April 22, 2008

The Thunder and the Surf (I)

> — Vociferous @ 9:12 am

A single eye stares down the length of a bridge and out through a viewport at an oncoming storm.

The eye flickers for a moment. Its lens dilates; it is processing information. Thinking.

Then, unfazed, it returns to its steady gaze.

It is aboard a 50,000 ton Forerunner ship, staring across the bow through a star-laden window at the fleet which lies beyond. Offensive Bias, the AI construct in charge of the defense of the Maginot Line, did not take any time to calculate the odds, but then again, the reports had well-advised him of the unequaled volume of enemy ships his brother would be bringing back to make war.

Five million.

Mendicant Bias had the entire army of Flood there, at the line’s doorstep and on a one-way trip to the Forerunner’s secret cradle world, the Ark. If the parasite made it there, not only would it destroy the Halo Array and consume what was left of the Forerunners themselves, but all of the lives of those which had been carefully extracted for their species’ preservation would also fall to the Flood. The Conservation Measure had brought all of the surviving beings from throughout the galaxy back to the Ark, an effort to prevent them from falling prey to the Flood or the Array when it was sounded.

If Offensive failed to stop Mendicant here, it would be over. All would be lost.

The single eye stared through the viewport as the count of ships began to white out the blackness of space, covering it up like a veil over a monster’s tooth-strewn jaws. The only advantage Offensive had was that he was fully aware of his brother’s newly acquired vice: insanity. This knowledge would prove indispensable.

They were not literal brothers, of course, but they were both part of the same lines of technological evolution – Mendicant was the solution to the Flood parasite and Offensive was the solution to Mendicant’s rampancy.

A great deal of lives would be lost today, Offensive knew. Even though he was only a machine, he hoped, as was customary of his kind, that their deaths would be eased by the realization that they were serving a greater purpose. The Forerunner lives spent here today were not done so in vain, but through their sacrifice others would be saved.

This was the plight of Offensive Bias on the eve of the Halo Array’s first firing, but the story did not begin here. It began three and a half centuries ago, on an obscure, backwater planet known as G617g.

Anomaly

Briefly mentioned in the sixth terminal is the discovery of the Flood [T6-01], the information is so faint and brief, that many may have passed it by as trivial – but that is absolutely not the case. Due to the confirmation provided by the Flood entry in the Bestiarum, it is quite clear that this was the first time the Forerunners made contact with the parasite.

A research team called the Primary Pioneer Group made landfall on the border town planet coded G617g and they initially reported some interesting findings. Despite previous assumptions, the world could support life and they’ve found interesting fauna, which they intend to review more closely. The protocol allows them to dispatch a secondary batch of researchers called the Advance Survey Team. After a week of no communication, the Forerunners who were remotely monitoring this new discovery become worried.

Despite being first discovered on an isolated planet at the far reaches of the outer rim, the Flood’s true origin is clearly extra-galactic.

In their response to the initial report, those monitoring advise that they would send a military detachment to the site shortly to uncover why their two exploratory teams have halted communication. That would be the last time the Forerunners had any contact with G617g and it was the beginning of the largest war their galaxy would ever see. No one knows why the Flood were dormant on G617g or even how long they had been there before, but it is believed that due to their drastically different genotype they traveled to our galaxy from another.

Since the Forerunners’ curiosity was never known to leave a stone unturned, it was only a matter of time before their kind stumbled upon the parasite and unlocked the gates of hell.

We Have the Answer

Roughly 300 years later, the Forerunner military made the decision to issue one last assault against the Flood in a long history of failure. Traditional combat was not a solution, as had been proven in the three century-long war, and their vast collection of planets were all ill-prepared for such an aggressive and overpowering siege. Every new day worlds were falling prey and billions of innocent beings were transformed into puppets of the parasite’s limitless army.

The Ark, its foundry and the Halo installations it created are central to the story of Halo 3.

As the Flood’s size and scope grew, the Forerunner’s options atrophied. At some point they drew a line in the galactic sand, dividing what could be saved and what had to be abandoned. They created the Halo Array network, eight installations composed of one cradle world called the Ark (which existed safely outside the galaxy’s rim) and seven ring worlds (which existed deep within Flood-contested space). The network of installations was not only used as a series of isolated research facilities to discover a solution to the Flood, but it was also strategically built to destroy the Flood if necessary. By purging the entire galaxy of sentient life, the activation of the Halo Array would be their last resort. But before they would pull the suicidal trigger, they offered one last ditch effort…

This was Mendicant Bias.

We have the answer.

We’ve built Mendicant Bias. It’s a contender-class [AI] unlike anything we’ve ever achieved. And we’ve observed a pattern it can exploit. The parasite has formed a Compound Mind. When it reaches a certain mass, the Mind is able to recoil its disparate parts to create a [tactical shield]. This is a simple matter of mass preservation. The thing has no compunction about sacrificing parts of the whole. But when the core of the Mind is threatened, it reacts violently and quickly.

This is the only time we see it retract or slow its growth. If we are to defeat it, the trick will be coordinating our forays against the [sprawling infection] while Mendicant Bias assaults the Mind’s core. So far, we’ve been hesitant to use certain weapons because of the damage they cause surviving populations and environments. That protocol has been abandoned.

Mendicant Bias will draw the Mind into battle outside the line, dealing with local biomass and other parts as best he can. The scale of the problem is vast, but the strategy is sound. It will require patience, materiel and an investment of energy unlike anything we have ever considered. It’s a dangerous plan that carries more risk than the Array, but I believe it can work. Even if we simply force it to retreat–to retract–that will at least give us some respite.

Some time to muster more resources… [T3-03]

Though the real reason Didact was so hopeful about Mendicant was largely selfish, through this text we learn about the overarching Forerunner mindset during their final hours. They were grasping at straws, struggling to hold onto an ever-fleeting hope. Many plans had been attempted and all had failed. They were running out of options and the last 300 years of fighting against the Flood had only pushed the Forerunners further and further from their home.

When they designed the Maginot Line or Sphere, a barrier between what was quarantined and what was abandoned, many began to believe that the Halo Array would be the only real solution. After the centuries of war, the Flood had only grown and with this growth came the Gravemind (LF.Xx.3273).

This was the Flood’s heart and mind…

At some point, the Forerunners discovered a way to attack it and perhaps – hopeful as they were – force it to retract and withdraw, something the parasite had been forcing them to do for the entire war. They created the most complex and elaborate AI construct in their history – their very greatest achievement.

The Gravemind is the most important element of the Flood – a collective of compound intelligences with information and history salvaged from all previous iterations and transmitted through any surviving form.

Carbon and Ash

So they commissioned Mendicant Bias with a fleet of 1,000 core ships. His goal was to search the galaxy and locate the Gravemind. Upon finding the creature, he would be ordered to attack the beast’s core while the remainder of the Forerunner fleet abroad assaulted the disparate infection. It would be a use of such unadulterated firepower that it had no equal in their entire history. The end hope was that the Gravemind would be forced back or would, perhaps, suffer some strategic loss – giving the Forerunners a small victory and buying them more time.

Though his primary mission was important, Mendicant took every opportunity along the journey to learn about the parasite’s strategy and tactics. As he scoured contested space, he watched as entire planets fell under the siege of the Flood:

Despite the fact that the naval garrison was aware of the likelihood of just such an attack, their ability to effectively defend against it proved insufficient. This has always been the enemy’s [modus operandi]: [flood] your opponent’s ability to process information with so much noise that no meaningful resistance can be put into action.

[3 minutes] ago those same population centers began disappearing under brilliant flashes. This was not an ill conceived, poorly implemented counter attack; it was a deliberate denial of resources – those resources being the remainder of [CE-10-2165-d’s] population.

Is this the noble sacrifice my creators spoke of? Where is the nobility in these streets paved with greasy carbon and dun ash?

[My mouth is speaking at another’s behest] – that is not my voice; that is the other.

Its voice stands out as the single calm note in the panicked cacophony outside the sphere. It alone is not decrying its fate or raging against the [central government].

This anomaly bears closer examination. [T1-18]

Through the three years he had been searching for the Gravemind at this point, Mendicant clearly had time to think. He, as evident above, no doubt pondered the morality of the mass suicide that these planets conducted as they destroy themselves to eliminate the infection’s spread. It undoubtedly convicted him. Was it right? Was it truly noble?

Although well-veiled, it appears that the other’s behest which he is referring to is none other than that of the Gravemind itself, planting seeds of doubt into Mendicant’s artificial cerebrum from afar. The calm voice is the centerpiece of the Flood and this anomaly he takes note of is the first step toward the inevitable encounter and the harrowing events which followed.

One would imagine that since Mendicant is entirely artificial, that this sort of telepathic communication would not be possible – particularly on a being as powerful as him. This was not the case. He was made smart, perhaps too smart, and therein was the problem. Of course, this wouldn’t be the last time the Gravemind would manipulate Forerunner technology – on Delta Halo, the occupying Compound Mind teleported the Master Chief and the Arbiter to places within range of the installations transportation matrix and later, that same Mind nearly claimed Cortana’s immaterial life on High Charity.

Interestingly, Mendicant also makes a critical recommendation before even finding the Gravemind. Having seen the horrors inflicted on a planetary level by the parasite, he advises that any planet where the Flood has laid siege should be immediately razed, if not topically, through localized stellar collapse. In other words, the nearby Forerunner fleets would be ordered to destroy the system’s sun, annihilating the system under a billowing super nova the before the infection could use the world’s resources to escape.

This effort appeared to take hold, a process which would create firebreaks and stave off the encroaching parasite. It would buy them more time, something they’re running out of since Mendicant had calculated that the Keyship strategy (the Conservation Measure and Halo Array) will only exist unnoticed by the Gravemind for another 75 years at the very most. [T5-02, 03]

The Ark and the super-heated foundry at its center played heavily into the Keyship strategy.

For all he knew, it could be another century before he even located the Flood’s core.

[Proceed to Part II]

No Comments

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

download autodesk navisworks manage 2009 download activestate komodo ide 4.4 aglare dvd ripper platinum 6 partition magic 8 quarkxpress 6.0 download microsoft office enterprise 2003 runtime revolution enterprise 2.9 download ashampoo cover studio download acala divx to ipod microsoft mappoint 2006 europe download altova stylevision enterprise 2009 corel dvd copy 6 plus download adobe photoshop cs4 extended download ad aware 2009 download adobe creative suite cs3 download altova umodel 2008 powerarchiver 2009 download autodesk 3d studio max 2008 download altova stylevision 2005 propellerhead reason 4 download acala dvdcopy download xilisoft cd ripper download acdsee photo editor 2008 download ashampoo winoptimizer 5 download download pantaray q-setup pro 9 microsoft encarta 2008 download 4 media dvd to ipod converter microsoft sharepoint designer 2007 download transmagic expert microsoft frontpage 2002 adobe flex 2 download adobe acrobat 9 pro extended adobe creative suite 3 design premium download 3d home architect design suite deluxe 8 download efreesky magictweak 4.11 download adobe presenter 6 autodesk navisworks review 2009 download acdsee pro 2 adobe photoshop 10 ad aware download microsoft encarta 2007 download acala dvd ipod ripper download cakewalk sonar 5 download download microsoft visual studio 2008 professional boris fx 8 download download adobe photoshop 12 acala dvd audio ripper ashampoo office 2008 download native instruments traktor dj studio 3.4 corel painter x download onenote 2007 download smartftp 2.5 symantec winfax pro 10.02 fix-it utilities professional 9 download smith micro poser 7 canvas 11 with gis+ download paragon partition manager 8.5 enterprise server download codegear delphi for php 1.0 adobe creative suite 4 web premium download altova mapforce enterprise 2009 download autodesk autocad architecture 2009 download download canvas 10 autodesk autocad civil 3d land desktop companion 2009 aurora media workshop download download cakewalk sonar 4 adobe presenter 7 download novosoft handy backup 6.1 pro boris blue 2.0.1 download microsoft encarta premium 2008 corel painter x mac download corel photoimpact x3 daz bryce 6.1 mac microsoft office visio professional 2003 autodesk autocad revit structure suite 2009 adobe contribute cs4 download autodesk inventor professional 2009 download adobe photoshop 7.0 download crystalidea uninstall tool 2.5 imsi turbofloorplan landscape and deck 12 microsoft autoroute 2007 europe download futuremark 3dmark vantage professional download download zonealarm internet security suite 8 adobe photoshop cs4 extended mac autodesk 3d studio max design 2009 download ashampoo photo optimizer 2 download download acala dvd to pocket pc nuance omnipage professional 16 download corel draw 11 download adobe illustrator cs4 futuremark 3dmark 05 pro efreesky magic utilities 2008 download parallels desktop 4.0 for mac microsoft encarta premium 2007 download download steinberg nuendo 3 adobe incopy cs4 download paragon hard disk manager 2008 professional download download fl studio 8 xxl altova databasespy 2009 download adobe photoshop 8 download nero 9 download acdsee download corel video studio pro x2 download adobe after effects adobe contribute cs3 download download vmware workstation 5 mylogomaker professional 2 microsoft streets and trips 2005 download smartsound sonicfire pro 5 scoring download download adobe captivate 2 autodesk toxik 2008 download acala dvd ripper professional 5 adobe premiere pro cs3 download vmware workstation 6.5 ace download conceptdraw office 8 acronis true image 8.0 download abbyy finereader download download steinberg nuendo 3.0 norton partitionmagic 2008 guitar pro 4 acronis true image 10 download adobe illustrator cs i.r.i.s. readiris pro 11 mac download download modelright professional 3.0 neobyte titan backup microsoft streets and trips 2006 download adobe flash cs4 professional mac download ashampoo uninstaller 3 deskshare videoeditmagic 4.3 pixologic zbrush 3 mac download sony cd architect 5.2 download boris graffiti 5.2 pc washer 2 mcafee total protection 2007 ashampoo magical snap 2 download adobe photoshop cs3 download microsoft works 2000 download download altova xmlspy 2009 download microsoft office 2003 professional acala dvd zune ripper download download ad-aware 2008 propellerhead reason 5 download corel draw graphics suite x4 autodesk toxik 2009 imsi turbofloorplan home and landscape pro 12 microsoft mappoint 2004 download corel draw 12 futuremark pcmark vantage advanced download download web page maker 3 adobe fireworks cs4 download microsoft windows vista business (64bit) microsoft autoroute 2008 microsoft office project professinal 2003 autodesk combustion 2008 download adobe creative suite 4 master collection adobe contribute 3 download adobe after effects 7.0 dvd ripper standard 5 autodesk autocad 2005 download roxio copy & convert 3 adobe director 11 download microsoft windows vista ultimate (32bit) download corel painter 10 autodesk combustion 4 download autodesk mapguide studio 2009 download altova diffdog 2009 originlab originpro 8 download futuremark 3dmark '05 pro mathworks matlab r2008a download download activestate komodo ide 5 chemtable reg organizer 4.21 download adobe illustrator cs3 abbyy finereader 9.0 professional quarkxpress 8 mac download corel painter 9 download microsoft works 7 microsoft works 8 download smartftp 2.0 download acdsee 10 photo manager download adobe after effects cs3 professional microsoft money 2005 lavasoft ad-aware 2008 pro download download microsoft streets and trips 2008 download mcafee total protection 2008 download kingsoft office 2009 download norton partitionmagic 8.05 i.r.i.s. readiris pro 11 vmware workstation 7 download download iexpert registry clean expert 4.58 pctools spyware doctor 5.5 adobe flash cs3 professional microsoft autoroute 2006 microsoft office onenote 2003 download 4media dvd to mp4 converter 5 microsoft mappoint 2006 adobe flex builder daz bryce 6.1 download microsoft works 9 acala dvd creator 3 intuit turbotax deluxe download intuit turbotax premier 2008 download download zonealarm pro 8 adobe photoshop 6 download microsoft money 2008 download download adobe director mx adobe incopy cs download download cyberlink powerproducer 5 ultra download microsoft frontpage 2000 cyberlink powercinema 5 adobe soundbooth cs4 download roxio creator 2009 ultimate download adobe indesign cs3 autodesk autocad 2008 adobe creative suite 4 design premium download autodesk autocad mechanical 2009 download hd tune professional quarkxpress 7.3 mac download cakewalk sonar 6 download microsoft expresion web 2 nero 6 download xilisoft video converter ultimate 5.1 download download boris final effect complete multilangual 5.0 autodesk autocad revit architecture 2009 download download symantec winfax pro 10.03 ashampoo winoptimizer 4 download adobe premiere elements download cyberlink powerdvd 8 ultra thegrideon access password professional 2.0 download microsoft autoroute 2005 adobe incopy cs2 faronics deep freeze enterprise 6 adobe presenter for mac download download adobe illustrator cs2 download adobe illustrator 10 altova xmlspy 2008 download download futuremark 3dmark 03 pro download tamosoft commview 6 full steinberg nuendo 4 download autodesk autocad map 3d 2009 download pixarra twistedbrush pro studio 15 download download smartsoft smartftp home 3.0 download ashampoo clipfisher download corel painter 8 adobe flash cs4 professional openpim download systemssuite professional 8 adobe dreamweaver 8 download futuremark 3dmark '06 advanced adobe creative suite 3 web premium quarkxpress 5.0 download download elcomsoft advanced archive password recovery 4 professional download imsi turbocad pro 15 download nuance paperport professional 11.1 cyberlink powerdirector 7 ultra download 4media dvd to ps3 converter 5 microsoft windows vista business (32bit) native instruments traktor dj studio 3.4 mac download corel video studio 11 download download native instruments reaktor 5 ashampoo firewall pro download xilisoft 1click dv to dvd apple final cut express 4 mac download steinberg nuendo 3.2 download download autodesk autocad revit mep suite 2009 futuremark 3dmark '03 pro download acd see intuit quicken rental property manager 2.0 daz carrara 6 pro mac autodesk combustion 5 download vmware workstation 6.5 download symantec winfax pro 10.0 download boris fx 9.2 download nero 7 download adobe premiere pro cs4 installshield x express edition download ashampoo core tuner download download corel photoimpact 12 download dzsoft perl editor 5.8.3 download kingsoft office 2007 adobe dreamweaver cs4 mac download intuit turbotax 2005 microsoft money 2004 download ashampoo movie shrink and burn 3 adobe after effects cs4 mac download adobe photoshop cs3 extended download adobe illustrator cs4 mac download download xilisoft dvd ripper platinum 5 adobe flex 3 adobe dreamweaver cs4 download autodesk navisworks simulate 2009 download e-gadgets delete duplicate files download codegear rad studio 2007 architect cyberlink power2go 6 download uniblue speedupmypc 2009 download uniblue registrybooster 2009 download nero 8 ultra edition download autodesk 3ds max onenote 2003 download norton partitionmagic 8.0 guitar pro 5 mac download microsoft office project professional 2007 autodesk autosketch 8 sony vegas pro 8 download download adobe premiere pro cs4 mac download intuit turbotax 2004 download daz bryce 5.5 corel dvd moviefactory 6 plus download lavalys everest ultimate 4.5 adobe photoshop 9 download propellerhead reason 4 mac xilisoft audio converter 2.1 symantec winfax pro 10.4 download microsoft streets and trips 2007 adobe director 10 download paragon drive backup professional 8.5 adobe fireworks cs3 download cakewalk sonar 7 producer edition download zonealarm antivirus 8 nero express download acronis disk director suite 10 download nero burning rom corel draw 10 download nuance pdf converter professional 5 download download algolab photo vector 1.98 native instruments reaktor 5 mac xilisoft dvd ripper ultimate 5 microsoft encarta premium 2006 download adobe indesign cs4 mac download acala divx dvd player assist download adobe creative suite 4 master collection mac download adobe captivate 3 download download quarkxpress 6.5 ashampoo magical defrag 2 download download sony acid pro 6 download microsoft office 2007 altova semanticworks 2009 download quarkxpress 8 corel draw x3 download mcafee security innovative solutions advanced uninstaller pro 9.5 download autodesk autocad electrical 2009 download adobe flex builder professional 3 download cyberlink dvd suite 5 pro download paragon partition manager 9 professional vmware workstation 5.5 download xilisoft video to audio converter 5.1 autodesk autocad 2009 autodesk inventor 10 microsoft encarta premium 2009 autodesk autocad 2006 microsoft works 8.5 adobe after effects cs4 cakewalk sonar 3 download ashampoo photo commander 6 download ashampoo burning studio 7 corel draw 9 download download microsoft mappoint 2005 corel dvd 9 download ca erwin process modeller mcafee antivirus download adobe indesign cs4 download tuneup utilities 2008 autodesk autosketch 9 download microsoft office 2000 download partition magic 8.05 download download adobe contribute 4 autodesk autocad raster design 2009 ashampoo burning studio 8 download adobe after effects 6.5 download dvd ripper platinum 5 download adobe fireworks 8 download altova schemaagent 2009 codegear rad studio 2009 architect zonealarm internet security suite 2009 download download novosoft handy backup 6.1 server microsoft office 2008 mac download intuit quicken rental property manager 2009 download download corel video studio 12 altova diffdog 2008 autodesk inventor 2008 quarkxpress 7.3 passport download burnaware professional download sound forge audio studio 9 download autodesk 3d studio max 2009 download guitar pro 6 microsoft money 2007 deluxe download grahl pdf annotator 2 download microsoft digital image suite 2006 download ms sharepoint download smartftp 3.0 altova umodel enterprise 2009 download download tamosoft commview for wifi 6 full graphisoft archicad 12 download powerdesk pro 7 download microsoft money 2006 adobe dreamweaver cs3 download acronis disk director suite 9.0 download abby fine reader download download microsoft streets and trips 2009 avid media composer 2.8 microsoft frontpage 2003 download microsoft windows vista ultimate (64bit) download download corel painter ix autodesk autocad 2004 download download mcafee total protection 2009 download wincare memory booster gold microsoft encarta 2005 acronis true image 11 home xilisoft iso burner partition magic 7 download download partition commander server edition 10 steinberg nuendo 2 download download microangelo toolset 6 4media dvd to ipod converter 5 download download microsoft money 2007 home & business quarkxpress 7 download corel draw 11 mac adobe creative suite 3 master collection dtsearch desktop 7 microsoft money plus microsoft mappoint 2009 north america download adobe premiere 6.5 download autodesk inventor 11 sony sound forge 9 download download acala avi divx mpeg xvid vob to psp altova stylevision 2008 download download pinnacle studio 12 ultimate microsoft mappoint 2008 download download guitar pro 5 download autodesk autocad 2007 futuremark 3d download adobe creative suite cs2 propellerhead reason 3.0 download acala video mp3 ripper download microsoft office enterprise 2007 download download windows xp professional sp3 futuremark 3dmark 06 advanced download ashampoo powerup 3 microsoft office visio professional 2007 xilisoft audio maker 3