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July 24, 2003

Thoughts on an ONI conspiracy, Flood diet and hibernation, events leading up to a sucessful firing of the Halo, and Guilty Spark seemingly jumping the gun...

In case you didn't have enough to chew on, Socrates has come back from the dead with a characteristically well-written and comprehensive dialogue. ;-)

Socrates ( writes:

First off, a little bit about the meaning of Cortanas body and eye color in the opening scene of Two Betrayals. If I recall correctly, theres been some speculation that either or both are indications that Cortana had gone rampant after being inside Halos computer core for so long; this theory has been effectively shot down by others, but I wish to add another nail in that particular coffin. On page 233 of The Fall of Reach, Mr. Nylund writes The hue of her skin varied from navy blue to lavender, depending on her mood and the ambient lighting. Granted, it says nothing about Cortanas eyes, but I see no reason why that information on Cortanas mood (or perhaps emotional state) could not be extended to cover her eyes, as well (no pun intended).

Then there is Mr. Nylunds writing on page 241, which directly deals with the speculation that ONI had been in contact or had observed the Covenant for a great deal of time before the known opening of hostilities. From the mouth of Dr. Halsey and the writing of Mr. Nylund comes the evidence. Near the bottom of the page, in her speech to the Spartans, Halsey says, Our own attempts to decipher Covenant computer systems have only been partially successful, despite our best efforts and decades of time. (Emphasis mine) Earlier on that same page, it is revealed that John-117 has been in combat for at ten years, and fighting the covenant for that amount of time, or less (after a decade of fighting, his instincts were to kill first and get the details later.). John fought against rebels and the like before he joined the fight against the Covenant, and he was fighting the rebels before the first Covenant attack. Thus, we may deduct that the first known conflict with the Covenant began ten or fewer years before 2552, and when Nylund writes of Dr. Halsey speaking about ONIs attempts at deciphering Covenant computer networks, he is leaving in plain sight the information that the Covenant were under Human study (and perhaps vice-versa) many, many years before the public knew about it.

Now, on to The Flood and Installation 04.

In the past, Ive stated my belief that the Ranger forms of The Flood are the original forms, that they take over a hosts body to create the other three (known) forms. Ive done a bit more thinking, and Id like to add a bit ot my original theory. The Flood, I believe, are extremely advanced parasites. Once they incapacitate a host, they inject a chemical which both paralyzes the hosts control of its body and allows for Flood to essentially telepathically take over the hosts mind as well as its body; this I think Ive said, before. What Id like to add is that I do not believe that the host body is decomposing, though thats what it looks like. Rather, I believe that the Flood embedded in the host is consuming it, much in the same manner that a spider consumes a fly. The Flood injects a chemical which breaks down protein bonds, and then uses the hosts own lymphatic system to move the food slush up to where the Ranger can feed on it.

This could explain why The Flood go dormant when theres not a being of sufficient size and mental capacity around; perhaps The Flood need a LOT of food to remain in an active state, and perhaps they need a certain level of mental capacity to make that telepathic link which allows them to control the host. Without the presence of a being with both of those qualifications, The Flood remain in a dormant state, perhaps not unlike the hibernation of a bear.

That leads me directly into my next piece of speculation. I believe that Halo, and all its sister installations, was designed to be an unmanned research facility. Nowhere in the either game or books is there a mention of the Forerunner actually being present on/in the installations when the research facilities were active. Perhaps The Flood, by their nature, are too dangerous to be dealt with when theres a potential host nearby. This would explain the control panels well above the floor in the Library, the Sentinels not being equipped to handle the larger Flood, Halos ability to eliminate every potential food source for The Flood, and even the blue beams seen in the level Halo.

Before I go further, let me explain those last two. First, The Flood food elimination part. As suggested by another, Halos firing effect may not by necessity destroy every living being of sufficient mass within its maximum area of effect (and perhaps the other rings have to be able to detect another rings destructive wave(?) in order for them to fire and thereby wipe the galaxy clean of Flood food). If such as the case, Halos ability to eliminate potential hosts for the Flood could be seen not, as Cortana put it, as a cudgel, but as a last-chance fail-safe. If someone gives The Flood a means of escape (a ship), and The Flood manage to take over the vessel, make it space-worthy, and launch it, Halos systems would detect this and fire, so as to keep the Flood from finding another host before they starve to death. Though its entirely too possible that the rings would wipe all living things of sufficient mass (I dont know how a pulse from a Halo could distinguish between a species with sufficient mental capacity to be Flood food and another species of similar size, but without that mental capacity) from the galaxy just to be safe, whatever Halo was breached might also be able to simply wipe out all life of a certain size within the Flood-seized ships maximum range, plus a few dozen light-years, just to be safe. Halo may not be a club to beat a specific target over the head with, but it could be something more along the lines of a neutron bomb, which eliminates life but leaves everything else mostly intact.

Additionally, this would explain why Guilty Spark needs John to retrieve the Index before he can fire the ring; the ring would automatically fire once The Flood escape Halo, but Guilty Spark, having gone more than just a little insane, decides he wants to fire Halo before The Flood even have a chance of escaping. Since he is not allowed by protocol (his programming and/or abilities) to do this by himself, he gets John to bring the Index to the control center for him and then, not trusting John to insert the Index himself, takes the Index and inserts it before John could chicken out or start asking questions. Guilty Spark, it seems, is more than just a little paranoid, and perhaps delusional as well.

Second, I believe that the blue beams seen in the level Halo are part of Halos defense system; Halo, built to study and observe The Flood, would not need to have surface-to-space weaponry except to prevent any ship from landing and thereby creating a means of escape for The Flood. Covenant troops hit the ground on Halo first (as evidenced in Halo: The Flood through Covenant ghost patrols already being set up before the Pillar of Autumns escape pods even land), and thereby activated The Flood. This fits in with Cortanas line about how the Covenant should have known, and that there must have been signs; I dont know about anyone else, but huge security doors everywhere, automated anti-spacecraft fire, etc. would tell me that poking around, no less landing, would be a Very Bad Idea.

And this brings me to the Library, which I believe to be another part of Halos security system. For whatever reason, its obvious that one cannot simply teleport right next to the Index and grab it. Therefore, anything which wanted to grab the index would need to get through all those huge security doors, which require something like Guilty Spark to open them, in order to get to the Index, which is the equivalent of a submarine commanders key; it needs to be present in the Control Center before the ring will fire without a Flood escape. The Index being needed in order to fire the ring would explain the Flood presence (all those flood are actually trying to help guard it, so that someone cant simply grab it and activate Halo, thereby spoiling The Floods spread and survival.

Seeing that I've now written two pages of speculation, Im going to cut it short here, with only the addition that Guilty Spark, as a tool of the research system, is genuinely glad to see that The Flood survived.

Good job on the ONI info from The Fall of Reach, and I especially like the thoughts on 343 Guilty Spark's delusional paranoia. Nice!

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