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- “This Galaxy is vast; its wonders and beauty are almost unfathomable. But the galaxy also hides dark secrets, some of which have lain dormant since the beginning of time itself. There is a danger in secrets, both in seeking and in knowing. Some things are meant to be hidden from view. Some mysteries defy understanding, and sometimes even the things we think we know are untrue. Some secrets should remain untouched. Secrets can tempt your primal instinct, and lead you again into war. The Halos were one such secret.”— Cortana
Origins is one of the seven short films comprising the anime adaptation of the Halo universe, Halo Legends. Origins is an expansive history of the 100,000 year long franchise timeline, comprised of two parts. The story is told through the eyes of Cortana and the episode begins after the events of Halo 3.
As Cortana watches over John-117, currently in cryo hibernation, she begins to experience the effects of rampancy, unable to key together who she is with the massive input of information in her databanks. She then begins recounting the history of the galaxy.
Over 100,000 years ago, there was once a great civilization called the Forerunners. However, their empire was invaded by a parasite called the Flood. Initially, the Forerunners treated the Flood as an infestation, until it was too late. The more Forerunners assimilated by the Flood, the more intelligent the Flood became. Soon, open war was on the rise. The Forerunners were confident that their valor and technology would stop the Flood. Unfortunately, the parasite had spread too far across their empire. On the verge of defeat, the Forerunners made one last ditch attempt to eradicate the Flood from the galaxy. They constructed the seven Halo rings and used The Ark to send the rings to different parts in the galaxy. The seven rings would destroy all sentient life and Flood biomass. Once the rings were in place, the effects of the rings cleansed the galaxy of all sentient life, including Flood, in an instant.
With their enemy defeated, the Forerunners then began to repopulate the galaxy with various alien lifeforms that had been indexed, storing DNA samples, embryos and live specimens. These lifeforms were then returned to their home planets.
The humans, still fresh from their encounter with the Forerunners, continue on with their civilizations. Inevitably though, much to Cortana's dismay, they fight amongst themselves. Various moments in Humanity's history, such as the invention of penicillin, the invention of dynamite, the Manhattan Project, the bombing of Hiroshima, and the launches of Sputnik and the International Space Station are shown briefly.
Things are all changed when Dr. Wallace Fujikawa and Dr. Tobias Fleming Shaw invent the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, allowing humanity to move across star systems. Colony ships, such as those of the Phoenix-class, are sent throughout the Orion arm of the Milky Way, settling on suitable planets. Even after finding new worlds with which to satisfy their greed, insurrection ensues, forcing mankind to once more fight among themselves.
In 2525, humanity is unified against a single threat for the first time in its history. The Covenant stumble upon UNSC-controlled space, and proceed to lay waste to it. Humanity was outnumbered and outmatched in terms of technology and, for decades, the Covenant slowly laid waste to its colonies.
Near the war's end, the dangerous Flood reemerges, determined to spread once again. After the Great Schism, humanity and the Covenant Separatists then work together against two common foes, which soon leads to peace between both sides.
In one scene, the Master Chief enters a Forerunner building covered in Flood growth. A Gravemind hands him what appears to be an AI memory Core. 343 Guilty Spark then emerges and transports John to the surface of Installation 04B.
The final scene shows Cortana attempting to make physical contact with John-117, before her eyes turn red with the Iris symbol, implying her descent into rampancy.
Somewhere in space, the aft end of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn floats endlessly through space. On board are the cryogenically-frozen Master Chief and the A.I. Cortana. Cortana, several years old, who begins to go rampant, begins to speak to the Master Chief, knowing full well that the Master Chief cannot hear her.
- Cortana: Chief? Can you hear me?
Cortana's hologram appears at the holotank. She appears in a fetal position.
- Cortana: When I was born seven years ago, I already possessed the entire sum of human knowledge.
She looks onto the Master Chief's cryotube.
- Cortana: It took me almost two hours to process and understand all that information. But I can't be sure which memories are mine or even what's true, what's real. I've discovered a great deal more information since then. For an A.I., I've lived a very long time. But now, after seven human years, I have finally come to understand your role, your place in the universe and how you came to be here. The eons of human evolution, invention, aspiration...and war. Always war. The oldest, most enduring of human practices.
The scene shifts to a Forerunner-inhabited planet.
- Cortana: A hundred thousand years ago, a great civilization existed in this universe. Like all civilizations, they faced a sudden and dire turn of events. A threat to their primacy from outside. Something they never expected. Never prepared for.
An unidentified vessel floats towards the Forerunner planet. Chunks of debris fall through the atmosphere.
- Cortana: A deeply alien threat they called simply: "the Flood". An unstoppable force. An unquenchable thirst.
Enforcers and Sentinels fly towards the impact crater of one of the chunks of debris. Tentacles snake out of the crater and spread through the Forerunner city.
- Cortana: It devoured everything it touched. At first, their technology, their courage seemed like it might prevail.
The Sentinels move in massive numbers to destroy the Flood, but the Flood's various forms spread too rapidly.
- Cortana: But they waited too long to see the threat, to join the fight. The Flood had spread too far and too wide.
Flood forms begin to infect live Forerunners. The Flood begins to form biomass in various areas of the Forerunner civilization. The Flood eventually forms Pure Forms.
- Cortana: It fed on intelligent life and in doing so, became ever more intelligent itself. The Flood was unique. It used their own strength against them.
THe Flood takes over the entire planet. In a Library-like structure, the Forerunner warriors study an infection form.
- Cortana: They were...the Forerunners.
The Forerunners activate their battleships, launching them into orbit.
- Cortana: The Forerunners were a wise, highly intelligent, noble people. And with a belief in justice, in peace, they bravely faced the adversary. They sought to sterilize it.
The Forerunner fleet musters its strength against the Flood-infected ships. On the surface, larger, more powerful fleet of Sentinels activates.
- Cortana: I can only guess some of this. Fill in the gaps.
The Sentinels use their advanced weaponry to destroy Flood biomass. The ships in orbit use their collective beam weaponry to destroy the Flood-captured ships. The scene returns to the surface, where Forerunner infantry units move to engage the Flood on foot. Using advanced handheld beam weapons, the soldiers destroy several buildings before being assailed by infection forms and Flood biomass. At first, the Forerunners cope, but in the end, they are overwhelmed.
- Cortana: But it was an impossible fight. Realizing defeat was inevitable, the Forerunners made a decision to destroy everything.
The Flood forms biomass on everything, slowly building up and slowly reaches critical mass. The Flood eventually form a Gravemind.
- Cortana: Ironically, they did this to preserve life. To create a future for you, yet unborn, knowing they themselves would not survive.
Flood controlled Forerunner ships lift off, enabling their spread through the galaxy.
- Cortana: In a desperate attempt to ensure that they were the last victims, they built a secret weapon of terrible power.
The scene shifts to outside the infected galaxy, to the Forerunner's farthest outpost: the Ark. Around the Ark, the Forerunner's build their final weapons, the seven Halo rings, which are shifted into position through the Ark Portal.
- Cortana: It was called 'Halo'. An array of weapons scattered throughout the galaxy. Its effect would spread throughout known space. Destroying the Flood. And every thinking creature in the galaxy.
The Rings appear in orbit around Eayn, Doisac, Sanghelios and Earth. The appearance of halo rings in the sky piques the interest of the indigenous species of all these planets. A Forerunner Keyship lands on the Earth terminus of the Ark Portal, watched by humans.
- Cortana: You see, the Flood fed on sentient species to survive. The device would destroy the infection and its food supply. A thousand other plans were tried and failed. This was the last resort. Halo.
The Forerunners activate the Halo ring, sending a pulse through the stars. The Flood is wiped out, along with every other species in the galaxy. Non-organic beings are not harmed, leaving the Forerunner's fleet of Sentinels unharmed.
- Cortana: And finally, it was over in an instant. Every intelligent lifeform left in the galaxy was obliterated.
The Halo Ring's pulse lingers for a moment, then the Ring falls dormant, undisturbed for the next hundred-thousand years.
- Cortana: But from the ashes of apparent defeat: a victory.
A Forerunner Keyship is seen. On it, various plates showing humanoid forms.
- Cortana: The Forerunners had catalogued, stored and collected population samples from the Halo effect. DNA, embryos, even living specimens. In order to repopulate. Restore the galaxy.
Sentinels are seen managing the countless samples. Five keyships are seen lifting off, preparing to re-seed the galaxy with life.
- Cortana: Once the galaxy was cleansed of Flood, the threat sterilized, they repopulated worlds. Rebuilt that which they had torn down, and re-seeded life.
- Cortana: But the Forerunners themselves were gone forever. This destruction, this conflagration, was their gift to you, and their sacrifice. They left you to reclaim your world, to rebuild it with your own hands. By sacrificing themselves. Eternally.
A Forerunner is seen sealing away its armor.
- Cortana: It seemed that life had finally found its peace.
The scene returns once more to Earth. Everything is peaceful, there is no trace of the Flood.
- Cortana: Peace settled on the galaxy. But it would be a fleeting peace.
The Nazca Lines are seen.
- Cortana: For the great sacrifice was in vain. The end to one war did not signal an end to all wars.
Various civilizations are seen in times of war, from the earliest stages of man, to the ancient Egyptians, the Romans and the Greeks.
- Cortana: It is a great irony that the nature of war always reveals the true nature of those who fight. And from their earliest days humanity began to fight. War after war. It swarmed over the Earth and there was no ending in sight. In the midst of the desire to shed blood, you accidentally stumbled upon the seeds of your salvation.
New warriors are seen with spears and shields: Spartans in Greek armor. One uses a spear, while his opponent uses a shield adorned with a bird.
- Cortana: A great hope.
A new scene depicts the discovery of penicillin.
- Cortana: But you found something else as well: the seeds of your destruction.
The scene shifts to another laboratory, where scientists craft the first sticks of dynamite, then the Nazi V2 rocket, and finally, the atomic bomb.
- Cortana: There were many sacrifices. Humankind was mired in horrific conflict, meaningless bloodshed, leaving the great Earth eternally scarred.
The scene shifts to the atomic bombs falling on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the subsequent nuclear explosion.
- Cortana: But finally, you looked up from the blood and from the dirt and from the dying to the stars.
Another scene depicts two soldiers looking to the sky, followed the launch of Sputnik, the Saturn V rocket and the Space Shuttle, and finally, to the modern day International Space Station.
- Cortana: You had not given up on the idea of reaching out, yearning, seeking a new horizon. And finding a new space to grow and prosper.
The scene changes, showing an astronaut looking down upon the Earth from orbit.
- Cortana: For the first time, all of humankind was united in a shared vision. A common goal.
The scene shifts again, showing a meeting of the United Nations, precursor to the UNSC, attended by Tobias Shaw and Wallace Fujikawa, who have unveiled the Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine, allowing Faster-Than-Light travel. They receive a standing ovation from the UN.
- Cortana: You realized that this once-great planet was too small for you. There were too many souls and too little a world.
Newly created ships mounted with slipspace drives venture off into world unknown. The commander of one ship observes another exiting slipspace. The UNSC is born.
- Cortana: So you sought other worlds. Worlds where you could escape your addiction to destruction.
The scene once again changes. In orbit around Jupiter, the Phoenix-class colony ships are being assembled. The Phoenix-classes settle on the idyllic colony world of Arcadia, which is quickly built up.
- Cortana: But the worlds you found were never enough. Never enough to satisfy the age-old instincts. Speed and distance did nothing to separate you from your nature.
- Cortana: Old resentments, ancient squabbles re-emerged. History began its terrible repetition and once again, man fought man. Like a virus, war was always lurking inside you, no matter how hard you tried to suppress it. It just fought harder to get out. It always got out.
The scene changes from Pelicans and Hornets attacking a structure, to Marines locking down a door, and finally, a flight of Longswords bombing a city.
- Cortana: Humankind had always looked to the stars, to the heavens, for answers. Sometimes you didn't like what you found there.
- Cortana: And while the galaxy revealed few answers, it was more than willing to confront you with new questions.
The scene changes to a high-vaulted ceiling, then pans down to a more recognizable sight: the High Council Chambers in High Charity. There, the Prophet of Truth conducts a sermon, showing a hologram of Earth.
- Cortana: But there has always been one truly unifying force in human history. One call that would always unite you. The emergence of a common enemy.
The Covenant's fleet holds its position around the shattered remains of Installation 04. A CCS-class battlecruiser activates its slipspace drive, emerging in an asteroid field behind a Halcyon-class light cruiser. The Halcyon fights the cruiser's Seraph formations with its cannons. The scene changes to two Covenant Destroyers glassing a world.
- Cortana: That enemy was the Covenant.
A massive fleet moves into orbit around a UEG colony.
- Cortana: When this new foe emerged and declared war against humanity, you finally united under a single banner. And the weapons you so carefully constructed to control your own baser instincts were now aimed not at yourselves, but against a deadly opponent. In our pursuit of a shared goal. The very survival of your species.
The UNSC deploys Pelicans to fight off an impending Covenant attack. The Human-Covenant war begins. The UNSC suffers heavy losses to the Covenant's superior technology as their worlds are glassed. Arcadia is taken by the Covenant while the UNSC fights to fend of Scarab tanks and Banshees. The UNSC sends in its SPARTAN supersoldiers.
- Cortana: Then, as if awakened by the arrival of the Covenant, a darker, far more ancient threat emerged from its slumber.
A Phantom crash-lands in High Charity. The Flood emerge and quickly overwhelm the unsuspecting Covenant troops. The Grunts are quickly brought down by the swarm of Infection Forms, while the Elites and the Hunters fight the flood in the reactor room. In the face of this new threat, the Covenant looks to a single Elite: the Arbiter.
- Cortana: Darkness born in eons past became a threat to all life once again. And humankind and the Covenant, who had drowned for so long in each other's blood, were united, if only for the briefest moment, against a terrible enemy they both shared.
The scene changes to Crow's Nest, where Lord Hood and Miranda Keyes mobilize their forces during Truth's speech. Sergeant Johnson and his Marines move to destroy the Flood, as does John-117. The UNSC and the Covenant use their resources against the Flood.
- Cortana: Righteous souls continued to fight, believing they could defeat the darkness.
UNSC ships mix with Separatist battlecruisers against the infection. The Marines and the Master Chief watch as their former foes fight alongside them.
- Cortana: And as they fought together, they stumbled together into peace.
The forces fight the Flood on the ground. The mixed alliance of the Covenant and the UNSC fight together to turn the tide on the Flood. The Arbiter and the Master Chief are seen fighting side by side.
The scene changes to various images of the galaxy.
- Cortana: This galaxy is vast. Its wonders and beauty are almost unfathomable. But the galaxy also hides dark secrets, some of which have lain dormant since the beginning of time itself.
An ancient Forerunner temple is seen. Inside, an Infection Form can be seen emerging from inside a Forerunner helmet.
- Cortana: There is a danger in secrets, both in seeking and in knowing. Some things are meant to be hidden from view. Some mysteries defy understanding, and sometimes even the things we think we know are untrue.
The Master Chief is seen inside a Flood infested facility. The Gravemind hands him a crystal data ship, identical to that of Cortana's. 343 Guilty Spark then teleports the Chief onto the surface of a Halo Ring above the Ark.
- Cortana: Some secrets should remain untouched. Secrets can tempt your primal instinct, and lead you again into war. The Halos were one such secret.
The scene returns to the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, where Cortana is curled up in a fetal position on her pedestal.
- Cortana: Chief? Can you hear me?
Cortana's avatar gets up off the pedestal and grows to the size of a human. Her avatar flickers from blue to red as Cortana walks over to the Chief's cryotube and clears away the ice on its surface, then kisses the glass.
- Cortana: I wonder why humans must continue to fight. I wonder if warriors will ever disappear from this world.
Cortana's avatar begins to flicker again, indicating her rampancy. Her eye flashes with the Forerunner Iris symbol.
- Cortana: Never. There will always be warriors. And there will always be war.
Cortana's symbol coincides with energy running across the skin of a Halo ring. The ring shatters into pieces and the screen fades to black.
- Origins is the first event in the Halo franchise to actually depict the Forerunner species figure, though they were wearing Combat Skin and their true features were never shown. In addition, according to Frank O'Connor in the DVD commentary for the episode, all the visual elements of Origins are formed from Cortana's concepts of the described events, thus rendering the depiction of the Forerunners (as well as everything else in the episode) undefinitive, especially since the episode clearly shows Cortana to be either rampant or borderline-rampant.
- Origins is the first event to depict life on the home planets of the Unggoy, Jiralhanae, and Kig-Yar.
- At one point in the animation, during the section showing the Flood being wiped out by the Halo effect, a large Flood form is shown, on the Forerunner planet, attached to the top of the unused tiered structure design for New Mombasa first shown in the Halo 2 E3 Demo.
- Frank O'Connor states in the commentary that due to Cortana's rampancy, the events depicted in the episode might be different from what actually happened.
- An obvious example of this being that Humanity makes peace with the entire Covenant rather than just the Separatists in order to fight the Flood.
- It is possible, however, that this may foreshadow future content that may or may not have the Covenant and Humanity having, at the very least, were able to resolve the conflict and restore peace. This is further supported by the deaths of many, or even most or all of the Prophet and Brute leadership of the Covenant, combined with the Brutes beginning to fight among themselves and the Prophets disappearing led to peace.
- Also, Spirits were seen being used during battle of Installation 04B instead of the usual Phantoms. This may be due to a lack of more modern equipment that was lost to the Flood during the infestation of High Charity.
- There is a small mistake where the Spirits are seen flying backwards.
- This segment was directed by Hideki Futamura who previously directed a segment for The Animatrix, which was done in a similar style to the Halo Legends project and also animated by Studio 4°C.