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Episode 09: Phantoms

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Episode 09: Phantoms
Cover artwork for Episode 09: Phantoms.
Series overview


Hunt the Truth


Season 1

Episode specifications



Air date:

May 24, 2015[1]

Run time:



Episode 09: Phantoms was the ninth full episode in the first season of the Hunt the Truth audio drama.[2] The episode was originally released on Soundcloud on May 24, 2015.[1]

Official summary[edit]

A new report surfaces about a Spartan abductee, but there’s no time to check the facts. FERO is missing, and the Senate meeting is about to begin.[3]

Plot summary[edit]

With less than two hours left until the senate meeting starts, Anthony Petrosky records his recollection of the events that happened on the UNSC Atlas in 2525. With time running out, Benjamin Giraud anxiously waits for Mshak Moradi to send him compelling enough evidence to show to the senate, but Ben instead gets contacted by Katrina. She tells him she fears for her life because of the tension heating up in the Outer Colonies and the New Colonial Alliance rallies going on, and that she is constantly getting communications failures. However, before she can continue, she is cut off. Mshak finally sends the files, including a recording of police radio when the Spartan who encountered their identical twin was found dead from a self-inflicted wound. Mshak tells Ben to find out what's going on in the Outer colonies as soon as he can, but FERO cuts him off. FERO tells Ben she has hacked into the meeting and that once he is ready, he can start. FERO patches him through and Ben introduces himself and the purpose of his announcement, and then plays Anthony's statement. Ben then tells the senate of the kidnappings, cloning, training and biological augmentations that the SPARTAN-II program comprised of, just in time before the feed was cut.

FERO informs Ben that he is now under their protection. Shortly after, Ben receives a message from his bank, informing him his account has been disabled. Ben also finds a message from Mshak, telling him he will meet him the day after tomorrow to tell him something important. Not willing to wait for Mshak, Ben tries to call, but can't get through to him, he finds he can't get through to anyone in the Outer colonies. A delayed message from Katrina arrives. Katrina tells Ben that there is violence breaking out all over the outer colonies, but once again Katrina is cut off. Ben has no choice but to wait for Mshak, but he never arrives.

Audio transcript[edit]

  • Anthony Petrosky (in call/scratchy): Testing, testing 1, 2, 3. Can you hear me okay?
  • Benjamin Giraud: Yeah, just don't move around too much, it messes with the sound.
  • Petrosky (in call/scratchy): All right, roger that.
  • Giraud (voiceover): It was all coming down to the wire. In a couple of hours, FERO was going to hack into a closed-door session between the UEG and ONI and I was going to expose all of the intelligence agency's ugly secrets to Senate leadership. Having Petrosky remotely record his statement in advance like this was going to give me one less variable to worry about once we were in. But, I was still waiting on final materials from Mshak. I hadn't heard from FERO all day and I was urgently trying to pull it all together. I was a wreck.
  • Giraud: Come on, come on.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Considering he was about to accuse ONI of atrocious human rights violations, Petrosky, on the other hand, seemed completely calm. He wanted to chitchat about the Chief.
  • Petrosky (in call): So... high treason. Eh, you, uh, you think that's for real?
  • Giraud: Uh, I guess. That's what people are saying. Can-- can-- can you stay up sitting like that please?
  • Petrosky (in call): The Master Chief! Damn, that's gonna be a black eye for ONI PR, huh? (chuckles) You know, boots all across the military are gathered like they're at a slumber party or something.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Three days ago, FERO had leaked a suppressed incident report from an embassy in the Outer Colonies that had everyone in disbelief or disarray. Less than twenty-four hours later, FERO dropped the real bomb: a security video from that same embassy, showing that everything in the report was true. The Master Chief had turned diplomatic peace talks into a shooting gallery that claimed nineteen lives. The shock of that second leak immediately turned to outrage, polarizing everyone by the same familiar geography: the staunch patriots of Earth versus the dogged survivalists of the Outer Colonies. It was the same caustic regionalism that had far too recently defined us. And now those old ideologies were creeping back out, masquerading as opinions, angrily cracking open the scabs. Meanwhile, the Master Chief, the subject of my entire investigation, was now the most wanted man in the galaxy. I hadn't even had a chance to dig into any of it.
  • Petrosky (in call): So, do you think he did it?
  • Giraud: What?
  • Petrosky (in call): Do you think the Chief shot up that embassy on Biko?
  • Giraud: Uh--
  • Petrosky (in call): Maybe he finally went nuts. Maybe he thinks we're still fighting Insurrectionist guerrillas or something, I don't know, but man, working for the Covenant? Doh! That's a stretch, right?
  • Giraud: I really-- I don't know man. I'm sorry, we just gotta lay this down.
  • Petrosky (in call): All right, roger that.
  • Giraud (voiceover): We were running out of time and I needed Petrosky to focus. He started recording. I asked to introduce himself and tell the world about the SPARTAN program. From then on the was totally on point.
  • Giraud: So just, uh, say who you are, and then just go into it.
  • Petrosky (in call): Ok. (clears throat) I am Corporal Anthony Petrosky, retired trooper of the 105th ODST Division. I am testifying by my own free will under no duress by any parties and I wish to make the following statement. (clears throat) In April 2525, while serving on a detachment on the UNSC Atlas, I witnessed, firsthand, an incident involving a 12 to 13 year old male who identified himself as John-117. He had extensive scarring on his torso, consistent with post-procedural scarring I've seen on recently inducted Spartans. And under orders from an ONI CPO, John killed two ODSTs and critically injured two others, an attack that greatly exceeded natural human ability.
  • Giraud (voiceover): He didn't stutter. He didn't stammer. His thoughts were clear as crystal, told with purpose, as if he had been waiting his whole life to speak with this much conviction. After a grueling military career that took his left arm, Anthony Petrosky should have been rewarded with dignity and opportunity. Instead, he was one of countless veterans the government had left behind. But this was his moment and he never sounded more alive. As he laid out his damning testimony about ONI's biological augmentations of children, I knew FERO had been right. Petrosky's words would humanize the story and persuade even the most jaded senators to listen. I had exactly what I needed from Petrosky.
  • Petrosky (in call): I am testifying with absolute certainty that the speed, power, and coordination this person exhibited was categorically impossible without the benefit of a full battery of military-grade augmentations. Afterwards, the Office of Naval Intelligence, through our COs, issued an order of absolute suppression of all accounts of this incident. The coercion, pressure being brought to bear, we were ordered to keep silent, to never speak of this publicly upon fear of court martial. How's that? That okay?
  • Giraud: Uh, yeah! Tha-- that was amazing. I-- I can't thank you enough.
  • Petrosky: Yeah. All right, you give 'em hell.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Now I was just praying Mshak would come through, FERO would be able to bypass the most sophisticated security system in history, and I could get hacked into a meeting between the most powerful people alive. I needed a miracle, and I needed it to happen in the next ninety minutes. I'm Benjamin Giraud and this is Hunt the Truth.


  • Giraud: Oh God, what was I thinking?
  • Giraud (voiceover): As I tried and failed repeatedly to get a hold of Mshak, I was trying not to dwell on what my plan had been, particularly because it was sounded absurd. I was trying to corroborate my accusations against ONI by having Mshak Moradi convert nutjob conspiracy theorist data into documentation that a senator would find compelling. But I didn't have time to rethink the plan. I needed the documents. My calls to Mshak kept dropping though. Something was up, the networks were a mess. I did not have time for this and I was starting to panic when a message from the Outer Colonies finally came through.
  • Giraud: The files better make sense, Mshak.
  • Giraud (voiceover): But there were no files. And it wasn't Mshak. The message was from Katrina, the old friend of John's that Ellie Bloom had put me in touch with. The woman who had told me about John's death. I hadn't spoken to her in... weeks.
  • Katrina (in call): Hey, Ben. I don't really know who else to call but I was hoping you could maybe tell me what feedback you were getting from the Outer Colonies this week.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I had no idea what the listeners were thinking. Ever since I'd gone incognito I hadn't heard any of their feedback. Stupidly, when I set it up, I hadn't properly secured the feed and now I was afraid if I accessed it to hear what people were saying, ONI would trace my new location. I'd figured after my latest episode, the revelation that ONI had heavily poached the Outer Colonies for their child abductions would be garnering a strong reaction out there. But the way Katrina made it sound, the reaction was stronger than I could have ever imagined.
  • Katrina (in call): (sighs) People are going nuts. They're switching over to only using local ChatterNet services like it's fifty years ago or something. It's this New Colonial Alliance group. They're everywhere, holding all these demonstrations in the streets. Thousands of people are turning out! And they keeping chanting about self-reliance, talking about how we need to be preparing for this big embargo, all these boycotts, the UEG offices shutting down. I don't know. It seems peaceful right now, I just-- I feel like we should get off world, just in case it breaks bad. (sighs) I've kind of already been freaked out anyway. I don't know if I'm being paranoid but I think... someone maybe targeting me for helping you, and Ellie's in the same boat. All these power surges and these crazy service interruptions. Last time I talked to you, my entire system was overrun with corrupted files and my whole neighborhood lost power. I don't know, but if someone is trying to get us I'm worried what would happen if things get too chaotic out here. Um, I don't feel safe so if you anything about this or what we can do to protect ourselves, I mean they're already shutting down the st--

(call disconnected)

  • Giraud (voiceover): Katrina's message got cut off. I had no idea what was happening. I had no idea what the central government was going to do. I had no idea how to help this woman or Ellie or their families or anyone else. We were all in the dark. All I could do was present the senators with the ugly truth and hope it could convince them to help us all, and I was running out of time to make that a reality. Thankfully, Mshak finally emerged from his subterranean world.
  • Giraud: Perfect. Got it! Thank you, thank you! I-- God I hope it's convincing enough.
  • Moradi (in call): You should have a clear breakdown that exposes the blatantly unnatural pattern of child autoimmune deaths on the beginning of the SPARTAN-Program, particularly in the Outer Colonies.
  • Giraud: Yeah, yeah I see that. It's good. It looks solid.
  • Moradi (in call) (in call): And, I also cleaned up and edited that police scanner data. It's one of ONI'S abducted kids returning home and running into their clone.
  • Giraud: One of the suicides?
  • Moradi (in call): Yeah, some officer gets called to the scene of a home invasion. It's this middle-age couple and their teenage son whose in a wheelchair. The officer comforts the victim, assesses the situation, calls it in. There wasn't a confrontation or anything, no valuables appear to be missing, victims didn't even get a good look at the guy. The perpetrator just entered the house, went into the son's room, son freaked out, perpetrator fled the scene, blah blah blah. Now everything seems to be okay. During his report to dispatch though, the officer gets startled by a sound. Reports of possible shots fired somewhere nearby. Backup arrives, they canvass the area, about ten minutes later same officer reports discovering a body in a nearby field. A teenage kid, dead from what appears to be a self-inflicted gun shot wound.
  • Giraud (voiceover): That's where the officer's report to dispatch... took a turn.
  • New Houston Dispatch (recording): Seven-Charlie-Nineteen, what's the rush?
  • Seven-Charlie-Nineteen (recording): It's the exact same kid. The kid from the home invasion over at Stanton. I mean... this 10-56, looks like an identical twin. I don't know what to say.
  • New Houston Dispatch (recording): Seven-Charlie-Nineteen, M.E. is en route.
  • Giraud (voiceover): The medical data Mshak had sent along with the audio made the picture even uglier. The son was in a wheelchair because months of medical procedures had left him with permanent nerve damage... from when he was six years old, under treatment for autoimmune and significant cognitive disorders. Those procedures that left him paralyzed were nearly identical to those from John's medical records. Before the survivors had been removed from the data, this boy had been one of the dots on Mshak's scatter graph of likely clones. I didn't know what to say.
  • Moradi (in call): So I realize it's messy. Whether you can use it or not, at least now you know.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I didn't have enough time to wrap my head around this new piece. So I made the difficult choice not to use it, but hearing yet another ONI horror story made me all the more determined to blow it open. I just needed FERO to show up in the next few minutes with a miraculous way to get in the door.
  • Giraud: Thanks, Mshak. So this should all be going down here in a-- uh--
  • Moradi (in call): Don't be nervous, you'll be great. I've got all my channels open, ready to go. Whatever pops off, the murmurs will pop up. And if the Senators are making moves against ONI, that's the kind of chatter that rattles teeth. So don't worry, we'll know soon enough if it works.
  • Giraud: Thanks man, okay. I'll uh--
  • Moradi (in call): Hey, just real quick! I know you're super busy right now with your crusade of honor but as soon as you can, you need to get caught up with what's happening in the Outer Colonies. The last episode is turning kernels into popcorn. The fault lines are tectonic I need to talk to about about, so--

(call disconnected)

  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Ben will call you back.
  • Giraud (voiceover): Hacking in and cutting off Mshak: yet another dramatic entrance for FERO. And this one came not a moment too soon.
  • Giraud: FERO, what's happening? I'm all ready. Do you have a way in?
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): I'm already in and this is how it's going to work: you have the files ready for upload, I'll secure connection and give you a direct feed into the hearing. You'll present Petrosky's testimony, upload the files, and make your case. Quickly, because they're going to do everything in their power to shut it down. They might even be able to trace your location. If they run too much interference, I'll have to scale us back to a one-way feed so we may end up flying blind but they'll still see and hear everything you say for as long as I can keep that connection open. Are you ready to play for real?
  • Giraud (voiceover): I had to be.
  • Giraud: Yes.
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Good. I'm patching you in now.


  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Go for the throat Ben.
  • Giraud (voiceover): This was it. Every shred of journalistic integrity I had left was about to go out the window. I had a strongly biased opinion and I was about to deliver it to some of the most important policy makers in government. This wasn't just an exposé of ONI's deeds, it was an indictment that constituted a call to arms. I just hope the Senators would listen.

(feed opens)

  • Giraud (voiceover): There was no audio but I suddenly had a full view of the congressional chamber hosting this meeting. I couldn't believe this was happening. My eyes I scanned the room. The twelve senators who represented the Senate Armed Forces Committee seemed to be there, and three of the six ONI directors lined up in front of them. My heart was racing, then I saw someone else.
  • Giraud: Wait, is that Sully?
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Ben, you're live in 3, 2, 1.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I saw my face pop up in the main display at the head of the room. The proceedings seem to stop as all the heads turned and looked at me. For a moment... I froze... and then I began.
  • Giraud: Distinguished representatives of the Unified Earth Government and the Office of Naval Intelligence, my name is Benjamin Giraud. I was a journalist hired by Commander Michael Sullivan to do a profile on the Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 and my contract was terminated for exposing a widespread cover-up by ONI on his true origins.
  • Giraud (voiceover): As I spoke, I tried to look at the camera and ignore the return feed. The image of my own face speaking to a room full of supremely powerful people was incredibly distracting. I could see out of the corner of my eye though, that it was working. They were listening, then my feed went black.

(feed closes)

  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Keep talking, Ben. I had to cut the return feed but you're still live in the room.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I tried to focus.
  • Giraud: ONI has gone to great lengths to keep you and the public from knowing critical information about the SPARTAN program, their lack of institutional control of the Master Chief in the Outer Colonies, and the genetic modification of abducted children that eventually became warriors like the Master Chief. What I'm about to play for you is testimony from ODST Anthony Petrosky regarding the SPARTAN program.
  • Petrosky (recording): I am Corporal Anthony Petrosky, retired trooper of the 105th ODST Division. I am testifying by my own free will under no duress by any parties and I wish to make the following statement.
  • Giraud (voiceover): As Petrosky's testimony played, I was starting to doubt whether or not it was still actually live when I got a message from Sully. It said: "You're out of control Ben. Last chance to stop." I typed back: "I can't be a party to the crimes you and the rest of ONI have committed. Not anymore. I'm done." There was a brief pause and he responded: "Yes, you are." My gut sank... but I wasn't gonna back down
  • FERO: You have to finish up quickly Ben. They're hitting the hack hard, I can't keep it open too much longer. As Petrosky finished up, I quickly edited my final piece, chopping out any unnecessary language. Then, it was time to bring it home.
  • Giraud: Senators, uh, for their SPARTAN program ONI kidnapped young kids and illegally engineered doomed to die clones to replace them. They kept the children as military property, subjecting them to horribly unethical training regimens and eventually performed dangerous biological augmentations on them while they were still growing. This was how they made the Spartans. Half of these children most likely did not survive. I've provided you with files that corroborate my claims as to these egregious human rights violations. I ask you to review them with an open mind. ONI has gone to great lengths to cover up this story, including elaborate fabrications.
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised/speaking over Giraud): Wrap it up Ben!
  • Giraud: I've also provided you to clear evidence of this disturbing cover up -
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised/speaking over Benjamin): Come on.
  • Giraud: - as well as audio evidence of the threats I have received in the past several weeks for pursuing this information.
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised/speaking over Benjamin): We're about to lose the feed.
  • Giraud: I've come forward at great risk to my personal safety -
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised/peaking over Benjamin): Come on, come on, come on.
  • Giraud: - and my only hope is that you will look at the facts and take the directors of ONI -
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised/speaking over Benjamin): Keep going.
  • Giraud: - and all responsible to task for these atrocities. Thank you for your time.

(transition ends)

  • Giraud (voiceover): The feed cut, at the last moment, I-- I was in shock. What had just happened?
  • FERO (in call/slightly disguised): Perfect. Now let's watch and burn. The revolution has started, Ben, and you were the spark. From now on, you're under our protection.

(call ends)

  • Giraud: FERO? (sighs)
  • Giraud (voiceover): She was gone. My head was buzzing. I felt like I was in a dream. What had I done? I looked down at Sully's last message, his response to when I said "I'm done"... it was chilling. "Yes, you are." That was all he said, that was all he needed to say. I felt dizzy, I-- I had to keep moving, find out if that kamikaze mission had any effect whatsoever. The first ripple popped up right away. It was a message from my bank.
  • Bank Message: We regret to inform you that you account at Battered Trust has been deactivated. If you have any questions, please speak with a financial representative.
  • Giraud (voiceover): I called immediately and got representative on the line. She told me I was under investigation for the unauthorized possession of sensitive government materials: the audio files from my story. I was being fined an astronomical sum for keeping them and as a result, my assets had been frozen indefinitely. I couldn't believe it. I checked all my accounts, either locked down or zeroed out. In retrospect, cashing out should have been step one before I took on the most powerful government agency in history. But it was too late now, ONI was bringing down the hammer and I had been financially ruined. I was reeling from this realization when two delayed messages popped up in my queue. The first one loaded quickly. It was Mshak.
  • Moradi (voicemail): Uh Ben, things are getting a little hectic out here so I don't know if this is going through, but I was trying to tell you before I got cut off that-- ok, no we need to talk in person. I-- i-- i-- it's urgent, it's very-- it's something I found but we can't over coms about it so I'm coming to see you in person the day after tomorrow. Don't talk to anybody, don't try to reach me. I'll be there soon and then we can sit down and go over the whole--
  • Giraud (voiceover): I couldn't wait for Mshak to get here so against his wishes and my better judgement, I tried to raise him. But something was wrong. Like everyone else in my region, I had plenty of failed calls to the Outer Colonies in my time. But this was different, like it didn't even send the call. I checked my ChatterNet feed, it was full of comments from people just like me panicking because they couldn't reach the Outer Colonies. Scattered reports that communication buoys themselves had been shut down. It didn't make any sense. The second delayed message finally finished loading. It was Katrina.
  • Katrina (voicemail/distorted): Ben, it-- (static) --I can't even-- (static) --point is down, it's totally gone, we're completely out-- (static) --my parents, Ellie, no one in the whole system is-- (static) --ChatterNet and there's a full-- (static) --please, if you can-- if you can tell someone what's happening or get somebody-- (static) --we need help and we-- (static) --food and--

(call disconnected)

  • Giraud (voiceover): And then... silence. That was it. I couldn't get through again. No one from the Inner Colonies could. The Outer Colonies had been completely cut off. After years of ONI quietly committing atrocities from their high perch, it felt like their phantoms were finally in motion, shifting the landscape with unknown objectives, somewhere out in the shadows they'd created. I listened to Mshak's message again. I needed him to help me sort this out, the idea of sitting here waiting in that darkness for him... scared the life out of me. I had to be patient. I just had to get through the next forty-eight hours. But he would never show up. That message... was the last time I heard... from Mshak Moradi. 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 09's release.

Panic In the Streets[edit]

A Law enforcement officer in riot gear in the midst of a riot.
Going incognito had cut me off completely. Shuttered schools, the paranoia … the thousands-deep crowds of colonists, shouting for ONI’s head.[4]

The Twins[edit]

A report by Office of Naval Intelligence personnel on the suicide of several SPARTAN-II candidates.
The report wasn’t nearly as unsettling as the thought that there might be more. How many incidents—how many deaths—had been erased to protect the SPARTAN program?[5]



External links[edit]

Preceded by
Episode 08: Drip, Drip, Drip
Hunt the Truth episodes
Episode 09: Phantoms
Succeeded by
Episode 10: Gag Order