Today's issue is the conclusion of the tragic tale of a journalist on noble mission doomed to fail; the end story of Benjamin Giraud. We pick up right where Part 1 left off, just as Giraud rejects ONI's lies and secrecy, instead committing to take the organization down. I'm Dab1001, and this is Halo 101.
Spreading the Word
- “You call the Chief a traitor? You're the traitor, ya mouthy pig! Do the galaxy a favour: sign off for good, strip naked and jettison your treasonous arse out into space!”— Leckie Tom, in a message to Giraud about his show.
While avoiding calls from Sully pestering him about the missed deadline, Benjamin Giraud prepared in secret the first episode of HUNTtheTRUTH - an audio series with the goal of exposing the true origins behind the Master Chief, loose threads and all. Soon after uploading the first of his findings, his inbox flooded with messages sent by everyone from enthused fans to hateful critics. One contact, though, was noticeably absent from his inbox: Michael Sullivan. Neither he nor his office had made any attempt to communicate with Giraud since he posted the first episode. This made it clear: ONI was listening, and they didn't like what they heard.
The public's messages did agree on one thing though: Ellie Bloom was correct for calling out Deon Govender as a liar. The general consensus was that while Deon Govender had been a real boxing coach, it could not have been on Eridanus II where boxing was illegal. And therefore, he could not have coached the young Spartan.
The next development was less promising, however. Ray Kurzig, a friend and reliable source of information to Giraud, visited him at his home, to tell him that not only did Jacob Walker and Gabriella Dvørak's stories line up, but that he (Ray) did not want anything to do with Giraud's activities, which had now crossed the line and become illegal. Moments later, Petra Janecek kicked Giraud's door in. Furious, she began screaming at him, echoing the Kurzig's statement, but in a more violent manner. She compared Giraud's absent-minded recording of her in Boston to a gun - both could be used to "destroy" someone - then drew her own real gun and threatened to destroy him, should she ever see him again.
- “Ben, that you can use someone's words to destroy them. In that way, isn't your comm pad kind of like a gun? But wait, I have a gun. It's right under my jacket. What would you think if I took it out and pointed it at your face?!”— Petra Janecek, threatening Giraud.
While squirming to explain and justify his actions to his enraged friends, Giraud mentioned that Mshak Moradi had taught him how to secure his communications from eavesdropping. Janecek, still furious, pointed out that Mshak was probably using it to listen in on them right at that very moment - a suspicion which Mshak promptly confirmed. The hacker the mentioned a contact of his who'd been wanting to speak to Giraud; someone by the name of FERO. Petra Janecek, obviously alarmed by the name, quickly cut ties and left the scene upon its mentioning. Ray also got up to leave but before he did, he revealed that the boxing coach who'd been outed as a liar, Deon Govender, had actually died seven years prior, meaning that whoever Giraud had interviewed wasn't the real person.
After being left for three days to contemplate everything that had just happened, Giraud was finally called back by Kurzig, who invited him out for a drink. When Giraud obliged, Ray relayed to him a critical piece of information he'd discovered: Jacob Walker had in fact been a fabrication, a fictional character brought to life by an actor by the name of Paul Gustavson. Following this, Giraud spoke again to Anthony Petrosky, who explained to him the age-old rumours that were passed around the military ranks about the SPARTAN-II Program: that ONI had kidnapped the Spartans as children and replaced them with doomed-to-die flash clones. Sickened by such disgusting actions, Giraud took his leave and retired to bed.
However, he did not sleep long; he was awakened by a voice soon revealed to be FERO's, emanating from his COM pad. Wasting no time, FERO galvanized Giraud to join her on a mission to bring down ONI once and for all. She was in possession of information which could bring ONI officials and high-ranking politicians, kept in the dark about the SPARTAN-II Program's crimes, into the same room. From there she would be able to hack in, allowing Ben to speak his piece directly to the senators, without giving ONI a chance to distort the truth. Realising he now had a real, tangible chance at bringing his sworn enemies down, Giraud agreed to go along with her plan.
However, by the next morning when Giraud awoke, the leak had dropped and Giraud did not like what he heard. FERO's information was an incident report from the planet Biko, which suggested that the Master Chief, supposed savouir of humanity, had invaded a historic peace summit between humans and Sangheili, attacking activist Richard Sekibo's bodyguard and killing eighteen others, while escorting the Elites' delegation - not the humans' - to safety. Panic, rage and confusion dominated the opinions of the public, all of whom were asking one question with terrible implications: Had the Master Chief, most legendary and powerful hero of their time, gone turncoat?
Making Preparations and Taking Precautions
- “Of course it was FERO, but why? It didn't make sense, why smear the Chief like this? After everything he'd done to save our asses? After everything ONI had done to him?”— Giraud, on FERO's leak.
In the middle of a panicked call about the leak, with Petra Janecek, Giraud suddenly found his access to the internet cut off, with the next available appointment to fix the "error" being two weeks away. It was a clear, thinly-veiled attempt by ONI to shut him down. Giraud was not so easily discouraged, though, so he left his flat and relocated to a safe house. When he arrived, he found a message waiting for him, from Mshak Moradi.
When he returned the call, Mshak showed him a map he had spent the last eight days curating. It overlayed a map of all known cases of exotic pediatric autoimmune disorders (the cause of death in the flash clones used by ONI to replace the kidnapped future Spartans) in children around age of seven. In other words, it was a reasonably accurate map of where the Spartans had been kidnapped from, and it heavily favoured the Outer Colonies. In addition, Moradi had found incident reports for two instances where Spartans had met their flash clones - and subsequently committed suicide.
Later, FERO contacted Giraud again. After a brief but heated argument over FERO's smearing of the Chief, she revealed to Benjamin that due to the riots and massive civil unrest caused by her leaks, UEG lawmakers had scheduled a meeting with ONI higher-ups; they were right where Giraud wanted them. Determined to produce an effective case against ONI, Giraud knew a certain disgruntled ex-ODST who could help, and thus he recruited Anthony Petrosky to his cause.
Before ending her communication to him, FERO gave Giraud a word of warning: the leaks about the Master Chief were not over. She had one last ace up her sleeve, which she promptly leaked to the whole galaxy. It was a video showing, plain as day, the Chief gunning down people at the peace accords on Biko. Unlike the incident report, this could not have been faked.
Going for the Throat
- “You're out of control Ben. Last chance to stop.”— Sully's message to Giraud during the meeting.
- “I can't be a party to the crimes you and the rest of ONI have committed. Not anymore. I'm done.”— Giraud, rebuking his offer.
- “Yes, you are.”— Sully's response.
First on Giraud's to-do list in preparation for the meeting was getting a statement from Petrosky, who delivered in spectacular fashion. His damning testimony laid bare the truth about ONI's crimes and the events aboard the UNSC Atlas that lead to the injury and deaths of several ODSTs. Thanking him for his excellent ammunition, Giraud then moved onto his next source, Mshak.
Following a message from Katrina about the state of the Outer Colonies which was cut off mid-sentence. Unable to help her, Giraud elected to ignore it and continue preparations. Mshak returned soon after, having prepared files containing more in-depth information than Giraud would be able to convey, with the intention that Giraud could send them to the senators following his speech. He also had found a recording of local police forces during one of the aforementioned incidents where a Spartan met his clone. Though this evidence came too late to be moulded into useful ammunition, it did serve to harden Giraud's resolve.
Then, finally, the time came. FERO took control of Giraud's COM pad, cutting Mshak off. After giving him some last-minute advice: "Go for the throat", she patched Giraud into the meeting and he did just that. In a couple of short minutes which felt like two long hours, with FERO shouting in his ear and his heart racing a mile a minute, Benjamin Giraud laid ONI's crimes at their feet. He included Petrosky's testimony, Mshak's evidence and everything he'd been able to piece together about the SPARTAN-II Program. By the end, there was no way ONI could sidestep what he'd sent their way.
Hunting the Truth
- “That message was the last time I heard... from Mshak Moradi.”— Giraud
Immediately, after the hearing, a number of things happened. First, FERO quickly cut the line of communication between her and Giraud, and promptly disappeared. Secondly, Giraud's bank account was completely drained by ONI and he was left penniless. Next, he received a garbled message from Katrina indicating that ONI had completely cut off communication between the Outer and Inner colonies. Finally, there was a message from Mshak. He claimed to have discovered information that he couldn't safely share over comms, so he was coming to meet him in person just two days later. In a sad twist of fate, though, two days passed and Mshak didn't arrive. ONI had claimed him.
The next living person Giraud would see was Ray Kurzig, days later. Though he was unable to provide anything on Mshak's disappearance or the aftermath of Giraud's testimony at the senate meeting, he had something almost as good: information that cleared the Master Chief's name. Apparently, an Insurrectionist group called Sapien Sunrise was responsible for the attack. The delegates had requested that UEG military forces attend the event to ward off the attack they had predicted was coming, but the UEG hadn't even considered it - they just turned it down with an automated denial. The Master Chief had seen the request and, against orders, attempted to save Sekibo and the other delegates. He'd managed to eliminate all Sapien Sunrise operatives without spilling a single drop of innocent blood, but he came too late for Sekibo, who'd already been mortally wounded. Despite the breakthrough, Giraud had no evidence and so could prove none of it.
This was where Petra came in. She contacted Giraud, having been passed a lead that could be crucial to his investigation. On the glassed planet of Bliss, someone had come across an ONI facility which had survived the Covenant's onslaught. ONI were unaware it had survived, and just 72 hours from that point, there would be a brief lapse in security on the computers contained within the facility, which would allow anyone present to access anything on ONI's database. Gratefully accepting Petra's offer, Giraud set out to take what little money he had left at his original house, in preparation for his trip to Bliss.
When he arrived at his flat, however, he was shocked to find it gutted of all possessions - even down to the floorboards. As he sat in what was left of his flat, contemplating everything ONI had done to him, he was reminded of something more immediate. He received a call on his chatter from FERO, warning him that two ONI operatives had entered the building after him. Unwisely, Giraud made a dash for the exit but was cornered in an apartment by the two operatives.
Without hesitation, the agents overpowered the journalist and attempted to put him down. They would have succeeded had they not both suddenly been shot in the back. FERO herself, in person, stepped out of the shadow of the flat's doorway.
She gave Giraud a modified, untraceable COM pad and access to an effectively limitless supply of credits, advising him to stay hidden until the heat died down. Instead, Giraud told her about Petra's leak and was able to convince her to allow him to investigate further. They parted ways, and Giraud set off to Bliss.
Upon arriving at Bliss, it took Giraud only a couple of hours to find what he was looking for. It proved to be more than he could ever have hoped. Not only did he find everything he needed to clear the Chief, but he found everything he could possibly need on the SPARTAN-II Program too. There was even evidence of the cover-up and falsified information presented to him by ONI when he had first started his profile of the Master Chief. Convinced that he had found the silver bullet with which to kill ONI, he returned to the freighter that'd brought him there and began preparations to deliver to ONI the final, finishing blow.
One Final Effort
- “We're going to clear the Chief's name before they burn him at the stake. We're gonna douse the real monsters in kerosene, then once and for all, and with everybody watching, I'm gonna burn ONI to the ground.”— Giraud vows to destroy ONI.
The first person Giraud enlisted for aid was Petrosky. Despite the fact that the bombshell they'd dropped at the politicians' meeting had amounted to noting, Giraud was able to convince Petrosky that this time they could have a real impact, and the veteran agreed. Next, Giraud sent backup files to Ray Kurzig. Unlike with Petrosky, Giraud didn't have to convice Kurzig to join his cause, as ONI had already done that. His house had been gutted in a similar fashion to Giraud's, and although he managed to keep his family safe, Kurzig was now in the same boat as Giraud, whether he liked it or not. So, Ray promised to fight to the bitter end with Giraud, an act which earned him a great deal of respect from the journalist.
Right before enacting his plan, Petra called to ask what he'd found from her lead. He explained that he'd found "everything", and that he was planning to expose ONI on a live TV news show called ECB News. Though Petra had reservations about his plan (which she voiced and he ignored), she wished him the best.
On the show, Giraud made a strong start, condemning ONI and their crimes. However, slowly his argument began to fall apart, piece by piece. First, Ray failed to meet Giraud before the show, as agreed. Then, just as Giraud was about to begin, he was interrupted when the UEG government finally released a statement about the Biko incident, perfectly timed to destabilise Giraud's argument. After that, as Giraud was finally beginning to fight his corner, his argument took yet another blow as ECB News finished reviewing the validity of the files he had provided. Their findings: all the files had been falsified and were created less than two months prior.
Fighting an uphill battle to expose the truth, Giraud insisted they skip to their schedueled interview Petrosky. This turned out to be the final nail in the coffin for Giraud, however. The veteran claimed to have been part of an undercover operation designed to root out members of an Insurrectionist cell. He followed by implicating FERO and Giraud as members of this cell. After Petrosky's interview, the show's host, Charles Kesler, suggested that Giraud and FERO were in fact one and the same, in an elaborate plot to unjustly smear the Master Chief's name.
Knowing that he had lost, Giraud made one final statement before being dragged off-stage in state custody:
Listen I've heard so much in the past few months, I know, I know what it means when I say the Chief is a hero! He's my hero! He should be everyone's hero, but you all turned on him!
Following that, public opinion turned on Giraud, and most his followers fell back into line. None of the public would ever lay eyes upon Giraud again, and neither did any of his friends... save one.
Legacy and Fate
- “We have the attention of every man woman and child in occupied space. Even the moderates in the inner colonies are starting to wake up! But the UEG got on the networks and sang them a lullaby, putting the masses back to sleep, smearing those who would speak the truth! That's what they did to Benjamin Giraud.”— FERO, mentioning Giraud in a speech.
Benjamin Giraud was taken to Midnight Facility and incarcerated in Cube B-349. Going weeks without human contact, Giraud began to inflict injuries on himself. He would often punch walls, and he also developed a tic: rubbing his head constantly - to the point of removing skin. His guards resorted to gassing him with sedatives to prevent him from doing himself harm. Eventually, Sully stepped in and took command. He gave Giraud writing implements and access to medical treatment. This seemingly-benevolent gesture did have an ulterior motive, though: ONI intended to use Giraud as a PR asset, to calm those who were calling for his freedom.
Meanwhile, on the outside, Giraud's legacy was not forgotten. Everyone involved with him had been offered either the carrot or the stick to betray him, except one: Petra Janecek. This oversight would cost ONI dearly, as Petra picked up the torch and continued Giraud's HUNTtheTRUTH series. Though Ray had been coerced into siding with ONI, he had previously sent copies of the true files to Petra, as a second backup. Using these files and her journalism, she kept digging into the origins of the SPARTAN-II Program. Though she was eventually also captured, she was able to broadcast a final message, encouraging all those who listened to her to keep searching for the truth.
Though most people were convinced by Giraud's set-up interview with ECB News, many groups in the Outer Colonies were not swayed, including one led by FERO. These groups called for Giraud's release, and in the meantime considered him a martyr, someone who made numerous sacrifices for what he believed was right.
Despite the fact that Giraud himself may never have seen it, his legacy lived on long after his capture. However, there is one last event of note in Giraud's life. Weeks after his incarceration, he was visited in his cell by a former friend. Though he was originally elated to see her, that soon turned to fear and then rage, when it was revealed that she had in fact been his downfall, the flaw in his plans the whole time. It had been FERO, or as ONI knew her: agent Maya Sankar, who had sold him out.
To all those who may have read this but not listened to HUNTtheTRUTH, I wholeheartedly recommend that you listen to it. Bothand of HUNTtheTRUTH are exceptional examples of immersive, compelling storytelling and you'd be missing out on an absolute gem if you neglected to. All episodes of it can be found on the official .
As always, a big thank-you to Wilc0 for allowing me to write another Halo 101, it has been a pleasure. As this issue completes Benjamin Giraud's story, the next will be focussing on a different topic - one which breaks from the Halo 101 mould a bit. The topic shall remain a mystery for now... Please join Wilc0 for the next issue of Halo 101.
16:38, November 1, 2016 (UTC)