Now, think about how it feels for those of us who hunt those things, those of us that try to unearth them. Sometimes, you'll even have videos of lands few men have tread, lands that people poured days, weeks, even months of their lives into. Lands that withered and died, placed in the recycle bin or on old hard drives or disks. These lands are always the mother load for those like us. In particular, I speak of Installation 04, a Halo ring. An alien-built ringworld, imagined and coded by Bungie Studios. A world that went through many revisions. Once upon a time, it was a crumbling relic, chucks already coming off of it. In that world, the Master Chief could ride "blind wolves" and fight dinosaurs. Elites had hand-held shields, and Prophet was a rank held by a few Elites, not a species. An alternate universe full of promise, and one that was aborted.
In another world, Cortana's rampancy set in far sooner, due to the flood of knowledge she stole from the archives of the Installation. Mad with power, this universe's Cortana was to try to dominate the universe with Halo. This Cortana, a dark mirror of the main series Cortana, was also never to be. In a universe aborted near the end, Captain Keyes proto-Gravemind form would have been burnt with the (cut) flamethrower, and his skull taken from it, but Bungie was so disturbed by the skull model they had made (a charred one, based on real pictures of charred skulls), it too was removed. But, there's something far more grand than discovering that which is known to be. That something is discovering something which was never known, something that even the company never discusses. That is the something I discovered.
It all started with a fatal act of gravity, the menace of all things. In this case, the unrelenting, unfeeling force murdered an innocent Xbox. Well, I say innocent, but I'm likely to die of high blood pressure one day due to that thing, so maybe not so innocent. All that matters is that, I, a clumsy idiot, dropped my Xbox, a device infamous for working quite well as a cinder-block, and something went wrong inside. It no longer could read disks. I swore, yelled at some things, tortured enemies in some games and calmed down, before coming to a decision. Xboxes, one day, will be rare. So, I decided I'd pony up the cash to get a new one, one that actually worked.
I thought about where I could get an Xbox. Obviously, Gamestop won't carry them, so this solution was out. All of my friends had GameCubes and Playstation 2s, and I doubt any would have sold me an Xbox if they had one, and the town's annual garage sale weekend wasn't for several more months, so I was left with one option: the Internet. I pondered the options, and decided that Amazon was the safest bet, while Ebay was the one more likely to save me money. As I was being foolish in even spending this cash, I decided to go the Ebay route. That said, I wasn't going to buy from "ShadyOldGuy6969" or anything like that, only highly rated, reputable sellers. I'm implusive, not dumb.
Searching around, I found an Xbox cheap, with a Buy It Now price that was within my budget and, in addition, the seller had hundreds of great reviews. The description indicated that the seller was a former employee of Bungie, and they had had this Xbox they had taken home a while back, after being given permission, and it worked like it was made yesterday. I quickly bought it up and waited for it to show up, which it did as fast as packages usually do.
When it got to my home, I gleefully slashed through the obscene amounts of packing tape and lifted the Xbox out of the packing peanuts. I would have lifted it over my head, Link-style, but I figured, if I dropped it, I'd crack my skull open. So, after finding the wires and setting it up, I plugged in a controller and decided to look at the hard drive. I hoped, in vain, to find the Halo 2 E3 game in there, but was let down. There were plenty of saved games, from Half-Life 2 to Tony Hawk, but something caught my eye. Under the saves for Halo was another Halo thing. It just said "Halo Beta". I did what any fanboy would do; I squeed and then checked it out. It had an option I hadn't seen before: Play. I hit that button so hard it could have filed charges.
The game started up identical, and everything looked normal. All the missions were there, all the multiplayer maps, all the everything. Everything was unlocked, and all the descriptions and names were the same. I did what seemed the most logical: started on Pillar of Autumn, set the game to "Heroic" and sat down for a night of evolved combat. Of course, I did all the fun stuff, like blasting Captain Keyes. That was the first time I discovered a difference. In the normal game, Cortana shouts that you've gone "rampant" (left over writing from a time before the Master Chief was just an augmented human?), invincible marines come in and riddle you with bullets. You die and go back to the last checkpoint. I often made a game out of it. Shoot Keyes, start stopwatch, end it when I finally die. I had gotten quite good at it, painting the Autumn's bridge red and taking quite a long while to die. So, imagine my surprise when I opened fire, and the marines started dying.
I felt bad, killing Sgt. Johnson, because he's awesome, but was still rather shocked that they were dead. I continued the level, wondering what was going to happen next. All the marines I encountered were hostile, which was unsurprising, and I had to fight my way through enemies both human and Covenant. I thought back to Marathon, and the BOBs. This was typical Bungie, letting you slaughter your allies for fun and to make the game harder for yourself. Cortana did her usual dialog, and we fought our way onto the Bumblebee escape pod. However, this is where the next change happened.
In the original game, a marine falls in front of the Chief, and the Chief makes sure he doesn't get left behind, making them the last two on. In this, however, John ignored the marine and tossed a grenade into the pod. He then climbed in, and the seats were now filled with dead Marines, like when the pod crashes. John pushed the body of the pilot out of her chair, and climbed in the seat, flying it down. Text came up, subtitles really, with it indicating Cortana was saying "I don't know what the hell has gone wrong with you, but seeing as we're stuck together, we might as well work together". There was no voice, which made sense, if Jen had never recorded the line. The Chief replied to her "Sounds good to me."
Despite John's piloting, the Bumblebee still crashed, but there was no dialog of the pilot screaming as it went down. This wasn't surprising, seeing as she was dead. After the level, "Halo", started, Cortana said that with Keyes dead, the Autumn was completely destroyed on impact. That was the first "oh shit" moment for me, as for those who haven't played the game, you have to blow the Autumn up to destroy the ring. Without the Autumn, that was going to be... hard, to say the least.
However, after that, the level, played normally, with the difference being that the marines were still hostile. Despite that, Foehammer was not, and you still were supposed to go rescue the various trapped marines. I managed to dodge them and kill the Covenant, and they boarded Foehammer's Pelican dropship, as always. However, my Warthog was gunnerless, because I had to kill him before he killed me. I finished the level, and "Truth and Reconciliation", the next level began. I expected to have to kill all my marines, but instead, Johnson, back from the dead, as he often does in the first Halo, said to John, "Look, you killed Keyes. Hell, you even killed me. But, we're both stuck here. Together. So, why don't we work together and take this goddamn ship? We can try to kill each other later, understand?" This was subtitled, and did make a good explanation for why they'd be boarding the ship if Captain Keyes wasn't on it.
At this point, I was actually pretty impressed. Rather than having killing Keyes be a roadblock, they apparently were intending it as an alternate, evil path, with what seemed to be building to a bleaker ending. The level continued as usual, and after getting some marines from the cell block, without Keyes, Cortana declared to the group that the Covenant forces were far too large to overtake, and that they'd have to get off the ship, subtitles only, of course. However, the chapter was still called "Shut Up and Get Behind Me... Sir". A simple oversight, from being in beta, apparently. After that, the story progressed pretty much as normal, with minor changes for the lack of Keyes and the Autumn, until we returned to the Truth and Reconcilliation in the level "Keyes"
Now, in the normal game, the Flood, basically the Zerg combined with Headcrabs, have been released, and taken Keyes. As I said before, he is being turned into a new Gravemind, the Flood hivemind. However, without Captain Keyes, things were different. In "Keyes", you're seeking to find him to use his neural implants to detonate the Pillar of Autumn and destroy Halo, as you have learned that it is part of an array that, once fired, will destroy all biomatter in the galaxy. In this Keyes-less version of "Keyes", you're seeking to take the Truth and Reconcilliation, or what's left of it, and detonate it instead. Cortana's humorous teleportation mistake was still there, and it was surreal to see them bonding despite this John's broken moral compass.
So, I slogged through the level, one of my least favorites after "The Library", and reached the bridge. However, there was no proto-Gravemind. I was surprised that the Flood hadn't started building one, but then it dawned on me that there was no proper base for it in this universe. With so few marines on Halo due to the total destruction of the Autumn, along with the fact that Thel 'Vadamee would obviously still survive, the Flood didn't have a brillaint mind to start with.
The cutscene, far different from the usual, began, and John inserted Cortana's chip into the holopanel. Cortana infiltrated the network, hacking into its systems only to discover that, due to the damage, it couldn't self-destruct. The Flood began to swarm into the room, and John quickly grabbed Cortana's chip, put it back in his head and tried to fight, but failed. They swarmed him, and quickly tore apart large portions of the chest part of his armor. Without it, a Flood infection form leaped onto him and quickly burrowed into him, much like how Flood infection happens in Halo 3. It took me a moment to realize what had just happened. John was now taken by the Flood, and with him, Cortana, and with her, Halo's Index. Without the Index, Halo can't even fire. I wondered what was going to happen next, as the game had now gone far off the rails. The screen went black, before going to the loading screen. What started next surprised me.
A large Gravemind now resided in Halo's control room, in posession of 343 Guilty Spark, monitor of Installation 04. Cortana's giant form was at the control room's panel once more, but rather than her usual color changing while there, she was red, like Rampant Cortana in Halo 4. The Gravemind, speaking in iambic septameter as always, but only in subtitles, told Cortana to activate the Slipspace (Halo equivlent of warp) drives and set course for Earth. The Gravemind then lowered a tentacle down and placed a combat form on the ground. This combat form, however, wasn't a normal one. Instead, it was a headless one, with the MJOLNIR-V armor that the Master Chief wore, repaired and on the body. Then it dawned on me that it was John's body, and the head was just kept in the Gravemind. Gravemind placed the helmet on it, and the helmet attached to the suit as it usually would. A loading screen came up, and I waited, eager to find out what would happen next.
When it finished loading, Installation 04 came out of Slipspace in orbit around Earth. The orbital MAC cannons fired at it, but to no avail, and hordes of reprogramed Sentinals swarmed the cannons, destroying them with ease. Then, Flood drop pods launched from the commandered Halo down to Africa, at what I assumed was going to be New Mombassa, and turned out to be right. The game went into first person, from the view of Flood John, and the pod landed, with him in it, in the city, which seemed to be a very early version of the E3 demo version. From there, the only objective was to "Destroy the human population", which was quite easy, as few even fought back.
After the first few city blocks, however, the marines began to arrive in full force. Sadly for them, I had an army of Flood allies. They too were overrun, and surprisingly, infected. I wondered why Bungie didn't use that until Halo 3, but figured they just didn't like how it looked, as it did look rather bad. I continued on, enjoying the darker outcome, and finished the level. The cutscene began, and Flood pods were shown launching down to the Earth, blanketing it.
It then cut to the Gravemind and Cortana. As Gravemind gloated, giving his usual lines about how the Flood were the good guys and the next step for all species, Cortana flickered blue several times, before staying that way. She pulled out the Index and teleported Sgt. Johnson onto the bridge, who, according to canon, is immune to the Flood. She gave Johnson the Index, as only a human can activate a Halo, and told him to activate it quick, before, as she said "John, no, that thing", noticed. As it was once more subtitles, I assume she whispered it. Johnson activated the Halo, and firing began, with the Gravemind finally catching on, far too late. It showed all seven Halos activating, and then, shockingly, a shot of the Ark, although not nearly as pretty as it is in Halo 3. They fired, and it showed all the various species that were in the first Halo being disintigrated in various locations, even places like High Charity and Sanghelios. As this finished, it cut to Cortana, flickering red, blue and purple (her default color in the first Halo), sitting down, looking around the desolate Installation. For the first time in a while, she spoke, with actual dialog. Somberly, she said I have defied gods and demons. I am your shield. I am your sword. It asked, and I answered. For a moment of safety, I loosed damnation on the stars. This is the way the world ends. I am a monument to all of your sins." The credits rolled, playing what sounded like an early version of the Halo 2 track "Never Forget", Cortana flickering in the background.
My mind was blown. Interpretations raced through my head, and I quickly went to the mission select to do it on Legendary, as the games almost always have a slightly different end on Legendary. To my anger, the alternate final mission was absent. Dedicated and obsessive, I started up Pillar of Autumn on Legendary and killed Keyes, fighting through the entire game. As the credits ended once more, I realized it was, and had been slowly zooming in on Cortana. After her face filled the screen, she whispered "I see you" and giggled. Startled, I let out a shriek. Then, I laughed. One good prank by Bungie for the most dedicated players. In one Legendary ending, an Elite gropes Johnson, and in the other, Cortana scared the shit out of you. I was impressed, but saddend that the alternate story was cut. But, you could never make a sequel out of that, so chances are, Microsoft told them to remove it.
I messaged the seller on Ebay and told him about his forgotten save data, and he messaged me back, asking if I had discovered "the secret" yet. After telling him yes, he send back a smiley and said "Just so I don't get sued, for your eyes only, okay?", and I agreed. I still revisit that alternate Halo sometimes.
Sadness, Anger, EnvyEdit
So, that was my first attempt at a "beta version" creepypasta. I know there's some clichés, like Ebay, but I tried my best to make sure not to use them in the clichéd way. Hopefully, you readers enjoyed my tale, and didn't think it was a pile of shit, but, you never know. PosthumanHeresy (talk) 02:57, March 7, 2014 (UTC)