpreted that terminal, but Urban Reflex makes an interesting point about differentiating between the infection and the host. I read three ways to interpret this information:
1. The Halo blast kills flood outright - at least, it kills flood forms of sufficient biomass. That matches the terminal account, but it conflicts with everything we were told about the flood previously.
2. The Halo blast only kills the host. This would leave Mendicant's ships adrift, filled with forerunner corpses and swarms of infection forms that removed themselves from the inert bodies. The infection forms live on, but are incapable of piloting the ship, and will be destroyed as OB destroys the fleet.
3. The Halo blast kills infected hosts, and the infection entity, since it is tied too deeply into the host's nervous system. (We see infection forms reanimate "dead" combat forms, but do we ever see infection forms retract themselves from a host in-game?)
For practical purposes, options 2 and 3 are distinctions without a difference - the flood are not killed by the Halo blast itself, but by the consequences thereof.
(What about pure forms?)
Where I'm going: where is it ever stated that the Gravemind was destroyed in the Halo blast? I think it is assumed, because the galactic flood infestation is halted (until Gravemind hijacks HC 100,000 some odd years later, at least), but I can't remember any dialog or terminal thread that stated it explicitly. Do we even know where the flood's "core Mind" is during the battle and ensuing Halo blast?
We really don't know the composition of the Gravemind - we know (at most) that the physical core is made up of at least one prophet, during Halo 2. Especially considering the debate about flood infection vectors, re: flora vs. fauna, is it possible that the core Mind of the Terminals survived the blast (even if some of its sentient "components" were destroyed), and retreated to some safe haven, to await the repopulation of the galaxy?
The Halo Array was built prior to the deployment of Mendicant Bias. If MB knew about the Array (did it?), we can probably assume that the Flood knew about it.
Perhaps the Gravemind "smuggled" itself aboard Installation 05 prior to the Halo's firing. Maybe it tried to sabotage the ring, maybe the ring was somehow shielded from its own blast (still under debate?), maybe because the rings are repositories of Forerunner knowledge, and GM wanted to study its enemy in the same way the Forerunner were studying the spores. Still doesn't explain how it would subsist for 100,000 years without any sentience to consume (on the ring), but it explains how it got there in the first place.
There's been few emails of late. I wonder why. The forum's been quiet too, but a post recently reminded me of this thread on the nature of the compound mind.
We don't know the purpose of the Gravemind. The Art of Halo tells us something on the order of "a cross between the ultimate stage in the Flood's evolution and a queen bee." But I don't think this is really an answer. What does a queen bee do? It sits in the nest and produces eggs. Nonstop. This is, I am decently sure, not what Gravemind does. And what is the ultimate stage in the Flood's evolution that the book speaks of? Well, it's GM itself, actually. This isn't a definition in the usual sense; it doesn't carry any non-obvious information.
So, when do we see Graveminds? Only twice.
1. In the pre-Array Flood. A Gravemind converses with Mendicant Bias. It spirals him into willful rampancy and attempted genocide in order to restore peace to the universe. The Flood, already massively powerful and slowly exterminating galactic civilization, become unstoppable, except by the kamikaze of the Halo Array.
2. In the 100-millennia-post-Array Flood. A Gravemind converses with Cortana. It attempts to either assimilate her or catapult her into a forced rampancy, possibly with the goal of gaining her knowledge and unique adaptability. The Flood, currently a token force by their own standards, are all but annihilated when the Gravemind's physical manifestation is destroyed and their last refuge scoured of life.
It's mostly the second manifestation I'll talk about, since we observe it directly. In the level "Cortana," we blow GM the hell up. We blow up the High Charity to do this. We are left with no doubt that he dies. He dies hard. And yet, in the very next level, "Halo," he's back somehow. Like the proverbial cat, GM came back; you thought GM was a goner, but he just couldn't stay away, oh no no, oh no no, oh no no. And yet, we know he's dead. We saw the ship he was on explode in a nuclear firestorm. Cortana even says GM has been destroyed. "It's trying to rebuild itself! On this ring!" That is tantamount to saying that Gravemind has been destroyed—so badly destroyed that it needs to "rebuild" itself. Presumably, this means it builds a new form from corpses, as seen in The Art of Halo. But how the hell can there be anything to rebuild? None of him can possibly have survived...unless, of course, there's more to Gravemind than the physical. If Gravemind's body is a mouthpiece for its guiding consciousness, rather than a shell.
The Compound Mind that commands the Flood isn't contained in the vast, tentacular corpse-conglomerate we call a gravemind. It's contained in the Flood itself. As long as there is a single infection form to contain the collective, malevolent intelligence of the Flood, there will be a Compound Mind, and the single, many-headed organism called the Flood will survive.
Now we see why the Forerunners couldn't meet the Flood in battle. We see why they didn't simply strike surgically at the Gravemind. We see why they realized the only way to stop the spread of the Flood was to remove all possible sources of food until the Infection Forms hopefully starved to death. They knew. They knew the Flood was a many-aspected, divisible mind manifest in many bodies. And they realized that ultimately, unless contained, the Flood is unstoppable.
Now, this theory doesn't pretend to account for the apparent telepathy of the Flood, or any of the other weird and paranormal phenomena that occur around them. But all the same, I am quite convinced that the Flood is as I have described it: a single, Borg-like organism in many bodies and many minds.
Would Gravemind survive?
Would that chunk of muttering Flood survive the firing of the Halos? Capt Spanish put together a detailed analysis of why the Gravemind would actually survive the Halo effect due to its network processing capabilities.
This post got me thinking, and personally, I would agree with Capt Spanish on this. There is more to the Flood hierarchy than meets the eye. "I will ask, and you will answer" indeed.