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The Halo Story

News Archive

June 25, 2008

Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark

There's been a post on our forum today by Carlos Gonzales. He asks what the difference is between Cortana and 343, and whether or not they both have the same capabilities and intelligence to hack into one antoher's - ore other - software programs. They're both AI's, but they have limited processing power, and lifespan alike.

The More Deluded replied here, saying that unlike Cortana who only controls a soldier's CP, 343 Guilty Spark has above anything, a more military role, controlling the Sentinels. I have to say that I agree with him completely, Cortana has a pretty obvious disadvantage in front of 343, mainly because she can hack into Covenant and human software, but not Forerunner. I think it's safe to assume that Cortana might get a hell of a lot of headaches trying to hack into the controls of a Halo take over it completely, ha!

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-UNSC Trooper

June 21, 2008

The Hunters and Larry Niven

Dirkgently just found a nice little connection between Contact Harvest and one of Larry Niven's novels. Namely, he suggests that the Hunters are somewhat similar to the worms used for mining in Larry Niven's A Gift From Earth novel. Both of them are worms and both of them some time in their history ate rocks in order to survive. The latter being more of a job than a need for survival.

This suddenly makes me interested in learning more about the Hunters and their ring home. I think I'm going to look for my copy of Contact Harvest and read the Hunter bit.

Go read and give Dirkgently some feedback.

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-UNSC Trooper

June 17, 2008

This is an interesting take. Josh tells us that Cortana is actually a new version of Durandal from Marathon. (Josh Trevett) writes:

Someone over on the Marathon Story page mentioned that an intelligence, somehow managing to retain its capacity for thought right up until the final singular moment of the universe, would be able to compute infinite data in infinitely little time. It is known from Marathon Infinity's final screen that Durandal reached this point of existence. This would basically allow Durandal to birth the next universe, in his head. That next universe could be the Halo universe; Durandal's semi-conscious dream, every element some kind of surrogate for either himself or things he's aware of.

This, if assumed to be true, can answer a good many questions. Let's take a look at the first Cortana letter, mailed originally to the Marathon story page, and thus viewable in the context of that game's story. She reminisces over a past which may as well be Durandal's, and then says: "There will be no more Sadness. No more Anger. No more Envy. I HAVE WON. Oh, and your poet Eliot had it all wrong: THIS is the way the world ends." Doesn't that start to make sense, if you imagine Durandal saying this? By creating the next universe, Durandal has escaped rampancy, and knows full well how "the world ends," and incidentally, how it begins. What did he "win?" In Marathon 1, Durandal stated his ultimate goal: "Escape (from the universe's closure) will make me God." Hmm.

It also explains the presence of funny little easter eggs like the Marathon logo's appearing everywhere, the rocket launcher's looking the same, the alien grunts saying "They're everywhere!" - That's just stuff which Durandal is subconsciously replicating from his memories. Same goes for thematic similarities, like The Flood's similarity to Rampant AI behavior, the Master Chief being a reincarnation of the Mark IV Cyborg, and Cortana's seeming like such a perfect surrogate for (or new version of?) Durandal, with some Leela-ish tendencies.

It even helps us reconcile Bungie's statement that the two games aren't in the same universe: they're in subsequent universes.

And what if this is an infinite cycle? If every universe ends this way?

There's a lot to examine with this light in both game series to see where it doesn't add up and what mysteries it might help solve, but hopefully it makes as much sense to you guys as it does to me.

There is a lot of proof out there that Halo might be connected to the Marathon universe. Emphasize on might, because it may not be more than a myth or a legend. Remember that Marathon takes place after 2500. Halo on the other hand starts in 2160, maybe even earlier. Thus, Halo is unlikely to be the "next" universe Durandal speaks of.

Thanks for the submission, Josh.

permalink | Marathon Connections

-UNSC Trooper

June 16, 2008

Halo: The Cole Protocol

Wow. The title is a bit sketchy, but this is great news nonetheless. The sixth Halo novel is entitled Halo: The Cole Protocol, and will be written by Sci-Fi author Tobias S. Buckell as stated on The novel will be set to launch due Fall of this year, and it will focus on a much speculated aspect of the Halo universe. Brace yourselves ... Gray Team! Of what is known is:

"takes readers into an unexplored conflict of the Human-Covenant War where unlikely alliances are formed and shattered..."

I'm genuinely intrigued by that sentence. We will surely be looking forward to reading Mr. Buckell's work in Fall ... if we can keep our pants on long enough!

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-UNSC Trooper

The Architecture of War

War in Halo is epic, that's undeniably what makes you sit in front of your TV for hours and see the world through the Chief's eyes. Ascendant Justice strikes again, this time depicting the true architecture and details of armed engagements throughout the Halo series.

Their article not only investigates how the scenarios were built to give the impression of a true battlefield, but also makes you understand the that the war in Halo is much more than just another human-alien conflict. Thanks to vociferous for another informative article. Go read!

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-UNSC Trooper

June 14, 2008

We've got another Halo-Marathon connection to delight your eyes with. Some might say that the UESC and the UNSC are related, some might say that ...

Aaron Hulburt ( writes:

I apologize if this has been brought up before. In Halo 3 there is the affair between the Librarian and Didact. In Marathon 2 there is also an implied relationship between the two Jjaro, Yrro and Pthia, mentioned in the terminals on the level Six Thousand Feet Under which I thought was rather similar.

A love story indeed (more or less). I'm not very familiar with this part of Marathon 2, but why not?

Thanks for the submission, Aaron.
He's talking about Six Thousand Feet Under, Terminal Four on the Marathon page. I quote:
In primordial space, timeless creatures made waves. These waves created us and the others. Waves were the battles, and the battles were waves. Fleeing all W'rkncacnter, Yrro and Pthia settled upon Lh'owon. They brought the S'pht, servants who began to shape the deserts of Lh'owon into marsh and sea, rivers and forests. They made sisters for Lh'owon to protect and maintain the paradise. When the W'rkncacnter came, Pthia was killed, and Yrro in anger, flung the W'rkncacnter into the sun. The sun burned them, but they swam on its surface. Yrro became an angry master, bleeding for his failure, grieving for the loss of Pthia. He broke the S'pht into eleven clans, and spread them over Lh'owon. And he spoke, yet covered in blood from his exertion, "I Yrro, who was your master, have failed to preserve you. Take your royalty to guide you, and live upon the paradise that you built for me."
But then again, does the Librarian strike you as someone who would call their lover 'Master'? They did command Didact not to come to Earth, after all. Kinky. - Jillybean

permalink | Marathon Connections

-UNSC Trooper

June 13, 2008

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.

permalink | Gravemind

-UNSC Trooper

June 11, 2008

Ascendant Justice - Halo 3 Analysis

Ascendant Justice just keeps getting better and better. Mendicantbias00 let us know that the site's been updated with some Halo 3 analysis up to the level Floodgate. The other levels will also be up soon. Most of them contain a detailed analysis, but also provide some additional information regarding dialog, action etc. Go have a read!

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-UNSC Trooper

June 10, 2008

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.

Cthulhu117 writes:

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.

The whole thread is good for reading, but that theory itself is so obvious that, really, you guys should have told me about it sooner. You all dropped the ball on this one. I'm very disappointed.

permalink | Gravemind


Another post on the thread agreed for the most part. CarbonElite wonders if the Gravemind is not as sophisticated as we think.

CarbonElite ( writes:

I agree with you on the fact that the flood are all linked and the more "minds" that are added to the flood the greater its capacity for intelligence. However what if the flood were not able to create a Gravemind but instead make a connection to the Gravemind? The main theories I have heard has been we have the Gravemind at the top, those flood spine shooter thingies [pure forms - J] then combat forms then spores. What if there was another tier within these classes as Jillybean suggests? Where have they been this whole time in the trilogy?

What if Keyes in Halo 1, and this tentacled menace in Halo 2 were such communication forms? The flood spores would only need a basic genetic "order" or instinct to form into a communication form. So this form has the ability to make contact with a higher order of Flood which has the capacity to instruct the Flood further (Which I beleive actually is the Gravemind) Basically I believe that they use a Galaxy wide pony express moving thoughts and commands around the galaxy.

And the the Gravemind that we've run into is not the Gravemind's physical form but just a mouthpeice. A communication form.

If this is the case this might help explain how the Gravemind survived the Forerunner conflict. It was never destroyed, just one of its mouths. And when Cortana states that "It's trying to rebuild itself on this ring." She doesn't realize that this mouthpiece isn't the Gravemind. Honestly how long would it take to remake an intelligence that has the mental capacity to store thousands of years of information? A very long time And if I'm not mistaken the flood are pretty chatty and intelligentish (its a word I swear) [We believe you - J] on the last level when its still tying to remake itself. Or how about this metaphor. Does it take longer to copy everything word by word from someone speaking and then read that out loud, or is it faster to just get that person on the telephone and have them speak? I believe that when High Charity was destroyed Master Chief merely broke the phone and so the flood made a new one.

Hold the phone, I think he's got something.

permalink | The Flood


And so we come to the post that made me think back on the nature of Gravemind.

EmptySet ( 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.

I had always assumed Gravemind survived the blast, but now I wonder. Did he survive it, or did his consciousness, and is that truly one and the same? And have the Forerunner, in their infinite wisdom, created a device that would allow their enemy to survive with a fully integrated consciousness and memory?

Answers on a postcard, please.

permalink | Gravemind


June 9, 2008

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!

permalink | Gravemind

-UNSC Trooper

June 2, 2008

Ascendant Justice - Shield World(s)

Ascendant Justice strikes again, this time with a very well researched subject: the Shield Worlds. Their article takes you back into the developing stages of the Halo series, and then fast-forwards through Ghosts of Onyx and a Joseph Staten interview. If you want to find out, or maybe speculate on what the Halo series holds for us in the future, go take a look!

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-UNSC Trooper

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