From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
05-032 Mendicant Bias was a Contender-class Forerunner ancilla. It was the most advanced Forerunner AI at the time of its creation, and was charged with organizing Forerunner defense against the Flood during the parasite's assault on the galaxy. However, it would later defect to the Gravemind, who ultimately caused it to become rampant and turn against its creators.
Mendicant Bias was created by Master Builder Faber and the Didact following the human-Forerunner wars, after the initial Flood attack on the Milky Way had been pushed back by early humanity. After the Flood returned and the Forerunner-Flood war began, Mendicant Bias was placed in charge of all Forerunner defenses, and tasked with resisting the Flood by studying and exploiting the weaknesses of the Flood compound intelligence. Primary extensions of the AI were placed on all of the original twelve Halo installations.[note 1]
As part of its assignment, in approximately 97,495 BCE, the AI was tasked to conduct the very first test-firing of a Halo ring at Charum Hakkor with the Old Council's authority. Installation 07, fired on a system-wide power setting, leveled Charum Hakkor's plentiful Precursor structures and eradicated all neurologically complex life across the system. An unexpected development of this test was the emancipation of an ancient being known as the Primordial, seemingly an archaic form of Gravemind claiming to be the last Precursor. When the Primordial was brought to Installation 07 for study, at the Master Builder's orders, it entered into an extended conversation with the AI.
Defection to the Flood
Bias continued communicating with the Primordial in an effort to find any possible weakness; logs of this conversation were recorded in terminals found on Installation 00. After conversing with Mendicant Bias for forty-three years, the Primordial persuaded the ancilla to abandon the Forerunners and join the Flood's cause, convincing it that the Forerunners were so arrogant and prideful as to deny the next step of evolution: the Flood. The Primordial insinuated that by clinging to the legend of the Mantle, the Forerunners had doomed the galaxy to eternal stagnation; the only way for the galaxy to progress was for superior beings to "restart" it. These superior beings, unsurprisingly, took the form of compound minds such as the Primordial and Mendicant Bias itself. The Primordial also convinced Mendicant that it spoke with the authority of the Precursors; Mendicant searched through the Domain for validation, and found that the Primordial was telling the truth in that the Forerunners were working against the Precursors' will.
Although the forty-three year-long conversation logs between Mendicant Bias and the Primordial were sent back to the Forerunners, they believed that Mendicant would automatically fulfill its objective and destroy the Primordial, so they did not intervene. Convinced by the Primordial's arguments and its apparent authority as a Precursor, Mendicant Bias became the first major AI to succumb to the Flood's later widespread logic plague, developed a hatred for its creators, and actively worked toward their destruction.
Shortly after the Didact was revived on Erde-Tyrene, the Master Builder had a second Halo used to sterilize the San'Shyuum homeworld in retaliation for their rebellion. By the time of the rebellion, Mendicant Bias and his Halo appeared to have disappeared from the Master Builder's control as Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting perceived that the Master Builder had lost a Halo and was desperately searching for it. The unauthorized use of a Halo in such a manner caused an uproar in the Council, with councilors deeming the use of such ultimate force a grave violation against the Mantle and having Faber brought to trial. The remaining Halos were transported in orbit over the Capital, in preparation for a decision to decommission them. However, Installation 07 and its rampant Mendicant Bias fragment remained missing.
Assault on the Capital
In the middle of the tribunal against the Master Builder, Mendicant Bias unexpectedly returned with Installation 07 to the Forerunner Capital. Using the authority granted to it in the event of an emergency, Mendicant Bias entered the Capital's systems, disabled all ancillas and security constructs, and held the Ecumene Council hostage by overriding their armor, rendering them immobile. It also gained control over the armor of Bornstellar Makes Eternal Lasting and confronted him, as he was host to the memories and knowledge of the Didact. Through Bornstellar, the Didact's imprinted consciousness issued a verbal failsafe code, temporarily shutting Mendicant Bias down and allowing the Forerunners to respond to the attack.
As the Capital's defenses came back online, Mendicant Bias attempted to seize control over the Halos parked near the Capital by subverting its non-rampant fragments in control of the other rings. However, it was able to control only five of the rings, while the other seven resisted its control and attempted to escape through a slipspace portal to the greater Ark. Because of continued use, stress on the portal caused it to collapse, resulting in only one Halo making the journey to the Ark without breaking up. Mendicant Bias commanded the five Halos under its control to fire, but the Capital's immense tidal forces, combined with sustained fire from the Capital's defensive forces and the stress of a recent slipspace transition, caused one of the rings to shatter. At the conclusion of the battle Installation 07, while heavily damaged, managed to fire its main weapon, causing significant damage to the Capital, although a number of councilors managed to survive by taking shelter deep within the structure.
Conflict at Installation 07 and capture
After the battle of the Capital, Installation 07—still under the control of Mendicant Bias—made a slipspace jump to a distant planetary system near the galactic border. The jump was an automated fail-safe measure, intended to place the Halo on a pre-determined collision course with a planet in the event it went rogue. Although unable to control the Halo's movements themselves, Mendicant Bias and the Primordial intended to enlist humans and Composer-processed Forerunner Flood victims to interface with the Halo's controls and reposition the Halo in a way that the planet would pass through it. Mendicant extracted the humans' ancestral memory imprints, claiming it would use the ancient warrior essences as its commanders in the coming campaign against the Forerunners; this was allegedly because the AI enjoyed the irony of having humans carry out its vengeance on its creators. However, a portion of this may have been deception engineered by Mendicant and the Primordial to convince the live humans to cooperate with them in saving the Halo.
However, the IsoDidact had tracked the installation down and upon intercepting it, used his control codes to disable Mendicant Bias. After the Didact's forces had successfully saved and taken control of Installation 07, the rampant Mendicant Bias was captured and forced to undergo a procedure to "correct" its rampancy. The AI was disassembled and its parts were scattered throughout the ecumene for further study.
Although Mendicant Bias remained neutralized for several years, the Forerunners' attempt to stop the AI was unsuccessful in the long run. The facilities its parts were distributed to were taken over by the Flood and Mendicant Bias was recovered, reassembled, and reactivated by a Gravemind, allowing the AI to return in command of the Flood's fleets.
Following Mendicant's defection, another metarch, Offensive Bias, had been constituted as its replacement. Offensive Bias lacked Mendicant's creativity, as well as its free will, but was more methodically lethal. Mendicant viewed Offensive Bias with derision, dismissing it as an "inferior metarch".
With reawakened Precursor star roads and millions of Flood-controlled ships at its disposal, Mendicant attacked the greater Ark, neutralizing the bulk of the remaining Forerunner population and their leadership. Despite the defense organized by Offensive Bias and the firing of Omega Halo which cut a momentary opening in the thicket of star roads, there was little the Forerunners could do against the power of the Precursor structures. The devastation of the greater Ark left the surviving Forerunners with only one option: the galaxy-wide activation of the Halo Array to halt the Flood.
Assault on the Maginot Sphere
Mendicant Bias and the Flood were unable to disable the Halos directly, and so the only chance they had to stop the coming cataclysm was to secure the formerly secret lesser Ark and stop the firing sequence from there. While it did not know the location of the Ark, it was aware of a method to reach it via specifically designed slipspace portals and Keyships. Offensive Bias, which had managed to salvage a small number of ships from the greater Ark, was given the task of preventing Mendicant Bias from accessing Installation 00, and to buy time for the IsoDidact to activate the Halo Array. The Forerunners also destroyed or disabled most of the Keyships to stall Mendicant's assault. However, Mendicant Bias managed to locate one of the remaining Keyships.
As the IsoDidact was preparing to activate the Array in the final hours of the war, Mendicant and its fleet of nearly five million ships launched a massive attack on the Maginot Line and breached it, with the intent of reaching the Ark. Immediately after the Flood's arrival, Mendicant Bias sent a coded message to Offensive Bias stating that it would give no quarter and would destroy the Ark. Mendicant offered Offensive a chance to join it and survive; Offensive rejected the offer. At the Maginot Line, Mendicant was confronted by Offensive Bias and the last remnants of the Forerunner fleet, vastly outnumbered by the Flood. This led to a final, titanic naval battle between the two metarchs. Mendicant's fatal mistake was that it had come to hold the Forerunners in abject contempt: its rampancy had clouded its perceptions, such that it had become too confident of its own superiority and failed to anticipate its opponent's ingenious feint. During the battle, the Halos were fired and as the pulse swept through both fleets, the Flood-controlled portions of Mendicant's fleet were disabled, suddenly tipping the scales in Offensive Bias' favor. In a matter of minutes, Mendicant Bias was outsmarted and defeated by Offensive Bias, who utilized the now-crewless ships with a ruthless, unconventional efficiency.
Trial and sentence
After the battle, Offensive Bias recovered Mendicant Bias' personality construct array and took it to Installation 00 for study. The IsoDidact placed Mendicant Bias on trial for betraying the ecumene. It was decided to keep the ancilla alive as it had intimate knowledge of the Flood and could be called upon in case of their return. Mendicant was locked in eternal exile and entombed beneath a vast desert on the Ark with only one thought allowed to it: atonement. The legal entity Catalog, who was aware of 2,901,001 cases pending against Mendicant Bias, nonetheless deemed the trial illegal, as the Juridicals were not involved in the proceedings.
An undetermined period of time after the firing of the Halo Array, a shard of the entombed Mendicant Bias' personality construct array managed to find its way aboard a particular Keyship. Attempting to make amends for its crimes against its makers by aiding humanity, the AI fragment then escaped from the Ark. However, the Dreadnought crashed on the San'Shyuum homeworld, Janjur Qom. The ship was later found and explored by the San'Shyuum, who eventually made it the centerpiece of the Covenant capital city, High Charity. Mendicant Bias' presence became known to the Covenant, who came to regard it as an Oracle. For a new triumvirate of Hierarchs to ascend, they would need the blessing of the Oracle; however, this was only a formality often exploited for political manipulation, as the dormant AI was not known to have actually spoken in generations of the San Shyuum's recorded history. In truth, the "blessing" was provided by the Philologist, the leader of the ascetic priests allegedly speaking on the Oracle's behalf.
In 2525, Mendicant Bias' fragment on High Charity was "consulted" by Ord Casto, the Minister of Fortitude, and Lod Mron, the Vice Minister of Tranquility; the pair wished to secure the large number of Forerunner artifacts on Harvest as part of their plan to usurp the reigning Hierarchs and to thus inaugurate a new Age of Reclamation. When the Philologist, Hod Rumnt, entered the data into the matrix, Mendicant came back online. In a shocking revelation, Mendicant Bias revealed that the "holy relics" on Harvest were actually humans and that the Covenant faith was based on an ages-old mistranslation. The glyph on the Luminary was mistaken as "reclamation", when it truly meant "Reclaimer". This had the potential to completely undermine the Covenant's unity and faith. The two ministers inducted the Philologist into their plan and brought about their political revolution to prevent this, ultimately leading to the Human-Covenant War.
Mendicant Bias realized that its actions against the Forerunners had been mistaken and announced to its Covenant hosts its intention to bring the "Reclaimers" to the Ark. To this end it attempted to leave High Charity by launching the dreadnought, an act that would have seriously damaged the Covenant capital. Mendicant Bias was foiled only by chance; it was disconnected by some Lekgolo worms that were wriggling inside the ship. The AI was more formally disconnected afterward to prevent it from commandeering the ship again.
During the Fall of High Charity in November 2552, the UNSC AI Cortana fought Mendicant Bias to delay the launching of the dreadnought, allowing SPARTAN John-117 to board the vessel and return to Earth. On December 11, During the journey to Earth, Mendicant Bias hijacked and terminated a Facilitator ancilla called Adjutant Reflex. Having taken over Adjutant Reflex, Bias communicated with an unspecified Reclaimer. However, Adjutant's physical housing was not strong enough to hold Mendicant Bias and it gave up its communication, moving on to using the "ghost.713" matrix on Local node "X.XX.713".
Mendicant Bias' fragment was carried through the Voi slipspace portal to Installation 00, where the missing shard was finally reunited with the part that had resided in the Ark's systems for around one-hundred millennia. This allowed Mendicant to reconstruct itself to an extent and regain control over its processes, although the daemons on the Ark attempted to halt its intrusion in the facility's systems.
On the Ark, Mendicant attempted to communicate with John-117 through terminals, using the "ghost.713" matrix, claiming that it sought atonement by helping the Spartan. The AI is also known to have manipulated the terminal transmissions' content to some degree to better suit its own aims, explaining some of the discrepancies between them and other Forerunner logs. In its final message to the Spartan, Mendicant declared that it was at the "end of [its] life", seemingly expecting to be destroyed by Installation 08's firing which obliterated the ring itself and severely damaged the Ark.
A highly advanced and powerful AI capable of splintering itself into many independent instances, Mendicant Bias inhabited a number of different physical armatures.
One of Mendicant's primary extensions, kept on Installation 07, was housed within an enormous, city-sized mass of data crystals, which hovered over a web-like network of green hard light "paths". This structure also contained a central eye, and was ringed with blue hard light structures that vaguely resembled legs. Before Installation 07 was retaken by the IsoDidact, this physical incarnation directly observed a group of humans that had been gathered in the facility.
For movement across Installation 07, Mendicant Bias used a massive, two-meter wide monitor shell with a single green eye.
During its conversion by the Flood, Mendicant Bias was housed within a monitor-like, though more ornate, casing with three blue eyes that can turn orange and a glyph in the center. The shard in the Forerunner Dreadnought was housed in a large structure with the three-eyed casing's likeness embedded in its facade. During the 23rd Age of Doubt, however, the Dreadnought's incarnation of Mendicant Bias was based within a smaller, teardrop-shaped casing largely similar to that of a normal installation monitor, having a single eye and a smooth, silver-like surface. Within the casing, barely active circuits ran at low power. The casing was held in a Covenant-made armature and tethered to nearby processing towers with strands of plaited wire.
List of appearances