A few days ago, the Hunt The Truth Alternate Reality Game (ARG) kicked off in antecipation for Halo 5: Guardians and fans all around world ran to internet forums to try and figure out what the alternate reality game is trying to say about the new game’s plot. After listening to the audio files posted by the fictional war journalist Benjamin Gireaud in the Hunt The Truth’s Tumblr page, I decided to dive deep into Halo’s lore once again, revisiting the canon and reading as many fan impressions as I could. Here’s what I came up with.
The Hunt The Truth’s page is kept by war journalist Benjamin Gireaud. He contracted for the Unified Earth Government (UEG) , the United Nations Space Command (UNSC) and the very secretive Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), covering military affairs and helping to alter battle footage to keep the public unaware of how badly things were going for humanity in the Human-Covenant War. By 2558, Giraud was hired by ONI’s Senior Communications Director Michael Sullivan (Sully from Foward Unto Dawn), to put together a in-depth profile on Master Chieft Petty Officer John-117.
During the research, Gireaud talks to a number of people on a list provided by ONI who claim to know the real Master Chief, the boy, the soldier, the hero, the traitor, but ends up realizing something’s wrong, citing fabricated stories, people who aren’t who they say they are, cover ups of cover ups and says that he can’t corroborate a single fact about John’s life. He also notes there are rumors and reports of anomalies, signs of something big going on in deep space. Giraud then says he may not be able to fix the pretty story, but he may able to break the ugly one.
What are these anomalies? What is going on in deep space? Why has Master Chief been labeled a traitor? So, here we go (spoilers ahead).
In Halo 4, Chief lost Cortana and ended up really messed up. During the final cutscene, UNSC Infinity’s Captain Thomas J. Lasky briefly interrupts Chief’s mourning telling him that he [Lasky] lost people too, but nerver went through something quite like what Chief’s going through. Chief then responds that “the duty of a soldier is to protect humanity whatever the cost” to which Lasky replies that soldiers are not machines but humans. This seems to awake something inside Master Chief, since Cortana made him promise her he’d figure out which one of them is the machine.
Later, by the end of Spartan Ops, Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, head of the Spartan-II Program - that created Master Chief - and a important scientific adviser of ONI, manages to deceive the UNSC by joining Jul 'Mdama - a rebel Elite also known as the Hand of the Didact - so she could meet the Librarian in the Forerunner planet Requiem. In that encounter, the Librarian gives her a key - the Janus Key - composed of two equal parts that together can reveal the location of every Forerunner artifact in the universe. Before Halsey is able to leave Requiem, Fireteam Majestic - sent to Requiem by Captain Lasky to rescue Halsey - find her. As Jul 'Mdama grabs Halsey to prevent her from fleeing, Halsey throws one half of the key to Spartan Gabriel Thorne, member of the Fireteam Majestic. But, in the same skirmish, Spartan Sarah Palmer arrives to kill Halsey as ordered by Admiral Serin Osman, head of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and Catherine Halsey's former Spartan-II candidate. Halsey ends up wounded (later losing her left arm) but Jul 'Mdama is able to flee Requiem holding her hostage. As Halsey realizes the UNSC/ONI wanted her dead, she decides to take revenge by siding with Jul 'Mdama.
Now, during the Halo 5 reveal trailer, Master Chief John-117 walks in a desert to a point where a Forerunner War Sphinx awakes, unburying itself from the sand. Then, the trailer shows John holding Cortana's data crystal chip, as if he's desperately missing her, longing for her. Now, who is the only person who could help him - somehow - get Cortana back? Well, the same person who created Cortana to begin with: Dr. Catherine Elizabeth Halsey.
So, here we are. John wants Cortana back. He's tired of neglecting everything about him to be the perfect soldier when he himself has seen and lost so much since so young. He has finally realized he's human after all. But the only person who can bring her back is Dr. Halsey, a traitor. So, he has no choice but to aid her in her personal vendetta (please note that Halsey may want revenge against ONI, but probably not against humanity itself). To do this, he steals the second piece of the Janus Key (kept in UNSC Infinity) and brings it to Dr. Halsey who, in possession of the whole Key, is able to find as many Forerunner artifacts as she desires (it is called the Reclaimer Saga after all) [UPDATE: BansheeNorn pointed out that by issue #16 of Halo: Escalation, Dr. Catherine Halsey has already managed to reunite both halves of the Janus Key, putting to bed the idea that John could have stolen it. But, as it seems, the Janus Key and Master Chief still can be connected thanks to Dr. Halsey if they were to ally]. She then sends John - the perfect person to do so, but more on that later -, to retrieve the War Sphinxes, powerful war instruments so she can put her revenge in motion, aided by Jul 'Mdama, the Hand of the Didact. By stealing the second piece of the Janus Key and aiding Halsey in retrieving Forerunner technology, John is also labeled a traitor. The rumors and anomalies Benjamin Gireaud is talking about are most likely the result of Forerunner technology being reactivated and possibly being used by rogue Master Chief and Dr. Catherine Halsey. Since ONI wants Halsey dead, the Office of Naval Intelligence sends Spartan Jameson Locke, a ONI agent, together with Elite's Arbiter Thel 'Vadam to hunt down and stop Dr. Halsey and Master Chief. And there you have it.
As for the ARG Hunt The Truth, when Benjamin Giraud says he may not be able to fix the pretty story (since John's origins are controversial due to the illegal Spartan-II Program) but he may be able to break the ugly one, it's possible he's trying to restore the image of Master Chief as the loyal mankind soldier and to put down the claim that he's a traitor. Anyhow, it's safe to assume Giraud's report/profile/story is potencially catastrophic to ONI due to John's origins. As Tel 'Vadam tells Agent Locke in Halo: The Master Chief Collection trailer, "the seeds of our future are sowed in his past".
It is also worth noting that 343i is trying to put Master Chief's past in evidence for a while. As Benjamin Giraud says in his audio logs, "who is the Master Chief, where does he come from, and is he keeping us safe?". 343i is pushing to uncover Chief's past not only because he was illegally kidnapped as child, conscripted and trained to be a super-soldier, but also because he was imprinted with the IsoDidact's traits (which is called Geas in Halo's lore) by the Librarian, effectively making him a Forerunner himself. That's why he is the perfect person to seek and reactivate Forerunner technology throughout the universe. John is THE Reclaimer.
I'll be updating this article as more info gets uncovered.
Impressions, opinions, ideas? Please, share your thoughts.