If there are two Graveminds in the same universe, will they compete or will they be allies? Or will they merge into one?

  • 1
    That's a nice question. I am interested to know.
    – Time Lord
    Sep 3 '19 at 13:44

We don't know for sure, but presumably they would merge – or already be merged.

Here's a piece of conversation between the Forerunner AI 032 Mendicant Bias and a Gravemind ("FL") from the third hidden Terminal in Halo 3:

LF.Xx.3273.> That is, unfortunately, not the {~} similar to us {~} but where you are a single intelligence inhabiting multiple [instances], we are a compound {~} consisting of [a thousand billion] coordinated minds inhabiting as many bodies as circumstance require.

The Flood accumulates the consciousnesses and memories of all lifeforms it assimilates. When the Flood infestation reaches a critical mass, it becomes a self-aware Gravemind. The Flood is a hivemind, a single distributed intelligence across all Flood lifeforms; as such, the Flood itself is one "creature". The Gravemind itself is a central, controlling "node" in the Flood network, but it's still only that. The Flood can clearly communicate within itself across space.

I don't think there have ever existed two Graveminds in the same Galaxy at the same time before. Every time there has been a Flood outbreak, this has happened in one location, where a Gravemind has eventually formed. Therefore, this question can't (to my knowledge) be decisively answered.

We can extrapolate though: Every time the Flood starts consuming life forms, these single Flood forms are connected and do not attack each other. They work as one, and are allies. True, they're not Graveminds, but they still do not compete with each other: They work as one, and are allied towards building a Gravemind.

Likewise, I think it's likely that if two Graveminds developed from two different Flood outbreaks happening simultaneously, they would be telepathically connected at that time and work together as one, allied towards the next step in the Flood life cycle. This next step is when the Flood has become a galaxy-spanning network. At this stage, the Flood convert entire planets to "Key Minds", which are essentially enormous biological computers.

The Flood consciousness is distributed across all Flood, but all the memories are stored in each Flood cell. (This is also hinted at in the above Terminal: "as many bodies as circumstance require".) If most of the Flood biomass is destroyed, the memories will still remain if a single Flood spore is left alive. If it's able to consume enough biomass to become sentient again, it will still retain its previous memories. In fact, the Gravemind in Halo 2 and 3 retains the memories of the Gravemind that existed during the Forerunner–Flood War, when the Halo Array was originally fired to destroy all Flood. It seems to be the same entity.

My conclusion is that the Flood spores would continuously communicate across its entire biomass while constructing Graveminds, and there would never be a situation where there were two distinct Graveminds. From the beginning, it would all be a part of the same unitary Flood entity.

But how do the Flood communicate? Presumably telepathically, but does this communication still follow the speed of light? What would happen if two Flood infestations were far enough away from each other to not be aware of each other, and therefore two different entities? After all, when the entire galaxy is subsumed (as above, when I described the Flood life cycle), the Flood leave the galaxy to infest a new one. If they arrive there to find a second Flood infestation, your question arises again: Will they compete or ally?

This is even more conjecture than above, but just to sum up billions of years of galactic history really quick and dirty: We know that the Flood was originally created by the "transsentient" Precursors that came before the Forerunners. The Precursors also created what the Forerunners call the Domain, a collective neurophysical intelligence that stores all Precursor knowledge. Although the Domain was destroyed when the Halo rings fired, since it was a biological neural network, it is possible (although not confirmed by Halo lore) that the Domain lives on in the Flood. If so, the Flood might in some way be the Domain, which the Graveminds tap into and use to communicate across its "bodies".

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