“Drip, Drip, Drip”
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.
Part 0: Primer
Episode 1: A Hairline Fracture
Episode 2: Bad Records
Episode 3: Critical Condition
Episode 4: Crossing the Black
Episode 5: Out of Time
Episode 6: Boxing Story
E pisode 7: Who’s Listening
– 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 image we go this week depicts the moment Ben first heard from FERO. The darkened room with the terminal all lit up is a bit creepy, but I guess that’s par for the course from hacktivists.
This image was posted just immediately prior to this week’s episode, so I’ll address what it means below. It isn’t good.
Warning: Lots of text today. It was a pretty involved episode.
The episode opens with Petra contacting Ben about some sort of news occurrence that seems to have started some sort of uproar throughout human space. At first she believed Ben was responsible, but after he clearly demonstrated he didn’t know what was going on, it became clear to her that something bigger was occurring.
Ben took a few minutes to get caught up on the news. He called it “the leak” and explained that everyone alive was buzzing about it. The open network was flooded with news, and all of it was about the Master Chief. The stories were all the same: Civilian Casualties. Collusion with the enemy. Abduction.
Suddenly the Master Chief was not the hero the public used to revere. Now opinions were divided. It all came as a result of a report from an outer colony embassy that had been hosting peace talks between Humans and Aliens (presumably the friendly remnants of the Covenant). In the middle of it all, the Chief reportedly showed up, abducted the ambassador representing the outer colonies, escorted the alien party to safety, and mowed down anyone in his way. Nineteen human lives were taken during the fight.
A beacon was found in a field near the embassy later that day. The ambassador who was abducted by the Chief, who was a highly revered peace activist, was found at the site, dead.
Ben pushed Petra for more details on exactly what was going on. She had been fact-checking for hours, and while she still didn’t have the full story, she claimed it was not good news. The Chief was being referred to as “The Fallen Spartan” across human space, causing Ben to double down on his concern that the story was indeed true.
Petra wanted to know if this leak was perpetrated by FERO. He told her it wasn’t, but knew full well it was. FERO’s motivations, however, were unclear to him. He had no idea why she would want to smear the chief like this, especially after learning about his true origins. He didn’t deserve the blame, he surmised. It was making him quite angry.
Before he could continue to discuss the news with Petra, the comm. pad he was using went dead. Waypoint was not available to him. It looked like the whole human open network had suddenly become unavailable, with the error report stating it would take twelve days to resolve.
He thought it was actually ONI shutting him up in the wake of the leak. He decided the only way to get back into communication with the outside galaxy was to get in touch with Mashak , and the best way to do that was to relocate somewhere more private, where he could not be observed by ONI surveillance.
He had a contact who helped him set up at another location. Once there, a message from Mashak was waiting for him, simply saying hello. Ben, annoyed a great deal with Mashak because of how hard it was to get ahold of him, asked if his disappearance had something to do with the anomalies in deep space. The answer was no, but Mashak did little to clarify his actions other than saying “its crazy super secret.”
Mashak explained that Ben’s story about the true origins of the Spartan project angered the people in the outer colonies, raising old suppressed feelings of hatred of the UNSC among the citizens. They felt abandoned by the inner colonies during the war with the Covenant, and Ben’s stories and the huge leak had brought their old feelings back to the surface.
Maskak speaks about how the inner colonies viewed the Chief as their personal savior, while the outer colonies resented the Chief. Now, after what appears to be a huge betrayal on the Chief’s part, the outer colonies saw him in a more favorable light. They saw Chief as a victim of the UNSC much like they saw themselves.
Ben then learned that Mashak had gone dark to scour the slush to compile a “greatest hits” of ONI’s transgressions. Mashak collected enough information on the Spartan-II program to map out where defective flash-clones had been used, and then died.
Then he showed Ben another graph, overlayed on the clone map, showing the distribution of human population. The shocking truth suddenly became painfully clear: It wasn’t random. The child abductions for the Spartan program only took place in the outer colonies. Backwater worlds were targeted, where it was easy to cover up the evidence. Mashak suggested that it also showcased that the UNSC put little value on the lives of children (or perhaps people in general) from outer colonies.
Ben was not sure if the data he just received was good enough for his inevitable reveal to the UEG reps FERO wanted him to target, but it painted a very dirty picture that Ben knew had value to his cause. ONI’s original intent was to use the Spartans to end the insurrection in the outer colonies, and the very same Spartans were plucked from those who were the most sympathetic to their cause. They were essentially tasked with killing their own families.
Mashak then brought up an interesting idea: what would happen if one of the flash clones didn’t die, as designed? What if the Spartan that resulted discovered the clone they were replaced with? How would they react?
Later, Ben hears from FERO again. Ben accuses her of smearing the chief, but she claims that it’s not a smear campaign, but instead simply the truth being let out for all to hear. All it implies, she claims, is that an older Spartan has lost his mind, turning on the UNSC and possibly Humanity as a whole. She does, however, suggest that Ben’s ongoing story may have been the genesis of all these events. By revealing what happens, she believes she has opened the doors for all to discover how a Spartan could potentially lose control once they discover how ONI treated them as children. Her leak could finally spur change.
She gets really metaphorical about how ONI is going to suffer for their crimes, and how the chaos that has resulted is exactly what they wanted to get them their opportunity to find the UEG brass in one place and expose them to ONI’s crimes. In fact, the meeting they hoped for had already been scheduled, with UEG and ONI personnel planning on hearing testimony over the whole event. FERO was going to hack the meeting so Ben could get the face time he needed.
Ben then contacts Anthony Petrosky (while FERO listens in) to ask if he wanted to be involved bringing down ONI. Petrosky was more than happy to help. Ben gives him some directions on how to start, but didn’t elaborate on what exactly they were. Once he finished the call, FERO picked up again, this time without as much of a voice mask applied to her call. Ben comments on hearing something closer to her real voice, which she said was still masked enough to be untraceable. She said she wanted him to hear her voice and get a better idea of who exactly was going to be fighting ONI alongside him.
Just as the episode draws to a close, FERO reveals to Ben that another leak that just went live would be the icing on the cake for their cause. Ben checked his feed. To his horror, he watched a video of the Master Chief in action at the peace conference, suggesting that the leak earlier was indeed true. The image I mentioned above was taken from the video in question.
Overall, this is the most intense episode of the entire campaign, and it raises more questions than ever before. How could the Master Chief possibly do what was revealed here? It is definitely not in line with the Spartan’s character we’ve come to know for over a decade. That said, after the events of Halo 4 and Cortana’s demise, we aren’t exactly sure of his emotional state.
Could he have learned more about what really went on involving his kidnapping for the Spartan-II program? Was Ben’s report the catalyst for open rebellion from the soldier? And helping aliens? Short of the Arbiter, what possible non-human could the chief have any relationship with that would be strong enough to spark those actions?
A lot of the details of the Chief’s actions are still really muddied, and part of me wonders if Mashak started talking about the clones that didn’t die for a reason. Maybe someone was posing as the Chief at this embassy raid. Something set up by FERO to spark all this controversy as a means to her end. Whatever the case, this campaign continues to get more and more interesting, and I can’t wait for next week’s episode.
One final note before we wrap this recap up: Xbox Wire, Microsoft own gaming news site, released a bunch of stats about the Hunt The Truth campaign, as well as a full cast list. Check out the abbreviated details below, or head on over to Xbox Wire for the full rundown.
- Total Listens: 2.15 million between iTunes and Soundcloud
- 217+ million views on the three trailers released as part of the campaign
- 250,000 visits to ARG websites related to the campaign
- 960,000 references to the campaign on social media (as of the article’s posting)
- The number 2 most talked about ad campaign online
- The number 1 gaming podcast on iTunes
The cast list was also posted, with some well-known actors adding their talents. Joining Keegan-Michael Key were Cobie Smulders (How I Met Your Mother, Marvel’s The Avengers), Jennifer Hale (a whole bunch of stuff), Phil LaMarr (MADtv, Futurama), and Troy Baker (BioShock Infinite, inFamous Second Son) just to name a few. Click through the gallery below to see the whole cast.
Nothing to add this week, but keep reading up on things!
Please note that these links may lead to articles that are more updated than this post may be, and may contain spoilers as a result.
- Ellie Bloom
- Ray Curzig
- Vice Admiral Gabriella Dvořák
- Benjamin Giraud
- Deon Govender
- Petra Janecek
- John-117 / The Master Chief
- Katrina (no last name)
- Jameson Locke
- Mashak Maradi
- Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez
- Anthony Petrosky
- Michael Sullivan
- Jacob Walker
- Thomas Wu
- Corbulo Academy of Military Science
- Elysium City
- Eridanus II
- Outer Colonies
- Battle of Mombasa
- Colonial Administration Authority
- Flash Cloning
- Golden (Civilian) Warthog
- Insurrectionist Movement
- Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
- Slipstream Space
- Spartan II Program
- Spartan III Program
- Unified Earth Government
- United Nations
- United Nations Space Command
- UNSC Army
- UNSC Navy
- Waypoint (Communication System/Device)
(Bold entries indicate new data for this week)
Keep an eye on LevelSave for coverage of upcoming episodes, and feel free to theorize further (or correct me) in the comments