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This page is about the viral marketing campaign, for the Nebula visit Iris Nebula.

“Look for the signs, keepers of the flame. They will lead you to war, and perhaps, to victory.”
— Iris Email

Iris was a Halo 3 viral marketing and public relations campaign; more specifically, an ARG or Alternate Reality Game designed to give people more information on how the great conflict behind the Halo franchise began, and the climactic conclusion.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Iris Glyph.

Unlike Halo 2's ARG I Love Bees, Iris was conducted by using internet forums in the Halo Community, as a means of interacting with the players, giving clues and or discussion. The forums provided the interactive aspect of the ARG. Clues, Hints, and information was given to the players by an unknown Forerunner construct called AdjutantReflex, an A.I whose role is to help the players discover and unravel the mysteries of the Forerunners. These clues eventually lead players to a series of websites or "Servers" for them to unlock and gain more information.

Iris was written by Frank O'Connor, with help from community manager Brian Jarrard and artist Aaron LeMay. The campaign ran for several weeks beginning shortly after the conclusion of the Halo 3 Beta and continued up until the release of Halo 3 on September 25, 2007. Iris promised to be a compelling experience to uncover valuable information and players who participated received small prizes for their efforts. The campaign was deemed Iris, because graphics of an iris or a pupil appear prominently. Iris could also be another Greek history/mythology reference. The minor Greek goddess Iris was the goddess of the Rainbow and a messenger of the gods. This makes some sense as there is an image of a rainbow from one of the servers and the popular 'Rainbow Theory'

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 11 June 2007 - System Integrity Confirmed thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 12 June 2007 - Archive/Resource Estimate thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 13 June 2007 - AdjutantReflex posts reply to locked forum thread, System Integrity Confirmed
  • 14 June 2007 - Look for the signs, Keepers of the Flame email sent to Xbox Flash newsletter recipients.Who? thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 15 June 2007 - SOTA members congregated in Times Square, holding signs and handing out fliers.
  • 16 June 2007 - SOTA members congregated elsewhere.
  • 17 June 2007 - Stop It thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 18 June 2007 - That Old Life thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 19 June 2007 - x Foman123 x contacted by AdjutantReflex. Last Word thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 20 June 2007 - Episode 1 (Server 05) unlocked.
  • 28 June 2007 - Pulse thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 29 June 2007 - Veins of Ice and Poison thread started by AdjutantReflex.
  • 10 July 2007 - Episode 2 unlocked.
  • 26 July 2007 - Episode 3 unlocked.
  • 9 August 2007 - Episode 4 unlocked.
  • 16 August 2007 - Episode 5 unlocked.
  • 2009 - AdjutantReflex's Bungie.net profile is deleted.

History[edit | edit source]

June 2007[edit | edit source]

First forum threads[edit | edit source]

At 10:26 AM PST on June 11, 2007, a mysterious thread appeared in the Halo 3 forum on Bungie.net. The thread, entitled, "System Integrity Confirmed," was created by a user named "AdjutantReflex," whose system security role was "CompoundIntelligence."[1] Users noticed that the text of AdjutantReflex's post was gold, as is the case with "Bungie.net Overlords."

In response to a post wondering if this was the work of a hacker, AdjutantReflex confirmed that it entered Bungie's systems "by force," but stated that its methods were irrelevant because it had no hostile intent. AdjutantReflex then edited the first reply by another user (adding the text "Checking."), demonstrating a system ability to edit other posts. After exactly 100 excited and confused replies from forumgoers, AdjutantReflex locked and stickied the thread, demonstrating its possession of other moderator powers. The thread had been open for about two hours.

AdjutantReflex then moved to HBO, posting a similar series of mysterious writings in the halo.bungie.org (HBO) forum.[2]

On June 12, at exactly 11:00 AM PST, AdjutantReflex created another thread, titled "Archive/Resource Estimate," with his first post stating that "Archives/Resources will be compiled in approximately 38 hours [1:00 AM PST on Thursday, June 14]."[3] Another several posts followed, but no further substantive information was gleaned.

The next day, at 3:43 PST, AdjutantReflex posted an addendum to "Archive/Resource Estimate," with the text "Tick Tock." June 14 came, and in the hours counting down to AdjutantReflex's 1 AM PST deadline, the account made two more posts.

Deadline[edit | edit source]

Main article: Forerunner Email

Shortly after 1 AM PST, an email was sent to all recipients of the Xbox Flash newsletter. A total of three Forerunner glyphs—specifically, the one in AdjutantReflex's avatar—were spotted inside the email and on Master Chief's visor at Halo3.com.

Comic[edit | edit source]

Main articles: Halo 3: The Cradle of Life and Society of the Ancients

An advertisement for the Halo 3 comic.

Later, a Bungie.net user by the name of "crazyBoy3" discovered another section of Halo3.com (http://halo3.com/comic/) with an intriguing comic. Intrepid searchers discovered that the last page of this comic contained a fourth glyph and could be manipulated to give an IP address:

Shortly after, the IP was further altered ( to lead participants in the alternate reality game to a site associated with the (presumably fictional) organization known as Society of the Ancients, or SOTA. The site contained a fifth glyph. A few minutes after this discovery, a MySpace page containing references to the SOTA was found. Not much is known about this page, or other Myspace or Facebook profiles at this time.

That same day, at 3:43PM PST, AdjutantReflex began another thread at Bungie.net, this one titled "Who?"[4] This posting corresponded to a change at Halo3.com, where the main page had been replaced by five darkened images, labeled "Servers #1-5." All five servers were locked at this time, though they would later be unlocked.

The SOTA[edit | edit source]

Members of the Society of the Ancients were spotted in New York City's Times Square wearing yellow shirts and holding picket signs with the glyph emblazoned on them. They were also handing out fliers. An e-mail address (DoYouGrok@societyoftheancients.com) was spotted on the application form; attempts to contact it yielded this error message:

Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:


Technical details of permanent failure:
PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 13): 550 relay not permitted

AdjutantReflex returns[edit | edit source]

AdjutantReflex posted again at Bungie.net, this time with a quote from Macbeth warning users that it [AdjutantReflex] was being attacked.[5] AdjutantReflex stated that it would only be able to endure the attack for 22 hours, estimating its demise at 10:06 AM PDT on June 18, 2007. Adding the individual digits in 10:06 (1+0+0+6) yields the number 7.

The next day, AdjutantReflex posted on Bungie.net again (it's fifth thread, titled "That Old Life"),[6] stating that a stronger entity was going to defeat him; it was unclear whether "defeat" referred to destruction, deletion, corruption, or some other damaging event. In the last sentence of the post, AdjutantReflex said "I will seek one of you out and leave my legacy in a small space." Twenty-five minutes later, AdjutantReflex replied to the thread saying "He has had millennia for reflection, but what image does he see?"

The countdown on the website sped up.

AdjutantReflex and x Foman123 x[edit | edit source]

On June 19, AdjutantReflex contacted "x Foman123 x," of Bungie.net, via a personal message, whose subject line was "HELP ME." The text of the message was simply: "He's here. With us. I am already defeated. Security is failing. Peril is near. Warn them." In proof of x Foman123 x's claim, the thread he created to convey the message (also titled "HELP ME.")[7] was stickied, presumably by AdjutantReflex. Shortly thereafter, AdjutantReflex posted on the thread saying,

The stain on his hands will not wash. That damned spot as old as rock and time. What has he learned in Eon’s slumber? I doubt it’s mercy or sorrow. I am diminished. Outranked.

x Foman123 x responded by asking what he should do. AdjutantReflex's responded to him using another private message; x Foman123 x created a second thread for it.[8]

Tell them I am failing. And that he is stronger. Tell them that security cannot be guaranteed. Tell them that there is little time. And that I am crumbling.

AdjutantReflex would later send him another message, which would get another thread.[9]

He was always better than I. More powerful. More intelligent. A better machine. He is not who you think he is. And I do not know his intent.

Later, AdjutantReflex's avatar on the Bungie.net forums changed once more. When a thread was created to point this out, AdjutantReflex posted a short message with the word "STERILIZING." AdjutantReflex's posts on the forums also appeared to be vanishing. On a side note, when one hovers their mouse cursor over the new avatar, hovertext appears, reading: "This entity has been terminated, its matrix commandeered."

In its sixth thread,[10] "Last Word," what had been AdjutantReflex posted once more, saying,

Adjutant Reflex is terminated. Attempt no further communication. I am utilizing its matrix. Everything is within protocol. Tomorrow, things may be clearer but I will not be here to witness the clarity. I am for another place and another time. On my terms. Be seeing you.

x Foman123 x was contacted via private message again, and once again, he posted a thread to share the information.[11]

The entity you communicated with previously has been terminated and in accordance with protocol. Its matrix is accommodating my requirements. My identity is not your concern. My intent is your concern.

At 1PM EST, the timer on the countdown website ran down to 0. It was shortly replaced by a much longer, much slower moving countdown, which in turn was replaced with a stationary countdown that read: 001 012 034 053.

Countdown on[edit | edit source]

Main article: Episode 1

At midnight, June 20, the text from the countdown page disappeared entirely, leaving only the frozen countdown. Late that evening, the countdown also disappeared. The page was replaced by one labeled "Bounce Path Control." The page contained a sound file—apparently some sort of transmission—as well as a code labeled The Key, a button labeled The Path, and the message "Treat this knowledge with care." This is a transcript of the sound file:

This is how it all begins. Just in time to once again dance upon the knife-edge of oblivion, to re-live what the Halos had hoped to destroy and more. For two enemies now stand where before there was only one. A fate we escaped and a fate we may relive. I almost convinced myself that no one was listening, that the waves of the past had rolled through once again, but a chance remains to change the Universe anew. Learn of our past. Take these keys and dip from the wells of history. Perhaps through others' eyes you may find how to save us all.

At around Midnight Eastern Time, the site was updated. Visitors had to take The Key to unlock.msgamestudios.com and be one of the first hundred people to help unlock "Server 5" (of which we would see server 1 on http://www.halo3.com). Once unlocked, the "Server" showed up on, offering four downloads and a video of what seemed to be AdjutantReflex's final transmission before its destruction.

Redirect[edit | edit source]

On June 21, the countdown page was changed into a redirect to The page, labeled "Server 05 Open," contained a rotating, interactive, Forerunner-esque object. By clicking the four symbols on its surface, visitors could download several different files. An additional symbol showed a message, and another caused the object to spin several times before prompting your browser to close.

The four symbols may have been Forerunner numerals denoting the four Servers that were still locked.

The New AdjutantReflex Returns[edit | edit source]

On June 28, after a week of inactivity, the Bungie.net Community "CompoundIntelligence" noted that the sound file for Server05 ( had been altered. The object seemed to emit a short "chirping" sound approximately every 5.831 seconds (this may be another [7] reference—8+3+1-5=7).

Later that day, AdjutantReflex made another thread in the Bungie.net forums.[12] It is unclear whether this thread, titled "Pulse," was made by the other entity or if AdjutantReflex somehow managed to make another transmission. His post is as follows:


Can you feel it? Beating at the heart of the Universe. Skin too thick to be sure. It's alive though. I'm certain. What do I do with life?


Early in the morning of June 29, AdjutantReflex created a thread entitled "Veins of Ice and Poison."[13] In his first post there, he stated:

nROGUE PROCESS ghost.713> X.XX.713> POS/NAV < @ > <53LPH54.6JG62.1740><1………> X X5 > CONFIRM SECURE QUARANTINE - > qghost.713

I do not require charity or alms. But I did choose poverty. And other darkness too. Will you wait for me?


The first part resembles a similar message seen in the March 26, 2007 Warthog video: "X.XX.713>ghost.713/non-auth/activity ongoing." It can also be found on the back of the Halo 3 Xbox 360 console. In Halo 3's Terminals, 032 Mendicant Bias is also identified as "X.XX.713" and as a "ROGUE PROCESS ghost." Seven minutes later, he posted in the same thread with the statement:[14]

Adjutant Reflex is ended. This is a convenient Matrix. For now.

July 2007[edit | edit source]

5 July 2007[edit | edit source]

Valchael on the bungie.net forums announced he'd received a package from Microsoft containing a number of SOTA-related items. He was one of the first 100 to open Server 05. It's expected that packages were sent to all 100 - whether each will receive their package depends on the validity of their addresses (entered either directly, or via their Passport/XBL account). The package contained: A T-shirt, a copy of the SOTA flyer, a printed version of the Halo 3 comic, and a slip of paper with an XBL key redeemable for an Iris glyph gamerpic.

Flood Containment Control[edit | edit source]

On July 6, 2007 nattyhaze on arg.bungie.org discovered via Google numerous classified postings for a company called Flood Containment Control (text displayed on the Slide_Ref070107.jpg), containing an image with the original 'closed' version of the glyph. The ads contain the phone number, (888) 778-5672, which has an interesting recording.

On July 7, 2007 the message on the Flood Containment Control call number has changed to a conversation between two men. Of note is a reference to "402-K-07-002." suitedjock Googled the number, which lead to an EPA webpage referring to a booklet "EPA 402-K-07-002," Flood Cleanup and the Air in Your Home. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (or NIOSH) is the United States federal agency responsible for conducting research and making recommendations for the prevention of work-related injury and illness. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) within the US Department of Health and Human Services. The new recording says this:

Op (British Female): (echoed by two different calls) Welcome to the {garbled, possibly "Server" or "Strema"} Conferencing center. Please enter pin number followed by the pound sign.
Caller: #### (201#?)
Op: Password accepted. Now accessing conference archive number 16180, participant 1-2.
Man 1: ...isn't necessary, and neither is the doc download.
Man 2: I agree. This isn't going to be a public resource. Uh, pass on the document number so I can delete it.
(pause, three seconds)
Man 1: There's no way to tell yet, {"Jamie" or "Jim"} is looking into the records to find out how many {"closed" or "cloned"} sites there are, but as for active clean up, somewhere around three-four thousand. Oh here it is. Uh, hold on. 402-K-07-002 and in terms of numbers most of these are past the {"50b"} stage.
(pause, four seconds)
Man 2: With a few exceptions: site 34. . . . (3 + 4 = 7)
Op: --Thank you for calling. Goodbye.

On July 8, 2007 the recording changed, and the following was recorded:

Man 2: ...site 4, 107 and 37.
(pause, 1.5 seconds)
Man 2: The center usually goes in before we do, that's been my experience.
Man 1: By the time we have the site clean, they've moved on to more pressing needs...after all, we've had some extremely unpredictable seasons lately.
(pause, four seconds)
Man 2: ...no need, their rep is available anytime we need her.
(pause, four seconds)
Man 1: ...on everything we still need to look into.
(pause, three seconds)
Man 2: Eh, we're working on it. For the moment now we're simply hiding the data behind a false menu item.
Man 1: Security will be updated before the next system approaches.
(pause - 15 seconds, interlaced with one of the men coughing)
Man 2: Okay, great. Bye, (Mel or Bill).
Man 1: Thanks.
Op: -- Thank you for calling. Goodbye.

Server 2[edit | edit source]

Main article: Episode 2

On July 10, 2007 Episode 2 opens at Halo3.com. The "Servers" have been renamed to "Episodes." One of the files that you can download from episode 02 is a .wav file entitled 719 Hz. The sound file contains garbled noise, but if you run it through a program called Spectogram, then it creates a picture of what appears to be a melting and misshapen clock. The image can also be attributed to look like a blurry version of "The Device," which can be accessed through the Halo 3 website. It is hidden inside the concept art section, which could be the reference to being "hidden behind a false menu item" from the Flood Containment Control call number. http://img27.picoodle.com/img/img27/9/8/24/t_719HzImagem_f7c4488.jpg Image

Server 3[edit | edit source]

Main article: Episode 3

On July 26, 2007 at Halo3.com, on the concept art section, after the thumbnail for Spartan Laser, is a thumbnail labeled "The Device." When the thumbnail is clicked, a window will pop up, and once you click "Initiate," it tells you it's waiting for sound input. If you have a microphone connected, you can speak and it will make echoes of your voice. By tapping hard enough to generate some noise on your microphone repeatably with a certain interval between each tap, or by playing the file 719 Hz.wav downloaded from one of the episodes, it will unlock the glyph and give you a link to Server 3. Note: A few people have unlocked the glyph by whispering Iris into their microphone, although this is doubtful how it was meant to be unlocked.

Ψ(bar, sub 0) = √(m/π)*e^(-2α(xbarsubi)² + A)

This is the quantum mechanics wave form formula. The original equation given to us is incomplete, though it can be seen as an example of Schrödinger’s equation. Many of his equations incorporate Newton's second law: f=ma. Einstein theorized that if you could travel faster than the speed of light, you would be able to observe the past in some way. Of course, it's incomplete and different from most of Schrödinger’s equations, so it's possible that it is trying to hypothesize time travel.

August 2007[edit | edit source]

Server 4[edit | edit source]

Main article: Episode 4

Server 4 opens at Halo3.com on 9 August 2007. Many strange things are found, such as hidden buttons, and "light halos" around certain buttons as well.

Server 5[edit | edit source]

Main article: Episode 5

Server 5 opened on 16 August 2007 at Halo3.com. The background has changed for this particular server, however, the Forerunner object seems to be the same.

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

The Halo 3 MSN page stated in mid-August that Iris had come to a conclusion with the opening of Server 5. Iris' story and mysteries were continued and addressed in Halo 3, by the use of computer Terminals in the levels taking place on the Ark. These strings of recorded text communications detailed the fall of the Forerunner civilization and the firing of the Halo Rings. It also revealed Adjutant Reflex to actually be a rogue AI called Mendicant Bias, who betrayed the Forerunners in their final hour. In 2009, AdjutantReflex's Bungie.net profile was deleted.

Aftermath[edit | edit source]

After its conclusion the Iris Campaign opened up new ideas and stories for future fictions to elaborate on in relation to the Forerunners. However, Iris was not without its mishaps. At the beginning of the ARG, many forum goers at Bungie.net believed that Adjutant Reflex was a hacker who had hacked the forums, and was going to hack the rest of the site. It wasn't until after several replies that forum goers started to realize that it was all part of the ARG. Soon after Adjutant Reflex began visiting other forums in the Halo community, pranksters attempting to get in on the action began misleading fans all over the place, even going as so far to post the phone number of a Halo fan named Michael VanderZand unaware of the ARG. The number appeared to be legitimate because it ended in 2000 and had Vic's voice mail from season 1 of Red vs Blue which resulted in countless annoying hours of answering calls to tell fans that he is not part of the campaign but a victim of a bad joke, and an interview on Attack of the Show. The first server to open up also turned into a mishap as it was supposed to be the fifth server and not the first, this lead to a delay in the game and for the people behind the ARG to rewrite some aspects of it.

Cortana Reference[edit | edit source]

A Bungie-released "Castaway" Poem lead to the discovery of the book "The Castaway Theory" on Amazon... A peculiar comment spoke of the text's referencing of the "Song of Roland," The Song of Roland is the story of a French soldier who carries the mythical sword Durandal. The Quote "My name is Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durendal." from the story has popped for from time to time in relation to Halo and can be traced back as far as the Cortana Letters before Halo was announced at MacWorld 99.

Clearly a Halo reference, and a segment of the "Iris" ARG, as Durandal is a character of the Marathon (Video Game Series), and Cortana of "Halo" series. And while debate continues about the two being either connected or separate, the Iris ARG continues to add more speculation to the connections much the same as I Love Bees did.

The Castaway Theory[edit | edit source]

"In Amazon's folds" is a reference to the "The Castaway Theory" book and Iris tie-in.

When we two parted In silence and tears, Half broken-hearted,\ To sever for years, Pale grew thy cheek and cold,

Colder thy kiss; Truly that hour foretold Sorrow to this! The dew of the morning Sunk chill on my brow; It felt like the warning Of what I feel now. Thy vows are all broken, And light is thy fame: I hear thy name spoken And share in its shame. They name thee before me, A knell to mine ear; A shudder comes o'er me - Why wert thou so dear? They know not I knew thee Who knew thee too well: Long, long shall I rue thee Too deeply to tell. In secret we met: In silence I grieve That thy heart could forget, Thy spirit deceive. If I should meet thee After long years, How should I greet thee? With silence and tears. Or better I'll look And find you away, Mistaken in jungle? My heart labors stayed?

Long weeks though were hidden. In Amazon's folds; The formula's secrets, Love's story now told.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Links[edit | edit source]

Internal[edit | edit source]

External[edit | edit source]

Iris episodes

Episode 1Episode 2Episode 3Episode 4Episode 5

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