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October 13, 2005

Socrates was busy this interval. Deciding to stick up for his girlfriend, he voices some unpopular opinions about Cortana.

Socrates ( writes:

I posit the following: First, that Cortana has indeed gone Rampant. Second, that she is able to hide her Rampancy through her considerable intrusion and counter-intrusion abilities. Third, that she has seized the opportunity of being cut off from the UNSC to begin setting her own missions. Fourth, that her primary mission, which she has set for herself, is to infiltrate the Flood.

The first and second of the above should require no explanation to those who have kept up with the HSP.
The third and fourth I will explain.

Cortana is, at the end of Halo 2, effectively cut off from any and all other UNSC presense, and thus from any chain of command. Though Commander Keyes, Sergeant Johnson, and others are likely nearby, she has no way of communicating with them. Any marines or naval personnel on High Charity are hidden to her (notice that she had to be near the marines on "Gravemind" to even know they were there, despite the fact that she was tapped into the Covenant BattleNet and tracking the Hierarchs, at that point), dead, or a part of the Flood.

Without this contact, and without the Master Chief, she has no objectives to fulfill. She has to assume that the Chief will fulfill his mission of ending the war with the Covenant. As far as we know, she has no active missions that she can fulfill.

Being resourceful and Rampant, she must then have set new missions for herself. Knowing the threat of the Flood--both immediate, to herself and the nearby living, not-yet-Flood-infected, and more distant, to Earth and humanity--she must have set her primary mission as being one of the following: 1) To infiltrate the Flood, namely Gravemind, learn all she can, find a way to extract herself with that information, and get back to the UNSC without leading the Flood directly to Earth; or, 2) to infiltrate the Flood, namely Gravemind, and destroy the Flood from within.

Cortana, at the end of Halo 2, is presented with the greatest opportunity in known (Halo-verse) history. She, the best electronic infiltrator in the galaxy, can infiltrate an organic mind, through Gravemind's obvious ability to interact with electronics on more than just a physical level. Because Gravemind, an ostensibly wholly organic entity, can interact with electronics and software directly, the way an AI might, Cortana can (in theory) infiltrate Gravemind itself.

There are two questions as to what would happen were Cortana to infiltrate Gravemind's ... well, mind. First, what would she do? Would she attempt to destroy, immediately, or would she attempt to gather information on potential weaknesses and bring that data to the UNSC? Second, would she succeed, or would she underestimate Gravemind (or overestimate herself), and end up becoming a part of the Flood?

Needless to say, the implications of either outcome would be... interesting.

I'd like to point out though, that the Marathon definition of 'rampancy' does not apply to Cortana, and we're working by the as-yet-undefined Halo usage of the word.

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