*This post is being used as a way to brainstorm and spark discussion in the Halo community, not necessarily state who or what the Warden Eternal is; although the goal would be to eventually do so by presenting as much information as possible to the members of the Halo Archive Community through this post*
The Warden Eternal
During E3 2015 at the Microsoft Xbox conference, we were shown a Halo 5 Campaign Demo featuring Fireteam Osiris as they hunted the Master Chief during the Battle of Sunaion. What was particularly interesting during the showing however, was the very last 20 seconds or so of the gameplay demo. We see Spartan Locke and his team fighting various Promethean Soldiers, and suddenly a deep, robotic-like voice begins to echo from the Guardian.
I am the Warden Eternal – Keeper of the Domain and her secrets…The Master Chief is called, but you, your passage is denied.
When we begin to hear the first words this construct says, the camera pans towards the Guardian and we see a Promethean appear similar to other entries by Knights in Halo 4. Below is the demo, go to 4:58 to hear the Warden Eternal:
What is interesting is that the speech pattern of this Forerunner is VERY similar to that of the Ur-Didact. The pauses, pace of speech and commanding sound all are reminiscent of Chief’s main foe in Halo 4. Whether this is how most of the Forerunner Warriors spoke is undetermined, however it could be the reason the Warden sounds similar and not have anything to do with the Didact. After all, the Warden Eternal is possibly on the side of Master Chief if we look at what he stated earlier, “The Master Chief is called,” as well as the fact that Chief is most likely aboard the Guardian. However, I am going to rule out the Didact having anything to do with the actual construct we see, and this is something completely different…
It is interesting to note that the Domain is calling Chief, and given how impressed the Didact became with Chief as a Warrior, maybe if the Domain is calling Chief, the Didact would open up to the possibility of aiding him. Just an interesting thought.
The only other reference that I know of or have seen made in regards to what this Warden Eternal could possibly be or have ties to, is the Warden in Halo Cryptum and Silentium. The Warden was a Forerunner Monitor serving aboard the Capital with it’s main purpose to detain and defend the accused while they were judged by the Council. The Warden was mentioned when it was tasked with detaining and defending the Master Builder Faber when he was brought to trial for using a Halo on star systems without approval. When Mendicant Bias attacked the capital, the Warden aided Faber in his escape, which went beyond the realm of it’s duties. Faber insisted the Warden saved Faber because of how important he was to the Forerunner species and Flood War as a whole. Others insisted that Faber bribed the Monitor, with what remains to be seen.
While this may be a complete coincidence and most likely is,it is important to note that the Warden possibly saved Faber under it’s own will. The Domain was tightly nit with the Forerunner Council, as they often used it for storage and investigating purposes. Because of this, the Warden had more of a possibility to contact the Domain than other monitors I would argue. Is it possible that the Domain instructed the monitor to save Faber above all else? If so, could this Warden Eternal be somehow related in any way to the Warden we see during the trial of Master Builder Faber? Or maybe it calls itself the Warden Eternal as an ode to the original for possibly saving Faber’s life and eventual integration into the Domain itself rather than get consumed by the Flood?
A long stretch to be sure, but I do not want to overlook anything and as all Catalog posts here at the Archive are meant to do, just investigate.
How the Domain Comes Into Play
In the above screenshot, we see Spartan Locke in a battle with the Warden Eternal, which means we most likely are able to actually fight this construct in gameplay. If that is the case, could there be multiple Wardens, each with a separate name? This one being the Eternal? It is definitely a possibility, but one that would not diminish it’s role in Halo 5 Guardians or more specifically the Domain. When we read the quote again, it informs Locke he is the, “Keeper of the Domain and all her secrets”…
According to Webster’s dictionary, being a keeper is:
a person whose job is to guard or take care of something or someone.
Notice the word guard, as in guardians. This title keeper of the Domain essentially ties directly into the theme of Halo 5, which is safeguarding and who is right/who is wrong in doing so. We have heard the developers at 343 Industries mention this plenty of times, and so it seems this Warden Eternal very well may have it’s main and only purpose to save whatever is left of the Domain or KEEP it alive.
As we know, the Domain was presumably obliterated along with 100 Billion years of knowledge at the hands of the very people who strove to keep it alive and in communication: the Forerunners when they activated the Halo array. This was told to the Librarian by none other than the Primordial/Gravemind in a taunt-like fashion just moments before the Array was activated. So…if the Domain was destroyed since it was based on the concept of neural physics and we know all Precursor tech was destroyed, how and why is the Domain calling Master Chief? Well as we know, the Primordial picked and chose what it said, as well as demonstrated amazing manipulating skills similar to the logic plague with a Gravemind. Could this have been just a feeble attempt by an otherwise defeated enemy to have the Librarian call off the array firing? While I can definitely see that being a possibility, it is also is important to note we have evidence of a biological Domain being created in Path Kethona by ancient, if not under developed, Forerunners in Halo: Silentium. Can the Domain be created from something? Or someone? Is there a way to reactivate the Domain even after it is destroyed? Questions none of us will be able to answer without pure speculation, but the Domain is still alive in some capacity. How far it goes back and how it has manifested or survived is another story.
The last part of this quote I would like to address is the word “her,” as in “the Domain and all her secrets.” To start, let’s look at a couple gifs from the Halo 5 Guardians trailer:
Why am I showing you Master Chief in a cave? Well if you look at the first one we see that a small blue light/essence resonating from deep within the cave. Chief notices it and beings walking up to it, and in the second gif looks like he is about to touch it.
We also know this from Gameinformer:
A cutscene shows Master Chief awakening in a strange, dark cave. “Sierra 117 to Blue Team. Report,” he tries the radio. “Sierra 117, does anyone copy?” He starts exploring the area. “John,” a familiar voice calls. He follows the sound and sees a silhouette up on a rock formation. It’s unmistakably Cortana. “The domain is open,” she warns. “Meridian is next. You only have three days. John, the Reclamation is about to begin.” Everything fades to black.
Frank O’Connor has stated he calls this the “ghost of Cortana.” Well we know that Cortana is not just affecting Chief as an apparition, and it is more likely linked to the Domain and how it manifested itself in the form of a familiar face to John – Cortana.
The Warden Eternal states that he is the keeper of her secrets, not it’s. He is calling it female with that statement, and seeing as Cortana is most likely related to the Domain itself now, maybe she has a more powerful presence than originally thought. Look, we do not know the true nature of the Domain. At times it seemed like a storage of information, but it has always had a centralized mind directing it…making choices on who to speak with, when to speak etc…It is not just a collection of memories and knowledge. If it is extra dimensional, that could be one reason it survived the blast. Or it could be something more integrated into the Universe itself, some sort of essential fabric to the cosmos for the Universe to exist? Whatever the case may be, it is not just a mash up of minds. Even a Gravemind has a centralized presence, not just storage of it’s dead victims.
Could it be possible that Cortana has become the Domain herself? We know the Domain can be biologically made, as we saw in Path Kethona stated earlier. Are there different types of Domains? It is interesting because both the Warden and Cortana are AI and are in some sort of connection with the Domain (definitely Cortana). Even the Warden Eternal is some type of Promethean AI that is also connected, which leads me to believe the Domain could be using these AI as personal agents to communicate with the outer world and act out it’s wants/needs. We know some type of biological Domain was created, maybe an artificial intelligence Domain can be opened up as well. All of these different examples we see with it lead me to believe the Domain can manifest itself into any type of form, hence why the Promethean AI Warden Eternal is acting as it’s keeper, because it has the ability of accessing AI as well as biological beings.
Too many questions…most we cannot answer. Two things are for sure in my opinion; Cortana has some tie with what has become of the “present Domain,” and the Warden Eternal (possibly more) is protecting her.
Thanks for reading Archivers, it is always fun to speculate on the Halo Universe. If you are not registered on our forum, be sure to check us out and become part of the Halo Archive community! Discuss this post here.