James Cutter

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"Cutter" redirects here. For other uses, see Cutter (disambiguation).
James G. Cutter
Biographical information




June 12, 2478[1][2]

Personal details






185.4 centimetres (6 ft 1.0 in)[3]


88.5 kilograms (195 lb)[3]

Hair color:

White (formerly gray)

Eye color:


Political and military information




Service number:



"Where you see half a crew, Isabel, I see family, courage. And a thousand heroes who swore to fight their way through hell before they'd ever... EVER turn their backs and run. And where you see one old ship, I see home. And that is always worth fighting for!"
— Captain Cutter to Isabel and the bridge crew of the Spirit of Fire.[4]

James "Jim" Gregory Cutter (service number 01730-58392-JC)[3] is a senior officer in the UNSC Navy who served during the Insurrection and the early years of the Human-Covenant War.[5] He captains the UNSC Spirit of Fire, a refitted Phoenix-class support vessel that was attached to Vice Admiral Preston Cole's Third Fleet in 2531.[2][6] Cutter had a wife, Mary, with whom he had a daughter on Reach;[7] he also had a mistress on Tribute, with whom he had a son, Daniel Clayton.[8] Cutter and the Spirit of Fire went missing in 2531 due to circumstances that required the sacrifice of the ship's Shaw-Fujikawa translight engine in order to deny a fleet of Forerunner Sojourner-class dreadnoughts to the Covenant. Cutter and the rest of the crew entered cryostasis and slept for 28 years, awakening in 2559 only after being mysteriously pulled through a portal to the extragalactic Installation 00. There Cutter led the crew of the Spirit of Fire against the Banished, a power-hungry mercenary faction of ex-Covenant that were occupying it.


Early career[edit]

"I was Cutter's XO a couple years before Spirit of Fire went missing. To say I owe the man would be the grossest of understatements."
Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood in 2558.

James Gregory Cutter was born on Reach on June 12, 2478.[3] In the sixth grade, he had a teacher named Mrs. Ash. During one of her spelling tests James spelled the word "rendezvous" correctly, which led to him liking the word ever since. After Cutter finished school, his father pushed him to get a university degree and was furious when James became an ensign at the UN Colony Logistics Office and became even more angered when his son enrolled in flight school. He even went so far as to tell him he was "nothing more than a trucker".[1] James enrolled in the UNSC School of the North Star on September 15, 2500, where he graduated magna cum laude with an emphasis in astronavigation and political science. He was admitted to Officer Candidate School on June 19, 2504, where he received additional training with emphases in command and astronavigation.

James Cutter, captain of the UNSC Spirit of Fire in 2528.

On November 16, 2507 he entered naval service as a lieutenant and junior navigation officer aboard the Stick, a diplomatic attaché vessel assigned to the UNSC Brilliant Shores. He was transferred to the UNSC Final Summit on January 9, 2514, whereupon he was appointed to the post of chief navigation officer. During Operation: TREBUCHET, a twelve-year offensive against the Insurrection in the Outer Colonies, Cutter earned a campaign ribbon during service with the Logistics Corps. Prior to this receipt, he also was awarded with two other ribbons for his service during the classified mission, Operation: WHISPER AMONG STARS, and Operation: BREADCRUMB.[9] He piloted multiple colony vessels prior to 2519. Cutter achieved the rank of commander upon his transfer to the UNSC Glasgow, a colony freighter vessel, on August 8, 2519. On May 22, 2524, he received a Bronze Star for his actions against insurgents in the Epsilon Indi system while serving aboard the Glasgow.[10] These actions brought him to the attention of UNSC command.[9] Cutter also served on two other vessels during his career before finally being given the captaincy and command of his own ship.[1] Having married at some previous point in his career, Cutter had an extramarital affair with a woman on Tribute between 2524 and 2525. This liaison produced a son, Daniel Clayton.[8] Cutter's mother also passed away at some point prior to August 8, 2525, the date on which James relinquished his former command to become the captain of another ship, the modified Phoenix-class colony ship, UNSC Spirit of Fire.[9] Cutter had been the only person wanted for the job. Not long after he became the Spirit of Fire's captain, Cutter's father came aboard for a tour. He was impressed at what his son had accomplished and finally fully reconciled with him, telling him that he must have known what he was doing after all and that his mother would be proud.[1] On January 30, 2528, Cutter was offered command of the Marathon-class heavy cruiser, the UNSC Prophecy, but turned it down because he was content with the Spirit of Fire and being stationed near his wife and young daughter on Reach, where its sphere of influence was then centered.[11] By at least 2528, Terrence Hood had become Cutter's executive officer and by November of 2530, Cutter had seen that Hood was given command of his own ship, the Halcyon-class light cruiser, UNSC Roman Blue.[8] During the early years of the Human-Covenant War, the Spirit of Fire served as a supply boat for the UNSC fleet to which it found itself attached. It primarily was responsible for ferrying supplies, water, fuel, and ground support to varying theaters. After his release from jail in 2530, Sergeant John Forge was reassigned to the Spirit of Fire by Vice Admiral Preston Cole, who told Cutter to expect him.

Aiding the Prophecy[edit]

Serina: "So, Mr. Captain, sir, what do you think 'loaded for bear' actually means?"
James Cutter: "Serina, it means that tomorrow is going to be a long day."
— Serina and Cutter at just over thirty-two hours prior to arrival at Harvest.
James Cutter conversing with Serina aboard UNSC Spirit of Fire's bridge.
Captain Cutter directs Serina to update the servers on the Spirit of Fire.

By January 3, 2531, the Spirit of Fire was part of the Third Fleet's Battlegroup D, which was massed at a staging area in interstellar space. The fleet had recently come into conflict with the Covenant's Fleet of Glorious Interdiction over the Outer Colony of Harvest. For the past five years, the Third Fleet had fighting to reclaim the colony from the Covenant. On January 3 Vice Admiral Cole chose Cutter and the Spirit of Fire to provide immediate assistance to the UNSC Prophecy, which had successfully repelled Covenant ships near Harvest but had been critically damaged in the process.[9] Cole did not believe that a combat vessel could be spared to rescue the Prophecy, but a support ship like the Spirit of Fire could be. In addition, the Spirit was to also use this opportunity to investigate ongoing Covenant activity in the system. After dealing with the Marathon-class heavy cruiser, the plan was for the Spirit to rendezvous once more with the rest of the fleet for another strike at the Covenant remaining at Harvest. Prior to jumping to slipstream space, Cutter personally visited various locations on his ship, including the Shaw-Fujikawa drive room and Drop Bay Bravo, where he surveyed the slipspace drive and assorted ordnance, respectively. Before breaking from the battlegroup, he instructed the ship's relatively new "smart" A.I., Serina, to update their servers so he could read new a message from his family sent all the way from Reach. En route to the Epsilon Indi system, with a little over thirty-two hours before their arrival, Serina brought up the matter of Cutter's previous rejection of the offer to captain the Prophecy. Cutter stated that he was perfectly happy with the position he had, to which Serina jokingly replied that she was at least glad she didn't have to "break in" a new captain, seeing as it had already taken her long enough to get him where she wanted.[1] Once Cutter requested an update on how the ship and crew were doing, he was informed that there had been a message from Doctor Ellen Anders, a professor from Rishard University assigned to the ship by the Office of Naval Intelligence to further study of the Covenant. Anders was not yet aboard the Spirit of Fire, but she was already asking for better quarters than those which had been set aside for her, as well as an audience with the captain upon her arrival. Not wishing to take even the slightest break from his activities on the bridge at that moment, Cutter assigned Lieutenant Blake to deal with her and explain that different arrangements just weren't a possibility at the moment.[1]

James Cutter authorising use of UNSC Spirit of Fire's HAVOK tactical nuclear weapons.
Captain Cutter gives the authorization code to allow the use of nuclear weapons against the Covenant.

After over a month of time spent in transit, the Spirit of Fire arrived at Harvest on February 4, 2531.[9][12] A looped message that had evidently been broadcast from the Prophecy since three days prior indicated that the cruiser's reactor had gone critical and begun leaking radiation, forcing its crew to evacuate to onboard solar bunkers. Cutter openly wondered how it was that ONI had known the Prophecy was in trouble so soon after it had been crippled. Serina wagered that ONI had been present when it happenned but had refused to lend any aid. Incensed at the thought, Cutter immediately ordered her to prepare for NAV database extraction and rescue operations. Just as she assented, however, four small Covenant ships exited slipspace on the other side of the cruiser, which was suddenly an impediment that blocked potential hits from the Spirit's Magnetic Accelerator Cannon from hitting any of the new arrivals. Cutter ordered that the Spirit move to flank the Covenant craft and that pelican EVA squads be scrambled. Serina subsequently relayed commands to fireteams Echo, India, Lima, and November. As soon they had a clean shot, the MAC was able to destroy one of the smaller Covenant ships with one slug. Cutter then gave authorization for HAVOK nuclear missiles to be used. The UNSC Marine Corps fireteams were successful in purging the databases of the Prophecy, rescuing some of the crew, and initiating a self-destruct sequence. The Covenant threat was also disposed of by the Spirit of Fire, but all survivors from the Prophecy were beyond truly saving, as they had all been exposed to far too much radiation.[9]

Investigation on Harvest[edit]

"Five years, five long years. That's how long it took us to get Harvest back. At first it was going well. Then setback after setback... Loss after loss... Made what was going to be a quick and decisive win... Into five years of Hell. Of course, that's all Harvest really is today... It's Hell down there, but now it's ours again."
— Captain Cutter's report.[13]
Cutter looks out over Harvest.

Shortly after the destruction of the UNSC Prophecy and four Covenant ships at the hands of the Spirit of Fire crew, the UNSC Last Gleaming arrived at Harvest, bearing professor Anders. Anders was presented to Captain Cutter on the Spirit's bridge by an ONI officer.[9] Cutter wasted no time confronting the man with the fact that a stealth ship belonging to ONI must have been present when the Prophecy was first damaged, due to the time required to travel from Harvest. The officer defended the decision to leave the cruiser, seeing as those aboard were a lost cause. In addition, he reminded the captain that it would be in violation of protocol for any "hypothetical" prowler to reveal itself. Moving on from the matter, he introduced Cutter to his new guest and relayed that Fleet Command had given her the authority to make decisions related to scientific matters during the current deployment. Following that communiqué, Anders launched into a presentation for Cutter concerning what she had already gathered concerning the Covenant's preoccupation with Harvest and the Sangheili Arbiter leading its forces there: Ripa 'Moramee.[9] Following the presentation Cutter made a log in his captain's report about the last five years of struggling for Harvest and what it felt like to be here now, being seemingly close to beating back the Covenant for good from the colony. By this time, Cutter had developed a close working relationship with Serina but was still suspicious of Anders. He suspected that there was more to her than met the eye.[14]

Once the Last Gleaming had departed, Cutter, Anders, and Serina conversed on the bridge. The professor, having been briefed on intercepted Covenant transmissions deciphered by artificial intelligences, let Cutter know that the aliens seemed to be particularly interested in an arctic region of the planet. Serina scanned the area and detected major gravimetric anomalies. Anders thought her readings might indicate a specific structure on the surface hereto unknown to them, and Cutter told Serina to have Sergeant John Forge investigate. Marines deployed as part of Alpha and Bravo Teams and soon came under fire from Jiralhanae led by the Brute known as Avitus. The information coming from the surface threw the bridge into chaos and Cutter ordered Serina to get him a direct connection to Forge. The sergeant reported that unless Alpha and Bravo could link up at his position, his own marines would be done for. Cutter ordered him to secure his location and assured him that reinforcements were inbound.[1]

Cutter, Anders and Serina viewing a holographic topographical map of Harvest.

A short time later Alpha Base was built near the major gravimetric anomalies leading to several skirmishes in the northern polar region of Harvest lead by Cutter. This lead to the setting up of Epsilon Base, sending a tactical evaluation update on the new HRUNTING Mark III (B) Cyclops models, and taking the time to compose a message to the father of Helena Roman, a marine who had given her life that day on Harvest under his command.[15]

A short time later, as D77-TC Pelicans and D20 Herons were launched from the Spirit of Fire, Cutter reestablished contact with Forge once again. He confirmed the professor had been correct regarding the Covenant's interest in the northern pole of Harvest, and Anders once again shared her suspicion that there was some kind of structure down there. Determined to find out what this was all about, Cutter directed Forge to pull back to Alpha Base and to bring it back to operational status. To this end, he also directed more backup his way. After disconnecting from the sergeant, Cutter was sarcastically asked by Serina if he envisioned their current situation as "nothing too difficult". Cutter sighed and expressed a feeling that whatever was hidden in Harvest's arctic north might be the key to the entire war. Forge contacted the captain after arriving near to Alpha Base to let him know that it had been overrun. He also advised that Cutter refrain from deploying the "backup" until Alpha Base was theirs again. Cutter monitored the operation on the ground from the bridge high above the planet and provided Forge some assistance in the form of air support from B-65 Shortswords. After the base was recaptured, Cutter advised that Forge scout the immediate area surrounding it just to be sure they were in the clear for the time being.

After leaving the bridge and making his way down to the observation deck, Cutter was annoyed to find it full of professor Anders' laboratory equipment. She casually asserted that she like the view it afforded her and the perspective it added to her work. Cutter reminded Anders that Forge felt it wasn't yet safe for her go down to the planet to investigate the mysterious structure just yet. Anders pushed back against his overprotectiveness and he reluctantly relented, saying that while he would approve her investigation of the site personally, at the slightest sign of danger he would pull her out. In order to make it safe for the professor's work, Cutter contacted Serina to coordinate the re-establishment of Alpha Base as a functioning forward operating base from which the Covenant at the structure could be assaulted. He encouraged the buildup of a larger military presence on the ground before making any moves against the Covenant occupiers. After the infantry eventually rolled out from Alpha Base and made their way toward the objective, they incidentally stumbled upon a base the Covenant had constructed. Cutter contacted his forces to let them know that destroying it would be nice, but their primary goal was still the strange structure in the ice. After they reached the approach to the interior of it, a detonator and explosives were sighted at the entrance. Cutter ordered that the detonator be destroyed right away so that it couldn't be used to seal the entrance to this wondrous and baffling find. Having done so, Cutter congratulated the marines on the ground and told them to await further instructions. A pelican, Bravo-029, brought Anders to the planet's surface so she could explore what seemed to be a non-Covenant alien relic. She, Forge, and others were ambushed by more Covenant not long after they began their exploration. Reinforcements from Alpha Base would take too long to respond to their cries for assistance, so Cutter dispatched M850 Grizzly tanks directly from the Spirit of Fire. Both Forge and Anders managed to survive and exit the structure safely, where they found a pelican waiting to return them to the ship. Cutter commended the professor for her work and stated that he wanted to be briefed on what she found as soon as possible.

Alone on the observation deck with Anders and Serina, Cutter tried to extract as much as he could about what the Covenant had been after that was apparently hidden under humans' noses on Harvest for millennia.[16] Anders cautioned that she had only had around thirty seconds to examine the centerpiece of a giant room within the structure, but that interacting with it had triggered the display of a holographic star chart. a specific star system was signaled out by the artifact, which happenned to be the system known to humans as the Procyon system.[13] In particular, the colony of Arcadia had been pointed to. Arcadia was Anders' homeworld, and she strongly felt that they should go there at once before the Covenant did. she figured that if they had accessed the same display she did, that it would only be natural that a Covenant fleet would be arriving there soon. The captain was hesitant, as their orders had been to investigate Harvest only. Anders was not going to give up that easy and continued to insist that everything indicated they should make for Arcadia. Cutter relented and told her he would clear their departure with Vice Admiral Cole. Sure that Cole would permit the journey, he instructed Serina to chart a course to their next destination.[16]

Battle for Arcadia[edit]

"We cannot lose our foothold on Arcadia, gentlemen. Secure a defensible position and hold it until we can reinforce you."
— James Cutter to Marines on the ground.
Cutter surveys a display of Arcadia.

During the trip from Harvest to Arcadia, a memorial service was on February 7 for the crew of the UNSC Prophecy in opposition to objections from ONI personnel. The Spirit of Fire arrived at the colony on February 9 to find it under attack by a single Ket-pattern battlecruiser from the Fleet of Glorious Interdiction.[16] Entering the bridge, Cutter asked Serina for a read of the situation. She informed him that there had been two battlecruisers, but one had recently been destroyed at the cost of the UNSC Belfast and UNSC Texas, not to mention damage suffered by the UNSC Pillar of Autumn and UNSC Armstrong.[16] The remaining Covenant ship was presently hovering over Pirth City, Arcadia's capital. Serina isolated a signal from the service sent by the Arcadian Patrol that contained a desperate plea for help with defending and evacuating civilians in the city. Upon obtaining visuals, Cutter was able to see footage of Spartan-IIs fighting in the city. He ordered Serina to launch D20 Herons to the surface and to bring the ship to alert. Marines from the Spirit of Fire were able to assist with the evacuation effort. As the last cargo transport bearing evacuees was away, Cutter told Forge to pull back from the city and to regroup before his next set of orders would be given.[16]

The Marines exited the city but were pursued by Covenant ground forces. Not wishing to lose a foothold on Arcadia, Cutter ordered them to secure a defensible position and hold it until they could be reinforced with more bodies. Serina recommended an impact crater a few clicks south along a highway. Captain Cutter notified other UNSC troops retreating from Pirth City of their position and let Sergeant Forge know that he was directing them his way. The captain monitored the fighting and congratulated the marines on their ability to withstand the Covenant forces and even establish two bases in the area. With the assistance of Spartan Team Omega, the sector was cleared of Covenant. As soon as the hostilities ceased, Cutter contacted Forge and ordered him to report to the bridge on the Spirit of Fire to be briefed on a new problem. The Covenant had set up a massive domed energy shield next to an ONI base. The shield obscured all activity within it, which made both Cutter and Anders suspicious. Cutter suggested using the ship's magnetic accelerator against it, but the professor cautioned against potentially destroying what was beneath the shield without knowing what it was. Instead, she recommended a more precise approach. The nearby Pillar of Autumn's inventory showed that it was carrying some M145D Rhino prototypes, artillery tanks armed with Zeus 320mm plasma cannons reverse-engineered from Covenant plasma weaponry.

Captain. Cutter, Sergeant Forge, and Jerome-092 are forced to quickly decide how to proceed after Anders' abduction.

Theoretically, using superheated plasma against the shield could disable it without doing damage to what lied beneath it. Cutter thought her idea a fine one. He put Anders and Forge in charge of getting the shield down and moved to make the arrangements necessary to acquire the Rhinos. The plan worked perfectly. Once the shield was no more, Cutter had the UNSC forces moved forward to investigate what it had been hiding. They were met by a partially-built R'awuw-pattern Scarab, which the captain ordered them to destroy. To this end, he identified power nodes in the vicinity that were supplying it with energy and advised that they become targets in order to reduce its efficiency in defending itself. Once the threat had been eliminated, Cutter praised the efforts of the men and women on the ground.

In the aftermath of the scarab's defeat, however, Sergeant Forge and Dr. Anders were ambushed by the Arbiter, Ripa 'Moramee during a moment they were alone.[17] Anders was easily captured by the hulking Sangheili and taken aboard a Dextro Xur-pattern Spirit. Forge immediately contacted Cutter to let him know what had happenned. Serina was able to track her transponder moving away from the planet toward a waiting Sinaris-pattern heavy destroyer, Proclamation's Tithe. Five of these ships had arrived at the planet to join the fray and were engaging the remaining UNSC Navy presence surrounding the planet. Cutter demanded to know how Anders had been taken but all Forge could say was that a massive Elite had come out of nowhere. Furious, Cutter ordered him to return to the ship on the double. Once he was returned to it, he went directly for the bridge. Seeing that Forge had clearly been wounded by the encounter, Cutter questioned why he had not made for the med bay instead. At that moment, Anders' signal showed that the ship she had been taken aboard was accelerating and was already outside their effective weapon range. At the urging of Forge and Jerome-092, a Spartan that was among three picked up by the Spirit from Arcadia, Cutter ordered that Anders' captors be pursued.[17] As they prepared to jump to slipspace in the wake of the Covenant vessel's jump, a log buoy was released with data concerning their destination solution. The UNSC Roman Blue, captained by Cutter's old XO, Terrence Hood, was assigned to intercept the buoy. Hood failed to make it a priority in the midst of the ongoing battle and so the buoy was picked up by the Radiant Perception, a CPV-class heavy destroyer, instead.[8] It was February 10 when they left and Serina projected that their destination in uncharted Covenant space would take them thirteen days to reach. The ship remained on high alert for the entire transit, though non-essential crew members were briefly place in cryostasis.[1]

Ancient powers[edit]

"Sergeant Forge, rendezvous with Red Team and find Anders, but be careful. We don't know what these things are capable of."
— Captain Cutter to Sergeant Forge after encountering the Flood on the outer surface of the Etran Harborage.
Cutter looks out over the mysterious world.

On February 23, the Spirit of Fire emerged from slipspace hot on the trail of the Arbiter to the sight of an unknown planet.[17] Cutter prompted Serina for any information about their location, but she was of little help. She did inform him, however, that the Covenant vessel they had followed had taken cover on the planet's surface. No other Covenant activity was detected, though Serina did not that the world below them was resulting in strange readings when scanned by their instruments. Not wanting to waste any more time, the captain told her to get Forge down to the surface as soon as possible, to which she replied that he was already aboard a pelican waiting for approval. Two reconnaissance teams, Echo and India, were deployed with M312 Elephants and instructed to set up bases at potential sites from which the Covenant could be attacked at a nearby fortified position.[12] Cutter confirmed that both teams were free of hostiles before they moved to their designated locations. Sergeant Forge led his own team and another elephant. Cutter let Forge know that he would need to clear a fire line ahead and get to a beacon that was waiting for him to signal the all-clear for a firebase to be dropped off. Logstics prevented the captain from landing any more troops at that time, but he assured Forge that he should have enough squads of marines with him within the elephant for the task at hand. The marines soon came into conflict with Jiralhanae and Cutter kept a close eye on the skirmish, offering advice and encouragement all the while from his perch in orbit. After the Jiralhanae were defeated, Recon Team Echo signaled that it was fully operational and that the situation had returned to normalcy before the man reporting for the team suddenly shouted that there was movement all over the place and that they needed help. All of Echo's signals went offline and Cutter told Forge to take a team to find out what had happened. When the sergeant reach Echo's elephant, he reported that he believed both it and India, all members of which had vanished from observation as well, had been compromised. Cutter questioned what he thought might have happenned, as scans registered no Covenant in the immediate area. Forge assured him it hadn't been the Covenant, but in fact was something seemingly even worse. Echo's elephant had been completely engulfed by a strange biomass and the bodies of its members were being hijacked by hideous infectious lifeforms. Forge managed to get the transport free and at this, Cutter approved his request for a firebase. He had Serina make the arrangements for D20 Herons to deliver the components. After Forge freed India's elephant from a similar predicament, Cutter had him bring it back to the new base to hold and wait for new orders.[17][18]

Cutter and one of the mysterious drones observe one another while the Spirit of Fire passes between the planet's exterior and interior.

The Spartan-IIs of Red Team contacted Captain Cutter to let him know that they were one-hundred meters from Anders' transponder signal but were meeting with heavy resistance from this new enemy. Cutter told them to hold their position and wait for reinforcements before proceeding further. He then contacted Forge to fill him in and have him make his way to Red Team with his remaining marines, but not without advising extreme caution. Once the Spartans and marines apparently "killed" a large monstrosity that had attached itself in place, Cutter asked Serina for an assessment of their situation. Anders' signal had been lost before the massive version of the alien lifeform had been encountered. However, The Serina let Cutter know that she had just discovered a new signal to the east of the UNSC's position.

Cutter had the Spirit of Fire piloted to within the planet's lower atmosphere over the source of Serina's discovery: the shoreline of a large ocean. Cutter asked her if she was sure this was the place where she had traced the signal to. The A.I. replied that she was fairly sure and indicated that she was initiating a deep scan. Immediately, she had results which confused and troubled her. She barely had enough time to tell the captain that he wasn't going to like what she had learned before the sea below them parted. The planet's very exterior crust was revealed to be artificial in nature as mechanisms beyond human or Covenant engineering divided the seafloor below to reveal a cavernous expanse beneath it. Cutter shouted at Serina in surprise as the ship began to tilt and be pulled into the gaping maw.[19] Several flying robots emerged from the deep and began flitting about the vessel. Cutter ordered all hands aboard to engage the strange constructs and called for Serina to recall all troops back to the Spirit of Fire promptly. Serina had been able to halt the action of the force tugging on their ship, but stated that she believed it would be a matter of minutes before she could do so no longer. In order to evacuate the marines of Alpha, Bravo, and Charlie Platoons, in addition to the Spartans of Red Team, Cutter sent Sergeant Forge and more marines to break through the lines of the swarming alien creatures so it would be safe to land pelicans for pickup. Serina learned that the field that had gripped the Spirit of Fire was generated by nearby pylons. Cutter wondered if there was some way to shut them down, but Serina was already way ahead of him. At her urging, Forge directed XRP12 Gremlins to disable them with electromagnetic pulses. The move bought the marines and Spartans on the ground more time and In less than twenty minutes since the recall was ordered, all survivors were in the air and speeding toward the ship. Cutter commended Serina's actions and told her to prepare the airlocks to receive the incoming troops.

Unable to resist the field any longer, the crew of the Spirit of Fire could only watch as it was consumed by the artificial planet, which closed heavy gates behind it once it had passed through its outer shell. The captain, as usual, looked to Serina for an explaination of their predicament. She could only guess that they were being pulled along according to some sort of docking procedure and also let him know that the seemingly virulent lifeforms had followed them inside by attaching themselves to the ship's exterior hull. He ordered Forge outside with marines to deal with the infestation and reminded him to defend their airlocks, both so none of the creatures would breach the ship and so he and his troops wouldn't be cut off from receiving further help.[20] In the midst of the EVA struggle on the hull, which pitched the UNSC forces against both the flood of aliens and AI constructs Cutter contacted Forge to let him know two AC-220 Vultures that had been undergoing repairs were ready for action and were his to command. Once the parasitic nightmare was cleared off the ship, Cutter directed Serina to give their engines maximum power to get them away from the swarming constructs, not knowing what waited for them the further inside the world they went.

Etran Harborage[edit]

"If the Covenant get their hands on these ships it will mean the end of the war. We'll take our chances here, to give humanity some hope."
— Captain Cutter decides the fate of his crew.[21]

The Spirit of Fire exploded through a massive tunnel of sorts to emerge within the interior of what was now fully revealed to be a fully artificial hollow planet. The entire inner surface was blanketed with topographical features that filled the place where a horizon should have been. The ship suddenly found itself on a collision course with the Proclamation's Tithe and Cutter ordered Serina to steer them hard to starboard to avoid colliding with the Sinaris-pattern heavy destroyer. Her efforts were not enough to completely keep the ships from hitting each other and the Tithe sheared off a significant section of Spirit of Fire 's port side where D20 Herons were docked. Serina alerted the captain that the Covenant vessel was charging its weapons to engage them and Cutter shouted for everyone to assume battle stations and to bring their own weapons online. Seeing as there were still marines attached to the outer hull, he had Serina tell them that they weren't done out there yet. In the ensuing battle, the Spirit's power core took heavy damage and Cutter directed Forge to repair it with HRUNTING Mark III (B) Cyclopses all the while continuing to defend against the Covenant assault. Once the core was fixed, Cutter had Serina speed them away.[22]

Marines and Sergeant Forge in particular, deployed to the inner surface of the world, chanced upon the professor, who had managed to escape her captors on her own when their guard was down. Cutter sent a pelican to retrieve her while others stayed behind to keep the area they controlled. Once aboard the Spirit of Fire, Anders met the captain on the observation deck and told him everything she had learned. The Covenant at this world, led by one of their hierarchs, was planning to take control of a massive fleet of warships of the ancient race that had built this place. After receiving notification from Forge that his position was locked down, he told him to stand by for his next mission briefing.[23] Anders believed their best shot at denying the powerful fleet to the hierarch would be to overload their Shaw-Fujikawa translight engine and use it to cause a chain reaction in the world's artificial sun.[21] She surmised that they could turn it into a supernova, which would destroy everything around it. Cutter was hesitant to agree to the plan at first, but agreed that it was their best course of action. Though they would lose their ability to traverse slipspace, possibly stranding them in unknown space, or even die in the attempt, Cutter felt the sacrifice necessary to protect humanity. On February 25, the slipspace drive was carefully lowered to the ground, where it was taken control of by Sergeant Forge.

Cutter hangs on as the Spirit of Fire makes its escape.

Cutter told him to deliver it safely to a particular site where the Covenant was in order to use a form of elevator their to launch it into the sun. On this date, Captain Cutter made an entry in his log wherein he noted that the pelicans that had been engaged in ground operations on the outside of the planet had all failed after four or five flights thanks to dust in the atmosphere. After a pelican identified as Victor 397 was shot down while carrying the slipspace drive, Cutter decided against risking something like that happening again and ordered it to be transported further with the use of elephants. Once it reached a large groundside teleporter that took the drive to the base of the elevator, Cutter let Forge know that engineers were on the way to rig its core for overload. The plan worked, but the means of exit Cutter had planned to use to escape the planet was sealed off. Cutter ordered what ground teams remained to find a way to reopen the exit soon before they all died. As Anders coordinated with the teams on the ground to achieve this goal, Forge, who was riding with the drive up the elevator to set off the detonation manually, contacted Cutter to let him know he estimated they had about thirty minutes to spare. A little less than twenty minutes later, he confirmed he had reached the sun and would detonate the core in ten minutes' time. Cutter wished the faithful sergeant the best of luck and then let him know once they had an exit again and were recalling everyone to the ship. Once everyone was safely aboard, minus Forge, Cutter ordered they escape at the best speed they could. However, the expansion of the artificial star's gravitational field was going to make that difficult. Thinking fast, Captain Cutter had Serina plot a course around the sun that would use its mass to slingshot them around it and out their exit. She confirmed it could be done and advised Cutter to hold on to something. He took a seat and watched as they rounded the collapsing star, flew through the exit porta, and emerged on the outside of the false planet just as it began to tear itself apart.

Lost with all hands[edit]

"You got us all out of there alive. Get some rest."
— Cutter commends Anders' actions and wishes her a well-deserved rest.
Cutter lingers in Cryo Room 3 after bidding farewell to Anders for the time being.

Without a slipspace drive, the Spirit of Fire found itself years, if not decades, away from human civilization. Cutter charted a course for Reach and the majority of the crew entered cryostasis. Cutter, however, did not even sleep, likely with the assistance of pharmaceutical stimulants. On March 1, Chief Engineer Andrew Prescott presented his finished assessment to the captain concerning the damage done to the ship. Repairs were being made to its hull, but the slipspace engine was irreplaceable. There had been a notion that a spare could be manufactured from base reactor units, but this was judged to be impossible. Cutter decided to place even more people in cryo at this point and run the ship with a skeleton crew. On March 3, he made an entry in his log about Anders and her recent captivity. He noted that she had been a prisoner of war of the Covenant longer than anyone else so far, and yet she had not sought counseling or really talked about the experience much at all. On March 11 he accompanied Ellen to Cryo Room 3. She was protesting his wish for her to enter cryo, but he insisted. He thanked her for helping to get them away from the mysterious planet in one piece, but she solemnly reminded him that not everyone had made it.[24] After initiating her freeze, he lingered by the tube next to hers, which bore the name of Sergeant J. Forge. The next day, the captain was walking the ship when he stopped to visit the med bay to check on those recovering from the prior battles. A nurse, Lulu Hershey, was apprehensive about whether she would ever see her fiancé again and Cutter reassured her that she would. He returned to his cabin and wrote five more commendations, fourteen family condolence letters, and a note to Mary. Then, for the first time in two weeks, he finally slept.[12] Eventually nobody was left aboard the ship that was not in cryo, save for Serina. Spirit of Fire was declared "lost with all hands" on February 10, 2534, the ship having previously been classified as simply missing in action. A memorial service was held for the vessel's crew, but many family members chose not to attend, holding out hope that their loved ones were still alive.[12] Various theories circulated throughout the UNSC as to the ship's fate, ranging from being lost during a covert mission for ONI, destroyed in orbit over Arcadia, defecting to Insurrectionist forces, or being stranded in space. When Captain Cutter's widow, Mary, was asked about the defection theory, she physically assaulted the reporter. On January 1, 2537, a small outbreak of the parasites encountered on the artificial world took place on the Spirit of Fire. Serina didn't wish to wake the captain, so she let Anders and Jerome-092 deal with it. After the Human-Covenant War's conclusion, the Spirit of Fire and her crew were honored at the dedication of the Living Monument, along with numerous other ships that had been lost with all hands during the war.[25]

A new enemy[edit]

"If we don't stop Atriox now, we leave the galaxy at the mercy of a monster. So no, Isabel. We won't be running anywhere today."
— Captain Cutter rallies his crew to action.[4]
Cutter and Anders survey the Ark from high above it.

On March 28, 2559, just over twenty-eight years since entering cryostasis, Captain Cutter was awakened to the voice of Serina. She had initiated her own final dispensation more than twenty-two years earlier, but she had left behind some automated protocols to awaken the crew in response to certain contingencies. She also had recorded a farewell message for Cutter in particular. In it, she stated that it had been a pleasure to serve with him and asked that he look after everyone for her. After getting dressed & collecting his thoughts, Cutter made his way to the observation deck, where he found professor Anders already present. Outside, an enormous concave superstructure with eight petals, covered in landmasses and oceans, stretched out before them. Cutter greeted Anders, who was flush with the excitement of discovery and already making plans for landing on the surface beneath them. The captain asked if she had any insight concerning what it was or where they were, but all Anders could confirm was that they had left the Milky Way galaxy behind for the gulf of intergalactic space. Cutter brought up a records of the Spirit of Fire's sensors, which revealed they had dropped out of slipspace less than an hour ago. Without a slipspace drive of its own, Anders concluded that something had opened some sort of slipspace corridor and pulled them in from this side. Just then, word came from the bridge that a UNSC signal was transmitting from the surface. Cutter directed it to be played for him, but was told that it couldn't be decrypted with their outdated codes. Its very existence excited Cutter, however, because to him it meant that the UNSC was still in the fight or had perhaps even beat the Covenant. Something else was blocking Anders' surface scans of the huge structure's topography, but she could pinpoint the general location for the signal. Cutter decided to send the three Spartans of Red Team to investigate. He contacted Jerome-092 with orders to be ready for reconnaissance within the hour. As a pelican ferried Red Team to the ground, Cutter followed up with the professor to ascertain whether the signal's location could be named with any more precision. She had narrowed it down to a small sector where other recon teams were currently investigating. She also had found what looked like a UNSC research outpost and again expressed a desire to do some exploring herself. Cutter told her that without Serina, he needed her to remain on the ship, and told Jerome to make contact with whomever was signaling to them as soon as possible. As the Spartans drew nearer to the source, Cutter notified Jerome of a portal like those that existed on the artificial planet in 2531 which they could use to get closer easily. He also told him that he had ordered the other forces to hang back and cover their exit while they sought out answers.[26]

Captain Cutter and Jerome-092 listen to Isabel relay the history of Atriox.

The three Spartans entered the Henry Lamb Research Outpost but when they emerged, they were calling for an evac and were reporting a casualty. Jerome personally requested air support on their location and trailing north in order to strike their pursuers. Cutter affirmed his understanding an authorized Archer missiles to be fired. Using an M12 Chaingun Warthog, Jerome and a wounded Douglas-042 were able to make it to a waiting pelican for transport back to the Spirit of Fire. Alice-130 stayed behind to cover their retreat. En route, Captain Cutter let Jerome know that he had a medical team standing by to receive Douglas and he that he wanted a full report from both Jerome and an A.I. he had retrieved from the research outpost. Once on the bridge, Jerome slotted the data crystal chip of the A.I., named Isabel, into a holotable. Jerome introduced her to the captain, but she reported that she already knew who he was, since he and his crew had supposedly been lost with all hands decades ago. Cutter requested information regarding what had just happenned on the surface. The A.I. was silent at first, but with some urging she indulged Cutter's questioning and told of him that five months ago, a portal that connected this location, named the Ark, to Earth, had shut down. She also told of how a month after that a fearsome faction of ex-Covenant led by a Jiralhanae named Atriox had arrived and slaughtered everyone here. After explaining who Atriox was and what they were up against should they remain here at the Ark, Isabel urged a retreat, not knowing that the ship lacked any means of slipspace travel. In response, Cutter launched into an inspirational speech to the bridge crew wherein he appealed to the loss they were all feeling after waking up to find twenty-eight years had gone by, their shared sense of duty, the fact that he considered them all family, and the necessity of stopping a monster like Atriox from acquiring anything powerful he could threaten the galaxy with. Even Isabel was stirred by the speech and agreed to his plan to fight this faction, known as the Banished. Cutter figured the best way to start would be to hit Atriox's chain of command. Isabel informed him of a Banished salvage operation overseen by Decimus, one of Atriox's lieutenants and the Brute that had led the attack on her outpost. The captain resolved to strike the Banished with a surprise attack, move south to establish a base, and then from there launch an attack on Decimus' operation. In the meantime, he told professor Anders, who had taken on the role of his de facto right hand and advisor,[27] that it would be her job to start looking for a way to send word home to the UNSC about their situation.[4]

Captain Cutter stirs his underlings to take the fight to the Banished.

Two pelicans dropped off Jerome and several squads of marines. The entire group, designated Strike One, was directed by Captain Cutter from the Spirit of Fire as it made its way toward a Banished camp. After clearing the camp, Cutter had two squads of Hellbringers sent to reinforce them before they moved on to another area where the Banished had troops garrisoned. He encouraged the marines and Jerome to salvage whatever they could from the Banished and also sent some Warthogs to help them scout ahead as they came nearer to the locus of Decimus' operation. Cutter also offered tactical advice, such as telling the troops when to flank and when to take cover behind structures. Once a Banished base was discovered, he recommended that the Hellbringers use their M7057 flamethrowers to burn it down. Once it had been eliminated, Cutter oversaw the placement of their own firebase, dropped in piecemeal by D81-LRT Condors, overtop the burnt-out wreckage. Isabel at this point said that she was picking up something being broadcast to all Banished channels and Cutter had her translate it for them. They had apparently gotten Decimus' attention. Cutter told her to keep intercepting his communications and worked with Jerome to oversee the further buildup of the base. Suddenly, a CAS-class assault carrier appeared and Cutter had barely enough time to warn his troops on the ground before one of its pulse laser turrets bombarded their position. After moving out once more, the captain told the marines to secure power nodes when they chanced across them in order to starve Decimus of energy and bolster their own supply. At last, Decimus' main base was reached. Cutter advised the liberal use of grenades and once again shouted for his forces to scatter when the carrier prepared to fire on them. Decimus, who had been present in the fight, eventually retreated through a portal and the carrier also relented, leaving the salvage operation to the marines. Cutter sent orders to search what remained for anything that could aid them.[4]

The Cartographer[edit]

"We need to hit the Banished again before they find out what we discovered at their base. Get to the Cartographer and find out what Atriox is planning."
— James Cutter.

Intelligence gathered at the Banished base indicated that the group had made use of one of the Ark's Cartographers for organizing and spreading its operations across the installation. Captain Cutter was determined to take this Cartographer from them in order to conduct effective strikes against their disparate locations. A team was quickly put together to push toward a giant elevator that could ferry forces to the it. Attempting to access it any other way would draw the ire of automated sentinel constructs that defended it. In order to gain control of the elevator, the UNSC forces would need to input the proper codes into Forerunner towers at three separate places. As a team made its way along to accomplish this objective, Cutter advised caution after seeing the corpses of Banished fighters killed by sentinels. He confirmed that no other teams of theirs were present when asked, meaning that a third party was indeed nearby. The captain chose a suitable location for the establishment of a base from which to advance toward the towers and asked Isabel to update Anders with anything she may need to know about the towers. Cutter helped Jerome manage the buildup of the base by offering advice and directives. An ambush by Banished Zurdo-pattern Wraiths prompted Cutter to call for four AV-14 Hornets to be flown in to combat them. He watched as Jerome and the marines fought off multiple attacks on the base before sending their own contingent to take the towers. Along the way, he advised that Banished foundries that were located should be destroyed in order to cripple the group's ability to produce more Wraiths. The Banished put up a fight but eventually the Spirit of Fire troops were successful in controlling all three towers. Jerome-092 expressed to the captain that it felt good to have a win, but he was cautioned against celebrating before they knew what Atriox had really been up to on the Ark.[28]

Around the same time that the fight to access the elevator to the Cartographer was going on, Captain Cutter was contacted by Alice-130, the Spartan-II from Red Team that had stayed behind after the first encounter with the Banished. Cutter was pleased to hear from her and asked how she had escaped. She reported commandeering en enemy vehicle and also stated she had freed some marines that had been captured. Cutter immediately dispatched pelicans to extract she and the marines but also learned from Isabel that the enemy was heading for their position at that very moment. The situation was too hot to drop a firebase, but Cutter promised that the Spirit of Fire would be used to help them on the ground in whatever way it could. This initially took the form of restoration drones, which were flown to the survivors. When the Banished bore down on them, then, the ship fired Archer missiles at the attackers. The pelicans safely extracted Alice and others and dropped them off some distance way so that they could continue to fight by conducting guerrilla strikes against the Banished. Cutter had Isabel prepare an explaination for them which would explain precisely who the Banished were, seeing as they had been absent since prior to Cutter and the other bridge crew learning of Atriox's history.[29]

On March 29, the forces that were taken to the Cartographer by the enormous elevator arrived to find an energy shield blocking their further progression to the central map room. Cutter asked Anders, who was present at the Cartographer, if she could find a way to move past it. Before she could give it much thought before they came under attack from Banished Type-26 Banshees. Jerome requested an emergency supply of M9 Wolverines and Cutter responded by saying he already had a pair standing by, which were promptly flown in before they could be attacked by sentinels. Later, Cutter assisted once again by supplying more reinforcements to the site of the battle, which eventually pitched the UNSC troops against a base the Banished had set up within the Cartgrapher's central chamber. Once the data from the Cartographer was acquired, Anders learned that the Banished had largely taken over the Ark's network of portals and had been using them to move about the Ark with ease. Cutter pressed her for more information regarding how exactly Atriox was controlling the network but everyone was forced to leave prematurely due to the encroachment of Protector Sentinels.[30]

Defeating Decimus[edit]

"Decimus arrived a few hours ago and he'll be looking for a rematch. Make sure he doesn't walk away from this one."
— Cutter to Jerome-092.

Thanks to information that the humans did manage to glean from the Cartographer, it was determined that the key controller for the network of portals Atriox had taken over was located relatively near to the location of Cutter's troops. Destroying it would leave many of the Banished stranded in disparate locations across the enormous installation and it would be more difficult for the group to coordinate rapid redeployments. The Banished were well aware the controller had been compromised, so a mass of forces was brought to bear to defend it. Decimus himself had also personally taken up its defense. Captain Cutter reasoned that in order to be victorious in launching an offensive against it, it would necessary to destroy portals encountered on the way so that the Banished could not catch them in the rear. On March 30, as the marines and Spartans (Jerome-092 and Douglas-042) fought their way toward the objective Cutter assisted them by directing an escort of four hornets to keep watch over them. Before all the Spartans and marines traveled through a second portal in the network leading to the controller, Cutter advised reconnaissance. Hornets that traveled through came face-to-face with Decimus, but the Brute retreated through a third portal. Cutter advised waiting until the rest of the UNSC forces had joined them and the portal was destroyed behind them before advancing further. This pattern continued at Cutter's urging. Once Decimus was finally cornered and resolved to make his stand, Cutter was just barely able to warn his people on the ground before the Enduring Conviction fired its pulse laser turrets on their location. The captain continued to watch the engagement closely and to give commands and over advice. Decimus was eventually killed, which Cutter congratulated the entire team for. Without a moment to spare following his defeat, Isabel let Cutter know that banshees from the Conviction were approaching the Spirit of Fire. Realizing that the carrier might finally be turning its attention on the Spirit, Cutter ordered Jerome to get back to the ship at once.[31]

Enduring Conviction[edit]

"The Spirit of Fire wasn't built to fight a carrier like the Enduring Conviction, and we can't hold it off for long."
— Cutter to Douglas-042.
Cutter and Isabel struggle with what to do about the superior ship attacking them.

Now April 1, Banshees from the assault carrier strafed past the Spirit and unloaded plasma onto the hull and external weaponry of the aged ship. The small craft managed to create a hull breach in Sector 17, and to disrupt the firing capability of some of the vessel's deck guns.[32] In response, Cutter made the decision to retract those that were no longer of use in order to prevent further damage. From elsewhere on the ship Anders reached out to the captain on the bridge to let him know the attack was making her work difficult and to ask whether or not they were even fighting back. Cutter assured her they were and asked that she let him handle it and that she continue to work as best she could. Isabel's contribution at that moment was to smugly point out that they must have gotten the Banished's attention. Before ordering a section of the ship evacuated and vented, Cutter agreed. He asked how long they could withstand the Conviction, to which she replied "Not long". Being fully occupied with defending his ship, Cutter instructed Isabel to serve as his liaison to Alice-130 on the ground and recommended that she stay put at a small base at a secured beachhead to defend a local portal.[33] Anders soon entered the bridge herself and excitedly announced that she had in fact devised a way to get word back to the Milky Way. If they were able to take control of a nearly-finished Halo ring in the Ark's central forges, launching it to one of the designated locations for the Halo Array would open a portal. Since at least Installation 04 in the Soell system would be in a region of space now known to humans and be closest to their centers of civilization, its original resting place was determined to be a suitable launching destination.

Captain Cutter stares down a holographic readout of the Conviction.

Unfortunately, the plan would require at least twelve hours to see through to completion, time which Cutter exasperatedly declared they didn't have. Their current focus right then had to be beating the Enduring Conviction. To this end, Isabel floated an idea wherein a Forerunner particle cannon on the Ark's surface could be used to immobilize the carrier and drain its shields. If all went according to plan, they could use this opportunity to get Isabel aboard the ship so she could take over its weapon systems. She believed that if she could make the assault carrier fire on the Ark full-stop, that its automated defenses would respond in kind against it. As time was of the essence, ground forces were quickly split between those lead by Douglas, accompanied by Anders, and those by Jerome, who was also given Isabel to carry. Douglas' team would take control of the particle cannon and Jerome would board the Conviction through its gravity lift at the first chance he got. Cutter warned Douglas that once his team immobilized the ship with the cannon that Atriox would likely send everything he could at them. Everything ended up going exactly as planned. The cannon scored a direct hit on the carrier. Cutter asked Anders how long it would take to fully drain its shields but she couldn't say. As expected, the Banished began to move in large numbers toward Douglas' position, but this left the base beneath the carrier and its grav lift relatively unguarded. Banshees that were attacking the Spirit of Fire also broke off their runs to target the cannon, which Cutter was able to warn Douglas and Ellen about. To give extra help to Jerome, he also dispatched three M400 Kodiaks, along with minibases, to assist in his push toward the gravity lift.[34] He and Isabel infiltrated the ship as planned and she used its ventral beam to blast deep into the Ark, which alerted thousands of Aggressor Sentinels. The sentinels swarmed upward toward the Banished vessel and used the sheer volume of their many carapaces to bisect it from port to starboard. The wreckage of the once-mighty ship fell to the Ark below.

The Halo[edit]

"If Atriox gets control of this Halo, he'll be holding a gun to the head of all life across hundreds of light years. We have to clear the Banished off this ring."
— Captain Cutter to Red Team.

By the next day, April 2, the Halo ring, under Anders' direction, had begun its final preparations for travel to the Soell system. Multiple landing parties were sent from the UNSC Spirit of Fire to the inner surface of the ring but hot on their heels was a large Banished invasion. About thirty minutes after losing contact with several of these teams, Cutter judged that in order to stem the tide of Banished troops accessing the ring, it would be necessary to focus on the access points at the Ark's Foundry that Atriox's forces were using to teleport to the ring. Once that was dealt with, he determined that they could then wipe the remaining Banished off of the Halo. As Douglas-042, Alice-130, and UNSC Marines made their way toward the Foundry, they encountered heavy resistance. As they were met by an impressive array of barricades blocking their path, Cutter urged Alice and Douglas to capture a Barukaza Workshop Scarab undergoing repairs and use it to blast through the barrier. As they set out to accomplish this objective, a forward operating base called for assistance due to the onslaught of Banished assaulting it. In response, Cutter authorized archer missiles to be rained down upon the attackers. The captain urged the Spartans to hurry in taking control of the scarab. They were successful in doing so and went on to halt the flow of troops onto the Halo.

Cutter watches as the Halo ring departs with Anders still on it.

Even though the Banished had been cut off the ring, those that had made it had already gained a foothold near the UNSC's Alpha Base. Believing the loss of the Halo ring to be unacceptable, Cutter sent all three Spartans of Red Team to it with haste and ordered them to clear all Jiralhanae, Sangheili, Mgalekgolo, and Unggoy off the installation. Faced with the possibility of that which he had traveled to the Ark for slipping from his grasp, Atriox personally contacted the captain for the first time. He applauded Cutter's tenacity and, not knowing that the humans were without slipspace capability, said that he would not pursue them if they left the Ark then. Cutter gave the Brute no quarter, responding in defiance that he had not forgotten what happened to the researchers that had been massacred and that he would ultimately take the Ark from Atriox.[35] He directed Jerome and the other Spartans to gather everyone they could and get to the Halo's control room so professor Anders could disarm it prior to its journey. Once she was safely inside, Cutter reached out to her for an update and told Jerome and the others to defend her. With Banished troops incoming, there was no time to establish a base. Cutter advised that mobile turret defenses be protected and used effectively and wished his people good luck. As the Banished bore down on them, Cutter was able to spot Jiralhanae Warlords on the field. He let Red Team know that eliminating them could mean disrupting the enemy's chain of command. As soon as they were ready, he also sent more marines with AV-14 Hornets, HRUNTING Mark III (B) Cyclopss, EV-44 Nightingales, M12G1 Gauss Warthogs, AC-220 Vultures, and M808S Scorpions to reinforce those on the Halo. The arrival of a fully-active Banished scarab prompted the captain to shout for a newly developed gunship, the G81-LRT Condor, to be used at once against it. The scarab was destroyed but soon after was followed by heavy artillery in the form of Gydrozka Workshop Blisterbacks. As the fight raged on, the captain repeatedly reiterated that the professor was to be protected at all costs and urged Anders to work quickly. After one of these urgings, she told him she had discovered something that might help them remove the Banished from the ring. He told her that no matter what it was, it had better work.

Cutter returns to the holotable on the observation deck after the ring is gone.

Not long after, Isabel let him know that Atriox was hailing him once more. The Jiralhanae seemed no longer interested in making any deals and rather was simply indignant that Cutter believed he could stand against him. To this the captain simply severed the connection and returned his focus on the battlefield. He asked Anders what exactly her plan was and whether it was ready. Replying that she had gained control of the installation's gravity anchors, she advised that all troops get clear from where the Banished were. Cutter assured her they were clear and ordered her to do what she was going to. At her command, a massive section of the surface the enemy was occupying was suddenly ejected high into space and broken up into many pieces. With only minutes left until the ring departed Installation 00, all UNSC troops on it returned to the Spirit of Fire. Anders, however, could not reach the extraction point in time from her position in the control room. Cutter shouted that there must be some way to delay the launch but she simply stated she would be fine and would make sure the beacon that has been attached to the ring properly transmitted their message. Cutter could only watch as the Halo ring was swallowed by the closing of the portal behind it. Isabel informed him that their teams would be aboard in five minutes' time. He asked her to bring up a map of the Ark and turned back to begin planning the next stage of his fight with Atriox.[36]

The fight continues[edit]

"Yes, I have said goodbye to another friend and we are again cut off from the rest of humanity, but this time it's different. We know that the Covenant War has been won and a new future awaits us back home—perhaps our families as well. For now, we have a new purpose, something to fight for. And we'll do it together on our new home."
— The captain's log on April 2, 2559.
Cutter surveys the Ark's topography.

Following Anders' departure on the newly-created Halo ring, James Cutter made an entry in his captain's log wherein he expressed his sadness at having to say goodbye to his colleague and friend. In it he also noted that though she was gone and his family on the Spirit of Fire a little smaller, there was plenty to keep him occupied in the weeks ahead.[37] Anders had said it would probably be a matter of weeks before help could be sent, after all. The Banished were still a threat to be dealt even if they had been bested this time. Cutter directed Isabel to start investigating the Ark's portal controls in the event that they needed to open—or close—the portal to Earth again in the future. He and Isabel began using minibases as unmanned sensor and communication relays in an ever-growing system of control nodes being extended across the Ark.[38] As the ranking Navy and UEG official in the administrative region, he also conferred the acting rank of Commander on Jerome-092.[39] The captain reflected on his hope that his family might still be alive, even knowing what he now did about Reach and the end of the Human-Covenant War. For the moment, however, the fight against Atriox on the Ark would be his purpose. At some point after this UNSC fighters fought the Banished amidst the wreckage of the Enduring Conviction and around one month later, on May 1, the fight across the Ark was still underway. At that time a plot by the Mgalekgolo pair known jointly as Colony to take control of a Forerunner Despair-class fighter was discovered. The plan was thwarted by the ODST unit, Sunray 1-1, with help from India Company, which Cutter had authorized to reinforce the squad. Cutter sent Hornets to evac the ODSTs (and one Hospital Corpsman) after the completion of their mission and thanked them personally once they had returned to the Spirit of Fire.[40] By June 4, the Banished and the Spirit of Fire were still in a stalemate when the Flood was unleashed from the wreckage of High Charity. The parasite co-opted a number of Cutter's troops and vehicles but was contained by the Jiralhanae brothers, Voridus and Pavium.[41]

In October, a new faction arrived on the Ark, the Keepers of the One Freedom who allied themselves with a surviving group of Dhas Bhasvod's Covenant in an effort to fire the Halo rings and begin the Great Journey. The Ferrets managed to signal one of the Spirit of Fire's reconnaissance Pelicans and enlist the ship's help in stopping the plan. Cutter would ultimately agree to Veta Lopis' plan to destroy Epsilon Clarion via orbital bombardment from the ship's MAC gun, foiling the Keepers and the loyalists and destroying the Ark's ability to fire the Halo Array. Cutter then dispatched Red Team on a search and rescue mission for the Ferrets. Ten days later, Cutter held a funeral for those who were lost stopping the Keepers and offered Lopis his sincere condolences for the loss of Mark-G313, something that she greatly appreciated. Lopis and the surviving Ferrets decided to accept Cutter's offer to join the Spirit of Fire crew and help them in their continuing fight against the Banished.[42]

Personality and traits[edit]

"The lives we had are gone. The worlds we knew.. have moved on. And now all that we may have left are those standing beside us... And the DUTY that defines us. Battle after battle, fighting side by side... together"
— Cutter reaffirms his belief in his crew's purpose to it.
Cutter collects himself after awakening from years spent in cryo.

Captain James Cutter is a leader steeped in military tradition and discipline, but who balances that tradition with a genuine compassion and interest for those who serve underneath him.[43] A true hero of the UNSC, Cutter's military career is long and distinguished and he has sacrificed advancement up the ranks in order to remain with his crew and ship and near to his family on Reach. Cutter has served on seven ships, two of them as captain, and has a record of service and bravery that is well known within the Navy. But it was his lack of political ambition and unwillingness to climb the ladder of the UNSC by stepping over others that kept him from far more. He could easily have been an admiral if he had ever cared to be.[Note 1][1] Where some would saw his captaincy of the Spirit of Fire as a job lacking in prestige—always having an assignment as the supply boat of a fleet with more missions waiting in the wings was something that made Cutter smile behind his morning coffee.[1] Though he has never personally seen an actual waterborne military vessel, he has a habit of referring to ships and their parts in archaic nautical terms.[5]

The crew on the Spirit of Fire are more than soldiers to the captain, they are his extended family. Cutter's respect is reciprocated by his troops, who place a great deal of faith in the captain and his decisions. Cutter was an officer from the start, but his demeanor was never one of a do-nothing officer like many of his class. Many of the young men had political aspirations far beyond their potential, but Cutter found it more interesting to “talk shop” in the soldier’s club with the non-officers. Cutter liked his fellow officers, but he believed in getting to know and respect his men, believing that in turn they would give him "two-hundred percent" when the time came. He is known for walking the ship at night to check on his crew. He was so well respected and well-known before vanishing in 2531 that coffee houses in the Inner Colonies gave him free coffee beans to take with him on long deployments.[44] The A.I., Isabel, feels sure that the captain will have her back if they survive the war on the Ark and her breaking of a large number of UNSC weapons platform and safety regulations in the design of the G81-LRT Condor is questioned.[45]

Cutter's stance and his voice immediately identify him as a leader, and an intelligent, unambiguous, and thoughtful one at that. His face is slightly older-looking than his actual age, and he has some gray around the fringes of his hair, but his energy and determination are that of a man half his years. Cutter is almost always at attention, listening to his advisors and crew. He is constantly on the move and has little need for pomp and circumstance. This lack of flourish may be why he is the kind of man who so many rally to, making him the perfect leader for any fight ahead.[1] As far as terrestrial military strategy is concerned, Cutter understands the value of controlling the flow of battle by manipulating the terrain to one's advantage.[46]


  • According to Jeff Easterling, Cutter had apparently youthened his physical appearance through cryo sleep and coconut oil.[47] This is likely a joke explaining the real world reason as to why his appearance changed radically between Halo Wars and Halo Wars 2.

Production notes[edit]

  • Cutter was voiced by Gregg Berger in Halo Wars. Coincidentally, Berger voiced G.I. Joe member Cutter in the G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero animated series. Gideon Emery provides Cutter's voice, likeness, and motion capture performance in Halo Wars 2, albeit digitally aged to match Cutter's biological age. The recasting was due to changes in Blur Studio's animation technology; whereas the cinematics in Halo Wars used hand-sculpted and animated models, Blur has since come to adopt full performance capture technology, for which an actor bearing a closer resemblance to the character was deemed necessary.[48] Emery also portrays Cutter in the War of Wits live-action promotional shorts.
  • Actor Ed Harris was used as a reference for Cutter, while Tom Skerritt was used as the final facial reference model for Cutter in Halo Wars.


List of appearances[edit]


  1. ^ The Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide erroneously uses the term "general" instead of "admiral".


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halo Wars: Official Strategy Guide, Factions, UNSC Leaders, pages 20-21
  2. ^ a b Halo: The Essential Visual Guide, page 43
  3. ^ a b c d e Halo Waypoint - James Gregory Cutter
  4. ^ a b c d Halo Wars 2 campaign level A New Enemy
  5. ^ a b Halo Wars: Limited Edition, Cutter leader card
  6. ^ Official Halo Wars Community Site: Spirit of Fire (defunct, Archive)
  7. ^ Game Daily - Everyone makes sacrifices to fight the Covenant (defunct link)
  8. ^ a b c d Halo: Escalation, Issue #5
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h Halo Wars: Genesis
  10. ^ Halo on Twitter: "#TodayInHalo, 2524 – As a result of actions taken against insurgents aboard the UNSC Glasgow, Commander James Cutter receives a Bronze Star."
  11. ^ Halo Wars Timeline Events - 30 January 2528
  12. ^ a b c d Halo Wars Timeline Events
  13. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Relic Interior
  14. ^ Game Daily - Every Captain needs a well-trained crew (defunct link)
  15. ^ Halo Wars Launch Site - UNSC Side
  16. ^ a b c d e Halo Wars, campaign level Arcadia City
  17. ^ a b c d Halo Wars, campaign level Anders' Signal
  18. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level The Flood
  19. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Shield World
  20. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Cleansing
  21. ^ a b Halo Wars, campaign level Reactor
  22. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Repairs
  23. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Beachhead
  24. ^ Halo Wars, campaign level Escape
  25. ^ Halo Living Monument
  26. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level The Signal
  27. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Anders
  28. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level Ascension
  29. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level One Three Zero
  30. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level The Cartographer
  31. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level Lights Out
  32. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level Hold the Line
  33. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level From the Deep
  34. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level Under the Dark
  35. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level The Halo
  36. ^ Halo Wars 2, campaign level Last Stand
  37. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Beyond the Edge
  38. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Minibase
  39. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Commander Jerome
  40. ^ Halo Wars 2 campaign level Not on My Watch
  41. ^ Halo Wars 2 campaign level Manifestation
  42. ^ Halo: Divine Wind
  43. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Cutter
  44. ^ Game Daily - Give the man some coffee (defunct link)
  45. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Condor Gunship
  46. ^ Halo Wars 2, Phoenix Logs — Ice Barrier
  47. ^ Halo Archive Forums page 66 - GrimBrother One "Cryo and coconut oil, baby."
  48. ^ Halo Waypoint - Warzone Firefight Sneak Peek