Halo Alpha
Halo Alpha


This page is about the level. For the AI, see Cortana.

Cleanse High Charity. Save Cortana.

Cortana is the ninth and penultimate campaign level of Halo 3. It takes place in the Flood infested High Charity. Your mission is to find Cortana in order to activate Installation 08.



John-117 flies a Banshee to High Charity. He finds an opening into the hive. (In co-op, Thel 'Vadam will follow John and land his Banshee next to the Spartan's Banshee)

John drops down onto a wide platform from a hole above ('Vadam follows him in co-op)

  • Johnson (COM): "Arbiter will do the same with the Elites."

(Co-op Change) Johnson (COM): "The Shipmaster will do the same with the Elites."

John shakes off some organic material that is stuck to his boot.

  • Johnson (COM): "Cortana's in there somewhere..."




John begins searching, further in the hive.

John drops down a Porta.

  • Cortana (coming out of a speaker within a crashed Pelican): "I tried to stay hidden, but there was no escape! He cornered me, wrapped me tight... and brought me close."

As John goes deeper into the hive.

  • Gravemind (Gravemind Moment): "Of course, you came for her... We exist together now. Two corpses, in one grave..."
  • Gravemind (Gravemind Moment): "And yet, perhaps a part of her...remains?" (maniacal laughter, fades into Cortana's voice)
  • Cortana: (deranged laughter)

In the large room where the Tilt skull is located, a Terminal can be activated, but does not count towards the Marathon Man achievement. If activated, it displays another Cortana Moment.

  • Cortana (Terminal): "It was the coin's fault! I wanted to make you strong, keep you safe...(drop in tone)I'm sorry, I can't..."

Cortana begins to show signs of Rampancy.

  • Cortana: (casually and kindly, as though nothing is wrong) "May I speak with you, please?... What's your name? It's very nice to meet you!... You like games? So do I."

John struggles through into more narrow, Flood-contaminated tunnels.

  • Cortana: (upset and frightened) "I'm just my Mother's shadow... don't look at me, don't listen! I'm not who I used to be..."

As John nears a large room (with the route to the reactor room at the top):

  • Gravemind (Gravemind Moment): (angrily) "Time has taught me patience! But basking in new freedom, I will know all that I possess!"

John continues to the reactor room.

  • Cortana (Cortana Moment): (panicking, her voice slightly distorted) "I have walked the edge of the abyss. I have seen your future, and I have learned!"

The image of Cortana suddenly turns a tinge of green. She clutches her head and writhes in pain.

  • Gravemind (Gravemind Moment): (angrily) "Submit! End her torment and my own!"

John enters the reactor room, passing by bones and skulls back at the entrance.

John finds a door out of the reactor room, and follows it.

  • Cortana (Cortana Moment): (panicking, voice slightly distorted) "There will be no more sadness, no more anger, no more envy!" (a reference to the three main stages of rampancy.)
  • Gravemind (Gravemind Moment): (enraged) "You will show me what she hides...or I shall feast upon your bones!"

John begins to reach the end of the hallway.

  • Cortana (Cortana Moment): (Speaking in a calm, distorted, monotone voice as though brainwashed. Her image is green.) "This is UNSC AI Serial Number CTN 0452-9. I am a monument to all your sins." (a reference to John and Cortana's first meeting with the Gravemind)

John rushes to the end of the hallway, to find Cortana lying prone in a Stasis Field in a center podium. The room resembles the Sanctum of the Hierarchs. He beats and bashes the shield until it finally fails.


  • Cortana: (weakly) "You found me."

Master Chief leans closer towards the panel Cortana's on. The AI lies pitifully on the podium, pain and shame on her face. The animated code that usually flows across her skin is absent.

  • Cortana: (weakly) "But so much of me is wrong... out of place. You might be too late..."

John kneels right next to Cortana.

She looks up at John. Cortana starts to glow.

  • Cortana: "You... keep it. (she raises her head, and sounds amused) I do know how to pick 'em."
  • Master Chief: "Lucky me. Do you still have it?"

Cortana slowly gets up. As she does, she begins to glow more brightly, and the lines of code and equations once again begin to fall over her surface. She opens her palm and a hologram of the Index appears above it.

  • Cortana: "The Activation Index from the first Halo ring. A little souvenir I hung onto...just in case. (she looks around) Got an escape plan?"

John gets back up on his feet.

  • Master Chief: "Thought I'd try shooting my way out - mix things up a little."

John takes Cortana's old data chip out of his helmet and holds it in front of her. Cortana touches its core and uploads herself into the chip, and John inserts Cortana back, at long last, into his armor.

  • Cortana: (jokingly exasperated) "Just keep your head down... There's two of us in here now, remember."(A reference to Halo: Combat Evolved.)


Nor Hell A Fury...[]

Shoot your way out.

If John continues to stay in the room Cortana was in.

  • Cortana:(weakly) "Chief, get me out of this place. I... I don't want to stay."

John heads back up the hallway.

  • Gravemind (Gravemind Moment): (roars) "Now, at last, I see! Her secret is revealed!"

John-117 makes it back into the reactor room.

  • Cortana: (weakly) "Wait, we need to buy some time. This reactor... start a chain reaction. Destroy High Charity."

The Flood begin to swarm the reactor room, realizing John's plan. However, he successfully destroys all three reactor pylons.

  • Gravemind: (roars in pain)
  • Cortana: "You hurt it, Chief. But not for long. We need to get to Halo - destroy the Flood once and for all."

If John takes too long:

  • Cortana: "An explosion just made us an exit! I'll mark it on your HUD, Chief, go!"

When John reaches the halfway point escaping:

  • Cortana: "Analyzing the route ahead... I have it mostly figured out. Just keep moving, I'll update your HUD as you go."

Cortana: "Corridors ahead have all collapsed. I'll find another way, Chief; be careful."

  • Cortana: "There, Chief, into the maintenance tunnel."

John finds his way back when...

  • Cortana: "I've got a friendly contact! But who would be crazy enough to come in here?"

Chief and Cortana find The Arbiter battling Flood with a Flamethrower. John assists.

  • Cortana: (amused) "Wait, you two made nice? What else have you been up to while I was gone...?"


John-117 and The Arbiter find a Pelican, possibly from In Amber Clad, nearby and board it. John uploads Cortana into the Pelican's holotank and starts up the engines. One of the Gravemind's tentacles advances to the Dropship, but the heat from the thrust forces it to retreat. The Pelican takes off, smoke pouring lightly from the left engine. The tentacle comes back and tries to wrap around the Dropship, but John escapes its grip. The Pelican barely escapes from a massive explosion caused by the reactor going critical as High Charity is finally destroyed, and the Pelican makes its way to the new Halo ring.


Album Cover Soundtrack Song Name Soundtrack Number
H3 Cover OriginalSoundtrack Halo 3: Original Soundtrack Cortana Suite (No More Dead Heroes, Keep What You Steal) 20 (20.1, 20.2)


Icon Name Description Value
Mission 8 completed achievement The Key Complete the level on Normal, Heroic, or Legendary difficulty. 40G
Tiltskull Tilt Find the Tilt Skull. 10G
Orpheus achievement Orpheus Earn over 15,000 in free-for-all meta-game scoring. 10G


  • In this level, the only enemies the player encounters are the Flood.


Main article: Glitches
  • During the level, you will find dead Elites wearing Assault Armor. One of them is glitching by doing their death position in mid-air though; it looks like his foot seems to be stuck in Flood biomass. If you stick his body or melee it, the corpse will fall. You can also use a Brute Shot grenade or other explosive.
  • (Co-op) After you activate the reactor, a door that leads to a hallway will open from flood. If one of you stays there and the other continues, the section will fall and the bottom door will display your partners screen.
  • If carrying a skull to the end of the level, Master Chief will start with a Spartan Laser on the next level.

Easter Eggs[]

Main article: Easter Eggs
  • The Tilt Skull can be found on this level.
  • After obtaining Cortana, there is a skull on a ledge-like structure (it's purple and is kind of bulbous at the end) overhead after you exit the hallway that leads to Cortana. To get it, you need to get the Deployable Cover, deploy it on the floor directly in front of the edge of the roof, jump on the deployed cover and crouch jump onto the roof. One may also partner jump or grenade jump with a plasma grenade. Once on top of the roof, locate the skull towards the apex of the angled roof and get the skull. Please note that this skull has no affiliation with the "13 required skulls" list.


  • When you return to the Pelican at the end of the level, if you look to the right, you can see the Arbiter's Banshee. This banshee, while impossible to enter, can still be destroyed with grenades or other weapons.


  • This level is a reference to the Halo: Combat Evolved level, The Library, and the Halo 2 level, Sacred Icon, where you have to retrieve Halo's activation Index and that it is a pure-Flood level. The only difference is that there are no Sentinels, friendly or otherwise.
  • The section of the level after saving Cortana is called 'Nor Hell A Fury...', referencing the poem by William Congreve 'The Mourning Bride'. The entire line is 'Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned', possibly referencing Cortana, who, after months of torment, now has the ability to light the newly constructed Halo ring and destroy the Ark, as well as the Flood.
  • Thematically, this level also has much in common with the levels Keyes and The Maw. It depicts John venturing alone into a vessel to rescue a comrade or friend, from the Flood, most specifically for a data construct in their possession; and detonate the fusion reactor core. In this case the objective is the Index to fire Halo; in Keyes it was the Captain's neural implants to destroy UNSC Pillar of Autumn.
  • One of Cortana's lines, "There will be no more sadness. No more anger. No more envy," appears to reference Marathon's stages of Rampancy; Melancholia, Anger and Jealousy, respectively.
  • The line "It's the coin's fault," is a reference to a factor that brought John-117 into the Spartan program. He identified the side of a 20th-century quarter owned by Dr. Halsey that was about to hit the ground before it did in Halo: The Fall of Reach.
  • The Gravemind uses a line from Halo 2: "We exist together now. Two corpses in one grave." This line is referring to Cortana, and referred to the Prophet of Mercy in Halo 2. This line was said in the level "High Charity."
  • The achievement for gaining over 15,000 points on this level, entitled Orpheus, is a reference to the ancient Greek mythology story in which the Greek hero Orpheus ventures into the depths of hell to retrieve the one he loves. This is easily compared to John's mission: venture into hell, that is represented as High Charity, to rescue Cortana.
  • The line "Just keep your head down… There's two of us in here, remember." is a reference to The Pillar of Autumn. When your shield would go down, Cortana would say the exact line.
  • Cortana mentions, "I am the monument to all your sins." This is exactly what the Gravemind first says when he rescues John 117 and Thel 'Vadam from death.


  • In the beginning cutscene, High Charity's crashed remains can be seen facing upside-down with the "upper bulb" being jammed into the terrains surface and the "stem" being slanted, pointing upward. However, when landmarks such as the Sanctum of the Hierarchs, the chamber is clearly right-side-up. In reality, the level should have played out with High Charity's landmarks being upside-down. This may simply be an aesthetic mistake that was intentionally overlooked for gameplay purposes. Alternately, High Charity's artificial gravity systems may still be operational, at least in the area explored in this mission. The complete absence of the Ark's gravitational field inside High Charity could be attributed to some kind of 'inertial damping' technology designed to protect the occupants of ships from extreme acceleration- such a technology is obviously necessary given the rapid accelerations both Covenant and human ships are seen to undergo in the Halo series (For instance, the UNSC In Amber Clad's acceleration toward Regret's Carrier at the end of the level Metropolis in Halo 2).
  • Flood may randomly stop attacking you and stand still. This is especially common in the reactor room.


  • When you have to destroy the reactors, after collecting Cortana, you can see that there were once four reactors, but due to the actions of the Flood Forms in the reactor room, it was destroyed. You can sometimes see it explode, to the far right, when you enter the reactor room for the first time on your way to retrieving Cortana.
  • The Mausoleum of the Arbiter can be seen in the distance when standing near the crashed Pelican. This and the Prophets' Inner Sanctum are essentially the only recognizable features of High Charity in Halo 2 that can be seen in Halo 3. One can see in the Bungie feature "Flood Autopsy," that they had originally planned to have the Flood re-animate all Arbiter corpses in the room, creating an Arbiter army for the player to fight.
  • The room where Cortana is located is a remake of the room from the level High Charity from Halo 2. This room is located before the final gravity lift, where Cortana says, "Apparently these are the Prophet Hierarch's private quarters, their inner sanctum." In the "inner sanctum" there are three doors, two located opposite one another, with a third, opposite a large view screen. In the level High Charity, John enters through the third door, and exits through the door on his right; in the level Cortana from Halo 3, he enters through the door that was locked in Halo 2 (opposite the door that leads to the final gravity lift). The graphic design of the room and the rest of High Charity's interior has been remodeled in Halo 3. It resembles the corridors of the CCS-Truth and Reconciliation from Halo: Combat Evolved.
  • There is an area with a dead ODST (not the crashed Pelican). It is unknown how he made it so far from the Pelican or if he was from the Frigate In Amber Clad before the Flood attacked High Charity. There is also a Flamethrower in this area which hints to a final stand since he's in a pipe area with one opening.
  • On single-player campaign at the end of the level, go out to where the Pelican is, and look to your right. You will see the Banshee the Arbiter rode in on. While you can get to it and destroy it, you cannot enter it, and oddly, grenades will not stick to it.
  • Much of High Charity is flooded with water; the reason for this is that it crash-landed in a large body of water near the Ark's Control Citadel. This can be seen by going out to the crashed Pelican and looking towards the Mausoleum and looking downwards.
  • This level was originally split into two separate Campaign missions, both considerably shorter than the current level.
  • According to a quote made by Bungie developer Jason Keith,[1][2] it is implied that the Flood Hive of High Charity and the Gravemind were one and the same during Halo 3, thus making this level seem like a boss fight, in a sense.[3]
  • Jiralhanae skulls can be found among the skeletal remains laying around the level.
  • It is impossible to leave Cortana's room after the cutscene dual wielding weapons, because you must melee (knocking the left hand weapon out of your hand) the stasis field surrounding her, and once this is done the cutscene begins immediately. The lost weapon is nowhere to be found after gameplay resumes.
  • The entire Covenant cityscape once found on the lower levels of High Charity is believed to be completely engulfed in the ocean of unknown fluids seen throughout the level from a distance due to the fact that the cityscape's presence is completely absent.
  • The room with the pillars and circular platform outside the window is actually the former High Charity Council Chamber.
  • Numerous landmarks seen in High Charity in Halo 2 can be found throughout the level including, the Gravity Lift to the Mid Tower, one of the High Charity corridors, and the Council Chamber.
  • This level has been infamous among the community for being overly difficult, repetitive, frustrating, and generally not very fun, along with Halo: Combat Evolved's The Library.[4][5] The entire level is covered with Flood 'sludge', which is thought to be flesh of dead bodies. This means that the layout is sometimes disorienting, when it's not possible to tell directions, or even walls from floors. Enemies easily blend into the scenery, thus making the level very difficult. A few players have commented that the levels layout is simply too confusing for those playing it the first time - this is because of the enormous amount of enemies and maze-like pathways. Some fans have even claimed it is one of the worst Halo single player missions ever created and a few have even labeled it as the 'worst video game level ever designed'.[6] In contrast, other players enjoy the level for its challenge, and many praise Bungie for making this as realistic as possible.
  • In the bone scattered cove before entering the reactor chamber, there is a small yellowish puddle of ooze with a striking resemblance to Fuligo septica also known as, "dog vomit slime mold."
  • The doors of High Charity in Halo 3 are different from those in Halo 2. They look like the Cruiser's doors from Halo CE.
  • There are "grenade throwers" on this mission, which is very unusual. Where to find them is at the part with the first Gravity Hammer, and the upward path near the porta.
  • There are death-glitches all over the place, such as the Brutes with a leg sticking up, and those Elites in mid-air.
  • Oddly enough, it is strange how Brute Minors have access to the Mauler and Cloaking, along with Incendiary Grenades, since the Cloaking and Incendiary Grenades are used by Brute Stalkers.
  • In the second major Flood battle, near the terminal, there is a Gravity Hammer, though there is no Chieftain to be present.
  • The reactor room had only one bridge, but due to Flood actions, there are an additional 2 Flood-biomass bridges.
  • This is the only mission where Energy Swords are located in Covenant weapon holders.
  • When playing on co-op, every time a player respawns, they will have a shotgun or energy sword for John-117 or the Arbiter respectively. This makes the level much easier to deal with, especially on higher difficulties.
  • There are several dialogues cut from the mission.[7]