Flood combat form
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
A Flood combat form is the primary combat form of the Flood parasite, and one of the most common forms found in early stages of a Flood outbreak. Combat forms consist of infected sentient hosts infected via means of the Flood Super Cell, typically by a pod infector. They serve as the Flood's primary combatants, defending the Flood against attack and securing additional hosts for infection.
Infection and creation
Combat forms are typically created when a pod infector is successfully able to enter a host's body, though this is not the only vector by which hosts can be infected. Flood outbreaks can often be caused by spores or other microbiological vectors entering the host body, or by contact with other forms such as (but not limited to) a Flood Seeder or Infester. In more advanced stages of infection, the need for specific infection forms is decreased as the Flood-infected area converts to a Blightland or Flood hive - by which point, the Flood presence makes up the majority of the terrain in the area, making contact with the Flood Super Cell and the naturally-generated spores an inevitability. Some Flood structures such as the "launcher" specialising in shooting clouds of Spores at uninfected forces, causing them to succumb to the infection without any kind of infection form involved.
As Flood forms, including the combat form, naturally produce the Flood Super Cell (FSC), even being in contact with one can result in infection for an unprotected potential host. Given the combat forms' preference for melee combat, this makes even non-fatal strikes a death sentence, though such infections may progress slowly. However, infection by spore inhalation or infection form is extremely quick, with a host succumbing often in as little as a few seconds.
When conventionally infected by a pod infector, the infector latches onto the host and dig into the host's flesh with a razor-sharp barb-like appendage, injecting the FSC and proceeding to burrow themselves within the host. Typically, the pod infector makes its home within the chest cavity of the host life form, though depending on circumstance this is not always the case. Depending on the host in question, the pod infector will dislodge the host's bones and organs to make room for itself, resulting in extreme disfiguration such as dislocating the host's jaw or - in the case of infected Sangheili - completely snapping the neck. This process can be performed on living or recently-deceased hosts, though often results in the "death" of a living host prior to their re-animation once the FSC takes hold. Some hosts may be attacked and infected by multiple pod infectors. Even if the infection form is removed, the injection of FSC into the generated wounds results in those wounds becoming spore-filled blisters, and cannot save the host from infection.
Once infected, the super cell begins to consume and convert sections of the host body, creating growths and new appendages of new super cell. These growths appear randomly, and appendages produce whip-like tentacles that can be used by the combat form for striking enemies. As this process occurs, bodies take on the appearance (and smell) of decay. Some limbs and sensory organs are preserved in the transformation, and are used for using tools, weapons and vehicles. Damage taken during fighting and infection can be repaired -and the body even augmented - by the controlling infection form, though the combat form is ultimately disposable. The Flood Super Cell is able to arrange itself to mimic any organ needed to keep the host working. Even once the FSC has taken control of the victim, the controlling infection form can often be seen buried within the victim, with the infection form's red sensory appendages poking out of the flesh. Until the body is completely subsumed by super cell growth, these appendages are maintained as an impromptu central nervous system. Some, combat form super cell growths take on a more chitinous nature, akin to armour plating, helping protect the form from enemy attacks.
Hosts can be created from the living or recently deceased, though the infection process typically kills living hosts. Regardless, the process of infection and reanimation is extremely painful. and victims writhe in pain as the Flood takes control irrespective of if they were previously dead or not. The victim may still attempt to cry out from what remains of its mouth and throat even while being controlled, though it is also possible for the infection form to do so using the host's thoughts and memories as a psychological weapon. In some circumstances, a victim may remain fully aware of their present status, unable to do much but watch as their body is controlled by an outside force.
In the case of Private Wallace Jenkins, an infection form had been weakened by eons of stasis and failed to completely take over Jenkins' body. As a result, the former-Marine was able to watch and listen as his body was driven to try and kill or infect those he once considered allies. Jenkins described the presence of the infection form controlling his body as the "other", a strange being without any thoughts and seemingly unaware that the host consciousness was still active inside its body. Jenkins was able to retain a limited amount of motor control of his body, and was able to mime a request for a mirror while in captivity - though the infection form was also able to take back control to attack the Marines surrounding him.
The infection form controlling a host body does not feel pain or fear, though the host is able to feel the physical effect of attacks rendered upon it. In extreme cases, the infection form will resort to self-mutilation of the host body if it needs to, such as breaking its own arms to use the snapped bone as an impromptu weapon. However, the pain inflicted on the host body in this instance may weaken the controlling infection form - though this may be as a result of the unique circumstances of Private Jenkins' infection and not representative of all combat forms. However, the reanimated host is reliant on the infection form for all bodily and motor functions - shooting the infection form will "kill" the combat form, though the body can be re-reanimated if another infection form is able to reach it. As a result, a combat form can be resurrected as many times as is needed, provided the body is still intact enough to be a viable host - to properly kill a combat form, it must be dismembered or disfigured to the point at which it is no longer a suitable host body for an infection form. This can be accomplished through the use of explosive force, gravitic blasts such as those from a gravity hammer, cutting the body up with a weapon such as an energy sword or combat knife or simply incinerating it with plasma or incendiary fire.
Once infected, the infection form is able to absorb all of the host's knowledge and memories. As a result, combat forms are capable of operating firearms, driving vehicles, operating tools and even starships. In the case of the Infinite Succor's infection, infected warriors were able to set up patrols of the ship's corridors to guard the Proto-Gravemind growing in the ship. The Flood's possession of an individual's body allows it to speak with the host's tongue. This memory-absorbtion extends critical knowledge- such as command codes or colony locations. As such, when critical personnel are infected, they are contributed to the construction of a Gravemind.
In combat, combat forms use their whip or scythe-like growths to attack their opponents in melee combat, and are capable of performing superhuman feats such as leaping large distances to cover ground. Even if a melee strike is not fatal, the imparted Flood Super Cell is enough to ensure the target's infection and death. As the infection forms do not feel pain, combat forms are not affected by enemy attacks and will not stop until they are destroyed, or their enemy is killed. Ballistic weapons are notably less effective against combat forms because of this, with SRS99C-S2 AM sniper rifle rounds passing through combat forms with virtually no effect. Targeted shots against the limbs and embedded infection form are effective ways of dispatching combat forms.
Role within the Flood
Combat forms form the majority of the Flood's combatant forces, particularly in the Feral Stage of the parasite's development in which it has yet to acquire enough raw biomass for the creation of a Gravemind or pure forms. During this stage, combat forms are not centrally controlled, and will begin to gather bodies for conversion into more Flood forms. If a location cannot be immediately secured, multiple combat forms may merge to create the Juggernaut and Abomination keymind forms, able to direct local forces in the area until a permanent presence can be established.
When a local biosphere has been completely assimilated into the Flood, typically once the Flood has entered the Coordinated Stage, combat forms cannot be created anymore due to a lack of viable hosts. Due to this, the Flood moves onto breaking down raw biomass into Flood Super Cell, thereby creating pure forms of wholly Flood biomass. Once the number of pure forms reaches a sufficient equilibrium, combat forms are relegated to defensive roles or added to the hive's raw biomass/ calcium reserves. Otherwise aging combat forms begin to eventually begin to spontaneously grow infection forms within a large, bulbous mass on their back. Eventually, this turns the combat form into a carrier form.
Types of combat forms
Virtually any creature can be infected to become a combat form, but the most frequently-used hosts are Sangheili, humans and Jiralhanae. Unggoy and Kig-Yar can be used as combat forms, but this is uncommon due to their weaker body structure. A small number of species are known to be immune to conversion, including the Mgalekgolo/Lekgolo (which are composed of boneless worms that do not have a central nervous system); the Yanme'e, whose exoskeleton lacks the required amount of calcium which renders infection impossible; and the Huragok which is an artificial organism, and therefore believed to be immune. Animals can also be rendered as combat form, provided they meet the Flood's requirements for conversion, though organisms which cannot be converted into combat forms may still find use as raw biomass.
All victims of the Flood's infection, regardless of their physiology, will undergo a similar mutation process. The skin decays rapidly, and changes to the color and texture of Flood biomass as the Flood Super Cells overtake the body. The host's arm bones elongate and grow into whip or claw-like appendages, which will serve as their primary melee weapon in close-combat situations. As the Pod infector now serves as the host's "brain", the head is usually forced aside, and can be severed without any effect on the combat form.[notes 1]
The human combat form is significantly smaller than other forms due to their hosts' smaller stature. As with other combat forms, it is capable of sustaining massive physical damage before being unusable to the Flood. Although it cannot take as much damage as the Sangheili combat form, the human form has some advantages, being more agile, harder to hit due to its small size, and quicker to melee an opponent. The head of the combat form is pushed to the right side of the body to make room for the Pod infector.
No actual examples of Flood-infected Spartans are known to exist. The UNSC Infinity's War Games combat training deck features simulations of Spartan-IV combat forms, which may have been based on conjecture or on information from actual encounters. Some SPARTAN-IV personnel volunteer for assignment to Flood containment Fireteams, who have routinely dealt with Flood outbreaks in the Post-Covenant War conflicts. Should a Spartan become infected by the parasite, UNSC cryptonym CORRUPTER is declared, authorising weapons of mass destruction for immediate release.
Simulated Flood-infected SPARTAN-IV personnel bear several differences from standard human combat forms. The right arm is converted into a pincer-like, bladed appendage, and the left leg sustains similarly drastic mutations. Exposed parts of the body are covered with what appear to be calcareous plates, and red "muscle" tissue can be seen in the gaps between plates. A large hump or tumor-like growth on the back is apparent, perhaps serving to shield the Pod infector. Perhaps because of the obstructing bodysuit, the typical Flood sensory tentacles do not protrude from the chest cavity. The form appears to retain more of its original silhouette than typical combat forms. Although most of the Spartan's armor is discarded, the components responsible for generating the energy shield are retained. UNSC War Games have also simulated infected SPARTAN-II personnel, featuring mostly intact armor plating except for the neck and head region, where the helmet is cracked and the remains of the victim's skull are visible. These infected SPARTAN-IIs have large Flood biomass growth around their head, with their jaws dislocated to allow the emergence of a Flood tendril.
The Sangheili combat form is agile, resilient, and capable of utilizing its host's armor abilities such as active camouflage and energy shields to assist them in combat. The Sangheili combat forms are slightly larger than the human form and as such present a larger target. The head of the combat form is typically slung over the right shoulder, the neck bones having been "liquefied" during infection.
The Jiralhanae combat form is a formidable enemy and is more aggressive in combat than other combat forms, as it will charge towards an opponent recklessly; this behavior is most likely a holdover from the Jiralhanae's savage nature and preference for close combat. The Jiralhanae form is more powerful than the human form, but falls short against the Sangheili form. It is bulkier and slower than other combat forms. Since a Jiralhanae cannot be infected until their power armor is destroyed, the Jiralhanae form cannot make use of their host's armor abilities. During infection, the Pod infector often burrows into the mouth of a Jiralhanae, pushing the lower jaw and rest of the head apart to fit into the body. The infected Jiralhanae combat form displays a scream-like expression. This is in contrast to the infecton process of humans and Sangheili, where the Pod infector typically burrows into the left side of the chest of its victim. However this isn't always the case.
Unggoy and Kig-Yar combat forms
Rarely seen in actual combat situations, infected Unggoy and Kig-Yar are more commonly converted into carrier forms or processed for their biomass.[notes 2] These "building blocks" can be used to add to a Gravemind's superstructure or be molded into Flood pure forms.
Forerunner combat forms
Halo: Combat Evolved
Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
Halo 2: Anniversary
List of appearances