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Literature / Halo: Primordium

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Halo: Primordium is the second book in The Forerunner Saga, a trilogy of Halo Expanded Universe novels by Greg Bear, published in 2012. The book takes place during the time of the Forerunners, the ancient race that built the Halo rings encountered in the games. Though mostly set during the Forerunners' war with the Flood, the novel is told as a series of logs narrated by a Forerunner Monitor discovered by an ONI science team. The monitor explains that it was once a human named Chakas (one of the main characters of the previous novel Halo: Cryptum) and proceeds to tell its story, which turns out to involve a lot of walking around on a Halo.

Contains Examples Of:

  • Abusive Precursors: Though foreshadowed in Cryptum, Primordium reveals that The Precursors created various species and would occasionally annihilate them at will. They were about to do this to the Forerunners, but they struck first and destroyed the Precursors instead. Despite this, the Precursors managed to leave the Flood behind to eventually exact their vengeance on the Forerunners.
  • Antagonist Title: Sort of, given how the title is derived from the Primordial, the ancient human name for the last Precursor.
  • Badass Boast: The Lord of Admirals delivers one of these to the other humans after he learns he has a chance to strike back against the Forerunners.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Forerunner fleet led by the Didact arriving to retrieve the Halo before it smashes itself on the wolf-face planet.
  • Body Horror: There are some fairly florid descriptions of Flood victims, which gets all the more disturbing when Chakas even gets linked to one near the end.
  • Brain Uploading: Featured heavily. Including Chakas becoming 343 Guilty Spark.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: Although the Primordial is killed in the end, it's hinted that things are about to get much worse. And they will.
  • The Chessmaster: The Primordial, who successfully manipulates Mendicant Bias, the Forerunners' most advanced AI, and the Master Builder into doing its bidding.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • The Primordial reveals that there is no cure to the Flood, and humanity seemed to cure it only because the Flood chose to retreat covertly. Yet in the Terminals of Halo: Anniversary, 343 Guilty Spark is still researching for the cure discovered by humanity even though he himself heard the Primordial say this cure was false. Since Silentium reveals much of his memory was wiped upon his assignment to Alpha Halo in the name of compartmentalization, it may be that Spark forgot this particular conversation along with most of his old life, only to somehow recover that information after his "destruction".
    • What's more, in Halo: First Strike, Catherine Halsey inspects Sergeant Johnson and discovers he's immune to the Flood because his nervous system is too jumbled, preventing the infection in him from taking control. It's not clear if this is the same cure found by prehistoric humanity, but it does raise the question of why the Flood would bother to spare a random human if the Primordial said the Flood had merely chosen not to infect. Itís however reasonable to assume that the process of this happening, the SPARTAN-I project, couldnít be replicated due to the fact most participants died and the survivors were more lucky mutants than successful experiments. So itís not so much a solution as it is a random dice throw. This was also later the victim of a Retcon; it turned out Johnson was never immune, he simply survived the Flood due to just being that damn badass and fighting his way out.
  • Corpse Land: The region of the Halo where Riser lands is infested with Flood biomass and even has the occasional corpse sticking out of the ground.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: The whole plot revolves around a small group of primitive humans who are totally insignificant against entities greater than themselves, both the Forerunners at first but most obviously the Precursors.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The Lord of Admirals.
  • Description Porn: The descriptions in the book can get very detailed, especially when it comes to the Halo ring, but also all the way down to details like the moisture on leaves.
  • The Dreaded: Pretty much everyone's reaction to the Primordial/Captive/Timeless One/Beast, etc.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The aforementioned Primordial.
  • Exploring the Evil Lair: When Chakas and the other main characters get transported to Mendicant Bias' underground lair. The ominousness isn't even very subtle when the floor looks like a glowing spider web and the mobile armature used by Mendicant Bias itself resembles an enormous spider.
  • Enemy Civil War: Sorta. The Forerunners are fighting each other more than they fight the Flood (at least, on the one Halo); the Builders under Faber claim authority and abuse their power, while many Lifeworkers and Warrior-Servants still serve the Librarian and resist them.
  • Hope Spot: When they find the human village run by Genemender. It looks like they've finally found somewhere safe... but then it turns out everyone there is dead, the visions they're seeing simply holograms of their AI walking around. Then the power shuts down, Gamelpar dies, and they have to move on.
  • I Know Your True Name: Spoken verbatim by the Didact when he arrives at Installation 07 and uses Mendicant Bias' "true name" as a shutdown code. Curiously, the same name worked only momentarily in Cryptum.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine: After the main characters are captured by Mendicant Bias, they're at first provided with the illusion of being transported to a banquet in a paradise-like environment on Earth. Chakas does sense that something is off, even before the scenario turns into a Mind Rape.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: The Primordial implies this when the Didact is about to execute it.
    "It is your task to kill this servant, that another may be freed."
  • The Reveal:
    • As revealed by the Captive, the Flood was engineered by the Precursors as a test to judge a species' worthiness of the Mantle, and there never was a cure to the Flood, as many had believed until that point).
    • Chakas is 343 Guilty Spark. And apparently survived Halo 3.
  • Was Once a Man: Chakas/343 Guilty Spark in the promo blurb and in the book itself.
    A long time ago, I was a living, breathing human being. I went mad. I served my enemies. They became my only friends.
  • Wham Line: But most humans are immune. Can the flood choose to infect, or not to infect?
  • Weird Moon: The wolf-face planet that keeps growing closer. Turns out the Halo is trying to self-destruct by smashing itself on it.
  • Worthy Opponent: How the Didact and the Lord of Admirals viewed one another.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Vinnevra, and reportedly Riser, are fine, but Chakas gets turned into a little floating robot that must do the Forerunners' bidding. On top of that, he literally doesn't get to return home until a hundred thousand years later, and by then everything and everyone he knew is long dead and forgotten. He doesn't even know it's his home anymore.