The Reclaimer Saga, the Ark, and Ragnarok

Consider this something of an addendum to my comprehensive post on the Ark Theory. With some of the recent revelations surrounding the recently announced Halo 5: Guardians, including a new piece of concept art and comments from both Bonnie Ross and Frank O’Connor, it seems that we won’t be getting a solid answer on the Ark Theory any time soon since Guardians is set to be a game which focuses on a “journey”.

However, I’m not willing to back down on this one and have some fresh pieces of potential evidence to throw into this theory.

Let’s talk Halo (again)…hal5 6First of all, let’s recap some of the comments about the importance of Halo Legends (specifically Origins) when it comes to foreshadowing events to come in 343’s Reclaimer Saga. The developer commentary really gives a fair bit away.

“We didn’t just want this to be a recap, we wanted to take the opportunity to really push the story forward than just recall events that had happened, and so there’s little bits of that in here. And we want this to be something that people think about and interpret. […] We want people to think, what does this mean for future games? What does this mean for future fiction? […] Some of it is a lot more than what it appears to be right now.

“The story which Cortana is telling, which is humanity’s continual need for conflict and war. […] The Flood is sort of the heart of the Halo story and things always tend to come around to that.

We’re just making sure that we have it planned out. This doesn’t mean that the next Halo games are going to feature any of the things that we’re hinting at here, definitely these are things that we want to cover in the fiction, and obviously Greg Bear is going to cover some of this in the Forerunner trilogy of novels, but we want to make sure that we understand what the future of the universe is so that we can better understand the past and the present. So, timescale aside, we just want to make sure that everything makes sense in our heads and that we’ve committed it to a plan so that we’re not making things up as we go along – and I think that’s a trap that a lot of franchises can fall into.”

The top five things that are important to take away from Frankie’s comments are:

1) They want this ambiguous imagery to be interpreted.
2) Some of the imagery that they’ve used is more than it appears to be.
3) They wanted Origins to be a means through which they push the story forward.
4) The Forerunner Saga is a major series of foreshadowing events for Halo’s future.
5) The Flood are the heart of Halo’s story, things always come back around to them.

Where am I going with this? To put it simply, Ragnarok.raggyrockRagnarok is the remake of the map Valhalla in Halo 3, both of these names being references to Norse mythology. Valhalla is the majestic hall of Asgard where many who die in combat go, being led by valkyries, to prepare for Ragnarok under Odin’s rule.

There is a very deep connection in Norse mythology between Valhalla and Ragnarok, which makes it very interesting that 343 would choose this particular map and rename it with this particular name.

So, what is Ragnarok in Norse mythology? Let us consult our good friend, Wikipedia…

“Ragnarok is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures […] the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors.”

Hmm, the world being submerged in water? So… a FLOOD, you might say?

As far as connecting this to the Ark Theory goes, Valhalla was a map set on the Ark. While Ragnarok is evidently set on Requiem, the connection between these two maps on a thematic level just seems like far too much of a coincidence to be meaningless.

Ah, but I’m not done yet. Let’s take a look at a scene in Halo Legends: Origins II, shall we?

origins1 origins2In this scene, we hear Cortana narrate a series of events which never happened in Halo 3. She envisages a battle where humanity and the Covenant are united together as one on a series of planets, both distinctly human and Covenant judging by their architecture, and then on a Forerunner installation by a massive citadel as the Master Chief looks on from a Pelican.

On its own, this might seem like something immediately resulting from her descent into madness – indeed, it’s even brought up by Frank that she is an unreliable narrator because of the things she’s been exposed to, all of those Forerunner systems and the malediction of a Gravemind during her torture on High Charity.

“This story is told through Cortana’s memories as she’s starting to approach what we expect might be a stage of rampancy, or at least confusion. Y’know, she’s been fighting with the Gravemind and she’s been battling with his sort of intellectual assault on her abilities, but also she’s been absorbing terabytes and terabytes of Forerunner information and she doesn’t understand it all and so this episode in particular is her really trying to come to terms with all this information and trying to interpret all this very very complicated eons of information and trying to fill in the gaps.

The problem with Cortana that we know from the game is that she’s going to be an unreliable narrator. She’s been locked up in the confines of the Gravemind on High Charity, and these sort of Covenant and Forerunner systems have been intruding on her as she’s trying to defend herself from this assault by the Gravemind who is trying to find the location of Earth, among other things.

All her memories, all her interpretations of events, have to be considered suspect – and that’s one of the interesting things about this episode. What’s real, and what is the kind of madness and the misinterpretation caused by the decay from the Gravemind experience and the vast wealth of Forerunner information that she’s been exposed to?”

The next question you then have to ask is “how much of her interpretations are foreshadowing?” After the montage of the battle scene where humans fight alongside Sangheili, Jiralhanae, and various other Covenant species, we get an image which really raise a lot of questions.origins3It’s the same citadel structure from the battle in the previous scene, you can clearly see that in its design. But what’s different here?

Gone are those mountainous valleys, those sprawling green fields and dirt tracks. The entire battlefield has been submerged in water…

“Ragnarok is a series of future events, including a great battle foretold to ultimately result in the death of a number of major figures […] the occurrence of various natural disasters, and the subsequent submersion of the world in water. Afterward, the world will resurface anew and fertile, the surviving and returning gods will meet, and the world will be repopulated by two human survivors.”

You can see one of the Ark’s petals in the background as well, confirming the setting and the events that have just happened. After that, we zoom in on the structure itself.origins4This shot shows the structure [re]activating, a column of energy building up in the centre. We see that the structure is being reclaimed by nature, plants and moss growing over the weathered Forerunner architecture is made apparently clear which is something we never saw in Halo 3. Evidently, you could interpret this as an image of the world “resurfacing anew and fertile”. The column of energy appearing to be that spark of new life over the silent battlefield.

We then look downwards, still on the Ark, to an image of a Forerunner helmet where a Flood infection form reveals itself.origins5This image literally doesn’t make sense in any modern context in the Halo universe, since nothing of the sort happened in Halo 3, so it’s only reasonable to consider the symbolic implications of what this could mean. Unfortunately, I haven’t the foggiest idea at this point. It shows that the Flood endures, rising from the ashes of the Forerunners’ civilisation. Is this the aftermath of the ‘Ragnarok event’, or is it more that it’s connected to the Timeless One’s prophecy in Primordium that the Flood will return when humanity is “ripe”, having risen up “in arrogance and defiance” to bring us “unity”?

“The decision is final. Humans will replace you. Humans will be tested next. […] It is the way of those who seek out the truth of the Mantle. Humans will rise again in arrogance and defiance. The Flood will return when they are ripe – and bring them unity. […] Misery is sweetness. Forerunners will fail as you have failed before. Humans will rise. Whether they will also fail has not yet been decided. […] We are the Flood. There is no difference. Until all space and time are rolled up and life is crushed in the folds… no end to war, grief, or pain. In a hundred and one thousand [years]… unity again, and wisdom. Until then – sweetness.”

gm ark theoryAs if the imagery of this episode wasn’t curious enough, the next shot we get depicts the Gravemind handing Cortana’s chip over to John. Funnily enough, this is taking place on the multiplayer map Guardian – a setting which is also on the Ark, as it was a cut mission from Halo 3’s campaign where John would enter the forest and encounter a ‘boss fight’ with a Guardian Sentinel.

It’s weird that all this imagery is being focused on the Ark, all these things which never happened that 343 say are both subject to Cortana’s madness but also something that’s highly interpretive and foreshadowing. The Master Chief never directly encountered the Gravemind in Halo 3, and he certainly didn’t hand over Cortana’s chip – it seems odd that she would ‘misinterpret’ this event because she was ‘stable’ at this point in the story after John had recovered her.

Again, it’s something which appears to be more foreshadowing imagery.

Going back to Ragnarok, the word itself is a combination of two different words.

> ‘Ragna’ translates to ‘conjure’ which was a figure of speech used to refer to ‘creator gods’.
> ‘Rok’ translates into a series of words which are said to mean ‘development, origin, cause, relation, fate’.

I don’t know about you, but this really connotes the themes surrounding the Precursors, the Flood and Living Time. The Precursors are the ‘creator gods’, their existence predates the universe itself and they seeded the Milky Way galaxy with life – humans, the Covenant races, the Forerunners, all were given form by the Precursors. Living Time is the concept that the entire universe is a living entity and is deeply tied to the notion of fate, as Lifeworkers (particularly the Librarian) had a degree of foresight as they could look down the twining steams of Living Time which is why Librarian was such an excellent planner. The Flood and Precursors are the same, they are connected to Living Time through the Domain – a Precursor consciousness. In Silentium, it was noted that the Domain was saddened as it could sense the end of Forerunner civilisation and was desperately trying to warn the Forerunners.

To postulate a rather radical idea here, it’s entirely possible that Cortana’s exposure to the Gravemind has granted her some degree of that foresight which we see bleed through into Origins. These particular events in the present that she’s misinterpreting are actually a sign of things to come, the Ragnarok event of the Halo universe.orgins nebulaUnfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll be finding out anything concrete about the Ark Theory any time soon. I’m holding out for something at E3, but Bonnie Ross has gone on-record to emphasise the fact that Halo 5: Guardians is going to be about a journey and not the destination.

Judging by the concept art released so far, I can see Halo 5 being more of a galaxy-hopping odyssey across multiple locations where the secrets of this ten million year-long puzzle will begin to unravel. As for how this all fits together, I would postulate that the Ark is going to be the ultimate ‘destination’ – especially where Mendicant Bias and the Absolute Record are concerned. Should this be the case, I’d expect it to be something that we see either at the very end of Halo 5, or something that will form the backbone of Halo 6.

Either way, all roads are leading back to the Ark right now.

Until such a time where we get more concrete information, I’ll be keeping the speculation mittens on and cranking out these ridiculously interpretive theories.

Keep a weather eye, Spartans!


11 thoughts on “The Reclaimer Saga, the Ark, and Ragnarok

    1. Haha! Thank you very much, it’s always one of my principle aims to boggle as many minds as possible when writing up a Halo theory. 😛

      You’d think after about 60 posts on Halo and a 50,000 word long dissertation on Halo 4 that maybe I’d have said all there is to say about this series. Truth is, I’m just getting started.

  1. hey, whats the star cluster called that’s over the master chief’s cryo pod? may be if we knew the name to it, it could lead to more awesome hypothesis.

    1. Requiem is in the Epoloch system, nothing really much to gain from it other than the fact that it was a part of the Forerunner Ecumene 100,000 years ago and home to the Warrior-Servant rate of their society.

      1. That answers that thanks for replying to my question! Keep up the good work on the halo articles!

  2. Here’s a possibility to the Flood in the helmet scene: it could mean that after the Flood has risen and been defeated, the actual Precursors return from their hiding (like the flood spore coming out of hiding in the helmet) and bestow upon mankind the Mantle, as we see the Gravemind (Precursor) give the Master Chief (humanity) the data chip (Mantle or “wisdom” that was mentioned at the end of the quote you used). It’s just another thought to add to speculation.

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