August 19, 2008

Headstones Pushed Aside

> — Vociferous @ 1:16 am

Although the third and final “Architecture of War” article has been in the can for a while, I’ve been wanting to do a piece on a completely different part of the Halo universe. Next week, we’ll be looking at “The Enemy,” the final element of our series on encounters, but for now, we’re going to do something just a bit different…

The following is a detailed look at the history and nature of the Gravemind, as well as an exegesis on the Flood parasite and its various forms…



  1. That was an excellent article. It reiterated all I’ve heard and learned about the flood/gravemind and taught me even more. I look forward to your next analysis of the halo universe. =)

    Comment by iiX Rave Xii — August 19, 2008 @ 11:04 am

  2. I read every word. You are an Oracle.

    This answers so many questions I have had about the Flood. I realize that these are theories, but I dig em.

    Comment by XerxdeeJ — August 19, 2008 @ 12:02 pm

  3. Excellent. The part where you describe the Flood moving from galaxy to galaxy and the possibility of stopping the Flood from doing it to other galaxies reminded me of something.

    Locusts, the swarming phase of a variety of grasshoppers. Not only is the Flood’s/Gravemind’s behavior similar, i.e. rampantly consuming its necessary resources, but also their swarming characteristics.

    Once all their food is gone, the numbers of Locusts decrease to the point that they return to their normal state. The consumption and swarming characteristics of Locusts have been emulated in a variety of scifi. The unnamed aliens in the movie “Independence Day” were like this, being that they conquered planet after planet, consuming resources, breeding and building, and then leaving in their temporary home, their mothership.

    They, like the Flood, were extragalactic in origin, and they left dead and empty worlds behind.

    Perhaps after the Flood have taken a galaxy, they move on. There wouldn’t be anything to consume for thousands, millions, or billions of years there, so that may be why the haven’t returned. They decrease in numbers and intensity before they move on, like Locusts. Maybe.

    Comment by Howling Darkness — August 19, 2008 @ 1:34 pm

  4. I really wonder how the flood came into existence in the first place. If they were an experiment in another galaxy, or if they were just an awesome cell that evolved naturally.

    Comment by Maj Williams — August 19, 2008 @ 2:51 pm

  5. I have one question why do you assume the flood were completely victorious in other galaxies? If the flood had successfully consumed multiple galaxies when they entered our own they should have had a fleet of ships and should not have been forced to wait on one world for the forerunner to explore it.

    Comment by tcfan — August 19, 2008 @ 6:22 pm

  6. tcfan, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that the Flood were completely victorious in other galaxies, but one line from the “Iris” ARG does hint at their success:

    “We may have been fools to think that all intelligence follows the rules we’ve set. The Flood is no idiot parasite, no simple infection to be cured and cauterized. It has a center, a Mind, and that discovery gave us a way to fight it. But when the Mind realized we had its measure, it spoke to us, mockingly, dismissively. It has done this before. Elsewhere.”

    How the Flood reached our galaxy and why they were only seeded on one border planet is a pretty big mystery, but I’d guess, just based on their topology and the nature of the Flood, that they were marginally if not completely successful in other galaxies.

    Comment by vociferous — August 19, 2008 @ 7:51 pm

  7. What a beautiful article.

    Comment by UNSCleric — August 19, 2008 @ 8:13 pm

  8. Honestly, the articles here continue to be of the highest quality.

    Comment by Hale 079 — August 20, 2008 @ 12:43 am

  9. In reply to comment #4, by Maj Williams:

    How The Flood came into existence: the details are not known, but this we do know: It is a monument to all our sins.

    And as for you, vociferous: Impressive. Actually, very impressive. I hope to be in touch in the not-too-distant future.

    Comment by AngelicLionheart — August 20, 2008 @ 5:27 am

  10. I tried to subscribe to your feed but it didn’t show up on my homepage at Is it working correctly?

    Comment by Cord Covers — August 20, 2008 @ 7:29 am

  11. The tact Gravemind takes with Master Chief is eerily familiar to the passages in The Gospel of Luke where Satan tempts Christ. Just an observation.

    Comment by PKC47 — August 20, 2008 @ 12:53 pm

  12. Man, I’m sooooo glad introduced me to your site. I’m really digging this stuff. It looks like you have a few minor typos so if you ever need someone to proofread for you, I’m your man!

    Comment by theJwac — August 20, 2008 @ 1:51 pm

  13. Very nice. I didn’t notice until now, but the Gravemind reminds me a little of Omnius from Brian Herbert’s Dune novels.
    This article was very well produced. Kudos.


    P.S. “Irregardless” is redundant, all you need is “regardless.”

    Comment by Beroya-S52 — August 20, 2008 @ 3:31 pm

  14. Awesome, best article I’ve read about the flood. I love the in-depth situations of what the gravemind is, it was a little unclear to me.

    Comment by Aussie's Poison — August 20, 2008 @ 4:02 pm

  15. I know it’s wild speculation, but I thought I’d just throw the idea out there. What if the Gravemind was telling the truth to Medicant Bias? The Bestiarum mentions a race which was even more powerful than the Forerunners, called the Precursors, who were not only capable of extragalactic travel, but of speeding up evolution. Perhaps the end result is the Flood?

    Or I’m just crazy!

    Comment by Visari — August 20, 2008 @ 6:41 pm

  16. Ah! leave it up to bungie to have a meaningful theme to a tale about zombies…they are coming,2012 be ready winter solstice of 2012…the end of days is nigh!

    Comment by Visionay — August 20, 2008 @ 9:24 pm

  17. i think bungie could make novel out of this it would sell pretty well with people who want to know about the flood and the forerunners

    Comment by SFF — August 21, 2008 @ 10:20 pm

  18. i personally would be interested in buying it or if it takes more than one the whole set. im just curios about what happened in this intricate and detailed story bungie created

    Comment by SFF — August 21, 2008 @ 10:23 pm

  19. Regarding the Flood’s success, or lack thereof, in previous galaxies, I don’t think their lack of a huge fleet of ships emerging from upon the Forerunner’s galaxy necessarily means that they weren’t successful elsewhere. They were not independently intelligent. Their manifestations were clumsy and one-minded, as they had a complete cerebral dependency on the Gravemind. In my opinion, they could be pointed in the right direction, or “Told what to do,” so to speak, but lacked the creative facilities to do come up with multiple paths to their goal, or dynamic ways to reach them. The Flood were extremely efficient w/ the spread of their cells to other sentients, but beyond that, everything they did seemed belabored and clumsy. That they were successful in defeating other galaxies who succumbed to their devastation, yet had very little success employing other life forms’ versions of space travel, doesn’t come as a surprise to me.

    Comment by D15AV0W3D — August 24, 2008 @ 11:27 am

  20. +1 🙂

    Comment by AppaL — August 26, 2008 @ 7:20 pm

  21. Excellent read. Your use of the word “phenotypic” made my day. =D

    Comment by NaRc — August 27, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

  22. I think if one takes a step back and examines the canvas that is the Halo universe in a, it can be seen that the races represent certain ideologies. Like it was mentioned in the article, the differences between religion and science are portrayed through the Covenant and Humanity respectively. But what about the Flood? One can see that it is a representation of a flawless blend of the two ideals. Conformity; and a peaceful conformity at that. Which is only further contrasted by the Flood’s hideousness. Mentally however, they are perfect; philisophically evolved to the “Omega Point”, as Teilhard would say. Now for further speculation: perhaps the Forrunners, of the Precursers (more likely) created the Flood as a means of conversion for the dissenting masses. Perhaps the Precursers even evolved into the Flood. It seems like an interesting tradeoff: physical distortion for mental purity… damn, I’m good…

    Comment by XUntamedXLethargyX — August 27, 2008 @ 10:46 pm

  23. That was an excellent read. I really enjoy your thorough analysis and particular attention to all the intricate details that Bungie has served us in Halo.
    Might I inquire as to what your background is Vociferous?

    Comment by Tim — September 2, 2008 @ 9:05 am

  24. Great guide. It explains all of the Flood’s origins. I like the moral at the end as well.

    Comment by Zappedman43 — January 5, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  25. At times I thought he was speaking in fourteener couplets,

    As William Blake did in The Book of Thel. Wiki to whet.

    Comment by AThoth — May 19, 2009 @ 8:47 pm

  26. Here are two examples, both Trochaic Heptameter
    NOT iambic pentameter (deconstruct this at will).

    “This one is machine and nerve, and has its mind concluded.
    This one is but flesh and faith, and is the more deluded.”

    “You will search one likely spot and you will search another.
    Fate had us meet as foes but this ring will make us brothers.”

    Comment by AThoth — May 20, 2009 @ 1:28 am

  27. I read a few comments, but not all. I am unsure if this is mentioned, but I’ll go over it anyway.
    I have to things to bring to your attention- The Johnson case, and the possible origin of the Delta Gravemind.

    The Johnson case- Only two sentient beings have ever survived a flood infection- Chief, and Johnson. The Chief was aided by a quick calculation by his AI companion; so his case is not so special. Sgt. mjr. Avery Johnson, however, is immune to the flood infection (disregarding the pointless Halo 3 glitch). The question is: Why?
    According to slight and rapid research done by Dr. Catherine Halsey, Johnson survived his first encounter due possibly to a plasma injury to spinal column. This nerve damage prevented the flood from controlling his brainwaves. This analysis promotes a cure to the flood. However the information is destroyed by the Master Chief in an effort to save his friend. (Halo- First Strike/Halo: Combat Evolved)

    The Delta Gravemind possible origins- I can’t remember where; however, I do remember reading that the covenant accidentally unleashed the Flood twice (this is either from a book or from the game). Well, we know the covenant did so the second time on Alpha Halo. And according to a conversation between an elite commander and the former Arbiter on Harvest in Halo Wars, The covenant were aware of the Flood prior to their encounter with humanity. According to your assumptions that a species boarded Delta and unleashed the flood- allowing the parasite to change forms using this species as sustenance. Perhaps, the covenant unleashed the flood in this case on Delta. This would not only explain their knowledge of the flood, but also how they know of, and worship the Halo rings. They must have unleashed the flood, escaped the encounter- learning of the rings and beginning their worship of them, then deemed Delta inactive- due to the fact that the Covenant cannot activate Forerunner Tech- and left it in search of a new Halo to use for the “Great Journey.”(“Lies for the weak. Beacons for the deluded”).
    How else would Regret have known to run there from humanity?

    Comment by Ryguy123234 — July 15, 2009 @ 5:33 pm

  28. Great article, but I was sadly surprised that you did not include any analysis of Gravemind’s backwards talk in H2 and H3’s soundtracks

    Comment by freeman — August 19, 2009 @ 2:16 pm

  29. Also, where did you find that picture of Gravemind eating a Keyship? It’s pretty awesome

    Comment by freeman — August 19, 2009 @ 9:55 pm

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