I hope this message finds you well; I hope it helps you understand my decision.
Today, I leave the only world I have ever called home. Not for glory or for blood lust as you’ve no doubt assumed, but to walk into certain hell and spare the hands of another father’s son.
It is often repeated: ‘Had we acted sooner; had we acted more decisively…’
Living in the past is a luxury that we can no longer afford. We must learn from it, but we cannot dwell there. It is even impossible to plan for the now, as the present is ever-fleeting. The future is where we must live and the future is what we must plan for.
I do not look to trade my life in order to preserve our past, but to secure the future – and if not ours, then the future of others yet to come. Isn’t sacrifice in the interest of others what you always spoke of as being so noble? Should I have allowed another to bloody his hands while I remained safe behind the privilege of the Maginot line?
You raised me better than that. [T7-01 (p)]
The above is a translated segment of Forerunner text found in the seventh terminal, buried within a snow-covered ridge line on the half-constructed reiteration of Installation 04. Unlike the majority of text which outlines the history of the conflict between the Flood and the Forerunner race, this terminal entry speaks solely of a young Forerunner hero, preparing for war.
Simply put, it is a letter from son to father after the former had pledged the rest of his days to the last battle their civilization will see. Against his father’s wishes and at the risk of losing his filial honor, this lone hero is willing to sacrifice all that he has so that someone, somewhere and at some point deep into the future can live in a galaxy without the violent threat of the Flood parasite.
When we think about the story of Halo we often think of selfless heroes like this; we think about huge sacrifices in a time of great need – we think about one laying down his life for another. The Halo trilogy at its most essential core, however, is not about heroes or sacrifice. It is not even about the Master Chief.
By all means, he is the most significant superficial character because his perspective drives our understanding of the story, but he is not the main character – a title which, to me at least, clearly belongs to only one entity in the entire trilogy: MB 05-032 or Mendicant Bias.
And who was that?
I will use the male denotation even though he is as male as Cortana is female, that is to say that AI constructs are neither one nor the other but our application of such allows us to understand them better. Mendicant Bias, whose name roughly means ‘inclined to beg’ or ‘disposed toward begging’ was a Contender Class artificial intelligence construct with absolutely no technological equal – programmed to operate at near sentience and with resources that could not be paralleled by any biological, Forerunner or otherwise. Most AI, like Cortana, can deftly imitate sentience, but at their core, they are still artificial and a result of programs and system routines. Mendicant was different. He thought, he pondered and he learned – he did all of the logical things that a normal sentient being did and did so with a massive knowledgebase.
This was likely the very reason that his mission was such a risk and that any potential failure would be so cataclysmic. Join me in our final terminal article to look at the most important piece of the puzzle to the Halo story – one of adamant dedication, of vengeful betrayal, of catastrophic tragedy and of unbridled hope.
This is the story of Mendicant Bias – the hero and the villain of the Halo trilogy; the single most important character that you never knew.
Note: (1) All of the images herein have high-resolution versions available by simply clicking on them. (2) Several sections of the terminals have been quoted in this article; however others have been paraphrased for context, effect and to reduce any ambiguity found in the original translation. These sections will have a ‘(p)’ in the citation for the quote. The citation link will lead back to the original verbatim text in our bibliography.