RELATED MEDIA (POTENTIAL SPOILERS)
The events of the Human-Forerunner war, the Human-Flood war, and the Forerunner-Flood war went EXACTLY how the Primordial/The Flood wanted it, including the activation of the Halo Array and the annihilation of the Forerunners and The Flood. Everything that the Forerunners do in the Forerunner Trilogy, starting after the destruction of the remaining Precursors in Path Kethona until the cleansing of the galaxy by the Iso-Didact, is all part of the Precursor plan to get revenge on the Forerunners, remove the Forerunners from existence, and give Humanity a chance to attain The Mantle.
If you have read all of the Forerunner Trilogy, or at least Cryptum and Silentium, you’ll know that the Flood seemingly behaved very strangely; from the time the Pheru were used as a vector to grow the desiccated Precursor powder into the Flood itself, all the way up to and including the firing of the Halo Array. While it is somewhat explained throughout the books, there is a lot up for speculation. But I know exactly what happened, and the reasons why the events of the Forerunner Trilogy unfolded in the manner that they did. The Flood WANTED the Forerunners to fire the Halo Array, and put the Iso-Didact in a position where he had no other choice.
But why would The Flood and the Primordial want the Forerunners to wipe them out? Wouldn’t the Flood just want to assimilate all life in the galaxy and be last remaining sentience? Absolutely not! And while the Flood is portrayed in Halo media as an all-consuming parasite with no other desire than to assimilate all sentient life in the galaxy, this is not actually the case at all. Or, at least, that is not the case in the Forerunner Trilogy because the Flood is under the control of the Primordial, who has a very specific goal in mind. And to understand what the Primordial’s goals are, you have to understand the motivations of the Precursors prior to being wiped out by Forerunners.
As we now know, millions of years ago, the Precursors had enough of the Forerunners, and chose Humanity as the next inheritors of The Mantle. But instead of going quietly into the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, The Forerunners chose to fight back, and wiped the Precursors out of the galaxy entirely. And when they were done with that, the Forerunners sent an armada to the Large Magellanic Cloud (Path Kethona) to finish off what was left of the Precursors. The only thing that managed to survive, that we are aware of at least, is the Primordial and the desiccated powder that became The Flood. So the Precursors, being the most advanced species in the galaxy and possibly the universe, set up the most elaborate plot of revenge that the galaxy ever has and likely ever will see.
What do the Precursors want exactly? They want Humanity to be given a chance to attain The Mantle. And they still want to remove the Forerunners from existence, but now it is WITH A VENGANCE. These goals aren’t mutually exclusive, either. Humanity can’t attain the Mantle while the Forerunners are gallivanting around the galaxy, being all Guardian this, and corrupt political leadership that. And in addition, Humanity can’t attain the mantle while the Flood is ravaging the galaxy, whether Humanity is a specific target or not. So what do the Precursors (and by extension the Primordial) want? They want a universe devoid of Forerunners AND the Flood, while Humanity is left to be given a chance at the Mantle.
With the Precursors effectively wiped out, how do they still manage to attain their goals? By using The Flood. The Flood first appears on Faun Hakkor and starts ravaging Humanity. This forces Humans to spread out, and ultimately intersect with The Forerunners, sparking the Human-Forerunner war. The Primordial knows the Humans can’t win the war, and likely it doesn’t want them to. A Humanity tainted by direct interaction with The Forerunners would likely not have a fair shot at attaining the Mantle. So while the Primordial doesn’t want to entirely wipe out Humanity, it does want this “strain” of humanity destroyed so that a fresh Human civilization can emerge. How does the Primordial accomplish this? By convincing Forerunners that Humanity has some secret cure to the Flood, so that when the Forerunners eventually conquer Humanity, they are saved for “future study”. That’s right, the Primordial's first act of sweet revenge it to convince the Forerunners to SAVE THEIR OWN ENEMY AND REPLACEMENTS! They literally played right into the Primordial's plan and rescued the very species that was set to replace the Forerunners as defenders of the Mantle. But that was just step one. The Primordial would keep that one in its back pocket for thousands of years until it was ready to spring its trap.
Now onto step 2, waiting. At that point the Flood could have easily moved in and wiped out the Forerunners. But they didn’t. Why? Because that wouldn’t have accomplished the Primordial's goal of clearing out all Forerunners AND Flood from the galaxy. Plus, the Primordial's piece-de-resistance hadn’t yet played out, which is the most beautiful revenge plot ever devised. But we will get there in time.
So how long does the Primordial wait? Until the Forerunners can put together JUST enough of a defense to put up a fight. And what is that ultimate defense? Halo. Doesn’t it seem awfully coincidental that the Flood disappeared for thousands of years, only to reappear right as the Builders are able to construct Halos, both the first generation point-defense Halos and the second generation galaxy-destroying-superweapon Halos? That’s because it wasn’t a coincidence. That was the PLAN.
COINCIDENCE? (I THINK NOT)
“But Ian, had the Master Builder not been so corrupt and power-hungry, the Halo Array would never have been built. Isn’t that just an incredibly fortunate turn of events for the Primordial?”
Maybe. But it’s also fortunate that the Master Builder just HAPPENED to decide on Charum Hakkor as the place where he would test fire Halo, which just HAPPENED to contain the Primordial in the time lock, who just HAPPENED to get released when Halo was fired, who just HAPPENED to manage to get from the planet surface to Halo, which just HAPPENED to contain the most brilliant AI the Forerunners had ever devised, and whose part-designer just HAPPENED to be the Master Builder. Maybe it was just an incredibly fortunate series of events for the Primordial. Or maybe the Master Builder was being influenced by the Primordial the entire time.
And let’s not forget that the Domain itself, the repository for all Forerunner knowledge and history, is actually a Precursor construct that seemingly changes the information stored within without rhyme or reason. There is a quote from George Orwell’s 1984:
"Those that control the past control the future and those who control the present control the past."
Who controls the Domain in the present? Seemingly the Precursors or some sort of Precursor entity. And if the Precursors are actually in control of the Domain, they control the past of the Forerunners, and can manipulate the Forerunners to do what they like.
So now that the Forerunners have Halo, The Flood strikes. And they strike HARD. The Flood reappears in the galaxy and start their blitz. Meanwhile, the events of Cryptum and Silentium start to play out. The Ur-Didact is ultimately captured and thrown into a Burn, where he ends up coming into contact with a Gravemind, who drives the Ur-Didact mad. Literally. And not just mad. The Gravemind turns the Didact into a double agent and just lets him go back to the Forerunners. Don’t believe the Didact was a double agent? Where does the Ur-Didact go soon after being returned to Forerunner civilization? Back to Nomdagro, the Librarian and Didact's home planet, where there is no Flood presence yet. That is, at least, until the Ur-Didact heads off by himself to some obscure Precursor ruin. Which, within mere minutes becomes activated and the Flood arrive at the planet via Star Roads. What a coincidence.
So the Librarian, the Iso-Didact, and the Ur-Didact are forced to flee for safety. But there isn’t much safety left for Forerunners in the galaxy, except the Arks. The Librarian and the Iso-Didact head to the Greater Ark in Audacity, while the Ur-Didact, who didn’t know where the Greater Ark was, tails right behind in Mantle’s Approach. And when Audacity is forced to make a crisis jump to get to the Greater Ark, the Ur-Didact piggybacks onto Audacity, making the jump needlessly risky. Why would he do that? Because he is mad? Maybe that’s part of it. But he is effectively a beacon telling the Flood exactly where the Librarian and Iso-Didact are, as well as letting the Flood know the last of the Forerunner leadership is headed to the Greater Ark to make a last stand.
Ok, so check this out. Within a few hundred years of their reemergence in the Milky Way, the Flood have mostly conquered everything, save for, get this, BOTH Arks, ONE point-defense Halo, and, somehow ALL 6 galaxy-destroying-superweapon Halos. Boy, the Forerunners sure were lucky that The Flood and the Primordial never figured out where the Arks were, considering by the end of the war the Flood had CONVERTED ENTIRE SOLAR SYSTEMS INTO GIGANTIC BRAINS. Is it possible the Forerunners managed to hide this secret from the Flood and Primordial for the entirety of the war? Yea, it’s possible. But incredibly unlikely. What is far more likely is that the Flood knew where they were and chose to let them remain, so that the super-secret mega revenge plan could play out just how the Primordial wanted.
EVERY LAST PIECE IN ITS PLACE
Now we are approaching the end of Silentium and the end of the Forerunner-Flood war. What are the last events of the war? The Greater Ark is destroyed, the Librarian goes off to Erde-Tyrene to save her last remaining human specimens (which is somehow untouched by the Flood invasion despite the Flood effectively conquering everything at this point), and the Iso-Didact flees to the Lesser Ark. The Librarian comes up with an absurd plan to fool the Flood and the Primordial by claiming “oh hey Flood, we totally have a cure to you right here in this ONE solar system you just somehow missed.” And the Flood supposedly believe it. Bull-crap. The Primordial knows there is no cure. They are just biding enough time to let the Iso-Didact get prepped to fire the Halo array. I mean, by the end the Flood have made slipspace travel incredibly difficult for even a small ship, yet the Iso-Didact is able to disperse 6 10,000 km diameter ring-worlds throughout the entire galaxy without issue. That’s because the Primordial LET it happen. Because it WANTS the Forerunners to fire the Halo Array. And in the end, he does it. The Iso-Didact fires off the Halo Array, thinking he finally out-foxed the Primordial and the Flood. But he was just playing right into the Primordial's hands. Or claws. Or whatever it had at the end of its arms.
Regardless, the end of Silentium concludes with the Primordial’s final act, the piece-de-resistance I mentioned earlier, and the most beautiful single act of revenge the galaxy has ever witnessed. The Primordial forces the Forerunners to KILL THEMSELVES, MAKE THE ULIMATE VIOLATION OF THE MANTLE BY ANNIHILATING EVERY SINGLE REMAINING CREATURE IN THE ENTURE GALAXY, and, oh yea, remember that little thing the Primordial had in its back pocket? MAKES THE FORERUNNERS RESEED THE GALAXY WITH THEIR WORST ENEMY.
But wait one second. Let’s go back real quick and check what it was the Precursors wanted.
- No Forerunners
- No Flood
- Untainted humans with a fresh galaxy to prove their worthy of the Mantle
So did the Primordial / Precursors get what they wanted? Let’s see: Forerunners: GONE. Flood: GONE. Humans: STARTING FRESH. A galaxy free of the forces of either the Forerunners or the Flood. What do I call that? Not just a long con. The longest goddamn con the galaxy has ever seen. The Forerunners thought they out-thought and out-fought the Precursors. They had no idea they were being played the whole time. This shouldn’t be called the Forerunner Trilogy. This should be the Precursors Spend a Million Years Getting Revenge on a Bunch of Little Shit Forerunners Trilogy.