Halo 5 - Who's Really Controlling Cortana

Hello Everyone,

I have been playing Halo since day one of Halo CE on the original Xbox. I have been to everyone midnight launch and read every Halo book. I don’t obsess over fandoms but Halo hooked me as a starry-eyed 12 year old and it never let go. It’s most likely the nostalgic memories of the first time the main Halo theme played loudly in my living room. Bless that gregorian chorus. Suffice to say Halo means a lot to me, But, let’s get to it-

**cracks knuckles ** begins typing furiously **

I don’t believe Cortana is operating of her own free will and I believe Didact (survived) and has taken control and utilized the weakened (remaining) state of her AI that was left behind in his ship. For multiple reasons, the language that Cortana uses throughout the Halo 5 campaign is not typical of Cortana, in fact, it’s almost word for word from the Didacts’ mouth. We can reference the Didact and his hatred for humanity in Cryptum (published in January 2011) and how he uses the mantle of responsibility to justify his actions while in reality contradicting himself. In Halo: Silentium, this idea is taken further by more closely detailing how both the firing of the Halo Array and the Ur-Didact’s composition of human specimens contradicts the Mantle.
(For those still unaware of what the mantle is)

Definition of The Mantle : The Mantle of Responsibility[1] was a Forerunner philosophy. Although no precise definition of it exists, it is heavily implied to have been the source of both the Forerunners’ “authority” and their apparent duty to preserve the galaxy’s biological diversity. Bridging the social strata between an interstellar Marshall Plan and a benevolent, religious stewardship, the Forerunners took responsibility for the protection and cultivation of the species and planetary systems within their domain.[2] - (In short, the mantle require those charged with it to cultivate and care for all life including humanity )

So if Cortana was a pure permutation of herself simply taking up the mantle, she would not be moving against humanity with the Guardians as weapons, she would be protecting and caring for them and all other life-forms. This is clue #1 that allows me to believe that Cortana is now simply a puppet and Didact is pulling her strings. Not to mention that Didact put himself on the frontlines in Halo 4 to quell the human’s rise to power (again) and almost died because of it. He exited Halo 4 alive with Cortana embedded in his ship and his mission unaccomplished, it would only make sense for him to attempt a more controlled approach using Cortana as his new weapon.
The second reason is that masterchief was placed in a Cryptum. For those unaware what a cryptum is I have provided a definition below,

Definition of a Cryptum : A Cryptum or Warrior Keep is a sealed capsule where a high-ranking Promethean would enter self-imposed exile as punishment for failure or dishonor. When in use, the occupant would enter a state of meditative hibernation known as “timeless xankara,” during which he would become unaware of the physical world around him and could remain in a state of suspended animation for thousands of years.

The use of Cryptums was a Forerunner implementation around 100,000 years before Current Halo happenings, they were mainly used as a source of imprisonment without the negative connotations surrounding imprisonment. I believe this is another decision that betrays the Didact. There is no human alive or AI alive in the universe that would jump to a Cryptum as a solution to a problem. I think this is by design of the Didact to imprison John and Blue Team (The only one Didact sees as a threat to him)

Next, The Didact, he speaks directly to and about Cortana throughout Halo 4 showing interest and and a willingness to plead with her. Perhaps exposing his interest in convincing her to side with him. I quote the Midnight mission from Halo 4,

  • “Is this the secret you’ve kept from me? This… evolved ancilla?” - The Didact about Cortana. - “I sense your malfunctioning companion, human. And yet, she eludes me.” - The Didact about Cortana’s rampancy. - “Your compassion for mankind is misplaced.” - To Cortana before she restrains the Didact.The Forerunners relied heavily on sentient AI in their day to day life and running of the Galaxy. Even the minds that they placed in charge of the Halo installations were AI. i.e. “343 Guilty Spark” etc. I believe Didact saw that Cortana was an extremely useful and evolved AI. This is where things can get pretty complicated but in short I believe Halsey (creator of Cortana ) had a Geas ( definition : an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.) placed upon her by The Librarian ( Didacts wife) and Cortana is a direct result of the Librarians design to assist in man attaining the Mantle.

The final quote I will provide from the Didact is also from Halo 4,

  • “So misguided. Humanity’s imprisonment… is a kindness.” - As he prepares to kill John-117. ---- -This is almost exactly how Cortana explained what her goal was at the end of Halo 5. To use the Guardians stationed above all human planets to control and deter them from violence. To create peace essentially through imprisonment. Which we know, from the quote above, has been Didact’s plan all along.

Lastly, Cortana herself. If you replay the campaign of Halo 5 (specifically the last mission) Cortana says to Master Chief multiple times “I am here John, I am still here”. I believe this is Cortana pleading with John to continue searching for her. The real Cortana still exists buried beneath the twisted version being hi-jacked by Didact.

and let’s not forget John’s promise to Cortana to always be there for her and to save her… and her response was :

“Don’t make a girl a promise… If you know you can’t keep it….”

  • Thank you to any who read the whole thing. I hope I’m not the only one who thinks this is a possibility and if I have missed any clues I would love for you guys to share them with me on this thread!

P.S. ---- wtf was with 343i killing Jul 'Mdama casually in a cutscene and not even acknowledging it? anyway…

Justin, signing off,
(youtube.com/GroBroPros)
Gamertag - VividSnow

Wow, this was quite the read! If this is where the story goes then I’m so pumped for Halo 6 lol.Thanks for this :slight_smile:

You’re on the right track but need to go back further.

Cortana is spewing nearly word for word what the Primordial says to Mendicant Bias in the Halo 3 Legendary terminals. If somehow the Domain survived the original firing of the array (nothing has been provided as to how that would be possible) it was built by the Precursors and as such could be corrupted by the Flood hivemind. We also know that the Ur-Didact’s mind was warped during his imprisonment by the Gravemind. Mendicant Bias, Ur-Didact, and Cortana all seem to say the same things and the one thing they all have in common is captivity at the hands of a Gravemind.

Really solid theory here. I think the fact Cortana repeats what the Didact says in Halo 4’s prologue word for word in the final battle on Guardians further supports this idea, or at the very least shows Cortana has become everything she once stood against.

> 2533274799564961;3:
> You’re on the right track but need to go back further.
>
> Cortana is spewing nearly word for word what the Primordial says to Mendicant Bias in the Halo 3 Legendary terminals. If somehow the Domain survived the original firing of the array (nothing has been provided as to how that would be possible) it was built by the Precursors and as such could be corrupted by the Flood hivemind.

You are ABSOLUTELY right. It completely slipped my mind to connect the hivemind to this. That is totally plausible. He has been known to save multiple characters and to use them for his purposes i.e. Master Chief and the arbiter. Either way, the agenda that Cortana pushed all through Halo 5 is not her own. It is clearly the agenda of a larger force using her. Perhaps it’s the Didact or perhaps it’s the Hivemind. Either way, it’s NOT Cortana.

Bravo on the post, man! I read every word. And considering how complicated the Halo Universe can be this really helped! And that’s the first thing I thought when she turned bad. Someone is controlling her.

Again, nice job!

> 2698138705326662;6:
> Bravo on the post, man! I read every word. And considering how complicated the Halo Universe can be this really helped! And that’s the first thing I thought when she turned bad. Someone is controlling her.
>
> Again, nice job!

Thanks Zakk! I’m glad I could shed some light on the Universe and that I’m not the only one that picked up on the Cortana being controlled vibes.

The didact might be dead however as he was in a piece of installation 03 when it blew up in Halo Escalation which takes place right after Halo 4.

> 2533274793584181;8:
> The didact might be dead however as he was composed in Halo Escalation which takes place right after Halo 4.

Being composed does not mean dead. He was probably transported into the Forerunner Domain. At the least he doesn’t have a physical form right now.

But if that’s the case why would Cortana show affection and concern for Team Blue and especially Chief ?

I think another good question that is related is who is the Warden Eternal? The new ai (forget her name) said he’s not an ai, and that sets off a red flag in my mind. Maybe he IS the Diadact?

> 2533274961229108;10:
> But if that’s the case why would Cortana show affection and concern for Team Blue and especially Chief ?

Anyone ?

Didact is dead, and that’s that.

> 2533274961229108;12:
> > 2533274961229108;10:
> > But if that’s the case why would Cortana show affection and concern for Team Blue and especially Chief ?
>
>
> Anyone ?

Because she is still there! Albeit being controlled but she is still there underneath the numb of her ruler. She is leaving hints for John.

> 2533274830926790;13:
> Didact is dead, and that’s that.

I don’t believe so, can you provide any evidence as to why you think he is truly dead?

Mm, I very much think you might be onto something, OP. I have had a funny feeling not all is right with her, ever since I first read the plot for the game (a week before release). It’s difficult to believe her original self could have become corrupted to this, without influence from some outside source. She didn’t just decide for herself, “I think I’ll assume the Mantle today” on her own accord.

As you said, it could be possible the composed digi-Didact could be affecting her (maybe even without her knowledge?), EVEN WHILE her original program also co-exists with him, or is fighting with him, etc. The fact that there’s a “remnant” of her could explain why she still shows concern for John and Blue Team. That’s the “real” Cortana coming through.

Somebody already mentioned this but I’ll post the text - I take no credit for transcribing it, it came from a user over at NeoGAF:

Didact: “Our strength is a luminous sun towards which all intelligence blossoms. And the impervious shelter beneath which it has prospered.”

Cortana: “Our strength shall serve as a luminous sun toward which all intelligence may blossom. And the impervious shelter beneath which you will prosper.”

Now that doesn’t prove conclusively that the Didact’s controlling her, it could just be a nifty statement she liked and saw fit to repeat it, with reference to the Mantle. But even if that’s the case, it would show some kind of influence by him on her - that’s she’s come to his way of thinking.

> 2676022814313068;14:
> > 2533274961229108;12:
> > > 2533274961229108;10:
> > > But if that’s the case why would Cortana show affection and concern for Team Blue and especially Chief ?
> >
> >
> > Anyone ?
>
>
> Because she is still there! Albeit being controlled but she is still there underneath the numb of her ruler. She is leaving hints for John.

What hints ?
To me, being controlled, is a 100% thing. I don’t see how under his control she is able to have her own way. But I certainly hope you are right.

> 2676022814313068;15:
> > 2533274830926790;13:
> > Didact is dead, and that’s that.
>
>
> I don’t believe so, can you provide any evidence as to why you think he is truly dead?

Okay, so he was composed, but I feel like that’s close enough to dead.

Great read! I like reading deeper into the Halo lore.

My knowledge overall is kind of limited to the games, but if what you’re saying is true, that would be a cool story for 6.

> 2533274830926790;18:
> > 2676022814313068;15:
> > > 2533274830926790;13:
> > > Didact is dead, and that’s that.
> >
> >
> > I don’t believe so, can you provide any evidence as to why you think he is truly dead?
>
>
> http://www.halopedia.org/Ur-Didact
>
> Okay, so he was composed, but I feel like that’s close enough to dead.

The Didact can live on, even through Composure*. I believe he found his next existence through the Domain. The Forerunner exist by evolving into different forms or “rates” so it’s completely plausible that the Domain gave him a chance to find a new form as it also gave Cortana the ability to heal herself and find a new form. But More importantly here, as PathsofDarkness stated above^ this also sounds a lot like the work of the Hivemind (the creature in control of the flood) perhaps using Didact’s new form/ Cortana to further his goals as well. Please read PathsOfDarkness’s post, I have copy and pasted it below.

PathsOfDarkness : You’re on the right track but need to go back further.Cortana is spewing nearly word for word what the Primordial says to Mendicant Bias in the Halo 3 Legendary terminals. If somehow the Domain survived the original firing of the array (nothing has been provided as to how that would be possible) it was built by the Precursors and as such could be corrupted by the Flood hivemind. We also know that the Ur-Didact’s mind was warped during his imprisonment by the Gravemind. Mendicant Bias, Ur-Didact, and Cortana all seem to say the same things and the one thing they all have in common is captivity at the hands of a Gravemind.