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Episode 03: Critical Condition

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Episode 02: Bad Records

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Episode 04: Crossing the Black

Episode 03: Critical Condition
Cover artwork for Episode 03: Critical Condition.
Series overview


Hunt the Truth


Season 1

Episode specifications



Air date:

April 13, 2015[1]

Run time:



Episode 03: Critical Condition was the third full episode in the first season of the Hunt the Truth audio drama.[2] The episode was originally released on Soundcloud on April 13, 2015.[1]

Official summary[edit]

Conversations with retired military paint very different pictures of John. More questions arise about John’s home planet and his involvement in a violent training incident. The cracks in the official account widen, and Benjamin is drawn in.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

Confused by conflicting information about the Master Chief's parents from Katrina, Benjamin Giraud has his friend, Ray Kurzig, try and find information to prove that the story unauthorized by ONI to be false. Ray found that the information was actually true, confusing Ben all over again. Ben later calls Michael Sullivan to help clear the confusion, but just like in their previous call, Sullivan says tells him the "glassed planets have bad records". Trying to forget about the conflicting information, Benjamin interviews Jakob Walker, a retired Navy soldier. Jakob talks about how he and John trained together on Reach and John's natural leadership. Later, Mshak Moradi gives Ben the contact information of Anthony Petrosky, a former Orbital Drop Shock Trooper. He retold a story about a 12 or 13 year old John fought four other ODSTs in a fight, resulting in half of the men being killed and the other two being injured. This had also contradicted Ben's information, since it he originally was told that John finished boot camp at the age of 17. After the interview, Benjamin let's Ellie listen to his first episode. She insinuates that both Deon Govender and Thomas Wu lied in their interviews since boxing was forbidden on Eridanus II and Insurrectionists didn't abduct any of Elysium City's citizens. After trying to call both Deon Govender and Gabriella Dvørak and getting no response from either, Ben calls Thomas Wu to prove Ellie Bloom wrong. Thomas eventually began accidentally contradicting some of the things he said in his previous interview. Soon he became angry with how Ben was trying to pry information out of him and hang up. Ben then came to the realization that the entire interview was done through Waypoint, meaning any military personnel could have heard the interview.[4]

Audio transcript[edit]

  • Benjamin: Ray, you've- tell me you got something.
  • Ray: U-Um, yeah-- I do.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Ray Kersig is a good friend of mine, and a completely emotionless robot. I mean that in the best way. As an independent analyst, he's the most efficient and resourceful researcher I know. That's why I'd sicced him on this story a few days earlier. I needed to debunk the claims of Ellie's friend Katrina. He was in the area on business, so he took the time to come down and meet with me in my home office.
  • Benjamin (on recording): So Katrina told me that John died at six years old.
  • Ray: Right.
  • Benjamin: And his parents, who supposedly died in a rebel prison, were still alive years later.
  • Ray: Right.
  • Benjamin: Now, this woman's ruining my story, Ray. They- Tell me, te- te-te- tell me why she's lying.
  • Ray: Well - she's not.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Ray had found copious financial records indicating that John's parents were not just alive past 2524, but working and paying their bills.
  • Benjamin (on recording): They died in 2524! Come on, man!
  • Ray: Well, sorry! Their employers, and a preponderance of local merchants, disagree with you. I mean ... the central repositories were really thin, but you dig through enough mirrored archives, it all pops up. ... The records are there!

[BG: Ray and Ben talking on record, Benjamin laughing]

  • Benjamin (voiceover): Ray swiped through document after document corroborating this. He even showed me medical insurance claims for a pediatric autoimmune specialist in 2517 - exactly when Katrina said John got sick. I was laughing, but I didn't find any of it funny. I'm Benjamin Giraud, and this is Hunt the Truth.

[theme music]

  • Office of Naval Intelligence AI (in call): [chime] Continue to hold.
  • Benjamin (in call): Oh, jeez ... come on, come on, come on, come on ...
  • Benjamin: Finally. Hey! Sully!
  • Sullivan (in call): Tell me good things, Ben.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): It was disconcerting to be talking to the ONI insignia again, but I started positive. The story was going really well - but that little data problem. The death record - it was back. I was hoping Sully would smooth it out for me.
  • Sullivan (in call): Ben ... ugh, I thought we talked about this. Glassed planets have bad records.
  • Benjamin (in call): No, I- I know, I know, I just, um--
  • Sullivan (speaking over Benjamin): Glassed planets have bad records, Ben, this is Colonial journalism 101. A- Are you serious with this? (louder) Glassed planets have bad records--
  • Benjamin (continuing to talk): --it's not just the records, actually, no, no- listen, Sully, if you could- pe- people are saying- people are saying- (louder, silencing Sullivan) Listen, do Co- Hey-- Do glassed people have bad records?
  • Sullivan: ... Ben, are you recording right now?
  • Benjamin: Yes. [chime]
  • Benjamin (voiceover): That was my cue to stop recording. The off-the-record conversation was brief. Sully asked me if I wanted to do the next interview, What he meant was, "do you want to keep this job?" I said yes.
  • Office of Naval Intelligence AI (in call): Your call is over. [termination sound, into:]
  • Jacob Walker (in call): Well, as you can see, I've pretty much permanently stationed myself on this beach.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): That was my next interview. Jacob Walker, retired navy. He lives in a beach community way out on Castellaneta. The first thing I noticed about Walker when he answered my call was that he wasn't wearing a shirt, which made us both laugh. He explained that after twenty-eight years of service, as far as he was concerned, it was all R&R, all the time. I couldn't argue with that philosophy. He slipped on a T-shirt and I asked him about the Master Chief.
  • Walker (in call): Oh, hell yeah, John - you bet your ass I remember him. (fades, continues)
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Walker's career began three decades ago with Naval Force Reconnaissance School at Black Sea. Little did he know boot camp would turn out to be something he'd never forget. Walker was there alongside the young man who would become the Master Chief. The gravity of that was not lost on him.
  • Walker (in call): I mean, they pushed us real hard, but John - well, he pushed us even harder, without even trying. You screwed up, you didn't know whether to be more scared of the CO or John.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): I first thought Walker was unimpressed.
  • Walker (in call): Oh, no, man - I remember ... think it was the first week, there was a lot of talk. We were outside the mess tent, me and these other two jackasses gettin' into it, chests all puffed up and talkin' about bein' cold-blooded killers, and steppin' on necks, all that. Not wantin' to be in leadership one day. And, o' course, I was 19 and jacked as hell, so - well, I figured I only had so much competition. Meanwhile, here's this quiet nobody from nowhere, standing on the fringes, looking at the horizon ... John. Heh. Him. First I thought he was 20, 21 - he was a big dude. Turns out he was only 16. Heh. I mean, that kid wasn't even on the radar. (fades, continues)
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Soon, though, Walker says all that machismo fell to the wayside, and a real leader emerged in John.
  • Walker (in call): ... training exercises, whoever finished last got the brunt. I mean, last one in on the 20-mile? You're walking back while we catch a Pelican dropship. And that there's some downright lethal terrain, too. Reach is ... well, it was a tough planet. But John - man, he- he took lead every time. Lot of risk and responsibility. Didn't have to, but- hell, he did it. And then, halfway in, he started to hang back, you know, and- help the stragglers. You're injured, whatever - he'd be right there helping you out.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): And then without fail, Walker says, John always made sure he came in last - and took the punishment.
  • Walker (in call): It was the way he did it all - he made us all wanna follow his lead. Try harder, help each other - I mean, we're supposed to do that, but nobody ever really wanted to, until then. Anyway, we did it. But takin' the hit for the group, now that was John's thing. I only challenged him for the honour once. I never made that mistake again.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Walker's in his early fifties now, but he seemed lit up with the energy of a much younger man. It seems the will that he and the other recruits had, in a sense, borrowed from John so many years ago, was still inspiring Walker. It was remarkable - he knew John, lived with him for months, yet to him, John still seemed to be an almost mythical character.
  • Walker (in call): What he was able to do, gettin' back on his own like that in the pitch black, no nav equipment. Man, hah- he- he was inhuman.
  • Petrosky (in call): That kid was a monster, like they all were.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Anthony Petrosky, retired Orbital Drop Shock Trooper I found through Mshak Moradi. Yes, that Mshak Moradi - the truther who's been messaging me for months. And yes, I was pretty desperate for leads. We'll leave it at that. But Petrosky was definitely not on Sully's list of approved sources, so I went off-grid and contacted him through Chatternet. Here he is, talking about his only encounter with John.
  • Petrosky (in call): That kid was a freak.
  • Benjamin (in call): [sigh] Can you be more specific?
  • Petrosky: Yeah, I'd be happy to. You know - me and a bunch of guys were sparring in the gym one day, and there was this ...
  • Benjamin: Mmhm.
  • Petrosky: ... young kid there, I mean - I guess you could call him a kid, he was- he was pretty jacked, you know, but his face looked twelve, maybe thirteen.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Twelve or thirteen? After enlisting, John didn't even finish boot camp until at least seventeen. Petrosky had to be wrong about his age, but I let it go.
  • Petrosky (in call): Anyway, I guess he was actin' tough. When one of the guys, uh, asked his name, he told him, but he kind of, you know, gave him attitude, right? So - people start mouthing off, next thing I know, CPO orders the kid and four other guys into the ring. 'Cause it was supposed to, uh-
  • Benjamin (in call): W- h-hold on, Anthony, wait - you're - you're telling me that the CPO ordered four soldiers to fight a high school kid?
  • Petrosky: No, a twelve- or thirteen-year-old, like I said.
  • Benjamin: Yeah, fine, either way - the CPO ordered four ODSTs to fight a kid?
  • Petrosky (under): Yeah, man - (alone) you got it all wrong, okay, because those four ODSTs ... were like lambs to the slaughter.
  • Benjamin: What, John outfought them?
  • Petrosky: No. No, no, no. It was way worse.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): As he tells it, the ODSTs did as they were ordered. They surrounded John, and one of them swung. What happened next, Petrosky says, defied explanation.
  • Petrosky (in call): 'Cause the sound this kid's fists made ... it sounded awful. 'Cause they weren't, like, punches, they were like - rapid-fire explosions. OK? I was across the gym, but I heard it. It was sick. Like meaty cracks in a drumroll. Just, [imitating the sound] BA-da-da-BA-da-da-BA-da-da-BA-da-da-BA.

Benjamin (voiceover): One of the ODSTs sustained a single body blow that instantly stopped his heart, killing him. Another trooper only took one shot from John as well - a punch that caved in the man's face. Two fatalities, one ODST with a cracked pelvis, and one with a shattered spine - that guy never walked again. No one had to break up the fight. It was over in less than five seconds.

  • Benjamin (in call): Wait, he ki- he killed them?
  • Petrosky (in call): He did, it was impossible.
  • Benjamin: What do you mean impossible? Like, how-
  • Petrosky: Like, like not human, alright? Like he was genetically augmented.
  • Benjamin: So you're, you're telling me that someone ... had augmented John, someone had genetically augmented a child?
  • Petrosky: [draws breath] OK. Right.
  • Benjamin: No?
  • Petrosky: You think I'm lyin'.
  • Benjamin (overlapping): I- I believe that's what you honestly think you saw, but-
  • Petrosky (at the same time): Alright. No, sure, right, hey - it- (alone) loo-, look, here's the thing, Ben - I don't care if you believe me or not, this makes no difference in my world. I was there and you were somewhere else. So - y- y- you're gonna go write your little military cheerleader article, and - I'm gonna sit here and drink beer. So, good luck.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): Petrosky left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Now it's no shocker that Spartans go through a few augmentations and upgrades, but those are fully developed adults. Could a seventeen-year-old - probably still growing - even survive that kind of procedure? It seemed horribly risky, and what if what Petrosky was saying was true, and John was only thirteen? Well, that was one hell of an accusation to make, the ethical implications of which were nauseating. I was still thinking about it the next day when Ellie Bloom's name popped up in my call list. I'd let her listen to a rough version of my first episode and she had feedback for me. I didn't want to risk anyone listening in, so I let the call go, then hit her back on Chatternet.
  • Ellie (in call): Well, two things.
  • Benjamin (in call): OK.
  • Ellie: Two major things.

Benjamin: OK. Yeah.

  • Ellie: That boxing coach?
  • Ellie: He's lying.
  • Benjamin: W- ah, OK, how is ... he lying?
  • Ellie: There wasn't any boxing at the high school.
  • Benjamin: How do you know for sure?
  • Ellie: Because there wasn't any boxing on the entire planet.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): She said they'd outlawed it forever ago, after a kid got injured. Afterwards, there was a long-standing controversy over how youth boxing was illegal, but no one seemed to care about all the gravball concussions kids were getting. Regardless, by the turn of the century, she tells me nobody really boxed on Eridanus II anymore. She even gut-checks me, telling me to go ahead, ask anybody from the colony, they'd tell me the same thing.
  • Ellie (in call): And there sure as hell wasn't a league for kids to do it at the high school! That's like saying there was a gun range at the toy store. It just didn't happen. And the other thing - those kidnappings by rebels in Elysium? Also didn't happen.
  • Benjamin (in call): Hold on. I- I know that's not true. Y- you're wrong. OK? The Insurrection had a well-documented presence in Elysium.
  • Ellie (in call): Yeah, they did politically - they worked to influence local policy. It got tense, there was occasional violence, but nobody was "abducted". We lucked out. It was peaceful. That's why Elysium was refugee central. So, boxing coach? Total liar.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): I needed to verify what she was saying, but I had the gnawing sense she was telling the truth again. But what did this mean? If she was right and none of that happened, the whole story was wrong, and terrifyingly - that would mean someone had fabricated all of it. I needed explanations from my previous sources, and I needed them now. I tried to reach Deon, the boxing coach - no response. Gabriella Dvorak, the lieutenant who liberated John - in the field, unreachable. So I tried detainment survivor Thomas Wu. He answered.
  • Thomas (in call): [chime] Hello.
  • Benjamin (in call): Hi. Thomas?
  • Thomas: Who is this?
  • Benjamin: Yeah, I'm- I'm sorry to, uh, call so late - is it- is it late there? I ju- I just need to ask you something really quickly.
  • Thomas: Okay.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): I had no idea what I was gonna ask.
  • Benjamin (in call): OK, OK, do you ... know for absolute certain that Elysium suffered the same fate as your town?
  • Thomas (in call): Um, yeah. I told you that.
  • Benjamin: I, I, I know, but Thomas, I spoke to people who were in Elysium, and they said that wasn't true. Now, I- now look, I- I know you went through a lot, but I just- I wanna know the truth.
  • Thomas: ... OK.
  • Benjamin: Do you know, for absolute certain, that Elysium City was under the violent control of Insurrectionists?
  • Thomas: [sighs] Look, what I told you before - that is the best I can remember.
  • Benjamin: No, I'm sorry, ah, I'm sorry, but I don't believe that. You remembered it all perfectly. You rattled off the name of every single safe haven city in that region and you only hesitated once.
  • Benjamin (voiceover): I was completely making this part up. I was going for broke.
  • Benjamin (in call): You only hesitated where you would have said 'Elysium City', right?
  • Thomas (in call): I mean, I, I, look, I-I-I-I don't know for sure--
  • Benjamin: Bu- bu- but Ely- Elysium wasn't captured by the Insurrectionists, was it?
  • Thomas: ... Hey, what are you, defending them?
  • Benjamin: No. I'm, I'm definitely not defe--
  • Thomas: You know, after what they did, you can defend them? They left us locked up for weeks. They let all those people j- jus- jus- just die. And they did that all over the Outer Colonies. I mean, what does it matter if it was Elysium or somewhere else? After everything that they did, that-
  • Benjamin: Thomas, Thomas -- Thomas - look, I'm sorry, I'm sorry that I have to bring it up, I just-
  • Thomas: I just want peace of mind for my family, that's all I want is just ...
  • Benjamin: Wait. W- I, uh, I don't understand. [hesitantly] How does lying about Insurrectionists in Elysium buy you peace of mind for your family?
  • Benjamin (voiceover): At that moment, Thomas suddenly seemed to become entirely lucid, and his tone changed completely.
  • Thomas (in call): I shouldn't be talking to you.
  • Benjamin (in call): W- wait, Thomas, hold on-
  • Thomas: I can't. Leave us alone. [termination sound]
  • Benjamin (voiceover): I suddenly became lucid myself, with a single, awful realisation: that entire conversation had just taken place over Waypoint. Anyone could have been listening.

[theme music]

  • Benjamin: Please join me for the next episode of Hunt the Truth.

Blog posts[edit]

The following blog posts were released on the Hunt the Truth Tumblr blog for Episode 03's release.

Greetings from Castellaneta[edit]

A postcard sent to Benjamin Giraud from Castellaneta.
Here’s a postcard Walker sent me from Castellaneta. The “sunny side” of Saturn looks nice. Not a bad place to retire.[5]



External links[edit]

Preceded by
Episode 02: Bad Records
Hunt the Truth episodes
Episode 03: Critical Condition
Succeeded by
Episode 04: Crossing the Black