ORIGINALLY POSTED ON MY TUMBLR, MARCH 2015
Reposted without edits, save navigational issues.
Partner piece to The Flood review and analysis.
Welcome again to the companion series for my reading journal, where I take a look at where Thel ‘Vadam shows up in the Expanded Universe. In the Definitive Edition of The Flood (piece coming soon to Halo Archive), we get a somewhat detailed look into his actions at Alpha Halo and realize that maybe the destruction of Halo wasn’t his error after all.
The very first piece in the Adjunct is a letter sent by Thel ‘Vadamee to his father-figure Lak ‘Vadamee, which to me is just a delightful revelation. Lak was introduced at the very end of The Cole Protocol when Thel contemplates the ideas of loneliness and heresy after a failed mission. It’s only in Lak that Thel finds comfort in that he is not alone in the universe, and it’s to Lak that Thel reaches out again during an even greater failure because despite of what the Council may say of him, he needs Lak. He needs Lak to know that he did his best. He needs Lak to know the truth.
I need Lak to show up in more canon because, man, familial ties. They get me right in the feels. If my own pop happens to read this, I love you and hope I never have to send you the sort of letter that Thel sends to Lak.
This is one of two letters that Thel sends out after the events of Alpha Halo, the other being to the High Prophet of Truth, a piece which is far more formal, and starts out as such:
“To the Prophet of Truth
Most high and honored Prophet: It is with the greatest shame that I lay myself before the judgment of the Council. I expect and will accept no mercy. My failure in this matter is absolute; I embrace my responsibility and await my punishment.
The disgrace and blasphemy at Halo was an abomination caused by my incompetence and failure of judgment.” (Halo 2 Collector’s Edition Manual, emboldening mine).
Thel is lying here. Well, maybe not; he may completely believe this. Point is that the emboldened statement is not true.
Everything that the Covenant does wrong, strategy-wise, in both Combat Evolved and The Flood is not Thel ‘Vadamee’s fault. Pillar of Autumn able to evade the ships and get to the surface of Halo? Minor Prophet forced one of the ships to hold their fire. Master Chief able to break into Truth and Reconciliation to rescue Captain Keyes? That was under the Minor Prophet’s command. Flood released? Minor Prophet. Seriously, if anything goes wrong for the Covenant during the events of Alpha Halo you can either blame Master Chief or the Minor Prophet.
Furthermore there’s can be no blame of failing to act on the part of Thel ‘Vadamee. He actively seeks counsel from High Charity. He forcefully gives orders that, if obeyed, would have both united the forces against the Autumn’s crew and kept the Flood from being released. Twice he takes action to remove the meddlesome Minor Prophet from authority, and does so personally the second time around.
I chuckle at this because the transcript so blatantly displays the kangaroo nature of his trial. If Thel blames the Prophet for the proverbial hitting the fan, he’ll be charged with heresy. If Thel takes all the entirety of the blame on himself, he’ll be charged with heresy. To add to this irrefutable judgement is the Prophet of Truth’s endgame to swap the Sangheili with the Jiralhanae. Thel ‘Vadamee is an influential leader in the Covenant. The discovery and protection of a sacred ring by such a Sangheili commander would surely make that transition of power more difficult. As it is, the destruction of such a ring is awfully convenient.
“Minor Prophet and Fleet Master convene aboard Seeker of Truth and attempt to contact High Charity to ensure interpretation of scripture is accurate. Fleet Master is reluctant to relinquish command with an approaching human military threat. Communication cannot be made with High Charity. No decision is made.” (Flood Adjunct).
…did Truth refuse to accept their call just so that he could have a Halo ring not successfully discovered and protected by a Sangheili commander? There is no solid evidence to suggest this, but seriously, I would not put that past him. Because he’s a scheming jerkwad.
Beyond the Adjunct addition, which defines most of the Covenant activity we see in The Flood as the troops under the Minor Prophet’s command, we don’t get to see much of Thel ‘Vadamee in the story proper other than that we know he’s somewhere in the skies above Halo. However, we do get Orna ‘Fulsamee.
The very first Covenant character that we get to meet face-to-face is Ship Master Orna ‘Fulsamee. Between the fact that he is the highest ranking Sangheili we see in the novel and that he almost immediately butts heads with the Minor Prophet, it was very easy to speculate back between 2004 and 2008 that he was the Arbiter from Halo 2. Some fanfictions made use of this name, including one that crossed over with another game, was very well written, and of which I cannot recall the name.
Of course, come The Cole Protocol, this theory would be laid to rest, but the fact that people were actively seeking him out in the novels is a testament to his influence in the franchise.