|“||A select group of Spartan-IIIs put on a mission to succeed against a never-before-seen Elite force||”|
Headhunters is a short story in Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, a collection of short stories by a multitude of authors. It tells the story of Roland-B210 and Jonah-B283, two top-echelon Spartan-IIIs who are selected by ONI Section Three to serve in a special unit under the Beta-5 Division. The story was written by Jonathan Goff.
Headhunters focuses on the ghost-like Spartan-III "Headhunter" operatives. Throughout their top-secret missions, the contrast between the celebrated Spartan-IIs and the secretive Spartan-IIIs is a key focus. Another major theme in the story is confronting the Elites' sense of superiority over their 'inferior' foes. Despite glassing humans from orbit and using advanced cloaking technology, the Elites regard similar tactics used by the Spartans as 'dishonorable'. Jonah's sadism is also contrasted with the Elites, who mocks the notion that the aliens have any 'right' to exterminate humanity without being subject to horrific reprisals.
The Headhunters are Spartan-IIIs selected for missions "secret even to their peers." Volunteers must complete two or more training missions before being evaluated in a following seven months of supervised field exercises. Each unit was further tested through six months of wartime insertions. At the program's height there was a maximum contingent of six squads - six teams, with a total of seventeen soldiers rotating in to fill gaps left from MIA or KIA soldiers. Fireteams were comprised of two Headhunters, initially paired via exhaustive interviews and ONI profiling. The soldiers Jonah and Roland are rated as 'excellent' compatibility with 97.36 percent, the second highest score ever recorded.
Deployed to a Covenant-held moon which was believed to be a dig-site for a hidden artifact, Jonah and Roland are tasked to destroy six of the ten basecamps situated around perimeter of a massive central compound. The confusion and reshuffling of troops and supplies by the Covenant contingent following each basecamp's destruction were to pave the way for a full-scale assault by a dozen Spartan-III fireteams and their support.
Armed with M7S Caseless Submachine Guns and M6C/SOCOM pistols, and equipped with experimental technology, the two soldiers prepare for their assault. Roland is a level-headed tactician, while Jonah takes sadistic pleasure in killing Covenant soldiers. While never explicitly stated, it is likely this cruelty was motivated by the loss of Jonah's family like most Spartan-IIIs. The Headhunters infiltrate past a Kig-Yar sniper and into the outskirts of the camp. After gathering intelligence for two days, they decide on a plan of attack. Roland, with an experimental active camouflage module, will sabotage the base's reactors, while Jonah will neutralize any surviving soldiers. Using an energy disruptor, a device that disables the Covenant's plasma weapons and energy shields, Jonah makes quick work of a unit of Unggoy, Kig-Yar, and Sangheili.
After planting the bombs, Roland meets Jonah on the other side of the camp. Taking advantage of the Elites' sense of honor and superiority, Jonah taunts the surviving soldiers with a decapitated Sangheili head. Together, the Headhunters kill the remaining Covenant guards with little effort. Jonah disables the last Elite with two shots to the knee.
The wounded Sangheili accuses the Spartans of being dishonorable assassins; human vermin who strike from the shadows. Jonah in turn mercilessly mocks the wounded alien, pointing out the Elites' hypocrisy: they are soldiers who massacre unarmed civilians from orbit and use active camouflage to hide like cowards. Before the Elite can respond, Jonah executes the warrior with extreme prejudice, stabbing him in the throat and riddling his corpse with bullets.
Following this exchange, Roland is killed by a warrior of the Silent Shadow wielding a blood-red energy sword. Jonah turns on his VISR, revealing several more cloaked Elites. Surrounded, Jonah provokes the Covenant warriors, ridiculing the great lengths they went to trap a mere two humans (an offense that would drive most Elites to a feral state). He attacks the Elites, but his bullets bounce off their armor. The Spec Ops team closes in and quickly subdues the lone Spartan. The Elites prepare to torture the wounded and captured Jonah for their own amusement. Jonah realizes the importance of the Spec-Ops warriors, who were tasked specifically to kill Headhunters, and is comforted by the thought of trading his life for the six Sangheili. Even after his eye is burned out, Jonah is still able to detonate trigger for the explosives that Roland had rigged around the camp earlier. The Covenant camp is vaporized, along with Jonah and the Silent Shadow squad.
At three installments, Headhunters is so far the shortest running Halo motion comic. The series is available for download on the Zune Video Marketplace. Each episode can be purchased for 80 points or a season pass can be purchased for 200 points. Below are links to the episodes featured on Halo Waypoint:
- Headhunters Motion Comic Adaptation Part 1
- Headhunters Motion Comic Adaptation Part 2
- Headhunters Motion Comic Adaptation Part 3
In the short story, Roland covers Jonah with a Covenant carbine, firing three shots into a Sangheili's head and then expending the rest of his magazine on the remaining hostiles. In the motion comic, Roland dispatches the Sangheili with a single shot from a particle beam rifle, then kills the remaining hostiles with single shots. Strangely, Roland's particle beam rifle emits the distinctive report of the Covenant carbine when fired.
Render of a Special Operations Sangheili used in the motion comic adaptation
Renders of a Covenant barrel and generator from the motion comic