Halo’s fictional universe is vast and detailed, with stories filling in the gaps between the games and more. In the build up for the series’ next release, Halo 5: Guardians, Microsoft and 343 Industries has once again taken to viral advertising to fill in more of these gaps. This time, using audio diaries and images, we are invited to join fictional reporter Benjamin Giraud as he recounts the history of Halo’s hero: The Master Chief. Join us as we examine Benjamin’s Hunt for the Truth.
– Spoiler Warning –
In order to properly frame the details of the Hunt the Truth campaign, I will have to divulge details that have been established in all aspects of the Halo Universe that have been revealed up to this point. I will try my best to limit what I discuss to the content of currently released games, but some of the back story revealed in some of the other expanded fiction may still need covered or explained. If you don’t want the games, books, movies, and other side stories spoiled, I recommend you don’t scroll down any further. You have been warned.
The first actual episode of Hunt the Truth has arrived, but not before some prefacing on the campaign’s Tumblr page. It looks like the folks behind the campaign will be uploading supplementary material during the time between audio episodes. This week, we have an image:
Ben received the above correspondence (you may want to click it to enlarge) from ONI Commander Michael Sullivan, who is recruiting him for the project. Sullivan’s name should be familiar to those following Halo lore, as he was one of the surviving characters from the Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn movie that lead into Halo 4’s launch in 2012. Sullivan was a student at Corbulo Academy of Military Science in 2526 when it was attacked by the Covenant. Thanks to a then much younger Master Chief and his heroics, Sullivan lived made it off world.
Ben posted an image of the correspondence this week, which details how ONI is setting up interviews and laying out the time frame for Ben’s profile of the Chief. (It says five weeks. Could that mean Hunt the Truth gets five episodes? Stay tuned.)
It also specifically asks him to forgo any camera or photo work for the job, focusing solely on interviews. This detail is worth keeping in mind, considering the secretive nature of ONI and the general “question everything” notion this ad campaign is supposed to promote. The letter (Email? Transmission? 2500’s era DM?) is very informal, giving the sense that Giraud and Sullivan have some previously established rapport. It also seems that even 400 years from now, those “this email is private yadda yadda yadda” footnotes are still all the rage.
Ben’s comments on the posted image states that the assignment sounded easy and was hard to pass up.
Next, Ben posts the first episode, entitled “A Hairline Fracture”
The episode starts with some ambiguous speech about what the truth is. It heavily foreshadows the whole point of the campaign, mainly that the truth is never entirely certain and one must find it for them self. He then moves into a description of what exactly a Covenant “glassing” is, which is the decimation of a planet’s surface with plasma, giving the remains the appearance of glass. Compared to other Human colonies, Earth got off relatively easy. As witnessed during the Halo 3 campaign, Africa was glassed by Elites who were newly allied with Humanity. It is curious that he does not go into the specifics as to why this happened. It’s mentioned as if it’s merely another footnote in the Covenant’s atrocities during the war when in reality it was to stop the spread of the Flood Infection. Could this be a hint at some sort UNSC cover-up? Is the general Human population even aware of what actually occurred during the closing of the war?
Ben follows with adulation for the Master Chief that seems to a common opinion in post-war human society. He mentions UNSC statements that were tasked with describing the Chief to the public and frame his history. Ben’s goal is to learn as much about the Chief as possible, especially his youth. He refer’s to the Chief’s actual name, John (last name classified) and how he was born on the (now glassed) colony world of Eridanus II, and lived in Elysium City.
Ben plays an interview with Deon Govender, a teacher at the school John attended. He also ran a local boxing establishment. Govender wastes no time praising John’s athletic ability, mentioning his dominance of king of the hill in the schoolyard and later about how, as a boy of only 12, dominated older men in Govender’s boxing ring.
We then move to a second interview, this time with Ellie Bloom, who was John’s neighbor and friend in Elysium City. When asked about her memory of John, she mentioned emphatically how impressive John was as a child, much like Govender. Bigger, stronger, and faster than his peers, John was not someone she forgot, despite leaving Eridanus II some years later (and surviving the glassing, as a result).
In what may be the most interesting tidbit in this episode, she makes mention of how she an John would lay in the city’s green space together looking at the stars. If this image seems a little familiar, it may be because it is the exact imagery used in the famous Halo 3 “Starry Night” trailer (posted above). 343 later confirmed it was indeed Ellie Bloom in the video, putting to rest other theories of who exactly the little girl was.
Ben then reveals to her that John grew to become the Master Chief, which she was quite shocked to discover. Seemingly star struck, Bloom mentions another girl named Katrina who she remained in contact with who also grew up in Elysium. I’m certain Katrina’s name will come up later, as Giraud does not seem like the kind of reporter to pass up a lead like that.
Following the interview, Ben takes a moment to explain how hard it is to find records from planets that had been glassed and makes sure to mention how ONI was supplying him with everything he needed for the profile of the Chief. Once again, ONI isn’t exactly the most trustworthy organization, and this is no doubt a heavy-handed example of foreshadowing for the rest of the Hunt the Truth campaign.
The final segment starts with another clip of the Govender interview that discussed the insurrectionist movement in the Colonies in the time before the Covenant War. In 2524, Insurrectionists hit Eridanus II and took many civilians hostage during the unrest. Govender talks about how John and his parents were among those abducted, and how he never saw any of them again. A following interview with Thomas Wu, who was abducted during this conflict and survived, goes into detail about what the abductees were subjected to. Many abductees were left in small dark confines with many others, and were often left there for extended periods of time. Those that survived, including Wu, still suffered from the memories of the experience.
It is important to note that nobody Ben interviewed in this episode have any memory of John after the Insurrectionists abducted him.
The episode ends with Ben revealing some info he found doing some of his own legwork outside ONI’s provided materials. He describes some paper records from Elysium City that he uncovered that appears to contain John’s name. Curiously, John’s name had a letter “D” listed with it, which would indicate that John had died at some point before leaving the city. This, obviously, does not line up with the testimony of those interviewed, and raises many questions that will no doubt be covered in future episodes.
Once again, the folks at Reddit are doing a fantastic job keeping up with this series, and continue to be the most thorough in their detail gathering about this campaign. Head over there to see what they are saying this week, and see what I might have missed.
Additionally, I have pulled out some of the relevant people/places/things you may be interested in getting more info on, and linked to the appropriate Halo Wikipedia articles on them. I’ll do this each week for your convenience, but you should be wary clicking these links if you aren’t fully up to date on the campaign, as they may have newer information and/or spoilers of things to come.
Well, that’s it for this episode. Keep an eye on LevelSave for coverage of the next one, and feel free to theorize further (or correct me) in the comments!