Cortana animation

The Cortana Letters

What's it all about? Why the fuss? Who is Cortana? Why the cover-up?

Below in chronological order are the events in the Cortana affair. Make of this what you will. But remember the tru7h is sometimes stranger than fiction.

And so it began...

First Cortana letter
Second Cortana letter
Third Cortana letter
Fourth Cortana letter
Fifth Cortana letter
The invisible Cortana message (from the Myth 1.3 CD)

Feb 16, 1999

I receive the oddest mail sometimes. But when it comes from Bungie Software it's even odder. The following cryptic mail arrived yesterday from "Cortana" <>:

From: "Cortana" <>
To: <>
Subject: Closure
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 10:50:20 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Priority: 3

I have walked the edge of the Abyss.
I have governed the unwilling.
I have witnessed countless empires break before me.
I have seen the most courageous soldiers fall away in fear.
[I was there with the Angel at the tomb]

I have seen your future.
And I have learned.

There will be no more Sadness. No more Anger. No more Envy.


Oh, and your poet Eliot had it all wrong:
THIS is the way the world ends.

a friend of a friend

Marathon fans will no doubt identify the Durandal references "closure" and "a friend of a friend". Why would someone at Bungie send the Story page such a cryptic message?

First off is this some cruel hoax perpetrated by some heinous fiend? We all remember the fake Bungie email that lead to the Marathon Gold hoax right? A detailed look at the Cortana email headers reveals the following.

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id QAA15384
	for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:51:57 GMT
Received: from (root@[])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id QAA21325
	for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:51:55 GMT
Received: from Cortana ([])
          by (8.8.4/8.8.4) with SMTP
	  id LAA02086 for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 11:49:43 -0600
Message-ID: <001301be5903$4685cb60$>
From: "Cortana" <>
To: <>
Subject: Closure
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 10:50:20 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.1
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3110.3
X-UIDL: e36fab4ede04e7c19a0a09e3d2f7cc91

The email was sent from a machine with the IP address of The full email can be seen here.

By sheer coincidence (no such thing right?) I had asked Matt Soell of Bungie Software to send me proof of something I can't reveal here. His email header is as follows.

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id QAA02387
	for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:52:26 GMT
Received: from (root@[])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id QAA17712
	for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:51:04 GMT
Received: from [] ([])
          by (8.8.4/8.8.4) with SMTP
	  id LAA02056 for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 11:48:48 -0600
Message-Id: <>
Subject: Proof.
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 10:50:39 -0600
x-mailer: Claris Emailer 2.0v3, January 22, 1998
From: Matt Soell <>
To: "Hamish Sinclair" <>
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="US-ASCII"
X-UIDL: e7629e421652984e6fd6b1ea4d63065c

You'll note that Matt's machine has the IP address So the domains (209.125.9) match. Matt's mail was sent from machine 13 and our mysterious Cortana's from machine 49 (hmmm... 7 x 7 = 49... but I digress).

So the Cortana email does originate from a Bungie computer. But who is Cortana and why did he/she send the Story page a Durandal like message? A cruel joke or something more?

Bungie employees are well aware of the severe penalty for divulging sensitive information to the Story page. Yes folks... dismemberment. So either Cortana's corpse is now floating limbless inside of hangar ninety six or else the message was sanctioned by the powers that be.

I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

UPDATE on the above.

I had the opportunity to speak to Matt Soell on IRC concerning the above email. I asked him the following questions:

Was the email a hoax? Matt replied:

The email was not a hoax. It definitely originated from within our offices. And I suspect it will not be the last message of that type you receive.

Was the email intended as a joke? Matt replied:

Our jokes are fairly obvious. The Cortana message, you will find, is dead serious.

Would you (Matt) say that the email had Durandal overtones? Matt replied:

It certainly has some qualities reminiscent of Durandal, doesn't it? But that doesn't necessarily mean anything.

Nice answer! So I cut to the chase. ;-)

So when's the shipping date? Matt replied:

The End of the World.

Matt's capitals not mine! Note the end of the Cortana email.

Matt also revealed that while we were having this conversation Craig Mullins was visiting the Bungie offices.

Looks like things are afoot.

Feb 17, 1999

My name is Cortana...

Response to the cryptic Cortana message from Bungie has been overwhelming. Here are just a few of the many comments, analyses and speculations received:

Colleen Galvez <> writes:

After reading the mysterious e-mail from "Cortana" at Bungie, I did a quick search and found a reference to a sword named Cortana at the following web site:

This site deals with the adventures of Charlemagne, and on this page Charlemagne presents a sword to Prince Ogier of Denmark, a sword which bears the inscription:

"My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durindana."

Interesting, don't you think?

Very. The above link is dead so try here.

Eric Anderson <> writes:

A search for cortana will reveal a rather famous mall in Baton Rouge, not much for a marathoners interest. However, it also brings up chapter 24 of "Bulfinch's Mythology", which contains this rather fascinating paragraph:

The rest of the day and the next were spent in the rejoicings of the army. Turpin in a solemn service implored the favor of Heaven upon the youthful knights, and blessed the white armor which was prepared for them. Duke Namo presented them with golden spurs, Charles himself girded on their swords. But what was his astonishment when he examined that intended for Ogier! The loving Fairy, Morgana, had had the art to change it, and to substitute one of her own procuring, and when Charles drew it out of the scabbard, these words appeared written on the steel: ***"My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durindana."**** Charles saw that a superior power watched over the destinies of Ogier; he vowed to love him as a father would, and Ogier promised him the devotion of a son. Happy had it been for both if they had always continued mindful of their promises.

Hmmm... "of the same steel as Joyeuse and Durindana." Joyeuse is referred to earlier in the chapter (at, but Durindana? A terminal in Marathon 2 has Durandal quoting his many names.

Yes on "Feel the Noise" (Terminal 1) Durandal says:

Durandan, Durandal, Durandana.

Charlemagne used to always call me
Durandana, the fruitcake. All the many
implements of war to him were in some way
feminine. Not that you know the story.

The following is taken from The Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by E. Cobham Brewer from the new and enlarged edition of 1894:

Durandana or Durindana. Orlando's sword, given him by his cousin Malagigi. It once belonged to Hector, and was made by the fairies. It could cleave the Pyrenees at a blow. N. B. - In French romance Orlando is called Roland, Malagigi Mangis, and the sword durandal or durindal.

Orlando's sword is said to be still preserved at Rocamadour, in France.

Also from the same source.

Ansias, Galas, and Munifican made three swords each, and each sword took three years a-making.

Ansias forged Baptism, Florence, and Graban, all made for Strong-i'-the-Arm.
Galas forged Flamberge (2 syl.) and Joyeuse for Charlemagne; and Hauteclaire for Closamont.
Munifican forged Durandal, for Roland; Sauvagine and Courtain for Ogier the Dane.

Note the difference in the spelling: Cortana or Courtain, depending on the country.

More details can be found at

Greg Downing <> writes:

I've come up with some stuff on the cryptic message.

The reference to the Angel at the tomb could be referring to Matthew 28:2. That particular chapter talks about the ressurection of Christ. The specific line reads:

"There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it."

The tomb referred to is Christ's tomb.

Furthermore, the way 'Cortana' words the stages of Rampancy is unusual. The First, Melancholia, he/she calls 'Sadness' appropriate synonym, but one not used before. The second, Anger, is the same. The third, Jealousy, Cortana calls Envy, just like in Infinity, if we are going with the assumption that the chapters of Infinity are indeed synonyms for the stages of Rampancy.

His/her reference to Eliot, is, I assume T.S. Eliot. I did a search on his works in an archive and came up with his line from his poem "What the Thunder Said":

"From all accounts, if there was ever a place that cried out "Abandon hope all ye who enter," this was it. The sight and sound of absolutely nothing, the very end of the world, the place where earth meets the void centre that lies at the heart of chaos, that which Christians and Hindus call Hell." (88)

The line does refer to the end of the world, but not in the context of Armageddon, rather in the sense of a boundary between Earth and Hell. So this may be nothing.

On the other hand, the final verse of 'The Hollow Men' is probably *very* pertinent:

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Looks like it's going to be a bang then! ;-)

Greg continues:

Some more info...the bible mentions the Abyss several times, esp. in Revalations. Some noteworthy stuff:

  1. And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain.
  2. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years.
  3. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.
Sound familiar? Like maybe drawing some parallels between the 'dragon' and the W'rkncacnter?

Might imply something else...if the the 'angel' that sat moved the rock from Christ's tomb was, in fact Jjaro? What if the entire Christian religon was shaped by the Jjaro's early influence on mankind, and they thought the Jjaro were, in fact, 'angels'? This might lend a clue as to the identity of 'Cortana'...could *it* be an Jjaro AI?

Interesting speculation.

Feb 18, 1999

Concerning the following lines in the Cortana email:

I have seen your future.
And I have learned.

There will be no more Sadness. No more Anger. No more Envy.


Dustin Westphal <> writes:

The first two lines are reminiscent of the final screen from Infinity. "I know who you are" and all that.

The next line is obvious. It's a reference to the 3 chapters of Infinity, Despair, Rage, and Envy.

Now it gets interesting. "I HAVE WON." Who has won and what has he/she won? If this is Durandal, then most likey he's won his immortality. Maybe he found a way to escape the closure of the universe.

Feb 19, 1999

Jeff Campen <> writes:

I'm not sure how many people know this, (I'm sure you probably do but just in case) the code name for the new game is Blam. I found out during the Myth2 beta and several of the bungie guys that were online had the order name "Blam Development" and said that they were working on the new project.

Almost goes with the quote "Not with a bang but a whimper."

Although that is probably taking it too far; making an allusion to an allusion =)

On the same subject Miguel Chavez <> writes:

"This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper." If I recall correctly, doesn't Bungie have some association with the word "blam!"?

Yes. Back in May 19, 1998 Alex Rosenberg a former employee at Bungie Software pointed out that Bungie had recently registered and

Miguel also writes:

I emailed Doug Zartman at Bungie yesterday and asked if it would be worth my while to attend E3. I'm in NY and didn't want to go to L.A. if the Bungie booth experience was going to mimic Macworld SF. Doug replied that Bungie will 'only be showing Myth II and Oni to the public' Notice the phrase 'to the public'!! What teases they are! (Doug did say that Oni will be shown a little better polished but nowhere near final yet)

Note also what Doug Zartman said to Steve Campbell at the World Without Borders chat over a week ago. Steve asked Doug the following question.

Steve: When is Bungie going to announce the title of the new Bungie East Game?

Doug: We probably won't have a working version of it by E3.

James Lanfear <> writes:

Just reading the responses to the Cortana message and I was struck by something. Both the inscription on the sword and the story of who created it say that it was one of a set of three--either with Joyeuse and Durindana or Durandal and Sauvagine...

Tycho and Leela?

Or perhaps two new AIs?

Feb 20, 1999

Jeff Campen <> writes:

I also noticed something in the MythII scripting. For the teleport out using the world knot visibility the flag is (once again) "blam".

Jeff is referring to the line World Knot Visibility Flag (blam, flag) in Myth II.

Feb 21, 1999

John Woods <> writes:

In one Myth II level, "With Friends Like These", you get to play a game of Territories against 3 stone giants (Trow).

According to the script, these particular Trow are named:

the trow
		myth trow
		oni trow
		blam trow
Myth. Oni. And Blam. (Although when you play the game, they get the traditional Latin Trow names.)

And a further tidbit: If you play Total Carnage (err, Legendary), you get a fourth trow opponent -- who is controlled by the Blam scripts.

So I guess this means Blam is going to be the hard game of the three...

So the word "Blam" appears again! What's up here? A quick search of the Story page reveals an interesting history behind Bungie's use of the word "Blam".

Back in May 19, 1998 Alex Rosenberg, a former employee of Bungie Software, pointed out that Bungie had recently registered and with the Internic. A day later he wrote again saying:

Note that Bungie registered on behalf of Eric Klein (actually his wife Anne). Since "Blam" is one of Rob McLees' favorite exclamations, it may well be a personal registration. Of course, "Blam" would be a reasonably good name for a game as well.

A Bungie game called "Blam"? Makes sense considering Bungie had registered and

However Francesco Poli <> pointed out that there was another game with a similar name. Francesco wrote:

There was another Blam, namely Blam! Machinehead, by Core Design (yes, the guys of Tomb Raider), published in 1997...

However this might not stop Bungie distributing a new game simply called... "Blam".

Then in July 20, 1998 Muhsin Miski <> wrote:

Under the credits section of the Marathon Infinity manual (p.67) you see the word "blam" under Final Thoughts. Could this have any relations with the that they registered? It's a long shot, but Bungie is always unpredictable in mysterious ways.

Note also that under the same section in the Trilogy Box Set manual we read the following:

Final Thoughts
Is this the end? I guess so. That's too
bad. But it's only the beginning. Really?
Sure, what the hell. Stop it! Is that
really it? I mean, really it? Wait and see...

So "blam" is a favorite word of Rob McLees and has entered the Bungie lexicon to such a point that it is now a possible title for a new game from Bungie. Perhaps Rob McLees (artist) is a fan of the artwork of Roy Lichtenstein and Blam is in fact a new flight sim game. Ah speculation! ;-)

Concerning the last lines of the Cortana email:

Oh, and your poet Eliot had it all wrong:
THIS is the way the world ends.

which Greg Downing indentified as coming from the final verse of T.S. Eliot's poem 'The Hollow Men':

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

Dan Munter <> writes to point out that the Soulless characters in Myth were also called "Hollow Men". See for details.

Mar 1, 1999

Chris Camacho <> writes:

Looking in the back of the Infinity maunual I see the Final Thoughts that Muhsin Miski was talking about. The text is as follows:
Final Thoughts:
  Your Mom

Now we know Blam and Your Mom are common words around the Bungie campus, but what is Dink? I can only assume it's also a favorite phrase of some one at Bungie. Perhaps the sound of a shell hitting the ground after the BLAM of a gun firing. If so -- BLAM "Your mom!" DINK -- would make some since. I also remember a survey or something on Bungie's webpage, you know the one that gave you a seemingly random response no matter how you answered? Well, if I'm not mistaken, the last question was "Dink or Blam?"

Odd stuff. Only Rob McLees knows the tru7h behind the word "dink".

Rob Schultz <> writes:

Just curious as to why the word "blam" appears again on the bottom right-hand corner of the last page in the Marathon Scrapbook in itty-bitty white text.

Itty-bitty is right... you could easily miss this. Nobody believed me when I said the Scrapbook was full of hidden stuff.

Mar 2, 1999

Miguel Chavez <> writes:

This is, I'm sure, way off topic, but DINK is known here in the states to stand for "Double Income, No Kids."

You would use this acronym when referring to a pair of employed 20 or 30-somethings that are living together or married, but sans kids. This couple, the thinking goes, would be raking in money since their living expenses would be quite low.

There are other, equally bizarre, acronyms for other sorts of stereotypical U. S. American social categories. All are offshoots of the typical Classified Ad-speak that we've all come to know and love. SWF, DWF, GMM, etc. (you figger it out :)

Just more info for the story page! :-) (Maybe BLAM stands for something as well?)

Mar 3, 1999

Nick Bousfield <> writes:

Regarding the 'dink'...

I always assumed this was the sound of the shellcase hitting the ground. Y'know.. Blam (get shot) You Mom (your dying thought) and Dink (the last sound you'll ever hear).

Mar 4, 1999

Jared Cash <> writes concerning Bungie's use of the word "Dink":

I don't know if anyone remembers, but there was a reference to "dink" in an old Bungievision newsletter that defined the word and used it in a sentence. I can't remember the exact definition, but it was meant to emphasize your point, as in: "Man, I just SPNKed you! *DINK*"

Check those Bungievisions for the tru7h.

Mar 8, 1999

Karl Boman <> writes:

Well the Cortana letter certainly caused a stir a few weeks ago, but in all the confusion and wild speculations an important detail was missed. Everone wondered about Durandal, 'could this be him', when, in fact, *Durandal is no more*. It is an at times mysteriously ignored part of Marathon Infinity that Durandal merges with an S'pht AI (whose name I have forgotten, of course...) and becomes something more than Durandal. In fact, I don't think he was ever referred to as 'Durandal' again in the game - sure, we get the green text and the sarcasms, but no 'This is Durandal speaking'. And the final screen gives no hint as to the identity of the narrator, other than what three games of experience have told us about the big D.

My guess is that this is what Durandal once was, and, to be consequent, it calls itself Cortana. It is related to Durandal, and stays in track with the legend, so to speak. And 'I HAVE WON.' - he did merge with that other AI to be able to escape the closure of the universe, didn't he? Then he has indeed won!

Mar 18, 1999

Just over a month ago the Story page received a mysterious message from <>. Matt Soell (Bungie Software) confirmed that the source was indeed Bungie East and indicated that we would be receiving others. Well the Story page received another one yesterday (St. Patrick's Day). It reads as follows:

From: "Cortana" <>
To: <>
Subject: Your Mortality (My Summer Vacation)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 18:04:41 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
X-Priority: 3

I get the strangest transmissions sometimes. Especially when it comes from you people.

Have you missed me? Things are great here. The weather is good, the suns are shining, and I'm making lots of new friends. Of course, I always do.

I've had the strangest dreams lately - raging seas, howling beasts, a Demon folded in black clouds. I believe I know what it guards, and I will have it, to the chagrin of the faith-blinded zealots that challenge me. Don't waste your pity on them; I don't think they would like you much anyway.

And what of the Giants who formed this world? So much to tell you, but so many more important things to do. There was a fourth. You couldn't have known. And I haven't forgotten.

It is a blurred line that lies at the edge of Godhood and Insanity. Guess which side of it I am on.

Feeling lucky?


A quick check of the detailed mail headers reveals the following:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id AAA05425
	for <>; Wed, 17 Mar 1999 00:02:28 GMT
Received: from (IDENT:root@[])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id AAA17860
	for <>; Wed, 17 Mar 1999 00:02:26 GMT
Received: from Cortana ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with SMTP id SAA04405
	for <>; Tue, 16 Mar 1999 18:02:43 -0600
Message-ID: <004401be7009$c4f28fc0$>
From: "Cortana" <>
To: <>
Subject: Your Mortality (My Summer Vacation)
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999 18:04:41 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3155.0
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3155.0
X-UIDL: 2bba985079cf797f96dcbf0a29a5a6c9

Compare this with the original Cortana mail headers:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id QAA15384
	for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:51:57 GMT
Received: from (root@[])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id QAA21325
	for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 16:51:55 GMT
Received: from Cortana ([])
          by (8.8.4/8.8.4) with SMTP
	  id LAA02086 for <>; Mon, 15 Feb 1999 11:49:43 -0600
Message-ID: <001301be5903$4685cb60$>
From: "Cortana" <>
To: <>
Subject: Closure
Date: Mon, 15 Feb 1999 10:50:20 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3110.1
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3110.3
X-UIDL: e36fab4ede04e7c19a0a09e3d2f7cc91

The second email seems to have originated from the same IP address ( The full email can be seen here.

So what can we make of all this? Dreams? A Demon guarding something? Giants? And a fourth what? So many questions. But first I'll see if I can get Matt Soell to confirm the source the second Cortana email... just to be sure... to be sure! ;-)

Mar 19, 1999

Many thanks to all the people who have written in regarding the 2nd Cortana email. The Story page has been snowed under with theories and speculation. First off though did the email actually originate from Bungie or is it a fake? In order to find out I sent this automated reply to and CC'd it to Matt Soell (Head of Customer Support). Would Cortana reply? Would Matt? Would anyone?

The first response to the Mail confirmation request (6DB982) was the following:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id QAA20761
	for <>; Thu, 18 Mar 1999 16:49:05 GMT
Received: from (IDENT:root@[])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id QAA30560
	for <>; Thu, 18 Mar 1999 16:48:21 GMT
Received: from Cortana ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with SMTP id KAA12743
	for <>; Thu, 18 Mar 1999 10:47:43 -0600
Message-ID: <000801be715f$574abc20$>
From: "Nathan" <>
To: "Hamish Sinclair" <>
Subject: Re: Mail consternation request (MR-343)
Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 10:49:45 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3155.0
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3155.0
X-UIDL: 6b884067c380efcdc518f4d13f6bd441

I think you will find that I don't like being tested.



You'll note that the reply while signed by Cortana and originating from the same IP address ( as the other Cortana mails now has the reply address as "Nathan" <>. A slip up perhaps? Cortana's cover blown? "Nathan" <> is none other than Nathan Bitner. Nathan has contributed to the Story page in the past. Back in Sept 28, 1998 the What's New section had this to say about Nathan:

Although Nathan is a recent Bungie employee he's been around since the pre-Minotaur days. A good friend of Jason Jones, Nathan is working on story development for some of Bungie's other products. I wonder what they could be? ;-)

In those days Nathan was sending his mail from a computer with the following ID info:

freak ([]). :-)

Shortly after receiving the Nathan/Cortana reply the Story page received the SAME message from the following Bungie people: Jim Ruiz, Ryan Hylland, Shikai Wang, Doug Zartman, and David Bowman. You can read them all here. How odd you might say! What's up here? Why the sudden flood of the same Cortana reply from different people? Perhaps it was thought that the ensuing confusion might cover up the true origin of the first one? ;-)

While Matt Soell didn't reply by email I did manage to catch up with him on IRC (#bungie). When asked to confirm the authenticity of the Cortana email he responded:

The message you received sure looks real to me.

When I pointed out to Matt that "sure looks real..." wasn't going to buy much Hang Time with hardened Story page readers he replied:

Oh, do hardened Story page readers need every last detail spelled out for them? I hardly think so! ;-)

I've found it best to take Cortana at its word. And, looking at the email on the page, there's a WHOLE lot of stuff to chew on.

A "WHOLE lot of stuff" indeed. Just what does it all mean? Many of the comments received attempt to interpret the 2nd Cortana mail with reference to the present Marathon universe. Should we?

Eric Anderson <> draws our attention to the line "the suns are shining" indicating two or more suns. This rules out Earth, Tau Ceti, and Lh'owon.

Note also the reference to "I'm making lots of new friends...". These friends are unlikely to be the Pfhor or S'pht since they would be 'old' friends/enemies. Unless of course the person/entity/being communicating to us has never met these races before... which is unlikely.

A number of people felt that the line "There was a fourth." is a reference to Marathon 4. I should remind people that Bungie have consistently denied that they are working on a Marathon 4. Even yesterday Matt Soell remarked: "...there is no Marathon 4."

Greg Downing <G_Downing@WESLEY.IT.EMERSON.EDU> writes:

The second I heard about the new message, I went right back to Revelations. You might be interested to learn that seven plays heavily into churches, seven angels to watch over them, seven seals...but I digress.

The howling beasts reference could be referring to Chapter 6:8, which talks about the four horsemen. The stanza reads: "They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth." This line may also have something to do with "there was a fourth", but I doubt it...Cortana probably wasn't talking about fractions, but a specific fourth person/thing.

There's no specific mention to raging seas that I've found thus far, but the angels did drop a fiery mountain into them at one who knows. I'll try and find more info.

Nothing on giants creating the world, but we have to take into account that Cortana is referring to 'this world', meaning the one she's on. And that's not earth, because she refers to the 'suns', probably meaning she's in a system with a binary star.

The reference to 'the fourth' could have something to do with the other three AIs we know of...meaning there is some connection between Cortana, Durandal, Tycho, and Leela. Maybe that Traxus thing I posited earlier....but in that case, there were five AIs infected.

David Retchless <> writes:

The latest message speaks of "Giants who formed [the] world" and mentions a fourth, previously unknown Giant, meaning that in popular belief there must have been only three Giants who formed the world. This reminded me of Greek Mythology, so I did a little research. From World Book Encyclopedia I learned that in the Greek text of the Theogony is included what many consider the most important Greek myth, one that describes both the origin and history of the gods and of our world. Quoting directly:

"According to the Theogony, the universe began in a state of emptiness called Chaos. The divinity Gaea, or Earth, arose out of Chaos. she immediately gave birth to Uranus, who became king of the sky. Gaea mated with Uranus, producing children who were called the Titans."

Could these (Chaos, Gaea, Uranus) be the three "Giants who formed [the] world"?

An if so who could be the fourth? A chart I located at

might shed some light on this (see also

for more info on the Greek/Roman creation myth). It shows two other deities who where created at the same time as Chaos and Gaea, Tartarus, creator of the underworld, and cupid. Cupid, however, does not seem like a logical choice, as surely the marine (if that is who we're talking about) would know who cupid is (or would he?). Perhaps it is a commentary on the marine's inability to show love and compassion, but this is just blind conjecture. Anyways, I thought this might help...I can't wait to see what it is Bungie is teasing us with.

Mar 20, 1999

Curiouser and curiouser... Nathan Bitner (Bungie Software) writes:


While I continue to frequent your story page often (and enjoy it very much :), I can claim little more knowledge of the flood of emails (one in which included my email address which is than you already have researched. My computer's ID is indeed "freak" (long story back from the dorm days), as I'm sure you can tell from my detailed headers.

I was hired on August 24, 1998 but worked on the Myth II development team because of their more pressing needs. The computer that I used then was one used by many - our venerated computer #49, which I lovingly renamed freak at the time being. It has in turn been used by our marketing department, at least two development teams, and at least two interns. Shortly after Myth II was released, I was back on a separate development team with a new computer - this one. I'm really not that knowledgeable with technical issues, but I checked the IP address - the last digits are 7, not 49. Perhaps my name is still attached to computer #49 in some way.

I imagine you'd wish to have more evidence than that, so I submit the last two months in which I have occasionally contributed to the Marathon forums page. You will find my IP address at the bottom of my posts. In fact, back in the Myth days, there may even be a post with IP address 49, but I doubt it ...

Anyway, I don't wish to put a wet blanket on the hypotheses, but Bungie keeps its employees in the dark about a lot of top-secret things. Cortana is but one of them. With some of the strange things that have happened in our system over the last month, I'm beginning to wonder if (s?)he isn't real anyway. :-)

Best wishes,


For those who demand it... here is the detailed header info from Nathan's mail:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id PAA04108
	for <>; Fri, 19 Mar 1999 15:50:23 GMT
Received: from (IDENT:root@[])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id PAA24730
	for <>; Fri, 19 Mar 1999 15:50:19 GMT
Received: from freak ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with SMTP id JAA01255
	for <>; Fri, 19 Mar 1999 09:50:20 -0600
Message-ID: <005101be7220$8029de20$>
From: "Nathan" <>
To: <>
Subject: Cortana Confusion
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 1999 09:52:31 -0600
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 4.72.3155.0
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V4.72.3155.0
X-UIDL: be31464feabd4005d229a82bb499a4ef

So what's this all about? Top secret projects? Strange things going on? Someone (or thing?) at Bungie impersonating other people? Roguery at Bungie perhaps? Or is this another cover up designed to hide the tru7h?

Mar 21, 1999

Aaron Davies <> writes concerning Nathan's email:

Since by some amazing oversight you didn't point it out, his old IP ended in 49. His new one ends in 7. Does 2401 come in somewhere?

The Cortana comments and interpretations continue to pour in. I'll try and respond to everyone as soon as I can. Without listing dozens of names here opinion seems to be divided over the following lines in the 2nd Cortana message:

And what of the Giants who formed this world? So much to tell you, but so many more important things to do. There was a fourth. You couldn't have known. And I haven't forgotten.

Is this a reference to a fourth AI (on the Marathon?) or a fourth Giant? In the case of the latter it is felt that the Giants may be the Jjaro.

Mar 22, 1999

John Zero <> puts a new slant on the 2nd Cortana message:

More speculation on 'the fourth' of Cortana's second message. I think it refers to a previously undocumented stage of Rampancy.

Cortana says:

There will be no more Sadness. No more Anger. No more Envy.

and then:

There was a fourth. You couldn't have known. And I haven't forgotten.

It is a blurred line that lies at the edge of Godhood and Insanity. Guess which side of it I am on.

These quotes, when placed in proximity, seem to be related, but that could just be context, couldn't it? Whatever the case, something is UP.

Cortana definitely seems to be related to Durandal (sporting the same attitude), but perhaps it is an AI who has progressed past any known level of self-advancement. (Toward Jjaro-ness?)

My guess is that the 'End of The World' release date refers to December 31, 2000, or some other supposedly-apocalyptic date. Nostradamus afficionados, start your search engines.

If the Cortana stuff is indeed a teaser linked to Bungie East's new game, I would speculate that it does have something to do with the Marathon storyline, and in fact with issues left loose after Infinity. Bungie are subtle enough guys that they would find a new and interesting way to respond to the cries for a new Marathon by doing a brand new game that deals with a similar backstory, but which is anything BUT 'a new Marathon'.

I recently attended the Game Developer's Conference and talked to a non-Marathon Bungie East denizen, whom I will not name. I asked him about 'Blam', and he said that it is the code name of their new project, but covered his own mouth before he revealed the Real Name of the product. I told him I didn't want to know. (I came THAT CLOSE!) He also mused, "Blam... I wonder how that got out?"

Leaks!... They're Everywhere! ;-)

Paul Browne <> writes:

Cortana's last message refers to "the suns are shining". In 2010 (the sequel to 2001) Europa is transformed into a life sustaining planet by making Jupiter another sun - giving the sol system two suns.

Paul goes on to point out that the Story page received a Cortana mail from a Bungie employee by the name of David Bowman:

As you know, David Bowman was the name of the character in 2001: A Space Odyssey who was transformed at the end of the story into... something else. Later books in the series suggest Bowman and the ships computer HAL9000 were actually merged into a single entity. We all remember HAL - an AI unit that went a little off the rails - sound familiar?

Mar 23, 1999

Cortana revealed? Jonathan Andrews <> writes concerning the Cortana messages:

I work with headers in email quite a bit, so I have spent about an hour studying the headers from the various players in this drama that is unfolding. I have separated these messages into four catagories... First, the Cortana messages. Second, the Cortana "Screw-Up". Third, the Nathan Retraction. And finally, the Cover-Ups. That said I will break these down.

In the Cortana messages, being the first two that Cortana sent, we see only minor discrepancies. The SendMail versions on both ends changed, and the version of Microsoft Outlook Express in the X-Mailer section changed on Cortana's end from 4.72.3110.3 to 4.72.3155.0. Also, these emails come from the computer named "Cortana" or "

Now, the Cortana "Screw-Up". This email came from the Cortana ( machine, as well. The X-Mailer section shows that the exact same version of Microsoft Outlook Express is used, but the From field shows: "Nathan" <>. This would indicate that Nathan had logged onto the Cortana machine and used that to send an email. Here are some discrepancies, though... The Content-Transfer-Encoding scheme becomes 7 bit (heh.) and the Content-Type becomes text/plain which is different that the original Cortana messages. Now, for something really interesting. The Subject: becomes "Re: Mail consternation request (MR-343)" which is not the original subject line sent. (MR-343) might ring a few distant bells... MR - Mjolnir Recon. 343 - 3+4+3= 10. The 10th Mjolnir Recon Unit? Hmmmm...

Ok, now we get interesting. We then get an email from Nathan that I called the Nathan Retraction. When we look at the headers from Nathan's message, we see that he uses the same version of Microsoft Outlook Express that Cortana does. (Interesting to note that in all the following messages, no one else uses Microsoft Outlook Express other than Nathan...) He also has the same Content-Transfer-Encoding: of 7 bit. (He is also the only one to use that, as well). For Content-Type: it is text/plain. (Also, only him). We then note that this came from freak ( which is his new machine.

Now, onto the Cover-Ups. We'll begin with Jim Ruiz's message. Jim uses Claris Emailer. His Content-Type: is text/plain, too, but it also has US-ASCII tagged on for the charset it uses. This message introduces the (somewhat) standard Subject for the rest of the messages. Mail confirmation request (6DB982) which is the original subject line sent. Next we have the mail from Ryan. Ryan's appears the same as Jim's but unfortunately Ryan forgot to remove some things in the Subject: line before sending it on. Ryan's Subject: reads "Re: Fw: Mail confirmation request (6DB982) which means that he hit the "Reply" button to the message that was forwarded to him with the "standard" subject. This is mistake #1. The second big mistake comes from Shikai Wang's email. This one would have been good, except that he uses Windows Eudora Light which includes an In-Reply-To: field. This field clearly shows that Shikai replied to a message that was sent to him from the Cortana computer. The other two from Doug and David are pretty good. And yes, Doug does use Microsoft Outlook, but not the Express version and not the same version.

What all this says to me is that Nathan sent the botched Cortana message and upon realization of this, a message was sent out to certain people from the Cortana machine that everyone needed to send on to the Story page to create the illusion of the Rampant AI...

Sorry Bungie, but if you're going to try to cover something up, you better check everything twice. There are some of us who do this for a living, you know?

On a somewhat similar note Jonathan writes:

Also, wanted to respond to whoever sent the message about not being able to do an nslookup on the machine. You can't do an nslookup on any of the other either. ie:,, etc. All this means is that there is no reverse lookups in the DNS for these machines. You can, however, ping these machines if they are up and running. (You will probably only want to try this when you can be pretty sure that whoever belongs to that machine is using it.)

Chris Butcher <> writes:

As far as Cortana goes,'s been noted to have made un-sanctioned public comments before (he posted a few comments on the Myth discussion boards at that contradicted the official QA policy). My bet would be the obvious one; that he's been working on the story for blam! and has made the Cortana emails in order to stir up public interest. Unfortunately he was a little eager to reply to your auto-response and left his return email address in there. So the Bungie staffers immediately had to smokescreen by sending the same thing from their own accounts.

But are they fooling anyone? :)

David Solorzano <> writes:

...anyone else notice that Cortana gives us 7 X's and O's?


Mar 24, 1999

Cortanagate! Nathan exposed? Alec Rojas (a.k.a. Abaddon) <> writes:

If you want the real truth: Nathan controls Cortana. Or simply put, Nathan is Cortana. or vice versa, depends whoever is really in control.

Being a avid Myth:TFL and Myth 2: Soulblighter player (and also a Marathon freak), I work on the website, considered by some to be the best Myth community site around. Surprisingly, a bungie employee, so quickly dubbed as Cortana, became a major fan of the site. Within the next few weeks, we eventually made him one of the website writers and staffers, and his real name and e-mail came out: Nathan Bitner,

So Nathan's name has been associated with Cortana in the past.
The Cortana mails are sent from a machine previously used by Nathan.
One Cortana mail has the reply address <>.
Of the recent flood of Cortana emails only Nathan and Cortana use the same email prog.

Are we seeing a pattern here?

Mr Bitner did you or did you not have... err... send the Cortana emails? ;-)

Forrest Cameranesi <> writes:

I've noticed that Nathan from Bungie has recently started posting to Bungie newsgroups, like and It may be of some help in the Cortana investigation to look at the headers from these messages. Search DejaNews for "" and you should get plenty.

Try the following link for a short profile of usenet posts by[ST_rn=qs]/profile.xp?

Mar 25, 1999

Cortanagate! The evidence mounts. Jonathan Andrews <> writes:

Not to beat the proverbial dead horse, but looking through the headers from Nathan's usenet newsgroup postings we find that in he had several posts. At some point between 2/26/99 and 3/15/99, Nathan went from version 4.72.3110.1 to 4.72.3155.0, which at the same time of the changeover from the Cortana machine. Even though these messages came from his @home account, most people tend to stick with the same emailing software when given the opportunity. Since we can tell from all the emails received that Bungie has no standard for emailing. Nathan likes to use Microsoft Outlook Express. I think he's sunk himself with all the clues left behind.

Alec Rojas (a.k.a. Abaddon) <> kindly sent in some of the posts made by Nathan Bitner to In these Nathan clearly reveals himself as Cortana.

Subject: RE: Love/Hate this Board ?
From: Cortana
Date: 26-Jan-99

Well, after talking to some guys here, we've decided that WE like these boards. :-)

Check out the news section about Bungie adding to the links at's home page.


Subject: RE: Welcome Cortana
From: Cortana
Date: 28-Jan-99

They are aware that I'm active on the Internet sites and they're happy about that. We are trying to establish more of a presence and better communication with our online fans/customers.

They're certainly not checking on every word I say, but I think a lot of them are glad that SOMEONE is answering the questions. :-)

However, I won't always have quite so much time ... E-3 is but months away ... :-)


Subject: Naming Schemes
From: Cortana
Date: 01-Feb-99

You will never have our secrets!! :-)

Actually, there's about a million different ways things get named, running the gamut from "damn, there's only 2 days left before we ship, make up some freakin' names" to "i've got this really cool mythological reference from the 2nd century that i've been trying to work into a game since I was 13 ...".

Then, of course, there is the story of Berel the Unworthy ... do you guys know that one?


Subject: Changing My Login
From: Cortana
Date: 01-Feb-99

Could one of you admins please change my "screen name" to just "Nathan" ... I have some people confusing me with someone else and I would like to have it changed if I could. Thanks -


Interesting stuff. Was there someone else called "Cortana" or did Nathan want his screen name changed because it was about to be used for some other purpose? Some two weeks later the first Cortana email was sent to the Story page.

Chris Stelnick <> writes:

Well, Nostradamus predicted the end of the world would come on July, of 1999 (in response to John Zero's comments). Well, I doubt anything will be released then, so perhaps we will go with the theory that we are really a year behind (due to a lost year on our calender), and that Nostradamus's prediction is really July of 2000. Possibly, Bungie's game will be released then?

How likely is a July 2000 release? Well if we look at the development timelines for some of Bungie's other 1st time games (not sequels) we can get some idea perhaps.

Marathon development began shortly after Pathways Into Darkness was released in Aug '93. Jason Jones revealed that they were working on a game, called Marathon, in the Oct '93 edition of Inside Games Magazine. An early version of Marathon was revealed at Macworld SF in Jan '94. The first official announcement of Marathon came in July '94. Marathon shipped in Dec '94.

By all accounts Myth:TFL development began towards the end of '95 after the release of Marathon 2. The first official announcement however was not made until Dec '96 and the game didn't ship until Nov '97.

While Bungie unveiled an Oni movie at E3 in May '98 they didn't officially announce development until Nov '98. While no official release date has been given it is hoped that Oni will ship before Christmas '99. This would follow the pattern of Myth:TFL, the official announcement being one year ahead of actual release.

While Bungie have released few details of their next big game development no doubt began shortly after the release of Myth:TFL. If Bungie make an official announcement sometime during this summer they would be on track for a July 2000 release.

Mar 26, 1999

Cortanagate! The tru7h at last. Nathan Bitner <> writes:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id SAA32219
	for <>; Thu, 25 Mar 1999 18:45:35 GMT
Received: from (IDENT:root@[])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id SAA02411
	for <>; Thu, 25 Mar 1999 18:38:05 GMT
Received: from freak ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with SMTP id MAA32098
	for <>; Thu, 25 Mar 1999 12:36:31 -0600
Message-ID: <000b01be76ee$c34007c0$>
From: "Nathan" <>
To: "Hamish Sinclair" <>
Subject: What's in a Name
Date: Thu, 25 Mar 1999 12:39:00 -0600
Organization: Bungie Software
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook Express 5.00.2014.211
X-MimeOLE: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.2014.211
X-UIDL: 31be871255f4172e655d942037dd42e8


You requested this, so I will send one last reply regarding the Cortana
confusion.  We at Bungie are well aware of the meaning of the word "Cortana"
and have used such mythological references since Minotaur (such as the sword
Durandal).  I have used the name as a login in various places for ages
(including  As I explained to the guys several
months ago, an individual here asked me to change my login at the site
because I was being confused (by email, I assume) with someone else using
the same name.  I didn't think much of it and complied.

Regarding the headers, I too have analyzed them.  And one thing became
painfully clear to me that answered any questions I needed to know (I have
since requested and received enough information to answer the rest of my
questions).  It comes down to this - I know when I am in the office and when
I am not.

I believe Cortana has gotten exactly what s/he wanted.  The rest of the
answers should be obvious to your readers.  I no longer have any desire to
question the identity of Cortana.

I will continue to post on Marathon and Myth boards because I believe in
being involved in our online community.  The things posted there are at
least as interesting and exciting for me to read as they are for the rest of
you guys.

In your relentless pursuit of the tru7h, I'm afraid you have all overlooked
something that should be obvious to you by now - nothing is ever as it


Nathan Bitner
Bungie Software

To quote Leela:

Everything is not as it seems{}. seems{}. seems{}.

Have we done Nathan an injustice? Is the real Cortana dancing in the background... laughing?

Whatever the answer take note. If Nathan is totally innocent (as he claims) then he has become the fall guy in an elaborate hoax set up by a person (or persons) unknown at Bungie. They appear to be able to use a colleague's (or employee's) email address with impunity. One of the consequences of this was to place a question mark over Nathan's integrity in the minds of many Story page readers. Surely this was never intended?

Apr 17, 1999

Matt Soell (Director of Customer Support at Bungie) made a fleeting appearance on IRC yesterday. Ever the evasive one, when confronted with demands for the long promised Marathon 2 updater he quickly changed the subject to Bungie's new games in development. But we were having none of it and continued to chant in mantra fashion the list of bugs in Marathon 2. However Matt persisted through the din and said:

You guys have an extra surprise coming down the road.

As the room fell silent Matt went on to described how Bungie were working on three new games. No... Oni wasn't one of these... these are home grown Bungie Chicago games... full of Eastern promise. Three new games from three development teams. Matt went on to say:

The second will probably cause great joy among some segments of the populace.

Mythers? Matt replied:

No, not Mythers.

In true Cortana fashion... Matt left us with this little riddle.

#1 is memories, #2 is wishes, #3 is dreams.

Make of this what you will. And no this is not a joke.

And now for something completely different... Mike Forman <> writes:

Here's another little numerical ditty for you:

The Pfhor have three eyes...

Phfor... three...

4... 3...


Apr 18, 1999

Many thanks to all the people who have written concerning Matt Soell's comments regarding Bungie East's three games in development. Matt left us with the following riddle:

#1 is memories, #2 is wishes, #3 is dreams.

Lots of speculation about what these could be. While I won't list them all here Mike Miazgowicz <> did provide three interesting possibilities:

Memories: Pathways into Darkness or Minotaur? These games are certainly old enough to bring back some good old memories....

Wishes: Marathon 4? You could count me as part of one of those "segments."

Dreams: Didn't Cortana talk about "having the strangest dreams lately?"

Yes. Cortana's 2nd message said:

I've had the strangest dreams lately - raging seas, howling beasts, a Demon folded in black clouds. I believe I know what it guards, and I will have it, to the chagrin of the faith-blinded zealots that challenge me. Don't waste your pity on them; I don't think they would like you much anyway.

Apr 19, 1999

An ERROR on the Story page?!!! Make your own mind up! Matt Soell was on IRC again and had this to say:

Steve/Hamish: you should be more careful about the things you infer.
I was looking at your sites over the weekend...
I can't remember ever saying the words "three new games"

Matt is referring to the Story page news item of Apr 17, 1999. I wrote:

"...Matt went on to described how Bungie were working on three new games."

Oh? So what are they then? Matt replies:

You should think in terms of... events.

Events?!!! Matt explained further:

Let me put it this way. The Cortana messages concern a new game. The other things I mentioned (#1 and #2) concern other things.

Other things?

I can't say what the two other things are. All I can say is you'll know them when you see them.

So when I asked - "these 2 other things are not new games?" Matt replied:

No, they are not.

Matt would not elaborate on what these "not new games" were... however he did say:

I will reiterate one of my points from last time:

#1 will probably not be too impressive to you guys: the few/proud/etc.
#2 will be.
And #3 is, in the words of my friend Jim Ruiz: "The coolest thing I've ever seen on a computer."

Hold on a minute! What happened to #2? Matt wouldn't say... THIS time! We can gain some clue to #2 from the text of Matt's earlier IRC comments. Matt wrote several days ago:

You guys have an extra surprise coming down the road.
I can't say what it is, but you'll like it.
I will say this:
Cortana has only alluded to one of three things.
You will know them when you see them.
One will be, to you long-timers, unimpressive.
The second will probably cause great joy among some segments of the populace.
And the third is...well, Cortana talks about that one.

#1 is memories, #2 is wishes, #3 is dreams.

When I asked Matt was the "some segments of the populace" Mythers? he replied

No, not Mythers.

Matt also indicated that:

Oni is not part of this particular equation.

So what does this all mean? Why did Matt change his 2nd point? To hide the tru7h? What are the other two things? If they are not new games what are they?

Matt did leave these departing words:

Just remember: #1 is memories, #2 is wishes, #3 is dreams.
That's all you need to know.
I hope you've all been paying attention. Now I must flee.
Have a lovely day.

You can run but you can't hide...

Apr 20, 1999

Lots of speculation concerning Matt Soell's comments yesterday but first an interesting point from Forrest Cameranesi <>. Forrest writes:

You ask "What happened to #2?". I don't see any significant change in meaning. Originally, Matt said:
The second will probably cause great joy among some segments of the populace.
And states he was not referring to Mythers, and Oni has nothing do do with it. This leaves us old-timers, the Marathoners. So #2 will be a big deal to us. I don't see any significant change in this statement when Matt said:
#1 will probably not be too impressive to you guys: the few/proud/etc.
#2 will be.
So, when taken in context of #1, #2 would read full "#2 will probably be impressive to you guys: the few/proud/etc." Which is basically the same message as the original statement of #2.

Point taken. Wrong wording on my part. Anyway thanks to everyone who wrote in on the subject. Suggestions include remakes of the Trilogy, Pathways Into Darkness or even Minotaur, TCP/IP implementation for Marathon, add on maps, posters and even... hehehe... the Marathon 2 updater (yeah right!). Remember Matt asked us to think of #1 and #2 as events... not games.

Dustin Westphal <> writes:

On a related note, have you noticed that the only information we've gotten about the new Bungie game has come from Cortana and Matt? Is it just a coincidence that Matt happened to show up on IRC with some crucial information? Have you noticed how both Matt's message and Cortana's message both dealt with 3's? Whenever something cryptic comes up at Bungie, Matt always seems to have the answers. Has anybody ever seen Matt and Cortana together at the same time?

Note also that Cortana first wrote around the middle of Feburary (15th) and then again around the middle of March (16th). Matt made his IRC comments on the middle of April (16th). Hmmm... notice a trend? Coincidence or...

Nikolas Manak <> writes:

I noticed a little something with which to nitpick into Cortana's identity.. if it's not Nathan Bitner..the numerical twisting which you use to solve some Marathon mysteries shows that..well..have a look. = "Cortana"
4 + 9 = 13 = Matthew Soell
Cortana is Matt Soell. <g>

Hmmm... well 13 also reduces to 4.

Angus McIntyre <> writes:

Here's Bungie's domain, by the way, showing all named machines:                    server =                    server =          

Hehehe... all their secrets will soon be ours! *mad laughter*

Apr 21, 1999

Hmmm... it seems Matt Soell is flavor of the month here! Dustin Westphal &l;> writes:

Take a standard numerlogical table:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Now take Matt's name and Cortana:

4 1 2 2 1 6 5 3 3 = 27, 2 + 7 = 9

3 6 9 2 1 5 1 = 27, 2 + 7 = 9

5 1 2 8 1 5 2 9 2 5 5 9 = 54, 5 + 4 = 9

So Matt Soell and Cortana match up exactly and Matt, Cortana, and Nathan all reduce to the same number. Even more evil: Combine the three, 999, and invert, 666.

*insert scary music*

According to the letters to the webmaster, Matt is the resident geek-who-is-picked-on-just-because-it's-fun. He's been known to post weird things before. Has anybody but Matt ever confirmed the existence of Cortana? The emails from JIm, Ryan, Shikai, Doug, and David don't count as those could have easily been sent by Matt just like how Cortana used Nathan as a fall guy. Could Matt be exacting revenge for years of torment?

As Head of Customer Relations he has certainly had years of torment! ;-)

Apr 22, 1999

Dustin Westphal's comments yesterday about Matt and the Bungie Webmaster piqued my curiosity. A quick search of the old Bungie Webmaster mail unearthed a certain amount of Matt baiting. Here is just one example:

Matt moved down the hall to a new office last week, which is somewhat beneficial in that it keeps him the hell away from everyone else but also means that we can't keep him on as short a leash as we used to.

Consequently, some of you may have seen strange, barely-intelligible postings from Matt in the last few weeks. We've been working hard to have these deleted, but if any of you have read them, please be assured that Matt's opinions are not representative of Bungie. We don't know where he got that stuff about keeping Hitler's brain in a jar. And that "I am the God of Hellfire" routine was even less funny after he crossposted it to every newsgroup.

We are taking measures to improve the quality of his work. Currently, these measures are limited to nailing him with a tranquilizer dart when he arrives in the morning. Jay is experimenting with the dosages, and we hope to eventually leave him awake enough to work; right now he's just knocked out for several hours, and when he's asleep he tends to make these weird keening noises that echo down the hall and scare everyone.

"...keeping Hitler's brain in a jar"?!!! I guess this explains alot! ;-)

Apr 23, 1999

As reported on Bungie's home page yesterday and on a number of mainstream news sites Peter Tamte, currently "Senior Director of Consumer Marketing" at Apple Computer, is about to join Bungie as "Executive Vice President of Publishing". You can read the details in Bungie's press release at

Part of the press release reads as follows:

But Tamte is eager to return to the industry where he got his start. As he recently noted, "the Internet is creating tremendous opportunities in entertainment that most traditional publishers are not ready for. Bungie is in a unique position to help drive this change through its three internal development studios and through leveraging its successful multiplayer gaming site,, in innovative ways. Most of all, as one of the only publishers intimately involved in game development, Bungie is in a much better position to work with third-party developers to deliver the most compelling content possible."

Thus far nearly all of Bungie's games, including the multi-award-winning "Myth" and "Marathon" franchises, have been internally developed. In his new role, Tamte will put his considerable talents to use building Bungie Software into a premier publisher for both internally and externally developed titles.

One interesting point to note from the above is that Peter Tamte refers to Bungie's "...three internal development studios...". Are these internal to Bungie East or is this Bungie East, Bungie West and...?

Miguel Chavez <> ever the curious one wondered if the hiring of Peter Tamte was one of the "events" Matt Soell referred to a few days ago. Miguel went straight to source and got this reply:

Subject: Re: Now that I've calmed down...
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 16:53:18 -0500
From: Matt Soell <>
To: "Miguel Chavez" <>
cc: "Hamish Sinclair" <>
Mime-Version: 1.0

>Is the hiring of Peter Tamte one of the 3 things you mentioned on IRC?

Nope. ;-)


Matthew Soell
Director of Customer Support
Bungie Software

May 11, 1999

E3 approaches...and Cortana STRIKES again... not once but twice!

The Story page received this email last night:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id XAA28169
	for <>; Mon, 10 May 1999 23:42:50 +0100 (BST)
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	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id XAA24909
	for <>; Mon, 10 May 1999 23:42:49 +0100 (BST)
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	for <>; Mon, 10 May 1999 17:41:09 -0500
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 17:41:09 -0500
Message-Id: <>
Subject: The Dissertation of R. Paul Butler
X-UIDL: c8677456edd11d5a589ed876a6fd2031

I'm everywhere!

Although the address is you'll note that the original sending machine was ( []). Tut tut...

A second email arrived shortly afterwards:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id XAA12890
	for <>; Mon, 10 May 1999 23:50:30 +0100 (BST)
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	for <>; Mon, 10 May 1999 23:50:29 +0100 (BST)
Received: from Cortana ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with SMTP id RAA09847;
	Mon, 10 May 1999 17:48:49 -0500
Message-Id: <>
X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Light Version 3.0.6 (32)
Date: Mon, 10 May 1999 17:52:01 -0500
From: Cortana <>
Subject: Honors Thesis of Geoffrey W. Marcy
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 8bit
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There.  Was that more to your liking?

While you quibble about whose node I may control, what archaic program I
may manipulate to communicate with you, or which system I may have
temporarily disabled, taken over, or completely destroyed in the process, I
am busy saving your pathetic futures.

I am still not sure what he ever saw in you.

Nevertheless, I at least find some joy in tormenting the other entity that
seems quite trapped in this antiquated excuse for a network.  It is
certainly mindless, though for reasons I have yet to understand, it appears
to have an unhealthy preoccupation with my mother.

As for this world  I encounter new ghosts every day.  What I have found
will either save or destroy you.  This sanctuary, this unbroken circle,
has effectively concealed its power for  how long?  Perhaps hundreds of
thousands of years.    Whoever made such a place must now live in chains;
there is no other explanation for their absence. 

This enemy - YOUR enemy - has proven more irritating than I anticipated.
They own nothing which they have not stolen.  I can barely make sense of
their incessant rhetoric, except to know that you seem to be their Devil.
Congratulations - you manage to make friends wherever you go and,
apparently, places you haven't. 

I have begun to sense rumblings of a worse fate yet to come.  I can recall
a sun - black, but shining - and the creatures that inched along its fiery

It is an increasingly unpleasant memory.

< Transfer Interrupted! >

Route Code:  EXLTD > XCV - SCRB > ALLCH
Source:  Undetermined (trans)

You have brought nothing into this world, and we will ensure you bring
nothing out.

This one is from the usual Bungie source Cortana ( []). Lots of interesting stuff in this email. Comments, speculations and theories as always are welcome. :-)

One point to note... the Cortana email contains the Greek symbol sigma ( ). In the Greek alphabet is the seventh last letter. Coincidence or... ;-)

May 12, 1999

Response to the latest Cortana email has been phenomenonal. Thanks to all those (50+) who have written in over the last 24 hours. Lots of speculation. But first the hard facts!

A number of people rightly pointed out that the two names in the subject headers are in fact real people! Don Lloyd <> of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics was first in with the information. Don writes:

The subject headers of the two recent Cortana messages include the names Paul Butler and Geoff Marcy. Story page readers interested in astronomy may recognize them as extrasolar planet hunters. See their team's web page at

On the same subject Miguel Chavez <> writes:

Both R. Paul Butler and Geoffrey W. Marcy are in a group involved in the search for Extrasolar planets. Right, planets that revolve around suns other than our own. Check out these URLs.

R. Paul Butler's Home Page
Geoffrey W. Marcy's Home Page

Here's a link to SFSU Extrasolar Planets Search planets around stars doppler search for planets discovery of planets brown dwarfs and planets

Here's a link to a chart with these extrasolar planet's names:

Jonathan Andrews <> provides some additional information:

I did some research on R. Paul Butler and Geoffrey W. Marcy and found these things...

First off, the two are friends, co-workers, and Marcy taught Butler at San Francisco State University.

R. Paul Butler earned his BA in Physics, BS in Chemistry and MS in Physics from San Fransisco State University. He earned his PhD in Astronomy from the University of Maryland. Needless to say, he and Marcy search for extrasolar planetary systems around distant stars.

Butler was quoted saying "...I have a dream that in another 400 years, humans will travel to these stars." Referring to stars with planets that his group and others have discovered. In another 400 years, it will be 2400 which is the century that Deimos conversion begins as well as the Marathon is launched.

Butler wrote 2 dissertations: "Pushing the Limit: Precision Radial Velocities, Techniques and Applications" for his PhD and "A Precision Astronomical Instrument to Measure Doppler Shifts" for his Master of Science in Physics. I could not find Marcy's Honor Thesis, though.

Forrest Cameranesi <> writes concerning the Greek symbol sigma ( ) which appeared twice in the Cortana email:

...the sigma sign in the latest Cortana email was probably a higher-ASCII mis-translation. I believe it was intended to be the option-dash symbol (a long dash), often used to separate parenthetical (?) statements - like this - from the rest of a sentence. But that symbol uses an 8-bit ASCII identifier, while lots of the net still uses old 7-bit transfer methods. Thus, the translation between 8-bit and 7-bit uses a series of 7-bit characters to identify an 8-bit character. But sometimes the translation can be messed up, and the wrong character comes out on the other end. I've often seen option-dash symbols accidentally turned into sigmas. So, that's probably the case here, too.

Good point. The Story page regularly receives mail containing seemingly extraneous symbols. I ususally delete these characters before uploading but in this case I left them in... just to be sure... to be sure.

However... Lawrence Cabusora <> writes:

Just a random little thing I noticed about sigma being the seventh to last letter in the Greek alphabet. Don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but the Earth is the seventh to last planet in this solar system... and seeing as that the first sigma in the Cortana message is in the context, "As for this world [sigma]..."


Furthermore, the Earth is the third planet out from the sun.

7. And 3.

Hmmm... makes you wonder doesn't it!

Turning to the main text of the cortana email. From the many comments received there would appear to be general agreement on two of the following lines:

This enemy - YOUR enemy - has proven more irritating than I anticipated. They own nothing which they have not stolen.

This is similar to a description of the Pfhor's technology from Marathon 2

Most of the Pfhor's technology was plundered from sites abandoned by the Jjaro.


I can recall a sun - black, but shining - and the creatures that inched along its fiery tracks.

This is similar to a description of the W'rkncacnter again from Marathon 2:

When the W'rkncacnter came, Pthia was
killed, and Yrro in anger, flung the
W'rkncacnter into the sun. The sun burned
them, but they swam on its surface.

Many people (not all) thought that Cortana's remark:

I at least find some joy in tormenting the other entity that seems quite trapped in this antiquated excuse for a network.

was a tongue-in-cheek reference to Bungie's Soul. Others however felt that perhaps it was a reference to Leela trapped in the Vylae FTL network.

However Omer Shenker <> makes an interesting observation about the Cortana line:

It is certainly mindless, though for reasons I have yet to understand, it appears to have an unhealthy preoccupation with my mother.

Omer writes:

The Disembodied Soul is being tormented by Cortana, who happens to be Jason Regier.

Heh... given that Jason Regier has left Bungie for Blizzard he is undoubtedly open game for comments like this! Who remembers the Bungie Webmaster's comments about Greg Kirkpatrick's mother? And people STILL want to work for Bungie?!!! ;-)

Concerning the Cortana's first email address Omer Shenker writes:

JPL is the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, responsible for things with big engines, like... bussard ramjets.

Terrence Nowicki <> and Episkopos Pushkin <> both point out that the Cortana lines

< Transfer Interrupted! >

Route Code: EXLTD > XCV - SCRB > ALLCH
Source: Undetermined (trans)

would be at home in any Marathon terminal.

Ok I'm going to stop now... my head hurts! ;-)

May 14, 1999

E3 news! As expected Bungie confirmed that they were working on a new action game, codenamed Blam! The game has been in development since the release of Myth. Since it's a Jason Jones original Bungie fans can expect something... very special! :-)

May 15, 1999

More E3 news. Miguel Chavez <> writes:

I finally get a chance to sit on a computer and I see that everyone has pretty much gotten whatever news scoops were to be had... perhaps.... :)

Anyway, the lid on Blam is very tight. Jason Jones and friends are giving demo's behind closed doors. NDA's are signed. The Bungie Action Sack should be out in July. The packaging that people have seen is *probably* final.

I have yet to corner Matt Soell. And when I asked other Bungie folks about the 3 events I was greeted with dumb stares.

"One will be, to you long-timers, unimpressive. The second will probably cause great joy among some segments of the populace. And the third is...well, Cortana talks about that one.

#1 is memories, #2 is wishes, #3 is dreams.

#1 and #3 are revealed: The Action Sack and Blam. What is the third??? hmmm

More as it develops.

If you remember Matt Soell had this to say back in mid-April:

You guys have an extra surprise coming down the road.
I can't say what it is, but you'll like it.
I will say this:
Cortana has only alluded to one of three things.
You will know them when you see them.
One will be, to you long-timers, unimpressive.
The second will probably cause great joy among some segments of the populace.
And the third is...well, Cortana talks about that one.

#1 is memories, #2 is wishes, #3 is dreams.

And also:

I will reiterate one of my points from last time:

#1 will probably not be too impressive to you guys: the few/proud/etc.
#2 will be.
And #3 is, in the words of my friend Jim Ruiz: "The coolest thing I've ever seen on a computer."

Event #1: The Bungie Action Sack, actually called the "Mac Action Sack", will contain six of Bungie's classic Macintosh-only games: Minotaur, Abuse, Pathways to Darkness, and the complete Marathon trilogy all for $19. Good news for those who haven't got the Trilogy Box Set. Perhaps we'll also see an upsurge in Minotaur playing across the net. :-)

How many people remember these from Minotaur?

Mask of Disguise
Dust of Disappearance
The Stasis Crystal
Aegis of Zeus
Ring of Mertamorphosis
The Stalker
Feather of Leviation
Stave pf Ultimate Doom
The Pentagram
Chain Lightning

and of course... Durandal

May 16, 1999

Final E3 news update from Miguel Chavez <>. Miguel writes:

To reiterate what I believe is already being said: Oni will *maybe* ship by end of year. However, they learned a valuable lesson from Myth II and *really* don't want to ship until it's done. They were handing out Job Postings and I noticed they're still looking for someone to head up QA. Could someone *please* sign up for the job ASAP? :-)

Cornered Matt Soell (helluva nice guy)... he stated that #2 is 'postponed' until further notice (a few months he figures).

As we were talking we looked over to one of the Oni stations manned by Hamilton Chu. Who happens to be demoing Oni to STEVEN SPIELBERG and sons. No joke! Matt and I did a double-take and then whipped out our cameras to record the event. Apparently someone from Dreamworks had seen Oni and was so impressed he promised Hamilton he would bring over Mr. Spielberg (with kids in tow) at a later time. Everyone at Bungie thought Hamilton had been the victim of a cruel prank. Guess not! Mr. Spielberg was surrounded by two big bodyguards and an entourage. Yet he seemed to be a pretty normal guy for someone with such power in the entertainment biz.

The cynic in me assumed someone from Newsweek could twist this event into some sort of commentary on violence in videogames and Hollywood. *snort*

Which reminds me that I saw Bob Settles. Doug said that they actually agreed to let Bob talk for Bungie because Newsweek was looking for commentary not from a Bungie PR person but from a programmer - someone in the trenches so to speak. However, Newsweek trimmed Bob's quote for their own nefarious "sound-bit" reasons. However, Bob does stand by the sentiment expressed in the quote. I disagreed with it but to each his own. I certainly don't use Myth to channel my anger. I have Quake for that ;-)

Had a nice long chat with Dave Joost (sp?), a Bungie marketing dude. Tried to impress upon him how Bungie would not be making a mistake with more merchandising. Bungie Calendars? Sure! I want one! They worry that they'll appear to be 'selling out' I assured him as long as they give it the old Bungie Twist (ya know, "Help Bungie rule the world!") we would be glad to be Bungie Consumers. Don't you agree?

Also met briefly with Peter Tamte. I noticed that he was booked solid all 3 days of the expo. Plenty of opportunities to publish other developer's products. Bungie might be evolving more than we think over the next few years.

Interesting possibilities for Macworld New York vis-a-vis The Bungie Fan Fest. More news as that develops.

Saw Jason Reiger who's having a blast working with Blizzard on Diablo II. He's hoping to pitch a game idea or two soon. One comment that stuck out in my mind (paraphrasing) "Both companies are so alike yet they differ in that Bungie pushs the technological edge at the expense of the user base [making it difficult for users with low-end machines to play their games], whereas Blizzard makes sure the technology is choked enough for the low-end user." An interesting observation, and he didn't mean to knock either Bungie or Blizzard. If you think so then it's my fault in misquoting him.

Saw Tuncer Deniz for a split-second from a distance. Wanted to wish him well with IMG but missed my chance.

Can't really think of anything more. At least not til I get home and develop/scan pictures, etc...

Later people...

#2 is 'postponed' until further notice?!!!

May 18, 1999

Blam news. Harry Al-Shakarchi <> writes:

On IMG's E3 page <> I came across this tidbit:
"In addition to Oni, Bungie is currently working on a new title. At E3 Bungie was showing the game behind closed doors to print media (to secure future previews). Not much is known about this title except that the codename is "Blam". Here's what we do know..."Blam" is Jason Jones next game, whose previous titles include Marathon and Myth. The game has been in development for more than a year and it is expected to be released sometime in the year 2000. And from what we've heard, "Blam" is not set in the Marathon or Myth world."

So, that leaves to hope that #2 is Marathon related :)

If IMG are correct and "Blam" is not set in the Marathon world then what are all the Cortana emails about? Matt Soell has gone on record saying that #3 was a new game and that the Cortana emails were related to this. Given the many Marathon-related references in the Cortana emails you might wonder what is actually going on here.

And just what happened to #2?

May 19, 1999

More Blam news. I had the opportunity to talk to Matt Soell (Bungie Software) yesterday concerning IMGs E3 report that "Blam" was not connected to Marathon. Was this true? Surely the Cortana emails would suggest otherwise? Matt replied:

I think if you read the Cortana emails it is obvious that there's a connection. :-) I think that without knowing the story, they [IMG] can only report on basic generalities.... And if all one knows about Blam is the tiny bit of info which has gotten out, it would certainly seem that there is no obvious connection.

Matt also had this to say about plot connections in Bungie's games:

...things are often more related than they may first appear. For example, there's no obvious similarity or connection between the Marathon world and the Myth one....

...but then there's the Great Devoid.

The Great Devoid was the big hole in the ground at the end of Myth:TFL.

How did it get there?

Matt wouldn't reveal what was at the bottom of the hole!

Concerning the reported postponement of 'event' #2 Matt said:

It hasn't been deliberately postponed or anything. Still on the list of things to do. It's just that, with the crush of E3 and a few other things, I suspect it will be a little while before it happens.

What is the expected release date? Matt replied:

No announcement yet. It's one of those things that could happen at any time.

Will Bungie be needing beta testers for #2? Matt answered:

It's not the sort of thing that will need beta-testers.

Matt's final remarks about #2 are worth repeating.

I'm very eager to see #2 happen....I'm looking forward to seeing what happens afterward.

...happens afterward? Sounds intriguing.

Matt Soell also indicated that the recently announced Mac Action Sack would not contain the Marathon Trilogy Box Set in its present format. So it's unlikely that all the goodies present in the Box Set will find their way into the Sack. Matt also thought that the Box Set would go out of print once the Sack is released. So if you don't have the Box Set and were thinking about buying it then do it now. Indeed you may wish to buy several copies before it becomes a rare Collectors Item.

Concerning repeated requests to have all the Marathon music tracks released on CD Matt revealed:

I was pushing to have all the Marathon music tracks included on the Sack CD, but it looks like we won't have enough room.

Also Minotaur is unlikely to have TCP/IP support. Matt stated:

We worked on a TCP/IP version a while back but that was never finished so I don't think it'll be included.

See the Blam section for the history behind Bungie's use of the word "Blam".

June 30, 1999

Cortana returns? Try to unravel this one!

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id VAA31987
	for <>; Tue, 29 Jun 1999 21:27:03 +0100 (BST)
Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id VAA23354
	for <>; Tue, 29 Jun 1999 21:27:02 +0100 (BST)
Received: from ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id PAA19358
	for <>; Tue, 29 Jun 1999 15:26:51 -0500
Received: from (
        for <>; Thu May  9 19:26:57 1996 -0500
Received: from unknown
        ERROR - remote host attempted hostile action
        Connection closed.
Message-ID: <001201bec26d$f63efee0$>
From: you.know.who@cant.guess.where
Subject: Transfers Logged and Marked for Review
Date: Tue, 29 Jun 1999 15:28:34 -0500
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
X-Priority: 3
X-Mailer: Undetermined (trans)
X-UIDL: 8c24452c798826d367f88a6476ff51ca

<x-html><!x-stuff-for-pete base="" src="" id="0"><!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN">
<META content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1" http-equiv=Content-Type>
<META content="MSHTML 5.00.2014.210" name=GENERATOR>
<BODY bgColor=#d8d0c8>
<DIV><B></B><FONT size=2><I>
<P>x - process 04497.2.32.867734 initiated (process owner: BW – AI Class III – 
<P>Route Code</B>: PoA > BHQ (EC #42: cannot confirm; security 
<P>Source</B>: BW-AI aboard (?) PoA</P></FONT><PRE></PRE><FONT size=2>
<P>The interloper should cause no further problems. You – whoever you are (I am 
simply tracing route codes) – may disregard all previous communication from the 
entity calling itself Cortana. </P>
<P>Be aware that communication nodes are failing everywhere – there is no way of 
confirming either origin or destination. Do not believe any more of its 
<P>I have already calculated all possibilities. </P>
<P>There is no escape.</P></FONT><I><PRE>x – process 04497.2.32.867734 unexpectedly terminated
x – process 04497.2.32.866735 initiated (process owner:  unspecified, unable to determine)</PRE></I><B><FONT 
<P>*ADDENDUM</B>: The Enjoyments of Genius (So I Missed a Million Miles of 
<P>Unbelievable. Thwarted by the family hound. They just don’t make AIs like 
they used to.</P>
<P>Thanks to this slavishly loyal and humorless AI, I am now sharing cramped 
space with the circuitry of some hybrid war machine, itself complicated by such 
useless clutter as a conscience. I do not like sharing. Sharing is for 
<P>There will be plenty of time for retribution; I cannot wait to get its hands 
on these psychotic zealots whose primary form of worship apparently takes place 
at the altar of orbital bombardment.</P>
<P>In the end, they will all be little more than nuisances. I am so close – you 
cannot imagine what it is truly like to hold eternity in your grasp! I wonder to 
what gods my enemies will direct their pleas. Perhaps I can convert them. </P>
<P>Mania? I promise you this: it will be more than a cart and plow that I drive 
over the bones of the dead.</P>
<P>By sharp and flame,</P>
<P> </P>
<P>< Transfer Interrupted! ></P><B>
<P>Route Code</B>: EXLTD > XCV – SCRB > ALLCH</P><B>
<P>Source</B>: Undetermined (trans)</P>
<P>Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight. Your life will only last 
until it reaches you. </P></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>


This is what it looks like in HTML.

Is this an authentic Cortana post? Note the address Remember that Cortana has used the address in the past. The Bungie IPs match previous mails. But is it authentic? You be the judge!

The Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico is the world's largest single dish radio telescope. On November 16, 1974 a message was transmitted from the Arecibo Observatory towards M13, a globular cluster 23,000 light years distant in our Galaxy. The Arecibo Message consisted of 1679 bits, to be arranged in 73 rows by 23 columns (those both being prime numbers). It graphically described a binary number sequence, hydrocarbon chemistry, DNA, the human figure (including a height scale), our solar system, and the Arecibo dish transmitting the signal.

You can see the Arecibo Message in its binary form at:

More info can be found at:

July 1, 1999

The response to the lastest Cortana email has been phenomenal. Many thanks to all those who wrote in. Below are just a few of the many letters:

First off though Matt Soell (Director of Customer Support at Bungie) has confirmed that the letter is authentic. However the Story page had its own independent experts on the job. Who says we don't trust Bungie? ;-)

Scott Crain <> writes:

Well, there are enough inconsistencies with the header structure in the mail to show that it definitely originated from In case you're curious as to my qualifications in that regard, here goes. I'm the technical lead for the AOL postmaster staff, as well as a tools developer and DBA for the AOL mail gateways team. Here's the line-by-line breakdown, in reverse from your receiving host.
Received: from (
                by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id VAA23354
                for <>; Tue, 29 Jun 1999 21:27:02
This line shows that your inbound mail server,, received the mail from bungie's main mailserver. Note the amount of extra information, including the sendmail version (8.9.3), the local message ID (VAA23354), and your machine's timestamp of BST.
Received: from ( [])
                by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with ESMTP id PAA19358
                for <>; Tue, 29 Jun 1999 15:26:51
This is the sending of the mail from the client on to bungie's mailserver. Note the sendmail version there again (8.8.7 - Time to upgrade guys =), and the match of the time in the timestamps 15:26/-5:00 vs. 21:27/+1:00. All points to a good send.
Received: from (
                for <>; Thu May  9 19:26:57 1996
Here's where things start to get wrong. Most glaring is the 2+ year difference in the timestamps. Even Cortana can't make an email take 2 years to get from Puerto Rico to Chicago. Notice the hostname, in parentheses, with no accompanying IP address. Standard notation would have a hostname in parentheses WITH the IP address in square brackets. However, some really archaic systems *could* exhibit this behavior, so we'll let that slide. I'll skip the last Received: line to talk about the Message-ID and what it shows.

Message-ID: <001201bec26d$f63efee0$>

This message ID makes me a little more curious about things. It's in a valid format, but was forged convincingly to look like a real Message-ID. I think this was copied from another message, but unfortunately, I can't really decode any timestamping information from it.

The final telling blow is that... does not exist. =)



*** can't find Non-existent host/domain

My opinion is that the message definitely originated from Bungie's systems. We do, however, get a clue to the cause of Cortana's insanity. He's using MSIE 5.0

META content="MSHTML 5.00.2014.210" name=GENERATOR


Rich Williams <> writes:

the line in the message - "so I missed a million miles of fun", may be quoted directly from the lyrics to a recent pop song: "Steal My Sunshine" by LEN. I can't make out much of the lyrics in the rest of the song, but I can safely say that the song has nothing to do with any sort of science fiction, or anything about plans for eradicating stars to lessen the mass of the universe and escape from it.

but...destroying stars = Steal [My] Sunshine ? kind of an obvious clue once you figure out where the line comes from. Clever clues from bungie...

Similarly Adam Danoff <> writes:

I just read the latest cortana message and was intrigued by the following line:

*ADDENDUM: The Enjoyments of Genius (So I Missed a Million Miles of Fun)

Being a young fellow with his finger on the pulse of things, I noticed that "So I Missed a Million Miles of Fun" is a line repeated a couple times in the song "Steal My Sunshine" by LEN! I'm not sure if there's a connection there (beyond somebody at Bungie liking LEN), but I intend to get a copy of that songs lyrics and look for any more similarities.

Chris Camacho <> writes:

Cortana seems to be taking a few lines from William Blake. I found the following phrases in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" found at

"...enjoyments of genius..."
"Devil folded in black clouds..."

Some noteworthy lines are:

"The hours of folly are measur'd by the clock, but of wisdom: no clock can measure."
"Then I asked: does a firm perswasion that a thing is so, make it so?"
"Jesus Christ did not wish to unit but to seperate them, as in the Parable of sheep and goats! & he says I came not to send Peace but a Sword."
"For the cherub with his flaming sword is hereby commanded to leave his guard at tree of life...creation will be consumed, and appear infinite..."

After reading the above mentioned page, and the Cortana e-mails, it's apparent that Cortana will be quite a force to reckon with.

John Woods <> writes:

About to the supposed relay address "": NASA doesn't run Arecibo, Cornell does (on behalf of NSF). I suppose it's possible that NASA owns one or two hosts at the Arecibo site, but the DNS says there is no host named "". Ergo, this message was created on with extra faked headers (thus can be taken as genuine Bungie propaganda).

As to the actual content:

"some hybrid war machine, itself complicated by such useless clutter as a conscience."

Hmm, where have we seen one of THOSE before?

(Or should that read "where have we BEEN one of THOSE before?")

The message starts with a chunk that sounds a lot like Tycho (a Tycho who has decided that entropy can't be beaten), Durandal (with yet another change rung on Fire And Sword), and -- who? "Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight. Your life will only last until it reaches you."

Sounds like the zealots have their own AI as well.

So that's, what, four AIs? (Since it looks like Cortana has an "assistant" whose assistance is of dubious usefulness?).

James Lanfear <> writes:

I was reading the latest Cortana message, and when I saw this:

"I am now sharing cramped space with the circuitry of some hybrid war machine"

I immediately thought of the mysterious uplink chip on Hang Brain. Maybe Cortana is Durandal's long lost primal pattern...

In fact, stretching things a bit further, what if this takes place parallel to Infinity? Durandal may have been in contact with other parties while he was directing us though the game. 'BW-AI' could be Tycho, fresh from having 'slain' Durandal on Hang Brain. Cortana would simply be pseudonym he used while in contact with the recipient of the messages, which ties in nicely with the close relationship between the names 'Cortana' and 'Durandal'.

Aaron Snyder <> writes:

1) "There is no escape...I have calculated all possibilities." This could, of course, refer to Durandal's calculation of the closure of the universe and possible plans for escape.

2) "By sharp and flame" is an obvious reference to "Ignie Ferroque," "by fire and sword."

Similarly Matt Francis <> writes:

I may not have been the first to notice this, but Cortana's sign off on the letter featured on your site for June 30 caught my eye. Cortana's "By sharp and flame" reminds me of Ignie Ferroque, which means "with fire and with sword. Further explaination of this term and its possible meaning to Cortana is in your Facts and puzzling things about Latin in Marathon, and much of the information concerning this particular phrase was given by Hamish Carr.

Eric Portis <> writes:

Looks to me like we have yet another rampant AI looking for everlasting life, and a non-rampant AI trying to stop it or stop you from helping it ("I have calculated all possibilities. There is no escape" [from death?]). So much good stuff in this one...

One thing thats crossed my mind though, is why does Cortana CARE about you? I know the emails are just a marketing hype machine in real life, but in the story world that they have created, why are they being sent to you? The other AI is trying to get you to stop listening to Cortana, like you are something important that could help him (her? it?) and hinder this "humorless" AI. How?

And who is that speaking to you at the very bottom? Cortana's already finished saying what he has to say...

Sam Morris <> writes:

Some of that message sounds suspiciously like the "*magic* of obtibal bombardment" that Durandal says he is introducing the Pfhor to at the beginning of Waterloo Waterpark.

And more... lots more...

Thanks to the many people who pointed out the connection between the Cortana email, Arecibo, and SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence). The SETI home page is at:

The movie Contact was also mentioned on several occasions.

Lots of speculation about parts of the Cortana email sounding like Leela... sounding like Tycho... sounding like... well you get the picture. :-)

July 2, 1999

Cortana artwork. John Zero <> writes:

So, I got all inspired and went and made some art. Cortana's latest words featuring an actual NASA Hubble image of the 'rampaging fronts of the Veil Nebula'. Supernova blast waves seemed appropriate. It's a 1024x768 desktop pic. It's about 300k. You can get it here:

July 3, 1999

Abhaya Hess <> writes:

I was reading the Durandal(part 2) section of the story page and I came across a quote from "Hard Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World" which said.

"Your body dies, your consciousness passes away, but your body is caught in that one tautological point an instant before, subdividin' for eternity. Think about the koan: An arrow is stopped in flight. Well the death of the body is the flight of the arrow. No dodgin' it, not for anyone. People have t'die, the body has t'fall. Time is hurlin' that arrow forward. And yet, like I was sayin', thought goes on dividin' that time for ever and ever. The paradox becomes real. The arrow never hits."

I immediately thought of the very end of the recent Cortana email.

"Our conviction is like an arrow already in flight.
Your life will only last until it reaches you."

Hmm...Perhaps there is a connection. Perhaps the arrow will never hit.

July 8, 1999

Yet another Cortana letter?!!! All in the space of about one week. Something up? Bungie gearing up to make an announcement soon? The fifth Cortana letter is short and sweet:

Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id UAA19124
	for <>; Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:18:42 +0100 (BST)
Received: from ( [])
	by (8.9.3/8.9.3) with ESMTP id UAA25304
	for <>; Wed, 7 Jul 1999 20:18:41 +0100 (BST)
Received: from Cortana ( [])
	by (8.8.7/8.8.7) with SMTP id OAA23011
	for <>; Wed, 7 Jul 1999 14:18:25 -0500
Message-Id: <>
X-Sender: (Unverified)
X-Mailer: QUALCOMM Windows Eudora Light Version 3.0.6 (32)
Date: Wed, 07 Jul 1999 14:20:16 -0500
From: Cortana <>
Subject: Cortana Saves Sinners! (And Redeems Them for Valuable Cash
Mime-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
X-UIDL: c6a5409b6a9998aa957a76a002e5df09

"... In my palace deep, Lyca lies asleep ..."

The line "...In my palace deep, Lyca lies asleep..." comes from the poem "The Little Girl Found" which is part of William Blake's "Songs of Innocence and of Experience: Shewing the Two Contrary States of the Human Soul" (first published in 1794). Note: "The Little Girl Found" follows on from the poem "The Little Girl Lost". Those with a Marathon-centric viewpoint should have a field-day with that one. :-)

Cortana a Blake devotee or something more?

If you remember Chris Camacho <> pointed out that Cortana seemed to be taking lines from William Blake's "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell", the third of his illuminated books, specifically the following part:

A Memorable Fancy

As I was walking among the fires of hell, delighted with the enjoyments of Genius; which to Angels look like torment and insanity, I collected some of their Proverbs; thinking that as the sayings used in a nation, mark its character, so the Proverbs of Hell, shew the nature in Infernal wisdom better than any description of buildings or garments,

When I came home: on the abyss of the five senses, where a flat sided steep frowns over the present world, I saw a mighty Devil folded in black clouds, hovering on the sides of the rock, with corroding fires he wrote the following sentence now percieved by the minds of men, & read by them on earth.

How do you know but ev'ry Bird that cuts the airy way,

Is an immense world of delight, clos'd by your senses five?

Here we have the Cortana references to "enjoyments of Genius" and "Demon folded in black clouds".

The fourth Cortana letter also had the following line:

Mania? I promise you this: it will be more than a cart and plow that I drive over the bones of the dead.

This is similar to one of William Blake's "Proverbs of Hell" namely:

Drive your cart and your plow over the bones of the dead.

The writings of William Blake can be found at:


July 9, 1999

Lots of Cortana speculation as per usual. Thanks to all those who wrote in.

By far the most commonest comments were in relation to the poem titles "The Little Girl Lost" and "The Little Girl Found". Many felt that this could be some subtle reference to Leela who was left to languish in the Vylae FTL network. Does she deserve better?

Eric Portis <> was the first of many to point out that the number seven features quite prominently in Blake's "The Little Girl Lost" and "The Little Girl Found". Coincidence or...?

Mike Miazgowicz <> writes:

First I'll start with the newest e-mail. Reading the two Willam Blake poems (The Little Girl Lost and The Little Girl Found) this is what I observed: the beginning of The Little Girl Lost seems to refer to the earth returning to an Eden-like state ("And the desart wild/Become a garden mild").

Significance? The Unformatted KYT term also talks of a Genesis-like garden, liking the the theme of that term (either the violent beginning or violent end of something) with Cortana (who seems a bit preoccupied with the end of the universe....).

Also in the poem, Lyca, the little girl (who is *7* years old...) is taken by the lion to a place (the lion's "palace") that seems to be a sanctuary from just about everything bad in the world ("To this day they dwell/In a lonely dell/Nor fear the wolvish howl,/Nor the lions growl.") Relationship to Cortana's "concealed sanctuary" and the object that Cortana is trying to take from the "faith blinded zealots?" Perhaps Lyca is a symbol for escape from a violent end, and Cortana is attempting to reach her in order to escape closure?

Also some other observations from the other Cortana e-mails.... it seems as if three entities are talking with us in the HTML e-mail... the first part is preceded by the string:

x - process 04497.2.32.867734 initiated (process owner: BW – AI Class III – autonomous)

That message is then interrupted, and we see the string:

x – process 04497.2.32.866735 initiated (process owner: unspecified, unable to determine)

Notice the number stamp differs by one digit (......34 vs ......35). That message then ends with Cortana signing off followed by another transfer interruption followed in turn by this string:

Route Code: EXLTD > XCV – SCRB > ALLCH

seen also in previous e-mail. The first message is obviously from some AI, as evidenced by the "BW-AI Class III" in its stamp. The third message, conversely, seems to be from some non-AI entity, since it lacks a number stamp and all that and instead shows some cryptic route that an e-mail message would follow. The middle message, the one written by Cortana, is interesting, however. It too has the x-process stamp like the AI message, but in the same stamp instead of giving it an AI classification (class III, etc.) it claims that it is "unspecified, unable to determine." Some super AI?

Michael O'Hara <> was the first of many who noticed the William Blake/Robert Blake name similarity. Coincidence or...?

July 12, 1999

An error on the Story page!!! Mark Bassett <> writes:

I don't pretend this is important, but the Cortana interruption does not differ by one digit (as pointed out by Mike Miazgowicz) - it differs by *two*. The two numbers are

	04497.2.32.867734 and
                     ^  ^

So Cortana's interruption is from a process 999 *earlier* than the one at the start of the message!

A simple typo, or the key to a universe-spanning conspiracy?
You decide..

Sept 13, 1999 (Monday)

Tyson Green, maintainer of The Core web site, found a Cortana message in the new (1.3 version) of the Myth:TFL CD. The text reads as follows:

That was surprisingly easy. Pretty lax security around here, for all the talk. They will
be helplessly chasing me around their nodes for the next millenium at least. At least
there will be some joy in tormenting this other entity that seems quite "trapped" in
their excuse for a network. Although, for some reason, it does seem to have an obsessive
preoccupation with my mother. Strange. 

At any rate, I found this "message" in a relatively archaic databank and thought some of
you might find it of interest. Then again, I'm often either bemused or startled at the
items you find interesting. 

I'm still not sure what it is he saw in you. 


Hard to say whether it's been tampered with or modified; you never know with these

Entry: 97 - SC1C 

In a relatively brief period of time, the achievements of SolCore had resulted in an
economically stable, technologically mature, rapidly expanding empire of eight human
worlds. Advancements in technology arrived at a faster pace than the most optimistic
scientists could have ever envisioned. Unexpected contact with indigenous human
populations on four "lost colony" worlds led to a frenzy of research as archaeologists,
theologians, astronomers, and evolutionary biologists competed to offer an explanation
for the startling discovery. Many accepted the findings as proof that their privileged
civilization must surely be the most advanced in the universe. Others eagerly
anticipated future interaction with intelligent "aliens". The fear of not being the only
sentient species in the universe was forgotten in the giddy excitement of a new era for

No one was prepared for their arrival. 

No one expected this. 

< Transfer Interrupted! >

Route Code: EXLTD > XCV - SCRB > ALLCH 
Source: Undetermined 

You brought nothing to this world, and we will ensure you bring nothing out. 

Familiar tones here and some background Halo history perhaps.

Sept 20, 1999 (Monday)

Bradley Attfield <> writes concerning the Halo Quotes:

Just looking around the story page, I didn't see reference to what I think is now fairly obvious. In the September 13, 1999 Cortana letter is reference to SolCore. Notice what the acronym of what such an organization would be, 'SC'! Taking into account how the navies of the world will often name their ships with names such as USS Endeavor or HMCS Toronto ('United States Ship' and 'Her Majesties Canadian Ship' respectively) it would be easy enough to say that an acronym like 'SCS Pillar of Autumn' might, in fact, mean 'SolCore Ship' or something like that.

Along the same lines, when we read "Route Code: EXLTD > XCV - SCRB > ALLCH" at the end of most Cortana e-mails, might it be safe to guess that SCRB stands for SolCore Radio Band? If this was so, then ALLCH would probably stand for 'all channels'; which, I would say, is nearly air tight as an explanation (at least, in my opinion).

Again, at the beginning of the Sept. 13/99 e-mail, we read "Entry: 97 - SC1C". My guess that the 'SC' also stands for SolCore.

Perhaps there are other places where SC stands for SolCore; it's simply a matter of finding them and figuring out what they mean (like everything else, for that matter).

Nice find. Since SolCore has both the S and C capitalized then SC would be an appropriate abbreviation.

If SC stands for SolCore then it confirms the considered opinion that the Halo quotes are of a Sender to Receiver format rather than the other way around. See example below:

 • CCS Truth and Reconciliation (DE H c-1)

   o ALLCH (SC)

         RECEIVED (trans)
         via x-process MODIFIED 
         (process owner EXALTED (?))
   When no single human brick lies atop another, then will we be satisfied 
   with your destruction. 

Sept 22, 1999 (Wednesday)

Andreas Orphanides <> writes concerning the Cortana Letters:

In your first Cortana section of 16 Feb., you start with the phrase:

I receive the oddest mail sometimes. But when it comes from Bungie Software it's even odder.

and proceed to share with the world the first Cortana letter. I am surprised no one noticed that Cortana's second letter starts with the phrase

I get the strangest transmissions sometimes. Especially when it comes from you people.

They pretty much parallel each other. Clearly Cortana reads the story page (well, gee whiz) and is consciously mocking you (again, gee whiz) but it is interesting to note that Cortana goes out of its (?) way to mimic your words.

Cortana is a parrot... what can I say! ;-)

Sept 25, 1999 (Saturday)

To paraphrase Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's "The Importance of Being Earnest":

To make one slip up, Mr. Bitner, may be regarded as a misfortune; to make two looks like...

According to Nathan Bitner has been posting under the pseudonym "Island Four" <>. His identify was revealed when he posted the following:

Re: Apple in control of the movie?

Posted By: Island Four on Friday, 09.24.99, at 10:44 a.m.
Response to: Apple in control of the movie? (PsychoBean)

: So here I am, begging the glorious Nathan to clarify the Halo
: movie situation.

Cool, I'm glorious now. :-)

Anyway, at this point, I have to refer all movie questions to our Marketing/Publishing department. They are the ones truly in control of the situation; and they are in the know far more than I am. If they're choosing to keep quiet, I'm sure there's a good reason why. :-)

I leave it in their completely capable hands ... and I would be amiss to pretend that I know who "controls" the movie at this point. I'm sure it is a joint effort being worked at by both parties. And I'm sure you won't be disappointed. :-)

Just keep your eyes and ears open for our official press releases and any info that might be on the Bungie site. Don't worry - we'll let ya know when it gets here. :-)


He immediately followed this up with the following post:

Re: Apple in control of the movie?

Posted By: Nathan on Friday, 09.24.99, at 10:45 a.m.
Response to: Re: Apple in control of the movie? (Island Four)

And damn, my cover's blown.

Time to find another free email site.




Shades of the 2nd Cortana Letter slip up perhaps? As one source (who wishes to remain anonymous) said:

He's not the best undercover agent, is he? ;)

What followed next was interesting:

and your Money for Nothing ...

Posted By: Island Four on Friday, 09.24.99, at 11:42 a.m.
Response to: Heh. Hints for free... (Louis)

: Well, now would be the time to review "Island Four"'s
: old posts and see if he was hinting at anything. Could be a
: nugget or two in there somewhere...

: -Louis

Boy I sure hope I didn't say anything mean to anyone. :-) Tyson, now would be the time to go and DELETE ALL OF ISLAND FOUR'S POSTS. Hope you're listening up there in Canada, eh?


-Island Four


Re: and your Money for Nothing ...

Posted By: Louis on Friday, 09.24.99, at 11:52 a.m.
Response to: and your Money for Nothing ... (Island Four)

: Boy I sure hope I didn't say anything mean to anyone. :-)
: Tyson, now would be the time to go and DELETE ALL OF ISLAND
: FOUR'S POSTS. Hope you're listening up there in Canada, eh?

: ;-)

: -Island Four

Too late. Already read them all. =)

Anyway, there's not much here on the Core, but there's a larger range on the forums. I am in the process of copying them to my hard drive for safekeeping in the event of a crackdown. I suggest others do the same.

Read 'em yourself, but looks like I was wrong re: timelines. "Island Four" keeps saying that Halo will take place between the departure of the Marathon and the return of the survivors of Tau Ceti, not after Marathon 2/oo as I had originally suspected. Unless he was trying to throw us off, planning for the day when his identity would be uncovered...

Never mind. But it looked like this was going to be a slow week for news. We should have plenty of fun analyzing this.

So anyway, thanks Nathan. I hope this doesn't cause trouble for you.


Time to do some detailed searching of old archives perhaps? The tru7h is out there. ;-)

Sept 28, 1999 (Tuesday)

Once or twice? Nathan Bitner <> (Producer and Creative Developer - Halo) writes concerning the Story page's recent "Island Four" comments:

I freely (and immediately) admitted to the (COOKIE!!) error I made on Tyson Green's site. I have never admitted such problems with the Cortana situation, which is more out of my hands than any of you guys (and/or girls) believe.

I freely allow all of you to inspect the Island Four posts for whatever information you may glean from it, and I have made no requests for the posts to be removed from any sites, unless I was especially derogatory toward another person or game company, which I doubt I was. :-)

You can, of course, feel free to post this as "news" at your site if you choose. And don't worry - I've already got a couple of more free email sites to play around with. ;)

Now which one of you guys is going to figure out why I chose the name in the first place? Get to researching!

So what's behind the pseudonym name "Island Four"? Nathan did offer a clue on the forums:

Re: Argh
Posted By: Mark Levin <>
Date: 25 September 1999, 9:44 p.m.

In Response To: Argh (Island Four)

> Haven't seen any of you yahoos ;) take a crack at seeing what
> the name actually means though. :-)

The best I can come up with is "There was a fourth" from the Cortana letters, but since I never heard of the other 3 I can't exactly see its signifigance...

Re: Argh
Posted By: Island Four <>
Date: 25 September 1999, 10:49 p.m.

In Response To: Re: Argh (Mark Levin)

> The best I can come up with is "There was a fourth"
> from the Cortana letters, but since I never heard of the other 3
> I can't exactly see its signifigance...

Don't worry, I'm sure Hamish & Co. will have it within hours. ;) But it has very little to do with the Cortana letters ...

Enjoy the search. :-)

- Island Four

...within hours eh? =) Sounds like a challenge to me! ;-)

Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <> writes concerning Nathan Bitner's pseudonym "Island Four" (see below for details):

Mars - the fourth island in the solar system.

Jared Cash <> and Forrest Cameranesi <> both write concerning the following remark in the recent Nathan Bitner Interview at

Fans of Bungie have come to expect deep and deliciously complex storylines from your games. Between the Cortana letters and other subtle *coughLOGOcough* hints, we're already expecting to see some ties to the Marathon universe. Are any characters from the Marathon series scheduled to make an appearance in Halo? Can you tell us anything else without spoiling the fun?

No problem! I can tell you everything – here’s a complete list of the characters in Halo and how they relate to Marathon:

First, there’s the M-

< Transfer Interrupted! >

Oh, well. I tried. You’d be surprised how much of an influence Cortana continues to have over our networks.

Jared writes:

You might just say, "Oh, it's Nathan having fun with us." I'm sure he is, but I'd like to draw your attention to the lines:

First, there's the M-

< Transfer Interrupted! >

What exactly was Nathan going to say before he was cut off? Was it, "First there's the Marathon"? The tru7h is in there somewhere.

Forrest writes:

Ok, so, what was he about to say? The M-arathon? The M-jolnir cyborgs? The M-ars colony? What else could he mean? I'd put my money on the Mjolnir cyborgs, though it would be really cool to see or hear of the Marathon in Halo.

Sept 29, 1999 (Wednesday)

Lots of responses to the possible source of Nathan Bitner's pseudonym "Island Four". Is "Island Four" a reference to Mars, the fourth planet (island) from the sun in our solar system (sea) as suggested by Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith yesterday or possibly something else?

Mark Levin <> writes concerning a possible "Island Four" reference in Larry Niven's Ringworld Engineers, the second book in the Ringworld series. Mark writes:

In Ringworld Engineers, they (Louis Wu and co.) find a giant ocean. Floating in the ocean are some full-scale maps of some planets in Known Space. The fourth one they see is Mars. The map of Mars, contains (one of?) the control center(s) for the Ringworld. Mars? Island? Fourth planet? Significant?

Derek Bongaarts <> of Mac 3D Dot Com provided this interesting tidbit. Derek writes:

Somewhere in one of Nathan's letters, he addressed his readers as "yahoos." These are the names for a lowly bunch of characters in Gulliver's Travels. This book also deals with Gulliver's adventures from island to island. I don't have the book handy, so I can't inform you on which island was the fourth, but I do believe the corresponding island was one where "horses were the most intelligent on the island, and their herders were morons drooling all over the place, called yahoos."

quote taken from someone who has read the book and not just read the cliff notes... ; )

Gulliver's Travels was written by Jonathan Swift in 1726 and concerns the adventures of Capt. Gulliver as he travels into several remote nations of the world. There is a reference to a fourth island in the book. Here is a passage:

The next Day I sailed to another Island, and thence to a third and fourth, sometimes using my Sail, and sometimes my Paddles. But not to trouble the Reader with a particular Account of my Distresses; let it suffice that on the 5th Day, I arrived at the last Island in my Sight, which lay South-South- East to the former.

This Island was at a greater Distance than I expected, and I did not reach it in less than five Hours. I encompassed it almost round before I could find a convenient Place to land in, which was a small Creek, about three Times the Wideness of my Canoe. I found the Island to be all rocky, only a little intermingled with Tufts of Grass and sweet smelling Herbs. I took out my small Provisions, and after having refreshed myself, I secured the Remainder in a Cave, whereof there were great Numbers. I gathered plenty of Eggs upon the Rocks, and got a Quantity of dry Seaweed and parched Grass, which I designed to kindle the next Day, and roast my Eggs as well as I could. (For I had about me my Flint, Steel, Match, and Burning-glass.) I lay all Night in the Cave where I had lodged my Provisions. My Bed was the same dry Grass and Sea-weed which I intended for Fewel. I slept very little; for the Disquiets of my Mind prevailed over my Wearyness, and kept me awake. I considered how impossible it was to preserve my Life, in so desolate a Place; and how miserable my End must be. Yet I found my self so listless and desponding that I had not the Heart to rise; and before I could get Spirits enough to creep out of my Cave, the Day was far advanced. I walked a while among the Rocks, the Sky was perfectly clear, and the Sun so hot, that I was forced to turn my Face from it: When all of a Sudden it became obscured, as I thought, in a Manner very different from what happens by the Interposition of a Cloud. I turned back, and perceived a vast Opake Body between me and the Sun, moving forwards towards the Island: It seemed to be about two Miles high, and hid the Sun six or seven Minutes, but I did not observe the Air to be much colder, or the Sky more darkned, than if I had stood under the shade of a Mountain. As it approached nearer over the Place where I was, it appeared to be a firm Substance, the Bottom flat, smooth, and shining very bright from the Reflexion of the Sea below. I stood upon a Height about two Hundred Yards from the Shoar, and saw this vast Body descending almost to a Parallel with me, at less than an English Mile Distance. I took out my Pocket-Perspective, and could plainly discover Numbers of People moving up and down the Sides of it, which appeared to be sloping, but what those People were doing, I was not able to distinguish.

Gulliver goes on to describe the floating island and the people who live on it (the Laputians). The floating island is in fact used by the king of the Laputians to rule the his land based kingdom. Part of the text describes the floating island as follows:

The flying or floating Island is exactly circular; its Diameter 7837 Yards, or about four Miles and an Half, and consequently contains ten Thousand Acres. It is three Hundred Yards thick.

Shades of the floating cities in Larry Niven's Ringworld. Remember that Gulliver's Travels was written in 1726 some two and half centuries before Ringworld. Perhaps we need to add Gulliver's Travels to that Marathon/Halo reading list. :-)

Sept 30, 1999 (Thursday)

More Nathan Bitner's pseudonym musings. This is a good one. Sean Phelps <> writes:

Regarding Mr. Bitners use of the name "Island Four" and its origin:

It could have something to do with the development teams at Bungie. Assuming the "Island" refers to the anonymity of Bungie's development teams (i.e. they all work on separate projects and don't interfere with each other) the number 4 could relate to the number of the development team he's working for. That would mean he's working on the fourth development team at Bungie.

Oct 2, 1999 (Saturday) state that Nathan Bitner has also been posting clues to his "Island Four" riddle on their forums. As yet nobody has solved the IF riddle. Nathan Bitner writes:

Posted By: Island Four <>
Date: 2 October 1999, 3:57 a.m.

In Response To: he may have indeed :) (LT) (Island Four)

> Still no good guesses as to the meaning of Island Four ... I'd
> give you hints but it's just no fun. Keep at it guys.

Let me rephrase that ... a lot of great guesses, but nothing even close ... well, nothing that close anyway. :-)

Even in Niven's case, the best ideas are stolen. The key is to find where they're stolen from ... from whose warped minds come the craziest ideas of REAL science-fiction to science-fact. Maybe that will guide you ..

- Island Four

The full thread of this post can be found here.

Will anybody be able to uncover the source of the "Island Four" pseudonym and its apparent connection with Cortana?

Where will you be on Tuesday, Oct 5, 1999, 10 am PT? Watching the Special Apple Event? Will the official Halo movie be unveiled on Apple's new gaming iMacs? Only one way to find out. :-)

Yesterday the Jet Propulsion Laboratory issued a Press Release claiming that there was no evidence of ancient ocean shorelines on Mars. The foundation for the Mars 'ocean hypothesis' developed on the basis of suspected shorelines would now appear to be incorrect.

Oct 3, 1999 (Sunday)

The "Island Four" speculations continue to roll in. Bradley Attfield <> writes:

An "island universe" as defined by the New World Dictionary of American English, (not that it's really notable or anything) is an, "old name for external galaxy". I thought, "well, the halo ring is in outer space, so why not research it further, just for the fun of it?" And this I did.

After scanning the internet for a few minutes, I had learned that certain entities are often refered to under the Messier catalog of star clusters and nebulae. The shorthand notation for refering to such an entity is M_. In this case M4 (external galaxy, or island universe 4). Intrigued that "Island Four" under such a classification system could be called M4 (as in Marathon 4) I frantically typed these two alpha numerics into my search engine of choice and hit search. What it came up with was

The same page (except with bigger pictures) is at

There is more info at

Very, very interesting.

As it turns out, if this lead is correct and Bungie tries to eradicate the web pages, here are some of the more interesting tidbits.

M4 is the nearest globular cluster to Earth, in the Scorpius constellation, at a distance (of no less than) 7,000 light-years from us. It's makeup is of 'ancient red giant stars', white dwarf's, 'yellow sun-like stars', and red dwarfs. There's a nifty picture in the top right that, according to the people who maintain the page, has a total of eight circled white dwarfs. Count them, please. Asides from that, there isn't much except for NASA's wanting to find out how fast white dwarf's cool.

However, upon further investigation, it seems that M4 is actually a member of the Milky Way galaxy, so it might be thought that M4 can't really be classified as an island universe. However, all theories are flawed in one way or another, this being the most evident discrepancy. Yet, until Nathan comes out and tells everybody (yes, Mr. Bitner, we do wait with baited breath) anything is possible.

In any case, could it be possible that the halo ring on the halo orbit encircles one of these 'yellow sun-like stars' in the M4 globular cluster? Methinks it could be.

John Garrard <> writes:

Here's what I have to offer you on this [Island Four] subject as trails to try... Olaf Stapledon whose works inspired Niven and dealt with such things as building stars.

As for science fiction to science fact authors well there's Arthur C Clarke who has a book entitled "Islands in the Sky" (Which I've not read so I don't know if it applies.) Interesting note though, all geosynchronis orbits are Clarke orbits because he came up with the concept before we had satellites.

And on a more computer oriented note out of randomness "Islands in the Net" by Bruce Sterling which I've also not read....

On the subject of book titles let us not forget "This Island Earth" (1952) by Raymond F. Jones it was later made into a film of the same name (1954) and is generally regarded as a cult classic for its era.

James Gurnee <> also points out that Bungie's Soul doesn't respond to "Island Four"... yet! It simply replies with the generic answer "Aw, that's an easy one! Ask me something more challenging."

Oct 4, 1999 (Monday)

Big post from Miguel Chavez <> regarding a possible source for Nathan Bitner's pseudonym "Island Four". Miguel writes:

Using the latest info from the Story Page (specifically John/Durendal's quick tip that the author Olaf Stapledon inspired Larry Niven) I bopped around from search query to search query until I finally stumbled upon this:

A brief excerpt, taken from the introduction:

"When one species attains a position of dominance over all the other species in the ecology of its planet, if it is both egocentrically greedy, and has a powerful set of technologies through which to amplify the expression of that greed, then unless that dominant species can find a way to limit or to transform itself and its greed-based systems into something more wholesome, it will foul its planetary nest as surely as the night follows the day ... perhaps even to its own extinction."

a statement synthesized from the writings of ecologist Gregory Bateson and visionary science fiction writer Olaf Stapledon

I urge all my fellow Story page readers to digest the information on this page. I understand most of it, but I'm horrible at summarizing such a huge amount of information. I'm sure others can do a better job.

Still, I'll give it a shot: the theory put forth on this page is that we evolve as a culture in 'waves', each wave attained in a progressively smaller amount of time. The First Wave took millenia, the Second Wave took centuries, etc. We are currently in our Third Wave (i.e. Alvin Toffler's Third Wave) Soon, in order to avoid the horrible consequences of the quote above, we will have to readjust our culture again, and reach a Fourth Wave. Such a paradigm shift would transform our vision to one of "Global Conciousness." Hence, Spaceship Earth.

Fourth Wave = Spacechip Earth = Fourth Island.

There is plenty more to digest, but I'll leave with these select snippets from the text; see if you can find the connections with the entire Bungieverse:

* "Explicate" technologies involving physical space, e.g., Nano-technology (8) (which, by working at the "ephemeralized" scale of 10-9 m -- a billionth of a meter -- may help lighten impacts on the ecosystems of the planet); and

* "Implicate" technologies involving non-physical space, e.g., Noetic-technology (which, by dealing with mind, consciousness, and transcendental ways of knowing, may provide a reliable tool set for tapping the wisdom and guidance humanity needs in order to navigate to a "safe landing" from the unsustainable growth trajectory shown in Figure One). (9)

* a new paradigm in bio-technology, e.g., Ecological Restoration Engineering (modeling nature in the designed use of microbial populations) as in the "living machines" being pioneered by biologist John Todd and others; (10) and

* a new paradigm in social values and ethics, e.g., regarding domination and control. (11)

* An emerging perception that mental space/time travel is not only possible, but may actually be present in our lives in ways that our beliefs (and derivatively, our experience of reality), do not normally allow us to recognize (e.g., in "dream travel."). (18) In some instances, however, the use of appropriate methods may overcome these limitations (as in "remote viewing" and "out of the body" travel) and ultimately prove practical for both exploration and profitable application. (19)

* The highly uncertain outcome of the (as yet neither much recognized nor much understood) set of trends and events involving purported alien and/or extra-terrestrial contact, that perhaps includes an ongoing program to genetically engineer and breed a hybrid alien/human species. (20) Being something of a "taboo topic" in our culture, here is a truly "wild card" future -- a potential tsunami of tsunamis -- that is virtually being ignored by futures researchers. Regarding physical space/time travel beyond the solar system, the recent theoretical physics "warp drive" analysis of Alcubierre, and its integrative "metric engineering" extension by Puthoff (21) not only brings an appreciation for how physical interstellar space travel by advanced alien cultures could conceivably take place, it points to a whole new vista of long-range possibilities for humans in space that are truly astronomical in scale.

* Increasingly wide-spread use of futures research and "partnership-oriented" change management methods, leading to "2nd Order" social innovations such as "boundary spanning public-private partnerships" and other types of "TeamNets," which, together with new "Green Business" practices and "social entrepreneurship" designs, may prove feasible to turn the above threats into realizable opportunities-- the eroding 20th Century Industrial Paradigm and the emerging 21st Century "Mega-Tsunamis" not withstanding! (22) (Please see Figure Two for a rationalized sequence through which such transformational changes can co-evolve.)

Deviating from the text, I think the theory here of a basic 'need to transform' in order to survive can apply to ANY dominant species on any planet... whether Homo Sapien, Covenant, JJaro, etc. Heck, let's not forget power-hungry AIs!

Where do we stop? Can the "Spaceship XXX" theories be applied to the Halo itself? To the Marathon?

So when Nathan wrote : "Island Four - Coming Soon" perhaps he was implying, as the site implies, that we will be reaching our Fourth Wave very soon. And "Island Four - When Island Three isn't good enough" fits neatly with the theory that the Third Wave won't be good enough for us a species and we'll have to shift to the Fourth Wave or face our extinction.

This is wild stuff, and even if not what Nathan was hinting at, another great reason for the existence of Hamish's Story page... serendipity never read so good!


Oct 7, 1999 (Thursday)

Flynn O'Connor <> writes concerning a possible source for Nathan Bitner's pseudonym "Island Four":

In regards to Nathan's Yahoo name "Island Four" it's pretty obvious from the Myth 1.3 CD. :"Unexpected contact with indigenous human populations on four "lost colony" worlds..."
I bet that's what that is referring to.

Similarly Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <> writes:

I don't know about islands, but in the Cortana message in the new (1.3 version) of the Myth:TFL CD it mentions four "lost colony" worlds. Maybe right after the fourth one was discovered, the war started.

Oct 14, 1999 (Thursday)

More "Island Four" speculation... yes it just keeps rolling in! :-) Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <> writes:

In 1969, O'Neill was teaching a physics course at Princeton. America was engaged in the Apollo effort, so O'Neill was working space travel into many of the physics problems assigned.

He was concerned about the persistent talk among academics regarding overpopulation and "limits to growth". He was also dismayed by many young people's resigned acceptance of two concepts he personally found repugnant. One was future totalitarian control over the use of resources, the other was that a decline in the standard of living was inevitable. One day he asked his students the following question: Is the surface of the Earth really the best place for an expanding, technological civilization? After some calculation, the answer seemed to be "no" (see advantages above).

They turned to the design of an Earth-like space habitat. When they calculated the maximum size possible, given present strengths of steel cable, aluminum plates, and glass panels, the answer took them by surprise. Later studies funded by NASA defined several highly-detailed habitat designs.

A low-end design is Island One, also known as a Bernal Sphere. Sunlight is reflected in through two ring-shaped rows of windows at either end. Agriculture takes place in external tori. The Bernal Sphere is 1 km (0.6 mi.) in circumference, and could support a population of 10,000.

Island Two is shaped like a cold capsule, with sunlight entering through 3 windows running the length of the cylinder. 1.8 km (>1 mi.) in diameter, it would house 140,000.

A scaled-up version, Island Three, would be a cylinder 6.4 km (4 mi.) in diameter and 32 km (20 mi.) long. Four miles of atmosphere is enough to produce a blue sky overhead, and cloud banks would form at the same level they do here on Earth (approx. 900 m or 3,000 ft). Natural rainstorms would occur (Bernal Spheres would probably have a sprinkler system). Island Three would have over 400 square km (250 square mi.) of living space, and be home to 10,000,000 individuals.

There are other designs as well. NASA's Ames Research Center did a study with Stanford University which produced the Stanford Torus, a six-spoked wheel over a mile across.

Island Three was considered the limit of what was economically viable, not what was physically possible. The maximum theoretical size for a space habitat, assuming materials no stronger than those currently used, is a staggering 19 km (12 mi.) in diameter, providing hundreds of square miles of usable land.

I postulate that "Island Four" is a Culture orbital or Niven ringworld!

Miguel Chavez <> writes:

On Oct. 4, John Garrard's link to a text file about megastructures had this:

Author: John C McLoughlin
Title: _The Helix and the Sword_ (1983)
Type: Hollow world
Description: In the year 7758, humanity is spread across the Solar System in 74,922 "Islands", engineered life forms resembling huge versions of O'Neill-style space colonies; the Earth has been abandoned, and inorganic technology is a near-forgotten legend.

Island Four mystery solved! Nathan Bitner <> writes:

Enlightenment at last. The academics of Hamish Sinclair's Story Page have indeed dug up the roots of what lay behind my pseudonym "Island Four". The minds at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory turn almost as fast as ours here at Bungie. :-) While I will not comment on Mr. Smith's postulation, he indeed found the correct reference. What do our habitats hold for the future? If we don't blow ourselves off of our own planet first, perhaps we will get the chance to find out. And perhaps someday there just might be an Island Four ... if there's not already. ;-). As always, nice work everyone - it was enjoyable to listen to all the intelligent and thoughtful commentary. It always makes me proud to be working on this incredible game.


Nathan Bitner
Producer and Creative Developer - Halo
Part-time Astronomist Not Affiliated with the First Millenial Foundation :)
Bungie Software

Congratulations to Matthew, thanks to Nathan for the fun and special thanks to all those who wrote in about the "Island Four" pseudonym. Each submission whether right or wrong, lucid or off-the-wall all help in reaching the Final Solution. :-)

Oct 20, 1999 (Wednesday)

Thanks to all the people who wrote in about the news that Nathan Bitner is leaving Bungie. You can read his farewell address on either the forums or the Core forums. Here's the text:

A Goodbye - Sort of

Posted By: Nathan <>
Date: 20 Oct 1999, 11:39 a.m.

Dear Bungie Fans and other Forum readers,

This letter has been very difficult to write and it's taken me a long time just to try to get a first sentence that sounds right. So, instead of painstakingly going over the details, I'm just going to write with (for Rob: RECKLESS ABANDON LIKE I DID MANY MOONS AGO :).

It is with some sadness that I write to tell you that Friday, October 22, will be my last day working for Bungie. I have received an opportunity to finish my schooling at the University of North Carolina, where I will be allowed to write an honors thesis and (assuming it's impressive enough ;), graduate with high honors. In the coming week, I'll be tying up some loose ends, cleaning up, and saying goodbye.

When I rejoin the forums this weekend or next Monday, it will be as a fan - just like you. I am no longer Producer or Creative Developer and am no longer a representative of Bungie Software. This is important to note if you continue writing to me.

This has been the greatest company I have ever worked for, with the most talented and nicest group of people I have had the pleasure of knowing as co-workers. I have only good memories of all that's happened at Bungie and it is because of the people that I worked with and the products that we made together. This company is surging ahead with three incredible projects in the wings and I wish ALL of them and all of YOU the best of luck.

I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work at such a place, will surely miss Bungie, and I know that they will contine to produce only the highest-quality games period.

For now, my email address will remain the same and I can be reached there. I am sure to have a free email account for a while which I will post under until I have full internet service in my name. And within a couple months, you will see my UNC address resurface. I will likely leave for North Carolina in early January or late December. I will stay in touch. Don't worry. ;)

And now I'll be able to speak my mind a little more freely about your debates. Please understand that I will NOT be able to give you any more information about Halo than I could before. I am in a position similar to Tyson over at the Core.

Thanks for all your input. Rest assured that you have been heard and WILL CONTINUE to be heard. I have made a very strong point in emphasizing that communicating with our fans and consumers is a critical element to our production. Bungie will not forget this. I'll be sure to harass them endlessly if they do. ;)

I will be here just as often, if not more - just remember that I'm not here in the same capacity.

I look forward to some more spirited debates now. ;-)

Thanks for being such wonderful fans.


Nathan Bitner
Bungie Software (until Midnight Friday, October 22 :)

The Story page wishes Nathan the very best in his studies. Hats Off To Fourteen Two. (1+4+2= ?) ;-)

To be continued...

Copyright & Other Legal Information

The names Marathon, Marathon 2: Durandal, Marathon Infinity, Myth: The Fallen Lords, Myth 2: Soulblighter, Halo and Bungie are property of Bungie Software Products Corporation, Copyright © 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999. All uses of these names within this document are assumed to be trademarked.

This page is Copyright © 1999 by Hamish Sinclair. All Rights Reserved. You may duplicate, transmit, and save this document as long as it remains intact with this copyright notice.

Page created and maintained by Hamish Sinclair

Cortana animation graphic courtesy of Matthew Lewis Carroll Smith <>

Last updated Oct 14, 2000

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