Master Chief stands on a black hill looking out helplessly as the UNSC Keyes drifts into a quaking sea as it disintegrates into heaps of metal and flame. A dozen Pelicans and lifepods flee from the fire, as a cruiser in the background is obliterated by another controlled pulse from the Halo. Reconciled ships push forward as the Sangheilli Corvette covers the retreating UNSC fleet.
Cortana: "What can we do against that?" A shot of the Halo, as the rip in the Shield World grows and distorts the fabric of the sphere.
Master Chief: "Fall back; regroup. And find a way to strike back."
Cortana: "There's nowhere to fall back to. And no way to fight back. I may still have control of the Sentinel Army, but it is no match for a Halo. It's destroying this world... Emergency procedures will use all remaining power to retain gravity and atmosphere local to the surface, but that will only last for a few hours. "
War Sphinx: "My father, the Begotten, can help us."
Cortana: "And where is this prodigal savior?"
War Sphinx: "Not far."
A purple atmospheric light. The world slowly shattering above, the War Sphinx touched down upon the peak of a small city of towers bound together by hard-light walkways. A heavy fog infests it and Sentinel factories and Reconciled sentry-ships drift between the towers, battling.
War Sphinx: "The Life-shapers and Builders that created and studied this world and its machinations lived here."
Cortana: "The Forerunners are dead or gone. This place is nothing but a tomb."
War Sphinx: "Yes, but death to my kind does not fit within your narrow definitions. Follow."
Master Chief disembarks from the War Sphinx as the two explore the Forerunner City, starting from the high balconies and then weaving around the structures toward the dark fog below. The Reconciled are present, arriving in dropships and sentry-ships that drift between the skyscrapers.
As mentioned before, Sentry-ships are basically massive dropships - a huge exposed deck atop it carries a handful of plasma batteries. The ship can be jumped to with boosters or reached with a vehicle. Banshees tend to populate the deck if you need to get away quick after destroying it. It's sort of a flying Scarab. Or a Covenant pirate ship...
Though departed from the UNSC for the moment, Sentinels are still on your side and will stop the large enemy forces from focusing solely on you.
You'll explore a museum at one point, with a massive hall full of holographic recreations of a number of sentient species from the galaxy: Ungoy, Sanshyam, Sangheili, Human, and even a Drinol. Beyond this hall lies another grand room where different forms of Forerunner life are presented on one side, and on the other stand the various versions of the Flood.
Reaching the ground, you'll exit out into a garden area. The fog is heavy here, but above, you see that a storm is rolling in. Lightening is striking the towers now high above. Beyond that, a web of cracks spread through the Shield World’s structure.
That Is Not Dead Which Can Eternal Lie…
This is a garden of tombs where black featureless wings float a foot above the grass, marking the tombs of the fallen Forerunners. A path between these monoliths lead you to a hill with a vault set into its side. Stairs lead down into the ground until you hit a wall.
Upon close inspection, there appears to be no door in the deep black metal-stone. But after a few moments, the wall begins to change and adjust. A door is outlined and a panel forms outwards. A holographic projection appears, indicating a Reclaimer's hand.
War Sphinx: "This Cryptum requires a Reclaimer to activate the waking protocols. It is fitting that it is you, the one who brought him here in the first."
As the door opens...
Master Chief: "I didn't..."
War Sphinx (ignoring him): "Before my father's race took their Great Journey, you entombed my dying father here, where he would serve his penance under the eyes of the Monitor."
Master Chief: "… Wait, the Monitor we just disabled?"
Silence. The War Sphinx is moving forward into the structure, into darkness.
Inside, John activates revival protocols in an upper control room as the War Sphinx watches over the process inside an inner chamber. Upon activation, the lights in the lower room begin to brighten blue. A dome is raised out of the floor as mechanical arms bend down from the walls. They begin to unweave the dome. There is soon a bright light from inside as this casing is dismantled; a figure as well. But it is too bright to see exactly what it looks like. Tentacle-like wires inch towards the figure now suspended in the air, wrapping themselves around the figure, becoming the figure. Metal armor floats toward the Forerunner and encases him in a new, living "casket".
A strange groan.
The process is failing. It’s been too long. The Begotten is weak. The War Sphinx initiates an emergency process. A hive of legeklo are released into the pool. Together they wrap about the humanoid forming a parasitic hive, bounded in form my the living Forerunner armor.
Forerunner: "Why was I awakened? Does he wish to taunt me - embellish my failure?"
War Sphinx: "The Array was activated and the Flood defeated. Your swords succeeded where the shields could not. And the Forerunners are gone. It is but his echo that remains."
Forerunner: "Only a geas? Then let him rot in his descendance." The armored Forerunner leaves the lower room, though still struggling to move. The War Sphinx follows him.
Cortana: "Chief... I think we need to leave."
Master Chief: "This is what we came for."
Forerunner (over a comm system): “Your hopes to achieve a balance with the Mantle was in error, old friend. It is either acceptance or obliteration.”
Cortana: “This man, this Forerunner, I think I know who he is. And I don’t think he will help us.”
War Sphinx (over the comm system): "My father will want to meet his wakers. Do not be frightened."
Cortana (over the comm system): "You said he was serving a penance, Sphinx. What was it for? What crime did he commit?"
War Sphinx: "His crime was only confidence. He built the Great Array. He showed us the way... But we would not listen. We could not grasp his designs and we declared him 'traitor'. And then he was lost to Bias and the Flood. But not long after, he was discovered and brought back here on the edge of life and death."
Cortana (pausing for a moment): " I know their history, John… This is the Master Builder, the one responsible for the greatest weapons ever made. We need to get as far away from here as possible."
Cortana opens the exit to the control room and leads you back out through the darkness, all the while voices enter your mind and disrupt your HUD.
War Sphinx: "Lay down your will beside him, he will take the Halo from the miscreant's hands. He will show humanity their place in the void."
Cortana: "As slaves?"
Faber: "Such harshness in your code, such trouble and anger in your core - an ancilla should never be allowed so much freedom. I learned this the hard way."
Cortana finds you another route out of the garden of tombs, escaping through a series of dimly lit tunnels as Faber continues to speak to you, declaring his intent on reclaiming his rings and belittling you as if you were an old rival. Cortana takes this time to ping the UNSC’s battlenet to try and find some remaining forces able to assist you in your new mission: stopping Faber, along with everything else.
You resurface into the fresh air some distance from the towers into a deserted field as a smoking Albatross finds you. Inside, Buck and a group of ODSTs and Marines, falling back from a failed skirmish.
Buck: “What the hell is that?”
A Forerunner ship launches from between the weaving of towers, heading towards the Halo.
Master Chief: “Trouble.”
Buck: “Yeah, we really needed more of it.”
The shot slowly fades in from black. The Master Chief has returned to the Monitor’s core. Cortana displays near the hard light ring. A few marines stand in the background. Lights are coming back on in the room. The Monitor’s eye rises and awakens. By now, most players have probably recognized his voice actor for sure: Tim Dadabo.
Monitor: “Faber has been released. A Halo will soon be in his command. And the Shield World is dying… Oh my, and I was only asleep for a day. You have been busy.”
Cortana: “We need your help to stop him. You’ve been studying the Flood, studying his tactics and trying to find a way around the activation of the Array. He’s been resting here under your nose for thousands of years. You must know something we can use.
Monitor: “With the Shield World inoperable, my… your Sentinel Army remains the only active weapon. But the odds of mounting a successful attack on a Halo… are not in your favor…“
Cortana: “There’s something you’re not telling me.”
The Monitor stares silently at Cortana, then turns to the Chief. Then, back to Cortana.
Monitor: “You must call for aid.”
The Signal Station from the level “Broken Chord”, the Resonance Cascade, has been unearthed by the Shield World’s destruction.
Monitor: “Inside the Resonance Cascade exists the power to summon the Forerunners. It is the only resort you have left. All of your ships and warriors will not be able to turn the tide against the Master Builder and the Array without their knowledge.”
Zooming out, we see that the Resonance Cascade is kilometers away, fragmented from a dozen or more shards of the Shield World spinning away from each other. And the Installation’s sun-portal is dying out (have I mentioned that it’s just a slipspace portal letting in light from a real star lightyears away?).
Master Chief and Marines gear up inside their Albatross as it flies towards the drifting island. Looking out the window of the rear hatch, John sees a host of Sentinels trailing them. In the distance beyond, more ship-to-ship battles rage on between the UNSC and Reconciled. Even further, the Halo is spinning, charging for its next controlled shot.
Pilot: “Brace yourselves!!!”
Through the cockpit, John sees a Reconciled Sentry-ship charge straight towards the Albatross. The pilot pulls up in time but smashes alongside the larger ship’s hull. Marines are thrown from their seats, floating in zero gravity.
The Sentinels engage the Sentry-ship as Banshees unlock from the latter’s hull. The Albatross manages to cross through the fray, but on the other side a wave of Seraphs ambush from both sides in a pincer attack.
Pilot: “I’ve to got to set her down! We can’t take on all this on our own!”
Cortana: “I’m in contact with command. I’m trying to see if we can get air support.”
The Albatross, now smoking, glides down to the surface of one of the floating shards. Three more separated shards stand between this one and the Resonance Cascade.
The large dropship plops down in a cloud of smoke. Just a moment later, the hatches of the cargo hold slam to the ground and three Warthogs come barreling out.
Buck: “If we can’t fly there, we’ll drive!”
Cortana: “We need to keep pushing. When air support arrives, they me able to give us enough cover for a pick up on the way. If they can’t… (looking at the massive gaps in the surface as the shards tangle apart) well, I guess I’m going to need to figure out how to make us fly.”
The first shard is populated by Renconciled forces encamped on low Forerunner structures shaped like great arms stretched out over a small canyon. Moving parts glide back and forth along the structures as the Warthog convoy navigates between them, all the while Jackal Snipers try to pick them off.
Faber: “I am your living god, the truth you have searched for all your lives. This Covenant, these Reconciled, you were all waiting for me.”
Passing through this gauntlet, dropships land Ghosts and Wraiths to confront you. Past them, you’ll reach the limits of this shard, as the land is wrenched upwards into a mighty ramp. Two of the Warthogs successfully make the jump, landing on the next shard. It’s gravity is oriented differently as the shard is almost at a 90 degree angle to the last shard. Landing on it usually means you’re crashing on it!
This second shard is a beautiful green area with a lake in its center. Mountain ridges rise on its extremities. With the Warthogs crashed, you’ll have to go on foot, passing through another test of your abilities, this time focused your gunplay. Brutes and Captive Hunters are dropping in all sides. Defeating these enemies, you’ll need to allocate some of their vehicles to make the jump to the next shard.
Faber: “I reclaim this ring in your honor, for you have been faithful all these eons. The Forerunners will protect you and deliver you peace and serenity. But first we must defend ourselves and our relics.”
The last shard before the Resonance Cascade is a hilly desert. Passing through another vehicle battle, you’ll see Longswords and Hornets arrive to meet the battle in the air above you. Which is good, because the gap between this shard and the Cascade is enormous. You’ll need to line up your vehicle with a Pelican as it flies down, grapples you with its magnets, and ferries you over to the Cascade.
During the short flight, you see the Sangheili Corvette rise up from behind the shard, joining the battle as drop-pods are launched. By the time the Pelican drops you off, you’ll have ODSTs and Spec Ops Elites at your back. Can’t ask for a better team!
As you make your way up a mountain side to the unearthed Cascade, the Monitor arrives.
As you draw close the peak of the Cascade, Faber’s ship returns from the Halo ring. Continuing forward, you find a room broken free of the structure. The Monitor informs you that this room holds the machine you need to summon the Forerunners. But Faber and the War Sphinx have touched down, curious to see what you’re trying to do against their new army.
Cortana: “We trusted you. You manipulated all of us to revive Faber.”
War Sphinx: “I gave you all the answers and services you required. I cannot be blamed if they are not what you expected.”
Faber steps around the Chief and the Monitor.
Faber: “My kind is done. Their era past. There is no one to call for. What are you trying to accomplish with these communication machines?”
The Monitor raises a series of hard lights around the Chief.
The Monitor: “It’s quite simple of course. My old friend has stirred in his sleep too long, manipulating events only in the shadows. It is time to give him control.”
And then the Faber realizes what the Monitor is attempting to do.
Faber: “You will not awaken him. Not yet!”
Faber pulls apart the War Sphinx and wraps it around him, engaging its weapons and abilities of flight, and tackling the Chief.
They are launched off the side of the Cascade’s peal, down to the surface of the shard. On this beach on the tide of space, you’ll fight your last battle of the game against the War Sphinx–Faber. You’ll need to engage your thrusters continuously as Faber goes from the ground to the air, moment to moment.
Once you’ve beaten him down enough, Cortana and the Monitor will lead you back up the Cascade from another side. But Faber is not defeated, and he is moments behind you.
Reaching the room at the peak of the Cascade again, you’ll need to activate the Monitor’s hard light terminals before Faber can destroy you. Doing so, you’ll start the ending cutscene.
The Halo ring spinning behind him, Faber halts as the Chief falls to the ground. Voices rise up inside of John’s head. Not just Cortana’s, but the Didact and his many facets.
The voices begin to converse, to unify. Cortana sees the knowledge and the code becomes reality. She infects Faber’s armor, breaking it down. Faber falls to one knee as John rises.
The spinning Halo slows down.
Didact (voices combined): “You are outdated, Faber”
Faber: “I needed more time.”
With the Halo out of his control, Faber sees only one alternative. Over the battlenet, Faber calls for aid from his faithful. He stands again, face to face with this rival, on the edge of the room looking over a ruined Shield World. Reconciled ships muster behind him, as dropships draw near.
Didact: “Go then. And be ready for war. But the Array is mine now. You were never worthy of them.”
Faber leaves in a dropship and heads towards his ship as the Reconciled turn and dive into slipspace.
The enemy defeated for now, the Halo ring reclaimed, and a Forerunner returned, the Master Chief falls to the group, incapacitated.
Timestamp: "24 hours later, onboard the UNSC New Mombassa"
The Master Chief is under observation in a guarded cell. It’s not just the Reconciled who are afraid of him anymore…
There is a sliver of movement, a ripple in the air past the guards, and inside the cell the Arbiter materializes.
“Spartan, I have need of you.”
What will Faber do with his covenant? What weapons will he use against the UNSC and their rings?
What will remain of the Master Chief? Will the Didact consume him? Will the Didact be able to be tempered by the will of Bornstellar and John?
(Maybe it wasn’t just “luck”… Maybe the Didact and the Librarian’s will moved John 117 through his life, to every moment of great importance that he faced.)
Will Cortana become the new Gravemind? Will she rule over a new form of cybernetic Flood? Is the Flood more of an idea than a species? A way of thinking? Maybe the Precursors, the Forerunners, the Humans are far more related to the Flood than we realize.
Well, that's what I was imagining Halo 4 could be about year and more ago. Just took me a while to explain all the details to you! Thanks so much for reading it all! :D