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October 15, 2004

We often get very elaborate, comprehensive speculative papers here at the HSP, and, while we appreciate more the thoughtful tidbit, meticulously analyzed and distilled for clarity, some of the larger dissertations can be quite thought-provoking. Prepare yourselves, this is one of the big ones. ;-)

Nerrolken ( writes:

I started writing this a while ago, but I just had a revival of Halo-interest, so I finished it up and thought I'd fire it off. Its a compilation of many theories that have been raised, along with some personal research and extrapolation. It started out as an analysis of the Humans-are-the-Forerunner theory, but has expanded into a complete Theory of Everything for the Halo Universe, explaining all of the intricacies of the Human-Covenant-Forerunner relationship and the evolving political climate across eons.


The Forerunner Connection

An In-Depth Analysis of the Relationship Between Humanity, the Covenant, and the Ancient Forerunner


The Humans are the race that constructed the Halo, referred to by Cortana as the Forerunner.


1. 343-GS calls the Master Chief The Reclaimer. Presumably, he is either reclaiming the Index or the entire Halo. To reclaim means to restore or return a possession. This would seem to indicate that either the Index or the Halo was previously in the Master Chiefs possession, in which case it is easy to understand that the Master Chief represents Humanity in reclaiming the item in question. (NOTE: 343-GS could simply mean that the Master Chief is reclaiming the Index, which was 343-GSs possession, for him.)

2. 343-GS says many things that indicate that he expects the Master Chief to know certain protocols. Many of these are listed below:

A. In Two Betrayals, When the Master Chief asks 343-GS about the Halos true purpose, he describes it in a tone which indicates he is trying to remind the Master Chief of something, and ends his speech with, But you already knew that. I mean, how couldnt you?

B. In the Library, 343-GS remarks on how [the Master Chief] brought such ineffective weapons to combat the Flood, despite the containment protocols. This not only indicates that 343-GS expects the Master Chief to know the protocols, but also that he expects him to have superior weapons in the first place, and that he expects the Master Chief to be aware that the Flood exist so that he might use such weapons, all of which point to the Master Chief being involved in previous actions involving the Halo.

C. 343-GS suggests in the Library that the Master Chief upgrade to at least a Class Twelve combat skin. [His] current model only scans as a Class Two, which is unsuitable for this kind of work. This is an obvious acknowledgment that 343-GS expects the Master Chief to be of the race that created the Halo, as the Master Chief would have to be aware of the rating system of armor, able to upgrade his armor to another Forerunner model, and know that he made a mistake in his choice of armor, to understand 343-GSs remark.

D. 343-GS also refers to how the Master Chiefs air-tight suit will help him when the Flood starts to change the atmosphere. You are a good planner, he says, indicating once again that the Master Chief would know the conditions on the Halo before coming and the action that the Flood would take if released.

E. At the beginning of Two Betrayals, 343-GS says that they, being him and the Master Chief, followed outbreak containment procedure to the letter. Once again, 343-GS makes reference to the Master Chiefs expected knowledge of protocol.

F. 343-GSs beliefs do not entirely seem to be wrong, as the Master Chief and the other SPARTANs do seem to have some sort of innate understanding of the workings of Forerunner technology. Obviously, they would not have such understanding if they were not somehow connected to the Forerunner.

3. In Two Betrayals, 343-GS says to the Master Chief, 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. There is no choice. We must activate the ring. This has several interesting points.

A. First, the fact that 343-GS mentions a question put to him by the Master Chief. However, the Master Chief barely ever speaks, and never asks ethical questions. It is completely out of his character, not to mention it would require prior knowledge of what doing it amounted to. However, that question is a very natural one for the creator of such a terrible weapon to ask, if he were having a moral crisis. It would also be an important question to ask 343-GS: if he were going to be left in charge of the Halo, it would be vitally necessary to know if he would do his duty during a crisis.

I. This is a hugely important line because it is one of the only times 343-GS could not possibly be talking about the greater human race. In most of 343-GSs lines, the Master Chief is not explicitly mentioned. The Reclaimer could easily be The Reclaiming Race, and you could be singular or plural. However, this is a specific description of a specific conversation, and the fact that 343-GS attributes it to the Master Chief personally is very interesting.

B. Next, 343-GS says he has had considerable time to think about his answer. Following 343-GS's maddening habit of incredible understatement, along with his inherently massive lifespan, this could mean eons.

C. Third, both 343-GS's constant use of the word we and the fact that he is so cordial to the Master Chief lead one to think he believes himself and the Master Chief to be inherently on the same side. This inherent alliance could only come from a previous meeting, one in which we know the Master Chief has never participated. This is further proved by the immediate way 343-GS whisks the Master Chief off when they first meet, without pausing to ask if the Master Chief will help him. 343-GS obviously recognized him.

D. Lastly, in the same scene as this line, 343-GS asks the Master Chief why [he would] hesitate to do what [he has] already done? This is an explosive line, because the Master Chief has done no such thing! We know, of course, that neither the Master Chief nor Humanity in general has had anything to do with the Halos or the Flood. This could only mean that something happened to the Humans in the interim time between the firing of the Halos and the meeting between 343-GS and the Master Chief that would erase any Human record of such an action. Needless to say, it would require a cataclysmic event to erase the memory of the firing of a Halo.

4. At the beginning of Two Betrayals, 343-GS seems to view the Master Chief as a superior to himself. While 343-GS has no lack of self-confidence, he says that protocol does not allow units with [his] classification to perform a task as important as the re-unification of the Index with the Core. This in itself shows that the Master Chief is higher up on the food chain than 343-GS, but 343-GSs tone, one of respect bordering on awe, shows that not only is the position of Reclaimer higher than that of 343-GS, it is high compared to anything.

5. In The Maw, 343-GS downloads files from Cortanas memory. As he does it, he says, You can't imagine how exciting this is! To have a record of all our lost time! Human history, is it? Fascinating. The fact that 343-GS refers to it as our lost time indicates that he and the Master Chief, (which again can easily mean all of humanity), were in communication at one point, and were sharing information.

6. 343-GS is presumably an archeological/anthropological AI, which would explain both his insatiable thirst for knowledge and the fact that he was left in charge of a research station. It would seem vital for an anthropological AI to have an open mind, to accept other cultures so that he doesnt come at them with a bias that could alter his studies. However, he is shockingly biased as to the ways of the Master Chief and the Humans. He constantly remarks on what they do wrong: Ridiculous! That you would imbue a warship's AI with such a wealth of knowledge. Werent you worried that it might be captured? Or destroyed? This bias, aside from inexcusably horrible programming, could only come from a pre-conceived notion of how the Humans should be acting, which could only have come from previous contact.

A. Another interesting implication of this quote is that 343-GS doesnt believe in the destruction of knowledge, which is understandable for such a single-minded scientist. However, it also seems to indicate that he believes that this system, Cortana, is the only place where this information is stored.

I. We know that Fleet Command considers capture or destruction of a shipboard AI completely unacceptable, (Captain Keyes, The Pillar of Autumn), but, as is said in HALO: The Fall of Reach, this is simply because of the rapidly shrinking number of AIs in the Fleet, not because of the knowledge contained in them. It is true that the information that the shipboard AIs contain could lead the Covenant to Earth, but this would only explain the fear of capture, not destruction. And in any case, 343-GS does not know much, if anything, about the Human/Covenant war, and therefore that could not be a factor in his thinking.

B. It should also be noted that 343-GS never refers to the Covenant with the same bias and prejudice. Whenever he is talking about the Covenant, 343-GS always refers to them passively as the other species and doesnt seem concerned about their attempts to access restricted areas. This would indicate that he has had no contact with the Covenant before, and it supports the theory that he has pre-conceived notions about the Humans.

I. It is also interesting that in the Library, 343-GS assumes that the Covenant are the ones who released the Flood. He presents no evidence for this, and even he refers to it as conjecture. This assumption could be deadly in a crisis situation, and the only justification for such an assumption is a previous knowledge of the Humans, who, as the creators of the Halo, would know better than to release the Flood.

7. In the Library, 343-GS says, The installation was specifically built to study and contain the Flood: their survival as a race was dependant on it. I am grateful to see that some of them survived to reproduce. Now, one would assume that he meant that the Flood's survival as a race was dependant on it. But that doesnt make sense. Obviously, the Flood were doing just fine without being locked up, and it would be unnecessary to state that their survival depended on the mercy of the Forerunner in not destroying them completely. If 343-GS is saying that the Floods survival was dependant on the Forerunners mercy, it would make it sound like a condition in a treaty, and the Flood are incapable of negotiation. Therefore, it must have been the Forerunner's survival which was dependant on the containment of the Flood. This would then mean that 343-GS was glad to see that the Forerunner had survived to reproduce, meaning that the Master Chief was one of those Forerunner. Either way, though, it was a dire situation before it was controlled.

8. Another, more subjective piece of evidence is the nature of the Halo itself. Its environment is identical to that on Earth, in aspects of atmosphere, gravity, and flora. And the exterior of the Halo resembles the Human design of a very basic, metallic, unadorned construction, along with the steely silver color of their metal, as opposed to the purple of the Covenant. Even the door height and hall width conform to Human standards. The only thing on the Halo that doesnt look like it could come from Human design is the swamp plants, some of which look more like they came from the Flood's original environment than Earth. And those, it has been speculated, are simply Earth-plants that have been taken by the Flood themselves.


This is a wealth of information, if analyzed carefully and specifically. We will first reduce the above evidence into a set of facts, then establish a set of assumptions from other areas of the HALO universe, and then develop the most probable scenario from this information.

1. 343-GS thinks he was once in contact with the Humans.
2. 343-GS thinks the Humans once controlled the Halo.
3. 343-GS thinks the Forerunner constructed and controlled the Halo.
4. 343-GS thinks that the Forerunner and the Flood were once at odds, but the Forerunner were victorious and contained the Flood in the Halo(s).
5. After the containment of the Flood, 343-GS describes the establishment of a weapon and protocol for the containment of the Flood.
6. 343-GS expects the Humans both to know the protocols for containing the Flood and to want to go along with them.
7. 343-GS thinks that the Halo was once fired, and he thinks it was fired by the Master Chief.

1. The Covenant declared war on the Humans with no known provocation, but they seem to have been planning it for some time seeing as how prepared and quick to attack they were.
2. The Covenant are mainly an incorporative race, fiercely dogmatic but open to convert races.
3. The Covenant made no attempt whatsoever to incorporate Humanity into its system.
4. The Covenant revere the Forerunner as higher beings than themselves.
5. The Covenant have had contact with several Forerunner artifacts, and were able to recognize a Halo when they saw one.
6. The Covenant knew of a weapon on the Halo, but they did not know the specific nature of such a weapon.
7. The Humans are not aware of any contact between them and the Covenant prior to the beginning of the current war.
8. The Humans are not aware of any contact between them and the Forerunner prior to the actions of the SPARTANS and the discovery of the Forerunner artifacts outlined in the HALO game and books.


An ancient race, known only as the Forerunner, expands throughout the universe. During their expansion, they either create or find the Flood, it is irrelevant which. However, the Flood begin to attack the Forerunner and the Forerunner suddenly find themselves in a dire struggle. By the end of this First Outbreak, the Forerunner are victorious, and succeed in containing the Flood in a number of Halos. However, to prevent the Flood from ever again escaping out to where they could do any more damage, the Forerunner build the Halos with a weapon that is capable of destroying the Flood, along with any life form capable of sustaining them. To carry out this apocalyptic mission, the Forerunner gave the AIs that were in charge of the Halos the ability to fire them, but not without the presence of a living Forerunner to complete the firing sequence.

This system worked for a time, and life presumably went on as usual. But then, on one of the Halos, a Second Outbreak occurred. Following the containment procedures, the relevant Halo was fired. However, the firing of this Halo almost completely destroyed the Forerunner race. Most, if not all, of the Forerunner were killed off by the blast from the Halo, except for a few ragged survivors. These survivors were either on Earth to begin with and were just able to survive the blast, or were able to flee to Earth before they crashed. They went about rebuilding civilization, but they were so few and so crippled that they descended into barbarism, and thus was Human History born.

This is where things get hard to determine. It would seem that the Covenant, or at least the Prophets, were in contact with the Forerunner at the time of the Second Outbreak. They would probably have been an inferior race or a protectorate-style species. They were nearby to the Forerunner territory, and were close enough to know the Forerunner were very advanced but not close enough to take advantage of this technology. This way, when the Forerunner fired the Halos, the Prophets were also greatly damaged by the blast. However, because the Halos were in Forerunner territory, the blast hurt them more, and the Prophets were able to hold their civilization together in a more serious sense. They became hateful toward the Forerunner for nearly destroying their civilization, but kept them in near-reverence because of their vastly superior technology. Over the eons, this strange love-hate feeling for the Forerunner developed into a legend of their God-like status, but God-like in the Greek sense: not necessarily loving and gentle, but undoubtedly powerful. This way, the Prophets set about studying Forerunner technology, trying to learn about them and imitate their technology. They adopted their language, their symbolism, and their technology. As the Prophets utilized this technology to conquer race after race, they incorporated them into their collective in a continual attempt to raise themselves up to their perception of the Forerunners greatness.

Back on Earth, the Forerunner have rebuilt and grown into what we now know as Humanity. They begin to expand into the universe, growing in peace and ignorance. Then, they come under the scrutiny of the Covenant. The Prophets, realizing that the Forerunner have not been destroyed and assuming that they have returned to reclaim their domain, choose to attack and drive the Forerunner out, keeping the Forerunner secrets for themselves. Thus, they initiate a holy war against them and make absolutely no attempt to incorporate them into their collective. The Humans, unaware of their past connection to the Forerunner and the Prophets, try desperately to resist the invasion, eventually getting pushed back to Reach and making the jump to the Halo.

Once the Humans find the Halo, the Covenant go into high alert. Here are the returning descendants of the race that the Covenant have been trying to supplant for eons, and they have returned to the helm of the weapon that almost wiped out the Prophets Empire before it began! Thus, they go to desperate lengths to keep the Humans from finding out how to use the Halo, and they make a race to try to control key points before the Humans can. Thus, they make moves for the Silent Cartographer and the Control Room. However, the Covenant think that the main weapon of Halo is the only danger, and are unaware of exactly why the weapon was fired during the Second Outbreak. Thus, they unwittingly release the Flood. In doing so, they kick on all of the defense systems that have lain dormant since the Second Outbreak.

Realizing that the Flood has been released again, 343-Guilty Spark, the AI in charge of the Halo in question, begins the containment procedures. However, he finds that his former masters, the Forerunner, have arrived just in time to aid in the crisis. From his point of view, a hostile coalition of aliens have landed on the Halo and released the Flood, and the Forerunner have arrived to contain the Flood and repel those who released it. Selecting the obvious leader of what he assumes to be a containment team, 343-GS whisks the Master Chief off to complete the containment protocol and fire the Halo, thus succeed in ending the Third Outbreak. Master Chief, not knowing what he is doing, goes along with it, not knowing that it could completely destroy the rest of the Human race. When he learns what he is doing from Cortana, he of course stops and tries to find another way.

Meanwhile, the Covenant have realized that they are in way over their heads. They try to attempt a total retreat, leaving the Humans to deal with the mess. However, the Flood have gotten too far by then, and the Covenant can do nothing but be destroyed in the eventual destruction of Halo when the Master Chief detonates the Pillar of Autumns fusion core.

So where do we go from here? The Covenant continue their campaign to destroy the Forerunner just as the Forerunner almost destroyed them, Humanity continues to scramble to survive, and the Master Chief must use his knowledge of the Forerunner to lead Humanity to recover its history and rise to the glory of the fallen Forerunner before it is too late . . .

Well, there you go. A lot to chew on — some plausible, some not so plausible. Always good to get the little grey cells fired up, though.

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