Phoenix Logs/The Ark
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
The Ark was originally created to build Halos, gigantic weapons that wipe out all organic life in order to starve the parasitic Flood of life to infect. This desperate measure conflicted with the Forerunners roles as custodians of the galaxy, and so it was decided that the Ark would also preserve examples of doomed species destroyed by the Halo so they could be reseeded once the Flood had been eradicated.
The surface of the Ark was divided up into vast Refugia sections, twelve on the Central Hub and twenty across the large, petal-like Spires that extend out from the center. Each Refugia recreates the environments of common life-supporting worlds and separated by huge walls monitored by Sentinels to protect one ecosystem from polluting another. The Ark monitors and controls weather, temperature and even natural food chains in order to maintain the habitat.
This Refugia is at once familiar and otherworldly. Many areas resemble the lands of Earth; lush, verdant landscapes, tranquil sandy beaches where waves lap gently at the shore and stunning waterfalls plunge endlessly over high cliffs.
There is mountainous moorland, jagged rocky slopes and outcroppings covered in a light shrub. But the immense scale of the environment imposes itself, dwarfing each of its Earthly equivalents. The chasms are deeper and darker, the mountains higher and even the sea and sky seem a richer blue than Earth's atmosphere.
As ominous reminders colossal Forerunner bridges bisect the terrain and gigantic unknown structures dominate the skyline. Their purposes unknown but their very silence and mystery resonating with power.
A gigantic structure situated outside of any known star system, the Ark was constructed by the Forerunners with two guiding principles. First, to fabricate, repair and transport all components of the ringworld installations known collectively as Halo, a weapon designed to wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy in a desperate attempt to stop the unstoppable parasitic Flood threat. Secondly, it needed to be able to provide a safe and stable habitat for a vast number of life forms collected from across the galaxy.
These two paradigms led to the unique, flower-like design, with immense arms splayed around a central foundry. Where the production of the Halo installations occurs. The Ark's surface was covered by vast, world-sized paddocks called Refugia, divided by massive walls and containment barriers to preserve the life forms collected by The Librarian, to be reseeded after the Flood had been starved out.
Henry Lamb Research Outpost
The Henry Lamb Research outpost was the base of a UNSC scientific research expedition to learn about the Ark, both in the interest of scientific advancement and self-preservation from future Halo threats.
The expedition was spurred on by the re-activation of the existing Halo array in 2555 by the Ark's rampant Monitor, Tragic Solitude. A team travelled to the Ark and stopped Tragic Solitude's plan to aggressively mine the Earth for materials to rebuild the Ark, which had been damaged as a result of the battle that ended the Human-Covenant War.
In 2557, a new team travelled through the portal in New Mombasa in their ship Eden Rising to set up base and activate dormant Retriever Sentinels in order to start repairing the Ark. These researchers established an outpost expansion in February of 2558. In October of that year, the portal back to Earth closed, followed shortly thereafter by the arrival of the Banished fleet. The base and it's outlying facilities were all razed by the Banished attack.
Sentinels were created by Forerunners as automated worker and defense drones to maintain and protect Forerunner installations from transgressors. Although designed without the independent intelligence of Forerunner Monitors, or the UNSC's smart Al, they remain highly adaptable and a formidable foe to anything they recognize as a threat to the Ark.
The Foundry at the center of the Ark is populated by Retriever and Assembler Sentinels, who extract resources and minerals from the small moon held there. The mining capabilities of the ship-size Retriever Sentinels can be highly destructive when used against trespassers, but it is the smaller Aggressor Sentinels that are primarily used for enforcement.
When deployed in great numbers, these Sentinels will swoop in and attack as one in a perfectly coordinated wave. Swiftly removing any threats while leaving the Ark undamaged.
The Cartographer is one of many identically named map facilities on the Ark, updated in real time with the latest dynamic cartographic and diagnostic information. This includes security measures activated on the Ark, any required maintenance of the various Refugias, the structural integrity of the Ark's superstructure and its artificial sun, and the status of the Halo array and any new installations being forged in the Foundry.
In the wrong hands the Cartographer is an incredibly dangerous source of information, so it is hidden deep in a remote wasteland, heavily guarded by Sentinels and protected by huge defensive barriers. The Sentinels guarding the Cartographer are much more likely to attack interlopers on sight rather than wait for provocation and only someone with the appropriate command I clearance can access the Cartographer without a fight.
A translucent amber-like material covers much of the terrain in this unforgiving Refugia. Petrified rivers and lakes form vast, planar surfaces which are only broken by the angular, jutting rock formations that puncture the surface.
Fractures that have splintered into deep chasms reveal the complex Forerunner infrastructure below, and geometrical veins from these underlying structures can be seen striping the upper layers. In places the strong but brittle amber has sheared and degraded into sand, which is then whipped up and sculpted by the wind into dune seas where life struggles to take root.
What life can survive here is extremely alien; huge and bizarre flora spring up through cracks in the rocks, swaying in the breeze and belching spores into the atmosphere if disturbed.
The Particle Cannon is a long dormant but extremely powerful Forerunner weapon, built in the early stages of the Ark's construction when it was most vulnerable to a pre-emptive attack by the Flood.
Once the Ark's construction had been completed, the cannon lay dormant until its location was discovered in the Cartographer by Professor Anders. The cannon was designed to protect against orbital attacks, and draws its power directly from the Ark itself, through a series of conduits located underneath the Ark's surface. Ionized particles are charged until they reach a high-enough density, allowing the cannon to fire an incredibly long-range and continuous particle beam at its target.
The Ark continues to rebuild itself after the destruction wrought by the battle that ended the Human-Covenant War. Like icebergs, the Forerunner constructions on the surface are only a tiny part of the whole.
Partial-printing creates a terraced landscape of plateaus supported by colossal columns and the substructure of the Ark dominates the space with gigantic vertigo-inducing cavities that allow views deep into the superstructure beneath. The surface demonstrates the building techniques and foundations of a Refugia still being terraformed, with the layered strata giving a tantalizing hint of the Forerunners' unfinished design.
Even incomplete, the exposed vein-like layers have a raw beauty of their own and complement the sleek and sculptured metallic lines of finished Forerunner architecture nearby. Mineral deposits with exotic material properties scatter the surface, and new paths are created by massive shifting plates, their purpose known only to the long dead race that created them.
The Foundry is a massive circular machine situated at the epicenter of the Ark for the purpose of constructing and repairing the ringworlds that make up the Halo Array.
Within its center it holds a mineral-rich moon in a powerful gravitational field that is mined for resources by giant Retriever Sentinels, then used by Assembler Sentinels to build components of a Halo. The Halo Array is always made of seven ringworlds and should one be destroyed the Ark starts building a replacement.
Once a Halo is stable, it is released to the same location as the destroyed Halo to replace it while Sentinels continue to work on it. Of the seven ringworlds that make up the Halo Array, six have originated on the Ark, while the seventh was constructed on an earlier version of the Ark and later reconstructed to fit the new design.
A Halo is an artificial, planet-sized ringworld weapon, created by the ancient Forerunner race as a weapon to combat the parasitic entity known as the Flood.
Despite millennia of scientific and philosophical advancements, the Forerunners were unable to stop the spread of the Flood as it propagated across numerous life-forms through infection. After many defeats, the only answer was to starve the Flood by denying its ability to infect anything - by destroying all sentient life.
The Ark was built to construct, maintain and activate the ringworlds that make up the Halo Array weapon, and seven ringworlds were launched at strategic points across the galaxy. The Halo Array was fired, wiping out all sentient life without damaging the inhabitants worlds and the Flood retreated.
However, towards the end of the Human-Covenant War, the Halo Array once again became an ever present menace, the weapon to end all wars.
The Control Room
The Ark has several supraluminal communication towers with the purpose of transmitting data to and from the weapon installations that make up the Halo Array.
Each Halo has a designated Control Room which activates the Halo's weapon systems upon receiving the data, as well as emergency shutdown protocols to disable the systems and halt the Halo's activation.
Like the Cartographer, these Control Rooms are often protected by a large energy barrier and patrolled by high security Sentinels to protect from misuse. The Control Room is integral to the maintenance of the Halo's weapon systems, and the interior leads deep down to the Halo's superstructure in a maze of winding tunnels and shifting walls.
City of the dead.
Once the capital of the Covenant and the jewel of their star-spanning empire, High Charity is now a shattered collection of wreckage sealed off and buried on the Ark's surface. Only a small fraction of its grandeur remains, and even that is distorted and tarnished by the Flood trapped within its halls after the Gravemind was defeated by the Master Chief.
Decimated-but not eradicated-the parasite has marshalled what remains of its strength in the years since. This diseased cluster could have been cleansed if the installation's monitor was still active, but the Ark's fallback defense protocols can only contain the Flood inside High Charity with armored walls and patrolling Sentinels, a half-measure that allows the parasite to fester and plan within the ruins.