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The Ring of Life: an Introduction.

Since this is most likely the last in the Halo CE Chronicles saga I thought I would take a moment to talk about how we got here and maybe even why.

The Halo CE Chronicles was originally started as a way to promote the maps made for the Halo Custom Edition game, but somewhere along the way it became something more.  What developed was a pocket Halo universe inhabited by flawed individuals who are called upon to do extraordinary things under dangerous circumstances.  The characters in the HCEC stories are not the genetically bred, cybernetically enhanced super soldiers or fully formed and articulate Artificial Intelligences whose job it is to protect humanity.   The characters in the stories are just people beaten down by life and war. 

For a machinima artist I am old. I came of age in the 60’s. I grew up in a time when we had lost faith in our leaders, in our accepted way of life and even in our heroes.  It was the time of the post world war II slumber, the war in Vietnam and the civil rights movement.  It was a time when we started questioning everything, a time when the National Guard opened fire on protesters on the grounds of the Ohio State campus killing four students and wounding nine others and a time when we no longer expected our heroes to be bathed in white light riding a mighty steed and wearing polished armor.  No, it was a time when our heroes stepped off the pedestal, made mistakes, were not even particularly likeable but somehow managed to save the day not in spite of but many times due to their flaws.  It was a time when our heroes were as lost as the people they saved.

That then is the perspective of the stories in the Halo CE Chronicles.  The main characters, Commander Harrington and Andrea the AI, are flawed.  Having already suffered unimaginable loss, his world and loved ones destroyed and killed in the war, Commander Harrington’s injuries forced the UNSC to graft him to an early version of the Spartan cybernetic suit of armor, a suit he could only barely control.  Faced with his loss and the stigma of looking like but not being a Spartan he sought refuge in the deep space survey corps where he eventually ended up marooned on a Ring World with a quirky Station AI.  Station AI’s don’t normally talk, they just run the automation of the station, but this one learned how.  This nascent AI somehow went beyond her programming and started the climb to full sentience.  During their adventures Andrea the AI became bonded with the Commander’s cybernetics and the two of them, the damaged human and the nascent AI are now linked together each on their own journey of self.

When I sat down to write the Ring of Life I wanted to explore the character that in the Halo universe is taken for granted: The AI.  In Season two the story line was about the bonding of Commander Harrington and Andrea, in season three “The Valley of the Forerunners” it was about Commander Harrington coming to grips with his malaise and taking control of his life again.  In the Ring of life I wanted to explore Andrea and how she handles her emerging emotions.

It has been over a year since I first started this phase of the project.  The Ring of Life script went through a dozen re-writes and revisions.  It started out as a wordy epic with multiple characters and story lines for each. Every time I read it I slashed more and more to focus the story.  As a result I cut most of the story of the two supporting characters’, Taylor and Johnston.  That decision resulted in the creation of The Halo CE Chronicles Comic - Shipwrecked.  I just liked those guys, they reminded me of people I grew up with and I wanted to fully explore their adventure as well. The Shipwrecked comic is the back story to their relationship as you will see it in The Ring of Life.

Although I may be “long in the tooth” and have been “around the block” a few times, being a story teller is relatively new to me, oh I have an imagination, love sci-fi books, have read comics and enjoy movies but the real desire to craft my own is new.  When I started I was advised to write what I knew. I know Commander Harrington.  He is not me, I may give him voice, but we are different.  However there are aspects about him that I know intimately.    I know his loss, I have lost family members and friends before their time, and I understand the frustration with his physical ability or lack of to control the body and the armor he inhabits.   Several years ago I survived a stroke and had to learn again to control my body.  Unlike Commander Harrington I recovered, I have some deficits like a left hand that doesn’t always do what I want and constant vertigo suppressed by force of will alone, and like the commander I didn’t go through it alone.  No, I didn’t have an AI in my head helping me move or keeping me stable, what I did have was family and friends who took my hand and whispered encouragement in my ear to get me through the tough times.   I suppose one could draw parallels to mine and the commander’s story but really they are much different in scope and his… much more tragic.
 
Those of you that have watched all the HCEC videos will no doubt notice that each one starts with a quote from Kahlil Gibran, a poet, philosopher, artist, prophet and writer, born in Bsharri, Lebanon in 1883.  I normally chose an appropriate one for each episode to highlight that episodes meaning.  This season, The Ring of Life has only one quote, one message; “We are expression of earth, and of life not separate individuals only.”  This one quote is the summation of the story of Commander Harrington and Andrea and in truth the human race itself.  It is a shame that some of us learn it late in life and some… not at all.

The Ring of Life is not all philosophy and emotion; we blow a few things up crack wise and take on the fantastic and impossible.  There are marines and Hogs and explosions and battles, adventure and conflict and thanks to the custom made maps for Halo CE there are vistas and imagery not seen in any other Halo game or Halo machinima.  I can safely say that The Halo CE Chronicles is unlike any other Halo machinima produced today. I will let you decide if that is good or bad.

So sit back and start your downloads because starting today and over the next six weeks I will be releasing all six episodes of The Ring of Life.  I hope you enjoy the story.

Dennis

- [Posted: Jul-28-2009 11:26 EST - (Link)]


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