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Let's Play Halo SPV3 Stage 7
Posted By: Lion O CyborgDate: 3/23/20 2:35 p.m.

Stage 7: The Library

Fight your way through an ancient security facility in search of the Index

ELSEWHERE ON THE RING…

Something nagged at him, but what was it? Something he’d forgotten? It came to him all at once: he had nearly forgotten his own name. Keyes. Jacob. Captain. Service number 01928-19912-JK. The droning chant that had lurked at the edge of his awareness buzzed more loudly, and he felt some kind of pressure-some sense of anger. Why was he angry? No, something else was angry…because he’d remembered his own name? Keyes. Jacob. Captain. Service number 01928-19912-JK.

Where was he? How did he get here? He struggled to find the memory. He remembered parts of it now. There was a dark, alien room, hordes of some terrifying enemy, gunfire, then a stabbing pain…

They must have captured him. That was it. This might be some new trick by the enemy. He’d give them nothing. He struggled to remember who the enemy was. He repeated the mantra in his head: Keyes. Jacob. Captain. Service number 01928-19912-JK. The buzzing pressure increased. He resisted, though he was unsure why. Something about the drone frightened him. The sense of invasion deepened. Is this a covenant trick? he wondered. He tried to scream, “It won’t work. I’ll never lead you to Earth!” but he couldn’t make his mouth work, couldn’t feel his own body. As the thought of his home planet echoed through Keyes’ consciousness, the tone and tenor of the drone changed, as if pleased. He-Keyes. Jacob. Captain. Service number 01928-19912-JK-was startled when new images played across his mind. He realised, too late, that something was sifting through his mind, like a grave robber looting a tomb. He had never felt so powerless, so afraid…

His fear vanished in a flood of emotion as he felt the warmth of the first woman he had ever kissed…He tried to scream as the memory was ripped from him and discarded. Keyes. Jacob. Captain. Service number 01928-19912-JK. As each of the fragments of his past played out and was sucked into the void, he could feel the invader enveloping him like an ocean of evil. But, like the pieces of flotsam that remain after a ship has gone down, random pieces of himself remained, a sort of makeshift raft to which he could momentarily cling. The image of a smiling woman, a ball spiralling through the air, a crowded street, a man with half his face blown away, tickets to a show he couldn’t remember, the gentle sound of wind chimes and the smell of newly baked bread. But the sea was too rough, waves crashed down on the raft and broke it apart. Swells lifted Keyes up, others pushed him down, and the final darkness beckoned.

But then, just as the ocean was about to consume him, Keyes became aware of the one thing the creature that raped his mind couldn’t consume: the CNI transponder’s carrier wave. He reached for it like a drowning man, clutched the lifeline with all his might and refused to let go. For here, deep within his watery grave, was a thread that led back to what he had been. Keyes. Jacob. Captain. Service number 01928-19912-JK.

PRESENT LOCATION

Sorry to give you the bad news, but we’ve been kidnapped. We aren’t on board Echo 419 en-route back to the control centre or alpha base, and we surely won’t get there any time soon. The 343 Guilty Spark we learned about in the primer and terminals has finally shown up in the game and so has the Flood, for the first time in 100,000 years.

Stopping Captain Keyes from finding the weapons was a failure: we were several hours too late. Escaping with some marines, we re-entered the swamp where the quarantine labs were under. So when I brought the men down to a tower for safety, only for them all to be infected by that greedy mob while Spark spirited us away without consent to this dark, foreboding complex. The passage above and at the end of the last stage is no fanfic: they are passages from the novel about the fate of Captain Keyes and many others infected by the Flood. Some sort of sacrifice to their brain currently existing on another Halo ring. Though it seems I’ve not been invited to the barbie!

So why are we here? Well, as you know, this is only Halo Installation 04 out of 7. We recently found out in-game that it’s also a fearful weapon, intended to wipe out the Flood, which was found still being studied in the research facilities here and in a gas mining station in Threshold’s atmosphere. The control room territory in the mountains is the primary firing source for that weapon, a weapon that pierces stars: a gigantic particle pulse cannon. However, it is currently sealed. In order to activate it, enormous energy and a very specific encryption key are required. That key is the Activation Index, kept in the centre of the Library which is where we are now. Spark has a little game for us to play: hunt the Index in the core of this security hall. If we win, we go free and fire the ring, stopping the Flood. If we lose, we die. Unlike Durandal, he does help us a little with the sentinels at key points.

Without further rambling stuff we already know, I begin.

Act 1: The Library – Hang Brain

That is the index inside those blocks. It’s suspended in the middle of a deep pit with no way to reach it. The camera goes through a doorway which opens up (and promptly closes again after it’s through) to show the Monitor and I teleporting into the Library. “We must collect the Index before we connect the baby installation.” Spark says. Er, what? Since I never played Anniversary with its subtitles on (And Halo 1 doesn’t have them anyway), I still have no idea if that’s actually what he says or not. Spark’s speeches here in general are a little off at times.

I’m still not thrilled about being kidnapped by this AI so I empty a good deal of my heavy machinegun and pistol rounds into him, mainly just to hear some funny lines. “Please stop firing your weapon!” he tells me but if you don’t listen to him, he snaps “Please stop being human!” Reloading to conserve ammo, I begin the long slog of following this guy to the Index. The Flood soon arrive and they now include jackal and grunt i.e. vanilla carrier forms. The whole level is one, long, hard battle against the Flood in dark, bleak looking vaults, broken up by giant doors where you hold the line, underground access ways where the fighting is easier and giant anti grav elevators between floors. It’s pretty fun and challenging on Heroic but a nightmare on Legendary if you don’t know the little tricks you can pull to make surviving easier. Some of these I know from my Halo Anniversary guide, and at least one from my Halo 2 one.

In vanilla and Anniversary, this is the first level in which carrier forms appear.


And that’s how he washes, and that’s how he washes, and that’s how he washes his dirty clothes! You may have noticed brown fog in the air that’s not here in the main games. According to the Halo 2 guide when you see this in its Flood levels, those are clouds of Flood spores. If you breathe them in, the Flood don’t need flugs to infect you. The spores are basically the “sperm” to the infection form’s larvae, but you don’t see the effects of spores in the games; they’re just for show.

You want to get a shotgun, quick! The assault rifle and shotgun are your two best friends when fighting the Flood: shotgun for combat forms and carrier forms, rifle for flugs. You’ll want to replace the assault rifle with a plasma rifle when the covenant return for both flug duty and shields.

Up ahead, Spark leads me into Index chamber from the cutscene. High above us is a different shaped anti-grav elevator to the others we will be seeing, in that its beam is on top instead of in the pit, and it has lots of geometric shapes and blocks carved into it. “The energy field above us contains the Index. We must get up there!” Spark says. He’s wrong: the Index is in the middle of the pit on this floor. We do need to get up there, but it’s only to ride the anti-grav lift right back down again, just to bridge the gap.

I manage to find and wrangle a shotgun from a combat form before I reach the first door. I also found out that elite form shields are weaker than living elite ones so the assault rifle may still work, but you want to switch to a plasma weapon anyway as SPV3 adds Covenant to this level too whereas the original has none.

Spark says that the security doors have sealed automatically so he will go access the override to open them. He’s not gone long: kill all the Flood before getting here and you don’t have to play defence. The other doors aren’t so lenient. The Monitor also says that this is the first of 10. More doors, I can hardly wait. “Puzzling.” Guilty Spark tells me as we enter the first of many vaulted galleries with wedge shaped blocks and strange blue screens (plasma banks?), “You brought such ineffective weapons to combat the Flood, despite the containment protocols.” He could have built some Halo 4 Forerunner weapons for us to use instead, as those would be quite handy, thanks! Instead of following him to the right down the gallery, I head left instead. Spark warns I could get lost if I don’t follow him, and there’s a Flood ambush down here to prove it, but SPV3 adds a reward in the new hive in this dead end:

Remember Watch Your Step in Pathways into Darkness? There’s risk to coming here, especially as honour guard combat forms rank with rocket and shotgun forms as the worst of the worst, (their shields are completely unbreakable except to plasma and explosives) but hidden in the remains of the growth pod he came from is what I came here for:

There’s also a first aid kit hidden in the pod remains too. Taking my Flamethrower, I head back to follow Spark. I stick with the shotgun and only use the flamethrower if I’m forced to. I just got this thing from a hard to survive hive, I’m not wasting it. Over some glass panels over deep pits with infection forms under them, I hear the sounds of combat: the covenant new to this level in SPV3 are just ahead, fighting a losing battle against more of the Flood. “You can see how the bodies’ been transformed by the genetic restructuring of the Flood infection.” The Monitor gives us a little lesson on how the Flood work, albeit the abridged version; “The small creatures carry spores that cause a host to mutate. The mutated host then produces spores that can pass the Flood to others. It is insidious and elegant. As long as enough hosts remain, the Flood is virulent.”

A terminal lies on the floor where the covenant were.

Urrgh, not again. I’ll go easy on the Gordon Ramsey clips this time. The last stage was a bit overloaded with them. Here’s the real first covenant terminal:

The Sacred Icon is what they call the Index. We get to see this for the first time in Halo 2. Once again, I’d make a Hey Arnold joke, this time when the Sewer King refers to Grandpa Phil’s pocket watch as a Royal Icon, but I can’t find such a video clip to link to.

The blue screens on this level are weird. If they are plasma banks, that doesn’t make sense. Isn’t this place a data centre? From a distance, they shimmer with waves of blue light but up close they look like the second of the groups of fountains that used to be in the mall in town 20 or more years ago.

Up ahead near the first anti-grav lift, more covenant face off against Flood before sentinels show up and toast them. The Flood destroy the sentinels but like Halo 2, they drop their weapons now so I take an Extended Range Incineration Beam. “Those sentinels will supplement your combat systems.” Spark tells me. “But I suggest you upgrade to at least a Class 12 Combat Skin. Your current model only scans as a Class 2! Which is unsuited for this kind of work.” If there’s a battle suit that’s 6 times as powerful as MJOLNIR armour, I’ll be first in line to try it on. Too bad the Forerunners took all their combat skins with them. We’ll find out why the Monitor seems to mistake us for a Forerunner ourselves despite clearly recognising us as human in due time.

There’s a charger and Forerunner terminal in this area.

In other words, he couldn’t teleport us directly to the final elevator because the Index’s barrier could make us telefrag a wall. Yeesh.

Normally you get showered upon by the other end of the tractor beam in the middle of the lift, but those effects don’t seem to be in this remake.

Act 2: Wait, it gets worse! - Elevator Trouble

“Ah, I am a genius! Hee, hee, hee, hee!” the Monitor giggles as he emerges. A pain in the ass is more like it, as John Carver says in the novel around here. Unlike the main game, every floor is now told apart by coloring the databanks different colors per floor, keeping the original blue for the ground floor only. The ones up here look like they’re filled with lime jelly.

The Monitor flies off again as he says that Flood activity has caused a failure in a drone control subsystem. While he resets the backup, he tells me to continue on but I cannot as the second door is in the way. To deal with this area on Legendary, trigger the objective to wait and then hide in the ramped pit with the medipacks. The Flood will continue to respawn as you kill them until the door opens, but if you hide and wait it out without them finding you, no extra ones spawn and the initial wave is all you fight when the door opens. Sentinels show up at that point too.

The pit has a human terminal in it from Sergeant Marvin Mobuto, a character from the book with practically no screen time.

Not the brightest flying lightbulb is he? 343 Guilty Spark that is, not Marvin. He shows up again when the door opens. “The sentinels can use their weapons to manage the Flood only for a short time. Speed is of the essence.” As in, we have to hurry, the Flood can destroy sentinels easily, their weapons overheat quickly or all of the above? Through the door is the second level of the Index chamber. Like the main pyramid shaft over Nea Kameni peak in Tomb Raider’s Atlantis, we keep coming back here now and then before reaching our goal at the top.

That is the Sentinel Enforcer we learned about at the end of Assault on the Control Room. As I said before, they’re from Halo 2. Unlike Halo 2, they’re on our side for now. I misremembered their incineration cannons: they must be their mortars as opposed to having a third weapon.

The sentinel aggressor drones to my left are the normal ones that fire red beams. You can’t see them but there’s also sentinel majors that use blue beams like I’m holding here. Unlike Halo 2, those beams have a lot of spread now, but the good kind of spread where the beam splits into multiple ones in a just as accurate cluster, like the BFG 9000 when Doom was still in development, back when the name meant “Billion Fireballs Gun”. Up ahead is the first of the bad lot: mixed in with the combat forms near the third door is one with a rocket launcher! You have plenty of time to see it coming in the open space, but in later encounters, you won’t be so lucky.

The door jams when it opens so Spark flies off to fix it. Infection forms crawl on the ceiling before raining down from above and jackal carrier forms show up. The enforcer helps out with its red needlers. Through the door is the first underground access way, infested with carrier forms. Pro tip, courtesy of the Halo 2 guide: stick a plasma grenade to the gasbag and instantly open fire with the shotgun. Don’t use any other weapon or a frag like the guide implies you can do, that’s a fucking lie. Other weapons are too slow and the frag grenade fuse is too short. The carrier form will explode but so too will your grenade, killing the infection forms inside instantly.


EEK!

“Your environment suit should serve you well when the Flood begins to alter the atmosphere. You are a good planner.” Gee, thanks. That’s also a warning that the next rocket guy is around the corner, past some honour guards. Make sure you kill the elites before they get infected. Honour guard Flood are no fun.

Remember the vent in Stage 4? The Flood use that against you. Looking for easy food, the Flood take the vent shafts like Guilty Spark mentioned in a Stage 4 terminal and stick their nosy little barbs into places they have absolutely no right to be, such as the Library and Control Centre. They continue to come out of those pipe shaped vents on the wall non-stop as you pass through the databank halls so by the time you think you’ve finally gotten rid of the stupid, venomous little Rocket launcher Flood, a shotgun guy buts into Spark and I’s private business, slithers out of the woodwork and blindsides you with another wave of poisonous mutants it vomits onto the library floor just like what happens here; just such a shotgun guy, mixed in with more combat forms and a swarm of flugs drop out of a nearby air shaft behind me they shouldn’t even be inside in the first place once the rocket guy dies, only going there as it followed the other combat forms before it. Real classy of them. Seriously, those power weapon Flood and honour guard forms can fellate Halo’s sun as far as I’m concerned. Unlike most times in vanilla Halo the respawning vent shaft Flood turn up, the ambush doesn’t kill me so I roast the little snakes in return with the TOZT 7 before they do, for as we all know, not only do all TOZTs toast toast, they can barbecue meat for our wholemeal beef burgers. Or should I say bonemeal as the Flood feast on calcium, it being the main resource required for a Gravemind.


https://youtu.be/cyKGhXv3bXE?t=249

Near the second elevator are two things: the next Forerunner terminal and a charger. I’ve now replaced my flamethrower with a brute plasma rifle after exhausting its fuel, so after reading, charge up before riding the lift. You will need it. Obviously, it doesn’t work on the flamethrower and sentinel beams are incompatible.

Imagine making little figures out of mac and cheese (using rotten, stinky cheeses) and smash them together. That’s what Spark’s description of a proto-gravemind forming sounds like. Bleach.

Act 3: But I Don’t Want to Ride the Elevator! – Kill Your Television

And if you do, you literally will too as Halo 1 is an Xbox Classic game first and foremost, though TVs used to be used in place of computer monitors as the latter were expensive. The databanks are now bright red. Near the next underground access way and Marvin Mobuto’s next terminal, Guilty Spark figures that the Covenant are responsible for releasing the Flood as they seem most persistent in their attempts to access restricted areas. He’s changed his tune, considering he recognised my turning off of the Cartographer building security also disabled containment lab security too, like Lara Croft accidentally releasing Dr Kristina Boaz’s Proto Nephillim.

Spoiler alert, he’s fucked. Just like in the book though unlike Halo 1 where he didn’t exist outside of an urban legend, we actually do find his body. Or what’s left of it. Unlike Halo: The Flood he died in a different place too.

You can’t see it here but unlike the main games, sentinel beams in this mod can set enemies on fire, mostly the Flood. Around the corner, the quieter version of Shadows starts up by the next door. It was here when playing this level in vanilla Halo 1 co-op for the third time or so that my brother made a Kim Possible reference based on an episode we recently saw at the time: “SNG. So Not Good.”

When the door to the Index Chamber opens, Covenant duke it out with Flood and sentinels. More rocket launcher Flood are right around the corner, hiding behind a metal wedge waiting to jump you. Hunters deal with them first however. A plasma weapon charging column is by the edge of the ledge over the main chamber.

“While naturally the Flood is simply too dangerous to release,” Guilty Spark says, “and mass sterilisation protocols may once again have to be enacted. Of course, samples were kept here after the last catastrophic outbreak, for study. It seems, that decision may have been an error.” You don’t say!

There seems to be a light glowing around the edge of the central anti-gravity elevator shaft. I first thought the edges of the Index Chamber’s upper levels outside the main ledges were steeply slanted until I played Halo Anniversary, but they are not so it may pay to hop on over there…

343 Guilty Spark has been alone so long, he’s become rampant. So far, he’s in the Melancholia stage. He will get to the angry stage in the distant future…

That explains why he seems to mistake us as a forerunner despite knowing we’re human, and seeming to contradict himself alongside his occasional eccentric rambling and giggling. There’s a covenant terminal on the floor near the hunters.

And if the Flood capture the Index, what then?

There’s a wraith by the open door at the end that didn’t used to be there. I can board it and take it for my own, though it must be left behind as it’s too big for most of the halls. Makes me wonder how the Covenant even got them in here.

“The Installation was specifically built to study and contain the Flood.” Spark tells me as I go down the next databank hall. “Their survival as a race was dependent upon it. I am grateful to see that some of them survived to reproduce.” The way he words it, it sounds like he’s talking about the Flood, which doesn’t make any sense. By “them” he’s actually referring to the Forerunners and playing the pronoun game. What he means is that the Forerunners depended on the research of the Flood to seek a cure, like was seen in a past Anniversary terminal. As he thinks we’re a forerunner, he says he’s grateful some of the Forerunners survived the firing of the array. Yeah, we know what the rings really do especially if you read the primer, but I’m still gonna sometimes be coy about it for the moment until the start of the next stage.

This next bit can really make you tear your hair out on Legendary, which is why my subtitle for this chapter is named after that bad Marathon 2 map. Entering one door, it closes behind me and Spark goes off to unlock the next one. This space is cramped, hardly any respite can be given from the Flood that ambush you here out of the vent shafts and you have to wait about 2 minutes.

I used to bottleneck the Flood by hiding in the corner by the exit door, and letting them come to me, but I recommend cheesing it by just hiding there before they appear like the Anniversary guide suggests. So long as you don’t fire weapons, the Flood won’t know you’re there. That’s how I learned to do it earlier too.

SPV3 gives you an overshield, a reflex enhancer and more health, and I’m on Heroic anyway so I’ll try the normal way. I was tempted to cheese it as I’ve been playing on Legendary so long, my Legendary tactics for Halo 1 are hard habits to break.


That’s in slow motion too, though you can’t tell.

The Monitor warns that time is short. That means 2 things. One, there may or may not be another rocket launcher combat form ahead. There isn’t this time as far as I can tell. Two, the last of the smaller giant anti-grav lifts is ahead. The last Forerunner terminal here is between a pair of databanks by some honour guards outside the elevator.


So the energy tractor beam on the main anti-gravity elevator in the Index Chamber was meant to burn the Flood? I guess the things I’ve called databanks really are plasma banks after all, and the different colored ones are probably malfunctioning.

Act 4: Fourth Floor: Tools, Guns, Keys to Super Weapons – Strange Aeons

An honour guard is infected but I kill it as soon as it is, as its shields are still down. Hunters wait just ahead though they despawn when I die and reload here. Turns out the plasma banks down below were actually orange: these are the plasma banks that are red.


Another Covenant terminal waits above the next underground access way.

They do retake the Control Room as we are just about to see, but they’re in for a shock as sentinels will be there now too.

Once again, I need to wait for the Monitor to open the door once I leave the underground access way. Past a few final corners is the last door with Covenant fighting outside it and a pile of gibs by some pillars. This is what’s left of Marvin Mobuto. His body is so mangled, not even the Flood can make use of him. His last words are recorded on a terminal beside the giblets.


I didn’t know you, Sarge, but I sure as hell wish I had. You must have been one hardass son of a bitch.

As you enter this area in at least vanilla, the Monitor warns us that the Flood are already hard at work repairing the Pillar of Autumn with the intent to try and use it to escape. “Its parasitic nature belies the Flood’s intelligence.” He says.

The final door also jams but combat forms jump through the gap. It opens fully immediately after. This part is what kills me more than any other area in this level on Legendary. There’s too many Flood with assault rifles, needlers and plasma rifles. While they aren’t hitscan unlike Bobs, Troopers and scatter rifle Enforcers in Marathon are, they may as well be. This is the top floor of the Index chamber and the different, main anti-gravity elevator is here. I just have to run over the small bridge onto it and sprint into the beam in the middle. Getting there is easier said than done, but recently, I discovered in vanilla Halo 1 that I can trick the Flood into following me into the dark area to the left, then sneak over the wedges while they’re occupied and make a break for the anti-grav lift. Geometric patterns split the floor of the elevator into puzzlelike shapes, a series of raised panels stands guard around the tractor beam and the whole thing seems to glow.

As I run on board and into the beam, it starts up and grinds down with hollow rumbling sounds. “The energy barrier surrounding the Index will deactivate when we reach the ground floor.” The Monitor says. The lift falls squarely over the star or 7th column shaped pit at the bottom of the Index chamber with an invisible barrier in the tractor beam hole I’m standing on bridging the gap to the Index. Geez, all of that for a stupid bridge.

The Index blocks spin and release their hold on the artifact like they did at the start, but now they raise slightly and it pops partway out of the metal tube in which it’s been kept for so many millennia. I take it out and examine it: It’s shaped like the letter T and the main body glows lime green. Spark sends out a hard light beam as a claw of sorts and yanks the Index out of my hand, storing it inside his body. “Protocol requires that I take possession of the Index for transport.” He explains. “Your organic form renders you vulnerable to infection. The Index must not fall into the hands of the Flood, before we reach the Control Room and activate the Installation.”

As he teleports us out, he warns us, “The Flood is spreading! We must hurry!”

MEANWHILE

It wanted something. Keyes realised. The memories that replayed like an endless library of video clips were being sifted for something. The buzzing presence in his mind sought…what? He grasped at the thought and pushed back against the wall of resistance the other that burrowed through his consciousness had erected. He brushed up against it and it almost slipped away…

Then he had it-escape. Whatever this thing was, it wanted off the ring. It hungered, and there was a perfect feeding ground to be found. The other plunged a barbed-wire tendril into his mind and ripped forth an image of a lunar Earthrise, which blurred into images of cattle in a slaughterhouse. He felt the other’s tendrils eagerly grasped at the image of Earth. wHeRe? It thundered. TeLL. The pressure increased and battered through Keyes’ resistance, and in desperation he summoned up a new memory. The alien presence seemed startled at the image of Keyes and a childhood friend kicking a soccer ball on a vibrant green field.

The pressure eased as the hungry other examined the memory. Keyes felt a stab of regret. He knew what he had to do now. He dragged all he remembered of Earth-its location, his ability to find it, its defences-and shoved them down, as deep as he could. Keyes felt the gaping sense of loss as the memory of the soccer field was ripped away and discarded forever. He quickly summoned up another-the taste of a favourite meal. He began to feed his memories to the invading presence in his mind, once scrap at a time. Of all the battles he had ever fought, this one was the toughest-and the most important.

With the Index in hand, 343 Guilty Spark and I head back to the Control Centre at long last. I reunite with Cortana and activate the ring to wipe out the Flood…or do I? Next time on Halo SPV3; Stage 8: Two Betrayals. Now the adventure evolves.

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