Defender of the Storm

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"My story was a fun one to write, because it gave me the chance to depict a regular soldier — in this case, a Forerunner — in a situation where he was forced to exceed his own expectations, to go beyond what he thought were his limitations. That idea of the individual transforming into a hero seems central to the ‘Halo’ universe, and so I think the spirit of the story is right in line with the franchise."
— John Jackson Miller[1]

Defender of the Storm is one of several short stories in Halo: Fractures: Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon. It was written by John Jackson Miller and follows Adequate-Observer, an ordinary Forerunner Warrior-Servant stationed on a remote gas mining platform during the Forerunner-Flood war.[1]

Plot synopsis[edit]

The story is set towards the end of the Forerunner-Flood war aboard a gas mining station known as Seclusion Spiral. The story opens on a Manipular Warrior-Servant, Adequate-Observer. As his name would suggest he is a mediocre watchman on Seclusion Spiral. Having been posted to this station Adequate is quite familiar with the uniformity of the outside gas clouds, however, on occasion, he has spotted what appear to be large avians outside the windows. His ancilla dismisses his sightings as large ice formations swirling in the clouds beneath them. Adequate becomes slightly agitated at his ancilla's dismissal of what he sees. Adequate's ancilla queries if his agitation is actually due to the imminent arrival of a transport ship the next day. This transport arrives every year to change personnel and every year for 15 years Adequate has remained behind. The next day is no different. Over twenty infantry are retasked, more than Adequate has ever seen. This indicates to him that the war is going poorly. However, the newly arriving troops are rather experienced. One, Capital-Enforcer, has stood guard at a facility frequented by the Librarian herself.

Seclusion Spiral is a star-shaped installation, with a hub in the centre and many vanes extending out from this hub. Once every 21 days the sentries leave the hub to patrol the Vanes and ensure their security. Adequate is posted to remain in the command center in the hub. Adequate expects another mundane search with nothing found. Minutes later Capital-Enforcer radios in stating that the Flood has arrived on the station and that a Warrior-Servant is down. The infected Warrior-Servant is rapidly gunned down; however, infection forms begin to leap out and move down the vane towards the command center. At this point Adequate notices that the Flood are also attacking in a second vane. Adequate moves to rescue a trapped colleague in Vane 2, much to his ancilla's chagrin. Before he manages to find his colleague an avian creature appears at the window. After it disappears into the cloud Adequate returns to search for his colleague. As he turns to look down the vane his Ancilla informs him that his colleague is dead and has been captured by the Flood. As he begins to close an emergency door it slams shut, along with every other emergency door in the vane. Adequate is trapped. Luckily, Adequate's ancilla is aware of another way out, the particle collection tubes. Adequate shoots an access panel open and steps in, however, the expected depressurisation of the collection tube never happens. From this Adequate's ancilla deduces that the vane has not been in use for the last 10 years. As Adequate hurries back to the hub a message from Capital's ancilla is received stating that all of the vanes had been sealed.

When Adequate arrives at the hub he links up with Capital, before making the decision to scuttle the harvester. Capital gives Adequate his scuttling key, stating Adequate has seniority and that he would go make a last stand. Before he leaves, Capital informs Adequate that they had all been sent here to die fighting the Flood. Capital moves to hold the Flood off while Adequate runs to the command center. Adequate prepares to destroy the Seclusion Spiral, but he hesitates. In his last minutes, Adequate ponders over what Capital told him about being deployed there to die. Through conversation with his ancilla, Adequate comes to the realization that the ability of the avians to survive absurd conditions would be a boon to Flood. He reasons that his commanders must've realized their potential to augment the Flood's capability and left Seclusion Spiral as a decoy to prevent the Flood from acquiring them. Adequate becomes more pleased with his life and he and his ancilla share a touching send off before Adequate plunges the station into the storm below.

Adequate awakes in the hub, trapped under a processing tower. He is confused as to how he is alive. After a moment his ancilla clarifies that the hub's thrusters kicked in after the destruction of the vanes, and the hub kept them hovering in the "eye" of the storm. When Adequate peers out the window he notices hundreds of the avian creatures he observed earlier. Due to his actions in the preceding crisis, Adequate's ancilla suggests he take on the new name "Defender-of-the-Storm". Prepared to spend the rest of his life on the station, now suspended in the eye of the storm indefinitely, Defender-of-the-Storm muses that perhaps the avians have many stories to tell him.

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