A Brief History On The Forerunner
I know it says “brief” but it’s hard to be brief on the Forerunner. I will cover here where the Forerunner came from, the Human-Flood war (the first one), the Human-Forerunner war, the Forerunner-Flood war, history of the Flood, and the Covenant-Human war – why they started it and why they were wrong. Feel free to jump around to the sections you want.
What are we running from?
Whether you have been involved with the Halo Universe since its release back in 2001 or just came to the universe with Halo 4, you have probably heard something about the ancient architect race called Forerunner. This race of beings lived a long time ago before we even knew about other solar systems and galaxies. This ancient race referred to themselves as a “mantle” race (or nurturing race), one who traveled the universe indexing all the different planets with life on them. They nurtured and guided each race as they evolved; pointing them towards paths of peace, further preventing war in the universe. The Forerunner was a race free from war and was eventually at a state where they had no weapons (disarmament). They nurtured Humanity when we were a young race and are responsible for our upbringing and current place in history among the stars. One thing many people don’t understand is that humanity once stood at the same level as the Forerunners. There was a time, long long ago when humanity took to the stars and fought the ancient architect race. The Forerunners viewed humans as a violent species and a threat to the rest of the universe. They had us “de-evolved” back to a Neolithic state, but what they didn’t understand is that humans weren’t trying to expand our existence to other reaches of the universe; we were running away from something.
From the Beginning
There was once a race of superhuman creatures called the Precursors. This “transsentient” race of beings is the only known race of creatures to ever reach a tier-0 existence (tier-7: Pre-Industrial, tier-6: Industrial, tier-5: Atomic, tier-4: Space, tier-3: Space-Faring i.e. good at it, tier-2: Interstellar, tier-1: World Builders, tier-0: Transsentient). It is believed that they were able to travel among the stars and accelerate the evolution of any given race of species. They were the creators of the six-digit, bipedal race of Forerunners on the planet of Ghibalb.
The Forerunner home planet was believed to be a pure paradise, at least until they began entering tier-5. After their home planet had been virtually destroyed from their experiments the Forerunners lashed out against their creators. The Precursors were almost completely removed from the universe – only one survived, but we’ll get to that later. What the Forerunner didn’t understand, until it was too late is that the Precursors left something behind with their demise and in the end they would get their revenge.
I will be jumping back and forth for this part but I feel that this section is needed to explain exactly where the Flood came from – as far as I believe – and why they’re here before we jump into the Human-Flood war and the Forerunner-Flood war.
The Flood started out as a powdery substance that was found in cylinders by humans around 10,000 years before the start of the Forerunner -Flood War – during the first existence of Humans when we were an advanced race at tier 1 (this will be explained soon). In this time the Humans and the San’Shyuum (the Prophets) had a trade alliance going on. One of the things they preferred to trade was little animals known as Pheru, animals that they eventually used as pets. When the Humans found the powder they began testing it on the small Pheru. In the beginning the Pheru showed signs of elevated intelligence, and the humans saw the powder as a super-substance that could evolve creatures it was used on, but eventually the Pheru began showing different “side-effects”. The first was a change in the animal’s hair and eventually a change in their appetite. The herbivores began eating each other. Not a lot is known about how it happened but eventually the Pheru evolved and grew into the huge creatures we knew today (it most likely happened once the Pheru took their first human prey). An all out battle erupted between the infection and the Humans/San’Shyuum.
After years of battle the Humans developed a DNA strand that could combat the Flood. This strand served as an infection to the Flood that killed them upon consumption. Putting the strand into all of the Humans, the Flood began dying off as they consumed the Humans. Forced to retreat the Flood disappeared until the Forerunner-Flood War.
A lot of speculation surrounds the Flood and where they possibly come from but looking back at the clues we have from the games we know that The Precursors created the Flood. They believed that once it consumed all life in the universe we could continue on without need for battle. There would be a state of all-knowing once the flood consumed everything that lived. There wouldn’t be any duties or problems in the universe, just existence. Of course they may have created the Flood as a punishment to the Forerunner as well.
The fact that the Flood was created by the Precursors is further shown through the Gravemind and what he tells you through the game.
"We meet again, young one. I am the last of those that gave you breath and shape and form, millions of years ago.
I am the last of those your kind rose up against and ruthlessly destroyed.
I am the last Precursor.
And our answer is at hand."
He states here, to John, that he is the Precursor and that he is the last of his kind that was ruthlessly destroyed by the Forerunner. He of course says that he is “the last of those that gave you breath” because he believes John to be Forerunner. Another quote from the Gravemind that can apply is:
“Child of my enemy, why have you come? I offer no forgiveness, a father’s sins, passed to his son.”
Again he speaks of the sin that was the Forerunner’s genocide of the Precursors.
The First Fall of Humanity
Early in its history Humanity had a problem with the Forerunner race and its control over the universe. We didn’t particularly care for them and we wanted to escape them. Shortly after we came into power of space-faring ships we stumbled upon the Flood powder. A battle erupted between the Flood and Humanity, with the San’Shyuum helping as well. While we were fighting the Flood on one side, the Forerunner came up on the other side and began an all out war against the Human/San’Shyuum alliance.
Humanity came into power from their discovery of Precursor technology on Charum Hakkor. By reverse engineering the technology Humanity created weapons that scared the Forerunners. With their increased strength the Humans challenged the Forerunner and declared that because they were more powerful they were the chosen descendants of the Precursor and therefore the rightful race to take up the “mantle”. The Forerunner’s saw this as heracy and waged a war on Humanity and the San’Shyuum who had created an alliance with humans.
Instead of indexing other creatures across the galaxy Humanity chose to conquer and control strategic worlds across the universe. After killing countless species over 50 systems the Forerunners took up a stand against Humans. Forced to fight two battles, the Forerunner on one side and the Flood on the other, the Humans and San’Shyuum began losing forces very fast. Humanity was easily dispatched from their conquered worlds and forced to retreat back to Charum Hakkor. After lots of battles the Humans and San’Shyuum were defeated, and aside from a few people, completely whipped out.
Humanity was exiled to Earth and “de-evolved” to a pre-historic state. Many of the leaders were executed to “remove the aggressive gene from humanities existence”. The San’Shyuum were quarantined to an unknown system far away from Humans. A fleet of Forerunner ships kept guard outside of the San’Shyuum planets at all times and a shield (much like the one around Requiem) was created around their star system. The two races were forbidden from ever coming in contact ever again. A Forerunner named Faber later tested the first Halo-prototype on the San’Shyuum home world nearly pushing them into extinction.
After the Didact (the Forerunner leader) exiled both the Humans and San’Shyuum, the Flood came back into power. With Humanity, their killers, at bay the Flood knew now was the time to attack and take over the galaxy. The Didact later regrets his decision to de-evolve Humanity because he didn’t realize that their aggression stemmed from the Flood-Human War (not to mention he lost a great ally that could have helped him stop the Flood).
During our exile the Librarian watched over us and nurtured us to the state that we are currently at. In the beginning the Didact used the Composure to transform a small portion Humans into Prometheans. After this act the Librarian trapped the Didact inside the Ark for Humanities safety.
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The Inevitable Fall of the Forerunner Race
Shortly after the Forerunners defeated the Humans and San’Shyuum they came across the source of their demise; the Flood. As it’s mentioned above; the Flood were an inevitable creation of the Humans but were an ultimate by-product of the Precursors and the Forerunners betrayal of them. After their defeat at the hands of the humans, the Flood retreated back into the far reaches of space to rebuild their forces. Once they caught wind of their greatest threat being “de-evolved” by the Forerunners they immediately returned to once again try and assimilate all life in the universe. On the planet G 617 gl, they initiated their first attack upon the Forerunner race. Using captured vessels the Flood infiltrated the Forerunner forces and took over G6 17, transforming billions of Forerunner into Flood. Over the next few years the Flood infected a series of other planets, increases their forces with each infected planet.
The Forerunner fought the Flood every way they could. In the beginning they fought them on the ground but after so many forces were lost they were forced to destroy the Flood from spaceships orbiting the planets. After this seemed to fail they escalated to destroying stars in a solar system that was deemed overrun by Flood, killing all life in that system.
After hundreds of years of battle the Forerunner began to fear that there was nothing they could do to stop the Flood. As a final measure they came to the realization that they must activate an advanced ring system they created across the galaxy. This weapon would completely eliminate all sentient life throughout the galaxy, effectively destroying the Flood’s food source. The only problem one Forerunner had with this path is that it went against their ultimate goal of the “mantle”. The Didact, the Forerunner’s military leader, didn’t believe that the activation of the rings is what they needed to do to beat the Flood. In an attempt to protect themselves, the Forerunner created an Ark (used by the Librarian to collect the many species around the universe and protect them) and the Onyx and Requiem shield worlds (to protect them from the ring activation).
Around this time the Flood had reached a very high evolutionary level. They were not just a mass grouping of infected hosts anymore. They now had one all-knowing Flood form that directed the smaller forces where to go and he is known as the Gravemind. To directly combat this Gravemind the Forerunner created and employed an advanced A.I. to run their military forces known as Mendicant Bias.
One of the first tasks given to Mendicant was to interrogate a captive the Forerunner found in a stray cryopod. Mendicant interrogated the captive for forty three years. After the interrogation period Mendicant sent his interrogation tapes into his Forerunner masters, but they never received them. The captive, more commonly known as the Gravemind, attempted to bring Mendicant over to his side. The Forerunner, he said, were leading the galaxy to a state of evolutionary stagnation. Only through the Flood could they reach an elevated state of evolution, an all knowing state of existence.
Persuaded by his words Mendicant pushed himself into a rampant state, one where he hated his creators and only existed to serve the Gravemind. Taking control of five of the Halo rings Mendicant lead an assault on the Forerunner’s and completely destroyed the Maginot Sphere (a line drawn by the Forerunner to symbolize the galaxies they still controlled and the ones lost to the Flood).
In a final attempt to buy them time to finish the rest of the Halo rings the Forerunner created a second A.I. Offensive Bias. He didn’t have the level of free will that Mendicant had but his entire purpose was to stop Mendicant from accessing Installation 00 (the Ark). Not knowing where all of the rings were set Mendicant back because he couldn’t deactivate them, but if he accessed the Ark he could deactivate all of them simultaneously (not to mention the number of species hidden on the Ark for protection).
After coming under some information on where he thought one of the installations would be, Mendicant set out an attack on one of the last remaining keyships of the Forerunner fleet. Here is where Mendicant’s hate for the Forerunners played against him. His hate for the Forerunners blocked his perception and the possibility of his creators creating a second A.I. like himself. Mendicant was thwarted by Offensive at every turn.
During this time the Librarian had set out on a galaxy wide trek to collect all the species she could before the activation of the Halo rings. Once time came close to activating the rings the Didact (the Forerunner military leader) sent out a fleet of ships to bring the Librarian (his wife) back to him at Installation 00. Mendicant intercepted this fleet and ultimately destroyed it, trapping the Librarian on Earth. The Librarian saw potential in the Humans and wanted to stay and help develop their race into a race that could one day take up the “mantle”.
Having no other choice the Didact activated the rings – even after he protested their creation. In the last few moments before the activation the Flood fleet sent everything it had to stop the activation, while the Forerunner fleet took up its final stand against Mendicant and the Gravemind. After the rings activated, the Ark released keyships with the different races, returning them back to their home planets to start life again. The entire Forerunner race is believed to be extinct after the activation of the ring.
How the Human-Covenant War Started
After the Forerunner-Flood battle Mendicant Bias was broken down into multiple parts by Offensive Bias and scattered over the universe. Only one part of him made it to the ark, while the other parts were put on ships and lost. One part of him was placed onto a Forerunner Dreadnought ship that was later lost and recovered by the Covenant. The shard was uploaded into High Charity and the Covenant revered it as an Oracle. After exploring the Universe the Covenant eventually came upon the Humans (yes the San’Shyuum had seen humans before but that was in another life) on Harvest. Two San’Shyuum interrogated Mendicant about these “holy relics” they were finding on Harvest (humans). Mendicant corrected the two Prophets by telling them that the relics were actually people and their translation of Forerunner hieroglyphs is wrong. What they had been translating as reclamation is actually reclaimer. This revelation would completely undermine everything the Covenant has been preaching to their people. They waged an all out war on the Humans to remove them from the universe to keep their religion intact.
The rest of the information on this can be found in the first three Halo games. I don’t want to take away too much from the games, especially Halo 4.