The Arbiter is the sixth campaign level of Halo 2, which introduces the Arbiter Thel 'Vadamee as a playable character for the first time. You must assassinate the Heretic Leader on a Forerunner Gas Mine in Threshold's atmosphere.
The mission involves neutralizing Heretic forces. Along the way, the player will have to open a hangar door for reinforcements, fight, for the first time in Halo 2, Sentinels, and fly a Heretic Banshee to escort a friendly Phantom that is looking for where the Heretic Leader escaped to.
This is also the first time in Halo 2 you are able to use the Covenant Carbine, the Sentinel Beam, and the Fuel Rod Gun. It is also the first time members of the Covenant aid you. Your allies are Special Operations Elites and Special Operations Grunts, meaning that you start off with rather powerful friendly units.
A blurry camera shot focused on the floor, before clearing and focusing on the back of Tartarus. The shot then changes to show Tartarus walking down a hallway in High Charity, two Brutes behind him, carrying Thel 'Vadamee on their shoulders. They are walking through a prison.
- Brute 1: "How much further must we heft this baggage? Any cell will do."
- Brute 2: "Why not toss him in with this lot?"
The Brutes pass a cell containing three hungry Jackals, which hiss and growl as they reach out through the bars at the Brutes passing by.
- Brute 2: "They could use the meat."
- Brute 1: "Them? What about us? My belly aches - and his flesh is seared, just the way I like it."
- Tartarus: "Quiet! You two whimper like Grunts fresh off the teat. He's not meant for the jails. The Hierarchs have something special in mind."
The Brutes and their cargo move out onto a platform overlooking the Mausoleum of the Arbiter. They ride a Gravity Lift down to the walkway leading up to it and pass dozens of Elite Honor Guards standing at attention, staves ready. They enter the Mausoleum, where the Prophets of Truth and Mercy await. The Brutes and Tartarus bow.
- Tartarus: "Noble Prophets of Truth and Mercy. I have brought the incompetent."
Close-up on the Prophet of Truth's lower jaw.
- Prophet of Truth: "You may leave, Tartarus."
Tartarus looks up, surprised.
- Tartarus: "But...I thought—"
- Prophet of Truth: "And take your Brutes with you."
Tartarus hesitates, and then bows again.
- Tartarus: "Release the prisoner."
- Prophet of Truth: "The Council decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city. But ultimately, the terms of your execution are up to me."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "I am already dead."
- Prophet of Truth: "Indeed. Do you know where we are?"
- Thel 'Vadamee: "The Mausoleum of the Arbiter."
- Prophet of Truth: "Quite so. Here rests the vanguard of the Great Journey. Every Arbiter, from first to last. Each one created and consumed in times of extraordinary crisis."
- Prophet of Mercy: "The Taming of the Hunters, the Grunt Rebellion - were it not for the Arbiters, the Covenant would have broken long ago!"
- Thel 'Vadamee: "Even on my knees, I do not belong in their presence."
- Prophet of Truth: "Halo's destruction was your error, and you rightly bear the blame. But the Council was... overzealous. We know you are no heretic. This is the true face of heresy, one who would subvert our faith and incite rebellion against the High Council."
Truth presses a button on his chair and a miniature hologram of an Elite in abnormal equipment appears.
- Sesa 'Refumee (Hologram): "Our Prophets are false! Open your eyes, my brothers! They would use the faith of our forefathers to bring ruin to us all! The Great Journey is a-"
Truth cuts off the hologram.
- Prophet of Truth: "This heretic, and those who follow him, must be silenced."
- Prophet of Mercy: "Their slander offends all who walk the Path!"
- Thel 'Vadamee: "What use am I? I can no longer command ships, lead troops into battle-"
- Prophet of Truth: "Not as you are, no. But become the Arbiter...and you shall be set loose against this heresy with our blessing."
A large pod floats into the center of the room, opening to reveal a suit of ancient armor surrounded by white light. 'Vadamee stares at this for a moment, before turning back to Truth.
- Thel 'Vadamee: "What of the Council?"
- Prophet of Mercy: "The tasks you must undertake as the Arbiter are perilous, suicidal. You will die, as each Arbiter has before you. The Council will have their corpse."
Thel 'Vadamee rises and walks toward the armor. He pauses before it, and looks to the pods containing the bodies of the Arbiters who fell before him. He reaches up and takes the helmet of the Arbiter, and places it upon his head. He turns to the Hierarchs.
- Thel 'Vadamee: "What would you have your Arbiter do?"
The scene changes to show the outside of High Charity, the fleet surrounding it. Three Phantoms fly past the camera and swoop past the ruins of Installation 04, a large piece of it still intact and with landscape and clouds still visible. As it flies, the voice of Rtas 'Vadumee can be heard.
The scene cuts to the inside of the center Phantom, where Special Ops Elites, along with the new Arbiter, line the walls, with a line of Special Ops Grunts in the center. An Ultra Elite, the SpecOps Leader Rtas 'Vadumee, walks among them.
- SpecOps Elites: "According to our station! All without exception!"
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "On the blood of our fathers, on the blood of our sons...we swore to uphold the Covenant!"
- SpecOps Elites: "Even to our dying breath!"
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "Those who would break this oath are Heretics, worthy of neither pity, nor mercy! Even now they use our lords' creations to broadcast their lies!"
A Grunt fumbles with the methane tank of another Grunt. Some gas is released, and the second Grunt mutters angrily at the first.
- SpecOps Elites: "We shall grind them into dust!"
Note: the Hidden Subtitle appears here. It is "Scrape them as excrement from our boots!"
'Vadumee turns his head to face the camera, revealing he is missing the mandibles on the left side of his head.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "And continue our march to glorious salvation!"
The Phantoms enter Threshold's atmosphere and come upon a large Forerunner platform.
Scene fades back to inside lead Phantom. The Spec Ops Leader approaches 'Vadamee. They stare each other down.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "This armor suits you. But it cannot hide that mark."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "Nothing ever will."
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "You are the Arbiter, the will of the Prophets. But these are my Elites. Their lives matter to me. Yours does not."
- Thel 'Vadamee: "That makes two of us."
- Rtas 'Vadumee: (respectful) "Hmmm...."
The Phantoms fly over the Forerunner platform and descend toward another structure dangling below it on a long cable, a Gas Mine. An intense storm swirls below the structure.
- Phantom Pilot: "Leader, there is no doubt: the storm will strike the facility!"
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "We'll be long gone before it arrives."
The Phantoms fly lower, near the top of one of several towers sticking out from the center of the main structure. One deposits a group of Grunts and an Elite, followed by a second one that drops two Elites and 'Vadamee.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "Warriors, prepare for combat!"
'Vadamee ignites his Energy Sword and looks at it.
A Whisper in the Storm
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "We are the arm of the Prophets, Arbiter, and you are the blade. Be silent and swift, and we shall quell this heresy without incident."
As 'Vadumee approaches the doors where the rest of the team is waiting to enter
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "The storm has masked our approach, and it should have their local Battle-net in disarray. We have the element of surprise... for now."
'Vadumee enters the airlock beyond, with a team of SpecOps Grunts and SpecOps Elites.
- SpecOps Elite: "Engage Active camouflage! Reveal yourselves only after the Arbiter has joined battle with the enemy!"
The Grunts and Elites fade into their surroundings as their Active camouflage is engaged.
- Rtas 'Vadumee: "You may wish to do the same, Arbiter, but take heed: your armor's system is not as...new as ours. Your camouflage will not last forever."
The team enters the next room. If you wait without being seen for a moment, the two Heretic Elites in this room will talk to one another.
- Heretic Elite 1: "Any word on our missing brothers?"
- Heretic Elite 2: "Still nothing. Given what we have learned, I fear they are lost."
- Heretic Elite 1: "Maybe the Oracle will protect us..."
- Heretic Elite 2: "Perhaps. But his Sentinels are too few. Better we protect ourselves!"
- SpecOps Elite: "Sentinels, the holy warriors of the Sacred Rings. Why have they sided with these Heretics?"
During the battle in the hangar:
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "Arbiter, clear the hangar and open this door, so I may drop the second Lance!"
'Vadamee opens the door.
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "Hold position, I am making my approach."
'Vadamee descends through the facility eventually entering a room featuring a window looking out onto a landing pad with three Heretic Banshees. The Heretic Leader, Sesa 'Refumee appears.
- Sesa 'Refumee: "Deal with him, my brothers! I will defend the Oracle."
He hops onto a Heretic Banshee and flies off.
- Heretic Elite 3: "His truth must not be silenced!"
To The Hunt
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "The Heretics are mobilizing their air forces, Arbiter. Get after their leader, but watch your back. I'm sending one of our Phantoms to support you."
After the first wave of Banshees is eliminated.
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "The Heretics have weapons emplacements all over the facility, Arbiter. We'll take them out, one by one, until we find the Heretic Leader."
If you take too long to head for the final emplacement.
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "No sign of the Heretic Leader or his Banshee. We must keep searching!"
- Phantom Pilot (COM): "That was the last of them - but there are more ahead."
'Vadamee nears the final emplacement.
- Rtas 'Vadumee (COM): "We've tracked the leader to this part of the station. Clear that landing zone and get inside."
The Arbiter clears the platform and arrives at the door. Fades to white.
- Main article: Glitches
- At the beginning of the level, there will be an Elite punching buttons to open a door. If you push him away, he will continue to punch buttons in mid air, and when he is done, the door will still open.
- The two Elites that drop out of the Phantom with you at the beginning of the level will follow you down to the first door, but will not follow further. They will remain at the door. It is possible however to push one of the Elites into the room (playing on Legendary with the Mythic Skull is preferred). If pushed in far enough the door will close and the Elite will activate its camouflage along with your team. This Elite will remain permanently camouflaged while fighting the Heretics in the next room which can be somewhat useful on Legendary, however it will not follow you or your team. The Elite will eventually disappear.
- When you get to the hangar part go to the ledges on the sides of the rooms, jump to get on them, and when you move around you should hear the sounds of the doors opening. Jump down quick enough and you can get into the rooms where the enemies spawn in.
- When you open the hangar for the Phantom, you can get on top of it but you will be pulled back into the level because it won't let you leave the boundaries.
- The Heretic Leader Glitch can be performed on this level.
- It is possible to make a Grunt invincible. If he survives your first encounter with the Heretics, he can accompany you all the way to Heretic Leader's Banshee. If you push him over the edge onto a small ledge area he will be invincible. You can test this out against other enemies by skyjacking a Banshee while near the ledge area, resulting in the Grunt fighting the Heretic Elite that was in the Banshee. Note: If he is given a weaker weapon, and fires at the Heretic, the Heretic's shield will recharge quickly, resulting in a possibly endless battle.
- If you get your allies to turn against you at the beginning of this level, the Elites will try to kill you, but the Grunts will just stand there waiting for the door to open, even though they are shown as enemies.
- When you are in the Banshee you can hop out onto the Phantom. This is useful near the end where you can kill the Heretic Grunts from afar, or destroy Banshees if you have a Fuel Rod Gun. This is not highly recommended, however, as it is easy to get shot down or simply just fall off the vehicle.
- If you kill the Elite that opens the door before he gets a chance to finish, the door will immediately open.
- Going down the lift to the hangar with the Seraph fighter, you can throw plasma grenades and they will bounce without exploding. However, the grenades do explode when the elevator reaches the ground or if they stick to you or an ally.
- At the beginning of the level, when the Elite is pressing the buttons to open the door, when looking closely at his finger, you can see that it is just slightly moving around the control panel.
- At the beginning of the level, if you kill your allies before the elevator descends, no enemies will appear until you reach the elevator.
- Once you get on a Banshee fly to the right and you will see a small "bridge”, get out of the banshee and look around and you will see a red door that absorbs all shots fired at it (best done with a Fuel Rod Gun and other explosives). It will also appear in the Oracle but when approached close-up the texture will appear.
- The first cutscene shows four grunts coming out of the Phantom, but only two are seen during the beginning of level.
- Main article: Easter Eggs
- The Grunt Birthday Party Skull can be found on this level.
- If you manage to skyjack a Banshee or blow another Banshee up, you will notice the Heretic Elite has a Plasma Rifle equipped, instead of the Covenant Carbine. This could just be a weapon change for the pilot, maybe because he needed a lighter weapon to fly in the Banshee so it doesn't make it too uncomfortable for him. However, there's an equal chance it’s an Easter Egg, since not many players would pay attention to the actual dead body.
- The song from the soundtrack of the game, "Follow" by Incubus, can be heard on this level although without any vocals, shortly after you are able to get in a Banshee.
- The map Colossus is also located at the gas mine area, where the storm could be seen.
- When the SpecOps Grunt says, "Shh! Me hunting He-wa-tic," he's making a reference to the famous Looney Tunes quote, "Shh! Be vewy vewy quiet! I'm hunting wabbits!"
- During the starting cutscene if you have subtitles enabled, there is a deleted line of dialogue that is never spoken, but wasn't removed from the subtitles. The line reads: "Scrape them as excrement from our boots." This also happens in Halo: Reach.
- If you hide in the hangar and watch the Sentinels, you will see one firing a greenish beam at the Seraph, like the beams of the Constructor Sentinels on the level Sacred Icon.
- During the Banshee fight, it is possible to exit your Banshee and immediately board an enemy Heretic Banshee. This however, is quite a difficult tactic. When you do, the Elite inside will have a Plasma Rifle.
- Should the player watch the Phantoms that drop off the troops at the beginning of the level when they go out of view zoom in with your binoculars. They will fall and spin out of control and hit the lower part of the level.
- Some of the Grunt dialogue in this level is some of the most strange and humorous, Including "If we stand here any longer, we be on date!" and "Hard to tell, but me no female". It’s the first official time you can hear them clearly, and can listen to the strange things they say, because up until now, Grunts have been against you.
- Originally, this level was supposed to take place on Threshold's moon, Basis.
- Joseph Staten revealed on the Halo 3 Legendary Edition bonus disk that originally the Heretics, including the Heretic Leader, were all going to be Hunters.
- This level has more Fuel Rod Guns than any other level in the Halo trilogy.
- If you search around the station, you can find the bridge that leads from the labs to the central part of the station, which is the same that you use in the next level.
- The music that plays near the end of the level when the Heretic Leader escapes (before you take off in the Banshee) was not included on the OST. It somewhat resembles the last part of Sacred Icon Suite.
- The large windows in the last room of the level are actually shut outside and you can't see through them even though you can see through them from the inside. Also, on the outside of the window your reticle will still change color between the normal color to green and red between friendlies and enemies even though you can't see through the windows.
- At the part with the Banshee, you can skip the long air battle with the Heretics and go directly to the area where the level ends.
- At the Banshee part, more Banshees can be seen on platforms with Heretics on them. If your Banshee is destroyed (by you or the Grunts), then another one spawns when you turn around. This will be infinite. This is probably so that if the player makes it there with the Banshee destroyed, then he/she won't get stuck.
- Idle Grunts can be seen doing 'Grunt Aerobics' on this level.