Quite often, the crust of creative content that climbs its way to the surface to harden and set in the gaze of the public eye is but the thinnest sliver of published lore, riding the precarious tide of molten fiction foundations. Occasionally, it’s fun to bravely bypass the boiling currents and give a glimpse at some of the deeper backgrounds that lie beneath. Take for example the Incineration Cannon known as the River of Light; at first glance you might think you’ve seen all there is to see regarding this resplendent REQ. After all, you’ve scoured your service record and carefully curated your collection, quite content that you’ve covered all of the available details. But like many aspects of the Halo fiction, there is often more than meets the eye. For your enjoyment, we’ve bypassed a few protocols and circumvented some regulations to let you peek past the inner canon curtain…
Forerunner weapons are built atom-by-atom in nanofabrication forges of unsurpassed fidelity, following instructions spun into design seeds by skilled pattern-weavers assisted by ancilla. Had their creators wish it, every example of their craft could be perfectly identical down to the smallest detail and fractal core. Such perfection and symmetry of effort appealed to the Forerunners responsible for designing artifacts and edifices that wrapped the ecumene in layers of miraculous machinery that reshaped the galaxy to their whims. But repetition at such a vast scale held no appeal for the Warrior-Servants, those who dedicated their minds, bodies, and lives to the defense of the Forerunner people and its vast realm. When possible, the Warrior-Servants preferred to design and build their own unique panoply in cooperation with their warsworn brothers and sisters, crafting arms and armor as beautiful and inspiring as any sculpture or painting. The highest order of Warrior-Servants, the Prometheans, were particularly renowned for the quality of their master-crafted equipment, and the deadly genius of their pattern-weavers.
However, the desperate war against the Flood allowed for no beauty, no elegance, only the music produced by lances of crystalized light and the brilliance of burning mountains of corrupted flesh. No songs were sung by these Warrior-Servants of bravery, of victory, of hopes for a tomorrow. There was no tactical finesse to be wielded against the infection, no favor or promise that could turn the Gravemind from its purpose, no stratagem that could withstand its cold calculation. As millions of dead Forerunner warriors turned into billions, then trillions, the wicked and graceful weapons and armors of the old Forerunner guardians were ground into the dirt, crushed underfoot, and then erased from all memory with the unravelling of the Domain. All that followed were sterile, efficient instruments of death without any beauty. In the desperate fight against the Flood there was only time for survival and duty, not art.
Against the chilling sterility of unremembered assemblies however, beacons of exquisite exception were still to be found. The River of Light is one such example, having returned to history after being unearthed in a Promethean cache in a grand factory that had once spun impossible miracles of exotic matter. Its forges had lain cold and abandoned for a hundred thousand years before the Warden Eternal returned with writs of control, dominance, and resurgence. One of the first Incineration Cannons ever made, the River’s core had been built and refined over decades by an unknown Promethean who served with distinction and honor in dozens of containment operations. The cannon's harmonious energies burned uncounted fetid burrows to ash and toppled grand spore towers dedicated to the parasite. In the dead hands of a Knight the River of Light’s true potential could never be unlocked, but the artifact’s heart knows its name and purpose, and hungers to be remembered once more by warriors whose hearts pump with life and limbs move with purpose and intent.