Today's issue will be written my myself, Dab1001. As always, I would like to thank Wilc0 for giving me the chance to write this. This issue is part one of a two-part series focusing on the tragic tale of a journalist on noble mission doomed to fail; this is the story of Benjamin Giraud. I'm Dab1001, and this is Halo 101.
- “I was a little proud - and maybe a little guilty too - because I knew the truth about the Covenant... But why should I feel bad about deceiving people here one Earth... The war was hundreds of lightyears away...”— Giraud, musing on his job.
Born on Earth, Benjamin Giraud made a name for himself as an excellent public relations tool. Consequently, he was hired by a P.R. firm whose clientele was limited to one single organisation: the Office of Naval Intelligence. He was moved to New Mombasa, where people would be unlikely to search for the perpetrators of a massive coverup or, as Giraud put it, 'media operation'.
While his family and friends thought he was a P.R. consultant of AMG Transport Dynamics for their new model of the civilian Hog, Giraud's job was in fact more than it seemed on the surface. He would take footage and images of warzones and doctor them to seem less violent and depressing and more "adventurous". All this was done with the intent of hiding from the public the horrifying truth that the war was actually less of a war and more of a slaughter at the hands of the Covenant.
To this end, Giraud performed his role excellently, to the point that most people thought that it was impossible for the Covenant to strike at Earth... Except that, on the 20th of October 2552, they did - and Giraud got a front-row seat.
- Main article: Halo 101: New Mombasa
- “This is the first day of the end of the world.”— Giraud, commenting on the battle.
In Giraud's own words: "Everyone will always remember where they were" when it happened; a blinding flash appeared in the sky above Mombasa, a prelude to the battle to come. Giraud himself was in Old Mombasa at the time. At first, most did not suspect that the flash was indicative of a Covenant attack. In fact, even Giraud himself wasn't sure. The public were told that it was caused by a ship's gas valve venting pressure, that it wasn't anything to worry about.
As normal, Giraud attended work that day. However, it became clear something was wrong when he was dismissed early, with his superior officer leaving him due to an urgent message. On his commute home, Giraud's worst suspicions were confirmed when a second explosion occurred in the sky above the metropolis, raining debris on the city. The Covenant had found Earth.
The train that Benjamin Giraud had been on board at the time was struck by falling debris from the destroyed ship, knocking him unconscious. When he awoke, he was in a hospital, packed with civilians and Marines. A Marine ordered all those who could walk to follow him, and Giraud dutifully obeyed, discovering that they intended to form a militia to fight back, though he doubted they would be successful.
Giraud was spared from having to fight when he was able to record and translate an Elite's words: "We need to clear this area before we can secure access to The Ark". He was ordered by a Marine to get that intelligence out of the city and bring it to the attention of ONI, which he promptly set out to do.
Luck, it seemed, was not his side, though, as when he reached the waterfront he found it swamped by a crowd of civilians, clambering aboard anything that floats, anything that could get them out of the city. Knowing that he, a grown adult, would never be able to get onto one of the boats, he entrusted his laptop to a young girl and sent her off on one such vessel, hoping they would make it to safety.
Following that, Giraud found himself stranded in the city with no exit. He managed to meet up with fellow reporter Petra Janecek. The pair witnessed John-117's heroic charge through the city, and Giraud was even able to get a snapshot of him which, after being doctored, would become used in numerous propaganda pieces (and even a game cover or two). Both Petra and Ben managed to escape the city, though the same could not be said for all of its millions of residents.
Biographer for the Master Chief
- “The greatest, most mysterious hero of our time [...] The guy who saved us, saved Earth, saved mankind: Master Chief Petty Officer SPARTAN-117, whom we now know as simply "the Master Chief"”— Giraud on the Master Chief, his personal hero.
Following the end of the war, Giraud kept a low profile, disappearing into the Outer Colonies or as Janecek put it, he "deep-spaced [him]self into obscurity". However, keen to have Giraud back in his arsenal Michael Sullivan, a senior communications director at the Office of Naval Intelligence, offered him a job writing an in-depth profile on the Master Chief, which Giraud accepted gratefully.
He was set up with numerous sources who had known the Master Chief, the first of which was Deon Govender. Govender described John-117 as "sharp and quick", recounting a tale in which he - at the age of 12 - signed up for boxing at a high school level and was able to defeat one of Govender's best boxers with only two punches. His story soon took a darker turn, however. He claimed that one week, John simply didn't turn up to school - and that most likely, he had been abducted by Insurrectionists. The next of ONI's sources, insurrectionist survivor Thomas Wu, corroborated that claim, saying that was a "cesspool" of Insurrectionists.
Giraud also interviewed Ellie Bloom a source he'd found himself, through his contacts in the Outer Colonies. She was one of John's childhood friends and although she was unable to provide any useful information herself, she put Giraud in contact with Katrina, another childhood friend of John's and both she and Katrina would play an pivotal role in the events to come.
Happy that his profile was coming along well, Giraud decided to retire for the night, though not before quickly checking through some files scrounged up for him by a scavenger in the Outer Colonies. What he found completely blew a hole in his story up to that point, however: a local government document that labelled John as deceased... at the age of six.
The Loose Thread
- “There's a story you tell yourself when the world blows up in your face. There's no way you could have seen it coming. No one could have, so there was no way to stop it. [...] But go back in your mind to before it all happened. Replay it in your head, except this time, maybe you'll see it: something small, out of place. Maybe it's just a single thread, but it's the truth.”— Giraud, after finding errors with ONI's story.
Hoping to smoothen out this inconsistency, Giraud spoke to Sullivan, who gave him the standard response: that glassed planets have bad records. Though some "truthers" doubted the validity of that statement, Giraud confessed to feeling stupid at having brought it up, and Ellie Bloom even confirmed it.
His mood soon took a turn for the better, when he was invited aboard the Autumn-class UNSC Unto the Breach to interview ONI Vice Admiral Gabriella Dvørak. Her story picked up where Govender's had left off, as she took part in a raid on an Insurrectionist camp. With the innies eliminated, the UNSC had begun freeing their captives, when Dvørak came across John. While the others had been disheartened and "broken" by their time in captivity, she described John as resolute and later said that she'd never felt more sure of anyone than she had of him, when he told her of his intent to enlist in the UNSC Marine Corps.
Ellie soon returned in Giraud's story, this time throwing a spanner into the works. Having made contact with Katrina, she told Giraud that John had died in 2517, at the age of six, just as Giraud's document had said. Unsure of what to make of it, Giraud contacted Katrina directly, who not only said the same thing, but also said that his parents had lived on Eridanus II until 2528, four years after Dvørak claimed they'd died.
Sure that they must be lying, Giraud contacted his friend Ray Kurzig, hoping to prove them wrong. However, Ray was unable to help: all the evidence he'd turned up corroborated Ellie and Katrina's claims. Once again, Giraud turned to Sully for answers. This time, though, Sully was less friendly, threatening his job if he did not drop the lead.
The Botched Interview
- “What I had just done was conduct an unsanctioned followup interview with a survivor of a war camp, accused him of lying about it, basically got him to admit that lie, and then ended by possibly indicating my employer, the most powerful military agency in history, in either bribery or coercion.”— Giraud, panicking about having made such a mess of his followup interview with Thomas Wu.
Promptly, Giraud fell back into line, conducting his interviews as ONI had asked. His next interviewee was Jacob Walker, who had supposedly been in boot camp with John. Walker described John as a natural leader, as well as a budding soldier. According to him, John would always ensure he was the last to finish training exercises so that he took the brunt of the punishment rather than the rest of the platoon.
Following that successful interview, Giraud spoke to another veteran, an ODST by the name of Anthony Petrosky, whom he'd found through Mshak Moradi, a conspiracy theorist and future friend to Giraud. This interview painted a darker picture, with Petrosky describing a scene in which John killed two ODSTs and injured two more on board the UNSC Atlas. Petrosky was under the impression that to achieve such feats, the young John must have been genetically augmented.
Once again, Ellie Bloom returned, making things difficult for Benjamin Giraud. After hearing a draft of his first episode, Ellie outright denied many of Govender's statements. She claimed that boxing had been banned planet-wide, and that Elysium City had not been hit hard by the Insurrection. If this was true, it implicated not only Deon Govender, but also Thomas Wu and Gabriella Dvørak, in a conspiracy to cover-up John's early life. Frustrated, Giraud called Wu over Waypoint to straighten things out.
Wu told Giraud the same thing he'd said before. Angered at having such a major discrepancy in his work, Giraud rebuked his statement, and the two began arguing. As tensions rose, Giraud eventually accused him of lying, which Wu accidentally confirmed and indirectly implicated ONI in the lie. Realising his mistake, Wu cut the call instantly, leaving Giraud with the horrible realisation that he'd done that whole unsanctioned interview, in which he claimed one of ONI's sources was a fabrication, over Waypoint, a communications service monitored closely by ONI themselves.
Naturally, Giraud was distraught. ONI had a reputation for making people simply disappear for much less than that. In an attempt to calm his nerves, he called up Mshak Moradi. Mshak had been combing the slush, a nickname for the vast pool of data siphoned off of networks across human-controlled space. According to Mshak, soldiers across the UNSC's ranks were becoming restless because the Master Chief was unaccounted for. More importantly, though Mshak had begun picking up references to anomalies occurring in deep space.
Just as he was explaining it to Ben, he was interrupted by a message sent to Giraud by Sully: a date on his calendar, no text, just details of a flight to ONI's Boston headquarters which left three hours from then. He was being called in.
Off the Rails
- “I sat down in front of this very microphone, recording a quick intro, and uploaded the beginnings of my story, the real story of the Master Chief, loose threads and all, into the galaxy.”— Benjamin Giraud, electing to share the truth with the world.
Upon arriving at Boston, Giraud's first stop was not to ONI, but instead to a local pub, where he'd arranged to meet up with Petra Janecek, the journalist friend of his who'd been present with him at the Battle of Mombasa. After getting reacquainted with her, he told her about the blunder he'd made interviewing Wu. At first, she didn't think it was important, until he revealed he'd done the whole thing over Waypoint. After he'd explained the whole, she chastised him for even looking for his own sources, stating that he should've just used the sources given and 'wagged his tail' like a good lapdog.
Giraud instead suggested that they 'blow this thing open' and reveal all the details he'd gathered to the public. He kept pushing, until suddenly she began talking about something completely different, out of the blue. After a moment, he realised: they were under surveillance. After a while, she began talking normally again. The rest of the conversation was brief. She suggested that he fall back in line, and when he mentioned wanting to bring down ONI, she shot the idea down instantly. Finally, she reassured Giraud that everything would be fine, paid the bill and left Ben to go to the meeting.
Nervously, Giraud approached the ONI facility and signed in with the receptionist. Sully soon appeared, and led him into a room where he was introduced to the legendary Senior Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez, the man who trained the Spartans, including the Master Chief himself. ONI hadn't been calling him here in response to his blow-up with Wu, it was an interview! All Giraud's anxiety evapourated, and he got stuck in straight away.
Honoured to meet the man who trained the Spartans, Giraud asked a multitude of questions, in what Sully would later describe as a "killer interview". However, soon Giraud overstepped his boundary, asking the question: "do you think one man [the Master Chief] should have that much power?" Mendez responded to that with a more threatening tone, and suddenly their interview was cut short. While ostensibly a change in location, Mendez claimed to have somewhere else to be, and shortly after Sully requested that Giraud return home and send him the raw files now. As Giraud put it: "For those of you that don't speak ONI, that was me getting fired."
Dutifully, Giraud boarded his return flight, intending to do exactly as Sullivan had asked. However, on board this flight, Giraud found something he did not expect - or rather, someone. Jacob Walker, who had claimed to be "permanently stationed on a beach", was on the flight with him. Giraud confronted Walker, who simply squirmed, making excuses, until a member of the flight crew sedated Giraud for not returning to his seat when asked.
When he woke up in his home, Giraud found he had been fined 50,000 cR. Thankfully, he thought to himself, ONI were paying him handsomely for his profile, even if he had gone off-the-rails towards the end. He began the file transfer, sending the raw recordings to Sullivan before noticing something: his COM pad had continued recording on the flight, even after he'd been sedated. Playing back the recording, he overheard two ONI officers talking about him as they prepared his unconscious body him for the journey home.
The two officers pondered how Giraud had been allowed onto the same flight as Walker as they carried him, and to Giraud's disgust, they referred to him throughout as 'Ben', as if they knew him. For Giraud, this was the straw that broke the camel's back. That was the last time he'd play lapdog for ONI. After cancelling the file transfer to Sully, and quickly setting up a microphone, Benjamin Giraud began to record the very first episode of HUNTtheTRUTH.
I'd like to thank Wilc0 for giving me the opportunity to write another Halo 101. Sorry this one had to end Halo 2-style, but there's just so much to write about in Giraud's story and I felt it would be a disservice to the series as a whole to cut any of it out. I will finish documenting his story next time, so... Please join me in the next issue of Halo 101.