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A design seed was a piece of technology used by the Forerunners to encode data that would be used to quickly assemble a machine at the appropriate time. A design seed containing the plans for a starship was known as a ship-seed.
Design and operation
Designed by a Forerunner "pattern-weaver" assisted by ancilla, a design seed contained the schematics for the piece of technology it was designed to craft, as well as the machinery required to convert the construction materials into the object under construction. In the absence of dedicated manufacturing facilities, the construction materials could be obtained from resources available on-site. According to 343 Guilty Spark, the seeds are codes that are drawn with hard light filaments and coded with quantum commands.
The Librarian acquired a design seed that was placed inside a mountain near the Didact's Cryptum on Erde-Tyrene, which then gave birth to a large ship for his escape. The machinery worked remarkably quickly; the mountain at the center of Djamonkin Crater was dismantled and reshaped into the core components within a single night. Once fully assembled, the seed had generated a large octagonal platform surrounded by eight curved pillars, each rising a thousand meters from the ground. When the machine was activated, these pillars began to rotate around the central platform. As they spun, they projected hard light components, which used the raw materials obtained on-site and reconstituted them into the alloys and components needed to build the ship. The construction process was extraordinarily rapid; the Didact's ship was approximately one kilometer long, and yet the entire vessel was materialized in a matter of minutes.
Forerunners were known to use a special type of design seed called an upgrade seed to upgrade the vessels of other races when proper resources were unavailable for design seeds to create a Forerunner vessel for them.
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