What is Installation 00?
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- “Where would someone go to activate the other rings?“
- — Miranda Keyes
- “…Why, the Ark, of course.“
- — 343 Guilty Spark
Installation 00, also known as The Ark, or The Lesser Ark via Halo: Primordium, is an enigmatic Forerunner installation from which all the Halo Installations across the galaxy can be activated simultaneously. In addition, it functions as a safe haven from the Halo network’s strategic pulse, as well as a facility to construct and repair any of the Halo Array. It was first mentioned by 343 Guilty Spark at the Battle of Installation 05 (in its control room), where he explains the fail-safe protocol of the Installation and the standby modes of the seven rings after its unexpected shutdown. The Ark is about 218 (exactly 262,144) light years from the galactic center (For range comparison Earth is 25,000 light years from the galactic center).
Installation 00 is a part of the Forerunner construct designed to wipe the Flood from the Galaxy. Located about 262,144 light-years outside the Milky Way galaxy center, Installation 00 is safe from the Halo effect (as it is referred to by the Forerunners in the terminal transcripts) that kills all organic sentient lifeforms; the main Forerunner behind it’s use was Didact. The purpose of the installation is to remotely activate every Halo ring, from outside the blast radius. This is a fail-safe system that is only activated by an aborted firing such as the one that occurred at the end of the Battle of Installation 05. In addition, Installation 00 can also function as an automated factory to construct replacement Halo installations, thereby insuring that the Halo array is always ready to fire.
- “Every vessel we can fill, we send to the Ark. I dare not cease the mission. Not now, not until I’ve done all I can. Each one of these souls is finite and precious.“
- — –Transcript of a message from the Librarian to Didact, interpreted post-cataclysm and retrieved from the first Terminal on the level “The Ark”
Apparently, while the rest of the Forerunners attempted to defeat the Flood through any military way possible, a plan B was also approved to be put into the works, which included the construction of the Halos, Shield Worlds like Onyx, and The Arks.
In this final resort plan, the Librarian was to index every sentient species in the Galaxy, and bring some to the Arks, and then presumably some Forerunners, and these last sentient species would hide in the Ark’s secret location, until the Flood starved and they could go back to the Milky Way.
However, things did not go as planned, as the Forerunner military AI 05-032 Mendicant Bias turned on the Forerunners, and began assisting the Flood. Mendicant Bias knew of the Ark, and how to access it through the Key Ships, but did not know of its exact location. The Forerunners then constructed another military AI, Offensive Bias, in order to devise the best possible defense against Mendicant Bias and his fleet. The Librarian detonated all of the Key Ships in her command.
This is thought to be the end of Forerunners, however after the Covenant-Human war a UNSC ship records a conversation with a Forerunner Monitor. During this conversation the Monitor states that he was once a human named Chakas, who had survived the Halo event, and that there were many Arks built. At the the end of this conversation the Monitor takes control of the Human ship and takes it to one of the Arks. It is presumed to be Master Ark where the Didact along with other Forerunners are located.
Layout and Function
Installation 00 resembles a massive wheel with a series of eight curved arms, similar to an octopus or sea star and bearing similarities to a sun. The Ark Core is the stripped remnant of a material-rich planetoid, asteroid, or other celestial body used for the construction of the Halos, which the Ark constructs. The entire upper surface is terraformed, with oceans, forests and even a large desert, where John-117 first makes landfall. At the time of construction, the Ark lacked its core and a livable surface with no land or water. The structure is the second largest known Forerunner construct, only dwarfed by the the Micro Dyson Sphere, which has a diameter of 300 million kilometers. A simple inspection of the holographic representation reveals the Ark to be anywhere from 90,000 to 100,000 kilometers (55,890 to 62,100 miles) in diameter.
The three shown primary functions of Installation 00 are as a remote for activating the entire Halo network while safely out of the Halos’ range, as an automated construction facility for the creation of replacement Halo installations (ensuring that the network continues to operate even if any rings are destroyed), and it has also been confirmed that the Ark was meant to be used to reseed the galaxy in the event of the Halo arrays being fired. Held deep within its mysteries was a collection of every species the Forerunners had studied and governed over. How this plan was to be initiated is still unknown.
Most interestingly, the Ark is not actually in the Milky Way as noted by a stunned ODST soldier at the start of the level The Ark. The Ark is in the void in between galaxies, known as intergalactic space. As such, it’s outside the believed range of any Halo installation. The Ark also has an artificial sun floating above it. An observer can see this more clearly on the level Halo when looking up at the sky.
- Main article: Strip Mining Moon
The Strip Mining Moon is the open area at the heart of Installation 00, which is surrounded by a void, and is the automated factory for replacement Halo installations. This void conceals the Halo Foundry, which constructs the Halo Rings and sends them to their orbital destinations. Raw materials for the process are supplied by a planetoid roughly 1/3 the size of Earth. The moon is large enough to make several replacement installations, as seen in Halo 3 when it produced a replacement for Installation 04 in a matter of months.
The intense heat generated by the Ark’s Foundry, where the Halo Rings are constructed, heats the Ark up so much that multiple cooling stations are needed. At least two systems span a snowy gorge at one point or it could be that the massive cooling systems are causing this icy climate due to their nature. The systems are long, and they curve up like bridges. Above the systems are small bridges, as well as two stations on each side. An example of a cooling system are the two on the Halo 3 multiplayer map Narrows.
Along with most Forerunner constructs, the Ark consists of an atmosphere similar to Earth, comprised of mostly oxygen and nitrogen. This makes all Human and Covenant able to live on this planet (excluding Gruntswho depend on methane tanks to sustain life) and the Flood as well. Also, like Earth and the other Installations, weather radically changes on the Ark.
The Ark has a habitable surface on each of its spokes, and on the majority of the inner circle just outside of the Foundry. The landscapes and biomes are as diverse as those of Earth and even of the Halos; consisting of deserts, taiga and forest as seen on The Covenant, and deciduous forests as seen in Isolation. Several bodies of water are dotted around the area as well. As such, the Ark can sustain its own ecosystem, providing a variety of habitation for many kinds of life. If the Halos were fired, all forms of life could thrive and reproduce in the Ark’s highly varied ecosystem, eventually being able to return to the Milky Way to recreate a full food chain on that planet. The diverse locations may also assist in the studies of the Flood in a natural, but isolated, environment.
As the Ark is outside of the galaxy, isolated in a black void of space, there are no nearby natural sources of light to power the Installation and facilitate the survival of biological organisms on its surface. To counter this problem, the Ark is equipped with an artificial structure consisting of a bright, sun-like light, with several metal arms jutting from its center. From aerial pictures of the Installation, it seems the light source “scans” over certain areas to generate day/night cycles, further contributing to the growth of vegetation and controlling weather patterns.
- Main article: The Artifact
An important component of the Ark which serves as a medium of transportation, the Artifact is a Forerunner creation which is designed to open a Slipspace portal to enable access to Installation 00.
As first seen in the Halo 3 Announcement Trailer and numerous other promotional materials, this construct was originally thought to be the Ark itself; however, this was disproved with the release of Halo 3. The Artifact was partially uncovered when Regret’s carrier destroyed a portion of Mombasa during the Battle of Earth, and completely excavated by Covenant Loyalist forces during the weeks that followed.
By the time of Halo 3, Covenant Loyalists had excavated the Artifact from the crater and were able to completely uncover it. The Prophet of Truth activated it at the conclusion of the level The Storm. It formed a massive portal, in which the Forerunner ship immediately entered (presumably carrying Truth), followed immediately by the Covenant Loyalist ships. At the end of the level Floodgate human and Covenant Separatists forces resolved to follow Truth’s ships through the portal, and ended up at Installation 00. At the end of the game, the damage caused to the Installation caused the portal to collapse, severing the Dawn in half as it passed back through. The forward section, in which Thel ‘Vadam (The Arbiter) had been inside of, made it back to Earth, plunging into an unspecified body of water. Humans soon rescued Thel. The aft section of the Forward Unto Dawn, containing Master Chief and Cortana did not make it through the portal, and were stranded in an unknown location of deep space.