- "The Composer! So many possibilities and capabilities tied up in that strange name... A Composer of minds and souls!"
- —Forthencho, Lord of Admirals
The Composer, descriptively referred to as a Sublimation Device, was a machine created by the Forerunners to translate the neural framework of a sentient being into machine data. Although not the only piece of Forerunner technology capable of this, it was easily among the more crude and painful ones, originating as one of the first of the countless failed plans laid by the Forerunners to defeat the Flood. While its many faults quickly led to the machine being abandoned in this capacity, it was later used for a number of purposes beyond its original function.
Overview and function
After the Forerunners first discovered the existence of the Flood parasite in the later stages of the Human-Forerunner War, they quickly began to devise plans to combat the infection should it resurface. The Composers were one of the first solutions proposed by the Builders. The original function of the machines was to save Flood victims by extracting their mental patterns - or essences - and translating them to data by broadcasting high-energy fields of entangled sympathies. The stored essence would then be imprinted on a new, artificially constructed biological body devoid of Flood infection. However, the process was highly flawed. In addition to being extremely painful to the individuals undergoing the process, all attempts to restore the essences to biological form failed as the artificial bodies would quickly decay and inevitably die. For this reason, the Forerunners quickly abandoned the Composers after the first experiments.
Despite the failure of the original plan, the Forerunners found other uses for the Composers. Although the Forerunners possessed other technologies capable of extracting an individual's memories and personality impressions, only Composers were given to the Librarian and her Lifeworkers when they were tasked with extracting the essences of the human survivors on Charum Hakkor; powerful forces in the Old Council - mainly Builders - wanted to make sure the fate of their enemies would be as cruel as possible. The Librarian implanted these stored personalities into the genetic code of living humans, with said personalities achieving self-awareness and retaining their original identity within their new human hosts, such as Chakas and Riser. The Composer could also be used to remove these imprinted personalities, although this did grave physical and mental damage to the individual carrying the imprint.
The physical effects of the Composer on its targets were also violent; the device projected a beam of orange light which completely reduced the targeted individuals to ash in a rather gruesome and painful manner while obtaining their essences. The Lord of Admirals, the supreme commander of all human forces and one of the humans to have their minds harvested, described the effects of the Composer as "strange, ever-changing" and "multiformed", as it operated via intermediary Lifeworker machinery.
Minds scanned by the Composer could be processed in a variety of ways. Although the ancient human personalities extracted and stored by the Librarian were retained in their original essences, in some cases the digitized neural map could be used as the basis for artificial intelligence constructs in a manner similar to the creation of human smart AIs. These intelligences would contain many of their original memories and sometimes even portions of their personality, but would otherwise behave within the limits of the duties assigned to them. For example, the Promethean Knights behave in a largely uniform manner despite containing at least some of the memories of the individuals they were created from. These essences were stored in imprint matrices known as Durances, similar to the devices traditionally used to contain the last patterns of a deceased Forerunner.
The Composer did not work on all organic beings; certain individuals could, through genetic manipulation, become immune to its effects. After undergoing and experimental mutation in an attempt to gain immunity to the Flood, the Ur-Didact's physiology was no longer compatible with the Composer. Similarly, the geas the Librarian placed on humanity allowed the Spartan John-117 to develop a resistance to the Composer; this ability had to be activated, and thus it did not automatically protect all humans from the device.
The Composer could, by working in tandem with other technologies, slow down Flood infection and the subsequent loss of individuality. However, this process was only temporary and still left the afflicted individuals in their deformed state. This was accomplished through wrapping the infected bodies in a form of supportive harness flowing with energy, which evidently prevented the Flood from subsuming the consciousness of the victim - at least for a time. Inevitably, victims preserved in this way would eventually expire or succumb to infection.
Developed by the Builders during the human-Forerunner wars as a countermeasure for the nascent Flood, the many faults of the Composers were quickly recognized and the machines were abandoned. However, the Council found a new use for them as a means to exact vengeance against the humans after the siege of Charum Hakkor. The Council ordered the Librarian and her Lifeworkers to extract the essences of the human survivors on Charum Hakkor, refusing to provide anything other than Composers as a means to accomplish this. These personalities would be preserved in future generations of humans, with the intent that they share their knowledge with the devolved remnants of humanity and aid them in re-building their civilization. The Master Builder and other like-minded Forerunners intended to study the stored memories in hopes of discovering how humanity managed to defeat the Flood.
As a result of the risks and irregularities involved with their usage, the Forerunners eventually abandoned the Composers and their existence was made a closely guarded secret known to only a few. Even the fact that there were once many Composers was unknown to most by the time of the Forerunner-Flood war, with the general assumption being that only a single Composer ever existed. Even the machines' actual nature remained obscure; whether it was a machine or being remained uncertain to most. Some even believed the Composer to be a "product of its own services"; a Forerunner, perhaps a Lifeworker, suspended in the final stages of Flood infection.
Around 100,000 BCE, the Lifeworkers no longer employed the long-abandoned Composers when scanning sentient beings for indexing in the Conservation Measure, instead using a far gentler form of pattern extraction technology. However, the Composer was still used by Master Builder Faber to stave off Flood infection in certain Forerunners on Installation 07 to keep them in a docile state. While in control of Installation 07, Mendicant Bias and the Primordial also used the Composer to extract the ancestral memory imprints from Chakas and the other humans from Erda. Later during the Forerunner-Flood war, the Didact used the Composer to convert his Promethean warriors into robotic forms to allow them to combat the Flood more efficiently and without risk of infection. To bolster his numbers, the Didact used the Composer on a number of humans transplanted to Omega Halo, turning them into additional forces in his mechanized army.
The Composer was later placed on Halo Installation 03. In late 2554, the UNSC Office of Naval Intelligence discovered the machine on the Halo ring and transported it to Ivanoff Station, a research facility in the asteroid field in Installation 03's orbit. The machine was partially buried within the installation's surface and remained embedded in a large chunk of rock when the UNSC transported it to Ivanoff. Some of the scientists were digitized by the Composer while studying it and the sensor data from the incident contained coordinates that led the UNSC Infinity to Requiem. Upon awakening on Requiem in July 2557, the Didact immediately headed for the Composer and acquired the device after launching an attack on Ivanoff Station. Planning to use the Composer to neutralize all of mankind by forever imprisoning them into digital form, he first used it on the human personnel of Ivanoff; Spartan John-117 was the only survivor as a result of genetic modifications imbued by the Librarian. The Didact then set course for Earth in order to realize the final stage of his plan. He successfully fired the Composer on a URNA metropolis, New Phoenix, but the effect was halted when John-117 destroyed the Didact's ship, and the Composer along with it, with a HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon. Some of the resulting digital intelligences survived, having ended up on Requiem via a slipspace transit portal connected to the Composer.
Concept art of one of the shield generators around the Composer on the level Midnight.
Dr. Sandra Tillson undergoing the fatal effects of the Composer.
The Composer integrated to the Didact's ship, Mantle's Approach.
List of appearances
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 232-233
- ^ Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 132
- ^ a b Halo 4
- ^ a b Halo: Cryptum, pages 47-48, 138
- ^ a b c d Halo: Silentium, String 3
- ^ a b Halo: Primordium, page 271-272
- ^ a b Halo: Silentium, page 57
- ^ a b Halo: Primordium, page 355
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 235
- ^ a b Spartan Ops, S1E5 Memento Mori
- ^ Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 134
- ^ a b Halo 4, Terminals
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Reclaimer
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 322-323
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 268
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 278
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Composer, audio log
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Infinity