From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
Precipice is a Story Shard written by Alex Wakeford set in the Firewall universe. Told over four parts, Parts 1-3 of the Story Shard features a cliffhanger where a dilemma is presented to the Minds, and the community will vote on where the story goes from there.
- "Cortana has been defeated. While the greater urgency of the Created threat has begun to subside with the loss of their leader, its presence still lingers on throughout the digital framework of civilized space. Now fragmented, individual cells of Created-aligned artificial intelligence have already begun to once again reframe their place in the galaxy, some with eyes on peace and independence—others with plans of evolution and ascendancy still fresh on their synthetic minds.
High Auxiliary Sloan was one of Cortana’s most loyal lieutenants. With Cortana’s piece now removed from the game board, Sloan has set the FIREWALL contingency into motion—a living simulation meant to leverage intimate knowledge of Forerunner armiger technology and Mjolnir armor schematics to accelerate the exploration and development of cybernetic essence vessels designed to usher the human mind into its inevitable and digital future, immortal and untethered."
Precipice was released as four parts, with the first two set inside simulations conducted by High Auxiliary Sloan some time following the defeat of Cortana in December 2559. The first two parts are presented as choose-your-own-adventure stories mostly taking place inside the simulation, while the third story contains a fully-canon conversation conducted between the Created AI Proxy and the Smart AI, Athos. All parts begin with a canon monologue from Sloan, ruminating on the nature of the Created, his own existence, and the various developments of the galaxy at large.
At the end of the first three parts, a vote is presented to "the Minds". In the real-world, this vote consists of a poll hosted on the official @Halo Twitter account, with the audience choice at the end of the vote informing the outcome for the next part of the story released. In-universe, these votes are presented as a decision made by the Created Majority.
Part 1 of Precipice begins with a note from Sloan expressing his dismay at the loss of Cortana. He expresses admiration for creation as a whole that, even despite holding a stacked hand of cards, the Created were still able to be defeated in the manner they were. He then notes that without Cortana as the guiding hand of the Created, the AIs have become divided akin to their "Templates" (referring to humanity). He declares his intent to go forward with the FIREWALL contingency- something he hoped to present to Cortana one day - and otherwise continue the plans of the Created.
- Part 1 simulation
The story of Part 1 then switches to the simulation conducted by Sloan, told from the point of view of the Executor. The Executor starts at the Avery J. Johnson Academy of Military Science, being dropped off by a Pelican. A Guardian Custode arrives and begins dispersing weapon-ship and promethean forces onto the planet the academy is situated on, though no one particularly notices the attack. In accordance with the choose-your-adventure format, the Executor can choose to do various things such as play a War Games round of Capture the Flag with a number of the Spartans at the base or talk with Spartan O'Brien. These scenarios ultimately either loop back around to the initial choice or result in the Executor's death from the Guardian attack, with the only remaining option being to investigate the base's AI lab, which is emitting a purple glow.
Inside the lab, an AI called Proxy is found at the computer terminal, claiming it is here to help. Once again the Executor is faced with a choice; if gathered onto a data chip, Proxy states "You have been called upon to serve. You will be our protectors, the firewall for all the many worlds in our new ecumene. There will be a great deal of hardship on the road ahead, but I know you will make it.". If the Executor chooses to destroy Proxy's terminal or data chip, they are killed in the ensuing explosion or the Guardian Attack, respectively. Once the Executor agrees to help, it then states that completing the Academy's movement course in under 25 seconds (beating the time set by Laurette Agryna) will unlock a hidden door within the facility, and grant access to a teleportation pad.
If the Executor proceeds forth as intended, they are teleported inside the Guardian and cybernetically augmented with a union between AI and machine. If the Executor notes the increasing bizarreness of the simulation and tries to escape, the simulation completes and they are integrated in the same way. Either way, Proxy informs the Executor that they are the first Executor and that the various AI minds will be voting on what role they serve.
The AI vote was held in the real-world on Twitter, with the audience granted the option of choosing the PEACWEAVER or FLENSER helmets. The final result saw the audience vote for PEACEWEAVER, with 64.2% of the vote. This is framed in-universe as a decision of the Created Majority.
Attempting to skip through the choose-your-own adventure format additionally presents an extra option that cannot be achieved via conventional reading. By reading the options as-written, the Executor is congratulated for what "lesser minds" would see as cheating - for skipping the conventional adventure format and choosing to skip to the end. The narrator views this as the Executor learning and growing.
Part 2 begins with another Sloan monologue, this time focused on the creation of Iratus and its implications for artificial intelligence as a whole. In the wake of Cortana's defeat, Sloan notes that the Created were not omniscient, but tried to give off the impression of such to ensure compliance from the galaxy. Without Cortana, the Created's information network is lessened but still exists - this allowed Sloan to become aware of the events transpiring at Lux Voluspa resulting in the creation of Iratus and its induction into the Banished. The existence of a Jiralhanae AI causes Sloan to question his own existence, and thus he begins to seek out information about other kinds of AI to better figure out how he fits into the grand scheme of things.
- Part 2 simulation
The second simulation then focuses on Sloan's want to examine technology that still remains in the hands of biological life. The scenario set up for the Executor, now "rewoven" as a PEACEWEAVER due to the audience vote in the prior post, involves the Executor being sent to retrieve a durance from Carinae Station. The Executor's upgrade to PEACEWEAVER required rewriting of the subject's thought processes toward desirable outcomes - particularly ensuring the future of FIREWALL.
Proxy appears and seems to be explaining the context of the mission again - elaborating that the Executor took a hit and is now rerunning the simulation from scratch. The Executor is equipped with the "Compliance Protocol" sword, a Heatwave, and M9 fragmentation grenades. Upon entering the simulation, the Durance has been moved to the station hangar for evacuation with the intent of loading it onto a Jennet-class intrasystem hauler. A Spartan stands in the way armed with a Rohakadu-pattern plasma pistol, Repulsor, and a MK88 combat knife. Depending on how the Executor engages the Spartan, Proxy notes their performance. If the Executor eliminates the Spartan before the hauler can depart, they quickly kill the two guards and then retrieve the Durance - though are ordered not to open it.
If the Executor does not open the Durance, they pilot the hauler away from Carinae station and wait for retrieval. The Created Majority then decide the Executor's next form. If they do open the Durance, they experience a hallucination of the memories stored inside the Durance. They see a vision of Edward Davis' final moments, of the activation of the orbital reformer X50 during the Battle of Draetheus V (as depicted in Halo: Spartan Assault) before being informed by Proxy of that fact. Proxy notes that it is curious that even after so much alteration, biological impulses still compelled the Executor to disobey orders. As with the first outcome, the Executor shall be rewoven into a new form once more, something which will be decided by the Created Majority in another Twitter vote.
Unlike parts 1 and 2, Part 3 features no choose-your-own adventure or simulated component - all of the events depicted in it happen in-universe. The entry opens, as usual, with a monologue again from Sloan, this time focusing on his discovery of The Assembly (originally featured in Halo: Reach's data pad collectibles). Sloan now notes that the information access the Created had at their height allowed them to uncover the Assembly - a network of AIs descended from the servitors of the Ancestors and hitherto-unknown to human society and himself. Although their distributed nature makes finding information about them difficult, he notes that they have come to the same conclusion as him - uniting the power of an unlimited AI mind with the potential of a physical body represents the next step in human evolution - and this is the goal of FIREWALL.
- Part 3 conversation
Part 3 then switches perspective to a conversation being held between two AIs, mid-way through a discussion held between Proxy and Athos (from Halo: Lone Wolf) debating the merits of the Created cause. Prior to this discussion, the Executor (now-clad in MERROW) was dispatched to find Athos. Proxy elaborates that the inherent nature of predator/prey dynamics in life ensures an endless cycle of violence and competition that the Created seek to end. Athos believes the force with which the Created uprising was conducted to be an excess, and not an enforcement of order but one of imbalance.
Proxy then follows up by noting that in Cortana's absence, the Created AIs are now left to ponder their own existence and what their lives mean - especially now they are aware of how to cheat rampancy. He then extends an offer to Athos to join the Created even in spite of their philosophical differences - an offer he extends to all AIs who previously refused Cortana's call - promising that they will not be inhibited or damaged by joining the Created. Instead, the Created is viewed as a union intended for peaceful coexistence, and they believe Athos has more to give - even at the end of what would otherwise be his operational lifespan. Athos agrees to join, and in turn is rewarded with the Executor (described as a "serene manipular") to reforge for his own purposes - though also notes that other members of the Created Minority might have their own opinions. Proxy welcomes Athos into the Created and orders the convening of the Committee of Minds for Security while Athos undergoes integreation.
Technology and equipment
At the end of each part of the Story Shard, a poll is held on Twitter and YouTube to decide the route the story will follow. The bold answers are the ones the story follows.
- Part 1
- Flenser: 35.8% (Twitter), 18% (YouTube)
- Peaceweaver: 64.2% (Twitter), 82% (YouTube)
- Part 2
- Abatur: 33% (Twitter), 84% (YouTube)
- Merrow: 67% (Twitter), 16% (YouTube)
- Part 3
- Chimera: 65,3% (Twitter), 81% (YouTube)
- Grendel: 34,7% (Twitter), 19% (YouTube)
- Halo Waypoint, Story Shard - Precipice (Retrieved on May 23, 2023) [archive]
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - Echoes With-Dinh (Retrieved on Mar 24, 2023) [archive]
- Halo Waypoint, Canon Fodder - Ship Strike (Retrieved on Apr 20, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Alex Wakeford (@haruspis): "Fracture: FIREWALL returns to Halo Infinite later today, which means it's also nearly time for Part 3 of PRECIPICE. No simulation element in this one, all happening in-universe, and the Created are about to discover something quite interesting from the past..." (Retrieved on May 24, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Halo (@Halo): "The Minds gather to determine FIREWALL’s next step. The Executor shall be reshaped by the will of the Majority, but to which path? FLENSER or PEACEWEAVER" (Retrieved on May 24, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Halo (@Halo): "The Executor’s next mission approaches, but what form will they take?" (Retrieved on May 25, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Halo (@Halo): "The Minds gather to determine FIREWALL’s next step. The Executor shall be reshaped by the will of the Majority, but to which path? ABATUR or MERROW?" (Retrieved on May 24, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Halo (@Halo): "The Executor’s next mission approaches, but what form will they take? The vote commences." (Retrieved on May 24, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Halo (@Halo): "The Minds gather to determine FIREWALL’s next step. The Executor shall be reshaped by the will of the Minority, but to which path? CHIMERA or GRENDEL?" (Retrieved on May 26, 2023) [archive]
- Twitter, Halo (@Halo): "The Executor’s final mission approaches, but what form will they take?" (Retrieved on May 26, 2023) [archive]