Disk with a hollow core and six curved arms
Conservation facility, Lifeworker research station, Halo construction foundry
Date of construction:
Date of destruction:
c. 100,000 BCE
The greater Ark, also referred to as the Ark or the Beginning Place,[note 1] was a Forerunner megastructure, and the first of the two Arks used to manufacture Halo rings. It produced the original Halo Array, comprised of rings 30,000 kilometers in diameter as opposed to the 10,000 kilometers of the final Array, which was produced by the smaller Installation 00 instead. Like Installation 00, the greater Ark was located outside the Milky Way galaxy, two-thirds more distant than the lesser Ark.[note 2]
Though it shared Installation 00's flower-like shape, consisting of a series of curved arms extending from a circular central section, the greater Ark differed from the lesser Ark in a number of respects;[note 1] it possessed only six petals, as opposed to the eight arms of Installation 00. Instead of an artificial sun, the greater Ark was illuminated by six shafts of plasma, each suspended over one of the petals, emanating from a tower structure in the center. These plasma tubes would dim and brighten cyclically, approximating a day-night cycle. Each of the greater Ark's arms possessed at least one petal station, from which Forerunner Lifeworkers operated.[note 1]
The greater Ark possessed a sizable defensive fleet led by the Contender-class metarch Offensive Bias. By the end of the Forerunner-Flood war, all remaining Forerunner fleets were assimilated into this fleet. After the greater Ark's destruction, Offensive Bias managed to save several thousand warships—only a fraction of its original fleet—and use them to successfully fend off Mendicant Bias in the Battle of the Maginot Sphere.
The greater Ark was commissioned by Master Builder Faber shortly following the end of the human-Forerunner wars in 109,000 BCE, and constructed soon after with the Old Council's approval. Twelve 30,000 kilometer-wide Halos were produced by its foundry. Over the following millennia, the Builders continued to refine the design of the Halos and soon discovered a number of flaws with the original rings - most notably, their enormous size which made them unwieldy to transport. These plans led to the commissioning of a smaller array of Halos as well as a new Ark to produce them, as the greater Ark was incapable of building smaller installations. However, the construction of the second Ark was delayed by the Council for several thousand years, until the Master Builder gained complete control over it circa 101,000 BCE.
While the greater Ark stopped producing Halos after the original twelve, the installation remained as the most significant repository of the Conservation Measure, the Lifeworker's effort to index and preserve as many sentient species as possible in the event of Halo activation. As a part of the Librarian's pact with the Master Builder, the greater Ark - like its successor - had been constructed to possess a surface capable of supporting various biospheres to house the Lifeworkers' specimens. While the greater Ark served as the primary facility of this enormous undertaking, the lesser Ark remained secret to all but a few in order to ensure it would not fall in the hands of the Flood.
Around 100,000 BCE, strategic command of the ecumene was placed at the greater Ark, as the Capital system was almost completely conquered by the Flood. The greater Ark served as the final refuge for most of the surviving Forerunner population, while the Lifeworkers' specimens formerly stored there were relocated on the nearby Omega Halo, the last surviving ring of the original twelve-strong array (excluding the repurposed Installation 07). The specimens included the Librarian's largest population of humans, which would later be destroyed when the Ur-Didact harvested their essences with the Composer. Shortly after this, the Flood attacked the greater Ark and destroyed it, leaving the lesser Ark and its new Array of rings as the Forerunners' last resort. The destruction of the greater Ark also led to the death of the majority of the remaining Forerunners, with only a handful escaping to the lesser Ark to carry out their final mission.
List of appearances
- ^ a b c Though the Ark featured in Halo: Cryptum is never identified as the greater Ark and is only referred to as "the Ark" or the "Beginning Place", its description differs considerably from that of Installation 00. Halo: Silentium further clarifies that the Librarian used the greater Ark as her base of operations before its destruction; because of its use as the Lifeshaper's main base, (combined with the secrecy of Installation 00), the greater Ark was almost universally referred to as "the Ark". As such, it is assumed the Ark described in Cryptum is the greater Ark.
However, this also raises an apparent discrepancy regarding the lesser Ark and its secret array of six Halos. Halo: Cryptum describes a separate array of six Halo rings stationed over what is assumed to be the greater Ark for the aforementioned reasons. However, Halo: Silentium clarifies that the newer array of six Halos was manufactured by, and hidden at, the lesser Ark. This makes the rings' apparent presence at the greater Ark a contradiction, since there are no evident reasons for the six rings (the Forerunners' carefully-guarded last resort) being temporarily transported to the greater Ark.
- ^ According to Halo 3, Installation 00 is situated 218 (262,144 lightyears) over the galactic plane. This would place the greater Ark roughly 786,000 lightyears from the galactic center. This, along with the distance to Installation 00 to a lesser extent, creates a peculiar discrepancy with the Forerunners' slipspace travel capabilities, namely in regard to the journey to Path Kethona as described in Halo: Silentium.
- ^ a b Halo: Silentium, page 238
- ^ a b c Halo: Silentium, page 45
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 317
- ^ Halo: Primordium, page 343
- ^ a b Halo: Primordium, page 371
- ^ Halo: Silentium, page 237 ("Unbeknownst to most, the lesser Ark, hidden a third of the way around the outer boundaries of the galaxy...")
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 329-330
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 330
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 336
- ^ Halo: Cryptum, page 332
- ^ Halo: Silentium, page 208
- ^ Halo: Silentium, page 215
- ^ Halo: Silentium, page 315
- ^ Halo: Silentium, page 91
- ^ Halo: Silentium, page 234
- ^ Halo: Silentium, pages 250-251
- ^ Halo: Silentium, String 25
- ^ Halo: Silentium, String 34