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40px-Terminal.png This article, The Silent Garden, was written by Distant Tide. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.
40px-Writer_share.png This article, The Silent Garden, was written by Distant Tide, but may be used freely by other users even without the author's explicit permission.
"According to what little knowledge we've learned from the ancient Forerunner civilization, the Domain, a vast galactic communications network, existed on both the physical and a metaphysical plane. How this is possible remains a mystery to us. What little we know about the Domain is about as valuable to the Forerunners as toilet-paper is to us - meaning, "no shit." It's how we came across the concept of this "Silent Garden," a room within an individual and a room within the Domain all at once. It was a place of retreat during deep meditation or lucid sleep. It appears Warrior-Servants, the Forerunners' military sect, were the primary users of this space, often employed in the event a warrior was gravely injured - their minds would retreat to this personal haven of sanctitude. The location is often described as a familial, neural crypt defined by the will of the user and contained residual memories of the person and the Greater Domain while speaking whispers of prophecy. Whether that last part is true or not is up for debate. As well as much the entire concept of the Domain and this Garden too."
ONI Xeno-Materials Exploitation Group discussion notes.
Starry Night
The Silent Garden is many things to many people.

There were some things that a technologically-advanced civilization might take for granted that lesser beings may watch in awe, even going as far to claim unattainable but definite concepts as "magic." The Covenant wrote such simple concepts like the Silent Garden as little more than mince words in their religious fervor. They saw no use for powers that gave no boon to the grandest of achievements, the Great Journey. Humanity, on the other hand, has sought after all forms of ancient technology as a means of uplifting the species to greater heights, no matter how trivial.

Such disregard on both their parts to maintain restraint and caution toward ancient mechanisms has brought more than enough tragedy with it as it is the most dangerous of secrets that have survived the Forerunner's final effort. Some secrets did survive on account that they hold seemingly little value, however, could lead to even greater footfalls as time has marched on.

Terminology

  • The Silent Garden: A term first coined by civilian researchers tied to the Office of Naval Intelligence's Xeno-Materials Exploitation Group. The Silent Garden describes the Human presumptive theory of how an ancient faster-than-light communications array functioned; it was employed most notably by the Forerunner Ecunume in their heyday. Because of Covenant records associated with alien gardens and the rare, suspected encounters recounted by humans who suggest the same - the name stuck. The Silent Garden's mystery and its strange similarities of Plantae-type fauna in growth and behavior have only continued to reaffirm the terminology.
  • Projection: The act by a Silent Garden's Projector to affect beings and individuals in a nearby vicinity and to interface them into the Silent Garden's capabilities and systems. This usually induces a cationic, comatose state for an unknown period of time in which an assimulated individual will be locked in a dream-like trance or meditative state with abilities within a different plane of existence akin to lucid dreaming. It is known that subjects under the influence of the Silent Garden can appear dead or dying while affected by the Garden.
  • Garden Seeds: The incubation process of expanding the reach of the Silent Garden. Foreign technological systems of a certain mass in the presence of a greater Forerunner technological mass can lead to the interface and integration of the Domain into the foreign systems given enough time. While it is not typically noticeable, this process could be looked at as a form of parasitism with the Silent Garden unwelcomingly piggybacking off of technologies of other factions and civilizations. According to both secret notes kept by the Covenant Hierarchy and new research notes by the Xeno-Materials Exploitation Group, the Silent Garden poses a potentially significant national security threat in the event that a higher intelligence or power takes advantage of the Silent Garden to compromise systems. It was a known tactic by the Forerunner military to allow the Garden to jump to adversarial data farms during ancient conflicts to develop a greater intelligence capacity.
  • Projectors: A term first referenced by members of the Forerunner Ecunume in describing objects, equipment, and even individuals that served as powerful nodes or hotspots from which connections to the Silent Garden can be generated. Such nodes are typically highly-engrained in the Domain at the same time. The Forerunner pronunciation of the term is unknown but the bastardized translation into English is as above.
  • Garden Apparations: Creatures, beings, and objects of significance that may appear within the Silent Garden without the allowance or intention of the Projector or the individual under the influence of the Silent Garden. As far as it is known, these creatures could very well be real or simply tricks of the mind. Due to their life-like behavior, however, ONI and the UNSC by extension, consider the unknown apparations as potential environmental hazards and hostile threats to the sanity and wellbeings of users of the Silent Garden.
  • Warrior Crypt: The term employed by the Forerunners' military caste, the Warrior-Servants, in describing the Silent Garden. An archaic term employed still by the Sangheili but has fallen out-of-favour with most other post-Covenant species.
Dismantled Figures Promeathean Concept Art
Sketchs collected some suspected Garden Apparations.
  • Bounded Inner World: The hypothetical descriptor for what the worlds or realms materialized within Silent Garden might be. A mixed conception born of the physical and metaphysical realms, it is even possible to have a digital or quantum component. In its most simple terms, the Bounded Inner World is the belief that the Silent Garden creates a personal inner-reality similar to the concept of a mindscape for an individual. An imaginary pocket-dimension of sorts.

Technological Function

In the age of Forerunner domination of the Milky Way Galaxy, the Forerunners regularly tapped into the ancient communications network known as the Domain. It was so integral in their society that there was rarely a moment where a Forerunner was separated from the galaxy-spanning network. While rare, some Forerunners did become separated from the Domain, as seen among the remnants of the Forerunner battle fleets that chased the mythical Precursors to the local dwarf galaxy known to the Forerunners as Path Kethona, better known to humans as the Large Magellanic Cloud.

Halo-concept-spartan-forerunner
The Domain was an integral part of Forerunner society.

A facet of the Domain's mysterious power and reach, the Silent Garden is a kind of virtual realm created using a mixture of neural physics, Forerunner technology, and the conscience of the affected being. In many ways, it is a more advanced version of the human neural interface that allows humans to create a brain-computer system and connect with human networks like the ChatterNet or Waypoint. In its simplest form, the Silent Garden is a form of advanced virtual reality.

Forerunners of the Warrior-Servants rate were the most notable users of the Silent Garden, known to them as the "Warrior Crypt[1]." The Silent Garden to the Warrior-Servants was designed with a number of purposes: the intention for faster-than-light communications with their fellow warriors, a place for the mind of a warrior to retreat to in the event of extreme injury, and a place to go when in need of extensive personal meditation - a practice common with Warrior-Servants. Similar to the Domain's effect on Forerunners in a Cryptum, time-space distorts rather unpredictably outside the Silent Garden. Within the Garden, a user is also interfaced directly into the reaches of the Domain and is thus capable of accessing its depths from within the Garden. However, the extent of a user's capabilities, and thus the Garden's capabilities, are determinant based on the user at hand.

Because the Garden is a personal manifestation, it exists based on an individual's personality and personal will. What they can do in there is only limited by their physical will and the outer limits of their imagination. For most Forerunners, the Garden is mostly a way to focus the great depths and expanse of the Domain into a comprehensible format, limiting the amount of knowledge that an individual takes in at a time. In conjunction with an ancilla assistant, the Garden serves as a browser for a Forerunner user - that is, if they know what they are doing and how they are doing it. It takes years to truly get control over the Garden, to bend it to an individual's will rather than it is a simple manifestation of an individual's character and their sense of personality.

Lesser beings, not the Forerunners, have also achieved some measure of access to the Silent Garden. Humans. San 'Shyuum, even Covenant member-species like the Sangheili and Jiralhanae. However, in the case of lower-tier species on the Forerunner technology scale - it is rare for individuals to gain control of their own Silent Gardens in a manner that might rival the Forerunners. Most who have encountered the Garden in a sparse manner have less control than even that of a Forerunner youth at the height of the species' empire. In the Covenant, the visions provided by the Silent Garden are typically treated as prophetic visions but are typically only seen by the Prophets themselves due to their near-constant exposure to Forerunner technology from which the Silent Garden manifests. In the case that these visions are not detected by Prophets but another specimen, the Covenant individual typically will seek out a Prophet for guidance on what is perceived to be a potentially divine matter. Such meetings are similar to Confession sessions in Human religion, however, upon listening to the description provided by the individual who was contacted by the Garden briefly, a Prophet will either judge the vision as simply a falsehood or a truly divine action on the part of their Gods.

In the domain
The Domain and the Silent Garden are intertwined while not being one in the same. How both are experienced are also unique to individual and circumstance.

Humans, on an entirely different matter, have written off the very rare occurrence of contacts with the Silent Garden as lucid dreams and nothing more. Some groups within the United Nations Space Command and the Office of Naval Intelligence and other secretive scientific bodies have been investigating the Silent Garden and other similar Forerunner phenomenon after realizing that it was a product of Forerunner technology rather than unusual coincidence as the events almost always came after exposure or being in the presence of Forerunner artifacts, not immediate but typically in close proximity.

Some AI societies have been using the Domain and technologies within its sphere like the Silent Garden to push their agenda. The Assembly[2] and the Created are notable AI bodies that make use of this technology. Even the Gravemind and the leader of the Created, Cortana, have employed the technology and power of the Silent Garden. Individuals like the Master Chief have displayed exceptional control over the Silent Garden in the times he has come in contact with the Domain's presence and that of the Silent Garden.

Bounded Inner Worlds

Tesseract folding
The Silent Garden behaves similarly to a constantly-folding tesseract concept.

The Silent Garden is often referenced as the generator of something called "Bounded Inner Worlds."[3] This terminology, a Bounded Inner World, is a human term tagged by a member of the Office of Naval Intelligence that shares synonymous meaning with other terminology like "Reality Marble" and "Personal Reality." It essentially means a world of someone's own. It is believed, based on research of Forerunner relics and rare encounters with the Silent Garden itself, that the realms created within are virtual or quantum spaces that can connect to an individual's conscious and serves as a metaphysical construct from which an individual can interact with the Domain. An individual's Bounded Inner World is unique to that individual; no two Bounded Inner Worlds are the same. They reflect the user and they reflect the constant change in their identity and their "essence."

Emotions, memories, experiences, and outside stimuli can have drastic effects on one's Bounded Inner World. Bounded refers to the limitation of the world within the Silent Garden. Even though it is immensely powerful from being tied to the Domain, the Garden's size is relatively small but at the same time unique in size, tuned to an individual's needs. The horizons are literally barriers that cannot be crossed, there is only so far an individual can go through the Garden before they end up in the same place they started. In many ways, the Silent Garden shares similarities to the Human concept of a rotating tesseract[4], constantly folding in on itself and continuously in motion.

Merlin-Andra Shared Mindscape
A unique mindscape shared by Merlin-D032 and Andra-D054, involving constant schools of alien fish and breathable oceans.

The Inner World section of the term refers to the concept of the Silent Garden being a personal reality. It functions in a way that reflects the user alone and nothing or no one else. While outside and internal environmental factors can affect the Silent Garden, the user is ultimately the one in control. Whether that control is an illusion or simply a difficult truth is unknown, it often feels like someone is in control - it also feels like there is a lack of control like in a dream state. Why this occurs is still being researched by ONI and their tight-knit scientific community. Maybe in the future, the truth will be fully realized.

Often enough, the Bounded Inner World of an individual is an environment that they have intrigue for or feel a sense of belonging in. The scenery within is often familiar, however, that does not stop it from behaving or being alien in execution. The laws of physics and reality don't seem to function the same way as in reality as we perceive. Sometimes naturally understood laws within the Silent Domain become completely irrelevant.

Recorded Encounters

Silent Garden Monster
Not all encounters within the Silent Garden are pleasant.
"I think I need to go visit a psychiatrist..."
Merlin-D032 waking up from a vivid dream sequence in the Silent Garden.

There have been a number of individuals whose encounters with the Domain and the Silent Garden that have been recounted, suspected, or mentioned in recent years following the Human-Covenant War as encounters with Forerunner technology across the Human sphere and outside its borders have drastically increased. Most encounters are typically located in the region of space named the Joint-Occupation Zone as the commercial traffic through the region from multiple factions and the amount of Forerunner technology trading hands in that part of the galaxy has skyrocketed considerably in the era following the Great War.

One such individual who has encountered the Silent Garden extensively is the former Spatan-III of the infamous and illegal SPARTAN-III Delta Company, Merlin-D032[5]. During a brief stay aboard the UNSC Infinity, Merlin began succumbing to strange, lucid dreams with vivid but unusual visions with no coherence whatsoever. After a mild investigation, he could not find any particular reason the visions took place and eventually they subsided for a time. While the dreams did not return with an intensity, they continued to follow him through his life as Forerunner technology began to play a greater importance in his daily life. His friend, Andra-D054 is also known to have experienced these encounters with the Silent Garden, however, neither Spartan is aware of the concept.

As reported during the debriefing of the Master Chief about the contact he had with Cortana and the Flood Gravemind during the Battle of Earth and the Battle of the Ark, enough presence around Forerunner ruins and ancient technology of certain mass, specifically that which has threaded connection to the Domain, can develop new connections to the previously incompatible technology. The Master Chief's armor and AI both served as conduits for the Gravemind when it attempted to manipulate the SPARTAN-II from afar. It remains unknown if the Gravemind used the Silent Garden or another conduit to reach John-117, however.

Master Chief Helmet Grass
A vision from the Silent Garden.

During the blow-through operation taken on by the Master Chief and a contingent of the UNSC Infinity's combat forces to seize control of Requiem's gravity well in 2557, the Master Chief also had an encounter with an AI fragment of the Forerunner Librarian. During the encounter, the Master Chief was suspended in a Forerunner virtual space as was his AI, Cortana. Based on the recounted events provided by the Spartan during his debriefing aboard the UNSC Infinity and later on after his retrieval from Earth's orbit from destroying the Didact's ship, Mantle's Approach, it is believed by the Office of Naval Intelligence that this was another case of the Silent Garden at work, however, the data remains inconclusive due to lack of further encounters with the Forerunner presence with exception to one Doctor Catherine Halsey who was in contact with the Librarian AI but has remained privy about suspicions and theories.

As a potentially-living entity known as the Abaddon or to the Forerunners, the mythical "Organon"[6] - it is not known if this Precursor entity is separate from the Domain or one in the same, however, it is possible that the Domain has agendas and intentions of its own. During the Requiem Campaign, the UNSC Infinity encountered Forerunner technology that had the capacity to communicate and take command of foreign systems, in the case of the Infinity, the entire supercarrier for a period of time. It remains unknown as well if this is the Domain at work or simply a technology of the Forerunners. Whatever the case, it gives credence to the theory that any significant technological device can become a conduit for the Domain, given the right circumstances - though, such circumstances or possibilities remain unknown.

Garden Apparations

Essence in City
Apparations are capable of manifesting in the physical plane. There were reports of Apparations near Forerunner technology, but not only, after the Composer event in New Phoenix, there were rumors of sightings of ghosts akin to Apparations.

Apparations are the unexplainable or misunderstood inhabitants of the Silent Garden. Rumor has it that they can influence reality, can be messengers of prophecy, and can bleed into reality as humans know it and take physical form. Most of this is rumors and baseless in origin. Apparations are considered simply "ghosts in the machine", the memories and dreams given form by the Domain, both belonging within the Domain and within a user's own mind.

Apparations cannot typically harm an individual. Instead, Apparations are known to have considerable influence over an individual's emotions and mental state. They have shown considerable ability to directly tamper with someone's emotions and brain chemistry in encounters, and that is not from a person's reaction. Being in the presence of an Apparition can induce a range of emotions and cause runaway chemical imbalances and can even develop into a stroke, heart attack, shock, seizure, depression, and insanity on the rare chance. Most of these symptoms only occur if someone is not emotionally equipped to handle things though.

Apparations can take many forms in dreams and in the physical plane. Some forms have taken the form of things reflective of the individual seeing them as when Merlin-D032 would occasionally see visions of a wandering wizard or monsters in his dreams. Both his namesake and his struggle to self-actualize his purpose in the UNSC are both reflected by the appearances of mythical manifestations. During a particularly spooky encounter in an abandoned train yard in New Phoenix, he and Andra-D054 discovered an unrecovered essence of a dead civilian that was composed by the Didact. Due to the Forerunner attack on the city, remnants of the Silent Garden were also present and allowed an echo of a Promethean Knight to scare Merlin and Andra into a quiet frenzy. It was a rare occurrence where the Silent Garden has created physical manifestations, however, it is very rare.

The Garden's Projectors

Cortana Avatar
Cortana is one of several AI with contact to the Domain, and thus, the Silent Garden. Enough exposure has also made her a projector.

While the majority of the Silent Garden's technology and capabilities remain unknown, it is known that significant technological mass is required to "project" or connect to the Silent Garden. It also jumps like that of fertilization among plant species or like viral infections, both biological and digital. The Seeds of the Silent Garden take hold the longer foreign systems are in presence of Domain-connected devices.

The Garden's Seeds are the main method of dissemination for the Garden's influence, used in tandem with growing the size and influence of the Domain as the two coincide together very much. During the height of the Forerunners, the Silent Garden grew in size with that of the Domain as the Warrior-Servants relied on the Silent Garden, to them the Warrior Crypt, to serve as an advanced quantum communications array that piggybacked off Forerunner technologies. More powerful than any rival communications system withholding any other Domain-related communications system, the Silent Garden was projected most by Forerunner advanced tech-suits as the Forerunners were immersed in their own technological achievement.

In the current day, the 26th Century, the presence and power of the Silent Garden is far diminished, damaged significantly by the firing of the Halo Array. Because of its relation to the Domain, Precursor technology, and ancient technologies of now long-dead races, the Silent Garden can only thrive in the continued presence of Forerunner technology and the relics of other ancients. Individuals that immerse themselves in the Silent Garden can become Projectors for the Garden. This ability requires great technological mass, however, which suggests mechanized-biological beings like cyborgs and AIs themselves.

Known Garden Projectors

Trivia

  • The author, Distant Tide, was inspired to work on Forerunner technology and concepts after finishing the Halo novel, Halo: Envoy, where Forerunner technology and practiced were explored in a more thorough manner than in some previous material.
  • This page is unintentionally dark in lighting. Between pictures and the background, it does look a little dark.
  • This page was attacked by user S-D379 on April 1st, 2018 as part of an April Fool's ploy. Major sections of the article were replaced with random texts that can best be summed up as "Technobabble." It is especially ironic as this article is mostly made up of technobabble for the sake of world-building.

Appearances

Development Notes

  1. The original name for the Silent Garden during the initial concepts for the Silent Garden, serving as a reference to the Forerunner Cryptums.
  2. Based on plot lines and stories set out by Actene and Ahalosniper, fellow Halo Fanon writers.
  3. Inspired from terminology of the Fate anime series.
  4. After seeing interpretations in media like Interstellar film, Distant Tide came to the realization that a tesseract fit perfectly as explaining the Silent Garden's environment
  5. The concept of the Silent Garden was born from Distant Tide wanting to explain how Andra-D054 lived on and was eventually reincarnated. The Silent Garden was thus born and then expanded on a communications network within the Domain. Given recent rewrites, this portion of the narrative may or may not occur.
  6. An ancient Precursor AI that guarded the entrance and access to the Domain.
  7. In discovering the Domain and the Silent Garden, Cortana gained access to the Garden and discovered many untold secrets of the galaxy, including an ancient race of digitized humans known as the "Dismantled."
  8. Having gathered significant biological mass to affect neural physics, it is hypothesized that the Gravemind had become powerful enough to project the Silent Garden directly but it remains only a weak hypothesis.
  9. The Librarian's AI remnant in particular, not the Forerunner being.