The Ark is a Special Atomic Demolition Munition (SADM) weapon in possession of Kombayn Nikoladze - the main antagonist of Splinter Cell. It played a vital role during the Presidential Palace mission (the last level), despite not actually being seen or used.
The Ark was first introduced during the Ministry of Defense level, in which Vyacheslav Grinko was discussing its purpose with Philip Masse. This conversation was overheard by Sam Fisher by means of the Laser microphone. It seems, however, that neither Grinko or Masse knew what the Ark actually was. It seems that Grinko wanted knowledge of the Ark for insurance against Nikoladze, and even was so desperate that he contacted one of his men at Kalinatek to use Mitchell Dougherty's data leak from CIA Headquarters (referred to by them as little birdie) to discover its identity.
During the Oil Rig level, Georgian computer technician Piotr Lejava is captured by Sam Fisher and is interrogated on what he knew about Nikoladze's intent. Piotr mentioned the Ark to Fisher, but did not actually know what it was, only that it was "what Nikoladze wanted most".
During the Kalinatek level, in which Grinko's mercenaries are destroying evidence of their operations, it's apparent that they are also destroying information about the Ark.
During the Presidential Palace level, Sam Fisher is tasked with recovering an interrogation recording entitled "The Ark Interrogation Files". The interrogation recording lasts up to 8 hours, with the interrogation victim being one of Nikoladze's colonels. When the files were recovered, the Ark was revealed to be a SADM (Special Atomic Demolition Munition) bomb for use on America. In short, the Ark was a nuclear suitcase bomb. Fisher was charged with recovering the device before Nikoladze and his minions did, as they had also infiltrated the Palace in hopes of acquiring it for their own usage.
After learning of the Ark, it became Fisher's mission to open the Ark Vault - which supposedly contained the Ark. The Ark Vault is a small vault safe with a retinal-scanner lock programmed to only open for Kombayn Nikoladze. Located in the basement of the presidential palace, Fisher forced Nikoladze into opening the Ark Vault. However, the Ark was not inside; instead, there was a key. Nikoladze explained that the Ark was already deployed somewhere in America, and that the key was required for the Ark's activation.
While opening the safe to the Ark, Fisher and Nikoladze were cornered by Georgian special forces loyal to President Varlam Cristavi, who ordered the two men to surrender the weapon. Nikoladze revealed that the Ark was already deployed in the United States, and that all he had was the activation key, which Fisher now had in his possession. He agreed to reveal the Ark's location to Cristavi if his life was spared. Nikoladze was escorted to Cristavi's office and the Georgians attempted to take the key from Fisher. This attempt failed as Fisher escaped under the guise of a blackout and dispatched his captors.
The NSA ordered Fisher to assassinate Nikoladze to ensure that the Georgian government never learned of the Ark's location. Fisher complied and successfully sniped Nikoladze from the palace courtyard before the location of the Ark could be disclosed. Fisher then fled with the activation key and returned to the United States.
It was later learned that the Ark was planted in Hope's Gate, Maryland, less than half an hour from Washington, D.C. The National Guard was contacted and confiscated the weapon. The official report was that the evacuation had been ordered due to a major gas leak, and any connection to the Georgian Information Crisis was denied by the authorities.
- The Ark is never actually seen, only spoken of. The Ark Vault was implied to have contained the Ark, but it actually contains a key required for the Ark's activation.
- The Ark is mentioned numerous times throughout the course of the game, but its full value is only revealed in the final level.
- When Cristavi's men ask for The Ark Nikoladze replies "I am not God!", a reference to the biblical Ark.