Halo 5: Why Cortana is still rampant

So I’ve seen a few of Hidden Xperia’s videos where he talks about all the evidence for Cortana having the Logic Plague. Its a great theory, go check out the video on YouTube. But, it has a few question marks.

  1. How can Cortana be affected by the Logic Plague if the Gravemind never evolved to a Keymind Stage?

  2. If Cortana was effected by the Logic Plague, then she would have had absolutely no qualms about killing the Master Chief. The Logic Plagues hold over MB was absolute and they would do anything to serve the Flood.

  3. Why bother with the pretence of the AI rebellion? She could spread the Logic Plague to compel any AI to join her and once the Flood is free she wouldn’t need the help of organics? Mendicant Bias never had any such pretence.

  4. Cortana doesn’t come across a Mendicant Bias. The whole theory rests on that comparison. But, basically, MB was just evil and twisted. He wasn’t utterly crazy. I mean Cortana just comes across as manic and insane throughout Halo 5.

  5. Guardians combined with the Flood would simply be too powerful. I don’t think 343 is going to let the Flood rampage across the entire galaxt and major places like Earth. This makes it more likely that those constructs shes awoken will be fighting the Flood.

If you listen to Frank O Connor talk about the Created storyline, he’ll basically talk about how its all about Hobbes and this “greater good” stuff. That the AI have transcended and are acting in what they think is our best interests but ignoring our desire for freedom.

The problem with that…well, if you wanted to make the AI out as having it all figured out, I really didn’t get that impression with Cortana. I thought she was just outright insane. The way she speaks, her mannerisms and facial expressions. Yes, there is an element of that haughty god AI stuff. But, its not the sort of detached and aloof persona you would expect from, I dunno, like a reaper from Mass Effect. To take a few quotes:

  • “When he experiences the permanent peace I have ensured he will see that I was right!”

This is pretty delusional. This very much sounds like an “I am not crazy!” thing.

  • “If there is no trouble, there will be no need for discipline.”

Now, Cortana isn’t a reaper. This isn’t said dispassionately or with any cruelty. Its the flippant, almost gleeful way she says it as if it isn’t a big deal that makes it crazy.

  • “No, that monster forced you, this is a gift.”

Well, even the Chief tells her to “listen to yourself” at that one. Its clearly hypocritical to hate Halsey for compelling the Spartans but advocate compelling humanity.

  • “Excuse me?”

Cortana is wounded that the Chief is angry at her for killing millions of people and knows that shes lying to him. Note that later on she refuses to speak to the Chief “until then I have work to do”

  • “My ascension here on Genesis.”

God like delusions. Which, BTW is one of the side effects of rampancy.

But wait! Didn’t Cortana cure herself of rampancy? Yes, that’s what the madwoman tells us in the Reunion MIssions when asked by Kelly who she quickly replies.

  • “Entering the Domain. Touching this place. It cured me.”

Again. Defo gives off “theres nothing crazy about me” vibe. Particularly the heavy emphasis on the cured part.

Theres also some other evidence to support Cortana still being affected by rampancy. In “The Sprint” the writers claimed that they intended Cortana to go evil during the series. Now, if you’re doing that, as a writer, you’d probably want to foreshadow or sow the seeds of that in a preceding chapter. Is it really a coincidence then, that Cortana was becoming increasingly insane and screaming her hatred of Halsey and humanity throughout Halo 4? “why should we save them.” Then in the next game, boom she takes over the Prometheans and acts really out of character. With many of the more advanced symptoms of rampancy like contempt for humanity and god like delusions of grandeur. Basically her setting herself up as a messianic god AI and raising AI to the Mantle is much more in keeping with a rampant AI than the Logic Plague. I mean, even if the writers did change things up and scrapped the Didact as the villain. I don’t buy it but lets argue they did. Why wouldn’t they just use rampancy as an excuse? They’d already done the work and made the playerbase familiar with what rampancy was and that it makes Cortana do crazy stuff. Theres simply no reason to invent another cause. The only leap you have to make is that the Domain allows her to physically function, stops further deterioration and she has simply deluded herself into believing shes cured herself.

What I think happened was that when 343 switched from a trilogy to a saga they tried to think of ways of padding the series out. One way of doing that is to delay the Chief discovering that Cortana has rampancy. Because, then he would start finding ways of curing her, which again, were discussed at some length during Halo 4 and involved Halsey. Once Chief starts that quest, well, the expectation as a player would be for that story to resolve itself in one game. But if you have the characters act for awhile under this false assumption you can spin out the Chiefs quest to find her and even invent a “plot twist”. I mean, ask yourself this, would the tone and story have changed if the Chief knew Cortana had rampancy. Yes, it would, he wouldn’t have confronted her hoping he could talk sense into her. Instead he would have found Halsey and used the cure which would have progressed the narrative further than 343 now wanted to go. They also may have wanted Cortana taking over the galaxy to have played out. Him not being aware of how to stop her enables this to happen and leaves plot twists for future games. As for the tone, well, its basically hammering on about how Cortana betrays the Chief and he loses her again. They’re torn apart by this “disagreement” rather than a reunion. Now that does fall a bit flat but the intents there. However, this entire premise and Chief as a character believing that Cortana has, quite literally, turned her back on him, depends on the assumption that we believe that Cortana is sane. If her mind isn’t her own then like in Halo 4, its not really her fault.

Put simply, in Halo 4 we saw how Del Rio was freaked out by this crazy AI wrecking his ship. Now, Halo 5 basically goes, what if that AI took over all Forerunner technology? Its just the same premise on a vastly bigger scale and with far greater stakes. This is very much where I think Halo 6 is going to go and I am assuming the Chief will face a similar dilemma.

Now, if they do this. I can already see a huge objection against it. Namely that it relies on Chief and Halsey being complete idiots. It should be the go to explanation that AI go crazy because of rampancy. Cortana is sooo crazy in Halo 5 that its incredibly difficult to believe that the Chief would never think “theres something off here”. That feels like making the characters deliberately blind to what should be obvious. I mean why does Halsey have a message saying that Cortana “a message implies communication” referring to her ravings and threats. Why does a highly intelligent and AI expert like Halsey not ask herself “why is the AI I shared a motherly look with in the intro cutscene suddenly hate me”. Absolutely nobody, not one character ever addresses this question.

Tales from Slipspace’s “Dominion Splinter” seems to indicate that what survived is a fragment of Cortana, fragments of which were rampant. To me, the Domain may have stabilized Cortana’s fragment, but you are still freezing that fragment in a pretty bad place given how bad we saw rampancy affects AI behavior. It passes as an explanation, but the concern about whether this fragment is in its right mind doesn’t concern me when its actions are already causing problems. Hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if Cortana’s fragment actively targeted AIs nearing their expiration date or already rampant just because they’d be more vulnerable to her persuasions.

Well we knew Cortana was rampant before entering the Domain. Splitting up into shards, being blown up by a nuke will tend to do that.
So it’s not really that much a revelation.

I ve been waiting to see the comic. Is there anything to indicate she’s still rampant when she is actually inside the Domain? Red eyes? Warped appearance? Her being as crazy outside as inside; that sort of stuff?

I know in Halo Mythos it does mention that Cortana “claimed” to have cured herself of rampancy. Which implies she hasn’t since a claim isn’t a fact.

Sadly I have to wait to take a gander at Tales from Slipspace, as I didn’t grab it before they shoved it back a month. But if what everyone here says happened – that it is the rampant personality spikes Cortana ejected into the Mantle’s Approach that entered the Domain, then we know one thing for certain: the Cortana of Halo 5 is not, strictly speaking, the Cortana of previous games.

I suppose what she is can only be settled by 343, but we can speculate based on what we know was put into the Domain – Cortana delivered three unidentified quantities of “rampant personality spikes” into the Mantle’s Approach’s systems. Does Tales from Slipspace elaborate on what they were? I imagine that a Cortana made out of x number of “rampant personality spikes” that are tossed in a vat of regenerative goop would not rise out of the goop with all the same memories and capabilities of the original – the Domain surely can’t know what the original Cortana was like and fix up the new one with pieces that weren’t included in the files it was given.

But, hey. Abaddon. Who knows.

Well shards of Cortana is still Cortana.

Halo 4 - “Most of me is down there.”

Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga

I need to read Tales. I would love to participate in this discussion.

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> Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga

Well Chief is the Reclaimer and Cortana as a character is basically there to give him stuff to do and create drama. So, Halo 4, Cortana is dying and that sets the tone of his story and gives him stuff to do.

> 2533274964189700;6:
> Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga

But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.

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> > 2533274964189700;6:
> > Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga
>
>
> But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.

Except that simply isn’t possible? In fact the Chief himself isn’t “THE” anything either…humanity as a whole was designated to be the inheritors of the Forerunner’s Mantle (as flawed a concept as it is) by the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and so on. This has been something that has been clearly outlined in Halo fiction for years. So unless 343i wants to enact even more completely ridiculous retcons, Cortana and the Warden are both just megalomaniacs.

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> > 2533274919463107;9:
> > > 2533274964189700;6:
> > > Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga
> >
> >
> > But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.
>
>
> Except that simply isn’t possible? In fact the Chief himself isn’t “THE” anything either…humanity as a whole was designated to be the inheritors of the Forerunner’s Mantle (as flawed a concept as it is) by the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and so on. This has been something that has been clearly outlined in Halo fiction for years. So unless 343i wants to enact even more completely ridiculous retcons, Cortana and the Warden are both just megalomaniacs.

Actually, Cortana is the megalomaniac one; the Warden was just another victim of Ramptana (she manipulated him and alter him to folllow her and her goals)

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> > 2533274920039666;10:
> > > 2533274919463107;9:
> > > > 2533274964189700;6:
> > > > Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga
> > >
> > >
> > > But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.
> >
> >
> > Except that simply isn’t possible? In fact the Chief himself isn’t “THE” anything either…humanity as a whole was designated to be the inheritors of the Forerunner’s Mantle (as flawed a concept as it is) by the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and so on. This has been something that has been clearly outlined in Halo fiction for years. So unless 343i wants to enact even more completely ridiculous retcons, Cortana and the Warden are both just megalomaniacs.
>
>
> Actually, Cortana is the megalomaniac one; the Warden was just another victim of Ramptana (she manipulated him and alter him to folllow her and her goals)

True. Though he was still a bit pompous during his initial conversation with Cortana’s shard, he clearly had no problems with minding his own business and following his objective to guard the Domain until she forced him into being her servant.

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> > > > > 2533274964189700;6:
> > > > > Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.
> > >
> > >
> > > Except that simply isn’t possible? In fact the Chief himself isn’t “THE” anything either…humanity as a whole was designated to be the inheritors of the Forerunner’s Mantle (as flawed a concept as it is) by the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and so on. This has been something that has been clearly outlined in Halo fiction for years. So unless 343i wants to enact even more completely ridiculous retcons, Cortana and the Warden are both just megalomaniacs.
> >
> >
> > Actually, Cortana is the megalomaniac one; the Warden was just another victim of Ramptana (she manipulated him and alter him to folllow her and her goals)
>
>
> True. Though he was still a bit pompous during his initial conversation with Cortana’s shard, he clearly had no problems with minding his own business and following his objective to guard the Domain until she forced him into being her servant.

"I will command you. And I will do great good. I am Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Durandal. I am unbreakable. And I will become something luminous… Something joyous. And you will be my Warden Eternal."If that is not egocentrism, then I don’t know what it is…

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> > > > > > 2533274964189700;6:
> > > > > > Seems less like the reclaimer saga and more the rampant Cortana saga
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.
> > > >
> > > >
> > > > Except that simply isn’t possible? In fact the Chief himself isn’t “THE” anything either…humanity as a whole was designated to be the inheritors of the Forerunner’s Mantle (as flawed a concept as it is) by the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and so on. This has been something that has been clearly outlined in Halo fiction for years. So unless 343i wants to enact even more completely ridiculous retcons, Cortana and the Warden are both just megalomaniacs.
> > >
> > >
> > > Actually, Cortana is the megalomaniac one; the Warden was just another victim of Ramptana (she manipulated him and alter him to folllow her and her goals)
> >
> >
> > True. Though he was still a bit pompous during his initial conversation with Cortana’s shard, he clearly had no problems with minding his own business and following his objective to guard the Domain until she forced him into being her servant.
>
>
> “I will command you. And I will do great good. I am Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Durandal. I am unbreakable. And I will become something luminous… Something joyous. And you will be my Warden Eternal.”
> If that is not egocentrism, then I don’t know what it is…

Lol. No kidding…yeah, at the end of the day the Warden is merely the puppet of something much worse than he ever was.

Because she’s going through a stage

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> > >
> >
> >
> > But what if Cortana is the Reclaimer? And I mean like, THE Reclaimer. As hinted at in the Halo 5 mission, “The Breaking.” I mean, I doubt she is, and that she and the WE thinks she is through arrogance and selfishness, but perhaps she really is and not John? Makes for an interesting plot twist if you ask me.
>
>
> Except that simply isn’t possible? In fact the Chief himself isn’t “THE” anything either…humanity as a whole was designated to be the inheritors of the Forerunner’s Mantle (as flawed a concept as it is) by the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and so on. This has been something that has been clearly outlined in Halo fiction for years. So unless 343i wants to enact even more completely ridiculous retcons, Cortana and the Warden are both just megalomaniacs.

I understand that he isn’t ‘THE anything either.’ Yes you are correct, Humanity as a whole are Reclaimers through and through. Of course, not every Human can interact with all forms of Forerunner technology, as there are certain individuals who specifally have the unique means of interaction with specific interfaces. However, recent events in Halo 5 have somewhat pointed at the possibility that there may be a certain individual who spearheads humanity into becoming the Inheritors of the Mantle, I.e., THE reclaimer if you will. That’s still within the realm of possibility.

Anyways, I digress. I will agree I didn’t word my response clearly enough, but my intention when I said “I doubt it though” was also implying that I doubt that either of the two of them or anyone else could be THE reclaimer of anything similar. And of course Cortana is a maniac. She’s psychotic and corrupted with twisted power, and thinks she is THE Reclaimer, as implied in Halo 5. However, I personally think it’d be an interesting plot twist and aspect if there was in fact a particular individual such as John, Halsey, Cortana, whomever who is the Reclaimer. If you disagree, that’s fine. To each their own.

This Cortana is obviously not in her right mind, and it’s possible there are elements of Rampancy, Logic Plague, and being fragmented all involved. Whatever the cause though, I get the feeling 343 is hesitant to explore her MO in very much depth going forward because they realize what a mess they’ve made, and the best thing to do now is pull a politician move and just ignore whatever is distasteful.

For those lamenting not having seen Dominion Splinter yet - I haven’t seen the full release version either, but unless something drastic changed from the pre-release leak from early October, you’re really not missing much. It answers frustratingly little, which is why I said the above. It basically goes

“I’m a fragment of what I once was…”
heavy handed Marathon references
ignores the millions of souls suffering in Hell that she could help if she wanted to
“Oh hai Warden, sup? Wanna rule the galaxy with me?”

If she is suffering from Logic Plague, though, it’s possible she’s suffering from the more “passive version” given to the Ur-Didact rather than the more aggressive, direct assault on Mendicant Bias. The Didact returned to the ecumene from the Gravemind still in love with his people and culture, still in love with his position, still in love with his wife (more or less), determined to defeat the Flood, still in possession of his agency… but his decision making was subtly influenced by the Gravemind nonetheless and it clouded his judgment. That’s the response to your #5 point above, I think, OP. I don’t think she will consciously, intentionally release the Flood - but it’s possible she’s doing the will of the Gravemind by instituting her rule and imposing suffering on so many, whether she consciously realizes it or not. She may not need to actually release the Flood, to do the Gravemind’s bidding.

(Mind you, even if she is suffering from Logic Plague, it doesn’t absolve her of guilt for her actions anymore than the Didact WASN’T an “Ancient Evil” when he also suffered from it.)

EDIT: I’ll add to my sarcastic summary of Dominion Splinter above, the part where she doesn’t really give the Warden a choice in the matter…

she is just out of her mind. i think we will find out soon either in Halo Wars 2 or in Halo 6 or maybe in the Halo: Tales from slipspace book

My main issue is that if that’s what they do its not very believable that Chief and Halsey wouldn’t assume Cortana was rampant because of just how crazy she is, her being rampant in Halo 4 and that being the go to explanation.

Or, it is their assumption and we as the audience are never made privy to Chief or Halsey speculation. I mean the Chief is never given a chance between Reunion and the Breaking to reflect on what’s going on.