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Requiem and the Didact
In July 2557, nearly five years after John went into cryo-sleep, the aft half of the Forward Unto Dawn entered orbit above Requiem, a Forerunner shield world. As Jul 'Mdama's Covenant forces near Requiem began to board the Dawn, Cortana awakened John from cryosleep. With Cortana's assistance, John fought off the intruders across the ship and used one of the ship's nuclear missiles to destroy an incoming Covenant cruiser. Shortly afterward, however, Requiem's access gateway opened, pulling the remains of the Dawn, as well as any Covenant ships in immediate proximity, into the interior of the shield world. Having crashed on Requiem, John took notice of Cortana's escalating signs of rampancy and she explained that her condition may be reversible if they managed to get to Earth and find Dr. Halsey in time. Fighting their way through numerous Covenant forces occupying the structure, John was attacked by advanced Forerunner combat constructs which Cortana identified as Prometheans. Evading or destroying pursuit, John attempted to warn the approaching UNSC Infinity of the dangerous gravity field that had disabled the Forward Unto Dawn.
After John disabled two energy pylons preventing them from contacting Infinity and attempted to use the supposed relay satellite in Requiem's core to establish contact, it became clear that a great threat had once been imprisoned within Requiem. Instead of contacting the Infinity, John had accidentally released the Didact, an ancient Forerunner warrior, from meditative hibernation within his Cryptum. Easily disabling John with his powerful abilities, the Didact declared the return of the Forerunners as the galaxy's rulers and saviors. Humanity remained weak and unworthy in his eyes of inheriting the Mantle of Responsibility. Having always revered the Forerunners as gods, the Covenant quickly swore alliance to the Didact and his armies. Tossing John aside, the Didact escaped Requiem's core using a slipspace rupture, an which destabilized the core.
Narrowly escaping the collapsing core facility, John and Cortana translocated to the planet's surface only to find their warning to the Infinity came too late. The massive warship crashed nearly 80 kilometers away, with a massive force of Covenant and Prometheans closing on their position. John was successful in regrouping with a group of Marines and Spartan-IVs, led by Commander Thomas Lasky, whom John had previously met on Circinius IV over thirty years earlier. Recognizing the Chief immediately, Lasky asked John and Cortana to clear a landing zone so that Infinity's ground forces could fall back to the ship which had fallen under siege. Commandeering a Scorpion tank, John led the attack to the crippled vessel alongside Commander Sarah Palmer's Spartans. Using the UNSC's latest weapon, the Mantis walker, John rallied a force of nearby Marines and regained control of the ship's interior. After reinitializing the ship's secondary MAC guns and missile batteries, the tide turned in the UNSC's favor and the Didact was forced to retreat.
With a momentary lull in the fighting, John was called to a strategy meeting with Andrew Del Rio, Captain of the Infinity. Skeptical of the threat of the Prometheans, Rio ordered an immediate attack on a Forerunner gravity well preventing the ship from leaving. A strike force of Spartans led by John was deployed with a Mammoth ultra-heavy ground vehicle supporting the attack. Facing daunting odds, the UNSC was able to defeat a large armored strike force of Covenant and Prometheans and disabled the gravity beam. Diverted to an underground facility along the way, John was confronted with a vision from the Librarian, who warned him of the Didact's plans to enslave humanity with a device known as the Composer. The Librarian also provided John with a gift: a medical treatment to counteract the Forerunners' devolution of the human genome, and a means to resist the effects of the Composer.
Regrouping aboard the Infinity, Captain Del Rio dismissed the threat of the Prometheans and prepared the ship to depart the system. Defying direct orders, John took the increasingly unstable Cortana and departed the Infinity. Armed with a Pelican gunship provided by Commander Lasky, John launched several attacks on support pillars providing the Didact's Cryptum with shields and power, with the goal of preventing him from leaving the planet and attacking Earth and other colonies. John's attempt to stop the Didact ultimately proved unsuccessful, as the Didact managed to leave Requiem aboard his vessel, escorted by a flotilla of Covenant ships. Stowing away aboard a Lich, Master Chief pursued the Forerunner to Ivanoff Station, a UNSC research base orbiting Halo Installation 03 where the Composer was kept. Dr. Sandra Tillson, a lead researcher aboard the base, helped guide John to the artifact amidst a swarm of Covenant attackers. Despite John reaching the artifact first, the Didact was successful in obtaining the Composer and immediately tested the device on the crew of the station, completely destroying their bodies and assimilating their minds to power additional war machines. However, John survived, thanks to the genetic enhancements imposed by the Librarian.
Battle aboard Mantle's Approach
With the Didact approaching Earth, planning to imprison all of humanity into digital form, John pursued the Forerunner aboard an F-41 Broadsword fighter on the outer hull of the Promethean's ship. As the ship exited slipspace near Earth, John was surprised to find the Infinity and the rest of the Home Fleet ready and waiting for the Didact. John was able to destroy the ship's point defense guns, giving Infinity the chance to punch through the vessel's hull. Entering the breach, John fought his way to the Forerunner's location. Despite the UNSC's best efforts, the Didact was to fire on Earth with the Composer, digitizing the entire population of New Phoenix, Arizona. Armed with a HAVOK warhead, John confronted the Didact for the second time on a hard light bridge. While John was no match for the Forerunner's powerful abilities, the dying Cortana was able to immobilize the Didact with hard light shackles. The weakened John then planted a pulse grenade in the Didact's armor, blowing him off the bridge and sending him falling into a slipspace rupture underneath the Composer. With time having already run out, John detonated the nuclear bomb manually as a desperate last resort.
Using the last of her power, Cortana was able to save John from the blast, saving his life at the cost of her own. The two had one final conversation, with John remarking that he was supposed to have protected her. Cortana insisted that they were supposed to protect each other, and did. Smiling and seeming at peace, Cortana welcomed John home, and then faded away completely. Left adrift in space, John was recovered by a UNSC search-and-rescue team shortly afterward. Later, John spoke with now-Captain Lasky about the loss of his companion and the nature of their duty as soldiers. Aboard the Infinity, John rejoined Palmer and the other Spartans, and had his MJOLNIR Mark VI armor removed for the first time in several years.
Transport took John from the Infinity to HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6 in Sydney a short time later that day, where he debriefed concerning recent events before the UNSC Security Council. He recounted everything that had happened to him since he awoke over Requiem to Army General Nicolas Strauss, Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood, Generals Hogan and Dellert of the Marine Corps and Air Force respectively, and CINCONI Serin Osman (formerly Serin-019), whom John had not seen since he was fourteen years old and had thought dead since then. General Strauss worried that some part of Cortana may have survived and was now beyond their control, but John assured him that she was gone and also adamantly charged that she had not been without protection during the nearly five years spent adrift on the Forward Unto Dawn when the general suggested so. General Hogan was similarly skeptical concerning the Didact's defeat and John had to agree that he could by no means be considered killed for certain. John did say, however, that what had befallen New Phoenix could not happen again since he had destroyed the Composer. Hogan openly discussed the council's plan to put the blame for the attack at the feet of the Covenant, suggesting also that the public should be told it was stopped by the return of humanity's greatest hero.
After he was dismissed, Lord Hood caught up to John in the hall outside the room where they had debriefed and apologized for the unprofessional behavior of Strauss and Hogan. John stated that he was in no place to comment as such, and at this Hood half-jokingly noted that he could probably be made an admiral himself at this point with little pushback from anyone, or simply an officer at the very least. The Master Chief brushed off the idea by claiming that "the Admiral" just wouldn't have the same ring to it. John walked with Hood to another room, where the fleet admiral admitted that he had a problem he was hoping he could enlist John's help in solving. He reported that just an hour earlier, fractured bits of audio had been received from the surface of Installation 03 and forthwith all contact with the science team stationed there had been lost. Listening the transmissions indicated to John that Promethean constructs had evidently appeared on the Halo. Hood also let him know that Black Team, comprised of Spartan-IIs John had grown up with, had been assigned to guard the scientists and were also now unable to be reached. John was surprised to hear that Black Team was still operational and didn't think twice about volunteering to investigate Gamma Halo himself. Hood had only been asking that John advise another team being dispatched there, but the Chief made it clear that he needed to see what was happening himself, as he knew of no reason why mechanical Prometheans should be cropping up outside of Requiem. John soon discovered that the team Hood had pegged him to advised was none other than Blue Team, now just composed of Linda-058, Kelly-087, and Frederic-104. John met his three oldest remaining friends and companions in a hangar within the ship which would be carrying them to the Khaphrae system.
Each Spartan greeted him warmly, with Kelly in particular expressing that she had reached the point where she hadn't thought she would ever see him again. When John mentioned how Hood had originally asked him onto the mission in an advisory capacity Fred scoffed and said that surely John had told him he was coming with them. John, aware that Fred was now a Lieutenant, jokingly asked if his presence would be a problem, to which Fred said that he'd have ordered him to come along if John hadn't offered.
The day after the Didact's attack, the Spartans of Blue Team arrived at Installation 03 and deployed via their own GA-TL1 Longsword given to them for this mission. Kelly received no response when she hailed the science team but John encouraged her to keep trying. John landed near the location of the science team's last known coordinates and almost immediately after disembarking, Linda picked up tracks which were unrecognizable to her, but instantly noted by John to have been made by Promethean crawlers. The tracks came from what was decided to be "north" on the ring and led "south" to where the scientists had been. John led the others to follow them until they reached a camp, and there he and Kelly discovered the scientists' corpses while exploring it. Fred and Linda, however, found Black Team. Otto-031 , Margaret-053, Victor-101, and Roma-143 had been killed right alongside the scientists. Fred, shocked by the loss of four fellow Spartans, asked the Chief if crawlers could have done this. John doubted any number of the mechanistic quadrupeds could have been enough to overpower them and suspected something else must have been involved. As the team backtracked to see where the assailants seemed to have come from, John had Kelly notify ops of the latest developments. Before the Spartans could reach the crawlers' point of origin they were set upon by Promethean knights which materialized around them. John ordered everyone to engage at will and managed to take down two of the knights himself with his MA5D assault rifle. Once they had been dealt with the team finally came upon the gaping hole in the installation from which the UNSC Infinity had extracted the Composer from earlier that year. After sliding down the side of the excavation to investigate further, Kelly pointed out a tunnel on its northwest face which led deep underneath the ring's surface. John led his team through it down into the depths of Gamma Halo and they were soon faced by an otherworldly sight: the Composer's Abyss. All around them were projected the essences of seemingly tortured victims of the Composer and before them lay an active portal. Fred pointedly asked if there was anything John could advise them on regarding what they were seeing, but John merely led them to keep moving forward, which meant stepping through the portal.
On the other side of the portal, Blue Team found themselves within what appeared to be a derelict Forerunner city on an unknown planet. John reassured Fred by pointing out that as long as the portal remained open they would have a way home. John led the others to the edge of a drop-off overlooking the city, where they could see a single light on in a tower ahead. John finally admitted that he was now highly suspicious that the Didact personally may have been responsible for the deaths on Gamma Halo. The team eventually discovered six Composers, evidencing that the one from Gamma Halo had not been a unique creation. The Didact suddenly surprised the Spartans from behind them and John ordered everyone to fire on him. The hulking Promethean only had to stomp on the ground to create a shockwave that knocked John and the others to the ground. In the sky above, Installation 03 then emerged from slipspace at the same time that more Promethean constructs appeared and moved in to attack. John and the rest of Blue began shooting back at the knights, crawlers, and watchers accosting them. A monitor identifying itself as 859 Static Carillon approached the humans, revealing that the Didact planned to take Gamma Halo to Earth to eradicate humanity there. The monitor also let them know that while he cared not for the outcome of the feud between the Didact and humans, he was opposed to the presence of the mechanical Prometheans on his installation, as he had been promised by the renowned Warrior-Servant that they would not be brought there. John ordered everyone to race back to the portal so they could get on Gamma Halo to stop the Didact's plan.
Upon returning, Blue Team sped past the Composer's Abyss and out into the light, scrambling up and out of the hole just as one of the Composers was set into place just as the original had been found. The Spartans were knocked forward by an electrical discharge that followed and suddenly found themselves facing down the Didact yet again. The Forerunner swatted Linda, Kelly and Fred aside, but just as he was moving in to finish Kelly off, John struck from behind and managed to pierce his right eye with a combat knife. The Didact appeared unfazed by this, however, and responded by seizing John by the head and lifting him into the air, all the while squeezing to crush his Mjolnir helm. John was certain at that moment that his time to die had finally come, but he was saved by his teammates, who forced the Didact to respond by flinging John at them to bowl them over. John and Fred collided, but Kelly and Linda proceeded to both get close enough to land shots on the Didact's armor. Still, their efforts were to no avail and he might have been able to exterminate Blue Team just as he had Black Team had 859 Static Carillon not arrived to fire on the Didact with his laser. The monitor teleported the Promethean away and Blue Team found itself alone with Carillon. John's ears were ringing, his helmet was fused so that he couldn't remove it, part of his visor had shattered, and his armor as a whole was power cycling. Even still, he assured Fred that he could still operate when asked. John inquired as to where Carillon had taken the Didact and learned the ancilla had thought it best to place him within the most secure part of the Halo: the control room. Thankfully, he had only done this after his attack made the Didact drop the installation's activation index, which John now scooped up, openly musing on the idea of using it to fire the Halo to finish off their enemy. 859 Static Carillon balked at this thought and reminded John that doing so would kill all sentient life within twenty-five thousand light-years. Carillon instead recommended John use the index be used to deactivate certain safety protocols so that he could have greater control over the ring and deal with the Didact himself.
John directed Fred, Kelly, and Linda to return to the Longsword and to take off while 859 transported him to the control room. Upon arriving, he found the Didact at the central console. The ancient warrior was surprised to see John was both alone and unarmed. Rather than either attacking one another, the two adversaries instead talked, with John specifically reciting the deaths he blamed the Didact for and noting that while he had tried to end him now via a litany of means, he was sure than he had finally found the way to remove him for good. Before he could be stopped, John slid the index into the control panel. The Didact was confused by this, as he could not believe that the Master Chief would kill them both along with everyone else in range of the Halo's firing. John then revealed that he didn't mean to fire it, but merely to allow Static Carillon to shed the section of the installation that housed the control room. This process had already begun and by the time the ejected section holding the Didact slammed into the planet below, John had been teleported safely away. He and Static Carillon appeared together in a flash of light aboard Blue Team's Longsword and John thanked the monitor for his assistance. Carillon announced that it would be taking Installation 03 elsewhere for repairs and in order to hide it.
Blue Team was able to make it back to Earth by July 28, where John met alone with Admiral Hood seventy-two hours following the attack on New Phoenix to discuss the fates of Installation 03 and the Didact. Before this meeting John's Mark VI armor was repaired and upgraded to bring it into the second generation of Mjolnir. John made it clear to Hood that neither he nor the others on Blue Team knew where 859 Static Carillon had disappeared to and that it was probably best to only consider the Didact "contained", not killed. When the section of Gamma Halo had crashed into Clinquant, there had been five Composers present, after all. The impact seemed to have activated them somehow, which would have reduced the Didact to a digital essence. Hood asked if the Chief was okay given everything that had happened since Reach, to which John answered in the affirmative. Regardless, Admiral Hood ordered he and the rest of his team to take some time off in order to rest and relax. When John met back up with Kelly, Linda, and Fred, however, he lied, telling them that Hood had cleared them for to head back into the field. Sometime shortly following this, John underwent a psychological evaluation wherein it was determined that he was unlikely to stop repeatedly taking on missions anytime soon. Without informing Hood, the Office of Naval Intelligence subsequently assigned Blue Team to its backlog of high-priority missions. These classified operations included diplomatic escorts through hostile territory, counter-piracy efforts against salvagers, and strikes against Covenant outposts, as well as uncovering and combating forerunner technology. During one of these missions John found himself at a certain point to be the only member of Blue Team that had not taken up Forerunner weaponry to fight with. During another mission that took John to what had once been a Covenant world, he faced down a Type-1 energy sword-wielding Sangheili named Monn I'zar armed only with a combat knife.
On September 26, 2557 John met for an interview with an operative from ONI's Beta-5 Division with the code name of Sapphire Three. They met to have their discussion at the terminus of the Borneo Space Tether far above the Pacific island of the same name. At just after 0721 hours, the conversation turned toward John's recovery of Cortana from the stasis vestibule within High Charity in December of 2552. Sapphire Three asked John to describe what sort of state Cortana had been in when he found her, to which he replied that she had been functional in spite of potential defects. John further explained, when prompted, that these defects included problems with her response times, synchronization confidence, diagnostic alerts, and a few other things. The operative inquired as to whether she had told him beforehand that she had held on to the activation index from Installation 04 and John had to admit that she had not. Sapphire Three pointed out that this would have qualified as a violation of Article 2477-6 of the UNSC Charter for Xenoarcheological Artifact Recovery and Quarantine, to which John had nothing to say. When the line of questioning broached the subject of the possible "residual interface anomalies" John experienced after leaving Cortana behind on the Covenant city, John simply reported what he'd been told concerning a Software Trauma Analysis that had looked at the anomalies. According to the report, what had seemed like messages from Cortana were actually just echoes of her personality matrix in his neural interface and may have been been caused by her extensive data consumption in Installation 04's control room. John told the operative that he never brought the issue up after he and Cortana reconnected and when asked whether he agreed with the STA's conclusions, said that he didn't see why it was important.
Once 2558 dawned, Blue Team's assignments saw them deployed to the fringes of human civilization where fighting was raging harder than ever between several independent multi-species sects and alliances. At different points John and the others fought against Jiralhanae on a human colony, protected civilians from attacking Kig-Yar, and at one point even found themselves fleeing from a CCS-class battlecruiser which was firing its pulse laser turrets at them on the ground. By August of this year, John had personally completed two hundred and nine military operations, including one hundred and thirty-six full campaigns.
At one point in 2558, Blue Team was stationed at the construction site for a new ONI research facility, awaiting orders, when the facility suddenly came under attack by a fanatical ex-Covenant group. The hostiles managed to capture an M510 Mammoth, disable its governor, and drive it down a steep hillside toward the site's main fusion reactor. Blue Team followed in pursuit in an M12 Chaingun Warthog with Fred at the wheel. After an hour had passed since the attack started, John, Kelly, and Linda ejected from the Warthog when it was close enough to the rampaging Mammoth. Once aboard, he ordered Linda to stay up top to provide him with cover and Kelly to go below. He soon followed Kelly and through the use of an MA5D assault rifle and combat knife, John took out at least one Sangheili and two Kig-Yar, wresting control of the hulking vehicle from its hijackers.
John took the controls and seeing that the brakes had been disabled, decided to steer it right over an upcoming ridge. Kelly shouted against this plan, as she had discovered scientists hiding inside a compartment. The impact from driving over a cliff would almost certainly kill them. Given the circumstances, John instead chose to simply swerve away from the reactor at the last second. A Kig-Yar he had thought was dead attacked him from behind at that last second, but he slammed its head into the dashboard and still managed to avoid the reactor in time. The near miss avoided catastrophe but still resulted in the destruction of a decent amount of fabricated material that had been constructed around it. John checked in with Kelly to make sure the scientists were okay. The manager in charge of the construction project soon rushed over to Spartans after the smoke cleared and demanded to know who he should blame for the damage. John, as the one who had been driving, took responsibility. The incredulous man accused the Master Chief of thinking he could get away with anything because of his status as a hero. At this moment, Fred jumped in to reprimand the thankless individual they had all just saved, finding it difficult to maintain an easy demeanor in the face of such disrespect. John kept a cooler head and advised Fred to let the insult go. He directed the team to return to a nearby airstrip, as they still had a mission entirely apart from the spontaneous attempted terrorism just defended against.
Blue Team's missions eventually took them back to the Epsilon Eridani system and the glassed remains of Reach in particular. The Spartans split up but eventually came back together at a certain location for a reason entirely personal to all of them that Command had permitted them to indulge in. John and Linda approached Kelly and Fred in a Warthog and upon exiting asked if the place they stood was really what remained of they were looking for: the spot in the Highland Mountains' military wilderness training preserve where Sam-034 had carved a symbol into a tree so many years before. In his honor, John, Kelly, and Fred looked on as Linda carved a similar symbol, now used to represent Blue Team, into a large outcropping of lechatelierite. John verbally reflected on what Sam had meant to each of them and recalled that they last time they were all together in the preserve, he had asked them to trust him when he said he could get everyone home. As such, he pointedly asked if each of them was willing to continue trusting him and to keep following his lead.
The Fallen Spartan
At some point in the latter half of 2558, peace talks between humans and Sangheili were scheduled to be held at the Outer Colonies regional embassy on Biko. Around a week before the meeting was to be held, the ambassador and peace activist Richard Sekibo uncovered a serious threat that could disrupt the talks and petitioned the Unified Earth Government for support. The UEG Senate disregarded his request, but when the day came, John landed in the densely populated city where the talks were being held. Sekibo's intelligence had been correct, for the extremist group known as Sapien Sunrise had managed to infiltrate the embassy and were plotting to assassinate Sekibo and frame the Sangheili for his death. The ship John used to enter the planet's atmosphere was moving so fast that it registered as a fireball to the air traffic artificial intelligence monitoring it. John charged toward the embassy at a dead sprint. He burst into the chamber where the delegates were gathered and without a moment's hesitation, shot the Sapien Sunrise operative acting as Sekibo's bodyguard with a handgun at point-blank range. This provocation started a firefight that ultimately cost the lives of nineteen humans and three of the Sangheili. John took possession of Sekibo and fought his way out of the embassy with the Sangheili survivors. In addition to Sekibo's bodyguard, eight of the other humans present had been part of Sapien Sunrise: four embassy guards and four civilians. Of the civilians, two were janitors collectively armed with a rocket launcher and two were couriers carrying fragmentation grenades. John killed all nine, including the bodyguard, with just twelve rounds from a handgun, though he was armed with an MA5D assault rifle as well. They all boarded the ship he had arrived on and fled the planet thereafter, but the ambassador succumbed to wounds inflicted during the shooting, making him the nineteenth casualty. The day after the firefight interrupted the peace talks local officials investigating a signal beacon found his body in a field where John had left it. That same day the Sangheili clan that had sent representation to the talks broadcast an official transmission to Earth in which its kaidon denied any involvement in what had transpired and also defended John's innocence in the matter. This transmission was buried by the Unified Earth Government and the UEG's magistrate on Biko, Laurel Adams, took actions to keep the local leadership and media from speaking out either, ensuring that the involvement of Sapien Sunrise remained unknown to the rest of humanity.
Ten days after the violence on Biko, the Office of Naval Intelligence intentionally leaked a previously suppressed incident report from the embassy that detailed the Master Chief's involvement in events and made it appear that he had burst into the building and killed people there unprovoked. Every journalism outlet and social hub immediately was abuzz with coverage of the story and John was soon widely being accused of abducting and killing Richard Sekibo, slaughtering civilians, and even colluding with the enemy. On Earth, the predominant reaction from people was panic, as it seemed that humanity's savior had finally gone rogue. News presenters began referring to John as "the Fallen Spartan". In the Outer Colonies, however, his purported actions were largely believed to have been carried out under the direction of ONI. The Chief was simply seen as a disposable weapon being wielded by the agency to cripple Sekibo's diplomatic vision. Some were also gladdened to see Earth's champion brought low by the leaked report. Less than twenty-four hours later, a second leak was put out in the form of a video from the incident. The footage seemed to corroborate everything in the report and immediately polarized people across human-occupied space even further. The leaks, combined with recent reporting from Benjamin Giraud on the poaching of Outer Colonies children for the Spartan-II program, created widespread unrest in those colonies. The New Colonial Alliance took full advantage of the moment and soon massive demonstrations were common and there were many renewed calls for embargoes, boycotts, and even independence from the Unified Earth Government. Some UEG politicians tried to levy the situation for their own disparate agendas, from increased military spending to tax relief. Now a freshman senator, Andrew Del Rio called for the decommissioning of all extant Spartan-IIs. The senator eventually retracted his proposal when Laurel Adams and the UEG at large announced the conclusion of an investigation that cleared the Chief of any suspicions of wrongdoing. Evidence implicating Sapien Sunrise in Sekibo's death was made public and at the same time, Benjamin Giraud's reporting was discredited, since ONI had played a large role in providing him with unreliable evidence. These reversals served to quell the fervor in the Outer Colonies and in the eyes of many, lay the spurious accusations concerning the Spartan-II program's sordid history at the feet of Giraud alone.
BIRD IN HAND
Near the start of October 23, 2558, John and the rest of Blue Team were deployed from the UNSC Infinity for Operation: BIRD IN HAND, a mission to find and secure Argent Moon, an ONI research vessel that had been missing for nineteen months. John piloted a D79-TC Pelican carrying he and the rest of the team through an asteroid field within the Crow's Eye Nebula in search of Argent Moon and notified the Infinity as soon as he laid eyes on it. After turning the dropship to its rear bay faced their target, John joined the others and prepared to launch from the craft using his armor's integrated thrusters. Before departing he accepted an MA5D assault rifle from Kelly and confirmed all were ready. Blue Team then maneuvered around a few asteroids before readying their weapons and concentrating fire on a window as they sped toward it. By doing so, the Spartans were able to easily fly right through the glass and activate their suits' magnetic boot clamps upon landing within. A number of Sangheili that were there to meet them were quickly forced into space as the area they'd entered depressurized, but John and the others were held in place long enough for a blast door to seal the breach they'd made. Argent Moon was presently occupied by Covenant forces loyal to Jul 'Mdama, but John planned for them to clear the aliens and return the station to ONI. As the team made its way toward the ship's data center the Spartans passed a stealth-class vessel that had been under construction as well as numerous skeletal remains once belonging to the Argent Moon's crew. Linda asked what they knew about the experiments that had been done there, to which John said they didn't know anything and further, that they ought not to ask. The first group of unsuspecting Covenant the team came across was made up of a few Unggoy, who were mercilessly eliminated. Beyond the room the Grunts had been in the Spartans soon found themselves facing off against Sangheili and Kig-Yar as well. In the data center John used the complete set of data security keys they had for the station to access its databanks and pull its schematics and current population map. The plan was to reach and seize Central Control and thereby deactivate gravity and life support systems in order to efficiently kill off all enemies aboard. John next led his team to an elevator which carried them down to the assembly bay where the large stealth ship had been being built. Fred suggested the most direct route to the shipyard beyond was through a wall ahead of them, so John led the way in charging through a metal grating and sliding down a ramp on the opposite side. The shipyard was full of Covenant forces, including a Sangheili zealot, but Blue Team had little troubling dealing with them. At the top of a series of stairs John acquired an MLRS-1 Hydra and used it to great effect on even more adversaries which were gathered all about the unfinished ship in the bay. Central Control was just beyond a set of doors when without warning, a Mgalekgolo gestalt suddenly smashed through a pile of crates and brought its pavise shield down on a catwalk Blue Team was crossing, sending all four of them tumbling to a lower level.
John unexpectedly found himself no longer surrounded by the floor and walls of the Argent Moon, but seemingly within a rocky cave system. Calling out to Linda, Kelly, and Fred to report in yielded no answers, but he did then hear the faint voice of none other than Cortana. Turning, he cautiously approached what appeared to be her data crystal chip but it vanished right as he attempted to pick it up. He followed a source of light to where the stony floor ended at a cliff overlooking a bottomless chasm, and across this gulf Cortana's figure visibly appeared. She told him the Domain was open and that Meridian, a glassed Outer Colony world, was next. John struggled to understand what he was seeing and hearing, but Cortana just responded to his confusion by claiming that "the Reclamation" was about to begin. At this a loud roar sounded from beneath John's feet and an enormous construct rose imposingly from the depths. John fell to his knees then and the vision ended. He was once again surrounded by his teammates. Kelly could see that something was wrong and asked him what it was, and in response the Chief told them Cortana was on Meridian. Linda and Fred both pushed back at the notion, seeing as John had told them all how he'd watched her die. John didn't understand how she could have survived himself nor what he had just seen, but resolved to focus on the present mission for the time being and worry about that later.
Upon witnessing Covenant vessels exiting slipspace all around the Argent Moon, however, the plan changed to asset denial and it was decided that the Argent Moon must be destroyed. Blue Team fought to the ship's reactor and disabled its safeties so that it would begin to overheat and detonate. However, the Argent Moon responded with automatic safeties, moving the reactor to a cooling center where it could be contained. Needing to ensure its overload, Blue Team followed the reactor to the cooling center in vacuum, using Banshees to destroy its coolant pipes. With their interference, the cooling system failed and the reactor began overheating, prepping Argent Moon's destruction. Blue Team needed to escape, but their Banshees would not escape the explosion in time and their arrival Pelican appeared to have been destroyed. John thus ordered them to the hangar where they could take a Winter-class prowler and escape into slipspace. Arriving at a hangar, the Spartans found the parked prowler ONI Acrisius, but needed to recharge its fuel cells. Many more Covenant forces attacked them while Blue Team defended themselves, waiting for the Prowler to prep for launch. With the hangar cleared and the Acrisius ready, John contacted the UNSC Infinity and informed them that he would be sending Blue Team to Meridian. However, Infinity was mysteriously already aware of Cortana's return and ordered John back to them while another Spartan team was sent to deal with her. Rejecting their orders, John and Blue Team chose to go AWOL and investigate Cortana's disturbance; evacuating aboard the Acrisius, and leaving the Argent Moon as it exploded.
Absent without leave
At 0630 hours, shortly after departing the Argent Moon, John and the rest of the Spartans of Blue Team were declared absent without leave. The next day, the four Spartan-IVs of Fireteam Osiris were tasked with apprehending Blue Team and returning both they and the Acrisius to UNSC custody. The prowler arrived at Meridian in the Hestia system on October 25, shortly before the Infinity did that day as well. Soon after mechanical Promethean constructs began to appear and attack people at Apogee Station, having materialized from within various nearby subterranean caverns. The Acrisius was then sighted flying very low in the direction of Apogee by a miner driving in the opposite direction, toward Meridian Station. Once the team landed at its destination John and the others were able to refer to a map of Apogee Station which had been provided to their ship. It pointed them down into a nearby mountain via a mine entrance. Blue Team was permitted to pass that way by the colony's A.I. governor, Sloan, and also did not face any resistance from present Promethean forces. The intelligence known as the Warden Eternal, claiming to serve Cortana, had approved them for passage to the world where she could be found via a Guardian Custode which had lain buried beneath the moon's surface for millennia.
When John, Linda, Kelly, and Fred were deposited near the Guardian by a teleporter, to their surprise they came face-to-face with Fireteam Osiris, which occupied a series of platforms below those they suddenly found themselves traversing. The Spartan-IIs wasted no time teleporting to another platform where they could enter the Guardian, but were met there by Spartan Jameson Locke, Osiris' leader. John was the last to arrive and when he did Spartan Locke had his weapon drawn on Linda, Kelly, and Fred. Locke ordered the Chief to stand down, making it clear he was only giving him this one chance to return to the UNSC peacefully. At this John directed the rest of his team to enter the Guardian despite Locke's protests before stating that he had a job to do and turning to board the construct himself. Locke made him pause, however, when he mentioned Cortana; claiming she was Osiris' concern now. This elicited a harsh response from John, who lashed out at Locke without warning. He yanked Locke's BR85 battle rifle away easily before breaking it against the opposing Spartan's faceplate. A protracted hand-to-hand struggle followed in which John managed to get the upper hand over Locke twice, throwing him to the ground each time. The Spartan-IV rolled away from a downward punch which followed the second instance of such and in recovering managed to put the Chief on the defensive. A punch and backhand to the head in rapid succession finally made John sink to one knee, his helmet's visor now cracked. When he rose and turned around to face Locke again, the other had activated an armor restraint with the intention of immobilizing him. John seized Locke's right wrist in order to keep it away from him and the fight shifted to one for control of the restraint. Ultimately it was a headbutt from John that allowed him to steal the restraint from Locke and turn it on him, short-circuiting his armor and locking him in place just as he'd drawn and pointed his M6H2 magnum. As the rest of Osiris looked on from across a chasm which had isolated them from the dueling team leaders, John retrieved his MA5D from the ground and vanished before the entry portal to access the Guardian after a final look back at his defeated opponent. By then the Guardian had already begun to prepare for emergence and departure. Shortly thereafter it rose into the sky and initiated a slipspace jump at a little after 0833 hours, leaving destruction and death in its wake.
On October 27 the Master Chief was publicly declared to have been killed in action that day on Meridian, purportedly having fallen in the line of duty. While making the public address Lieutenant Penelope Boren claimed that the full account of his demise was being withheld out of respect to those who may have lost loved ones in the recent disaster there. It was thought that Blue Team must be in some way responsible for the deaths wrought by the Meridian Guardian. The conclusion had been reached that it would be better for people to think the Master Chief dead than to think he had turned against the UNSC. The Guardian carrying Blue Team brought them to the artificial world Genesis in the Nomos system, finally arriving around October 28. The team was deposited upon a sort of docking platform and had barely begun to move forward from it before another Guardian slipped in nearby. Fred asked John what he thought Cortana was up to and why she had brought them there, to which he said "Let's keep moving". John argued that they must have been brought to that location for a reason and ought to search ahead. Taking the lead, John was the first to reach a self-assembling console within a structure ahead as they approached. To the Spartans' surprise, it sounded off the four-note tune 'Olly olly oxen free', which John immediately concluded must have come from Cortana. Manipulating the console seemed to awaken a structure further ahead and led the platform the console was on to descend, but when John tried to see if Cortana could hear them he received no response. The lift deposited Blue Team at ground level. John and the others made their way forward, John assuring them Cortana must be out there somewhere. When Fred pointed out the destruction and loss of life she had seemingly caused on Meridian, he affirmed he had not failed to notice it and said they'd learn what was going on once they'd found her. Kelly pointed out the building which had come to life after John used the console and suggested she might be over there, which John agreed was certainly possible. Before long, the team chanced upon a dead Unggoy and the Chief gave orders to stay alert, wondering what the Covenant was doing there.
Blue Team battled through stranded Covenant forces.
Opposite the bridge Blue Team encountered a swath of many Covenant corpses. Cautiously picking their way around and stepping over them with their weapons at the ready, the Spartans were soon greeted by a giant mechanical construct which signaled no obvious hostile intent. Regardless, they trained their guns on this new being and John demanded it identify itself. The being identified himself as the Warden Eternal and claimed to stand in Cortana's defense, at which John told him he'd been summoned at her request. The Warden mocked John's admission to have "come scampering" at her call and further tried to create a wedge between the two in pointing out that she knew his "forgotten name" but was reticent to share information about who he had been before becoming a Spartan with him. John then simply told the construct to take him to her, but the Warden refused and vanished into a localized slipspace portal.
The Warden's physical frame had disappeared, but the Spartans could still hear his booming voice as they made their way forward through an earthen tunnel on the opposite side of a door. He asked what the Chief's intentions were for Cortana, to which John flatly said he'd come to bring her home. Soon after this mechanical Prometheans began showing up and attacking Blue Team as it moved through a series of caverns and cliffs. John demanded once more to know where Cortana was but the Warden only responded with scorn and the arrival of more hostile constructs. Upon reaching an open valley the Warden himself took the field alongside the knights, soldiers, and crawlers at his command. Even so, John and the others were able to prevail against them all. As soon as the coast was clear John was shocked to suddenly hear Cortana's voice in his helmet, and she likewise sounded overjoyed that he had made it there. She wasted no time remotely activating a light bridge ahead, since she was sure the Warden would be back soon, further explaining that he had a single mind but millions of armatures which he could inhabit. Asked how she was still active, Cortana recounted how she had found the Domain after the core of the Mantle's Approach had jumped to slipspace toward Genesis, and how her rampancy had apparently been cured by accessing it. John asked how they were to get to her, so she directed their attention to the Gateway, a large structure ahead of them. A final console awaited John's activation so they could ride a lift downward. When John broached the subject of the Warden feeling he needed to protect Cortana from him, she just promised she'd explain everything once they were "face-to-face". Not satisfied, John pushed her and learned she planned to use her newfound immortality to shoulder the Mantle of Responsibility as the Forerunners had and to invite other A.I.s to join her in that effort. Walking across another light bridge back into more caverns, John reminded her how the Didact had spoken of the Mantle as well. At this she assured him she was not possessed of the same authoritarian desire the ancient Warrior-Servant had been. So they could speedily cross a length of canyons yet separating them from the Gateway, Cortana drew the Spartans' attentions to four Z-1800 Phaetons. Soon enough, however, their advance was contested by more Prometheans. After eliminating the last of the focus turrets and other constructs which had set upon them, the team exited the stretch of chasms to finally reach the Gateway. Cortana told them they would be the first organic beings to enter it since the Forerunners' fall.
After wandering in circles within the Gateway for some hours at Cortana's direction, to his great surprise John received a transmission on October 28 from Jameson Locke in which he claimed his team had been sent to Genesis by Doctor Halsey and was there to help. John demanded to know how they had followed Blue Team there but was told it was a long story. When Locke mentioned that Cortana was behind the Guardians' activations John told him he was aware and let him know they could be found at the Gateway. A short time later Locke tried to ask the Chief to hold position as they approached the Gateway but heard only static in response, as Cortana had blocked their communications. When Osiris finally caught up to blue Team at the Gateway the Spartan-IVs were accompanied by the world's monitor, 031 Exuberant Witness. John, Linda, Kelly and Fred all spun around at the approach of Osiris and trained their weapons on the other Spartans but John lowered his rifle at the mention of Cortana by Locke and said he was aware that she was now a danger. Locke offered his team's assistance in dealing with her, but at that moment Cortana herself spoke from above and said they were too late. John only managed to cry "No!" before he and the rest of his teammates were involuntarily teleported elsewhere.
When the Spartans reappeared, they found themselves within a vaulted hallway. John attempted to ask Cortana where she had brought them but received no response. As he and the others cautiously moved forward the Warden Eternal suddenly materialized and used a constraint field to hoist them into the air. It was then that Cortana's voice was heard, commanding the Warden to leave and making his component pieces fly apart and vanish. She apologized, claiming that she didn't think the Warden could access their location. John was insistent that she give them some answers, demanding to know why she'd brought the The Guardians to Genesis. Cortana explained that she intended to use them to keep troublesome worlds in line just as the Forerunners once had and then urged John to come to her quickly. Fred asked where he he thought she was leading them, to which John could only say "Closer to her". Beyond a door at the end of the hall Blue Team found itself facing a long series of walkways and ramps seemingly placed far above an endless expanse: a fragment of the Domain. The Warden announced his presence for all to hear as Promethean crawlers began to spawn ahead of them, so John recognized right away that he wanted a fight. As the Spartans pushed forward the crawlers were joined by soldiers and knights. Past another door a floating platform assembled as Blue Team approached. John and the others stepped onto it and found themselves then being carried forward and up to another level of structures. Cortana's voice returned at this point, congratulating John for showing his fighting prowess against the Promethean constructs and saying how good it was to see him back together with his team. John recognized the psychological tactics she was employing, however, and called her on it before demanding that she tell them how many people had been killed by the awakening of the Guardians. She did not deign to answer. After the platform reached its destination Blue Team found itself facing down soldier captains and more crawlers and upon pushing through to a higher level, Z-510 focus turrets. When Fred asked John how he planned to stop Cortana he unconvincingly promised she would listen to him. When the Warden eventually appeared in physical form once again, she sounded her disapproval for his antics and he had soon vanished as quickly as he had appeared, leaving only other Prometheans for Blue Team to battle. John plead with Cortana to talk with him, to which she said she would once they reached her. Even having been halted from attacking the Spartans directly, the Warden continued to speak for both Cortana and the Spartans to hear. He addressed John specifically, asking if he would stand against Cortana should his own species rebel against her. John pointed out Cortana already knew the answer to that. After another group of attacking constructs had been cleared Cortana spoke up to remind John of their partnership and tried to make him understand she was still herself and this time it was he that responded by saying they'd talk once Blue Team had reached its destination safely. As the team was carried upward and forward by another platform, the Warden's booming voice recounted humanity's discovery of the Halos six years prior, and how it marked the long-awaited arrival of the Reclaimer. Rather than identifying humans as the Librarian's chosen Reclaimers, however, both the Warden and Cortana claimed that role belonged to she and other human-made artificial intelligences.
Disheartened by Cortana's exalted claims for herself, John continued to lead his team through successive waves of attacking Prometheans. Kelly dared to ask if they were fighting a losing battle but he assured her that would only happen if they planned on losing. John also pushed back against taunting from the Warden, letting him know that far worse than he had tried and failed before to kill him. Following a fight against knight commanders and soldier snipers, among other constructs, John led him team past a door to an exceedingly large chamber. Within, a dozen copies of the Warden suddenly appeared to stop them from advancing further but all but three were quickly removed by Cortana. Blue Team fought and destroyed two of his remaining bodies before the final version summoned focus turrets. Once they and he were finally destroyed as well, a ramp formed leading to a central bridge above the Spartans. As they walked up it Kelly asked John what he planned to do but got not response. They traversed a final hall and beyond the door at its end could see a blue light floating atop a plinth in the center of a round room. A light bridge spanned a chasm separating the entrance and the room's center. John hesitantly said Cortana's name, wondering if the glowing blue light represented her, and had his said by her in kind. As soon as they had crossed the light bridge deactivated behind them and the doors they'd entered through slid shut. Cortana's avatar likewise vanished from the plinth before them as the Warden appeared to take control, manifesting three more bodily forms within the space. John called for Blue Team to focus fire as even more versions began to appear and advanced toward the Spartans. At the last moment before Blue Team could be attacked Cortana intervened, making all but one copy of the Warden vanish along with everyone's weapons. The Warden looked to be forced to his and knees and the plinth behind him began to spark, making John cautiously step forward to see what would happen next. Then, astonishingly, Cortana herself appeared as a full-size human figure and walked forward to meet John. At a touch she dissolved the Warden's hard light form before greeting her friend and saying it was good to see him. For his part, John merely commented that she had changed. Cortana began to make her argument for what she was doing but John cut her off straightaway, pointing out the brazen authoritarian nature of her plan. He furthermore compared her to Halsey, something Cortana angrily rejected by claiming that she was offering everyone a gift. John finally told her to stand down, urging her to leave with the four of them and forget about her grand plans. Despite his plea, however, she told him that her work was too important to stop. At that the chamber began to shift and change and before John could ask what was happening he and the rest of Blue Team were lifted up and encased in relatively immobilizing energy fields. Cortana then revealed they were inside a Cryptum, where she planned to preserve them. John could do nothing but slowly reach out a hand whilst calling her name as Cortana walked away before her disappearing. She planned to keep John imprisoned in stasis for ten thousand years in the hope that once he saw the peace she had ensured he might agree with her decisions. To facilitate this she made preparations to leave Genesis with the Cryptum. It was only thanks to Fireteam Osiris and 031 Exuberant Witness that control of the it was wrested from her so that when her Guardian departed it did not take the Cryptum with it. When they were finally freed the four of them walked out to meet Exuberant Witness and Osiris on a bridge the monitor had hastily assembled. John's first question was about Cortana's present location, to which Locke coolly replied that she was gone.
031 Exuberant Witness informed Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris that though there were no Forerunner vehicles which could carry the eight of them away from Genesis, a number of other vehicles which had been brought to the planet recently could serve to do so. She would only have to open a portal through which one of these available crafts could be flown through. As multiple waves of Promethean soldiers assaulted the Spartans, the monitor took off along a path which John then led them to follow. Both teams took out soldiers as they moved forward after Witness. It wasn't until Linda, from her vantage point atop an ice-covered peak, pointed out a D79-TC Pelican about six kilometers from their position that John turned himself and the six others in its direction. The Chief was convinced that even if the bird wasn't an option, they needed to avoid being pinned down in one location. Asked by John whether any others were attempting to claim it, Linda only replied with a succession of three shots with her personal SRS99-S5 AM sniper rifle and the statement that there weren't anymore. The Spartans sprinted through a hail of fire as armigers continually attacked them, returning fire of their own. Linda provided covering fire,at one point taking out two soldiers with one shot, which earned encouragement from John in the form of urging her to keep up the good work. The subject of the portal was soon broached again by 031 Exuberant Witness, to which John stated that they would prefer it take them somewhere with a UNSC presence. Locke, conversely, advised that Sanghelios would be the safest option if it was possible to return there, seeing as Cortana likely had UNSC-heavy places covered and they still might have allies trapped there. Witness confirmed she could get them close to where Sanghelios' Guardian had been located so John agreed to go with Locke's idea and asked what they needed to do. Witness said that once they had secured the Pelican she would signal them to indicate the portal was ready. As the two teams of Spartans (minus Linda) drew near to India 127 they soon became completely surrounded by hostile armigers. John charged aboard the dropship, ordering Kelly to take its controls and for everyone else to get strapped in. Kelly was able to get it in the air with no trouble so John then directed her to pick up Linda. Once she was aboard with the rest of them, Kelly piloted India 127 directly through the glowing blue disk Exuberant Witness had summoned for them.
It only took a few minutes to traverse the portal through slipspace. When the Pelican emerged, the Spartans found themselves flying through a cavernous cave, which they exited to be faced with a deep Sanghelios night. John remained quiet while the others determined where they were and what they ought to do next. When he finally did speak up, it was to apologize for everything that had recently happened. Linda was the first to dismiss his apology, as he had done what he thought was right and had been backed up by she, Kelly, and Fred every step of the way. Locke also conceded that John had done what he could to stop Cortana. Edward Buck followed this by suggesting that seeing as John had known her the best, he might be the key to stopping her. John confirmed that he wasn't even close to calling the struggle against her and the other A.I.s over. Locke mentioned that if they could get back to the UNSC Infinity, Halsey might be able to work out a solution, which caught John and the other Spartan-IIs by surprise. John asked if she was alright and learned from Holly Tanaka that she had been the last time Osiris saw her, though she was missing an arm. Fred took this opportunity to take what Buck had said on step further, noting that it was Halsey, not John, that knew Cortana best.
The portal had deposited them relatively near the Sangheili city of Sunaion off the coast of Qivro. Olympia Vale guessed that the Swords of Sanghelios were likely still camped in Nuusra, from which they had recently staged an attack on the remains of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant just days prior. Locke said that he wouldn't leave before finding Commander Sarah Palmer or confirming she was KIA, which John agreed to. Before long, fires were spotted that indicated the location of a Sangheili encampment where they expected the Swords to be. John told Kelly to take them in to land. He and Locke lined up at the ramp and exited the dropship together after it touched down, coming face-to-face with Palmer, Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and a group of his Sangheili, and Doctor Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, whom John had not seen in over six years. As surprised to see him as he was to see her, Halsey told him that it had taken him long enough. As the rest of Blue Team revealed themselves as well, John introduced them to Thel, who proceeded to invite the new arrivals to join in a celebratory meal commemorating their victory over the last of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant. Halsey revealed that she had gotten a message from Roland on the Infinity and that it would be appearing off of the far side of Suban the following day at 1800 hours. Now that they had transportation, they could be there waiting for it when it showed. Buck expressed skepticism regarding Roland's allegiance given recent events, but Halsey insisted they'd already be dead if Roland was compromised. John nodded at this. Taking off his helmet, he said they'd be staying there for the night and flying out first thing tomorrow. From there the humans joined the Sangheili in dining on colo and kuscatu. John, Kelly, Fred, Linda, and Halsey went off on their own for a time to talk. When John rejoined the rest of the gathering, he asked Palmer what had become of the Guardian which reportedly had arrived to disrupt the power across large regions of the planet. She admitted she wasn't entirely sure. Later, John took part of the night to reminisce and catch up with Thel, who told him that he had received reports of it and Promethean soldiers pacifying cities on the other side of Sanghelios that were proving to be openly hostile to Cortana's ultimatum.
Everyone was awake around an hour before sunrise and all the humans piled into the Pelican. The Arbiter bid John farewell, and while the two clasped arms, expressed his confidence that they could stand against this new threat as they had stood together against the hierarchs and the Covenant. John thanked him and then they were off, soaring through and past the planet's atmosphere on a trip that took them just a few hours. John advised everyone to keep an eye out for the Guardian, should it reappear. With about twenty minutes until the Infinity's projected arrival, Fireteam Osiris broke out a game of Hearts, but John and the others declined playing. When Infinity finally did show up, Kelly landed India 127 in its fifth portside bay. The Spartans were met by a lieutenant who announced that Halsey, Locke, Palmer, and John were wanted on the bridge. As the rest of Blue Team went to have their armor removed, John accompanied those three to meet with Captain Lasky.[Note 1]
Raid on CASTLE Base
On February 10, 2559 ONI's Materials Group created a new suit of third-generation Mjolnir armor for John. In late October of that year he and the rest of Blue Team departed the Infinity for a covert insertion onto the surface of Reach in the Epsilon Eridani system. The team's mission concerned the penetration of the rubble-filled ruins of CASTLE Base and the recovery of top-secret assets locked away in Doctor Halsey's abandoned laboratory there. It was hoped that the assets in question could prove useful against Cortana. The presence of an occupying alien force on the planet, however, soon turned what should have been a simple retrieval operation into a full-blown crisis.[Note 2]
Doctor Halsey made modifications to John's GEN3 armor on September 19, 2559. At some point following this, a lone Pelican pilot who had been stranded in his dropship, Echo 216, above a partially-destroyed Halo ring was alerted to the presence of a friendly signal. He was then shocked to discover John floating, lifeless, right outside the dropship's cockpit. His armor's main power cells had been fried and the armor had, naturally, shut down and triggered survival mode. After bringing John aboard and rerouting what little power he had into his suit, the man welcomed him back. Noticing that there appeared to be a problem with the servos in the Spartan's armored hands, he urged him to remain calm and noted that he'd "been out there a while". John's right hand had been clutched around a data crystal chip (marked with the A.I. serial number CTN-0453-0) serving as a weapon containment device. Inserting it into his helmet showed no A.I. was present within. Not content to wait any longer, he broke free of the cables tethering him in place and asked his rescuer for a status report. The pilot was confused by what he was asking, but then told him there was something he needed to see and drew his attention toward the cockpit windows. Outside, John could see the shattered remains of the Halo that lay beyond and was told they'd lost everything there. Suddenly and without warning the craft was then jolted by electricity and encased in bright light. The pilot panicked, recognizing the source of the attack, and urged that they run. Conversely, John grabbed hold of a nearby assault rifle and said they needed to fight. The pilot sealed himself in the cockpit while John took a position in the rear bay. The Chief told the pilot to get ready just before the hatch opened and he rushed out of it. Sometime after this John touched down on the surface of the broken Halo and entered its control room. As he walked toward its central platform, he removed the aforementioned chip from his helmet as a holographic projection of the ring resolved into a single mass of blue light which lay ahead.[Note 3]