The Marathon logo in Halo, and the case for two Arks

My second blog post here- it just might be a second consecutive blog post if I don't take an hour typing it in its entirety. I have time to kill for the next few weeks before college, and one of my favorite pasttimes happens to be...well, rampant speculation.

This time I'm writing about the Marathon logo in Halo and the whole ark concept, why I think there are two of those things in the game.

First, the Marathon logo. It occupies a central position in the Halo logo, as we all know, right between the A and the L.
[url=http://saber-scorpion.com][img]http://www.saber-scorpion.com/halo.gif[/i...

Now, here's a famous excerpt that came from a December 1999 IMG interview with Jason Jones.

IMG: Any particular reason for the Marathon logo, or is it just for kicks? Is Halo somehow tied to and/or an extension of the Marathon series?

JJ: I'll say this: Observant fans of our games will note that certain themes tend to run through our games. For example, the sword Durandal (from the Song of Roland ) first appears in Minotaur as a magic sword and goes on to become a central character in Marathon. There are many other examples of common themes running through our games.

Okay, so the Marathon logo is a recurring theme in the Halo series? And what does the Marathon logo mean? Supposedly, it stands for "A world within a world", the Marathon being a habitable world inside the hollowed-out Martian moon Deimos. What would a "World within a world" be in the Haloverse?

An Ark.

Why not? The Marathon kept its crew safe from the myriad hazards of space on the long, long voyage to settle on Tau Ceti. The Ark kept its inhabitants safe from the Flood and the activation of the Halos, until they could come out and life could propagate again. Stephen Loftus, on the Halo Bungie Org forums, thinks there might be a Halo-like structure inside the Earth. A Halo-like structure, or a hollow shell inside the Earth, would likely be in a very Marathon-logo like arrangement. Therefore, the Marathon logo would be symbolic of an/the Ark, the central mystery of Halo, the reason why the player is still alive to complete what began a hundred thousand years ago.

And why do I keep saying 'an' Ark? I think there might be two Arks, as in the Bible. The two arks in the Bible are Noah's Ark, which saved life from the Great Flood, and the Ark of the Covenant, which, among other purposes, was God's throne on Earth, and which made the Israelites invincible against their enemies. While Earth, with its vast population and biodiversity, likely has Noah's ark on it, what of the other Ark, the Ark of the Covenant? Does a second Ark exist in Halo?

Two pieces of evidence-
1. A seemingly insignificant entry in Bungie's Guide to Sci-Fi where new guy Isaac Hannaford mentions Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. In the Foundation series, a scientist attempts to save The Galactic Empire by establishing two sanctuaries for scientific knowledge, one of which must have its existence kept secret at all costs. I doubt it's coincidental that the multiplayer map Foundation is set in a Chicago robot factory- Isaac Asimov was legendary for his robot novels and his three laws of robotics.

2. This HSP post mentions Jeremiah 3:16, in which God says that the Ark of the Covenant shall fade from the mind, be neither visited nor remembered once the Covenant formed by God with the Israelites is spread far and wide. The Covenant we know of are spread far and wide, and they won't know a thing about the Ark of the Covenant.

In Conversations From The Universe, the limited edition booklet, an archaeologist on the planet Coral (ILB and Ghosts of Coral; Coral was used by Romans to ward away spirits) finds a Forerunner artifact of some sort. The artifact is indeterminably large, nearly indestructible, and seems to be comprised of a series of galleries and labyrinths. The archaeologist is visited by ONI agents intent on hushing up the discovery. I agree that Forerunner artifacts are a matter of top secrecy, but given that they are quite a few of them, why is this particular one so important as to appear in the second conversation? Of further note, the Covenant are mentioned as staying away from this particular system. Forget it's non-canonical glassing in ILB, does Jeremiah 3:16 seem more relevant now?

So? Two Arks? One story arc (or ark? :P) is going to be finished at the end of Halo 3. That is confirmed. Other story arcs involving maybe this second ark and whatever else is left will likely end in the novels. At least, that's what I guess.

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Comments

Oh, yes, I failed to address a certain issue with the Ark concept- Guilty Spark says "The" Ark, not "An Ark". I suppose he doesn't know of the second ark, or maybe he thinks we know which Ark he's talking about.

After all, if you went and asked a devout Christian/Jew about the Ark, they would likely ask "Which Ark?", because there are two Arks you could be referring to. One ignorant of the Ark would not bother asking if there was another object known as the Ark, as is the case with Miranda, Sarge and the Arbiter.

[quote=UrsusArctos]Oh, yes, I failed to address a certain issue with the Ark concept- Guilty Spark says "The" Ark, not "An Ark". I suppose he doesn't know of the second ark, or maybe he thinks we know which Ark he's talking about.

After all, if you went and asked a devout Christian/Jew about the Ark, they would likely ask "Which Ark?", because there are two Arks you could be referring to. One ignorant of the Ark would not bother asking if there was another object known as the Ark, as is the case with Miranda, Sarge and the Arbiter.[/quote]

I think most people, devout or not, would think of Noah's Ark before Moses' Ark, Steve Spielberg's film notwithstanding.

Given the mention of "The Flood" and the nature of the Halo installations, I think most people look at the Noah's Ark comparison as the most apt.

Of course, Moses' ark is the Ark of the Covenant, which also rings a bell, but you also have to remember here that if the Ark belongs to anyone, it was to the Forerunners, not to the Covenant, so that may just be a cosmetic similarity.

It seems most likely to me that Bungie is infusing its singular Ark with aspects of both biblical ones, and that to look for a second physical object in the Haloverse is to make things unnecessarily complicated.

...I probably would have agreed with that, if it weren't for whatever is going on on Coral. I can't see any other way of tying up things but to assume that the object on Coral is the Ark of the Covenant.

We'll see this Halloween, Ghosts of Coral will either vindicate or break this theory.

[quote=UrsusArctos]...I probably would have agreed with that, if it weren't for whatever is going on on Coral. I can't see any other way of tying up things but to assume that the object on Coral is the Ark of the Covenant.

We'll see this Halloween, Ghosts of Coral will either vindicate or break this theory.[/quote]

I think the thing to pay attention to here is that no significant *new* material that affects the major plotline has been revealed first in a novel. Bungie is driving the story primarily with the in-game cutscenes; they know that a lot of gamers aren't going to read the books. I doubt they'll making reading them a prerequisite to understanding the novels, and I don't think any major new material will come out in a novel.

If, for the sake of argument, there was a second important artifact, I think we'll see it first in Halo 3 and not in the novel.

That said, there certainly will be something on Coral. But it'll be to fill in background and add detail-- not push the major storyline. I think the object on Earth is the ultimate "it" for this story; anything else is window-dressing.

What if the Coral Ark is part of another story arc? Remember, there was a lot from First Strike that not only didn't make it into Halo 2, but which was not even acknowledged in Halo 2. Leave out Johnson's escape from Halo, the whole lot-Dr. Halsey, the other SPARTANS, et al, are nowhere to be seen. Why? They are irrelevant. First Strike does not change the events of Halo 2 in any significant manner.(Maybe not even Unyielding Hierophant and 500+ starships being blasted)

If the story of the second Ark is an independent story arc that is to put an end to the rest of the loose ends in the novel, I think we could see something significant in Ghosts of Coral, or at least, something moving in that direction that wouldn't significantly affect Halo 3, which has the final outcome detailed.

That be said...I think we'll end this argument and leave our readers to do the thinking ;)

Yes, it could be an entirely independent story arc, and probably is. And therefore, while things important to the independent novel-based story arcs exist in the novel, in the context of the primary story arc in the games, those story arcs themselves are unimportant and usually not even referenced.

Look at how the games so far have treated the books in terms of tie-ins. The books feature other Spartans and everybody keeps bringing this up, but there's never even a whisper of other Spartans in the game.

Halo: The Flood detailed how Johnson escaped Halo, but the game only jokes about Sarge refusing to tell people. That reference works whether people know or don't know the background in the books, and I'll bet that's the way it's always going to work.

In short: I do not think that content from the books is nearly as good at content from the game in terms of using past events to predict future ones. The events that the games do reference, it references dismissively, and Bungie has already specifically stated that if they are so motivated, they will intentionally contradict specific story items from the books.


Rampant for over six years.

It could be possible that the Covenant are simply misinterpreting a report of the Bible they were told. Perhaps, long ago, a bunch of different alien races stumbled upon this story, read it and believed they were destined to find this Ark, and they aptly named their co-op religious group the "Covenant."
Like many religions, over time, this "Covenant" grabbed other ideas and grew. Somehow, they found the story of the Halo that destroys all sentient life, interpreted it as ascension to Godhood, and combined it with finding this all powerful Ark.

This probably means that the Ark is both the "Ark of the Covenant" (a weapon? stone tablets with rules?) and an Ark that protects from the Flood and the subsequent Halo blast.

This is like mad late after this comment was posted but with halo 3 out we do learn there is forunner machinery within the earth supporting your world within a world comment regarding the Marathon logo.