A PRIMER FOR HALO: POINT OF LIGHT
“My galaxy is dead. I am machine. I am Chakas. I am human. I am 343 Guilty Spark.”
Halo: Point of Light, the next book by Kelly Gay, is releasing March 2nd 2021 and will continue the story of our favourite lightbulb – 343 Guilty Spark.
Except he’s no longer a lightbulb, he’s a completely new person now. The story of what’s happened to Spark after the events of Halo 3 is something that has unfolded over the last decade.
Maybe you don’t have the time to read all that fiction but you’re interested in this new book, or you just want to know what’s become of this character you maintain a love-hate relationship with. Who is Chakas? Sergeant Forge had a daughter?
Let’s crack open the ONI archives and bring you up to speed…
At the end of Halo 3, you may remember blasting 343 Guilty Spark in the face with a Spartan Laser after he shot Johnson on Installation 08 – the replacement Halo ring for the one we destroyed in Halo 1.
About a year later, in November 2553, ONI detected a distress signal coming from the Ark and they sent a ship (the UNSC Rubicon) to investigate.
The Ark was still heavily damaged at this point. The immense debris field from the destruction we had wrought to stop the Flood was just one of many dangers that resulted in all of the teams dispatched to seek the source of the distress signal getting wiped out. That is, all but one. And they returned with something unexpected.
The shattered remains of a Monitor shell…
Upon reactivating it, the ONI team aboard the Rubicon interrogated the reawakened personality with the intention of learning about two things: humanity’s ancient past and our history with the Didact.
In order to understand the ‘present’ and future of 343 Guilty Spark, we must first look to his past.
Halo: Combat Devolved
100,000 years ago, the entity we knew as 343 Guilty Spark was a human named Chakas.
Chakas was a small-time criminal, conning merchants to get the money and resources needed to support his mother and sisters (though he enjoyed being a thug). One day, he was visited by a man called Riser who claimed to have seen him in a dream. Riser provided work for Chakas to help his family; Chakas provided protection for Riser’s clan.
Their lives would change immeasurably when they found themselves drawn to a young Forerunner who had ended up on Earth (then known as Erde-Tyrene).
Bornstellar had been sent by his family of rich and privileged Builders to live on Mars with a guild of Miners. There he would learn discipline, that he might be more serious about the responsibilities and expectations placed upon him.
Naturally, Bornstellar sought to escape this prison of maturity because he was more interested in searching for ancient Precursor treasures. He hoped to find the legendary Organon, which could allegedly reactivate all Precursor technology in the galaxy.
Guided by an AI that once belonged to the Librarian, Bornstellar made his way to Earth where he enlisted the aid of Chakas and Riser. Together, they made their way to an island where they discovered they had all been simple pawns in a much larger game.
The Librarian had guided them here to release her husband – the Didact.
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This set into motion the final events of the war with the Flood, which would end with the Halo rings being fired to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy.
The group end up getting captured by the Master Builder, who dumped Chakas and Riser on Installation 07 – ‘Zeta Halo.’ This is the ring we’ll be visiting in Halo Infinite…
Zeta Halo was seized by Mendicant Bias, the rogue AI that sided with the Flood. Recognising it was under hostile control, the ring’s automated protocols sent it on a collision course with a planet to self-destruct.
And it wasn’t just the fact that Mendicant Bias had ownership of the ring. The Timeless One – the Primordial, the creature that would later merge with the Flood and become the Gravemind – was also conducting hideous experiments on the resident human population with the Flood from a place known as the Palace of Pain.
Chakas was merged with a Flood-infected Forerunner in order to interface with the Halo’s controls and help ‘pilot’ it so that the planet would pass through the middle of the ring, which would severely damage but not destroy it.
It was at this point that Bornstellar returned, carrying the memories and wisdom of the Didact in his mind (after the Master Builder marooned the old warrior in a star system completely infected by the Flood). He shut down Mendicant Bias and his fleet regained control of the ring, whereupon he found the mortally-wounded Chakas.
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Bornstellar saved Chakas by using the Composer (the device we see in Halo 4, used to digitise human minds so they could be imprisoned within Promethean Knights), which extracted his mind and placed it into a Monitor shell.
Together, they interrogated the Primordial, who revealed that the Flood had only pretended that humanity had found a cure so that they would be preserved after their war with the Forerunners. This was not only to give the Forerunners false hope that there even was a cure, but also because humanity will be ‘tested’ for the Mantle next.
Enraged at this revelation, Bornstellar executed the Primordial, which was just another part of the Precursor’s plan. Its mind became one with the Flood, immortalising it within their flesh. The next time it was seen, it went by the name ‘Gravemind.’
At the end of the war, as Bornstellar prepared to fire the rings and silence the galaxy, Chakas was given Installation 04 as his new home where he would serve as its Monitor.
It was here that the question was posed:
“Now, old friend, we have the most important job in history – perhaps in all time. You may very well outlast all of us here. You may see the new galaxy emerge. Tell me Chakas, if it was your choice, after all we have seen and survived… would you fire the rings?” [Halo: Silentium, p. 314]
The reason that Guilty Spark half-remembers this in Halo 1 when he speaks to the Master Chief is not because he has some imprint of Bornstellar hidden within him. That ‘theory’ has been thoroughly repudiated.
Due to his intimate knowledge of the Flood, the Forerunners, and even more dangerous secrets about the Precursors, Chakas’s mind was suppressed by a process known as ‘compartmentalisation.’ This is something that he mentioned in Halo 3:
“While I had complete understanding of Installation 04, my creators wisely limited my knowledge of all other strategic facilities. Compartmentalisation, in case I were ever captured by the Flood.” [343 Guilty Spark – Halo 3, The Ark]
Chakas ‘goes to sleep’ and a new personality takes over, which would develop over the next 100,000 years of solitude on Installation 04.
“Without warning, internal processes already set in motion begin to erase parts of my memory, concealing secrets and hiding my past from me. I strain to prevent this, but it is inevitable. I try to hold on to history, but slowly it fades away, replaced now by my new station – my new purpose.
My galaxy is dead. I am machine. I am Chakas. I am human. I am 343 Guilty Spark.” [Silentium, p. 330]
BACK TO THE FUTURE
“Always surviving. One way or another. My purpose yet fulfilled. I wonder how many stories I will get, how many beginnings and endings, and when the cycle will finally end.”
(Click image to enlarge)
So, that Spartan Laser to the face at the end of Halo 3 killed the personality known as 343 Guilty Spark. The lightbulb we knew is indeed no more.
But, in doing so, the memories of Chakas were reawakened. He tells the Rubicon’s crew that he has discovered the location of the Librarian, believing that she still lives and that she can revive the spirits of his old friends – Riser and Vinnevra.
He hijacks the Rubicon and puts the crew to sleep, then sets out on his mission to find her.
This is where Kelly Gay’s books pick up.
Remember Sergeant Forge from Halo Wars? He had a daughter and she’s the protagonist of these books – Lucy Orion Forge (shortened to Rion).
Rion is a salvager, working out of the independent, multi-species colony world Venezia. She trades with a T’vaoan (a Skirmisher from Halo: Reach) named Nor Fel, who runs her own little enterprise, selling off scrap and surplus from the Covenant war. She’s also got her own ship, the Ace of Spades, with several other crew members whose perspectives we follow.
While searching for the whereabouts of her father (not knowing that he sacrificed himself so the Spirit of Fire could escape), she instead ends up finding the remains of the Rubicon… and a certain mischievous AI on a mission.
“Imagine a life where everyone you know is gone! Entire races, gone. Entire planets, gone… But that is not enough. No, even your own body is taken from you while you are conscious of it happening. Your entire civilisation is wiped out, and you helped initiate the process. Imagine being the only one left! The only one left for a hundred thousand years…” [Halo: Renegades, p. 288]
Transferred to the body of an armiger (like the Promethean Soldiers we see in Halo 5), Chakas struggles to come to terms with this new identity. He remembers his old life as a human, he remembers the 100,000 years he spent as a lonely lightbulb, and he is now something new.
He eventually chooses the name ‘Spark’ for himself and fills the Ace of Spades crew in on everything. And I mean everything.
Spark quite literally sits Rion, Lessa, and Niko down and basically has them watch several hours of Terminal videos on Space YouTube to learn about the Forerunner lore.
They agree to help Spark fulfil his mission to find the Librarian, but they’re just one ship caught in the middle of the Covenant’s resurgence around the time of Halo 4. And ONI are hot on their heels as well.
This adventure takes them to many interesting places. In one chapter, Spark gets to grips with his new body by ‘fishing’ with his arm-integrated lightrifle. In another, they head to a Forerunner world called Triniel where the entire population (of over 800 million) committed mass suicide with a toxin that denied the Flood any useful biomass. It was here they acquired an ‘upgrade seed,’ used to augment the Ace of Spades with Forerunner technology – better slipspace drive, cloaking, and more.
Spark had originally hoped to acquire the upgrade seed for the Rubicon from Etran Harborage, the Shield World from Halo Wars, until he learned that it had been destroyed.
Worse, he kept the secret of what happened to Sergeant Forge from Rion (something he would come to tell her later).
They discover that the Librarian is, in fact, still on Earth. Just as she left behind a personality imprint on Requiem, she did the same on the world she stranded herself on before the Halos were fired.
Upon reuniting, well… that’s perhaps best articulated through an excerpt of the scene itself.
“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.”
If I had a heart, it would be breaking. I feel no luck, but the absence of it, a heavy doom and despair. Already I am letting go…
“Luck is your way,” I remind her.
“No, dear Chakas… Spark. It is yours.” She gazes at the crew through the thinning of the light. “And theirs. It always has been. Don’t you see? You may leave with me to the Absolute Record or… you may choose a different path. The choice is yours, my old friend.”
A small etched box appears and she hands it to me.
“What is this?”
“A key. Find what’s missing,” she says. “Fix the path. Right what my kind has turned wrong.” [Renegades, p. 296-7]
Before Spark departs to rejoin the Ace of Spades crew to make their daring escape from ONI, the Librarian tells him that they will meet again. Someday.
What the Librarian gave Spark was a “coordinate key,” which leads to “‘A safe place.’ Among other things.” Some kind of bastion…
But that’s where the story ends – for now.
You’re now caught up on everything you need to know to join Rion and Spark on this journey in Halo: Point of Light.
Make no mistake, this summary cannot do justice to what has been one of the most compelling and emotional stories in the entire Halo universe. Watching this unfold over the last decade, from Greg and Chloe Bear to Kelly Gay, has been incredible.
As Spark has been brought to this ‘reset’ point for his character, as we’re on the cusp of the next ten years of Halo, one thing is perfectly clear.
We’re just getting started…
Halo: Point of Light releases March 2nd 2021.
Written by Kelly Gay, the cover art was made by none other than Will Cameron (AKA ‘Pixelflare’ – Website | ArtStation | Twitter), and the audiobook will be narrated by Tim Dadabo (the voice of Spark himself).
August 2558. Rion Forge was once defined by her relentless quest for hope amidst the refuse and wreckage of a post-Covenant War galaxy – years spent searching for family as much as fortune. But that was before Rion and the crew of her salvager ship Ace of Spades encountered a powerful yet tragic being who forever altered their lives.
This remnant from eons past, when the Forerunners once thrived, brought with it a revelation of ancient machinations and a shocking, brutal history.
Unfortunately, the Ace crew also made dire enemies of the Office of Naval Intelligence in the process, with the constant threat of capture and incarceration a very real possibility.
Now with tensions mounting and ONI forces closing in, Rion and her companions commit to this being’s very personal mission, unlocking untold secrets and even deadlier threats that have been hidden away for centuries from an unsuspecting universe…
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