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A piston is a Forerunner device. They are installed within facilities like the Sentinel Wall as vertical "doors" to get from level to level within the multi-tiered construct. The pistons have sensitive control-strips that open the piston when fired upon or switched. The piston then splits in two, and allows the Sentinels and Constructors to move to the lower or to the higher level they desire. The openings are fairly large however, and therefore allow larger creatures, such as Elites, to move through. However, the shafts pistons guard are almost always vertical, so moving up through them is impossible without a thruster of some kind. Some Pistons do not split in two, but the ones that reveal the winding tunnels just lift upwards, downwards and away.
- An alternative for activating the pistons besides simply pressing X is meleeing or shooting the pistons. On Heroic or Legendary, pistons cannot be triggered, but must be shot or meleed.
- It takes four melees to fully activate the piston. The piston's controls turn a darker shade of blue the more it's hit until it finally opens.
- Pistons are only present in the level Sacred Icon in Halo 2.
- In Halo 3: ODST, in the level Data Hive which is set in New Mombasa's Data Center, devices called "Data Stacks" are encountered. They function similarly to the pistons.