A Little Rampant Speculation, Part IV

Gravemind is not an easy character to figure out.

From his initial appearance on the scene, as the rumored "big plant thingy" players who downloaded the leaked French copies of Halo 2 reported seeing, to his cliffhanger-inducing interrogation of Cortana, not much was revealed about him.

Some fans can even be forgiven for questioning whether Gravemind is, in fact, related to the Flood at all. Halo 2's cutscenes only strongly suggest this, without actually stating it. The Art of Halo here rescues us, referring to Gravemind as the "Flood hive mind".

What exactly does that imply? What does Gravemind want? Given that all these events have apparently played out in the past, with the result that the Halo system was used and all life eradicated, but with the Flood preserved dormant for the cycle to start all over again thousands of years later, what other outcome can be hoped for?

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'Now I Shall Talk, And You Will Listen'

The first cutscene in which Gravemind appears is pretty pivotal. Not only is it the point at which the Master Chief and Arbiter plotlines converge, but it is the first time where we communicate with the Flood.

Gravemind's very name is a hint to his possible function. Intertwined in his tendrils is the Prophet of Regret, apparently speaking in his own voice, but possibly against his will. Is he really dead? It would seem so. The Chief was fairly thorough in killing him, and the Covenant fleet overhead reacts almost is if it knows this has happened somehow, as the Elites' phantoms are withdrawn and other ships move in to destroy the temple. While "grave" can also mean serious, it is of course also a place for dumping dead bodies, and it appears that there is at least one here: Regret's.

2401 Penitent Tangent is also here, but as there's little to no reason to suspect that he's anything but a machine, it's probably not fair to wonder whether he is live or dead. The question that does apply equally well to both is whether or not they are speaking voluntarily, and whether or not the words they speak are their own.

That the two disagree with each other, as well as with Gravemind himself, suggests that either they are in control of their own speech, or Gravemind has enough access to their minds to construct an elaborate hoax, manipulating them like puppets, perhaps for the purpose of convincing the Chief and the Arbiter to do his bidding.

That seems a little too complicated, though. Both those characters act so thoroughly as you'd expect them to that any grand charade would seem pointless. Regret wants to finish his sermon, 2401 wants to activate the ring to contain the Flood, and Gravemind wants to point out that they're both talking about the same thing.

Gravemind tells the Chief and the Arbiter that there is time enough to avoid Delta Halo's activation, and supposedly sends them to separate locations to seek the Index and prevent it being used. He does not give much evidence for why this should be done, other than self-preservation. The Chief and Cortana believe the activation will kill all sentient life in the galaxy, and 343 Guilty Spark confirmed in Halo 1 and in Halo 2 that this is the case, and that it has happened at least once before.

'What Would You Have Your Arbiter Do?'

The Arbiter, however, doesn't seem to buy this. Unlike humanity, his culture has a reason for what they're doing and believes the installations to have another function. Gravemind seemingly does little to overcome this.

In fact, one really has to wonder what the Arbiter believes before Halo 2 concludes. He was sent after a supposed heretic, who told him the prophets were liars. He said the Forerunners had no effective weapon against the Flood-- only containment. However, the game doesn't give you an option to spare the heretic leader; you must kill him to advance. After that, the Arbiter might have had a chance himself to be educated by Installation 04's monitor, perhaps even being converted to the Heretic cause himself. Tartarus eliminates the possibility of that happening, taking possession of Guilty Spark and bringing him to Truth and Mercy, apparently.

The Arbiter then finishes his mission of retriving the Index, only to have Tartarus steal it as well and betray him, supposedly on the order of the Prophets.

The Arbiter's state of mind thereafter is somewhat difficult to judge. So far in the game he's been publicly humiliated and tortured, then sentenced to death. He's told the death sentence will be carried out in the form of a suicide mission, in which he can regain his honor, but not save his own life.

That mission culminates in the retrieval by the Index by Tartarus, who then knocks the Arbiter into the abyss of Delta's library, and says he's doing so on the orders of the Prophets.

We're supposed to view this as a betrayal of the Arbiter in specific and the Elites in general, further underscored by the changing of the Honor Guards from Elites to Brutes and the murder of the Elites on the council. This interpretation has some holes in it, though. As a disgraced death-row prisoner sent on a suicide mission, the Arbiter should full well have accepted his death upon the completion of his mission, and that this death would come at the orders of the Prophets. That Tartarus, a Brute, should fulfill this order rather than an agent of the enemy, is actually a minor point. In a way it's a bit odd that he sees it this way.

It should also come as no surprise either to the Arbiter or to the audience that Tartarus is power-hungry. He might very well have lied when he said he was under order of the prophets. As he expected the Arbiter to die, he'd have had no way to verify it, so it was a nearly risk-free lie; just a way of adding insult to murdery.

So the Arbiter's betrayal might really have been an independent act on Tartarus' part; the Arbiter has no way to know. If he's a traitor he can certainly be a liar as well, or just a power-hungry maniac.

Secondly, even if Tartarus is telling the truth, the Arbiter already knew he was sent on a suicide mission and expected to die. It's conceivable that, should he survive, Tartarus would've been ordered to finish him off.

If the Prophets' sentence of death, conferred on him by the council and confirmed by his assignation to the role of the Arbiter as a holy suicide warrior did not shake his faith in the Covenant or its beliefs, as well as its leaders, then why would Tartarus' otherwise completely explicable actions do so?

'Open Your Eyes, My Brothers'

Of course, the audience is a lot easier to convince than the Arbiter himself would be. We already know, or think we know, what Halo really does, and we think the Covenant don't know. We've got more sympathy for the Heretic leader than Tartarus or the Arbiter could possibly have, and we're much more likely to take Gravemind at his word, at least about some things.

The Arbiter possibly knows that while the political structure of the Covenant is now shaky, that does not necessarily mean that its religious foundations are as well. Selling the idea that the Brutes have now supplanted the Elites in the hierarchy and should be punished is easy. Selling the idea that the entire Covenant has been either a lie or a mistake from the first, that there is no Great Journey, is much more difficult. The Arbiter doesn't even broach the subject until the very end of the game, where he asks for, and receives, confirmation from 343 Guilty Spark that what the Master Chief and Gravemind said about Halo is true, that it is a weapon that destroys life, rather than a magical transporter to paradise, as the Prophets have seemingly promised.

It seems just as likely that, if the situation had been a real one, it would be easier to convince members of the Covenant that the Prophets and Brutes had betrayed them by trying to exclude the Elites from the Great Journey than to convince them that the Great Journey was a lie all along. It's less upsetting and provides a ready explanation for taking immediate action. But given what the player already knows, this slips by most people when they play without so much as blinking.

'Time To Stop The Key From Turning'

If avoiding the activation of Delta was truly Gravemind's first priority, it seems strange that it is the Arbiter, and not the Chief, that eventually achieves this, given that Gravemind has so little reason to trust the Arbiter believes him. Instead, it seems Gravemind turns his attention to High Charity, where he sent the Chief.

Although it appears the Index was there-- Truth holds it up for the video cameras-- it cannot be used from there, and Gravemind probably knows this. It would have been far more sensible to send whatever forces he had at his disposal, including the Arbiter, the Chief, and Flood combat forms, to the Control Room, to prevent the Index being used. However, this is an arguable point, as it places too much importance on the success of a single engagement. He might have considered it better to try and attempt to recover the Index further away from the Control Room, in order to allow time for a second attempt in the event of failure.

Flood forms are sent to swarm High Charity, not the Control Room. There, the fighting is only between Covenant units. Although we don't see it, it appears the Flood also invaded In Amber Clad, as the ship crashes into a pylon on High Charity about the same time that the Flood invade, leading to the perhaps obvious conclusion that he used the ship to transport himself there.

It may make sense for several reasons; if Gravemind knows that a human is necessary to activate the ring, as well as the Index, then eliminating humans serves the goal of preventing activation. It also makes sense out of why he sends the Master Chief to High Charity, and the Arbiter to the control room; at the very least, that way he knows the Arbiter himself can't activate the ring, although the Chief could.

However, no Flood are sent to the Control Room at all. Even in Halo 1 they are not present there until after the Index is recovered, although they were present in both Libraries, around the Index itself. That this happened on both installations would seem to indicate that there is some connection there; either the Flood know the significance of the location where the Index is stored and therefore defend it, to prevent it from being taken to the Control Room, or it indicates that Flood themselves are stored there. We don't know what was behind the blue glass bays in 04's Library. We know that infection forms were stored in cells underneath the swamp there, but the combat forms seen in the level 343 Guilty Spark may just have been the result of the action of the infection forms released there. The marines on Jenkins' recorder there are attacked, apparently, only by infection forms-- no combat forms are seen. So the two forms might both be preserved on the ring, but in separate locations. Storing combat forms near the Index might seem foolish, but it would seem that the Library is such a large structure that to assume it exists solely for the storage of the Index itself seems ridiculous.

Sacred Icon?

In fact, it may make more sense to try and place these objects in the context of their names, and wonder if it is connected to how the installation works as a whole. An Index is a guide to finding what you want in a library; a list of names, references, and locations. What could that be?

We know nothing at all about how Halo actually works. We know it is supposed to kill all sentient life, to eliminate Flood hosts. Presumably that includes sentient species that might not even have evolved when Halo was built; species about which the builders of Halo could not have had any knowledge.

Furthermore, the Index is required to activate it. At its lowest possible level, the Index might just be a McGuffin; a quest item that exists solely as a symbol for what the player has to do, something to chase from location to location and give the gameplay some focus. It may have no other purpose; since it is necessary for Halo to be fired, securing it becomes a way to stop it from being fired, and gives a focus for the conflict that takes place in the game.

What if it had a deeper significance? What if instead of simply operating as a glorified "on" button for a massive weapon, it was actually functionally required? What if it in fact functions as an index to a massive library containing information on all life everywhere in the galaxy-- information necessary for the proper operation of the installations to destroy such life? The Library, then, might in fact be a giant zoo or aquarium, featuring, if not actual live specimens of species from around the galaxy, but perhaps at least genetic samples or something similar.

If the original vision of Halo as a game featured that, it might make sense of a few things. Halo as a giant terrarium of sorts would explain the need for many different liveable environments, as well as hidden behind-the-scenes mechanisms and accessways. It explains the presence of ambient life in movies like the E3 2000 trailer-- life perhaps removed later due to performance restraints on the system.

'I Will Ask, And You Will Answer'

Of course, it's probably not necessary to know how Halo actually works; we might never get a definitive answer to that question. The true nature of the Library, the Control Room, and the Index may remain the subject of speculation for years to come, and it's enough for players who want to blast their way from one level to the next to understand that it's important, even if they don't know why.

Gravemind's motives, however, probably have to be confronted directly. Rather than focusing on recovering the Index or guarding the Control Room, Gravemind focused on attacking High Charity and moving himself there, and went on to begin interrogating Cortana. He is certainly an obvious target to be implicated in whatever strange and dangerous situation Cortana finds herself in during the Halo 3 announcement trailer. But what does he want? Just stopping the Halos, or destroying them, doesn't seem to be it. If that were all, he might have found a way to crash the IAC on the surface of Halo and move High Charity far enough away that when it detonated, Delta would be destroyed and he would be clear of it. Perhaps that has even happened by the time Halo 3 begins.

There is clearly something he wants. We don't yet know what it is. The question is, what can he possibly want that he can be granted? Is any request from him just an excuse to gaining an upper hand and destroying or disabling the Halo system so the Flood can engulf the galaxy? Is any exchange with him just a distraction, as Cortana suggests at the opening of "High Charity"?

If all the Forerunners could do before was activate the system, killing all sentient life, because they could not or would not destroy the Flood, what other possible outcome can there be?

I do not think Gravemind is so one-dimensional as to want nothing more than for the Flood to spread everywhere. It's too much of a cliche, and seems at odds with Bungie's efforts to make something original, no matter how derivative some of the material is on the surface. There must be some compromise possible-- either a way to destroy the Flood the Forerunners could not or would not use, or some way to make their destruction unnecessary, or at the very least a way to shield humanity (and possibly their Heretic allies) from the effects of Halo's pulse.

What do you think it could be?

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Comments

Great article! I've got some pondering to do now.

Now that you mention it, your description of the Index as targeting information matches nicely with the alternate definition of Library that Bungie used over on bungie.net. Never quite put the two together that way.

Now, since Cortana has all the information contained within the Index, and Gravemind seems to have some influence or control over Cortana, does that mean that Gravemind has his own copy of the Index? (Which, I suppose, the Flood would call The Menu.)

-- Steve

Narc old man, you really hit the nail on the head with all the Arbiter stuff. To think I'd been talking about the covenant political situation and overlooked the obvious: The Arbiter was slated for death anyway!

I thought pretty much the same about the Heretic Leader, he seemed to be crazy, the in-da-face slander he used was just right to get him killed off-almost as if he WANTED suicide in the first place. Top it all, who let all those flood loose? Something wierd about the whole setup.

However, I seriously disagree about the part about combat forms being stored on the Halo. Combat forms apparently degenerate into Flood Carriers as they take battle damage or decay(The flood don't bother to maintain most body tissues), and the flood carriers themselves are subject to decay.

We have no idea how the flood were stored on Halo 04 in the first place, because we always run into them after someone or the other has let them loose. Infection forms could be hibernating in the blue bays in the library. Gravemind too could have been in a semi-hibernation state until he was disturbed. The storage cells in 343 Guilty Spark seem too feeble to stop infection forms from bashing out, and all the pipes and the small purplish squares at the bottom of the cells could mean that they were in-cryo or something like that.

As for the final purpose of the flood and Gravemind's true motives, they are as much of an enigma as ever to me.

That's a great piece Narcogen, and it wasn't til I'd read it twice that a possible reason for Gravemind boarding IAC, then High Charity and his subsequent interrogation of Cortana struck me...

He/it wants to go to Earth.

We know from both Halo and Halo 2 that the Flood are capable of operating both Human and Convenant technology, and acting with formidable intelligence. They can fly starships aswell as Pelicans. High Charity is capable of making slipspace jumps, and we have no reason to believe that Gravemind, being as he is in (presumably) full control of High Charity by the end of Halo 2, would not be capable of piloting the city ship to any destination.

That covers the how, now for the why.

Allusions are made in both games to something called the Ark, and as I understand it this is taken to be a kind of "master switch" for every Halo installation in the galaxy, allowing simultaneous control and activation of each ring. Now, if we assume that Gravemind's initial motives for his actions are rooted in self-preservation (a reasonable assumption, given his location at the centre of a possible ring activation) then the first priority would be to neutralise any immediate threat- specifically, Delta Halo.

This he accomplishes through his manipulation of both the Master Chief and the Arbiter. But, given his "acquisition" of Penitent Tangent and Regret, it is entirely possible that he learned of the existence of the Ark and subsequently its capabilities - viz. the destruction of all life from a central control point without the need to activate each ring independently. So, despite the neutralisation of Delta Halo, there is still an enormous long term risk while the Ark or any of the rings still exist to be activated. Therefore it would be in Gravemind's interest to ensure that all installations are disabled, thus preventing the extinction of the Flood. The most efficient way of accomplishing this would be to reach the Ark before Humanity or the Covenant, and disable it or take other measures to prevent its use, and possibly use it to disable every Halo installation at the same time (assuming the later is possible from the Ark.)

So why do I say he wants to go to Earth?

Well, I believe the Ark is on Earth, and have a strong suspicion that the huge, very Forerunner-esque structure in the Halo 3 trailer is the Ark.

As for Cortana and the "I will ask and you will answer" moment - well, Cortana knows where Earth is. If I recall correctly part of the Cole protocol states that in the event or possibility of capture every step must be taken to ensure the destrucution of a ship-board A.I. to prevent the Covenant gaining access to human intelligence information (incl. stellar cartography), tactical data, etc.

Gravemind's got a ship, an army, and an objective. Cortana is the one who knows how to get there.

EDIT: That is all, of course, rampant speculation :-) But not entirely unreasonable I think you'll agree

I agree with you. There's something more to this story and the Forerunners couldn't have just activated the Halos. Considering their technological mastery and the fact that they had the ability of containment over the Flood implicates they didn't need to activate the Installations coming up to the poijt directly before 100,000 years ago. So why did they?

I don't think they did. Here, Narcogen, have a look at my theory:

http://carnage.bungie.org/haloforum/halo.forum.pl?read=708634

It may not be the most clearly, consicely-stated arguement I've ever made, but at least it's thorough. Give it a read, give me an email, and tell me what you think. I think our lines of thought are coming VERY close together.

Tartarus said: "A bloody fate awaits you and the rest of your incompetent race... and I, Tartarus!, Chieftain of the Brutes, will send you to it."

Once on Halo the Arbiter finds out that the Brutes have killed some of the Councillors.

Put the two together, recall past Prophet/Elite animosity, factor in the fact that the Arbiter's career was exterminating another race for the Prophets, and it becomes easy to believe Tartarus.

The Arbiter knows the Prophets are serious when they condemn entire species to death.

Yes, but he also knows they're serious when they sentence an individual to death. And he has been so sentenced himself.

What I'm saying is that the Arbiter's line in the Library, "they will take your head" which prompts Tartarus' confessional is a bit misplaced. It feels natural to the audience since we already suspect Tartarus is up to something. But honestly, to the Arbiter in that situation, I think it'd have been more natural to assume this was simply the end of the road for his suicide mission, and not a betrayal of his race. Tartarus reveals that foolishly and unnecessarily, but only because the Arbiter objects uncharacteristically.


Rampant for over se7en years.

From the HBO level transcripts:

A bloody fate awaits you and the rest of your incompetent race... and I, Tartarus!, Chieftain of the Brutes, will send you to it.

Tartarus levels his weapon, The Fist of Rukt, at the Arbiter.

ARBITER:

When the Prophets learn of this, they will take your head!

Tartarus:

Learn of it? (laughs) Fool, the ordered me to do it.

The Arbiter complains after he has been told that his race is to die.

Can he die?

Does he want to?

Is his personality spread, holographically, in all Flood forms?

The Flood is biologically voracious but is Gravemind's mind happy at the thought of being the only living mind in the galaxy?

He could be at odds with the biology that sustains him.

Maybe he wants an end, to die properly. Activating the Halos wont do that. Killing the big plant thing may not do that.

If he wants death then he will have to find a way to defeat the flood once and for all.

He has to fight the Flood but how much control does he have? He has to overcome the Flood's will to live. Maybe he can't just order all the parts to set fire to themselves. They may not obey and maybe even Flood spores have his personality stored in them.

He could be suffering from a successful attempt at immortality. :-)

Pure speculation of course, but seeking death one possible motivation.

Maybe this is a counterpoint to the mortal seeking immortality. He doesn't want to escape death, he wants to embrace it!

Did Audrey travel to High Charity or did a new Audrey grow from 'seeds' transported to High Charity?

I think that the blobs inside the crashed Pelican cockpit and in the tunnels of HC may have been Flood neural clusters, or proto-Audreys.

They are pre-Keyes-blobs.

The Flood converts some biomass or brains into new neural lumps, these connect to eventually form an Audrey.

Audreys develop personalities.

Some questions are:

Is each Audrey an individual?

Is there a single conciousness?

Do Audreys communicate or have a single 'mind'?

Does the Audrey on HC have the same mind/purpose as the one on Delta Halo?

I think there is one Gravemind, spread across the galaxy.

But I'm not sure how well they communicate. The Flood in the original game seemed to start out clumsy but got better over time. They start of not using weapons, they just chase you and slap you. Then they use weapons but they are not accurate. Then they seem to improve as the game goes on.

I don't know if this is just my imagination. It could just be a natural gameplay thing (present the player with an easyish challenge then rack up the difficulty over time).

But maybe its deliberate. When I saw the Keyes blob I thought 'aha!'. The blobs give the Flood intelligence. They coordinate the Flood. There were no blobs when the Flood first escaped so the Flood were uncoordinated. (In every sense of the word :-) )

Now if there are lots of Audreys across the galaxy and if Audreys can comunicate easily (as if distance didn't matter) then wouldn't the Flood on alpha Halo have been coordinated from the start?

Are we comparing like for like when we compare alpha Halo Flood tactics with delta Halo Flood tactics? Alpha Halo maybe only had a Keyes blob. Delta Halo had a full blown (100,000 yr old?) Audrey.

I think that Gravemind was thinking ahead when he took over high charity. He (rightfully but narrowly) assumed that the activation of delta halo would be unsucessful due to the efforts of the arbitor, the elites, and the straggling bits of humans left. It was a gamble but not doing what he did afterwards would also have been a gamble. So he used his flood force and himself to stop what he felt was the covenants next step, activation of the ark, by hitting the covenant in their own home.(cleverly sending the chief and more importantly cortana ahead first to disrupt and distract the enemy even further then the revolution had allready left them open). Even though he didn't stop truth he now has two assets he gained from that fight. A larger flood army (covie and human deaths equal flood force gains.) and a transport large enough to carry said gigantic flood army (high charity) thus he is perfectly capable of moving on to his next destination...earth. There he will probably attempt to stomp out the possibility of a full on halo fireing for good.

As for Gravemind's motivations for action in halo 3. I think he has alot of stuff he would like to do in the long term. But with all sentient species the concerns of survival come before the concerns of expanding his power or coming to terms with potential enemies. Graveminds first concern would be the survival of the flood through the elimination of immediate threats. If humanity is lucky Cortana might be able to work something out with him after the fact....or if humanity is really lucky we will allready have a truce with the elites so that we don't have to...as the flood is a much less desireable bunk buddy then zombies who wish to use our tender meatsacks to do their bidding.

Meyeselph

Gravemind certainly SEEMS sensible.

However, is that because he IS sensible, or because he wants to be SEEN as sensible?

Let's say things go like this: The Arbiter and the Chief stop the Covenant from trying to activate the Ark by proving that there is no "Great Journey" and that all they will achieve is to kill everybody.

Then what?

Is Gravemind going to calmly treat with humanity and the Covenant?


Rampant for over se7en years.

In the little pamphlet that comes with the Multiplayer Map Pack available in stores, there is an interesting description of the map Sanctuary:
"More ancient than even the Halo itself, these crumbling structures may have been moved, brick by brick, from a Forerunner homeworld..."
suggesting that the Forerunner moved temples from before the creation of Halo, presumably from before the prerequisite birth of the Flood,

And then in Delta Halo/Regret, Cortana says:
"It seems the Forerunners built these new structures around the old, to protect them, honor them..."

And in AotCR:
Cortana says "The Forerunners built this place, a fortress world..."

My supposition is this:
What if the Forerunners were engaged in war with the Flood, built the Rings as places of last defense? The movement of the temples "brick by brick," and the construction of new structures to protect and honor the old, could have been as an homage to the Forerunners' elder days, before the Flood. Perhaps generations of Forerunner that came after the creation of the Flood were mournful of the loss of the days before their sin, (supposing here that the Forerunners had a hand in the creation of the Flood, which I'll go into later) and built the Rings as a safe place for the preservation of their ancient culture. Maybe that's part of what's contained in the Library.

That makes perfect sense. The whole 'library/index' idea is great.

If that's not how Bungie intended it...it should be.

:)

-Ducain

.. or at least nearly so.

That's probably the best compliment I've ever gotten. Thanks :)


Rampant for over se7en years.

Maybe gravemind knew about the ark and we didn't realize it. Perhaps while tangeant 2401 was under graveminds custidy gravemind interrogated him and the monitor told gravemind about the ark but didn't tell him where it is. Knowing this he came up with a plan by sending MC to high charity this would accomplish two things: make truth leave high charity(to activate the rings) and make MC leave cortana on high charity for him to interrogate her. (Though his original plan was to secure the index). By interrogating cortana he found out where the ark is(earth).

And by sending the arbiter to the control room he would interrupt the index from turning and leaving it up to the ark to detonate the rings. If you recall on the level regret the last scene high charity can teleport itself from place to place in great distantces and gravemind found out and found out how to work it's teleport system from past knowlegde (by teleporting himself alot). Gravemind knows where the ark is and what it does. Using In amber clad to get to high charity gravemind can teleport himself and high charity(which is full of flood) to earth. By doing this he can get to earth to possibly destroy the ark or secure the ark.

Gravemind's had a lot of time to himself, presumably. Lots of time, to reach the third stage of Rampancy... envy. Flood just want to spread out, but after a while of this, Durandal got a bit bored, did he not? Gravemind wants to escape the inevitable of the universe... ;)

The Library can be added to, if it is what you think: a mass repository for every sentience and all life in the known universe. So... you can add, but you can also take away. Could species be removed form the list, and survive the Halos?

[quote=]Gravemind's had a lot of time to himself, presumably. Lots of time, to reach the third stage of Rampancy... envy. Flood just want to spread out, but after a while of this, Durandal got a bit bored, did he not? Gravemind wants to escape the inevitable of the universe... ;)[/quote]

Aha... so we think Gravemind is an AI? Maybe so, maybe not. My own theory is that the Flood were engineered.

[quote=]The Library can be added to, if it is what you think: a mass repository for every sentience and all life in the known universe. So... you can add, but you can also take away. Could species be removed form the list, and survive the Halos?
[/quote]

I don't think the List is used for that-- the LIst is used for making backups after. I think the weapon probably works on a set of criteria, since new life that the Flood could infect could possibly evolve after the installations were built, and thus there would be Flood vectors not on the list.

If what Guilty Spark says is true, and the Forerunners didn't survive the original activation of the rings, then the purpose of the Halos is defeated. It makes as much sense as (actually, less sense than) treating dandruff with decapitation. Why would a species commit xenocide only to have it's greatest adversary not die, but merely go into hibernation, only to rise again and wreak more havoc? That's letting Gravemind and the Flood win.

I feel there's more to the Halos than what we've been told. In fact, I would venture to say that Guilty Spark is either confused, or he is trying to confuse us. I don't know which one it is.

My theory is that the nodes of the pulse waves from the rings are safe, since there is no disturbance in those areas. If what I said doesn't make any sense, ask me to clarify it.

Perhaps the Index contained a list of species to spare? I doubt the Installations were as simple as turn the key, and bang!

[quote=etherealedge]If what Guilty Spark says is true, and the Forerunners didn't survive the original activation of the rings, then the purpose of the Halos is defeated. It makes as much sense as (actually, less sense than) treating dandruff with decapitation. Why would a species commit xenocide only to have it's greatest adversary not die, but merely go into hibernation, only to rise again and wreak more havoc? That's letting Gravemind and the Flood win.[/quote]

You've rightly pointed out a serious flaw I mentioned quite a long time ago.

The only cogent answer I could come up with was that the Forerunners felt the Flood posed a threat not only to their own galaxy, but to others as well, and that sterilizing this one was the last resort in controlling their spread.

If you think about it, both of the inconsistencies you point out are actually consistent with the way we treat various pathogens. We'll destroy living infection-carrying groups in order to prevent the spread to other groups elsewhere, but we'll also keep samples of it for further study rather than merely obliterating it entirely.

[quote=etherealedge]If what Guilty Spark says is true, and the Forerunners didn't survive the original activation of the rings, then the purpose of the Halos is defeated.[/quote]

Not if the Forerunners were on the brink of losing when they fired the rings, as it sounded listening to Spark in Halo 2. I see the rings not as a solution to the Flood but as a palliative treatment.

If left unchecked, the Flood would consume all sentient life in the galaxy. So use the rings to curb the expansion of the Flood, and hope that (with all the advanced technology and biological samples left on the rings) a future successor sentient race (the Reclaimers, anybody?) can find a solution for the Flood that the Forerunners couldn't.

It's a blue-sky, shot-in-the-dark, desperation move... but it's better (at least, I'm thinking it's better in the minds of the Forerunners) than conceding defeat and sealing the doom of the galaxy for all time.

-- Steve

As always I can’t be entirely sure whether or not I have just repeated someone else’s ideas so I apologize in advance. I’d like to speculate on the beginning of Halo 3. Although this game could begin in an endless number of ways, I think there are a few things we can extrapolate from the end of Halo 2. From our viewpoint what would be the most logical way for Bungie to start the game? Bungie began both games with a tutorial, where crewmen or marines would lead you around and point out all the information at your disposal and how to look up and down etc. So assuming they do this at the beginning of Halo 3, for the sake of new users, where would they incorporate it?
Well the Master Chief is relaxing on the Forerunner ship in Earth space, along with the Prophet of Truth and presumably plenty of additional Covenant forces. Any level imaginable taking place on that ship would certainly not be good place for a nice introduction to the game. So I will assume from that information that the game will not begin with the Chief. So then who will it begin with? The Arbiter of course. I’m well aware that Bungie hasn’t verified if the Arbiter will even be a playable character yet but I’m willing to bet he will. Bungie has more options with the Arbiter plot wise. He may have been milling around the Delta Halo control room with Sarge and Miranda at Halo 2’s conclusion, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch if Half Jaw were to send some phantoms and bring him up to the cruiser retaken at the games end. So I get to my point-which is the game starts in the midst of the enormous space battle around High Charity and Delta Halo. The Arbiter has his armor and shields looked at or possibly (although I think doubtfully) given new armor and runs through the standard introduction, except this time everything is purple. The ensuing level may involve repelling borders on the cruiser, which would certainly be plausible considering both Halo and Halo 2 began that way. That would be an interesting level-Truth and Reconciliation and Pillar of Autumn put in a blender so to speak. Hopefully it will not be followed by some sort of boarding action of High Charity maybe dealing with Cortana (as Narcogen has already mentioned) but I think the possibility seems at least probable.
As for Miranda and Sarge? As seen in the Conversations the Elites, or at least some of them, questioned the war against humanity before the events on Delta Halo occurred, so I think it wouldn’t take much convincing of the Elite faction not to slice and dice Miranda and Johnson. Plus the Elites already had no problem with Miranda and Johnson in the control room. As for whether or not the Elite faction of the Covenant has already accepted that the Great Journey is a lie, probably not, and this point will probably be part of what the Arbiter must accomplish during the course of the game. The important thing is that accepting humanity as an ally and recognizing the Great Journey isn’t true are two separate things. It’s possible to have one without the other. This would make it much easier for the humans, since it is much easier to question something that makes little or no sense to most of the Covenant, the human war, than the central tenant of their faith, the Great Journey.

I should probably add though that it is still possible that Halo 3 could begin with the Chief. I imagine there might be a cut scene where he might jump ship and be picked up by humans as they retreat from the Covenant onslaught, thereby giving him a safe environment to have the tutorial section.

After two games, they might just forego the tutorial.


Rampant for over se7en years.