Saturday, December 15, 2012

12 Days Of Killer Robots. Day Two

Hey all, Counterfett here. I hope that you all are having a fine weekend. I stayed up all night playing video games, so I certainly did. In any event, day two of the Killer Robot Countdown brings us to one that might be slightly controversial, and reminds me that I didn't put my usual disclaimer on day one! Feel free to comment, disagree, or even make up your own better list, and I'll even link it. Just be nice.

#11: Offensive Bias

A little backstory is in order here. In the history of the Halo universe, the forerunners committed species wide suicide in order to stop the parasitic Flood aliens. They originally had other alternatives, but they were betrayed by Mendicant Bias, a military AI which controlled all Forerunner military installations.

In order to buy time for themselves to finish the Halo array, and fire them, they pooled all of their resources into a simplified, more dogmatic AI called Offensive Bias. Not as powerful or creative as its brother Mendicant (which had betrayed them, so I understand their apprehension) Offensive Bias was nonetheless a superb military strategist, and was prepared to use anything at his disposal to triumph.

Offensive Bias does not appear in the games, everything we know of it is from Terminal 6 on Halo 3, in Legendary Difficulty. The story details the final, apocalyptic between a massive fleet of ships piloted by Flood infected abominations, versus a small, sophisticated Forerunner fleet. Offensive Bias records the battle in calm, clinical detail. I am picking out a few excerpts I like for your amusement.

[12:H 20:M 00:S] I begin this report with no illusions that it will ever be seen by its intended readers. In all likelihood they have already committed [species-wide suicide] with the goal of preserving biological diversity in this galaxy. I must ensure that this information reaches those who must come after. If I fail in this, how can they not regard my creators’ sacrifice as anything but [a crime without measure]?

Offensive Bias has no illusions a 'victory' can be achieved, but still performs his task with vigor.

 [11:H 12:M 09:S] 05-032 was right about one thing: there is only one-way to defeat the enemy, and that is to visit utter annihilation on it.
If the galaxy must be [rendered temporarily lifeless]. So be it.

This segment actually makes me shiver. The parallels between Offensive Bias and the Catalyst from ME3 are startling. It's a shame that OB, such a minor character, is so much more interesting.

 [09:H 45:M 18:S] In support of 05-032’s original 1000 core vessels is a fleet numbering 4,802,019; though only 1.8 percent are warships - and only 2.4 percent of that number are capital ships - I am outnumbered [436.6:1]. I expect my losses will be near total, but overwhelming force has its own peculiar drawbacks.
Such a press of arms invites many opportunities for unintentional fratricide.

I think this is AI talk for a target rich environment.

 [00:H 19:M 02:S] The seventh and final wave of container ships, barges, tankers, and military vessels engage my fleet; another 214,320 ships, many in excess of [50,000 tonnes], engage my seemingly disrupted vanguard. I continue to fight just well enough to seem lucky.

Here, as that mysterious countdown trickles away nearly to nothing, we begin to see that Offensive Bias' losing battle might be something much more, that maybe the 'simple' military AI is really about to pull something truly diabolical on its older, more sophisticated 'brother.'

[00:H 00:M 00:S] The [Halo effect] strikes our combined fleets. All ships piloted by biological are now [adrift].
I can trade Mendicant ship for ship now and still prevail.

 The countdown ends, the Halos fire, and suddenly a very different battle begins...

 [00:H 00:M 01:S] Of my ships that had been captured, 11.3 percent of them are close enough to Mendicant's core fleet that they can be used offensively - either by initiating their self-destruct sequences, or by opening unrestricted ruptures into [slipstream space].

From here, the battle devolves into a one sided rout of Medicant's formerly triumphant force, as Offensive Bias presses every advantage, springs every trap he had prepared for after the deployment of the Halos. As Mendicant's forces are whittled away to nothing, and then only a single ship, Offensive Bias ponders that it could spare Mendicant Bias...

But I doubt it would have extended the same courtesy to me.

Anyway, sorry this one was so long, but I've always liked this little glimpse into the mind of a war between robots, and felt the need to justify Offensive Bias inclusion, even though it's so obscure. The most imprtant parts of the battle took place over a matter of seconds. After a twelve hour fleet battle, Offensive Bias cripples the fleet which vastly outnumbers him within 12 seconds. In three minutes he has destroyed the remainder of the fleet.



MIK said...

This is a great addition. As a side note I named my Kindle "Mendicant Bias" a couple of years ago, the Halo AI backstories are just too cool, but I'm a big fan of the proto-Halo Marathon series too, so there you go.

Mike Howell said...

I have not played Halo games (beyond a portion of the first one in some dark past) so this is all completely new to me. Interesting mix of contemplation and complete disregard for life.

CounterFett said...

MIK: Marathon was a sadly under-appreciated series. It's funny now that it gets more respect because of Halo. My favorite level name in video games comes from Marathon: "If I had a rocket launcher, I'd make somebody pay."

Mike: Glad to spring a new one on you! The Forerunner's AIs and Monitors in Halo are curious characters in that they operate in a very well executed logical manner, but their base assumptions, while sensible, are very alien to us. It's one of my favorite things in the series. Just good writing, as far as I'm concerned.

sonsoftaurus said...

Having not played Halo, was never exposed to this. Pretty nifty!

Anonymous said...

This old man is not into video games, but enjoyed reading this blog