Halo: A Fistful of Arrows
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Halo: A Fistful of Arrows is a fan-made Internet graphic novel about Jun-A266's past and fate after the events of Halo: Reach. The graphic novel explores new characters and events, but is generally consistent with the canon of official Halo franchise media. Since its release the comic has received a great deal of attention from the Halo community, including Bungie and 343 Industries.
It is written and drawn by Levi "Leviathan" Hoffmeier, who also drew the cover for the Halo: Evolutions short story Pariah and artwork from the upcoming 2022 revision of the Halo Encyclopedia. The graphic novel was initially published in Hoffmeier's DeviantArt gallery on October 15, 2010, but Claude Errera later constructed a blog format for Hoffmeier in bungie.org. An interactive flip book, constructed by OneBitRocket, was later released on November 11, 2011. A soundtrack, composed by Sean Mortensen, is released on the website, for people to listen as they read the novel.
On May 2552, in Reach's coastal city Nastrond, NOBLE Team faces an insurrectionist holding a woman hostage on a building rooftop. Temporarily at stalemate, Carter tells Jun who is riding on a Falcon hovering nearby, that they need an "accurate solution". Jun calmly challenges Carter's order, since the rebel is former UNSC. Hearing this and worried that Jun is hesitating, Carter demands that he shoots him anyway, only for Jun to do so just as he finishes his sentence.
With the hostage in shock but rescued, Carter reports to Colonel Urban Holland while Emile and Jorge discuss Jun's actions. Wearing a standard, uncarved EVA helmet, Emile claims that Jun was hesitant, something that will get a military man killed, while Jorge tells him that Jun has a conscience, something Emile would "have to look up sometime." Emile only mocks this, asking if the whole team is going AWOL now. As they climb aboard a Pelican extracting them, Jorge reassures Emile that he doesn't need to worry about him, nor Jun, since he knows that Jun's "got our back, and we'll always have his." The Falcon and Pelican, carrying NOBLE Team and the rescued hostage, leave the city.
The scene moves to the present, August 30, 2552, the Fall of Reach, where a Pelican, piloted by Doctor Catherine Halsey and with Jun on board, flies over a mountain range to CASTLE Base. Jun voices his concern about their current flight path, since they're heading straight for a Covenant fleet. Halsey explains to him that since the fleet is headed for the HIGHCOM headquarters, they'll soon be distracted by the impending battle. However, Banshees are quickly approaching,and Jun takes down a few with the Pelican's rear turret, before Halsey's "distraction", a UNSC fleet, arrives. However, one last hurdle remains, a Covenant Assault Carrier. Several UNSC frigates manage to bring down its shields, but are unable to destroy it until the Marathon-class heavy cruiser UNSC Daedalus Wing sacrifices itself by ramming into the carrier while simultaneously detonating its Shiva-class nukes. Jun, staring at the explosion, experiences a flashback.
On the night NOBLE Team rescued the hostage, as they return to a UNSC base, Carter discusses with Jun what happened earlier on that day. Jun expresses his suspicion about the rescued woman, but Carter tells Jun that he needs some rest. That night, as Carter takes off his armor, he and Kat have a conversation about Jun's rationality. Their conversation is interrupted by an explosion in the base's main structure. Carter, realizing the rescue hostage is responsible for the sabotage, sends Emile, the only Spartan who is still combat ready, to chase after the woman. While Carter and Kat get back into armor, Emile eliminates a couple of rebels who attempt to cover the woman. Just as Emile corners her, an insurrectionist Warthog arrives and the gunner fires at Emile, who the rest of NOBLE Team loses contact with subsequently. Carter and Kat, now equipped and armored, get in their own Warthog to search for him.
The two find Emile injured but alive, with his damaged helmet off. Noting the damage to it, Kat tells him that "[he] can paint a pretty picture over it [and] no one will notice." They return to the base while their Falcon searches for the insurrectionists. A Pelican douses the base's fire while Jun and Jorge help search for the wounded. Jun looks at a buried body in the debris, only with a hand visible.
Jun's flashback is cut off as Halsey calls to him, asking if he is okay. Halsey asks Kalmiya about the status of CASTLE Base, which is currently out of the Covenant's suspicion since its defenses are down. Halsey is so far the only known ONI personnel fall back to the facility. Halsey then asks Kalmiya to access NOBLE Team's reports, believing that she will probably spend a lot of time in CASTLE alone with Jun, who she resents, so she might as well as know more about the Spartan. Kalmiya finds a partial footage of a NOBLE Team mission accessed from the Superintendent AI in Quezon. When Kalmiya says she is uncertain about accessing such data without clearance, Halsey activates her nullification code, "whateverittakes".
The scene switches to July 2552, before SPARTAN-B312 joined NOBLE Team. NOBLE had hunted down each of the members of the Insurrectionists on Reach, save one, their leader Eliza Ingrid, who was the false hostage caught earlier. Having traced her to Quezon City, Jun took charge of tracking the target while on a construction crane, while the others, with the help of the city's Superintendent, were to capture her. Finding her heading down the highway leading to the Quezon Interstellar Spaceport, the Spartans activate its roadblocks, closing off the traffic and trapping Ingrid's taxi.
While Ingrid forces the taxi driver at gunpoint to find another way to the ship port, Emile (now with his skull-carved helmet) appears beside the taxi. The Spartan rips open the taxi door, but the taxi takes off and Emile loses his hold in the process. Carter, Kat, and Jorge pursue the taxi on a Falcon, but one of Insurrectionists riding inside fires an EMP grenade, temporarily disabling it. Carter falls off the Falcon from the blast, but Kat, wearing a Series 8 jetpack, dives off and saves him. The damaged Falcon lands on top of a tower east of the highway, while Carter and Kat landed safely, but they were unable to chase after Ingrid.
Deciding to snipe Ingrid, Jun makes his way to another construction crane and aims for the moving car. Carter tells him that ONI wants her alive, so Jun shifts the reticule to the terrified driver. He fires his sniper rifle, initially impressed with his shot, only to find he missed and hit the car's tire instead. The taxi loses control and falls off the highway, Ingrid getting flung out upon impact. Emile captures her moments later, but Jun is ashamed of himself. As Jorge comes to pick Jun, he tells the discouraged Spartan something Chief Franklin Mendez once said to him, only for his speech to be cut off as the footage ends.
Kalmiya apologizes for the inability to learn the message, but Halsey decides that whatever it was helped Jun to fight in the Fall of Reach. At that moment, Halsey looks behind her and sees Jun standing there, having overheard their conversation. This tense moment is interrupted as Kalmiya informs them the Pelican has arrived at their destination: Menachite Mountain, home of CASTLE Base.
Halsey is greeted by ONI Captain Laird MacLean at CASTLE Base's landing pad. MacLean's ODSTs, near the base's entrance, show their distastes in Spartans immediately. Halsey tells MacLean that only one personnel is required for Operation: WHITE GLOVE, and MacLean should leave with his ODSTs if they know a safe extraction point. MacLean argues that he and his ODSTs are staying, declaring that many of his men died in the drop to the mountain and they will not let them have died for nothing. Their conversation is cut short as they see a Covenant SDV-class Heavy Corvette being shot down.
They look up into the sky, and witness the UNSC Paris-class heavy frigate responsible for the destruction of the Covenant corvette, the UNSC Forlorn Bell, being shot down by a Covenant CCS-class battlecruiser. Numerous Covenant aircraft scatter around the area, hunting for survivors. Jun tells Halsey they need to get inside the base, and as long as they don't draw attention then the Covenant will never notice them. However, MacLean just ordered his ODSTs to ready for battle, including activating the M71 Scythe guns. One of the ODSTs, Jeffery "Grim" Easterling, destroys a Banshee fighter with his Spartan Laser. Halsey tells MacLean that "[he] just kicked the hornet's nest".
They immediately draw the Covenant aircrafts' attention, however, the ODSTs cannot activate the M71s. Halsey suggests she can activate them, and Jun tells Halsey that he will buy her the time she needs, while taking out some supplies (sniper rifle ammunition, biofoam canisters, armor lock amplifier plug, eight Lotus anti-tank mines and C-12 shaped charges) from the Pelican dropship.
While Jun sets a trap on the landing pad, MacLean takes Halsey to the base's entrance on a Mongoose. Halsey begins to work her way to activate the turrets in the guard house. Meanwhile, a Spirit dropship lands on the landing pad the Pelican dropship is on, and deploys a lance of Covenant. Jun activates the charges, demolishing the landing pad and causing the Spirit and lance to tumble down with it.
More Covenant aircraft approach, and the ODSTs barely evade their fire. Halsey orders Kalmiya to reroute CASTLE base's power to the turrets. Kalmiya tells Halsey that she is working on it, and should be able to bring the turrets online as soon as she "[finishes] pushing Ackerson's AI out of the way". Soon after, the M71s open fire and destroy most of the aircraft, which crash into the path under CASTLE's entrance. Surviving Covenant troops leave the wreckage and begin to advance on the ODSTs' position. Jun assists the ODSTs and takes down the T'vaoan sniper that was taking cover behind the group of Kig-Yar.
Jun spots an Mgalekgolo leaving the wreckage of a Ru'swum-pattern Phantom, and fires at it, having a difficult time taking it out. Meanwhile, MacLean notices the barrel of the M71s have been cut off and before he can alert the others, a Special Operations Sangheili impales him from behind with an Energy Sword. Jun, distracted by the Hunter, cannot assist the ODSTs, who are ambushed by three SpecOps Sangheili.
Jun finally takes out the Mgalekgolo, but realizes it's too late, the ODSTs have already been killed. Halsey has been captured by the SpecOps Sangheili, Energy Sword at her neck. The Sangheili holding Halsey tells Jun to come out of hiding, or they will kill her. Kalmiya, however, still in the guardhouse, overhears the other two Sangheili discussing that they actually cannot harm Halsey, "by the order of the Prophets."
Kalmiya informs Jun that the Covenant captured Halsey before, and will not kill her due to the secrets she holds. Kalmiya tells Jun that he is Halsey's last guard, and he cannot let the Covenant walk away with her. Jun remembers the order Carter gave him, repeats his answer to Carter, and shifts his reticule to Halsey's head. At that moment, Jun remembers the deaths he had seen: Verdansky, the buried body in the UNSC base's debris, and the taxi driver. Jun loosens his grip on the rifle's trigger, and jumps off the cliff he was holding position on.
Jun tackles the Sangheili that captured Halsey, and Halsey runs into cover near the base's entrance. Jun, surrounded by Sangheili, shoots off the SpecOps leader's helmet off, elbows the Sangheili coming from his back, and dodges the SpecOps leader's slash, causing the SpecOps leader to impale its own teammate. Before Jun can melee the leader's back, the third SpecOps Sangheili grab him. Two Unggoy "help" by grabbing Jun as well. The SpecOps leader, picking up its Energy Sword, orders the third SpecOps Sangheili to hold the Spartan, since Jun dishonored his blade by making him stab his own teammate, so he must restore its honor by killing Jun with it.
Jun compliments them, saying they came prepared. He steals one of the Unggoy's plasma grenades, and detonates it, killing the entire lance. Jun, however, survives by activating his armor lock. He asks Halsey if she is okay, but at that moment he is smashed to the cliff wall by a second Mgalekgolo, wounding him and damaging his armor. The Mgalekgolo heads for Halsey, who stands at CASTLE's entrance calmly. Before the Mgalekgolo can touch her, Jun comes from behind and stabs the Hunter through the head with his combat knife.
Halsey leads Jun into CASTLE Base, but as she tells him there's a medical center in CASTLE Base, Jun puts his helmet back on, saying that he needs to ensure the Covenant won't follow her. Halsey attempts to persuade Jun to stay with her, but Jun is determined not to do so. Before Jun leaves, Halsey asks him what Jorge said to him in Quezon, and Jun replies, quoting Chief Mendez:
Jun comments the phrase as "wise words" and runs out of the entrance as the door closes, but his own thoughts upon them appear:
Like the Halo novels, AFoA includes an Adjunct section with numerous in-universe documents, giving background on the comic's supporting characters, settings, and operations.
On the credits page, two Spartan-IIs, both clad in MJOLNIR Mark V armor, can be seen near CASTLE Base. One of them is pointing at the mountain, looking at someone off-screen, while the other is looking at the sinking wreckage of the UNSC Forlorn Bell. According to Hoffmeier they are either Frederic-104 and Kelly-087 before they hijacked Covenant Wraiths, or Isaac-039 and Vinh-030 while they retreated to Menachite Mountain. The author's note reads:
Adjunct A: Eliza Ingrid biography2525, to the rich socialite Miranda Ingrid and the musician Jerrad Jiles. She was given a luxurious childhood and education, but at her private school met Malcom Faireson, whose father ran a local militia. Ingrid ended up giving her plans for college in favor of enlisting with him when he took it over. The Lowland Militia turned out to have heavy connections with a rebel group called the Reach Independence Network, Ingrid began using her socialite status to recruit prominent civilians into the militia. While her family had distanced themselves following her running away, her mother still kept her bank account full out of sympathy.
In 2550 Faireson was killed in an anti-insurgency operation, causing the vengeful Ingrid to take his place as leader. Within a year the Network had allied with the United Rebel Front and coordinated many smuggling operations and terrorist attacks. NOBLE Team ended up encountering her during a raid on Nastrond's police department. When cornered, she and her new "boyfriend" Nor Verdansky pretended that he was holding her hostage. Verdansky ended up being killed and Ingrid was taken to the base Fort Outlook mistaken for a mere civilian. That night she escaped with a homemade bomb, and her rebel followers retrieved her and saved her from Emile-A239 shortly after.One month later she was captured alive at Quezon, and jailed in an ONI facility for interrogation. It is left vague how much she revealed and the exact method of her interrogation, but ONI reported that her information had allowed them to disable a major network of URF spies, one of which who may have even infiltrated the HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6.
Adjunct B: Insurrection Interception
In the message, the Skald reassures his companions that it is not wrong to ask why they are fighting, as doubt is a sign that they are committed to doing the right thing. Asking that question is how they initially came to distrust the UNSC. The answer, according to him/her, is obvious, as the UNSC's forceful influence can be seen all around them, comparable to terraforming society itself. The Skald then recounts the various reactions to the arrival of the Covenant, how some believed that they were a hoax, or that humanity would be forced to end its civil war and unite to defeat them. The former theory was disproven as glassings became more widespread, and for the latter, the Skald admits that the Human-Covenant War has indeed hindered the Insurrection. Despite this, he praises the most faithful to the cause for continuing to fight for it, even though they must now work from ruins of networks and coalitions.The Skald concludes that the UNSC must defeat the Covenant for humanity to survive. However, the Insurrection's plan now is for the UNSC to win, but be so weakened by the war that it will be easy to topple them once it ends. With that, there would be room to replace its fascist society with something better. Thus the war could be the key they needed to defeat the UNSC after all.
Adjunct C: Faces of the Ghost
Jeddah writes that Emile's artistry began as early as his training days, starting with small symbols painted on his Semi-Powered Infiltration armor. Eventually this habit grew into fiercer forms, and progressed from a mere expressions of amusement into carved nightmarish faces, intended to frighten his enemies. Jeddah expresses surprise that a Spartan, usually characterized as stoic and unfeeling, would have such a bold trait as artistry. To him, it may be the reason why Emile is remembered by the public after the war while other Spartans have been forgotten. One evidence of this is that many other UNSC soldiers have now carved images onto their helmets like his, as a way of carrying on his legacy.The author then notes that three of Emile's carved helmets have been preserved for the Memorial Museum in Sydney, Australia, which are illustrated at the top of the excerpt. The three helmets are a Mark V EVA helmet with an eagle loosely resembling the SPARTAN logo, an ODST helmet made to look like a snake's head, and a Mark IV EVA helmet showing a gaping maw.
Adjunct D: Quezon: The City of Light and Dark
Quezon is a planned city built to allow speedy transportation and access to its citizens, but also carefully designed to avoid redundancy and boredom. This was to avoid the mistakes in design of New Mombasa, which studies had shown had caused depression and irritation in its residents because of its repetitive looking environment. New Alexandria was the first of Reach's city to avert this, with its terraced structure and ivory buildings creating a more pleasing aesthetic. The following cities followed its example while also individualizing themselves so that each city would look unique. Quezon is designed to be a sister city to New Alexandria, contrasting its light colors with dark emerald towers. Bits of color are added by the towers reflecting the city's sky and gardens, and by the rainbow of lights at night.The ad then goes on to describe Quezon's many attractions, such its SkyMall plazas that are built high in the air, the Shore-Side Parks along the coast, nightlife of the Lower Districts, Quezon Zoo which is currently hosting Arcadian penguins, and Errera Q, its expansion of Club Errera. On the bottom ticker, the Quezon newsnet reports the confusion over the recent highway shutdown.
Adjunct E: Quezon: The [---corrupted file]— City of //—[life] and [death]—//
The AI notes one of the newsnet articles has been flagged by ONI for modification. The article, UNSC Causes Roadrage, reports the shutdown of Highway 05 portions leading to the city's spaceport. Many civilians were forced to take detours resulting in crowded roads for the whole night. The UNSC's statement is that a training exercise was being done in the area, but the article notes that reports of gunshots and explosions have created suspicion that it was actually a coverup for a thwarted rebel plot. The AI bitterly muses that they'll never know what actually happened. He mentions that Eliza Ingrid was interrogated with unknown methods and during it spoke of "the big picture". Afterwards she was taken off of Reach.However, then the Covenant came, and unlike the rebels had slaughtered without thought. The evacuation got lopsided in favor of the rich, and the spaceport grew crowded with several escape craft shot down. The Superintendent himself escaped deletion by hiding in the sublevels of his data center, surviving but cutting off his own escape. But while he was there he discovered an ONI project hidden there that could be a possible escape. He attempts to inform Kalmiya of this, but she departs after accessing his data to get the footage of NOBLE's op. The AI is irritated by how suddenly she left, saying that if she had stayed a little longer he could have saved Jun and Halsey with a hidden prowler, upgraded with "something new/something blue". But then it spots Red Team falling to Reach, and then once again hopes that the refugees on Reach can be saved.
Adjunct F: Operation CASTLE DROP
CASTLE DROP was meant to lead into another op, Operation: WHITE GLOVE, which would destroy data held in the base too valuable to let the Covenant capture. Its other goals were the evacuation of any ONI personnel, save Halsey, who would assist the deletion. Upon completing the op, the survivors would regroup with the forces at Orbital Defense Generator Facility A-331. However, the drop quickly ran into complications as the falling ODSTs were attacked by Seraph fighters. Only five pods made it to CASTLE, one of which crashed and killed the occupant. The four remaining helped load CASTLE's personnel into seven Warthogs and an Elephant, eventually accompanied by a Hornet. They lost contact with the convoy shortly after and it is unknown it made it to the spaceport they were heading to. Halsey's and Jun's Pelican arrived shortly after.The fireteam was led by Captain Laird MacLean, who lost his family at the Battle of Harvest. He lived in a orphanage for several years until he was adopted by an ONI Section Two official. Following in his footsteps, MacLean himself joined the Navy and then ONI upon adulthood. His remaining soldiers were Gunnery Sergeant Louis Errera, the brother of C. Errera and nephew of Club Errera owner "Mr. Errera", the quiet Lance Corporal and marksman Bryan Mulheran, and the boisterous heavy weapons Corporal "Grim" Easterling.
Adjunct G: Catherine
Adjunct H: Anniversary2553, a year after the Fall and the war's end. Likewise this Adjunct was released in real-life one year after the end of the comic.
The first speech assesses Reach's damage, noting that some portions of its wilderness are still alive, though still many have been glassed. More importantly, every former civilization site on the planet is gone. Any archaeological work done on the Fall of Reach will have be done by finding black boxes, transmission snippets, and a few memoirs, which is a mere pittance of information compared to the battle's scale. The speaker notes that getting the full story would be impossible anyway, as there were hundreds of tales of valor from the Fall. Many won't receive their due credit, thus the planet's scarring and subsequent healing itself will represent it.
The second excerpt is from Halsey, who is being interrogated. As the interviewer tells her to move from discussing Sheila-065 to discussing Jun, Halsey asks out loud if her punishment is to recount every one of the Spartans she led to their deaths. Her memory of Jun was that he was as much a Spartan as those from her program, and surpassed the requirements of a soldier's determination.The last excerpt comes from Lieutenant Fred-104, who reports there was no sign of Jun's body when Red Team arrived at CASTLE Base, leaving it open as to whether he lived, was killed elsewhere, or had his body burned to ash.
Note: All appearances listed below are non-canon.
In a conversation between Bungie employee Martin O'Donnell and Hoffmeier on the halo.bungie.org forums, O'Donnell joked that "[...] Jun tripped and broke his neck on the way to escorting Halsey off Reach [and] he's dead." Hoffmeier then drew a short comic strip, named "FoA- THE END", depicting the event, and at the same time, referenced the difficulty of achieving the "If They Came to Hear Me Beg" achievement, as well as many players' confusion upon Jorge calling Halsey "ma'am" with an English accent, which sounds like "mom" in American English. According to Levi Hoffmeier, he was approached by 343 Industries about publishing the graphic novel officially but they ended up putting the project on hold.
On December 11, 2011, Jessica Shea, as part of the Weekend Webcomic section on Halo Waypoint, posted the first page of Halo: A Fistful of Arrows, and it continued to appear intermittently since then. This, however, does not mean that 343 Industries has accepted it as canon material. 343 Industries franchise writer Jeff Easterling (the namesake of one of the ODSTs in the graphic novel) later made a reference to A Fistful of Arrows in a Canon Fodder blog post, stating that "the details of [Jun's] survival and escape from Reach remain buried under fistfuls of black ink and red tape". On September 14, 2017, on the seventh anniversary of Halo: Reach, Easterling once again gave recognition to A Fistful of Arrows and mentioned that the graphic novel is "not technically canonical, but ONI has also covered up a whole lot of things that didn’t technically exist."
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