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
– 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.
Our only additional content this week is an image showcasing a data transfer from Benjamin to Sullivan. This image works better in context following the end of this week’s episode, so I won’t go into detail here, but keep it in the back of your mind.
This episode may be my favorite one yet. Instead of more interviews and conflicting reports from a number of people, we begin to follow what feels like “the present day” of Ben’s affairs. Up until this point, each episode felt like a reflection on events long past… as if Ben found the answers he was hunting and was leading us along knowing more than we did.
This week, however, it felt like we were all on the same page. We were experiencing things right alongside Ben. It was fresh and suspenseful, and the twenty-minute episode (the longest yet) flew by.
We start in the ONI waiting room. The silliness of this situation was not lost on Ben. He had to check in and announce he had an appointment with Sullivan, which ONI knew full well long before he even strolled into the building. It was a formality that ONI probably didn’t really need to bother themselves with, but they did anyway. Ben knew it was some sort of PR move to make them friendlier to the public.
The facility sounded like a darker version of an Apple store. Sleek, minimalist, and uncomfortable. He spoke several times this episode about how terrible the chairs were.
When he finally got into Sullivan’s office, he was greeted with some awkward reservation. Sullivan said very little to him at first, which only exasperated his fear that his unprotected conversation with Wu was indeed tracked. Sullivan didn’t even make eye contact with him for several minutes as the meeting started. Once he started to ask Ben about the story, Sullivan started to sound more aggressive and announced that someone wanted to speak to him. This certainly caught Ben off guard. They moved to another room far from Sullivan’s office, which showcased how massive the ONI complex was. He also noted that it got less modern and more military in design.
They arrived at a large, dark conference room a few minutes later. One wall had what Ben assumed was observation glass. Not surprising. Sullivan asked if his microphone needed checking before things began, which Ben was not prepared for. Another interview was not what he expected.
And this is where the episode got so interesting I had to re-wind (is that a thing in 2015?) so I can hear it again. Ben was greeted by Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez. Invested Halo fans like myself were no doubt floored by this event. For those not familiar, Mendez is one of the most notable members of Halo’s extended fiction. He was the officer in charge of training all of the members of the Spartan-II (the Master Chief was one of these) and Spartan-III (the cast of Halo Reach) programs. He’s been a very active member of the novels and comics and continues to be one of the most important characters in Halo to not find himself in a game yet.
It was clear that this interview was, once again, an attempt by ONI to whitewash the details of the Spartan-II program that they didn’t want Ben to learn. The fact that this conversation was happening caused a huge amount of relief for Ben.
The interview was not much different than what you’d expect. The Chief was once again hailed as a leader, lucky, and strong. More praise, unrelenting, and a little over the top. I won’t bore you with the entire detailed account of his accolades for John because there were many of them, but the important parts are:
- Took to the augmentations without issue
- Loved to jump out of flying vehicles
- Set the standards for other Spartans
- Able to make important decisions quickly, and come out with the right one every time
Mendez is a typical military character. Hard, gruff, and unapologetic. He was playing the military trumpet the whole interview, basically calling them infallible. As much as I’ve personally enjoyed Mendez in other fiction, this version of him sure sounded like he was drinking a little too much of the ONI Kool-Aid.
When Ben started asking about how young John could have possibly dealt with the pressure of having the fate of the galaxy on his shoulders, Mendez just reiterated the Chief’s strengths, almost dodging the question. Ben pressed the question again, asking if one man should have so much power.
This is where things got a little troublesome. Mendez got upset at the question, saying questions like that would get him into trouble… making Ben an adversarial interviewer. He basically threatened Ben at this point, saying such a question would make the rest of their conversation unpleasant. Mendez suggested that Ben rephrase the question.
Before he could continue, Sullivan ended the meeting, saying a venue change had to occur. At this point, Mendez claimed he was needed somewhere else, and the rest of the meeting would have to be rescheduled. Before he left, he claimed that Ben ought to be more appreciative of what the Spartans did for humanity because they’d all be dead were it not for them.
Ben was then told by Sullivan that the raw files of the entire project were due in a few days for final editing, and he was already scheduled for an outbound flight. Sullivan was clearly killing the project at that point, and Ben knew it. He was nowhere near done, and wanted to do more with Mendez. When he protested, Sullivan suddenly got very adversarial.
He got very succinct and reiterated that the project was ending. Ben now realized the truth of the situation. His conversation with Wu had been flagged, and he was being fired by ONI.
During the flight home, he discovered that a problematic passenger on the same flight was none other than Jacob Walker. The guy who claimed to be in boot camp with John was supposed to be retired, but that was clearly not the case. He was in a suit and tie, not a beach outfit. When Ben approached him, Walker seemed unprepared for being found. He was clearly uncomfortable with Ben finding him, and seemed unprepared to continue talking about his retirement life. The whole time Ben was questioning why he was on the flight, the flight crew continually asked Ben to sit down. When Ben protested, they forcibly sedated him.
He awoke in the terminal on his home world and upon arriving to his residence he found he was being fined for the incident on the flight. It was here that Ben realized that he needed payment for the project as it stood so far, and would comply with the raw file request. He looked at it as a way to confirm he was going to be employed in the future.
He then realized that his comm. pad was recording the entire flight. When he listened to the details of what happened after he was sedated, he discovered that the suits that handled him from there worked for Sullivan and ONI. They seemed surprised he was on the same flight with Walker, and referred to him by the name “Ben” in a somewhat spiteful tone. Their comfort with his name suggested they had been keeping tabs on him.
This angered Ben quite a bit. He spoke about all the propaganda he had no issue repeating up until this point, and even all the holes in the story would not have stopped him from submitting the raw files until that recording was discovered. At this point, he turned. He canceled the transfer (see the image above that I alluded to earlier). Instead, he recorded the intro that we heard way back in episode 0, and uploaded it for all the galaxy to hear.
Here is this week’s Reddit post covering this episode more in-depth.
Just a few new things this week due to the focus on the Mendez interview.
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)
- 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
- Insurrectionist Movement
- Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
- Slipstream Space
- Spartan II Program
- Spartan III Program
- 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