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Canon Fodder - Week 1: Petra

OP GrimBrother One

The Halo Universe has an absolutely dizzying array of story threads that weave their way in and out of a variety of different mediums to tell the larger tale of the fiction. One of my favorite feelings is that moment of realization when you recognize that something you've just read or saw connects back and resonates with something you might have seen weeks, months, or even years before. Your Halo Universe Forum Monitors adore the fiction just like you, and absolutely love the life you all give to it with the discussions you create and become involved with.

With this in mind, we'd like to start a weekly series of exploring a hidden corner of the fiction. Basically a conversation-starter that will take a look at some of the scattered stories around the Halo Universe. It could be from a short film, a short story, a motion comic, or even an art book entry, but it will all be to discuss how it ties back the the greater tale being told. And hey, even fiction veterans might find something they missed, or perhaps just haven't revisited in a while, and it will be a great time to get reacquainted with whatever details we present! Also, in case these little discussion events make you curious about where you can find even more avenues to learn more about the Halo story, you can check out this post here for one easy place to see all the spots you can look in.

Our first entry will focus be on the short story "Petra", from the adjunct section of the 2010 reissue of Halo: First Strike.

The story is set post-Halo 3, after the Human-Covenant War, and focuses on war journalist Petra Janecek. It takes place on Forseti, a colony miraculously left unscathed by the Covenant during the war. While on Forseti, Petra is gathering intel for a new story about the final days of the war, but for better or worse, she's never one to settle for what's on the surface. We learn that she has managed to somehow procure the transmission sent by Cortana to the UNSC while she was still trapped on a Flood-infested High Charity. We all remember the famous dialogue, where Cortana reveals that there is a "solution to the Flood" to be found at the Lesser Ark. A solution that doesn't have to involve firing the remaining Halo rings. Janecek simply cannot shake the thought from her head that there is potentially a lot more to what Cortana was saying, and that the end result that we saw in the closing events of Halo 3, where Chief lights the replacement 04 ring, was not necessarily what Cortana had in mind in her message.

Personally, I adored this story from the beginning, as it exactly echoed thoughts and doubts that I had had on my own, from the moment I heard Cortana say those same words my first time through Halo 3. I remember thinking, "I don't think this is what she meant... I feel like there is more..." Judging by both the story of Petra, as well as newly-revealed information in all three books of the Forerunner Saga, it might be true.

What do you all think? What was Cortana's solution on the Lesser Ark? Does it have something to do with what we now know about the nature of Humanity, Forerunners, or The Flood? What might this mean for the over-arching story going forward? Bring your speculation caps, boys and girls... let's do this.

Much love,
Grim
First off I want to say that I love this thread, this is a fantastic idea, taking smaller pieces of fiction and looking at them with new eyes is great.

However to the point, I think a key point we have to figure out before we theorize is how much of the Lesser Ark did Cortana know about at the time? Did she know there was a replacement ring being built? If so how? If she did that could have been her plan all along, fire the replacement ring while its still disconnected from the array while knowing the Flood would follow through the portal. Then again how did she know about the portal at all? Did she know? The portal was not uncovered until after she was stranded with the Gravemind on High Charity.
There is certainly a lot of "how?" involved here. How exactly did Cortana know of all these things, which were being discovered after she was left on High Charity.

If memory serves, there was an article on Waypoint regarding Regret, and how the Gravemind learnt of the Portal after he was consumed. Perhaps Cortana was able to extract that particular piece of information, although that doesn't explain how the Gravemind didn't know what was on the other side when Cortana apparently did.
I remember clearly being disappointed when we ended up firing the replacement ring. I was convinced then, and still now, that Cortana had somehow found evidence of a different solution. I would love to see Ms. Janecek make an appearance later in the fiction upon her return to Earth to keep digging up clues from what she surmises...

Grim
According to "Human Weakness" Cortana believed the Ark itself was the solution.

Halo Evolutions Page 399

"She triggered one of the copies to create a message to HighCom, a few urgent words about the Flood heading for Earth, the Portal the Gravemind didn't know about and that the way to beat the Flood without activating a Halo ring lay beyond it - the Ark."

Silentium continued to hint that the Ark was far more important than simply being a safe Haven for lifeforms. The Librarian wanted us to find it someday and reclaim it, like it truly had a purpose we don't know about. I think the Ark is going to play an important role again in the future. We didn't completely destroy it, it was just really messed up. It most certainly has secrets waiting to be discovered.
For me, the most interesting part of Petra was finding out that some colonies had gone completely untouched by the Human-Covenant War. Considering how most colonies were found by chance, it's not too surprising that some would be unscathed. Nevertheless, to see a planet so disconnected from the War, especially considering the destruction of Reach and Earth was quite a surprise.
Absolutely agree, Toa. It ended up being an interesting parallel to the "lost" Forerunner civilization found in Silentium as well. Always intriguing to look closely at how these subsets evolve when not exposed to the same trials as the larger populace; especially considering the extremes.

Grim
Well with the Index speculated to having several purposes as well as the Excession of Voi speculated as having other uses, I wouldn't be surprised if there was more on the Ark as Petra believes. After all, Mendicant Bias was there, who knows what else.
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For me, the most interesting part of Petra was finding out that some colonies had gone completely untouched by the Human-Covenant War. Considering how most colonies were found by chance, it's not too surprising that some would be unscathed. Nevertheless, to see a planet so disconnected from the War, especially considering the destruction of Reach and Earth was quite a surprise.
It was stated that the covenant ignored dozens of colonies when they went for reach.
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For me, the most interesting part of Petra was finding out that some colonies had gone completely untouched by the Human-Covenant War. Considering how most colonies were found by chance, it's not too surprising that some would be unscathed. Nevertheless, to see a planet so disconnected from the War, especially considering the destruction of Reach and Earth was quite a surprise.
It was stated that the covenant ignored dozens of colonies when they went for reach.
And after the discovery of a Halo their war effort shifted from finding Human colonies to getting to the rings and activating them before they could be stopped. High Charity and Truth brought the majority of Covenant might to field at 05, Earth and the Ark.

Reach involved bypassing the majority of the surviving inner colonies, and the Resulting battles around Forerunner Installations, Earth and the Schism probably means that Humanity does have a decent number of healthy worlds left.
What happened at the end of Halo 3 is certainly not what Cortana meant.
For it to have been she would have had to be certain that:

* The Gravemind would bring High Charity and EVERY LAST FLOOD to the Ark
* A new Halo was being made, and was not yet complete enough to fully fire
* Chief would know she still had the index, even though she never told him
* The Index would work with the new Halo

There is no way she could have known all this would be true, and so she would have never chosen this plan. Chief/humanity just got lucky.