The Flood: An Analysis
The Flood are the most deadly, virulent life-form in the galaxy. A parasitic creature that infects sentient life mutates it and suppresses its consciousness. So dangerous is the flood that the forerunner the most powerful species in the galaxy and possibly the universe were forced to sacrifice themselves for the good of the universe. Part of the floods strength lies in its ability to convert enemy losses into reinforcements, meaning that any battle against the flood gets exponentially harder as time passes and losses mount. Furthermore the flood can remain dormant for millions of years lying wait for the opportune moment to strike and begin the battle once more. It is this danger that forced the forerunner to build the 7 halo rings, capable of wiping out all sentient life in the galaxy in the hope that the flood threat would never again plague the universe.
In order to understand the flood’s lifecycle and the secrets behind its virulence it is first necessary to learn of the spore. The spore is the most basic form of flood, and it is really the only form that can truly be called ‘The Flood’. The spore is really a kind of ‘Universal Cell,’ although it is many times larger than a normal cell. It also has features that are not present in any normal cell. Below is a diagram of the spore:
[Please pardon the quality, I had hand drawn diagrams of far superior quality, but my scanner is on the brink]
The Flood Spore consists of 7 main components:
1. Outer Casing
This is a thick shell of calcium which serves three main purposes. Firstly it produces much of the flood spores, and consequently all flood forms durability and strength. Secondly it allows the flood spore to survive in a hostile environment [i.e. vacuum, extreme heat, extreme cold, etc]. And thirdly it provides protection form radiation and thus DNA degradation in long hibernations [100,000-1,000,000yeras?].
2. Very Large Vacuole
The flood spore contains a very large vacuole. The purpose of a vacuole of this size is to provide a huge food/respiration gas store. This huge store allows for the long hibernations of the flood organism and it also allows the spore to operate for long periods of time without replenishment.
3. Hypochondrial Complex
Basically an extreme form of mitochondria they allow the flood spore to extract an extreme amount of energy from food supplies. Additionally they can reconfigure themselves to respire different gasses or burn different fuels, both organic and non-organic.
The nucleus of the flood spore is infact bigger than most cells. This is because of the huge amount of DNA it contains; over 200 chromosomes. The reason for this huge number of chromosomes is threefold. It allows the flood to infect all manner of creature, despite huge variation. It allows the spore to take on a number of different configurations depending on its configuration at ‘birth’ and it allows the loss of large sequences of DNA through decay during hibernation whilst still allowing the spore to survive.
5. Central nervous Complex
The central nervous complex is a feature that no other cell has. Basically it is a grouping of what perform the function of nerve cells in a complex organism. Although to small to do much in an individual spore when spores come together the nervous complexes can link up to gain complexity and a modicum of intelligence.
6. Virus Launch Tubes
The floods method of reproduction is unique amongst life-forms. Rather than reproducing via mitosis the flood spore releases a number of virus type strands of DNA. These infect the cells of a host organism and convert them into spores. Note that it takes a number of infected cells to come together to form a spore.
7. Sensory, Locomotion and Mouth Complex
Each flood spore has four of these complexes arranged in a tetrahedral pattern relative to the centre of the spore. This complex’s provide sensory input, link spores to others nervously, provide locomotion and feed resources to the spore.
The Flood has a complex lifecycle, so rather than try to express it in text here is a diagram: [Again please pardon the clarity]
As can be seen here the Flood Infection Form, and the growth form [growths in high charity?] are infact colonies of flood spores acting in concert. As previously mentioned when large numbers of spores come together the nervous complex’s link up and the organism gains a degree of intelligence. It can also be seen that so long as spores remain the flood is virulent.
Mutation and Infection
When the flood needs to infect an organism they have to options. They can either use infection forms or alternatively use spores. Of the 2 an infection by Infection forms is the more desirable as it is faster and less easily countered. In this case the Infection Form latches onto the host and takes control of the host’s CNS. In the case of a Spore infection spores are first inhaled into the Host’s lungs. Once inside the lungs they reproduce like a tumour until they have the numbers to attack and gain control of the CNS. Once the CNS is under control the flood begins the process of mutating the host into either a flood warrior, carrier or worker form. In addition to this it begins converting the excess bio-mass of the host into spores. This is done via the release of the viruses contained within the flood spores. In the case of a warrior form it is primarily the ribs and chest cavity that are converted into spores. This results in the torso becoming essentially a slightly pressurised bag of spores, with the outer bag being the skin of the host. This explains the tendency of warrior forms in Halo2 to vaporise in a green mess of spores leaving only the limbs behind. In the case of a carrier form however the lower legs, chest cavity, ribs, arms and head are all converted into spores.
Flood spores reproduce in 2 ways. The first way as explained above is to convert the excess bio-mass of a host into spores via the flood viruses contained within a spore. This however is limited to there being hosts and their bio-mass available. If this were the only form of reproduction other life would have an advantage over the flood as they are able to use the resources of the environment to reproduce. However the flood is able to avoid this problem through and ingenious piece of biology-the growth form. The growth form is, like the infection form a colony of spores. Its task however is to serve as an incubator for non-flood life. It does this by feeding of resources [especially calcium] that are fed to it by the worker forms. The resources fed to it by worker forms are used to generate bacterial level life which can then be infected by the viruses of flood spores. This removes the need for each flood spore to carry costly facilities for mitosis. [Rampant speculation here but as calcium is important to flood reproduction [the spores outer shell is made of it] it is possible that very little of the rock of the Halo’s is of the Calcium Carbonate [Ca C03] variety, instead it is possibly more likely to be of the silicone oxide [Si2 O3] variety.
There is also a third form of flood which I have not touched on, the command slash/pilot blob. There is very little information available about this form and its capabilities. Its role seems to be to extract information form valuable prisoners, especially when it comes to the operation of technology. They seem to be capable of operating starships, pelicans, etc, and may be able to control flood via telepathy or something similar [pheromes?]. Its has been suggested by ‘MoonieJohnson’ that Gravemind is a collection of command forms, but I personally do not subscribe to this idea.
Destruction of Flood Forms
Flood forms are extremely tough and eradicating them is very difficult. Although the various forms can be destroyed this generally has the effect of simply spreading the spores. In order to destroy spores it is generally necessary to use extreme heat or high powered radiation. As such flame throwers, fuel rod guns, and plasma grenades should have a considerable effect of destroying spores within there blast radius. It is also possible that the sentinel beam is some kind of high powered radiation device which would have the effect of killing the spores of flood forms it is fired at. When flood forms must be combated the best weapons are generally those with high rates of fire [i.e. SMG, Needler, and Plasma Rifle] or with high stopping power [Shotguns, Plasma Swords]. Other weapons are virtually useless however [sniper rifles] as the bullet massively over penetrates, doing little damage. The reason for this is likely to be that many of the bones have been removed and used to produce spores because of their high calcium content. When fighting combat forms it has been found that the most effective shots are those to the chest as they are likely to smash the infection form, or spore growth controlling the host via attachment to the spinal cord.
The floods unique biology and innovative lifecycle truly make it a force to be reckoned with. Its ability to assimilate enemy losses into its own ranks and the extreme amount of damage it allows its host to take mean it should not be trifled with.
[JSF of WT]