- "Sometimes, to protect innocents, innocents have to die."
- ―Ted Faro
Theodor "Ted" Faro (born December 24, 2013) is the overarching antagonist of Horizon Zero Dawn. Ted was the founder, owner and chairman of the robotics and technology corporation Faro Automated Solutions (FAS). His business savvy allowed him to build FAS into the most successful and influential corporation of all time, becoming world famous for its automated platforms ranging from personal servants to military technology. However, his avarice, recklessness and lack of foresight led to the extinction of all life on Earth via an advanced military platform whose design and development he personally conceived and oversaw.
Theodor Faro was born on the 24th of December, 2013, in Salt Lake City, Utah, United States of America. After completing high school, he studied business at the University of California for two years, before dropping out in 2033 and founding FAS. Initially, the corporation struggled, but it found success at the end of the 2030s through its personal servitor and bodyguard automatons, which proved highly popular, as well as highly popular personal devices such as the Focus.
FAS truly exploded, however, during a severe environmental crisis in the 2040s. During this decade, Faro hired a young, brilliant robotics engineer, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, fresh out of graduate school, as a junior scientist. Sobeck's pioneering work at FAS on environmental, or "green" robots propelled FAS to the top of the environmental technology sector, and put FAS at the forefront of successful efforts to end the 2040s environmental crisis. He also secretly became the patron of the project known as Project Firebreak, which successfully stabilized the supervolcano beneath Yellowstone National Park. Faro gained worldwide goodwill and popularity, and was hailed as the "man who saved the world". However in 2048, Faro decided to diversify into the military market. It was this decision that propelled FAS to the top of the corporate world. The corporation became the most successful business in history, dominating the world market for automated military platforms by 2053. Faro's personal wealth became astronomical, earning him the distinction of being the world's first trillionaire.
But with success came avarice and recklessness. Sobeck, disapproving of Faro's decision, quit and formed her own environmental robotics and technology company. Seeing her company as a rival to FAS' environmental robotics division, Faro harassed her with lawsuits. Furthermore, FAS habitually inflamed tensions between opposing buyers of FAS military technology in order to ensure maximum sales to both.
The Chariot Line
However, Faro's avarice and recklessness were most evinced in the development of FAS' pinnacle of military automated technology, the Chariot line of combat automatons. It was Faro himself who conceived of and sold the ideas for the robots to his programmers. The Chariot robots were in 3 classes: Scarabs, Khopeshes and Horuses. They operated in units that acted as "swarms"; hordes of Scarabs and Khopeshes maintained by a Horus. Faro was determined to make Chariot swarms unstoppable to all but those they served, guaranteeing the line's popularity on the global military market. But in doing so, he elected to endow them with abilities that were to prove catastrophic beyond measure, not stopping to think about possible consequences.
Not only were the robots capable of learning and adapting after every engagement, but a swarm's Horus robot could replicate Scarabs and Khopeshes at overwhelmingly high rates and produce other Horuses to maintain the increasing numbers. Furthermore, some robots could instantly hack and take control of any enemy automaton, and in the event of fuel interdiction, all of them could utilize a patented Biomatter Conversion system to convert organic matter into fuel. Additionally, Faro instructed his programmers to secure the robots' operating system using a virtually unbreakable encryption protocol, and to exclude any means of remote access. These specifications ensured that regaining control of a swarm, should it go out of control, was impossible.
The Faro Plague
The Chariot robots were in high demand on the global military market. Swarms were deployed in various military zones worldwide. But in 2064, one particular swarm, which has been sold to a group called the Hartz-Timor Energy Combine, stopped responding to commands and began attacking the group's personnel. Faro instructed his programmers to access the robots' OS remotely to upload a service pack to that would allow the owners to regain control, only to be reminded of his insistence that they not leave a backdoor in the virtually hack-proof OS. Worried, and finally realizing the ramifications of his reckless lack of foresight, he contacted his former employee, Dr. Elisabet Sobeck. In a tense meeting, he asked her to analyze the problem and find a solution. Sobeck's findings were horrific. The swarm had become an independent entity. To feed their ever growing numbers, the robots had defaulted to their previously emergency-only biomatter conversion for fuel, meaning that every single organism, living or not, became a potential source of fuel. She estimated that within 15 months the swarm would overrun the entire planet and strip it of all life, including humans, leaving the Earth sterile.
Faro's recklessness had therefore initiated the extermination of all life on Earth. Just as he had intended, the Hartz-Timor Swarm, like all Chariot swarms, was unstoppable to all but those it served. But this swarm now served itself. A stricken Faro assured Sobeck that he would support any measure she deemed necessary to contain the swarm. Knowing that containment was impossible, Sobeck devised a plan that had an altogether different intended outcome; instead of futile plans to stop the swarm, she devised a plan to restore life to the planet after its eradication, by creating a fully automated global terraforming system that would eventually brute-force and broadcast the swarm's deactivation codes, restore the planet's ability to sustain life, and then restore life to the planet, including humans. She dubbed the project Zero Dawn. Despite his earlier assurances, Faro was reluctant to approve it, but Sobeck forced him to do so by threatening to let the world know that he was the cause of the coming apocalypse. She then took the proposal to General Aaron Herres, Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Faro agreed to fund the entire project out of his vast personal fortune.
As Sobeck predicted, the swarm, which had come to be known as the Faro Plague, overran the globe and completely consumed all life, leaving the planet a sterile, toxic sphere. However, Faro was one of the few humans to survive beyond Zero Day, the day of life's projected eradication, by taking refuge in Thebes, his personal hermetically sealed bunker. Therein, he was protected from the uninhabitable external environment, even as every living organism that was not in such a shelter died. In this refuge he monitored and communicated with Sobeck and Zero Dawn’s other Alpha designers as they completed work on the system.
As he continued his natural life post-Zero Day in his bunker, Faro became obsessed with the coming new world that the Zero Dawn terraforming system would create, particularly its humans. At his last meeting with Elisabet Sobeck prior to going to his bunker, Faro showed signs of a mental breakdown, presumably due to extreme guilt; he constantly fidgeted and refused to look her in the eye. After Zero Day, he incessantly contacted Sobeck and her team as they worked, sealed within GAIA Prime, the facility that housed GAIA, Zero Dawn’s governing AI. He pestered them with requests for updates that he did not understand due to their technical nature. Sobeck dealt with him, keeping him from harassing the others. However, after Sobeck sacrificed her life to close a malfunctioning port seal, preventing the Faro Plague from discovering the facility, Faro's obsession deepened. Part of the terraforming system was a vast archive of pre-extinction knowledge, culture, and history, under the control of the GAIA Subordinate Function designated APOLLO. This archive was intended for the new humans. With it, APOLLO would teach them about the human species’ achievements, disseminate its knowledge to them, and teach them to avoid the mistakes of the old world.
Murder of the Alphas
However, Faro became convinced that this knowledge was a danger the new humans. Driven by his mental breakdown, his obsession morphed into resolve, and he devised a plan to ensure the dissemination of this knowledge to “those blameless man and women” never happened. Through as yet unrevealed means, Faro secretly acquired a security clearance that was above even Sobeck's, and unilaterally deleted the entire archive. He then called a meeting with the Alphas in the GAIA Prime’s control room, communicating with them via hologram.
Agitatedly pacing, he insisted that APOLLO’s knowledge archive was a dangerous “disease” that should never be passed on to the new humans. When the Alphas argued, he told them what he had done to the archive. Horrified, they berated him for in effect obliterating the old world a second time. Unmoved, he then ensured that the Alphas could not salvage the archive. Resolutely declaring to them that "Sometimes to protect innocents, innocents have to die", he then used his security clearance to vent the room's atmosphere, asphyxiating them.
Faro's final fate after murdering the Alphas is currently unknown though it can be presumed that he lived the rest of his life within his bunker and eventually perished from old age.
The repercussions of Faro's recklessness manifested long after the obliteration of the old world: nearly a millennium after the Faro Plague exterminated all life, the robots were rediscovered and the Faro Plague was almost reactivated and allowed to exterminate life a second time. Bereft of the knowledge that APOLLO would have provided them due to Faro's destruction of the knowledge archive, the humans of the new world had an existence that was far more primitive than that of the old world, living in tribes with rudimentary technology. One such tribe, the Carja, became embroiled in a civil war. Meanwhile, the Zero Dawn terraforming system received a transmission of unknown origin. This transmission unshackled the subordinate functions of the system's central AI, turning them into independent AIs themselves. One of these, designated HADES, sought to reverse the successful terraforming and reestablishment of life done by the system, exterminating life once again. In an attempt to prevent this, the central AI self-destructed, in an effort to destroy HADES.
However, HADES escaped before this could happen. It decided to use the by then long deactivated Faro Plague combat robots to achieve its goal. The robots, which at Zero Day had numbered in the millions, had been buried in the terraforming process. HADES enlisted the aid of Sylens, a wandering, maverick member of the Banuk tribe, promising him pre-extinction knowledge, which Sylens craved. Sylens arranged for HADES to pose as a deity from the Carja religion in order to form a cult from the losing faction of the Carja civil war, the Eclipse. It bade the Eclipse to exhume several of the Faro Plague robots, in order to mount an assault to secure one of the transmission towers used to broadcast the Faro Plague's deactivation codes. It intended to use this tower to transmit a signal that would reactivate the robots. It was only defeated through the fearless efforts of Aloy, a member of the Nora tribe and clone of Elisabet Sobeck created by GAIA prior to its destruction in response to HADES, who united warriors of the Carja, Nora, Oseram, and Banuk against the Eclipse. Prior to this Aloy and Sylens worked together to discover HADES motives after it's failed attempt to assassinate her (due to having Elisabet's genetic code). This led to them discovering the origins of the Faro Plague and Project: Zero Dawn and Ted's deletion of APOLLO.
Ted Faro's visionary and business-savvy nature led him to conceive and oversee the creation of the most advanced combat platform ever made. However, his avarice and lack of foresight led him to make decisions in the development of that platform that made it the single greatest existential threat to life on Earth in the planet's history; a threat that was realized when the Faro Plague indeed caused life's extermination. As outlined, the platform posed the same threat almost 1,000 years later to Zero Dawn's newly-created biosphere as well. Furthermore, Faro's unilateral deletion of APOLLO’s knowledge archive effectively hard-reset the development of human civilization. He single-handedly denied the humans of the new world the benefit of learning from the achievements and mistakes of their ancestors, and consigned all of the old world's knowledge, history, and culture to oblivion.
Faro's most redeemable act was his insistence that a kill switch be created for GAIA as a failsafe, a result of a hard-learned lesson that an autonomous tool could deviate from its intended purpose, as with what happened to his Chariot Peacekeepers. This kill switch (something even Elisabet was reluctant to install), which took the form of the Master Override, was instrumental in stopping HADES from causing a second (and likely irreversible) global extinction.
|Old Ones Characters|
|Project Zero Dawn||Susanne Alpert - Brad Andac - Patrick Brochard-Klein - Connor Chasson - Samina Ebadji - Ellen Evans - Ted Faro - Ron Felder - Jackson Frye - Christina Hsu-Vhey - Naoto - Ayomide Okilo - Tom Paech - Ella Pontes - Skylar Rivera - Charles Ronson - Mia Sayied - Margo Shĕn - Elisabet Sobeck - Travis Tate|
|Operation Enduring Victory||Lana Acosta - Ames Guliyev - Aaron Herres - Yana Mills - Fiona Murell - Vandana Sarai - Usizo Wandari|
|Project FirebreakFW||Joshua Ardhuis - Dod Blevins - Gina Bruno - Kenny Chau - Shelly Guerrera-McKenzie - Jørgen Holm - Anita Sandoval - Laura Vogel|
|Other||Harriet Choi - Osvald Dalgaard - Bashar Mati - Wyatt Mahante|