**Spoiler Alert** There are major spoilers in this article concerning the Halo storyline.
Welcome to the sixth chapter of my Story of Halo series! When we last left Master Chief, he had just blown up the Halo ring to save the galaxy, and he and Cortana are headed back to Earth with lots of new intel on the Halo, the Covenant, the Flood, and more. However, we won’t begin this chapter talking about Master Chief. You see, in Halo 2, the storyline is one in which two viewpoints are shown: Master Chief’s, and Thel ‘Vadamee’s. (You don’t know who Thel is yet; that’s alright). The story switches between the two, and it explains what’s happening to both of them during the same time period. Eventually, their storylines meet, and… well, telling you more would be spoiling the chapter, but let it suffice to say that today you’ll be learning about Thel, his importance, and how he ties into Halo 2. Class is now in session!
Thel ‘Vadamee is a Covenant Elite, and he holds the naval position of Supreme Commander in the Covenant’s military. This distinction makes him a pretty high ranking officer, although it’s unclear just how high on the ladder he ranks. In any case, he is a pretty important guy. In fact, he was in command of a fleet of ships that helped glass the planet Reach back in part 3 of this series. It took a lot of work to get to such a high ranking position as this, but Thel made one mistake, and now, he stands trial for it.
As you may remember, Master Chief was on Reach when the Covenant started to glass the planet. His ship, The Pillar of Autumn, was the only one to make it off the planet. Thel saw this and gave chase; he knew that letting anyone escape would be unacceptable. He followed the PoA with every ship in his command, and this led him straight to the Halo ring. By the time Thel knew what was happening, and who was on the Pillar, it was already too late. By this time, the Flood had been released, so he knew he had to focus on eliminating this threat before he could ever think about going after Master Chief. As it turns out, this would be a costly decision on his part.
When he returned to the Covenant’s capital city, High Charity, he was forced to stand trial for the heresy of letting Master Chief, otherwise known as “The Demon,” get away. Basically, the Council argued that Thel’s mission became “a colossal failure.” After all, Master Chief was able to desecrate the Holy Ring by landing on it, then he blew it up, and worst of all, he got away with it! Something had to be done to rectify this failure; Thel must be punished, said the Council. With that, Thel is led away to face his punishment by the Brute Chieftain, Tartarus, and his minions (remember the name Tartarus). No doubt, this punishment will be severe. Remember, the Covenant live in a culture that I would liken most similarly to Japanese samurai; there is a great sense of honor, and dishonorable actions usually mean death or suicide for the one who makes a mistake.
Thel ‘Vadamee is then taken to a sort of sports stadium on High Charity, where a sort of whipping stock is set up for him. Thousands of Covenant citizens have packed into the stadium to watch as Thel suffers his fate; they rejoice in this, somewhat, because they all believe he must pay for his heresy. He’s locked into place, and the torture begins. Energy beams strike him, and he writhes in pain, but there is nothing he can do about it. After his torture, Thel is taken out of the stocks, and is dragged away by a couple of Brutes; by this time, he is completely unconscious, so you know it was a pretty rough time, to say the least.
At this point, it would be normal practice that one of two things would happen to Thel. Either a) he would be thrown in a jail cell for life or just until they decide to stop feeding him, or b) he would be executed for his crimes. But no; Tartarus reveals-and with a certain sly happiness in his voice, I might add-that the Hierarchs have something else else in mind for him. Tartarus and his men take Thel to the Mausoleum off the Arbiter, where the Prophet or Truth and the Prophet or Mercy are waiting for him. As I described earlier, the Council decided on option b: executing Thel for his crimes. In fact, the Prophet of Truth tells Thel that “the Council decided to have you hung by your entrails and your corpse paraded through the city.”
But, as Tartarus said, this is not the fate Thel ‘Vadamee is resigned to. Although the Council suggested that Thel be hung, the final decision lies with the Prophet of Truth. Truth suggests that Thel becomes the Arbiter. What exactly is the Arbiter? Basically, this is a title “bestowed” upon an individual during a time of struggle or distress. The Arbiter becomes a person who others can rally around; he becomes a sort of role model, a leader, or propaganda, depending on how you look at it. He’s the guy who takes on the crazy, difficult, suicidal missions that, although dangerous, safeguard the survival of the Covenant.
Becoming the Arbiter is both good and bad. Technically, it is a noble honor, the every Arbiter dies a sort of martyr for a worthy cause: supressing rebellion, enfolding new races into the Covenant, etc. On the other hand…duh, you end up dead! Nobody really wants to be the Arbiter, but it’s an important role in stressful times. As Thel’s punishment, he becomes the Arbiter. This allows the Council to get the execution they were looking for, even if it might take a while. At the same time, this is a chance for The Covenant to suppress another rebellion. Apparently, there is an Elite warrior out there who is speaking out against the Prophets; he claims that they are false prophets and liars. Of course, the Prophets know that this rebel must be killed before he creates legitimate problems for them, as he already is forming a small uprising.
His first mission is into the heart of the storm: find the heretic and kill him. Alas, the rebel must have escaped before the Arbiter and his forces arrived, because there was no rebel to be found. They move on, still in search. They aren’t quite prepared for what they find next: the Flood. Turns out, somehow, the Flood made their way off the Halo to a gas mine on another planet, where the Arbiter finds them. The Arbiter knows he must destroy the station here to kill the Flood, and he does just that. Amidst the destruction, the Arbiter hops into a Banshee and takes off, following the rebel leader, who was also on the station as well. The Arbiter follows this rebel leader to a hanger, where he plans to exit his Banshee and board a Seraph, which is a larger ship more capable of escaping the destruction than a Banshee.
At the hangar, the Arbiter confronts this rebel. He asks the rebel who taught him the lies he believes; the lies against the Prophets. That’s when 343 Guilty Spark appears! But wait, didn’t he die with the Halo? Apparently not, cause here he is. Long story short, 343
explains that the Halo rings are used as a defense mechanism that will kill all life in the galaxy. On the other hand, the Prophets either don’t know this, or don’t tell this, so the rebel leader is intent on calling them out on these lies. Why should they revere the rings if their only purpose is to kill them all?
The rebel leader then takes this opportunity to try to “convert” the Arbiter; he presents him with information and evidence from 343 that proves the Prophets have been lying to them the whole time. The Arbiter will have none of it, and he engages in a battle with the rebel. In the end, the rebel loses, and the Arbiter and Guilty Spark start to converse as he drags the rebel’s corpse along the floor so he can toss him out the hangar door. At this time, Tartarus shows up, and basically switches his Gravity Hammer (the Fist of Rukt) from Blow to Suck, like a vacuum cleaner. 343 Guilty Spark is sucked to the tip of the hammer, and Tartarus tells the Arbiter to follow because they are leaving the system.
What happens next to the Arbiter? Where does he go? Does he end up dead, as all the Arbiters before him? How does the Flood’s prescence impact this story? When does Master Chief fit back in? All of this will be explained… in the next episode! Be sure to come back soon for more. If you’ve enjoyed, please leave a like or a follow, or even both if you’re feeling generous. Maybe watch some videos from the LP channels in my “Links” tab, and I’ll see you later.