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October 15, 2004

Brian Wahl ( writes:

I wanted to catch up on the Halo Story so I read the novel "Halo First Strike" again. In doing so, I tried to read very closely to pick out more details. On 08/19/2004, Metatron posted a nice description of his thoughts on the time/space issues caused by the stone found on Reach. The following information is somewhat based on the fact that there are two Ascendant Justice's in space because of the time-loop caused by the stone from Reach.

I speculate that the Covenant AI found on the Ascendant Justice, orbiting the gas giant Threshold, is Cortana, but only part of Cortana. Here is the proof from the "First Strike" book. When Master Chief and his crew first arrived on the Ascendant Justice, they put Cortana into the ship's computer system. In doing so, Cortana encountered a Covenant AI. She was surprised at this because there had never been any documentation of a Covenant AI by UNSC or ONI. On page 170, she isolated the Covenant AI and began to "peel the Covenant AI apart code layer by code layer." On the same page it states, " She tore the AI apart, erasing, recording the Covenant code structure....until she found the AI's core code...she almost recognized this code...the patterns were maddening familiar." She becomes distracted with other tasks and stores the information in her memory so she can take a look at it later.

On page 195 it states "Cortana returned her attention to the Covenant AI's code...she noticed that small portions of the alien software looked like was almost as if it were her code...only copied many times, each time with subtle errors introduced by the replication process."

None of this really made sense to me until Cortana copies her security routines to a crystal so the Master Chief and the other Spartans could use it to bypass the security on the Unyielding Hierophant. Once downloaded to the computer system on the Unyielding Hierophant, the security portion of Cortana comes into contact with other Covenant AI's and has to copy herself. On page 320 it states, "a flurry of voices filled the COM, all speaking at the same time, shouting to be heard over on another...all Cortana's voices." The Master Chief asks Cortana, "How many copies are there of you?" Cortana responds,"Unknown. Hundreds. The Covenant AI overwhelmed me. Had to." On page 323, Master Chief again needs to speak to Cortana and can barely hear her because she had to copy herself again to have a dedicated copy just to speak to the Chief. The Chief noted that Cortana's speach was broken. This sentence about broken speach reminded me of something Cortana thought on page 196. She thought "the copying software was likely responsible for the Covenant AI's fractured thinking/speaking." In the very end, on the Unyielding Hierophant, there are so many copies of Cortana that she begins speaking about error reports and noting the error number.

This all leads me to the very last page of the book on page 340. Tartarus, the Brute speaking with the Prophet of Truth, states "The recorded communication channels were flooded with system error reports prior to its destruction. The Engineers are saying this is imp---" Because the communication was being recorded, my theory is that the Engineers were right about this being important and were able to isolate parts of Cortana's code to create a Covenant AI. Isn't it correct that the Covenant are not innovative, but they do a really good job at copying other technology.

Here is where Metatron's theory of the time-loop comes into play. I believe the Covenant copied part of Cortana's code and put it into the computer system of the original Ascendant Justice before it was sent to the Halo 04 installation. Another part that I found interesting and does back up the time-loop theory is that on page 340 Tartarus asks the Prophet of Truth, "What should be done with the incompetent, High One. The one who lost the Ascendant Justice?" The Prophet of Truth responds, "Bring him before the Council. Let his fate match the magnitude of his failure." One page 156, Cortana intercepts messages from other Covenant ships when they arrive at Reach. The messages are referring to someone of extreme high rank that is suppose to be in command of the Ascendant Justice, someone the Covenant call the 'Guardian of the Luminous Key.' I'm assuming the 'Luminous Key' is suppose to be the Index from Halo 04 installation. When Master Chief and his crew took over the Ascendant Justice, there was no high ranking individual on the ship. I believe the Prophet of Truth killed the 'High One' that was suppose to be on the Ascendant Justice and put the altered Cortana AI in its place. The only thing I'm not sure of when did the Prophet of Truth realize the AI code was important and...two...what was the real purpose of the AI. Something to think about.

We've already mentioned that particular post, and this is an excellent extension and expansion of the ideas presented back then. The plot not only thickens, it divides and multiplies exponentially! ;-)

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