“Didact, if the Composer is our final hope to defeat the Flood… no Promethean would resist.”
Let us consider an unfortunate truth: The Didact probably won’t be in Halo Infinite.
We last saw the Didact in the The Next 72 Hours arc of Halo: Escalation, which, puzzlingly, concluded with him being Composed – despite stating in one of Halo 4’s Terminals that it would not work on him.
With his future uncertain, I thought it’d be interesting to reconcile this apparent contradiction and find a satisfying answer to why the Didact can be Composed, and why his probable absence in Infinite might be a good thing for fans of the character.At the end of Halo 4, the Didact fell into the slipspace abyss under the Composer; his destination, unknown.
That is to say, it was unknown until this was followed up in the Halo: Escalation comic series as part of Issues #8-10, known as ‘The Next 72 Hours.’
This story reveals that the Didact was sent to Installation 03, near the Composer’s Abyss (a nightmarish underground ‘storage’ facility for the victims of the Composer), where he quickly sprang into action to continue pursuing his plan.
At a planed called Clinquant (also known as the Composer’s Forge), where the devices were created, there were six Composers waiting for him which he planned to use in-concert with Installation 03 to wipe out humanity.
The implication (though not explicitly confirmed) is that this would alter the Halo’s firing method, making the ring a giant Composer that would then be taken to fire on Earth.
Of course, this plan was stopped by the Master Chief – now reunited with Blue Team – as he confronted the Didact in Installation 03’s control room where he disabled the ring’s security protocols with the Index.
This allowed part of the ring to be ejected and was sent on a collision course with Clinquant, destroying the other six Composers.Before these Composers were destroyed, they were used on the Didact – disintegrating his biological form and turning him into a digital essence, like the people of New Phoenix.
This much is verified by the Didact’s official Universe page on Halo Waypoint:
“…the Spartans were able to band together, and with the help of 859 Static Carillon they tricked the Didact into using the Composers on himself. Effectively turned into a digital essence, the Office of Naval Intelligence currently considers the Didact ‘contained’, though it remains to be seen if his threat to humanity is truly at an end.” [Halo Waypoint, Universe – Didact]
But hang on a minute…
In the fifth Terminal of Halo 4, there is a specific line of dialogue that contradicts this being a possibility.
Didact: “The procedure is a failure. I am still susceptible to Flood infection.”
Promethean: “That leaves only the Composer…”
Didact: “It will not work on my new form.”
So, how can this be?
Is the Didact immune to the Composer, or isn’t he?
We do, as a matter of fact, have some sense of an answer from Brian Reed (who has previously stated that he wrote this Terminal for Halo 4) in the commentary of Halo: Escalation’s first Library Edition.
“In Halo 4 we explicitly state the Composer has no effect on Didact or Chief for that matter – thanks Librarian. What we see here isn’t a standard Composer usage by any stretch of the imagination. This is six plus Composers detonating all at once, their energy expelled in an uncontrolled manner. He’s not ‘Composed’ in the traditional sense because there is nothing there to process him.
What he is… well, what he is is a surprise. But he’s out there. He’s alive. We’ll see him again.” [Brian Reed, Halo: Escalation Library Edition, Vol. 1, p. 297]
This explanation is one that many did not find to be satisfying, particularly since this single paragraph of clarification came two years later.
It also seems quite muddled with the explanation given on the Waypoint Universe page, stating that he has been “Effectively turned into a digital essence.”
Since then, fans have turned to toy descriptions in Forge and adult colouring books for slivers of assurances regarding the Didact’s current status.
On top of this, the explanation given – that several Composers exploding did the trick – is one that is not made at all explicit in the text. Many assumed that the Didact was simply dead at the end of this comic, and the way it’s conveyed (along with the character’s absence in Halo 5) made that a wholly reasonable reaction.
The context is important, but I don’t want to dwell on the criticism because we’ve covered that extensively over almost five years.
No, this is about making this explanation work.
A GOOD MAN GOES TO WAR
For those of you who have read the Forerunner Saga, you will be familiar with what has happened to the Didact here; for the uninitiated, this is a moment of great importance.
In the Forerunner Saga, Greg Bear introduced the concept of ‘mutation.’
Mutation is a process integral to an individual Forerunner’s maturation – ‘customising’ them through genetic and biochemical engineering to better suit their role in their caste-based society.
This expanded their physical and mental capabilities, with Forerunners typically undergoing at least two over the course of their lifespan (some having five or more). It is what enables their minds to access the Domain.
Adolescents who have yet to undergo the process of mutation are called Manipulars, identified as ‘Form Zero,’ which is where we begin with Bornstellar in Halo: Cryptum.Cryptum explores this concept in some depth, as Bornstellar finds himself on the cusp of maturity. Circumstance necessitates his advancement in order to access the Domain, as well as the wealth of memories and the wisdom of his mentor – the Didact.
Mutation is not simply a matter of physical alteration, but a deeply spiritual process where a Forerunner’s mental state and perspective factors into their development.
“Mutation to a higher rate requires acceptance of the Mantle. The Mantle is in part awareness of what all life has sacrificed to allow you to be. That arouses a deep kind of personal guilt. You do not feel that guilt.” [Cryptum, p. 151]
The Mantle – the exalted task of guardianship over life – is the beating heart of Forerunner society and culture.
In order to uphold the Mantle, a Forerunner must be spiritually aware of the ‘cost’ of their existence on the universe. Awareness of that cost, of their privilege, arouses guilt within them that is necessary for their maturation.
The thing about mutation is that it’s supposed to be quite a drawn-out process for a Forerunner, lasting for years (‘space puberty,’ in other words), but the Didact and Bornstellar did not have the luxury of time…
As such, the Didact performs what is called a ‘brevet mutation’ on Bornstellar; a riskier, ad hoc method of advancement.
“To absorb my knowledge, you must be able to access your patrimony and the full richness of the Domain. To do that, you’ll have to expand your capabilities. If you are willing… if you volunteer.”
“You mean… mutate to a higher rate.”
“As close an approximation as we can manage out here,” the Didact said. “It’s called a brevet mutation. It’s not common, but it is within the Warrior-Servant code. This ship is capable of supporting such a ceremony. Lacking that, I cannot supply you with my knowledge … and you cannot access what your ancestors stored within you, or access the Domain, which supplements all.” [Cryptum, p. 145-6]
Typically, a Forerunner would receive the imprint of their immediate relatives. The Didact warns that, in accepting his wisdom, some details of Bornstellar’s development may be lost or distorted – replaced by the Didact’s own.The Didact himself feels uncertain about providing Bornstellar with his imprint in Cryptum, as he considers all that he has done and how far it has carried him away from the Mantle.
“What did you experience in the Cryptum?”
“Let us just say I did not find peace. What all the great, higher Domains of the universe mandate for Forerunners is never peace, never solace, never rest. Never consistency, logic, or even pure passion. Frankly, I envy your perversity, Manipular.”
I did not know what to make of that. “Your difficulty is, you regret all you have done. And you mourn.”
The Didact’s arms dropped, his shoulders relaxed, and I saw a glint of more than just acknowledgment, more than just recognition. He spoke in a low, grinding voice. “My blood and seed… wasted. My life with my family, my wife, so brief. I felt so much hatred. Hatred is still with me. Perhaps you are right to reject my imprint. The Mantle is as far beyond me now as…”
“You weren’t prepared to mutate either, were you? In combat, mutation was forced on you. A brevet mutation. Someone saw your potential even through your flaws.”
The Didact inspected me and for a moment, in that great stone visage, carved or artfully mauled by history and grief, he lifted his lips and almost smiled as if he were still young. I did not know that was possible.
“Touched by your blade, Manipular,” he said.
“I accept my flaws as you accepted yours, and I will transcend them… as you did. I am ready as I’ll ever be, Promethean.” [Cryptum, p. 152-3]
(Keep this in-mind…)
Over the course of the Forerunner Saga, Bornstellar ‘becomes’ the Didact (eventually being dubbed ‘The IsoDidact’), and it’s not until the end of the war with the Flood that he reclaims aspects of his original identity.
At this point, Bornstellar briefly muses about something important…
I had heard of failed mutations, of individuals hidden in special family enclaves and restricted to menial tasks. Not an attractive prospect. [Cryptum, p. 146]
Mutations can be botched.Circling back to the Terminals in Halo 4, the Didact is visually depicted at a number of points in his life. These events span the early years of the Human-Forerunner war to his eventual imprisonment in the Cryptum within Requiem.
It is in the fifth Terminal that the Didact’s appearance changes significantly to what we see in Halo 4’s campaign.
For those who might need to be caught up on the timeline here: this occurs during the events of Halo: Silentium, after this Didact (now referred to as ‘The Ur-Didact,’ the original – previously thought dead) has encountered the Gravemind.
The Gravemind branded the Didact with an organic form of the Logic Plague; a philosophical corruption.
“A deep, burning brand. An upwelling of hidden genetic contents… So many things I would never have imagined. Things I cannot repeat, lest I lose what remains of my sanity, my Warrior soul.” [Silentium, p. 167-8]
The exact nature of this corruption is illustrated as filling the Didact with the same passion for vengeance the Precursors learned when the Forerunners wiped them out ten million years ago.
“We gave the Precursors reason to retreat into madness. A passion for vengeance. And the Gravemind gave it all right back to me. I am filled with that passion, that madness, that poison!” [Silentium, p. 230]
And so, before losing himself completely, the Didact – looking for a solution, any solution, to defeat the Flood that didn’t involve using the Halos – performed a brevet mutation in an apparent attempt to make himself ‘immune’ to the Flood.
More likely, this was an attempt to rid himself of the Logic Plague.Instead, the Gravemind-induced philosophical corruption manifested physically in his appearance; a visual indicator of how far he has strayed from the Mantle.
The Didact’s skin turns sallow, eyes deep-sunk and empty; he grows fangs, a sure sign of his distance from what Forerunners hold sacred as they are forbidden from eating meat.
His existing prejudices are exacerbated and his perspective on the Mantle changes from self-sacrificing and noble duty to racial supremacy.
“This quest to fulfill the Mantle has haunted me my entire life. And for countless millennia, we have failed to realise the one truth that could have saved us from the beginning. The Mantle isn’t to be inherited by the noble, it is to be taken by the strong.” [Silentium, p. 224]
At the end of Silentium, his words – relayed to the Librarian by his lieutenant, Endurance-of-Will – begin to echo the madness of the Gravemind itself.
“…the beings we create shall never again reach out in strength against us.
All that is created will suffer.
All will be born in suffering, endless grayness shall be their lot.
All creation will tailor to failure and pain, that never again shall the offspring of the eternal Fount rise up against their creators.” [Silentium, p. 174-5]
“He will begin a program to eradicate all suspect species. Purge all dangerous planets. Wipe the galaxy clean of threats. Never again allow the galaxy to rise up against Forerunners.”
The phrasing – as if the entire galaxy in itself is a threat – is hauntingly familiar. [Silentium, p. 289]
Thus, it becomes clear that the Didact ‘failed’ this mutation because he has strayed from the rigid philosophical discipline – acceptance of the Mantle – required to advance.
In this, he is well and truly lost.
IF I HAD A SUPER WEAPON…
You might note that the Composer wasn’t mentioned once in the previous section. That was deliberate.
Returning to the question of how exactly the Didact can be Composed, despite saying it won’t work on his new form, the answer is a simple one.
Sometimes, that’s what the best answers are.
In failing his mutation, he knew that he was further from the Mantle than he’d ever been – something he feared as far back as Cryptum.
Worse still, he knew that he was afflicted with the Logic Plague.
“Know this: the universe will now be turned star by star, world by world, organism by living thing, into even more of a tortured mockery than it already is. Look what it’s done to me! […] Everything it touches is afflicted with madness,” he cries out. “It has touched me. I am myself mad!” [Silentium, p. 225-6]
The Composer extracts the mental patterns of its subject and converts it into machine data, its official Waypoint Universe page states that essences were “given consciousness by emulating their original biological neural structure.”
The Didact could not undergo this process because it would also convert the esoteric form of the Logic Plague he carried with him.
Indeed, the Composer is a device the Forerunners were never truly able to understand (as it utilises the Precursors’ arcane neural physics); previous attempts to use it on victims of the Flood proved… horrifying.
These large, ugly machines had originally been designed by Builders in a failed attempt to attain immunity against the Flood. Composers broadcast high-energy fields of entangled sympathies to gather victim mentalities – essences – and then translated them into machine data. In the original scheme, new bodies were constructed, and the subjects’ essences were imprinted over them – minus any traces of Flood patterns.
The results were not at all satisfactory. In fact, they were horrible. The Forerunner bodies so treated did not live very long. None survived outside of mechanical storage. [Silentium, p. 40]
What this ultimately means is that the Didact had to remain as he was – in his organic form – in order to command the Prometheans.
If he’d been Composed along with the rest of his loyal Warrior-Servants, his plan would’ve failed before it could even begin.
The Composer is a plot device with nebulous ‘rules,’ used as a means to articulate Halo 4’s themes of mortality; accentuate the horror of the Forerunners’ (now the Didact’s) impact on the setting, and the loopholes they exploited in the Mantle.
As the Didact says in Halo 4, he is not killing humanity; the Composer is being used to “imprison” them, which he sees as “kindness.”
It’s a very well-conceived MacGuffin that is used brilliantly in the Forerunner Saga and Halo 4, but when you tie too much of your story to a device, that’s the point you risk confusing people and losing their interest.
In The Next 72 Hours, we start with the aftermath of the Composer’s assimilation of New Phoenix where it’s revealed that the victims were sent to the Composer’s Abyss on Installation 03 and the Didact is pursued to the Composer’s Forge (which is a different planet) where they find six other Composers…
It’s a bit much – and that’s just the framework of the plot.
The combined force of six Composers can apparently work on the Didact, despite his alleged immunity, and a paragraph of a writer’s commentary was conveyed to a small number of readers years later to explain why that’s possible…
One has to ask: what has this achieved?
What should be taken away from this is how important it is to have your story driven by characters – by their actions and their fears and flaws.
The most interesting part of The Next 72 Hours is where the Chief and the Didact are in Halo’s control room and get to talk, at last, on each others’ level – the Chief stating that he would fire the ring just to kill the Didact.
That’s good stuff! That’s exactly what the Didact is meant for as the Chief’s ‘nemesis.’
(One wonders what story might be told if that’s the route things went…)
Solving the Composer conundrum of the Didact’s ‘fate’ by having him lie says something about the Didact as the person he’s become.
He knows he is compromised, but lies to his Prometheans. He lies to the soldiers he has led for thousands of years because his own motives have transcended his fellowship with them.
Unlike Bornstellar, he could not accept his flaws in order to transcend them.
He believes the only way he can get better is to loose damnation upon the stars.
“I need to fight against what it told me, what it has done to me, to all of us. I need to fight it with all of my might and will, and everything I can gather… every weapon and resource.” [Silentium, p. 256]
Well, this is where you can play about a bit with the ‘rules’ of a device to substantiate a character.
At several points in Halo 5, there are Promethean Knights with a rather interesting animation loop where they are in a frantic and depressed state. They swing their arms wildly, hit their head against the wall, and hold their head in their hands.
One can observe this in Unconfirmed (as you approach Blue Team’s Prowler) and in Exuberant Witness’ ‘zoo’ in the final mission, Guardians.
It’s a brief and rather horrifying glimpse at the humanity within the Knight, trapped within metal and madness, something that I feel hasn’t yet been explored to the extent it should’ve been.
But here’s the rub.
These ‘self-aware’ Knights? I don’t think they’re… uncommon.
The mind is a complex thing and – as I noted earlier – the Forerunners didn’t entirely understand how the Composer works.
The Composer is one of the few non-Precursor devices that exploit neural physics, the peculiar science of that most ancient of species which defied Forerunner understanding, even after millions of years of study.
The high-energy fields of entangled sympathies emitted by the Composer envelop any living being with a sufficient complexity to resonate with the device.
The Composer breaks down their bodies into digital templates in a manner that eluded the full understanding of even its creators. The resulting imprints, or essences, were remarkably similar to high-level ancilla, and stored mentalities could even be given consciousness by emulating their original biological neural structure. [Halo Waypoint, Universe – Composer]
This leads us back to one of the opening lines of Halo 4.
“Children’s minds are more easily accepting of indoctrination, their bodies more adaptable to augmentation. The result was the ultimate soldier.” [Catherine Halsey, Halo 4, Prologue]
The man/machine theme of Halo 4 operates on a small-scale with its exploration of the relationship between John and Cortana; on a higher level, it expands to the parallels drawn between the Prometheans and the now mass-produced Spartans.
A child’s mind would be more malleable; they are easier to ‘wire,’ to be programmed into these war machines… so they make for better Knights.
The Promethean Knights comprised of Warrior-Servants who willingly submitted to Composition did not have any issues because they were at peace with what the Composer would do to them.
As the Promethean conversing with the Didact says:
“Didact, if the Composer is our final hope to defeat the Flood, no Promethean would resist.” [Halo 4, Terminal 5 – Knights]
Naturally, this results in a comparison to be drawn with the Forerunners’ process of mutation, where advancement is only possible with a certain perspective and acceptance of the Mantle.
Such a wealth of potential still exists for the Prometheans that I would very much like to see fulfilled (and there are certainly people at 343 who feel the same), but that really comes down to the appropriate format for these kinds of stories.
There is, after all, only so much the games can convey with something that is largely psychological.
Compare Jacob Keyes’ mental struggle with the Gravemind as it’s presented in Halo 1’s campaign, where we’re locked to the Master Chief’s perspective, versus how much that was able to be expanded on in The Flood novel adaptation and the Anniversary Terminal.
Halo is an ever-growing franchise and it’s now at the point where it needs to be a lot more savvy about where and how certain stories are told.
That brings us back to the Didact…
THERE’LL BE ANOTHER TIME…
Hear me out.
The Didact is simply not (yet) in a position where a story can be told with him that isn’t about him.
This presents a bit of a problem because it narrows what the games can do with him as a character and the kinds of stories they can tell.
Compare him to, say, Thel ‘Vadam, who can quite comfortably show up during the middle act of Halo 5 as a major character without too much baggage weighing down his role. Indeed, this is largely considered to be the best part of Halo 5.
Thel has had a strong, complete arc in the original trilogy (despite the initial hatred from the fanbase towards him in Halo 2) that has brought him to this point. Over the years, books and Terminals have further expanded on aspects of his character and backstory that are not necessarily essential knowledge.
A more recent comparison is 343 Guilty Spark, a character established in the games who has had his story continued in the expanded universe – from the Terminals of Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, to Greg Bear’s Forerunner Saga, to Kelly Gay’s Halo: Renegades.
Much of the narrative and emotional baggage of Spark’s story has now been dealt with, giving him a new beginning which leaves a lot of doors open in terms of how he might return in the future.
The Didact is a bit more complicated.
Established far back in Halo 3’s Iris ARG and (damn near unreadable) Terminals; his backstory was explored deeply in the Forerunner Saga, leading up to his debut in Halo 4… only to have his story picked up again and shelved in a comic.
We’re just not ‘there’ yet with him.
Some of that definitely comes down to how the character has been handled after Halo 4, and there was perhaps an opportunity to bridge that gap better by having the Forerunner searching for Bastion in Halo 5’s intel be the Didact…
But, looking at the bigger picture, that doesn’t mean it should be brute-forced into Infinite.
I think it would be a mistake to frame this as some sort of ‘obligation’ to 343, that this is how they must ‘make up’ for those missteps, only to be disappointed that Infinite can’t really tell the kind of story that is demanded by the Didact.Something also worth noting is the fact that the Didact doesn’t really have any relevance to Halo Infinite’s setting, Installation 07.
This unique Halo was the explored in Halo: Primordium – the Forerunner Saga’s second book – and the Didact is almost entirely absent. He’s only peripherally relevant, appearing in some select flashbacks to the Human-Forerunner war.
With Installation 07, there are a lot of other mysteries to explore and I can’t help but think that it might be better for the game to accentuate that history by not having its Forerunner element personified by a specific character.
A number of people consider the expanded universe to be ‘story jail’ for characters and storylines that don’t necessarily ‘work out’ in the games. That is an earned cynicism in some respects, but I’m not entirely convinced by it.
One of the fundamental issues Halo 5 had was that it had to juggle over a dozen major characters; it didn’t have time to do very much with any of them.
Ensemble stories in the Halo games very rarely work well and I think it’s in 343’s interest to really scale that down.
That means coming to terms with the idea that certain characters we’re invested in might not have room to appear in Halo Infinite.
As such, let’s not think of having their stories continued in the expanded universe as some sort of apathetic ‘relegation.’ Despite some mismanagement here-and-there, I highly doubt anyone at 343 actually says “Whatever, we’ll just throw that in the books!”
When our hopes and wants for certain characters and stories gets too specific, too granular, we can only be let down.
Consider, instead, the bigger picture: the expanded universe provides a platform to tell the stories of these characters where they can get the kind of substantial focus the games can’t always deliver.
Halo: Renegades is definitive proof of how well that can work.
That, I think, is the kind of treatment the Didact needs.
As far as his future is concerned, well… some ideas that could be picked up on have certainly existed – at least conceptually – since Halo 4.One thing is for certain, as the Ur-Didact admits in a conversation with the Librarian that he has communicated – in some fashion, through the Domain – with Forerunners in the future.
“I wandered through all the corridors… so they appeared, anyway. Centuries of wandering through hallways and caverns and even deeper, darker places, lined and fitfully aglow with ancestral records and memories, upwellings of past visits, rarely by me, sometimes by our ancestors… on occasion, our descendants.”
“Descendants?” I ask.
“The Domain keeps its secrets only with difficulty. It wants, it needs, to spread knowledge. It wants to tell us when we’re being foolish, but it can only replay the emotions and memories of those who came before. Still, rarely, it violates its own rules.”
“What about our descendants?” I persist.
“I felt their touch, their love. And yet, they were fading. The Domain is filled with sadness. A deep shadow has fallen over everything Forerunner.” [Silentium, p. 255-6]
The Domain violated its own rules, as it is sometimes known to do, to show the Ur-Didact the future. It showed him that, in some way, the Forerunners do go on and survive.
In Halo: Renegades, when Spark finally meets with the Librarian’s imprint on Earth, they briefly discuss the Didact…
“Can the Didact find peace?”
The sorrow that flashes through her eyes instantly pains me.
“I fear my husband is beyond redemption.” [Halo: Renegades, p. 297]
“This imprint will join the others already gone to the Absolute Record. Humanity must be given the tools to hold the Mantle of Responsibility. And the knowledge – they must have the knowledge to tend the Domain…”
She stares off into nothing for some time before gracing me with a soft look.
“Then, perhaps . . .” “Bastion?” I ask.
Her tender smile fills me with love and finality, and I see that she does not believe she will ever make it there, or perhaps anywhere she might recover and rest and find peace at last.
“Perhaps,” she answers. “With a little luck.” [Renegades, p. 296]
The nature of these things is no clearer. Not yet.
But the pathways are open. In time, they may converge to become whole again.
Silentium.To close this article, I’ve got a short story for you – an excerpt from a larger story I did last year which formed the basis of this theorycrafting piece.
After all, it’s one thing to criticise, but I like to substantiate my own take on things by going a bit further with some creative writing.
I thought I’d do something a little different and (due to what I am both surprised and delighted to say is popular demand) narrate it with my best impersonation of the Didact’s voice.
You’ll have to pardon how amateur the result is, but it was a lot of fun to do.
100,000 years ago…
The Didact could not remember how many times he had died.
He had died on the day he’d assumed his mentor’s pattern and wisdom, setting him on the path of the Warrior-Servant.
He had died on the day he was no longer a father – when he placed the essences of his children into his War Sphinxes, their mental patterns, their final echoes, stored in time-locked Durances.
He had died on the day he was exiled, when the Master Builder’s wicked words and cursed wheels won the hearts of the Old Council, knowing that their civilisation would fall to ruin.
And he had died a thousand times since the day that it did, after he had been lifted out of the Domain by a child and brought into the Gravemind’s embrace.
Warrior, father, protector, husband, exile, saviour, destroyer, traitor…
The Didact did not know who he was any more.
Falling to the floor – bent double on his hands and knees, rasping from dehydration – he saw what the mutation process had done to him.
Mutation was a ceremony that had to take place in the direct light of a star, but the light this galaxy offered was no longer one of warmth and welcome. Space itself was infected, in a way none could understand or explain, but every sentient being surely felt.
The light shunned them now, driving them further into the darkness. Even their new capital had to be situated outside the galaxy.
And even the Domain felt a deep shadow looming over everything Forerunner.
All this and more was what the Didact saw as he looked into the reflection of his now deep-sunk eyes in a face that barely resembled the man he used to be; his skin creased and stretched like dried fruit left in the sun.
Fangs had unexpectedly and painfully grown at the sides of his mouth; the Mantle forbade the consumption of meat, and so he understood this as but one of the signs of how far he had strayed from his centre – his Warrior soul.
Something – everything – was wrong.
“Did it work?” He croaked in knowing futility. “Run the simulation.”
A holographic representation of himself appeared as his body was scanned. As he expected, it almost instantly curdled and distorted with hideous red growths.
“The procedure is a failure. I am still susceptible to Flood infection,” the Didact said, choosing his words carefully.
For Flood infection, there was no cure. Of that much he was certain.
But that wasn’t what the Didact feared.
“That leaves only the Composer,” The Strategos approached. It was this old general, this grizzled ancient of the Kradal Conflicts, who had gladly supplied his mentorship to the Didact for his brevet-mutation.
“It will not work on my new form,” he lied.
Mutation required a certain spiritual acceptance of the Mantle. That demanded an awareness of what all life has sacrificed to allow you to be.
One cannot advance without the profoundly personal guilt provoked by that fact.
The Didact no longer felt that guilt.
Such as it was with the Composer: a machine that could extract a living being’s mind – their mental patterns – and convert it into machine data, to be placed into digital storage.
The device had been built on the esoteric principles of the Precursors’ neural physics, something the Forerunners understood only as science beyond magic.
A sufficiently complex mind that was not at-peace with its extraction risked… complications.
Worse still, the Didact knew what he carried within him.
Were he to submit to Composition, he feared the Logic Plague would end his plans before they even began. And so, he would remain as he was – a monument to all his sins.
“Then you will lead us,” The Strategos declared. “As always.”
“You would submit to such sacrifice?”
“Didact, if the Composer is our final hope to defeat the Flood… no Promethean would resist.”