Before I dive into this LONG read, I have to admit that I am a bit of a lore nut, particularly regarding the Halo 2/Halo 3 storyline of late 2552. I’m almost an expert on it now after many reads through Halopedia, but I uncovered a major discrepancy across almost four sources in what should’ve been the usual remedial, near-airtight canon we’ve expected under 343i. It regards the Voi Portal and the discovery of The Ark; I was wondering if you all have noticed this too and, for all you Halopedia users out there, whether this would be worthy enough of a mention in the “List of Inconsistencies.”
At the end of Halo 2, inside Installation 05’s control room, 343 Guilty Spark tells Johnson and Miranda Keyes that all of the rings could be fired from The Ark, to which Arbiter asks its location (re: “The Great Journey”). The scene cuts before we get an answer, but presumably, Spark would go on to tell them the actual location of The Ark: somewhere outside the galaxy. However, according to Halopedia (with no source btw), Spark informs them the location of The Ark is on Earth, which we all know now is mistaken, even though this is likely the information that sends Johnson, Keyes, and The Arbiter back to Earth in the first place! Is this the result of Spark’s “compartmentalization” protocol, limiting his knowledge of certain installations as a precaution against Flood capture; was he programmed to believe that The Ark was on Earth, just as he was unfamiliar with its systems while actually there (re: “The Ark”)? Or is Spark simply wrong, maybe due to onset rampancy?
During Halo 3, the UNSC believes that the Voi Portal is actually The Ark itself–they do not know it’s a portal. When Johnson, Keyes, and the Arbiter do arrive back at Earth before November 17th, they set up shop in Crow’s Nest where, upon recovering Master Chief, Keyes informs him that Truth’s forces are digging out the surrounding area for The Ark (re: “Crow’s Nest”) (this leads me to believe that Spark did, in fact, direct them back to Earth). Other evidence points to Keyes’ quote from Tsavo Highway informing the Chief that the artifact has to be assumed to be The Ark (even Lord Hood believes it) and that Keyes eventually confirms Truth has “found the Ark” (re: “The Storm”). Again, this is all based on Spark’s misinformation that The Ark is on Earth.
Here’s where things get tricky:
However long after he returns from Installation 05, Johnson visits an ONI orbital facility to interrogate the newly-defected Huragok, Quick to Adjust (a.k.a. “Vergil”)–who has merged seismic data regarding the artifact with himself–during the epilogue of Halo 3: ODST, which is placed approximately one month after Alpha-Nine’s drop on October 20th, since Johnson couldn’t have been on that station past November 17th, the day he and the UNSC expedition went through the Portal. He tells Quick that “The Brutes…they’re digging a mighty big hole. You’re gonna tell me exactly what they’re looking for.” (re: “Coastal Highway”). Wait a minute…doesn’t Johnson already know what they’re looking for? The Ark, right? Spark told him this at the end of Halo 2. So, why would he ask again?
Just like the end of Halo 2, ODST’s epilogue cuts away before we hear Quick’s response. 343 reconciled this by posting a Waypoint bulletin from September 2014 that states that Johnson, and ONI (presumably represented by Dare, as it was her interrogation) received no actionable intelligence from Quick before Truth’s Forerunner Dreadnought arrived on November 17th. That not only definitively places Johnson aboard the facility before Truth’s arrival, but it led us to believe that Quick, the asset that Dare and Alpha-Nine worked so hard to retrieve, essentially gave them almost nothing to work with…
…that is, until Matt Forbeck’s Halo: New Blood came along the next year. Here’s where things get even trickier:
- Told from Buck’s perspective, a large part of New Blood is dedicated to Alpha-Nine’s dealings with Quick; it logically mentions that they were holed up at the ONI facility for weeks after the Battle of New Mombasa, trying all kinds of things to get Quick to open up about any Covenant information it had, particularly regarding what the artifact was, even going so far as to re-explain, verbatim, ODST’s epilogue. Forbeck, probably dealing with the discovery of this discrepancy himself, deftly utilizes Buck’s sort of vague, winding language to skirt the issue regarding the Portal and The Ark so as not to create retcon:
- “Later, I found out that Johnson was pretty certain the Ark–or at least something that led to it–had been buried underneath New Mombasa. He wanted Vergil to confirm that for him…” (p. 73). So, Buck finds out (probably via ONI or Dare) at a later time, maybe after the war, that Johnson was only “pretty certain” it was the Ark. However, “something that led to it” is strange, considering at the time, the artifact was only ever suspected to be the Ark, so how would Buck wind up with the information that it was something that led to it, and why would Johnson think the same, considering our best bet is that Spark told them it literally was the Ark? Sounds fishy to me.
- “Once Vergil finally opened up…” (p. 73). This is Forbeck’s way of passing the buck (no pun intended) elsewhere. We don’t know in what capacity Vergil “opened up,” but we DO KNOW that according to the Waypoint Bulletin, he opened up in a way that wasn’t “actionable” by ONI before the Dreadnought arrived to f*** everything up. What would this have been? That the artifact is a Portal to the Ark, not the Ark? Would Vergil have known this?
- We don’t know, as Buck “heard later that the information Vergil provided gave us the edge we needed to save humanity. That’s a whole 'nother story…” (p. 74). Hang on a second. We’d like to think that Vergil told them “IT’S A PORTAL!” but he couldn’t have, so what information is Buck referring to? They received no “actionable” intelligence from him! C’mon, Forbeck and 343.
Folks, this is all corroborated by the points I made in facts 1 and 2: at the time of November 17th, across the entire first half of Halo 3 and into the Battle of Voi, Johnson, Keyes, Hood, Arbiter and the whole dang UNSC believe the artifact Truth has uncovered is The Ark, meaning that whatever information the “superstar intel hero” Vergil gave them was either unrelated or for some reason irrelevant to the Portal, or never reached the UNSC at all. 343 knew that Halo 3’s first half constantly led us to believe that the Portal was The Ark itself, and so posted that Waypoint Bulletin about Truth’s interruption to essentially cut off *ODST’*s ending, as whatever Vergil would tell Johnson simply COULD. NOT. HAPPEN. And then of course, Forbeck, as much as I liked his writing, comes to muddy it up further. Either that, or Buck was lying to ONI about his account.
Anyway, that’s all I got. Bothering me for a while now. We knew Halo 3 had plot holes, but look how far it has stretched. Do you agree with this? Thoughts?