Last week, we began a new mini-series entitled “Canon Fodder” with one of our newest 343 Industries writers, GrimBrother One. In the coming weeks, he’ll be taking a look at the stories and events contained in Halo: The Master Chief Collection. If you’d like to catch the intro, head over to last week’s Bulletin. This week, we’re kicking things off by looking at events surrounding the discovery of Installation 04. Take it away, Grim.
September 19, 2552 is a date that holds significant importance for Xbox fans all across the globe. It's a date that marks the beginning of our personal experience with the Master Chief. The moment Installation 04 comes into view and the eventual steps taken onto its surface are hallmarks of not just John-117's introduction to Halo, but ours as well. Just as with all things Halo though, there is far more to the story than just what we initially see. The discovery of the first Halo ring was the culmination of a myriad of connected events, some simply good fortune, but many borne of careful planning or manipulative machination.
On the 18th of July, 2552, the Master Chief and other members of Blue Team won an important and harrowing ground battle with the Covenant on Sigma Octanus IV. During perhaps the most pivotal moment of the conflict, within the Côte d'Azur Museum of Natural History, they were able to claim the prize the Covenant were desperately after; a Forerunner artifact that would change the course of the war. Once in the hands of Dr. Catherine Halsey, the controversial but brilliant scientist was able to decipher the secret that the crystalline artifact contained: star coordinates, though not even Dr. Halsey could predict exactly what might be found there, and just how important it would be. The next two months would be a flurry of activity punctuated by the fall of Reach. Just when hope seemed lost, Captain Jacob Keyes and the crew of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn made what many thought was just another "blind jump" to escape the pursuing Covenant. Upon exiting slipspace, their next few days would be among the most important in human history. Let's take a further look...
SEPTEMBER 19, 2552
Carrying Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 and Cortana, the UNSC Pillar of Autumn arrives in the Soell system by way of the information gleaned from the Sigma Octanus IV artifact, though the ship’s crew is unaware that this has been integrated by Cortana into the ship’s “random” trajectory. Upon their arrival, they bear witness to an enormous ringworld structure they will come to call “Halo” (Alpha Halo/Installation 04), anchored at the Lagrange point between the gas giant Threshold and its moon, Basis. Heavily damaged, and with the Covenant in pursuit, Keyes brings the Autumn down to the surface. While the Master Chief and Cortana extracts marines scattered across the ring’s surface, Keyes is captured by the Covenant and brought aboard the Covenant battlecruiser Truth and Reconciliation for interrogation.
SEPTEMBER 20, 2552
After the Master Chief leads a successful effort to free Keyes, the captain explains what he has learned from the Covenant: Halo is a weapon of incredible power and one which the enemy is desperately seeking to activate. The Master Chief and Cortana head to the “Silent Cartographer,” a map room which will show them the exact location of the ring’s control center, while Keyes, Sergeant Major Avery Johnson, and a squad of marines explore a potential weapons cache; but instead of finding an armament, they stumble upon a parasitic threat known as the Flood. The Master Chief and Cortana finally secure both the map room and the control room, but when they lose contact with Keyes’ squad, Cortana sends the Chief after him, only to discover the Flood has now been unleashed. While escaping from the containment facility and with the parasite in close pursuit, the Chief comes face-to-face with 343 Guilty Spark, a Forerunner AI which claims to be the monitor and caretaker of the Halo ring.
Next week, we'll wrap up our look at the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. The story isn't over there though, not by far. Hope you'll stick with us...