March 19, 2008

She Died in Eden (I)

> — Vociferous @ 1:50 pm

Continued from Intro

Some worlds were considered more important than others...

We are introduced to the two in what is a rather casual exchange, despite its gravity:

Categorization has sped since the improvements were announced, but there are many hurdles. The indexing of sentient species may have irreversible effects on the surviving non-sentient species. We will have extinction events and irreparable environmental harm on at least 18 worlds. Current projections estimate post-archival cataclysm on as many as 31 worlds. The paucity of sentience has been a blessing in this regard.

Librarian’s first message contains a great deal of information, and, as with most of her communications, they are very purpose-oriented. She is not one who ponders the consequential subtext of events, only their practical nature and application. By our strictest definitions, she is a scientist and, more importantly, she is on a mission.

‘Categorization,’ as it is used here (also referred to as ‘indexing’ or ‘cataloguing’ in other Forerunner text) specifically pertains to the Conservation Measure. As previously described, the Measure was evidently enacted as a double-pronged approach to the preservation of diversity of intelligent life in the galaxy against the siege of the Flood. The most significant element of this effort was the Halo Array – seven ring world weapons capable of communicating with each other and synching a pulse across the galaxy that would terminate all sentience within range.

As a hedging safeguard to the inevitable demise that this plan was created for, the Conservation Measure was conceived. Here, a large task force was sent out across the Maginot Line (a division between the hidden safety of the Ark and protected Forerunner worlds against the ravaging Flood) to find sentient life, catalogue it and extract it. This was evidently done through Keyships, massive Forerunner dreadnoughts, in a fleet with the capacity to carry the population of an entire world back to the Ark.

In this first message from Librarian we can see that some recent changes to their process within the Conservation Measure has brought a quickened pace. With that improvement, she and presumably her team are now becoming more aware of the unfortunate repercussions that the act of indexing will incur.

Of the worlds they’ve touched thus far, 18 of them will suffer from massive extinction events or other harm which cannot be mended due to the ecology’s reliance of the sentient race in their world. By removing these particular beings, other nonsentient organisms may perish as a result. She states that up to 31 different worlds may suffer this fate, which is one of the reasons why the rarity of sentience is now perceived as a good thing.

We do not know the exact role which Librarian plays during the Conservation Measure, but it is safe to say that she carries some sort of managerial rank, being that she is the one communicating in this message back to the Forerunner base of operations – later confirmed to be the Ark. Further evidence suggests that she might even be the leader of the mission or even the individual who personally developed and volunteered for this plan. The shipment of sentient beings to the Ark is only temporary, but her permanent archive or index, if retained, is unknown.

The purpose of the Index itself and its relationship to the literal key which activates the Halo Array has yet to be revealed, though some believe that it contains the genome and capability to reproduce every sentient race in the galaxy if repopulation is necessary. This would be a reseeding effort in conjunction or addition to the reinsertion of the species population after the Array had fired. Within the Prophet section, the Bestiarum guide included in Halo 3’s Collectors and Legendary editions, speaks briefly of the reseeding process.

When responding, Didact’s frankness ushers through, something we see often:

How formal of you, Librarian. We’re receiving shipments of indexed beings more frequently than communications. Don’t compound scarcity with brevity.

I know things beyond the [Maginot] line are harried. But I worry about you. I’ve asked you time and time again. Abandon your cataloging. Come back inside, where my fleets can keep you safe.

Come home.

Although this is a military message, relative to the Conservation Measure, he foils its relevance by immediately injecting personal sentiment, seemingly oblivious to her practical concern over the Measure’s detrimental effects. It is clear that he cares deeply for her – that he misses her and that he probably has not rested well since she left on this journey.

The Ark's citadel control room...

Although there is emotion here, he does not fail to imply his authoritative position within the Forerunner race. Didact, as is hinted here and almost outright stated later, commands a naval fleet which currently resides within or near the safety of the Maginot Line. Later we come to learn that he is on the Ark, possibly spending much of his time in the very citadel players of Halo 3’s campaign stormed at the end of the level entitled ‘The Covenant.’

From this dialogue we can tell that Didact and Librarian may have, at one point, shared the same home, an unknown geographic location on the Ark. These two Forerunners are both at the very razor edge of the war, but instead of being on the same side or opposing sides (as is historically common in love stories), they find themselves at separate ends of the galaxy. In this way, Bungie weaves a fascinating story which not only gives us a slew of information about the Forerunners and their struggle against the Flood, but also about who they were, how they acted and on a greater level how they displayed compassion and love.

Would that it were my choice. I have committed to this course because it is the right thing to do. We no longer have the manpower or material to excise remedial measures at a planetary level. I certainly can’t justify using the [transit measure] to save my own skin when there are still so many innocents to protect and index.

Librarian is stalwart and resolved.

She is a person of moral conviction and she will not allow that conviction to be deterred – not even by love. This sacrifice is the foundation of her character throughout the terminals, the very reason she is so pragmatic. She does not care if she survives the mission – in fact, she does not intend to – her purpose here is to save innocent lives.

The ‘transit measure’ as it is depicted above is believed to be the gateway portal which was unlocked when the Forerunner dreadnought landed in Africa during the events of Halo 3. It is a massive artifact buried deep underground near the city of Voi, Kenya. The Covenant excavated this structure and activated it with what we believe was a recovered Keyship. When this happened, a spherical portal into subspace opened just above the surface of the planet.

This portal led to the Ark.

When archiving a planet’s sentients, Librarian’s team would at certain times feel that the world warranted a gateway – so a machine would be built under its soil, hidden from any who came after. We don’t know the exact number or frequency during the Measure that this occurred, but logically the Forerunners would only waste the necessary physical resources by building these artifacts in key locations that were invaluable. Earth was deemed valuable in this aspect, but others could have been determined by distance from each other.

You know I oppose your mission, but you’re exceeding its parameters anyway. You’ve put yourself in jeopardy. You’ve done enough.

If you will not come to me, I will find my way to you.

As with his first response, he does not hesitate to confront her. Here we find that not only does he refuse to accept her mission, but that during the implementation of the Measure itself, she has gone out of her way to extend its parameters against his will. He argues that she is in grave danger and that if she is not willing to return, he will go to her.

Didact was no doubt familiar with the Ark's cartographer...

Perhaps we can imagine that every single day Didact looks out over the horizon of the Ark and wonders if a rescue party he has waiting at the edge of the Line will escort another Keyship to the Ark’s surface. When the ship lands, he waits patiently in the bay as the throngs of other-worlders pass by to their own destiny – one which even they are unaware of.

He searches the crowds, his eyes scanning every face, every shape. He is waiting for her – hoping against fate that this is the last ship in the Measure and that she is on this vessel.

And daily, he is wracked by grief when she does not appear.

On one hand he has duty, his fleet and the military campaign he is pursuing against the Flood. On the other hand he has his love, the only person he truly cares about. In between those two things stands the Halo Array and the Conservation Measure – the death and rebirth of the entire galaxy.

It is no surprise to me that he would suggest coming to her, probably intent on physically escorting her home, even if by military force against her will. Librarian, however, is not one to be goaded or harangued. Her dedication runs to the bone and she will not be stopped. Not even by her lover…

We have no time to spare, Didact. Every vessel we can fill, we send to the Ark. I dare not cease the mission. Not now, not until I’ve done all I can. Each one of these souls is finite and precious.

And I’m close.

Close to saving them all.

[Proceed to Part II]

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