Major Undetected Discrepancy in the Halo Timeline

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.”

  1. 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?

  2. 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:

  1. 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?

  2. 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:

  1. 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?

Um, I really don’t see the problem.

It seems that the UNSC just had inaccurate and conflicting Intel.

343 didn’t have any specific knowlage of any of the installations besides 04.

We don’t actually know for sure that Spark knows the Portal’s location. He tells them about the Ark’s existence, Thel asks where it is and then we cut to the Dreadnought arriving at Earth. If I recall correctly, they used the wake left by the Dreadnought to return to Earth faster, so they may have simply been following Truth’s trail, and assumed he knew where the Ark was. Vergil may have simply confirmed that the artefact the Covenant was digging up was related to the Ark, without being able to confirm whether it was a portal or the Ark itself.

Yeah, Spark’s misinformation about the Ark doesn’t really concern me. He even states that his knowledge was limited due to the possibility of capture by the Flood and his own speculation was that the Ark was a Shield Installation, i.e like Onyx.

> 2533274812652989;4:
> Yeah, Spark’s misinformation about the Ark doesn’t really concern me. He even states that his knowledge was limited due to the possibility of capture by the Flood and his own speculation was that the Ark was a Shield Installation, i.e like Onyx.

I’d like to think that in Spark’s head, whenever he ‘looked up’ the Ark, the only peice of information he had was the artifact at Voi, with not details as to whether it was the Ark or just the first step in getting to it.
Imagine a road map leading from one city to another, with all the cities in between. If the route after the first city was missing, how would you know that the first city wasn’ty the destination? If that makes any sense.

I ppresume the Spark told everyone that to get to the Ark they would need to go back to Earth and that the artifact may or may not be the Ark.
Bucks line about ‘something that led to it’ is him recalling the events, by which time he would have know it was just a portal. But because he didn’t know during his time there, he would put in both possibilities.

I think a big portion of how Guilty Spark somehow associates the Lesser Ark with Earth is the fact that he still does retain some knowledge of when he was human, as well as the fact that - in his composed form - assisted in the exodus of Earth in the some-odd 100,000 BCE timeline. We look at the final moments of the Forerunner-Flood War (The Forerunner Saga: Silentium): The Iso-Didact calls for Guilty Spark’s help in transferring the last of the humans on Erde-Tyrene (Earth) to the Lesser Ark as per the Librarian’s final efforts for preservation. After Guilty Spark sends a ship to Earth to begin the transfer, the Librarian builds the Portal that carried the coordinates to the Lesser Ark, allowing the vessel to be transported without interference with the surrounding Burns and, potentially, anomalies that might detect them from the fight over the Greater Ark. After Guilty Spark and the remaining humans retreat through the Portal, the Librarian buries it in hopes that “maybe one day, future humans may find [the connection] again.”

… something along those lines.

I don’t think that there was any confusion or “misinformation”, per se, pertaining to Guilty Spark’s depiction between the Portal and the actual Ark that was sought out. He did, in fact, have a connection with the artifact discovered in Voi and I think - during future conversation between himself, Johnson, Keyes, and the Arbiter - he asserted that the best way to get to the Ark was on Earth via precedent. The Lesser Ark, as said, is some-odd thousands of light years outside of the Milky Way. Even with Slipspace travel, it would take forever while risking preservation and extraction protocols that were placed in order to deter the Flood back during the Forerunner-Flood War. A Portal similar to the ones that ported the lesser Halo rings throughout the galaxy at such a fast rate seemed… was necessary in this case.

As far as the misplaced timeline of Halo 3: ODST, we look at the very basic timeline of everything that’s happened strictly in-game: the events of ODST end some days - weeks - before Halo 3 begins, and the interrogation with Adj supposedly takes place “approximately one month after Alpha-Nine’s drop.” It would coincide in a sense, since we can assume that there was only an artifact-in-question that was supposedly on Earth. We can also assume, in this respect, that what Guilty Spark told them was vague, and Johnson only sought confirmation after he hears that a Huragok was detained by Dare… one with potential knowledge of the Covenant’s pre-meditated mining of New Mombasa and congregation near Voi. You’re right in the fact that Johnson did have an idea that “the Ark - or something leading to it - was on Earth,” but again, that information was unquestionably retrieved from Guilty Spark. He put two and two together, and moved to gather more information from there.

Assumptions aside, I think the information that Adj gave up is ambiguous and still up for debate as it was never disclosed. In this respect, it would cause some discrepancies pertaining to how it helped to the point where it was crucial for humanity’s survival in the duration of the Human-Covenant War. I agree that there should be some clarification on this note.

Interesting read, great thread. Hope this helps a bit.

Thanks for the insight, cl origin! A lot of good points. It seems that I’ve overlooked Spark as really being the crux of my issue here, as opposed to Vergil.

> 2533274812652989;4:
> Yeah, Spark’s misinformation about the Ark doesn’t really concern me. He even states that his knowledge was limited due to the possibility of capture by the Flood and his own speculation was that the Ark was a Shield Installation, i.e like Onyx.

“I always believed it was part of a Shield instillation. It seems I was mistaken”
“Thats a first”.
"Not at all. My makers specifically limilted my knowledge to only my instillation’s workings. Compartmentalization, in case I was ever captured by the Flood.

I don’t think there’s really any notable issue here. We know that Spark didn’t know exactly what it was. The UNSC deduced that the artifact was the Ark itself, while Spark thought maybe it was just a gateway to a shield world. This could be why in New Blood Johnson is said to have believed the artifact was either the Ark or a way to reach the Ark. Miranda and Hood chose to believe it was more likely to be the Ark (in Halo 3). So we just have a number of assumptions, all derived from Spark’s limited knowledge. All four characters (Spark, Johnson, Miranda, and Hood) simply made different deductions. No one was really sure of what the hell was going to happen.

As for Quick to Adjust, I think he didn’t give much information at all for a long time, though maybe he started cooperating more actively when events accelerated and things got more dangerous. Probably after the Dreadnought arrived on Earth, or maybe even after the Portal’s opening. Don’t forget the events of Halo 3 spanned many weeks…