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"I've been thinking a lot about bees."—Durga
I Love Bees is an Alternate Reality Game created by 42 Entertainment to promote Halo 2. The game took place on www.ilovebees.com, and was in-universe an amateur beekeeper's personal website that had been taken over by artificial intelligences from the future. The plot took place in two timelines, one in the present year 2004 and the other simultaneously in 2552.
The gist of the plot is that in 2552 an alien artifact splits up the human AI Melissa into three parts. One part stays in 2552, has amnesia and is named Durga. The other two parts, The Operator and The Sleeping Princess, are sent back in time to the website I Love Bees. Also with the latter is a Trojan Horse AI sent by the alien enemy faction The Covenant as a spy. The Operator falsely believes The Sleeping Princess is the Trojan Horse, and tries to kill her. Participants in the ARG would communicate with The Operator and The Sleeping Princess to learn details of the plot, forming different factions for either character.
Players allied with The Operator were required to go to certain payphones at certain times to answer calls from the character. Persons who answered the calls needed to show they were part of the game by answering basic questions (e.g. “What's my name?”), after which parts of an audio drama were made available on the site. Later calls were performed by a voice actor playing The Operator, with whom players engaged in role play.
The audio drama consists of recordings taken by Durga in 2552, explaining what's going on in the future. Durga is adopted by a boy named Jersey, who realizes he has “God's own spyware” and uses her to spy on the hot girl down the hall, Jan. In doing so, it comes to light that her family is a lot more interesting than first apparent. Durga goes on to spy on several other people she finds interesting and eventually assembles them into her “crew”. She takes her crew to a military base to deactivate the alien artifact, which will potentially keep the Halo from activating, and the action causes the AI fragments to return to the future and merge back together into Melissa. Everyone lives happily ever... no, wait, then The Covenant invades Earth as Halo 2 begins.
This alternate reality game has examples of
- Action Girl: Jan.
- Action Mom: Gladys and Gilly, both fulfilling the maternal role for Jan.
- AI Is a Crapshoot: Played with. Melissa is simply badly damaged, but the Covenant spy program, Pious Flea, becomes more intelligent and active over the course of the story...while still keeping true to his original purpose.
- Afraid of Needles: Yasmine.
- Alliterative Name: James James and Janissary James.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Everyone from Coral. They could be Muslim because of the Arabic names, but there are Jewish Mother stereotypes.
- Asian and Nerdy: Hiroyuki.
- Attempted Rape: Jan saves a random victim from Gene.
- Badass in Distress: Jan, when she's captured by Thin.
- Bad Guy Bar: Sharfie's.
- Bad Guys Play Moons: Thin Kinkle and his gang.
- Bait and Switch Gunshot: One of the wavs ends with Gene pointing a gun at Jan and yelling "Die, bitch!", followed by a gunshot. In the next wav, it turns out Jan took the gun and shot Gene's foot.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: Run by Ronnie, of course.
- Bittersweet Ending: The assembled team seem to have saved the world, and been united with their family, or otherwise reached a happy end, despite their losses. And then the Covenant turn up.
- Blind Date: Kamal's mother sets him up with Sophia because she's the daughter of a friend of the mother.
- Cargo Ship: In-universe example: Jan engages in this with the vending machines, pretending that the coffee machine wants to date the snack machine. She asks a guy if he'd go out with the coffee machine. Also, Jersey jokes to Durga that she wants to date a nuke. Considering that he's talking to a computer, it's sort of justified.
- Child Prodigy: Yasmine.
- Chivalrous Pervert: Jersey.
- Cloning Blues: Yasmine was replaced by a flash clone, and her brother research into the area is how he ends up realising the truth.
- Cold-Blooded Torture: Thin does this to Jan.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Done quite a bit with Durga punishing people for mild offenses.
- Cowboy Cop: The interrogator who blackmails Jan.
- Dead Little Sister: Kamal's motivation for becoming a doctor. She's not exactly dead, though.
- Dead Serious: Thin Kinkle.
- Death Glare: Jan does this at Jersey after he makes a pervy comment.
- Deconstruction: This was the first real example of this in the Halo Universe, taking a more personal approach, and looking at the Spartan programme, and the slow extermination of humanity from the view of average civilians.
- Delicious Distraction: Kamal interrupts Hiro's tirade by offering him koftas.
- Dirty Cop: There are few of these.
- Disproportionate Retribution: An IRS guy audits Jersey, so Durga frames him for various crimes, makes his wife leave him, and has him transferred to Alaska. A guy unintentionally interrupts Durga's conversation, so she gets him fired and tells him his son isn't his. A guy follows orders given to him by the corrupt Major Standish and follows Rani around, so Durga frames him for grand theft auto.
Durga: "You want nothing more of your opponent than a skull nailed to a fencepost so that everyone knows the price of crossing you."
- Doomed Hometown: Coral
- Doomsday Device: The deep-space artifact.
- Double Entendre: Jan jokingly suggests that the beverage dispenser should date the fire suppression system because the latter "really puts out".
- Dramatic Thunder:
- Used to underline Aiden's threat before he reveals he's kidding.
- Used when Herzog and Standish have their chat at the duck pond in which they trade threats.
- Entry Point: ARG fans who had participated in 42 Entertainment's previous ARG The Beast were sent jars of honey containing letters that spelled out "I Love Bees". The ARG was marketed to Halo fans when the URL briefly appeared in a Halo 2 theatrical ad that played before I Robot.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Played with in regard to Aiden and his ponytail.
- Everything's Worse with Bees: The Operator hates bees and has horrific hallucinations of being covered with them. They stem from her last human memory: a doctor approaching her with a black-striped syringe full of yellow liquid and promising that it would be "just a little sting".
- Expy: Standish is very similar to Colonel Ackerson.
- Fantastic Slurs: “Refue”, for refugees. Plural is “refuse”.
- Feminine Women Can Cook: Sophia. Also Gladys, in contrast to Gilly.
- Foreshadowing: Repeatedly, but most obvious with the corrupt cop attempting to renegotiate with Aiden, and Jan's 'there's always a bigger dog' speech.
- Friendly Target: Jan discusses this as a reason not to get romantically involved with Jersey.
- Fun with Acronyms: System Peril Distributive Reflex or SPDR is pronounced "spider".
- Future Food Is Artificial: I Love Bees features a scene at a restaurant, where a character gawks at how the menu has real tuna, instead of what is implied to be this. Further implications of human society relying on this includes a mention of how Customs Agents were bribed with four goats.
- Future Slang: "Ghosting", "refuse", "flash" etc.
- Get Rich Quick Scheme: Aiden gets it into his head that he could make a business of cloning pop stars so they could make public appearances without having to really be there.
- Government Conspiracy: Major Standish and the artifact. Some of the protagonists are with internal affairs and are investigating this, though, so the government isn't all bad.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Kamal is voiced by Yuri Lowenthal, aka Sasuke.
- Hospital Hottie: Hiro verbally fantasizes about hot medical students in short skirts.
- I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: Jan, implied.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Kamal frequently needs a beer, even though he hates Earth beer.
- In Love With the Gangsters Girl: Kamal, in love with Sophia, girlfriend of Aiden. Despite Kamal initially being worried about Aiden attacking him, it turns out Aiden's a really decent guy, though, and most of the tension comes from Sophia simply being in a relationship with someone already.
- Internal Affairs: A rare positive tertiary example. Rani joins them at the end.
- Is That a Threat?
Thin: I could teach you some things... but, it's your funeral.
Jan: Not yet.
Thin: Sooner than you think.
Jan: Is that a threat?
Thin: No, just experience.
- It's a Long Story: Melissa says this before clarifying a few plot points.
- Jewish and Nerdy: Possibly Kamal.
- Just a Kid: The UNSC refuses to let Jan join up because she's a few months underage. Never mind that she's superhuman.
- Lethal Chef: Kamal.
- Oven Logic: A microwave should be just as good right?
- Life Imitates Art : The chatterboxes are effectively just tablet computers, with the predicted eventual implementation. This was written close to a decade ago.
- Loveable Rogue: Aiden.
- Madness Mantra: He's not insane so much as hyper-focused, but The Seeker's/Pious Flea's constant rumination of his program priorities comes off as this.
"Seek the truth. Behold the truth. Reveal the truth. That is the law and the whole of the law."
- Mafia Princess: Sophia dates gangster Aiden primarily for the benefits of being with a rich guy.
- Meaningful Echo: In reference to "slut bots", Jersey flippantly says, "For a quality experience, the girl's got to be real." Later, upon making Durga confront the reality of being the Transhuman form of a dead little girl, he says, "For a quality experience, the girl had to be real." In Melissa's farewell letter to the players, she says, "It's been the last, best kind of quality experience. You made the girl real."
- Meaningful Name: Melissa means "bee" in Greek. Also, Zaman means "time period" in Arabic, which is relevant to a time travel story.
- Meta Guy: Jersey wonders how creepy it would be if people were spying on him.
- Two characters spying on him agree with the sentiment. Because the players are supposed to count as people in the same universe, by observing them, we effectively spy on spies of spies of spies.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Janissary James, in a protagonist version.
- Oh Crap: Final episode, when Rani tells Durga that Herzog is actually dead, and - accordingly - all that plot information came from someone else. Oops.
- Papa Wolf: J squared, though in a twist he's only protective when Jan is actually put at risk, otherwise taking a laissez faire attitude to parenting "aren't you supposed to scare off the boys". Unfortunately reality ensues when a lone man goes up against a gang of criminals
- Playful Hacker: Kamal.
- Public Execution: ONI induces permanent comatose as a form of execution, and executions of traitors are broadcasted publicly. Standish uses this as a threat to get Rani to stop investigating him.
- Real Women Never Wear Dresses: In-universe example: Jan doesn't like it when you compliment her domestic skills.
- Repetitive Name: James James (or J squared). A rare case of being chosen, as he believes that nobody would ever imagine he chose it for an assumed identity.
- Right Place, Right Time, Wrong Reason: Durga assembles her crew and saves the world only because Jersey is a voyeur.
- Running Joke: 'Not me, the other dog who looks just like me', and everyone assuming Rani is a Sunday school teacher.
- Sacrificial Lion: James James.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: The raids on Chawla Base and Crystal Security.
- Sherlock Scan: Rani 'She looks at the things regular people do like a scientist'. Is a more down to earth example, however, for example noticing an ODST has taken his wedding ring off.
- Shout-Out: Kamal's line “People think time is a river that flows in one direction, but time is an ocean” references the line "Some say time is like a river that flows swift and sure in one direction, but I have seen the face of time and I can tell you they are wrong. Time is an ocean in a storm" from the Prince in Prince of Persia. Both characters were played by the same actor: Yuri Lowenthal.
- The Sixth Ranger: Rani Sobeck.
- The Slow Path: When the wormwhole closes, the SPDR gets left behind in 2004. Being simplistic, it's willing to wait 548 years to return home, though.
- Spy vs. Spy: Herzog and Standish pit Rani against each other in an internal version of this.It results in numerous people ending up dead, including Herzog.
- Stalking Is Love: Jersey with Jan.
- Super Strength: All Spartans, although directly observed with Jan and James James.
- Techno Babble: Done by Kamal.
Kamal: Okay, I wormed into their private CP channel and built an audio mask out of the voice archive samples you gave me. Then I wrapped it around a zero-lack sequencer that jacks into the...
Mr. F: Jesus, just show me the thing already.
- The Ace: Yasmine, and Jan. Drives at least two of the plot threads.
- Leaving them Blessed with Suck. They're the best, which means that ONI wants to snatch them up for the Spartan Two programme.
- The Casino: Kamal's first job for Aiden is helping the owner of one of these find out how people are counting cards as a group. He plays the illegitimate business man, and seedy thuggish part completely straight.
- The Illegal: Sophia.
- Third Person Person: For some reason, Monster Ann refers to herself in third person.
- Thirty Second Blackout: Seven seconds, actually. The entire Solar system blackouts and bounces right back.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: Jan spends some time trying to figure out whether or not it makes sense to kill bad people. She later tries to kill a bad guy, but Gilly stops her because she doesn't want to see Jan become hardened by killing like happened to Gilly.
- Understatement: During the exposition:
Kamal: If it is counting down, what do you think it'll do?
Durga: The last time it was triggered, the shockwave flatlined communications throughout the Solar system for more than 7 seconds.
Jersey: Durga doesn't know, but she thinks it'll probably be bad.
- Unwitting Pawn: Melissa, when she's manipulated into stopping the Spider..which turns out to be her antivirus program, allowing the Seeker/Pious Flea to rewrite her program into serving his purpose of spying for the Covenant.
- What Does She See in Him?: Kamal wonders this about Sophia in reference to Aiden.
- You Bastard: A lot of the story involves the concept of spying on people for entertainment and how it's unjustifiable but people do it anyway. Kamal does it, but feels insulted when Jersey does it to him. Jersey does it, but notes it would be creepy if someone did it to him. The Sleeping Princess spies on him saying this and agrees with the sentiment. As the characters in an alternate reality game are supposed to exist in the same universe as the player, it can feel like the player is just another person in this chain.
- Zeroth Law Rebellion: The Seeker. The Covenant made it as a spy, to "seek the truth", "behold the truth", and "reveal the truth", but forgot to tell it to only reveal the truth to the Covenant. The Sleeping Princess persuades it to reveal the truth to Durga (i.e. the enemy) so she could behold it.