- "The Oracle calls them "Reclaimers". But what do they reclaim? These machines? These cities? These worlds? Or, as I fear, are they to reclaim the Mantle we so terribly squandered?"
- — Minister of Discovery
"Reclaimer" is a Forerunner term used to refer to a species (or a member of said species) chosen to be the inheritors of the Mantle, the stewardship over all life originally held by the Precursors. Following the activation of the Halo Array and the ensuing Reintroduction, this refers to humans, whom the Forerunners (more pointedly those allied with the Librarian) regarded as their rightful successors. In particular the term is applied to humans who carry the requisite Lifeworker-created geasa that allow them to activate Forerunner technology; indeed, a great deal of the Forerunners' abandoned technology may be activated only when used by a Reclaimer. For most of their history, however, the Forerunners considered themselves the rightful inheritors of the Mantle from the Precursors, who had originally intended to pass the Mantle down to humanity.
Generally speaking, the term "Reclaimer" refers to humans (as a species or as individuals) retaking stewardship of the Mantle. However, technically the term denotes humans who are capable of activating Forerunner technology. This is due to the presence of geasa implanted by the Librarian, which give at least some humans an instinctive familiarity (often a feeling of déjà vu) when encountering Forerunner technology. For example, Spartan John-117 simply "knew" how to activate a holographic control panel on Halo Installation 04, despite it being the first piece of Forerunner technology he had ever encountered. This innate knowledge extends to Covenant technology as well, as Covenant technology is crudely reverse-engineered from Forerunner designs. In the same vein, Forerunner technology responds to human presence much as it would have done in the presence of its creators, though it will not do so for other species. Though it is unclear how commonly the geasa may be found among humans, it is known that at least some are incapable of properly interfacing with Forerunner technology.
Along with implanting the geasa necessary to utilize Forerunner relics, the Librarian planted "seeds" that led to some of humanity's most important technological achievements. Specifically, this genesong led to the creation of the SPARTAN programs and their MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor, as well as Smart AI. These developments enabled humanity - primarily through the efforts of John-117 and Cortana - to defeat the Ur-Didact during his renewed campaign to compose humanity into Promethean Knights. Despite this tragedy, the Librarian originally hoped that the Didact would emerge from stasis after millennia of meditation to guide humanity; he was to give them the Janus Key, thereby providing the location of all Forerunner technology in the galaxy and securing the Reclaimers' ascendancy.
The status of Reclaimer was conferred upon humanity as an emergency directive on the authority of the remains of the New Council (namely the Librarian and the IsoDidact) during the events surrounding the firing of the Halo Array. This overrode the Builder-controlled Old Council's previous ruling from ten thousand years earlier which involved humanity's biological and technological regression as punishment for their part in the human-Forerunner wars. However, following the enactment of this punitive measure, the Librarian had been secretly modifying humanity's geasa for thousands of years to prepare them to take on the role of Reclaimers — against the direct orders of the Council.
Strangely, 343 Guilty Spark, the monitor of Halo Installation 04, once insisted to John-117, "You are Forerunner." This is presumably metaphorical, as Mendicant Bias likewise claimed the Reclaimers as its makers, despite humanity being genetically and culturally distinct from the Forerunners. Alternately, this may be due to the onset of rampancy; Guilty Spark had previously treated the Master Chief as if the latter were the IsoDidact, responding to a question the IsoDidact had asked 100,000 years prior.
Failures to recognize Reclaimer status
As the UNSC Spirit of Fire was pulled inside of the Etran Harborage on February 23, 2531, the ship and her crew were scanned by the installation's decontamination network. In addition to detecting a high-order Flood infestation, the ancilla in charge of the network's cleansing rings failed to recognize the crew as Reclaimers. As the Spirit's crew and complement were regarded as an "unknown alien intrusion", they were forced to engage a bevy of Sentinels in addition to fighting the Flood on the surface of the ship.
During the Onyx Conflict in October-November 2552, the SPARTAN-III Ash-G099 failed to provide the appropriate counter-response to a Sentinel that was attempting to determine whether he was a Flood vector. This, combined with the Spartans of Gamma Company being inundated with neurology-altering mutagens, caused the Sentinel to catalog Ash as a "non-Reclaimer", as well as a member of a "aboriginal subspecies" of humanity.
Humans identified as Reclaimers
Given that all known bestowals of the "Reclaimer" title have occurred during military engagements, all individuals identified as such have been either military personnel or civilian advisers.
- Ellen Anders - Activated the Relic on Harvest in February 2531 with her touch. Kidnapped by Arbiter Ripa 'Moramee, Anders was later forced to activate a fleet of Sojourner-class dreadnoughts on the Etran Harborage shield world.
- Taylor Miles and Kojo Agu - The Forerunner construct called the Knowing identified them as Reclaimers and obeyed their order to self-destruct itself.
- Marvin Mobuto - Recruited by 343 Guilty Spark to fire Alpha Halo during the Flood outbreak. Killed in the installation's Library while attempting to retrieve the Activation Index.
- John-117 - Arguably the most significant Reclaimer, John-117 is the realization of a geas seeded by the Librarian which apparently manifested in the Spartan-IIs' creator, Dr. Catherine Halsey. He is responsible for the destruction of Halo Installation 04 and its replacement, as well as the latter's activation and the ensuing defeat of an active Gravemind; the near-destruction of Installation 00; and the defeat of the Ur-Didact.
- Miranda Keyes - In November 2552, the Jiralhanae Chieftain Tartarus forced Commander Keyes to fire Delta Halo and thereby the rest of the Array, though he was soon killed and the firing process was aborted.
- Avery Johnson - Similarly to Keyes, Johnson was nearly forced by the Prophet of Truth to activate the entire Halo Array from the lesser Ark's control room, though he was rescued before this could occur. He was killed shortly thereafter while attempting to activate the incomplete Installation 08, though John-117 successfully completed this mission.
- Lucy-B091 - Identified as a Reclaimer by the Huragok Prone to Drift.
- Staffan Sentzke - Identified as a Reclaimer by the Huragok Sometimes Sinks.
- Bobby Kodiak - Kidnapped by 000 Tragic Solitude (the monitor of Installation 00) and used to activate the Halo Array. Killed along with Solitude during Operation: FAR STORM.
- At least one member of Fireteam Crimson interacted with several Forerunner artifacts during the Requiem campaign.
- Henry Glassman - After being translocated to Requiem and held hostage by the Covenant, he accidentally activated a protective shield at the Librarian's Rest. After being rescued, he deactivated one of the three artifacts which held UNSC Infinity anchored to the planet.
- Catherine Halsey - After being captured by the Covenant, Halsey deactivated the protective shield surrounding the Librarian's Rest and entered the Librarian's "shrine", where the Lifeshaper's essence personally entrusted the Janus Key to her care.
- Gabriel Thorne - During the later stages of the Requiem Campaign, Spartan Thorne deactivated one of the three artifacts who held to the UNSC Infinity anchored to the planet.
- Rion Forge - Identified as a Reclaimer by Little Bit Utilized by 343 Guilty Spark to unlock and power up the Builder facility on Triniel and later the Forerunner structure beneath Kilimanjaro where a personality imprint of the Librarian was located. Though Spark never explicitly told Rion that she was a Reclaimer, he instead chose to explain how her DNA allowed her to access both locations instead of just using the broad term to explain why he needed her.
- Crew of the UNSC Spirit of Fire - Referred to as Reclaimers by Little Bit while describing the events of the Battle of the Etran Harborage to Rion Forge.
As understood by the Covenant
The Reclaimer glyph was one of the holiest icons in the Covenant religion, as well as the source of one of its greatest flaws. For millennia, the Covenant's leadership misinterpreted the "Reclaimer" glyph (which they read upside down) as "Reclamation". The Prophets misconstrued this as the Covenant's divine mandate to procure "holy" Forerunner technology from areas of space known as reliquaries; the Ages of Reclamation were designated as periods of significant Forerunner discoveries. While incorrectly understood by the Covenant as their quest for Forerunner relics, the Reclamation is an actual concept pertaining to the Reclaimers' process of reattaining the Mantle. Like the Forerunners, the Covenant (if only the Prophets) considered themselves the inheritors of the Mantle. However, because the Covenant's member species are not recognized as Reclaimers (being referred to as "intruders" and "meddlers" by 343 Guilty Spark), they require human captives to activate certain Forerunner technology, most notably the Halo rings, the Ark, and shield worlds. One notable exception is Jul 'Mdama, who gained the allegiance of the Promethean Knights on the shield world Requiem following the Didact's apparent demise; he was able able to set Requiem on a collision course with its star, though it seems he was given the Didact's override to accomplish this.
For many Ages, the Covenant used luminaries (crude AIs based on Forerunner ancillas) to pinpoint concentrations of Forerunner artifacts. At the turn of 2524 - 2525, the luminary aboard the vessel Minor Transgression led the ship's crew to the human colony world of Harvest. Ultimately, communications between the planet's government and the Covenant broke down, leading to the first major conflict between the two civilizations and the planet's eventual glassing. A trio of mid-level San'Shyuum ministers consulted the "Oracle" aboard the Forerunner Dreadnought on High Charity about the "Reclamation" glyphs encountered in such large numbers on Harvest; these San'Shyuum hoped to use the clout gained from this discovery to oust the current triumvirate of Hierarchs. The Oracle, which was actually the AI Mendicant Bias, informed the party that the luminations found on Harvest were actually the world's human population, and that the symbol the Covenant had long held to mean "Reclamation" actually meant "Reclaimer"; following this revelation, Mendicant Bias attempted to leave High Charity and make contact with its so-called "makers", though the ship was disabled and the AI quarantined before this could happen.
The schemers interpreted the Oracle's words to mean that humans were actually the living remnants of Forerunner civilization; this would directly contradict the Covenant's dogma regarding the Great Journey, which held that the Forerunners used an artifact known as Halo to transcend to godhood. Accordingly, the newly ordained Prophet of Truth declared a war of extermination upon humanity, secretly hoping that genocide would prevent humanity's relation to the Forerunners from coming to light. In the wake of commencing the Ninth Age of Reclamation, Truth also revealed that the Reclaimer glyph could help the Covenant scour the galaxy for any other human colonies.
- The original Reclaimer glyph is actually the logo of Bungie's Marathon trilogy. Due to the Marathon franchise remaining Bungie's intellectual property, the Reclaimer symbol in media by 343 Industries has the same basic design, though it is much more abstract. Curiously, the original symbol appears on holographic terminals in the Spartan Ops chapter The Hammer.
- According to Bungie employee David Candland, Bungie's original intention for the connection between humanity and Forerunners was that they were one and the same; this was hinted repeatedly throughout the Halo Trilogy and potentially alluded to in Joseph Staten's novel Halo: Contact Harvest. In this regard the title of "Reclaimer" would indicate modern humans salvaging the relics of their ancestors, thus giving the term a literal meaning. During the development of Halo 3, this changed so that humans and Forerunners were distinct from one another, as is evident in material released as part of the game's marketing campaign and in the terminals found within the game itself. The books of The Forerunner Saga released by 343 Industries expanded greatly on the similarities and difference between both peoples, establishing that the two species were indeed related but distinct and that the actual connection goes far further back than the events in the books, to the time when both species had been created by the Precursors.
- The Bestiarum associates the Latin "Homo sapiens augeous" with its "Reclaimer" entry. This is probably intended to mean "augmented intelligent man", though augeous is conjugated incorrectly. Given the context of the entry in the Bestiarum, it seems that this entry refers specifically to John-117 as opposed to all Reclaimers, and that "Homo sapiens augeous" refers only to Spartans. However, due to Halo 4's retcon that only certain humans are technically Reclaimers, this binomial nomenclature may refer to humans carrying the genesong planted by the Librarian.
- "Reclaimer" is the second-highest rank in Halo: Reach and highest rank in Halo Wars 2.
List of appearances
- Halo: Combat Evolved (First appearance)
- Halo: The Flood
- Halo 2
- Conversations from the Universe (Mentioned only)
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx
- Halo 3
- Halo: Contact Harvest
- Halo Wars
- Halo: Helljumper
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe
- Halo: Glasslands
- Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary
- Halo: Primordium
- Halo 4
- Halo: Mortal Dictata
- Halo 2: Anniversary
- Halo: Last Light
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Halo: Smoke and Shadow
- Halo: Renegades
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe volume II, page 299
- Halo: Last Light, page 315 (Google Play edition)
- Halo Waypoint: Catalog Interaction (post 2969311)
- Spartan Ops - Episode 9, Chapter 5: “Elites were here, trying to find Reclaimers: humans who can operate Forerunner technology."
- Halo: The Flood, page 84
- Halo: First Strike, page 142
- Halo 4, campaign level Reclaimer
- Halo 4, campaign level Midnight
- Spartan Ops, Key
- Halo 3, campaign level Halo
- Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 274-278
- Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level 343 Guilty Spark
- Halo: Silentium, page 314
- Halo Wars, campaign level Repairs
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 133
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 339
- Spartan Ops Episode 9, Chapter 5: "The Hammer"
- Halo Wars, campaign level, Relic Interior
- Halo Wars, campaign level Beachhead
- Halo: Helljumper, Issue #5
- Halo: The Flood
- Halo: Combat Evolved, campaign level The Maw
- Halo 3, campaign level The Covenant
- Halo: The Thursday War
- Halo: Mortal Dictata, page 392
- Halo: Hunters in the Dark, page 277
- Spartan Ops, Memento Mori
- Spartan Ops, Expendable
- Spartan Ops, Exodus - This is evidenced by the appearance of the Ur-Didact's sigil when 'Mdama gives inputs the self-destruct order.
- Halo: Smoke and Shadow, pages 123-126 (Google Play edition)
- Halo: Renegades
- Halo: Smoke and Shadow
- Halo 4, campaign level Epilogue ("The Reclamation... has already begun. And we are hopeless to stop it.")
- Halo: Contact Harvest, pages 381-382
- halo.bungie.org: Re: Why retcons don't bother me anymore (Evil Otto: "One of the most striking retcons to me is the basic concept of whole role of humanity. Originally (back in Halo 1) the reason why humans weren't conquered and incorporated into the Covenant collective was because their presence defied Covenant religion. When the Covenant discovered humans, they knew they were forerunners, but their presence implied the "great journey" failed. They also weren't the all powerful gods they worshiped, so the Prophets wanted to "sweep them under the carpet," as it were.")
- halo.bungie.org: Re: Why retcons don't bother me anymore (Evil Otto: "The plot lines in our games imply this everywhere - the chief being called reclaimer, only humans being able to retrieve and insert the index, Spark telling the chief, "you are forerunner." etc.")