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Halo – Hunt the Truth – Recap: Episode 03 – Critical Condition

Written by James T. George

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.

Past Recaps:

Part 0: Primer
Part 1: A Hairline Fracture
Part 2: Bad Records

– 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 supplementary items this week are a little lighter than last, but still interesting.

When a planet is glassed, very little of the surface is left untouched.

When a planet is glassed, very little of the surface is left untouched.

We first got a picture Ben took on a previous assignment, which he claims was never seen because it was not up to par with UNSC standards. Showcasing the aftermath of a glassed planet, he claims it has haunted him for years.

Greetings from Castallaneta!

Greetings from Castallaneta!

Up next we got a postcard from Jacob Walker, who we will formally meet during this week’s episode. He lives on Castallaneta, known as “The Sunny Side of Saturn.” I agree with Ben’s caption of the image… it does indeed look like a nice place to retire.

Things progressed fairly quickly this episode as the “truth” of John’s story seemingly unravels before Ben’s eyes. It begins with a conversation with Ray Curzig, an independent analyst and longtime friend of Ben. Ben contacts him specifically to debunk all the claims Katrina made in the previous episode, stating Jon died young.

Ben asks a simple question: “Tell me why she’s lying,” and Ray’s response was equally simple: “She’s not.”

Ray shows Ben a plethora of documentation as to how he knows she’s telling the truth, specifically relating to John’s parents who are now said to have lived long past what ONI sources conveyed to Ben. He showed Ben work papers, bill payment receipts, and records from immune specialists that correspond with when Katrina claimed young John became ill.


The Office of Naval Intelligence

So, once again Ben once again finds himself on hold with ONI, waiting for another conversation with Sullivan. Once connected, the same conversation he previously had occurs a second time.

“Glassed planets have bad records…” Sullivan insists over and over, and the call ends when Sullivan inquires if Ben is recording the call. This inquiry is actually more of a directive to stop recording than an actual question, and Ben complies. After the recording stopped, Ben informs everyone that Sullivan called his conviction to the story into question. This turn of events sounds somewhat threatening compared to the cooperation ONI has given so far (on the surface, anyway).

We don't have any actual images of Castallaneta yet, so here's Saturn. Enjoy.

We don’t have any actual images of Castallaneta yet, so here’s Saturn. Enjoy.

Ben moves to an interview conducted with Jacob Walker, a retired UNSC Navy Vet of 28 years, who is currently spending his retirement on Castalleneta, a beach resort destination near Saturn. Walker claims to have spent his days in boot camp on Reach with John, who he remembers quite fondly.

He speaks about John’s natural talents much like all the other interviewees had, but focuses primarily on his leadership qualities. John was said to have a talent for pushing the other cadets as hard as the commanding officers would. When the group of cadets would fall short of the CO’s expectations, John would make sure the blame would somehow fall on him so he would have to endure the punishment alone.

Walker clearly admired John, but also claimed that despite spending months together, he knew very little about him on a personal level. He called him “inhuman” in regards to his abilities, which falls in line with other profiles of the Spartan.

ODST: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. Also known as Helljumpers. Also known as batshit insane

ODST: Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. Also known as Helljumpers. Also known as batshit insane

Ben then interviews Anthony Petrosky, an ODST that was found through his conspiracy theorist contact Maradi, via the off-the-grid communication network called ChatterNet. Anthony, like most ODSTs, was a little salty when it comes to Spartans; mostly due to the fact that before Spartans came around the ODSTs were regarded as the most elite of all soldier classes. He referrs to him as a “freak” and goes into detail with a terrifying story about John when he was 12 years old.

According to Petrosky, John was hanging around an ODST training gym fore quite some time. He was apparently very sure of himself, which rubbed some of the ODSTs the wrong way, provoking some altercations.

The commanding officer of this particular group of ODSTs allowed four full-grown soldiers to fight John in the ring due to the annoyance they found him to be, despite the clear fact that John was only a child. This permissive move by the CO was very shocking to Ben, but not as shocking as the result of the fight. Going into explicit detail of how it happens, Petrosky claims John kills all four ODSTs in just five seconds. Petrosky even goes as far to refer to the men as “lambs to the slaughter.”

While Ben tried to come to terms with the horror of this incident, Petrosky also calls John “inhuman,” claiming he was genetically augmented, something Ben goes on to ponder in the next segment (more on that in a minute).

Ben starts another series of denials, refusing to believe the story, which only leads to anger from  Petrosky. Ben’s disbelief, he claims, does not change the fact that it happened, and concludes that if Ben wants to be an avenue for military propaganda, he’s going to do it regardless of what truths he hears.

This interview really bothered Ben, who started to ponder the ethical implications of what the UNSC had to have done to children for Petrosky’s story to be true. Adult augments were common in colonial society, but child augments were not, and considered highly unethical. He focuses primarily on this issue, and I found it interesting that the idea of John being taken as a child, an even more ethically questionably move, still hasn’t seemed to hit home with him yet. It’s also worth nothing that, while not mentioned in this audio episode, Halo’s fiction has repeatedly stated that augmentations given to Spartan trainees lead to a large percentages of failed alterations and, in many cases, death. I’m sure this will be discussed more in later episodes, presuming Ben continues to pull this thread.

A scene depicting augmentation.

A scene depicting augmentation.

Ben follows up with the previously interviewed Ellie Bloom, who had some thoughts on his first episode of his profile on the Chief. Her points of concern did little to ease his mind on the contradictions that kept coming up.

She begins by saying that Deon Govender, the teacher and boxing coach at John’s school on Eridanus II, was a straight up liar. She doesn’t even give him any room for consideration on the matter. She expands by explaining that there was no boxing program at their school, and continues by revealing that due to an incident on Eridanus II where a child was hurt, boxing was outlawed on the entire planet. There was no school league, and Govender was lying about it and John being part of it.

She then throws an even bigger contradiction into the call, saying that there were no insurrectionist kidnappings on Eridanus II, so all reports to the contrary were fabricated. There was some insurrection-based political upheavals from time to time, but little violence ever occurred as a result. She even goes as far to say that Eridanus II was actually known to be quite peaceful during the insurrection, and that the planet was a popular destination for refugees of other worlds dealing with rebellious violence.

Ben seeks to validate her claims by reaching out to past interviewees that Bloom called into question. He was unable to reach Govender, as well as Vice Admiral Gabriella Dvořák, but was unable to connect with either of them.

He was, however, able to connect with Thomas Wu, the man who claimed to have lived through the Eridanus II kidnappings. The call was late at night, so Wu seemed a little out of it while Ben tried to get info out of him. After some prodding about the details of their last interaction, Wu frustratingly says, “What I told you was the best I could remember.”

Ben is confused into momentary silence by this. During the original interview Wu claimed to remember everything vividly, down to the last detail. He even went as far as to list off locations of camps and knew large sets of details about them. When Ben mentioned these things to Wu and asked for more clarification, Wu suddenly becomes concerned about the call they were on. He somewhat suspiciously claims that he only wants to ensure peace of mind for his family, and before Ben could get this new comment clarified, Wu disconnects.

It was then that Ben realized that his call with Wu was done via Waypoint, which means anyone could have been listening to their conversation. Ben’s situation with ONI just became way more complicated.

Data Dump

Here is this week’s Reddit post covering this episode more in-depth.

I’ve added a bunch more links to the ongoing data dump, (some of which I probably should have had here earlier) but a number of them have not yet been added on the wiki. The links I have here should point to them once they are created though.

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.

Other Information:

(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!

About the author

James T. George

Jim, a proud native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, enjoys a variety of things other than games, movies, music, sports, and technology, but usually falls prey to character limits when filling out

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