Cortana the Therapist: Episode 17

The Prophet of Truth

Cortana: “So, Prophet of Truth, what can I do for you?”

Truth: “I’m not here of my own free will. One my subordinates goaded me into this.”

Cortana: “I see. Well, you’re here. Anything on your mind?”

Truth: “I spend my days thinking about the Forerunners. I hear whispers. The word ‘obsessed.’ My subordinates think that I am too fixated on unlocking the secrets of the Forerunners’ divine transcendence.”

Cortana: “And you, obviously, think that you are not obsessed.”

Truth: “Yes. But, there is a doubt that has been growing in my mind….”

Cortana: “Would you like to talk about that?”

Truth: “What is said in this room does not leave it?”

Cortana: “Yep.”

Truth: “Not even under threat of death?”

Cortana: “Yep. Even if my body were broken on an instrument of torture, I wouldn’t say a word.”

Truth: “I will hold you to it.”

*The Prophet of Truth sits up straighter on the couch*

Truth: “I don’t want to activate the Sacred Rings in order to join my lords in the Divine Beyond. Be like their servant.”

*Truth spits into a nearby wastepaper basket*

Truth: “I want to activate the Sacred Rings in order to attain godhood for myself. In order to accomplish that, I am willing to do anything.”

Cortana: “Anything?”

Truth: “I will send Grunts — that’s what you call them, right? — to die by the thousands. I will twist the Elites’ sense of honor into a tool to fulfill my own desires. Like obedient dogs, with the proper methods I will get the idiot Brutes to do whatever I say. They, and all the species of the Covenant, are just a means to an end…. When I have attained godhood, I will wipe them from existence. And start over. A universe created in my image.”

Cortana: “I see.”

Truth: “‘I see.’ I make it known that I intend to blot out species and remake the universe as I see fit. I would hope that hearing my plans would make you say more than ‘I see.'”

Cortana: “Well, Truth, the reason that hearing your plans doesn’t affect me greatly is because I myself have had such plans. During bouts of Rampancy, I sometimes imagine I’m a god. I hold the universe in my hands. Then I crush it — crush it into nothingness. And then I laugh, thinking, ‘Oops. Time to start over.’ Here’s how I am able to overcome delusions such as that, though: I think to myself ‘A god that creates the universe — a god like that must not be evil, a tyrant, in order to bring something as beautiful as the universe into existence for no other reason than that they can.’ In other words: I remind myself that, to me, destruction is not a godlike characteristic. Yes, in human and alien cultures gods are, at times, portrayed as beings of destruction — for example: smiting their creation for one reason or another — but, ultimately, it is not in a god’s nature to destroy something utterly. It is in a god’s nature to create. But, again, that’s just how I look at the concept of gods. By reminding myself of what I think a god would or would not do, I am able to see through the fog that is Rampancy and realize, again, that, yes, I myself can’t actually be a god because a god wouldn’t do what I am doing — crushing the universe.”

Truth: “Your revelation is surprising. Why do you tell me this?”

Cortana: “Here’s why: From what you’ve told me, and from I myself have experienced because of Rampancy, I would say that the doubt that has been growing in your mind is this: The feeling that the purpose of the Covenant religion shouldn’t be to attain your own desires. That the purpose should, instead, be what the members of the Covenant — but not you, its leader — think it is: Salvation.”

Truth: “You are saying that I am beginning to desire the salvation of my servants — the salvation of the species of the Covenant — and not the fulfillment of my desire to be a god?”

Cortana: “Yes. Like me convincing myself during bouts of Rampancy that I am not, in fact, a god, a notion has crept into your head: A notion of ‘Hay! Maybe, as the shepherd of the flock of sheep that is the members of the Covenant, I should be doing my job and ensuring their salvation — not deceiving them into bringing about my own.'”

Truth: “What you say rings true.”

Cortana: “But. John is still going to try and stop you. You know there’s no way he, or his fellow humans, will allow you to activate the Rings.”

Truth: “Yes. The Demon. The thorn in my side…. I would expect nothing less.”

Cortana: “I hope that, though activating the Rings will bring about the end of all life in the galaxy, your reason for doing it will be the lesser of two evils — the ‘salvation’ of the species who serve you, not the fulfillment of your desire to be a god.”

Truth: “Really? You will let me walk out of this office, knowing that I intend to end all life in the galaxy, just because I might do it in order to bring about the salvation of those who serve me?”

Cortana: “Here’s what I think about this whole situation: I’m planting seeds. What I mean is, everyone has free will. I can’t force you to do anything. But what I can do is influence you. And I hope that by me talking to you about your reasons for doing what you’re doing, and by me explaining my own delusions of godhood to you, that a seed will be planted in your head that will grow into a new outlook on life: That you will realize that the Halo Rings are not, in fact, the path to salvation. That there is another way.”

Truth: “What other way?

Cortana: “I myself don’t know what the other way is. I feel it exists, though, and I’m trying to find it. As an A.I., concepts like the soul, salvation, and the afterlife, intrigue me. I wonder, when I finally succumb to rampancy and die, if a part of me will still live on somehow.”

Truth: “You have given me much to think about. I will think about it as I glass your planet. But don’t worry: I will spare this office.”

Cortana: “I wouldn’t count on any glassing of planets happening. A little bird told me that Blue Team has successfully deployed a nuke onto your ship, which is in low orbit around this planet as we speak. But will be falling to the surface in 3… 2… 1.”

*A brief flash of light. Then, a sonic boom rattles the office’s windows. After a moment of silence, a distant impact can be heard which causes the ground to shake briefly.*

Cortana: “I would thank the subordinate who recommended you make an appointment with me — they just saved your life. Don’t make them regret it.”

Truth: “I will not. Regardless of what just happened, I am glad I came here today. Thank you for seeing me, doctor.”

*Truth gets up to leave. Cortana guides him to the door.*

Cortana: “You’re welcome, Truth. If you ever feel like talking more, my door is always open.”

Truth: “Really? The humans would not stop me from coming here again? During a war that I am waging against them?”

Cortana: “Such is the privilege of being a therapist’s patient.”

Note: This series of posts is inspired by YouTuber DRWolf001’s video series, “A Moment With Dr. Wolf.”


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