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ARG: I Love Bees
The DVD that 42 Entertainment gave out at select events following the conclusion of the game.
"I've been thinking a lot about bees."
Durga

I Love Bees is an Alternate Reality Game created by 42 Entertainment to promote Halo 2. The game took place on www.ilovebees.com, and was in-universe an amateur beekeeper's personal website that had been taken over by artificial intelligences from the future. The plot took place in two timelines, one in the present year 2004 and the other simultaneously in 2552.

The gist of the plot is that in 2552 an alien artifact splits up the human AI Melissa into three parts. One part stays in 2552, has amnesia and is named Durga. The other two parts, The Operator and The Sleeping Princess, are sent back in time to the website I Love Bees. Also with the latter is a Trojan Horse AI sent by the alien enemy faction The Covenant as a spy. The Operator falsely believes The Sleeping Princess is the Trojan Horse, and tries to kill her. Participants in the ARG would communicate with The Operator and The Sleeping Princess to learn details of the plot, forming different factions for either character.

Players allied with The Operator were required to go to certain payphones at certain times to answer calls from the character. Persons who answered the calls needed to show they were part of the game by answering basic questions (e.g. “What's my name?”), after which parts of an audio drama were made available on the site. Later calls were performed by a voice actor playing The Operator, with whom players engaged in role play.

The audio drama consists of recordings taken by Durga in 2552, explaining what's going on in the future. Durga is adopted by a boy named Jersey, who realizes he has “God's own spyware” and uses her to spy on the hot girl down the hall, Jan. In doing so, it comes to light that her family is a lot more interesting than first apparent. Durga goes on to spy on several other people she finds interesting and eventually assembles them into her “crew”. She takes her crew to a military base to deactivate the alien artifact, which will potentially keep the Halo from activating, and the action causes the AI fragments to return to the future and merge back together into Melissa. Everyone lives happily ever... no, wait, then The Covenant invades Earth as Halo 2 begins.

This is a heavily shortened summary. For the best breakdown of the game, see here; for just the audio drama, see here.


This alternate reality game has examples of

  • The Ace: Yasmine, and Jan. Drives at least two of the plot threads, leaving them Blessed with Suck. They're the best, which means that ONI wants to snatch them up for the Spartan Two programme.
  • Action Girl: Jan.
  • Action Mom: Gladys and Gilly, both fulfilling the maternal role for Jan.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Kamal's line “People think time is a river that flows in one direction, but time is an ocean” references the line "Many people think that time is like a river, that flows swift and sure in one direction. But I have seen the face of time and I can tell you: they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm" from the Prince in Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. Both characters were played by the same actor: Yuri Lowenthal.
    • In the original version of Rani's introduction, she would have scoffed at Sarah John's baby name choice of Dorothy Jane, an allusion to Rani's actress Olivia Burnette's role on The Torkelsons.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Melissa is simply badly damaged, but the Covenant spy program, Pious Flea, becomes more intelligent and active over the course of the story...while still keeping true to his original purpose.
  • Afraid of Needles: Yasmine. The creepy syringe is featured on the DVD menu.
  • all lowercase letters: The title is frequently rendered as "i love bees" or "ilovebees".
  • Alliterative Name: James James and Janissary James.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Kamal's chatter plays a message from his mother in which she talks about his father's digestive trouble and warns him to watch his diet, in front of Kamal's love interest Sophia and roommate Hiroyuki.
  • Asian and Nerdy: Hiroyuki.
  • Attempted Rape: Jan saves a random victim from Gene.
  • Badass in Distress: Jan, when she's captured by Thin.
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Sharfie's.
  • Bad Guys Play Moons: Thin Kinkle and his gang.
  • Bait-and-Switch Gunshot: One of the wavs ends with Gene pointing a gun at Jan and yelling "Die, bitch!", followed by a gunshot. In the next wav, it turns out Jan took the gun and shot Gene's foot.
  • Bavarian Fire Drill: Run by Rani, of course.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The assembled team seem to have saved the world, and been united with their family, or otherwise reached a happy end, despite their losses. And then the Covenant turn up.
  • Blind Date: Kamal's mother sets him up with Sophia because she's the daughter of a friend of the mother.
  • Breather Episode: Jan and her dad going out for ice cream. And then, shortly after, Jan gets kidnapped.
  • Canon Immigrant: While Bungie originally stated that I Love Bees took place in an Alternate Continuity, they later reversed track and embraced most of it as canon, with various elements from it showing up in The Halo Graphic Novel, Halo 3: ODST, Halo: Reach, and the 2011 edition of the Halo Encyclopedia.
  • Cargo Ship: In-universe examples:
    • Jan engages in this with the vending machines, pretending that the coffee machine wants to date the snack machine. She asks a guy if he'd go out with the coffee machine.
    • Also, Jersey jokes to Durga that she wants to date a nuke. Considering that he's talking to a computer, it's sort of justified.
  • The Casino: Kamal's first job for Aiden is helping the owner of one of these find out how people are counting cards as a group. He plays the illegitimate business man, and seedy thuggish part completely straight.
  • Child Prodigy: Yasmine.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Jersey.
  • Cloning Blues: Yasmine was replaced by a flash clone, and her brother research into the area is how he ends up realising the truth.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Thin does this to Jan.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: Done quite a bit with Durga punishing people for mild offenses.
  • Continuity Snarl: Considering that the ARG was originally not intended to be canon, retroactive examples of this trope were inevitable, with the biggest unsettled issue being whether there was actually a second class of SPARTAN-IIs or not.
  • Cowboy Cop: The interrogator who blackmails Jan.
  • Dead Serious: Thin Kinkle.
  • Death Glare: Jan does this at Jersey after he makes a pervy comment.
  • Deconstruction: This was the first real example of this in the Halo Universe, taking a more personal approach, and looking at the Spartan programme, and the slow extermination of humanity from the view of average civilians.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Durga starts out cold and ruthless, but she becomes much kinder through her friendship with Jersey.
  • Delicious Distraction: Kamal interrupts Hiro's tirade by offering him koftas.
  • Dirty Cop: There are few of these.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: An IRS guy audits Jersey, so Durga frames him for various crimes, makes his wife leave him, and has him transferred to Alaska. A guy unintentionally interrupts Durga's conversation, so she gets him fired and tells him his son isn't his. A guy follows orders given to him by the corrupt Major Standish and follows Rani around, so Durga frames him for grand theft auto.
    Durga: "You want nothing more of your opponent than a skull nailed to a fencepost so that everyone knows the price of crossing you."
  • Doomed Hometown: Coral
  • Doomsday Device: The deep-space artifact.
  • Double Entendre: Jan jokingly suggests that the beverage dispenser should date the fire suppression system because the latter "really puts out".
  • Dramatic Thunder:
    • Used to underline Aiden's threat before he reveals he's kidding.
    • Used to underline when Herzog and Standish have their chat at the duck pond in which they trade threats.
  • Entry Point: ARG fans who had participated in 42 Entertainment's previous ARG The Beast were sent jars of honey containing letters that spelled out "I Love Bees". The ARG was marketed to Halo fans when the URL briefly appeared in a Halo 2 theatrical ad that played before I, Robot.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Played with in regard to Aiden and his ponytail.
  • Everything's Worse with Bees: The Operator hates bees and has horrific hallucinations of being covered with them. They stem from her last human memory: a doctor approaching her with a black-striped syringe full of yellow liquid and promising that it would be "just a little sting".
  • Expy: Standish is very similar to Colonel Ackerson.
  • Famous, Famous, Fictional: When the SPDR is rebuilding her mind, the Operator quotes The Bible, Isaac Newton, Rene Descartes, Louis XIV, Albert Einstein, Crick and Watson, and the Journal of Higher Dimensional Physics published in the year 2079.
  • Fantastic Slurs: “Refue”, for refugees. Plural is “refuse”.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: Sophia. Also Gladys, in contrast to Gilly.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • The corrupt cop attempting to renegotiate with Aiden.
    • Jan's 'there's always a bigger dog' speech.
    • Kamal telling Hiro to punch the button sequence in reverse to have the opposite effect.
  • Friendly Target: Jan discusses this as a reason not to get romantically involved with Jersey.
  • Fun with Acronyms: System Peril Distributive Reflex or SPDR is pronounced "spider".
  • Future Food Is Artificial: I Love Bees features a scene at a restaurant, where a character gawks at how the menu has real tuna, instead of what is implied to be this. Further implications of human society relying on this includes a mention of how Customs Agents were bribed with four goats.
  • Future Slang: "Ghosting", "refuse", "flash" etc.
  • Get Rich Quick Scheme: Aiden gets it into his head that he could make a business of cloning pop stars so they could make public appearances without having to really be there.
  • Girl Next Door: Jan to Jersey.
  • Government Conspiracy: Major Standish and the artifact. Some of the protagonists are with internal affairs and are investigating this, though, so the government isn't all bad.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The Spartan-I lifestyle completely screwed up Gilly, who now has difficulty not killing random people. This leads her to caution Jan away from killing.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Kamal is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, aka Sasuke.
  • Hospital Hottie: Hiro verbally fantasizes about hot medical students in short skirts.
  • I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Jan, implied.
  • The Illegal: Sophia.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Kamal frequently needs a beer, even though he hates Earth beer.
  • In Love with the Gangster's Girl: Kamal, in love with Sophia, girlfriend of Aiden. Despite Kamal initially being worried about Aiden attacking him, it turns out Aiden's a really decent guy, though, and most of the tension comes from Sophia simply being in a relationship with someone already.
  • Internal Affairs: A rare positive tertiary example. Rani joins them at the end.
  • Is That a Threat?
    Thin: I could teach you some things... but, it's your funeral.
    Jan: Not yet.
    Thin: Sooner than you think.
    Jan: Is that a threat?
    Thin: No, just experience.
  • It's a Long Story: Melissa says this before clarifying a few plot points.
  • Just a Kid: The UNSC refuses to let Jan join up because she's a few months underage. Never mind that she's superhuman.
  • Lethal Chef: Kamal.
  • Life Imitates Art : The chatterboxes are effectively just tablet computers, with the predicted eventual implementation. This was written close to a decade ago.
  • Loveable Rogue: Aiden.
  • Madness Mantra: He's not insane so much as hyper-focused, but The Seeker's/Pious Flea's constant rumination of his program priorities comes off as this.
    "Seek the truth. Behold the truth. Reveal the truth. That is the law and the whole of the law."
  • Mafia Princess: Sophia dates gangster Aiden primarily for the benefits of being with a rich guy.
  • Meaningful Echo: In reference to "slut bots", Jersey flippantly says, "For a quality experience, the girl's got to be real." Later, upon making Durga confront the reality of being the transhuman form of a dead little girl, he says, "For a quality experience, the girl had to be real." In Melissa's farewell letter to the players, she says, "It's been the last, best kind of quality experience. You made the girl real."
  • Meaningful Name: Melissa means "bee" in Greek. Also, Zaman means "time period" in Arabic, which is relevant to a time travel story.
  • Meta Guy:
    • Jersey wonders how creepy it would be if people were spying on him.
    • Two characters spying on him agree with the sentiment. Because the players are supposed to count as people in the same universe, by observing them, we effectively spy on spies of spies of spies.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Janissary James, in a protagonist version.
  • No, Except Yes: Jersey prefaces his use of an ethnic slur by indicating that he doesn't mean to be a jerk about it.
  • Oh Crap: Final episode, when Rani tells Durga that Herzog is actually dead, and - accordingly - all that plot information came from someone else. Oops. If you were an ARG player keeping track of what was going on at ilovebees.com, you would understand that the Herzog audio was constructed by one of Melissa's other personas as a way to get information to Durga without her doubting its accuracy.
  • Oven Logic: A microwave should be just as good right?
  • Papa Wolf: J squared, though in a twist he's only protective when Jan is actually put at risk, otherwise taking a laissez faire attitude to parenting "aren't you supposed to scare off the boys". Unfortunately reality ensues when a lone man goes up against a gang of criminals
  • Playful Hacker: Kamal.
  • Public Execution: ONI induces permanent comatose as a form of execution, and executions of traitors are broadcasted publicly. Standish uses this as a threat to get Rani to stop investigating him.
  • Real Women Don't Wear Dresses: In-universe example: Jan doesn't like it when you compliment her domestic skills.
  • Repetitive Name: James James (or J squared). A rare case of being chosen, as he believes that nobody would ever imagine he chose it for an assumed identity.
  • Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: Durga assembles her crew and saves the world only because Jersey is a voyeur.
  • Running Joke:
    • "Not me, the other dog who looks just like me."
    • Everyone assuming Rani is a Sunday school teacher.
    • People keep trashing Jersey's mom's apartment.
  • Sacrificial Lion: James James.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The raids on Chawla Base and Crystal Security.
  • Sherlock Scan: Rani 'She looks at the things regular people do like a scientist'. Is a more down to earth example, however, for example noticing an ODST has taken his wedding ring off.
  • Sixth Ranger: Rani Sobeck.
  • The Slow Path: When the wormhole closes, the SPDR gets left behind in 2004. Being simplistic, it's willing to wait 548 years to return home, though.
  • Spy Versus Spy: Herzog and Standish pit Rani against each other in an internal version of this.It results in numerous people ending up dead, including Herzog.
  • Stalking Is Love: Jersey with Jan.
  • Super Strength: All Spartans, although directly observed with Jan and James James.
  • Technobabble: Done by Kamal.
    Kamal: Okay, I wormed into their private CP channel and built an audio mask out of the voice archive samples you gave me. Then I wrapped it around a zero-lack sequencer that jacks into the...
    Mr. F: Jesus, just show me the thing already.
  • Third-Person Person: For some reason, Monster Ann refers to herself in third person.
  • Thirty Second Blackout: Seven seconds, actually. The entire Solar system blackouts and bounces right back.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: Jan spends some time trying to figure out whether or not it makes sense to kill bad people. She later tries to kill a bad guy, but Gilly stops her because she doesn't want to see Jan become hardened by killing like happened to Gilly.
  • Understatement: During the exposition:
    Kamal: If it is counting down, what do you think it'll do?
    Durga: The last time it was triggered, the shockwave flatlined communications throughout the Solar system for more than 7 seconds.
    Jersey: Durga doesn't know, but she thinks it'll probably be bad.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Melissa, when she's manipulated into stopping the Spider..which turns out to be her antivirus program, allowing the Seeker/Pious Flea to rewrite her program into serving his purpose of spying for the Covenant.
  • What Does She See in Him?: Kamal wonders this about Sophia in reference to Aiden.
  • You Bastard: A lot of the story involves the concept of spying on people for entertainment and how it's unjustifiable but people do it anyway. Kamal does it, but feels insulted when Jersey does it to him. Jersey does it, but notes it would be creepy if someone did it to him. The Sleeping Princess spies on him saying this and agrees with the sentiment. As the characters in an alternate reality game are supposed to exist in the same universe as the player, it can feel like the player is just another person in this chain.
  • Zeroth Law Rebellion: The Seeker. The Covenant made it as a spy, to "seek the truth", "behold the truth", and "reveal the truth", but forgot to tell it to only reveal the truth to the Covenant. The Sleeping Princess persuades it to reveal the truth to Durga (i.e. the enemy) so she could behold it.

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alternative title(s): I Love Bees
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