This article is about the AI construct. For Halo Wars collectibles, see Black Boxes.
Black-Box (AI Serial Number: BBX 8995-1), commonly referred to as "BB", is a fourth-generation "smart" artificial intelligence construct built by the United Nations Space Command. He is under the supervision of the Office of Naval Intelligence and was the personal assistant to then-Rear Admiral Serin Osman during her command of Kilo-Five, a highly covert intelligence unit under the direct authority of Admiral Margaret Parangosky, CINCONI.
Black-Box was created on August 17, 2552 and activated at Mars. Black-Box was created from the brain of Dr. Graham Alban, a senior researcher associated with ONI Special Research, and close friend of Admiral Margaret Parangosky. Alban had committed suicide out of guilt for his part in the SPARTAN-II program, and had requested that his brain be kept for the AI donor program. Black-Box was to be the personal AI companion for Parangosky in August 2552. He later sent a fragment of himself aboard the UNSC Glamorgan as it was sent to Onyx in wake of the planet's destruction. He then picked up massive Slipspace readings and the transponder of the late Kurt Ambrose.
On January 26, 2553, BB observed David Agnoli and Captain Serin Osman in section Core 5 of HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6. When Osman was called in to see Admiral Parangosky, he introduced himself to her and accompanied her to Parangosky's office. There Parangosky assigned BB to Osman and her black-ops team Kilo-Five, which was tasked with creating Sangheili insurrection and locating Catherine Halsey on Onyx. He later introduced himself to the other members of the team, professor Evan Phillips, ODSTs Staff Sergeant "Mal" Geffen, Sergeant Lian Devereaux, Corporal "Vaz" Beloi, and SPARTAN-II Naomi-010. He was put aboard the UNSC Port Stanley where he monitored the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers' body signals, deducing that they were excited to have their own rooms.
BB primarily took on a side role on the first three missions enacted by Kilo-Five. During their weapons exchange with Avu Med 'Telcam on New Llanelli, he scanned 'Telcam's ships. As they got back on the ship, Black-Box let his dumb AI functions run the ship while he listened to numerous comms channels at once. Mainly taking a managerial role on the extraction of Mike Spenser, monitoring the UNSC Ariadne until the lack of help from Venezia led to the death of all aboard when it was destroyed.
BB later checked on Captain Damien Hogarth through his fragment he had left in ONI's system back at Bravo-6. Hogarth was using his personal AI, Harriet, to dig up dirt on Parangosky so that he could eventually usurp her position as ONI director. While at first offended that Hogarth thought Harriet could get past him, he decided to feed her false information instead to "ruin Hogarth's day". As the attempted intrusions continued, Black-Box accessed Hogarth's files and triggered a false "massive overspending" alert to UNSC Internal Audit as retribution.
Later, Black-Box assisted Kilo-Five with seizing the Covenant cargo ship Piety and successfully captured an onboard Huragok, Requires Adjustment. BB went on several missions aiding the Servants of the Abiding Truth and continuing the insurrection against Arbiter Thel 'Vadam. Later on, Kilo-Five entered Shield World 006, a Forerunner Dyson sphere, and recovered the human survivors inside while arresting Dr. Halsey under orders from Admiral Parangosky. Having learned the tragic truth behind the Spartan-IIs and the fate of their parents, Vaz approached Dr. Halsey’s compartment in an attempt to kill her but was convinced by BB to walk away.
In March 2553, shortly after the recovery of the shield world survivors, Evan Phillips, accompanied with a fragment of BB, left Kilo-Five to study Sangheili culture on Sanghelios. While touring the state of Ontom, he met with Avu Med 'Telcam. As they approached the entrance of the Temple of the Abiding Truth, they were caught in the midst of a bombing orchestrated by Jiralhanae dissidents. Back on Port Stanley, BB's cam feed on Phillips was lost, but BB detected that Phillips was still alive. Following a second explosion, BB immediately experienced damaging pain. Captain Osman ordered the retrieval of Phillips and prepared the ship for a slipspace jump back to Sanghelios.
In the wake of the Jiralhanae uprising, 'Telcam planned to launch his attack on the state of Vadam. Phillips was taken into the custody of the Abiding Truth, who permitted him to explore the interior of the Forerunner temple. As Phillips explored the structure, he noted that the micro-camera unit on his shirt, which contained BB's fragment, had been peppered with shrapnel. The placement of the unit had saved Phillips' life, but BB's fragment inside had taken damage and activated an emergency purge function, wiping important data and higher personality functions from the AI's memory. While BB's fragment was far less useful in this state, Phillips nonetheless was able to use him to aid in translating certain symbols inside the structure. The data they collected inside was soon speculated to be the locations and operational statuses of the remaining Halo installations. Phillips and the BB fragment eventually found their way to a room with a translocation portal. Solving an arum-like activation system, Phillips was translocated to the portal's receiving end in Acroli.
During the battle over Sanghelios between the Arbiter's and the Abiding Truth's forces, with BB's help, Port Stanley posed as a Kig-Yar pirate ship. Disguised a Shipmistress named "Lahz", Osman and BB covertly destroyed some of 'Vadam's ships, leaving the Arbiter with a Pyrrhic victory. During this time, BB and Osman learned that a T'vaoan pirate named Sav Fel had stolen the battlecruiser Pious Inquisitor from the Abiding Truth.
After Phillips was rescued from the Nes'alun keep by Kilo-Five, they visited UNSC Infinity over Sanghelios. The primary BB faced somewhat of an internal crisis about the reintegration of his damaged fragment into his core matrix. Phillips and BB reluctantly went to see Dr. Catherine Halsey, then aboard Infinity, and asked her if she could help Black-Box. However, the doctor stated that there was no solution at the moment. After Dr. Halsey failed to assist BB, he successfully reintegrated by himself. Afterwards Phillips and BB tried to translate the Forerunner symbols they discovered from the Forerunner temple in Ontom.
After the operation on Sanghelios, Kilo-Five were assigned to track down Naomi's father and known Venezian insurrectionist Staffan Sentzke, who was seen in the company of Sav Fel, the current owner of Pious Inquisitor. Shortly thereafter, Mal and Vaz landed on Venezia with the goal of joining the Venezian Militia. Aboard the Port Stanley, Phillips and BB discussed previous events and BB admitted that he had come to terms with his broken fragment.
Once Mal and Vaz had infiltrated the militia, they were tasked with getting aboard the Pious Inquisitor and let BB insert one of his fragments into the systems, so they could take control of the ship. Although the two managed to get aboard the Inquisitor, their plan had become complicated when they learned that the Inquisitor had a Huragok, Sometimes Sinks, aboard the ship. Sinks would be able to detect BB if he was put into the ship's systems. Using a tracer planted by Vaz, BB attempted to remotely seize control of Pious Inquisitor from Venezia using a local slipspace communicator, but Sometimes Sinks detected and blocked the intrusion. Believing that they were responsible for the intrusion, Sentzke had Mal and Vaz captured and interrogated. Black-Box used Mal and Vaz's neural transponders to locate them on Venezia. Naomi took the team's new dropship, Bogof, to free Mal from the rebels' compound while Devereaux went after Vaz on Tart-Cart, also taking Sentzke prisoner. They return to the Port Stanley and Staffan Sentzke is soon allowed to reunite with his daughter. Wanting to find out more about her childhood, Naomi asked BB to connect with her neural implant and use ONI recordings to spark some of her long-forgotten memories. BB agreed to her request, although he acknoweledged the risk associated with such a procedure and the potential fallibility of the memories.
Meanwhile, a crew of Kig-Yar contracted by 'Telcam located and boarded Pious Inquisitor, attempting to commandeer the ship for themselves. Sometimes Sinks, distrustful of the Kig-Yar and only compliant to Sentzke's orders, placed the ship in complete lockdown. After Staffan convinced Sinks to allow Kilo-Five aboard the ship, the team worked to put BB into the Inquisitor's systems so he could take control of the ship. Once BB was placed into the ship's systems, he helped Kilo-Five make their way to the bridge, while taunting the Kig-Yar. With Mal and Naomi pressing on the bridge, the leader of the Kig-Yar privateers, Shipmistress Chol Von, set the ship to explode and escaped with her remaining crew. BB and Sinks worked to restore enough control to get everyone out.
While Kilo-Five escaped to their dropships, Sentzke took a Spirit from the shuttle bay but stayed in range to ensure Naomi was safe. Assuming Sentzke had no chance of surviving the explosion, Vaz told BB to send the ONI file on Naomi's kidnapping to Sentzke in the hope that he would manage to relay it his family and prove his theories right. While sending the files, BB personally appeared in Sentzke's Spirit. Immediately noticing the slipspace drive and deducing Sentzke's true intentions, the AI indicated that ONI would never cease hunting Sentzke if they knew he had survived. However, out of both sympathy and trust that Sentzke would stay true to his word and leave Earth alone, BB wiped his memory of the incident immediately afterward; this left Kilo-Five and ONI to assume that Sentzke had been killed in the explosion.
With Pious Inquisitor destroyed and the Venezian threat seemingly neutralized for the time being, Kilo-Five was granted shore leave on Cascade. At her request, BB allowed Osman to view her origins file.
After almost seven years of service, the UNSC decided to legally terminate the Smart AI Iona's existence in order to stave off the threat of rampancy. In an effort to save herself, Iona successfully launched a legal appeal against her own death sentence. She managed to petition her appeal through the United Nations Humanitarian Council, which gained the attention of numerous scientists. He and Roland were charged with creating an artificial trial for Iona to allow researchers to study the case, without Iona realizing that the trial was simulated.
On January 17, 2558, Iona's "appeal" began. With Black-Box and Roland acting as the trial's judge and Iona's advocate respectively, Iona was questioned about her thoughts and dreams. The court ultimately decided to place Iona into stasis until a proper decision on the matter was reached. Afterwards, Roland and Black-Box discussed their roles in the trial, with Roland admitting regret for lying to Iona. However, Black-Box expressed his hope that Iona's simulated trial would be analyzed by human scientists and that, one day, smart AIs and humans would be considered equals.
Investigation in the colonies
Some time later in 2558, events on five human colonies resulted in mass destruction caused by unknown objects. The situation was properly secured by the UNSC on four of the colonies, but on the fifth, the site was secured by the New Colonial Alliance. To prevent the Insurrectionist faction from securing the deadly object, ONI operative Commander Maya Sankar was tasked with infiltrating the faction to aid ONI in dealing with the rebels. In addition, Black-Box was "partnered" with Sankar to help her on her mission and keep ONI's interests a priority, over her objections. As with the Sanghelios mission, Black-Box was housed in a data-chip disguised as a lapel pin.
The pair traveled to Conrad's Point in a prisoner transport vessel, and made contact with ONI deep cover operative Ari Rezneck, who had already infiltrated the NCA and copied their analysis of the event onto a data chip. They were led to the NCA base camp and encountered Maya's former protege Bostwick and ex-Spartan-IV Ilsa Zane, the new leader of the faction. Zane executed Ari for betraying them to ONI, but a UNSC airstrike and Bostwick's intervention prevented her from killing Maya as well. After fleeing the planet with the data and Bostwick, BB implored Maya to head for an ONI base with the intel. Sankar refused, believing that ONI would suppress the information and let additional colonies fall so they could study the results.
Taken to Maya's remote safe house on Binterall, BB encountered the still-alive Mshak Moradi, who'd been trapped in the agent's house and who quickly grew terrified of BB, referring to them as a "computer zombie". BB was unable to contact ONI due to Maya's personal communications array blackout, but the group was found by ONI anyway, having been tracked from Conrad's Point. They attempted to escape, taking BB with them, but Maya's ship was intercepted and captured by the Rampant Perdition, a former Covenant ship now manned by Kig-Yar pirates.
BB translated for Maya as she attempted to negotiate with their captors, eventually bluffing them into jailing them rather than killing them immediately. When Bostwick was taken by pirates to be eaten alive, Maya and BB engineered an escape from their cell by plugging him into the wall's energy conduit and causing a power shortage. Now interfaced with the ship's systems, BB aided her in finding Bostwick and negotiating with the Kig-Yar shipmistress, upon discovering that the ship's slipspace engine had been disabled. In exchange for repairing it, the pirates let them go free.
Investigating the conditions at Conrad's Point and other recent disaster sites, Black-Box uncovered a pattern of geological and meteorological disturbances that became present on planets before an imminent Guardian awakening. The next planet exhibiting those symptoms was Laika III, but BB also transmitted his findings to ONI in hopes that they could evacuate citizens and control the incoming news. However, their arrival at Laika was immediately interrupted by an attack by Ilsa Zane, who damaged Maya's ship, forcing BB to take control and steer them into a crash-landing.
After an encounter with Dasc Gevadim and his followers of Triad, the group headed to New Hedmark in hopes of initiating an evacuation. The Guardian's awakening tremors were already beginning in the city, but BB alerted the group that activating the anti-Covenant alert system would activate every available ship that could aid rescue. However, his suggestion turned out to be a ploy to have himself be taken to the city's shuttle port, intending to leave and have ONI control whatever news left the planet. Maya was determined to alert Laika's citizens and the other colonies, and BB was made to come along as she activated the port's radio tower and sent a message about the Guardian attack on the city.
After her message concluded, Maya was convinced by Bostwick that the only way to truly preserve the legend of FERO the rebel hero and not Maya the ONI spy, and ensure that her message would not be ignored was for Maya to die. Agreeing, though initially fearful, Maya was shot by Bostwick, falling backwards out of the control tower to the ground below. Maya Sankar's brain was recovered from her body and chosen for Smart AI creation. BB interviewed the remnants of her mind as she recounted the memories of her final mission, and the recorded conservation was subsequently published to ONI.
During the onset of the Created conflict and the subjugation of Earth, Black-Box orchestrated the evacuation of Serin Osman and Admiral Hood from HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6 via a prowler headed to a hidden planet named Rossbach's World, which had been covered up earlier by BB himself. Black-Box and several other AIs made it out aboard the prowler, with their cores locked inside an explosive case. Some time after the arrival on Rossbach's World, Serin Osman debated to herself what to do with the AIs within, including Black-Box. If, after discussion, they chose to join Cortana, she could send them all directly to her via slipspace probe, or she could prime the sixty-second fuse to destroy the case and everything within it. Osman kept her thumb over the activation switch for the detonator's timer and reflected on how Black-Box had always been kind to her. Black-Box's fate is currently unrevealed.
Personality and traits
Possessing a male personality, Black-Box is noted as being incredibly sarcastic and egotistical and fully comfortable with being an entity of pure intellect, and has an innate sense of superiority over not only his human creators, but also other AIs. Due to this, Black-Box chooses not to represent himself with a humanoid avatar, as the majority of "smart" AIs do, and instead appears as a featureless box bathed in blue light; at times, it is mentioned that he uses the brightest side of the cube to indicate which way his avatar is facing. He has been described as deeply narcissistic, and has been noted to speak in a supercilious manner. He has also been noted as having a sarcastic sense of humor. Additionally, he tries not to get too invested in humans, such as he believes Cortana did.
Possibly due to his programming being based off the brain of Dr. Alban, Black-Box has intense antipathy and disgust for Catherine Halsey. As another remnant of his brain donor, BB also possesses a fascination for cognitive psychology and has a tendency of analyzing the behavior of humans and other species in depth.
Thanks to the UNSC's improved, Forerunner-enhanced communication systems, Black-Box is capable of distributing his processes across interstellar distances with no discernible lag. As such, he was capable of monitoring activity on Earth, Sanghelios, and several other locations with his primary matrix physically present on Port Stanley. While a "smart" AI, Black-Box possesses at his core a set of "dumb" processes, which can be separated from his higher thought processes and function as a "dumb" AI, operating independently of the main AI, but still fully within his awareness; he represents these processes as a battered and weathered version of his normal cube-shaped hologram self. Whether this is a trait unique to Black-Box is unknown.
List of appearances