- The Ur-Didact, giving a speech/ on the purpose of the Mantle of Responsibility, explaining why the Forerunner's should remain the sole holders
The Forerunners were a highly advanced, ancient species of Tier 1 beings whos empire - known as the Ecumene - contained three million fertile worlds in the Milky Way Galaxy almost 100,000 years ago. The Forerunners were the creators and builders of many significant installations including the Halo Array, the Ark and many Shield Worlds as well as numerous lesser artifacts found on many worlds.
The Forerunner's had taken up the role as custodians of the Galaxy and believed that the Mantle of Responsibility had been passed down to them by the Precusors, an even more powerful race that preceeded the Forerunner civilization. "Forerunner" is a literal translation of what the Forerunner's called themselves; they identified themselves in this way because they believed they held an impermanent place in the the Universe's living time and that they would be succeeded by other, better races. Before they disappeared, they named Humanity as their successor's, calling them the "Reclaimers".
The Covenant Empire worshipped the Forerunners as gods, deriving much of their technology from Forerunner artifacts which were found throughout the galaxy, and believed that any who defaced these relics to be Heretics.
"The Forerunners were a wise, highly intelligent and noble people and with a belief in justice and in peace, they bravely faced the advesary. They sought to sterilize it."
- Cortana on the Forerunners
The Forerunners first emerged from the planet of Ghibalb. Described as a paradise, the planet became desolate and was coured with radiation due to a failed attempt by the Forerunners at stellar engineering which resulted in a series of novas in the Orion complex.
Eventually, the Forerunners rose up against their creators, the Precursors, when they handed the Mantle of Responsibility to Humanity.
It is now known that the early Forerunners drove the Precursors out of the Galaxy and followed them to Path Kethona (a local galaxy) where they utterly destroyed the remaining Precursors, save for a few. The survivors of the expeditionary force then abandoned their ships and technology and settled on a small planet out of shame
The Forerunner's were a very advanced civilization that rose to power after the fall of the Precursors. The Forerunner believed that the Precursos were responsible for their creation, due to the similar physical appearance. The Forerunners soon became the dominant species in the galaxy, with their empire spanning over 3,000,000 fertile and inhabited worlds. The Forerunners reached their peak just before the Halo Array around 100,000 years before 2552, in the closing days of the Forerunner-Flood War.
Being one of three races to ever reach Tier 1 technology (the others were Prehistoic Humans and Prehistoric San 'Shyuum) based on the Tecnological Achievement Tiers measurement, they were only surpassed by a mysterious race called the Precursors at Tier 0, evidence of whom has been found on various planets, although, almost all Precursor technology and structures have been lost, due to the nueral properties of their constructions and the nueral termination effects of the Halo Array. The fact that the Halos were scattered at various places throughout the galaxy suggests that the Forerunner Empire covered most, if not all othe galaxy. Their civilization was based around the Mantle of Responsibility, a belief that it was their responsibility to protect all life in the galaxy. They presumably monitored the evolution of other sentient species within the Milky Way Galaxy, intervening in ways that ensured their civilizations would follow a path of peace, free of conflict. One occasion includes the devolution of the Humans to prevent further conflict that emanated from what they considered to be a violent species. The Forerunners themselves were a race almost entirely without conflict and at some point in history they reached a point of disarmament, believing they no longer needed weapons to rule the galaxy which ultimately weakened them when the Flood attacked.
The Flood ThreatEdit
Later in their history, a Forerunner survey team encountered the Flood on the planet G 617 g. After thir first contact, the Forerunners failed to recognize the threat the Flood posed to the galaxy and when they finally realized the danger, they attempted to contain it. However, they underestimated the Floods ability to adapt and learn as they believed it to be a non-sentient, highly contagious disease. As a result, the attempts to contain the Flood failed ebcause they used methods more adapted to disease control rather than warfare, trying to contain and quarantine the Flood rather than attack it and destroy it. The Forerunners did not try a more forceful form of warfare until it was too late.
When the Forerunner became unable to contain the Flood outbreak, the galaxy entered a state of war. During the 300 years of conflict, the Forerunners studied the Flood in labs such as the lab in the gas mine located in the atmosphere of Threshold, looking for a weakness that they could exploit. As the Forerunners realized that coventional naval tactics were ineffective against the onslaught of the parasite, they devloped new weapons and tactics to help combat the Flood. Sentinels were deployed as a way of maintaining the Flood through surgical and localized attacks. The Forerunner Fleet Command even began contemplating wether to use battlegroups to cause stellar collapse in systems compromised by the Flood, using supernovas to engulf entire worlds. When these tactics, however, only proved to slow, never stop, the growth of the Flood, hte Foreruner leadership realized that the only way to stop the Flood was to deprive of any and all potential hosts, eliminating its potential to grow. The Forerunners eventually created the Halo Array, a weapon of last resort that would kill all Sentient Baings of enough biomass to sustain the Flood which would in turn starve the Flood to death.
At first, the Forerunners were reluctant to use the Array, believing that they should continue to embrace the Mantle of Responsibility and protect life rather than destroy it. This led to great stretches of anguished debate and civil war, but eventually it was decided that the Array was the only means of successfully stopping the Flood threat. The Graveming somehow managed to convince a Contender-class AI, 05-032 032 Mendiciant Bias to unite with the Flood. 032 Mediciant Bias soon led his massive fleet to attack the "Maginot Line", the final line between what the Forerunners could actively protect and what they were forced to cede to the Flood. The Forerunners had finally exhausted every alternative option and activated the Halo Array, killing themselves and every sentient being of sufficient biomass, with the exception of the those safely placed on the Ark.
According to 343 Guilty Spark, the Librarian is alive and he knows where to find her. It has been said that the remaining Forerunners fled to galaxies outside the Milky Way Galaxy where no-one knows their current fate. The same has een said of the Precursors. After the Array had been fired and the Flood threat eliminated, the Sentinels and AI spearheaded the reseeding of the galaxy, with data logs, embryos and specimens contained on Forerunner ships, The Sentinels also sacrificed themselves to continue the planned activation of the Array, with their last miltary presence with the members of their parent species, defending the Ark until the Didact had activated the Halo Array, cleansing the galaxy of the Flood
The Forerunners from what we know were huan like in appearance with flatened noses, but they also share appearances with the San 'Shyuum. Due to Forerunner customs, they either where Forerunner Armor or Combat skins so it is hard to get an exact picture of what they looked like.
Forerunner mutation to rates can affect their natural appearance: it can give them certain traits like increased height or an additional thumb on each hand.
There are five known rates: the Lifeworkers, the Warrior-Servants, the Builders, the Miners and the Juridicals. Juvenile Forerunners are known as Manipulars as they have not yet mutated into a rate. There were the Theoreticals who were groups of scientists that were dissolved after the Human-Forerunner War. If you count both the Manipulars and the Theoreticals there are seven rates.
Forerunner technology was highly cultivated and progressive. They manged to create solidified surfaces out of meticulous energy, create a Halo-wide teleportation grid and create and utilize a number of other advanced machinery. Forerunner machinery of many sharp angles of metal like crystals that are reinforced on a molecular level. The Halo Rings themselves, the Micro-Dyson Mark II sphere, which is connected through a portal to the shield world of Onyx and the Ark (Instillation 00) are, above all else, the most significant pieces of Forerunner technology. The planet Onyx in particular demonstrates both their ability to engineer on a grand scale and their transcendent understanding of slipspace technology. The Forerunners can also "devolve" species back to their primitive state. It is unknown how much of their technology is based off of Precursors, if any.
Covenant Luminaries (which are actually stolen Forerunner equipment designed to detext of Forerunners) can detect Humans, previously mislabeled as 'Forerunner Artifacts', leading to the initial Covenant-Human contact which sparked a seemingly endless war. Ironically, the Covenant worships the Forerunners but fight Humans, who have been confirmed as Forerunner descendents by the Oracle. The idea of livng Forerunners in the Galaxy (described by the Oracle as Reclaimers) terrified the Covenant leadership. In an attempt to protect their religion the Prophets of Truth, Mercy and Regret concealed the true identity of Humanity to the Covenant and deemed them as Heretics, thus sparking the Human-Covenant War. Huragok are the only known Forerunner creation that is both non-robotic and apart of the Covenant.
Forerunners have the technology to reproduce entire individuals from encoded DNA/RNA/synthetic sample in data streams. This was mentioned in the Bestiarium: "DNA/RNA/silicon samples are encoded in this data stream. Reproduction of individuals for analysis is forbidden by this facilty".
The Forerunners appear to be gentically related to Humans, which can be backed up by the Iris Server 05 message about the humans providing the answers to the Forerunners own "Mysteries", and Mendicant Bias's own declaration Halo: Contact Harvest. This explains why the Prophets ordered the Covenant to exterminate Humanity, knowing that they were the chosen heirs of the Forerunners and would undermine their powers. Halo 3 and the Halo Encyclopedia also support this theory.
Forerunner constructs and sentries use a broad variety of weapons,typically high powered energy beams. These weapons proved very effective against the Flood