The Forerunner, the Halos...and death

After reading through a whole lot of posts on the HBO forum thread that talked about boss battles, I noticed one important observation by Narcogen: The Arbiter stops Delta Halo from being activated partly due to Gravemind's own request. That set me thinking on the lines of "Who's really going to lose from a Halo activation?".

Gravemind, being one of the flood and therefore one of the very creatures that the Halos were intended to exterminate, would certainly not want the Halos to be activated, because that would be the doom of the flood (Thanks to the loss of their food). And the Humans and Covenant(Maybe not Truth...I'll come to him later) don't want be wiped out in one go, so they don't want the Halos activated. The monitors on both Alpha and Delta want activation.

The most obvious problem is: If Halo kills flood food and gets rid of the flood that way...what's the point? Even if the flood went on a galactic rampage and consumed all the sentient life in the galaxy, they'd have nothing more left to consume after a point, and they'd starve to death. If the Halos fired, they'd kill the very same lifeforms that the flood would kill anyway, and the flood would still starve to death. The only difference would be the method of killing the two lifeforms: by flood or by Halo. Unless the Forerunner killed everything as some sort of act of mercy, there's hardly any difference either way, is there? Forget the "why not kill the flood" part of it...what's the difference in death by Halo and death by flood?

Here is a quote from an October 2004 Joe Staten interview on the Halo Story Page.

HSP: The Flood are more than just a biological curiosity to the Forerunner.

JS: Curiosity? No. The Flood was the Forerunner's undoing - an overwhelming antagonist they could not defeat without putting a gun between their collective teeth, and pulling the trigger.

"Putting a gun between their collective teeth" more or less implies suicide, and strengthens Guilty Spark's statement at the end of the Great Journey, "The forerunner died...as planned."

But the same idea is countered by last month's HSP interview with Joe.

HSP: When did the Forerunner die off - in human years?

JS: Inscrutable alien beings with problematic ethics never die... they just fade away. But if what you're asking is: when did the Forerunner take their "Great Journey," that would be about 100,000 years ago - around the time our Homo Sapien ancestors decided to migrate out of Africa. Mind you, that's a hotly debated paleontological theory.

Bam. Joe gives a direct connection between the Ark, humans, and the last firing of the Halos. And he adds that the Forerunner did NOT die. They went on their "Great Journey" a hundred thousand years ago, and they've faded away since then. But, if they haven't died, where in the galaxy could they be?

HSP: The Forerunner inhabit another galaxy.

JS: Well they don't inhabit ours - which is to say something with the power and reach of the Covenant would certainly have found them by now if they did.

We can totally cross out the idea of the forerunners inhabiting another galaxy...that'd screw up a whole lot of things in the story. But the fact is that they don't inhabit our galaxy. Where did these enigmatic aliens fade away to?

Again, last month's update.

HSP: First off, I'd like to know if there are any elements of the story that haven't been touched on, or maybe touched on obliquely, that you'd like to see get some added attention? Any little back-story tidbit that might not make it to a book, film, or game, but could stand alone as a (short) short story, in the same vein as the Conversations booklet perhaps?

JS: I'd love to see the conversation between Shaw and Fujikawa about how - exactly - a Slipspace drive works. Frankie imagines it would happen at poolside with Tom Baker and George Takei playing the lead roles. McLees tends to think the conversation would have to happen in some place as absurd as Slipspace itself. Like the place where Spartans go when they "never die."

How very interesting. Slipspace itself is referred to as a 'place'. The 'place' Spartans go to when they "never die"? They DO die, and the "Spartans never die" gig is an ONI fabrication to raise morale... or is it??? John was born in Elysium city(Elysium being the Greek equivalent of heaven), so the Spartans would likely go to Elysium after they died...right? In the midst of all this silliness, Staten seems to be pointing out a metaphysical angle to death in the Haloverse, one that could have wide-reaching implications.

If the Forerunners met the same fate as the never-dying Spartans, fading out of this galaxy to some space in slipspace, could that be truly interpreted as death? Most importantly, [em]would an AI interpret their fate as death?[/em] Remember that we still don't know what the Halos really do to sentient life. The only way we know they kill is the statements of two AIs, two beings that have no true concept of death.

Cortana, we know, faces a sort of 'death', or a point at which she is destroyed by her own uncontrolled growth in power and knowledge, but that isn't really analogous to the death of living being. Spark's stayed through a 100,000 years (Although he seems to show borderline insanity in the first game). Both can go deep, deep into the complexities of the working of the Halo superweapon and its effects on sentient life, on a level beyond that Master Chief or anyone else can comprehend. Whatever Halo does-blowing up brain cells, carbonizing bodies, or something far more subtle, they interpret those effects as causing death to all the sentient life targeted, including the forerunners. They might not comprehend a metaphysical aspect of life...or discard the 'spirit' angle as being entirely irrelevant because they suffer a physical death.

Infection by flood might cause the living beings in question to be cut off from this metaphysical aspect, perhaps binding them to great suffering over an extended period of time. That would be worth sacrificing physical form for-so that you wouldn't have to suffer under the flood. I know that this is all getting to be a real big stretch, but Halo does have some sprituality in it, and given the number of bibilical references in the game, a spiritual angle to the outcome is pretty damn likely.

Comments

[quote=UrsusArctos]

[snip]

Again, last month's update.

HSP: First off, I'd like to know if there are any elements of the story that haven't been touched on, or maybe touched on obliquely, that you'd like to see get some added attention? Any little back-story tidbit that might not make it to a book, film, or game, but could stand alone as a (short) short story, in the same vein as the Conversations booklet perhaps?

JS: I'd love to see the conversation between Shaw and Fujikawa about how - exactly - a Slipspace drive works. Frankie imagines it would happen at poolside with Tom Baker and George Takei playing the lead roles. McLees tends to think the conversation would have to happen in some place as absurd as Slipspace itself. Like the place where Spartans go when they "never die."

How very interesting. Slipspace itself is referred to as a 'place'. The 'place' Spartans go to when they "never die"? They DO die, and the "Spartans never die" gig is an ONI fabrication to raise morale... or is it??? John was born in Elysium city(Elysium being the Greek equivalent of heaven), so the Spartans would likely go to Elysium after they died...right? In the midst of all this silliness, Staten seems to be pointing out a metaphysical angle to death in the Haloverse, one that could have wide-reaching implications.[/quote]

It is referred to as an absurd place. The key word here is absurd, not place. It is absurd in the same way the "place" that Spartans go when they "never die". We already know that they do die. Imagining that they go somewhere instead of dying is an intentional lie on ONI's part.

There's no metaphysical angle here. Staten is making a joke. He's also becoming an object lesson for why game developers can't trust their audiences with figurative language. :(


Rampant for over se7en years.