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Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, also known simply by his rank as the "Master Chief" or (as is common in military culture) simply as the "Chief", is a Spartan-II supersoldier of the UNSC Navy's Special Weapons division. He served as one of the most important figures of the Human-Covenant War. After over thirty years of active duty, he is one of the most decorated war veterans of the United Nations Space Command.
This article is a brief overview of John-117's life. For an extremely detailed look at John's entire history, please see his biography pages.
By August of 2558, John had completed two hundred and nine military operations, including one hundred and thirty-six full campaigns; more than anyone other UNSC personnel on record at the time. Though John has commanded nearly every Spartan-II at one time or another, the lion's share of his career has been spent as fireteam leader of Blue Team. His actions during the Covenant War earned him every major UNSC service medal and combat award, save for the Prisoner of War Medallion, as well as several dozen civilian honors.[Note 1]
As the war neared its end, most of John's fellow SPARTAN-IIs were killed in action during the Fall of Reach. However, John and his AI companion Cortana fled Reach and their vessel fortuitously arrived at Halo Installation 04, a one hundred millennia-old superweapon created by the Forerunners to destroy their parasitic enemy, the Flood, by killing all life in the galaxy. After destroying the Halo, the surrounding Covenant fleet, and the Flood forces on the ring, John returned to Earth and resisted the Covenant's impromptu invasion. Pursuing the invaders' flagship, the Master Chief encountered Installation 05, where a civil war soon broke out within the Covenant. Weeks later, John followed the remaining Covenant forces to the Ark, the Halo Array's control center, which he disabled before the Halos could be fired.
John went missing after the war's final battle in December 2552, having stymied the threat of the Covenant, the Flood, and the Halos. In the interbellum, John was lauded as a hero, and though he was officially declared MIA like all Spartans, he was ostensibly believed by the UNSC to have perished. After his recovery in July 2557, he played a key role in the conflict between the UNSC and the Didact's Promethean forces and a new "Covenant" faction, beginning on the shield world Requiem. This culminated in an attack on Earth and the Didact's temporary defeat, as well as the apparent loss of Cortana. John subsequently reunited with Blue Team and with their help, vanquished the Didact a second time. John and his Spartan compatriots went on to participate in numerous new missions for over a year.
During one such mission, John had a vision of a seemingly alive Cortana. This prompted him to go in search of her against direct orders, with the rest of Blue Team choosing to remain by his side. In response, the UNSC declared Blue Team absent without leave and sent Spartan-IV Fireteam Osiris to recover them. On Genesis, John and Blue Team learned that Cortana had assumed the Mantle for herself and was planning on using the Guardians to enforce peace across the galaxy. John rejected Cortana's offer to join her, prompting her to imprison him and the rest of Blue Team in a Cryptum. However, the Spartan-IIs were freed by Fireteam Osiris, with both Spartan teams traveling to Sanghelios while Cortana unleashed the Guardians on the galaxy.
Within the military he is most commonly identified as "SPARTAN-117" or the phonetic callsign "Sierra 117". As with all Spartans, John was regarded by the Covenant as a "Demon". However, John specifically was known as "the Demon", an epithet he earned after the destruction of Installation 04, though allied Sangheili soon came to address him as "Spartan". The Didact and the Warden Eternal addressed John and his Spartan teammates as Warriors or Warrior-Servants.
Born on March 7, 2511, John lived with his mother and father in Elysium City, on the colony world of Eridanus II. He attended the Elysium City Primary Education Facility Number 119. As a child, John had brown hair, freckles, and a small gap between his front teeth. In a memory, he recalled that his mother was kind and smelled of soap. The would-be UNSC Marine Lieutenant Parisa was a childhood friend of John's. John once saved her from drowning at Lake Gusev, after which he promised to marry her and keep her safe. A photo of the two was also taken by Parisa's father soon after, and would be kept as a memory by Parisa long after she thought John had passed away. He also was a friend of Ellie Bloom, living next to each other in their childhood, and Katrina, who played obstacle races with him and Ellie.
At the age of six, John was identified by Dr. Catherine Halsey as one of 150 preliminary candidates for the SPARTAN-II program. John was an ideal physical and mental candidate, standing a head taller than the majority of his schoolmates, having greater physical proportions, possessing greater strength, exhibiting superior reflexes, and having an aggressive drive for success. By the time he was conscripted, he had a string of forty-five victories in what Dr. Halsey referred to as a "brutal version" of King of the Hill, resulting in him having a chipped tooth and his opponents suffering various bone fractures.
When Dr. Halsey and LTJG Jacob Keyes visited Eridanus II in 2517 to study him - the first of the candidates - they were impressed with his intellect. In a final test of his viability as a candidate, he was asked to determine which side an old coin would land on. He watched the coin as it flew in the air and caught it before it could land; correctly stating which side was face-up, on the side of the eagle. Later that same year, John and 74 other six-year-old children were conscripted to Reach: they were covertly kidnapped from their homes and replaced with flash clones to cover up the kidnappings.[Note 2] All of the clones would later die of seemingly natural causes as a result of their accelerated growth process, with John's flash-clone dying on December 7, 2517.
John and the rest of the children chosen for the SPARTAN-II program were brought to the Reach FLEETCOM Military Complex, their new home for the next several years. There, Dr. Halsey informed the children of their new purpose: they were destined to become protectors of Earth and all its colonies. The next morning John discovered his service tag, stitched into his training uniform, and his new name: John-117. John began adjusting to his new life, training with other Spartans under Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez.
In their first training exercise, John was grouped with fellow trainees Kelly-087 and Samuel-034 in a game of "Ring the Bell". John rushed ahead of his teammates and crossed the finish line first; however, he was befuddled to learn that his team had lost, as Kelly and Sam came last. This taught John the importance of teamwork and the next day, his team scored higher. John soon bonded with Kelly and Sam, who would become his first and closest friends among the trainees. For eight years John was schooled in history, military strategy and tactics, and weapons, and was given extreme physical training. During his training, John used to tease Serin-019 and her habit of eating leftovers from meals of the other candidates.
John quickly proved himself to be one of the program's top candidates. Both Dr. Halsey and Chief Mendez identified him as one of four emerging leaders within the Spartan-II group, along with Kurt-051, Jerome-092, and Frederic-104. Halsey believed John held both the skills and natural ability to lead the entire Spartan-II group. Mendez disagreed with her assessment, instead believing Kurt would fulfill the role as team leader. John's leadership skills were correctly observed, as the results from their mission clearly solidified his role as the overall leader of the Spartan-IIs. He also became the established leader of Spartan Blue Team.
Taking the initiative
When the Spartans were eight years old, they were sent on a training mission in which they were dropped over a forest located deep in one of Reach's Highland Mountains. They were expected to get safely to their extraction vehicle, an Albatross dropship. The trainees also had instructions to leave the last member arriving behind, or their punishment would be severe. After organizing themselves, the Spartans looked to him as their leader. It was a role he was surprised to be given, but eventually accepted. When the group came across the Albatross, it was guarded by un-uniformed UNSC Marines, leading John to assume they were a threat. He quickly devised a plan to eliminate the hostiles, capture the dropship, and ensure the safe extraction of every team member. He also decided to take responsibility as the last arriving trainee singled out for punishment. He quickly hijacked the dropship with the help of Déjà, and attacked the guards with stones, injuring them severely. Chief Mendez was not initially pleased, feeling John had violated the boundaries of the test. However, both Mendez and Halsey quickly recognized John's initiative, and promoted him to Squad Leader. After this, despite the other Spartans rising in rank and leading independent teams, John remained the de facto leader of the Spartans as a whole.
At the age of 14, John underwent the dangerous SPARTAN-II augmentation procedures. These procedures resulted in the death of thirty trainees, with twelve more physically disabled. John was one of thirty three Spartans who made it through the process unscathed, while the wounded were sent to the Office of Naval Intelligence. Even before his cybernetic and genetic augmentation, at 14 years of age, John had a physical body of an 18-year old Olympic athlete. Far beyond the physical alterations, the enhancements boosted the Spartans reflexes, strength, enhanced eyesight, and rendered their bones nearly unbreakable. Following their treatments, John and the other Spartans were transferred to the UNSC Atlas to recover in a microgravity environment. During his first visit to the Atlas' gym, John was confronted by four ODSTs, whose sergeant then ordered the five of them into the boxing ring. In the ensuing fight, John inadvertently killed two of the ODSTs, and left the others severely injured. According to Major Antonio Silva, this incident was orchestrated by the Office of Naval Intelligence in order to test the Spartans' augmentations. While John had tried to avoid the confrontation, he nonetheless felt guilt at being forced to kill other human beings, but felt by following the sergeant's orders, he did the right thing. Then-ODST Anthony Petrosky, who witnessed the fight, would later refer to his comrades as "lambs to the slaughter"; he described John's punches as rapid-fire explosions, and that the fight was over in less than five seconds.
Following their return to Reach for further training, John and the other Spartans were soon relocated from their barracks in the FLEETCOM military complex into the abandoned titanium mines nearby. Left in the caverns virtually without equipment and pitted against Marines wearing heavy Mark I powered armor, the Spartans continuously overcame the opposition Chief Mendez planned for them using impromptu equipment and tactics.
Infiltration on Eridanus Secundus
John's first mission, codenamed Operation: TALON, was to capture Insurrectionist leader Colonel Robert Watts within the asteroid belt of the Eridanus system, where his homeworld was located. According to the plan, Blue Team, consisting of John, Kelly, Fred, Linda and Sam, infiltrated the Insurrectionists' base by hiding aboard the freighter Laden. Upon arrival they slid out of Laden and tracked their target to the barracks using previously marked cargo. The Spartans proficiently eliminated the guards and made their way to Watts' apartment, though John was shot in the side, with one bullet penetrating his body suit, bouncing off a few ribs, and causing a tremendous amount of internal bleeding, remaining lodged in his abdomen during the ensuing firefight. Careful not to kill Watts, they drove him into a corner, choked him into unconsciousness, and forced him into a sealed cargo crate. To make an exit, Sam used C-12 explosives to blow the main hangar bay doors. As the hangar bay decompressed, the Spartans escaped the rebels' base in a Pelican dropship stolen from the UNSC. The official results of the mission listed eleven dead enemy soldiers and an unknown number of rebel civilians. John received a Purple Heart upon the completion of the mission.
Chi Ceti IV
Three months after Eridanus, John and his Spartans were briefed on the massacre that took place on Harvest shortly after first contact with the Covenant. A short time later, the UNSC Commonwealth, under the command of Captain Wallace, brought the Spartans and Dr. Halsey to the Damascus Testing Facility at Chi Ceti IV, where they received their first suits of Mjolnir powered armor. When a Covenant ship, the Unrelenting, attacked the Commonwealth, John and the Spartan-IIs took part in their first engagement with the Covenant. The Spartans used thruster packs to launch themselves from a Pelican dropship. Each Spartan carried an ANVIL-II warhead to be used against the Covenant ship. Only two other Spartans reached the ship with John: Sam and Kelly. They entered the vessel through a puncture in its hull, caused by a MAC round from the Commonwealth. They succeeded in completing the mission and destroyed the Covenant ship, but due to a breach in Sam's armor, he was unable to leave the Covenant ship. Volunteering to stay behind and ensure the destruction of the enemy vessel, Sam was killed in the ensuing explosion. John was deeply affected at the loss of one of his closest friends. The victory showed that the Covenant could be beaten, but only at a high cost.
Over the ensuing months, John and his Spartans were rapidly deployed on a number of battlefronts, taking part in the Battle of Alpha Corvi II later in 2525 and a boarding action against the frigate Radiant Arrow before being assigned as instrumental parts of Operation: SILENT STORM in early 2526. During the operation, John worked for the first time alongside enlisted UNSC personnel of the 21st Space Assault Battalion. Throughout the operation, John was a key participant in the battles of Seoba, Etalan, and finally a massive Attack on Zhoist. In this final engagement of SILENT STORM, John led one of the only offensive actions of the war into Covenant space, deploying on the Covenant world of Zhoist to destroy the Ring of Mighty Abundance, a key logistics base. The mission saw John attain the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer and formed a friendship with Avery Johnson.
A few weeks later, John and Blue Team responded to the Covenant attack on Circinius IV, engaging the aliens in the battered Corbulo Academy of Military Science to extract the planet's only surviving humans - a squad of cadets formerly students of the school. During the engagement, John provided cover fire for the recruits, using his armour to shield them from Covenant sniper fire. As the group extracted from the planet, John gave one of the recruits - Thomas Lasky - a shard of Mgalekgolo armour as commendation for the recruit's bravery. By May, John and Blue Team deployed to assist in the Battle of Mesra, before being deployed at Netherop to capture the downed frigate Radiant Perception. Ultimately, this prize was in fact a trap laid by former-fleetmaster Nizat 'Kvarosee, the disgraced commanding officer of the fleet destroyed in Operation: SILENT STORM months prior.
A war on two fronts
Despite the emergence of the Covenant threat, the Insurrection continued to remain a threat on the home front, and John was repeatedly deployed against these actors. By 2531, John led Blue Team on several operations against the United Rebel Front. The team disrupted Insurrectionist operations at Station Jefferson, onboard the rebel destroyer Origami, in Micronesia, and at a high-explosives manufacturing facility at an unspecified location. Blue Team was also involved in interfering with a saboteur cell on Reach. In May 2531, John led Blue Team in Operation: SMOKING ACES, a raid on the URF's Camp New Hope on the colony world Victoria. During this operation, John, Fred, Kelly and Linda were captured by General Howard Graves, but ultimately saved by new Blue Team addition Kurt-051. Graves was ultimately killed and the Spartans extracted before the rebels could have organised a counterattack.
John later returned to Circinius IV at an unknown time to once again aid in the evacuation of the planet's civilian population and to observe the enemy's invasion patterns, as part of Operation: PHALANX. John is known to have participated in an operation codenamed Operation: SWITCHBACK at some point prior to 2544, though details surrounding it have been redacted. He also was present at Cascade at some point after this, during which he aided in the destruction of Covenant exploratory fleet elements as part of Operation: HORIZON.
On February 9, 2535 John and some of his fellow Spartans were deployed on the human colony of Jericho VII in Operation: FALLEN WALLS. Covenant forces landed on the colony, where they encountered tough resistance from UNSC forces above the planet and on the ground, resulting in a three-day long stalemate. On the ground, Blue Team's mission was to draw out the Covenant rear guard, so Red Team could slip behind their lines and plant a HAVOK tactical nuke, destroying the next Covenant ship that landed and dropped its shields. John led Blue Team in this engagement, killing hundreds of Unggoy troops in the process. Unfortunately, the UNSC fleet lost control of the space around Jericho VII. However, Captain De Blanc was able to evacuate the Spartans aboard UNSC Resolute before the enemy fleet began its glassing of the planet. John requested to watch the planet being glassed. He observed the assault for nearly an hour as Jericho VII was destroyed.
In 2544, John deployed in Operation: IRON FIST to perform asset denial and recovery of critical cyberinfratsructure assets on Miridem. Shortly after, he led a SPARTAN-II group in Operation: WARM BLANKET at Ascon to board Luro 'Taralumee's Third Fleet of Glorious Consequence in recovering the captured Doctor Halsey from enemy hands. During this battle, John fought Thel 'Lodamee in single combat and was ultimately nearly defeated before Thel was forcibly removed from the situation by the fleet's slipspace jump. The following year, John led Blue Team in a retaliatory action in the Battle of Draco III, following the Covenant's civilian slaughter of the planet.
At an unknown time, John was present for a battle on a war-torn planet which saw the death of Daisy-023. Upon encountering Daisy's body, he laid her teddy bear chain in her hands and closed her eyes, a gesture of respect for his fallen fellow Spartan.
Final year of the war
Sigma Octanus IV
By summer 2552, John-117 had received every medal awarded by the UNSC except the Prisoner of War Medallion. During the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV in July 2552, John led a platoon of Spartans in Operation: OCEAN BREAKER to aid the Marine forces on the planet. John, leading Blue Team, infiltrated the city of Côte d'Azur to detonate a HAVOK nuclear warhead to clear Covenant forces from the city. However, the heavy Covenant presence outside the Côte d'Azur Museum of Natural History raised his suspicion, prompting him to lead Blue Team into the museum. Inside the museum, John found out that the Covenant were scanning a piece of rock while sending the information to a Covenant ship in orbit. After dispatching two Mgalekgolo guarding the rock, he took the rock and left the museum with his Spartans. John ordered the detonation of the HAVOK warhead in the city, and, along with other Spartans, Marines, and rescued civilians, returned to the UNSC Valiant, which ferried them to Reach.
Fall of Reach
In July of 2552, the Covenant Fleet of Valiant Prudence invaded Reach, with knowledge of this engagement kept secret from John and the rest of the Spartans as to not compromise the planned Operation: RED FLAG - a mission with the objective of capturing a CAS-class assault carrier or Sh'wada-pattern supercarrier with intent to use it to transport Spartans to the Covenant capitol and capture a Hierarch, hopefully forcing an end to the war. The Valiant arrived at Reach in August, at which point he was debriefed on the Sigma Octanus battle and recovered artifact. A few weeks later, John was summoned, along with all other available Spartans, for a briefing on RED FLAG.
Two days later, John arrived at Military Reservation 01478-B where he was outfitted with the next generation of MJOLNIR - Mark V - as well as presented with an on-board artificial intelligence, Cortana. In testing the new suit, John fought against several ODSTs before being faced with an airstrike conducted by an AV-19 SkyHawk jump-jet. Despite nearly being killed, Cortana and John's teamwork allowed them to prevail in an impossible situation, the first of many such accomplishments.
On the following day, the majority of the Spartan-IIs were deployed to protect the generators which powered Reach's twenty orbital defense platforms. John, with Linda and James, was sent to Gamma Station to destroy an unsecured navigation database onboard the Prowler UNSC Circumference. If the Covenant obtained the database, they would discover the location of every human world, including Earth. The NAV database was destroyed, but Linda and James were ambushed by Covenant Sangheili. John fought one such Sangheili in close quarters combat, killing the alien before he could compromise the mission. The rest of John's team was not so fortunate; James was lost in space and Linda was critically wounded during the fighting. John saved four Marines on the station, including Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson. The team returned to the UNSC Pillar of Autumn and was placed into cryo-sleep as the ship landed on and later fled Reach, and, following the Cole Protocol, jumped into slipspace. With coordinates discovered by Cortana thanks to the Sigma Octanus artifact, and in the hopes of leading the Covenant away from Earth, John would soon find himself involved in the most critical battle of the war to date.
The Halo Conflict
Upon the ship's arrival at Halo Installation 04, it soon became clear that the Halcyon-class light cruiser UNSC Pillar of Autumn had been followed through slipspace by a dozen Covenant ships. These vessels engaged the Autumn and sent several capture parties to board the ship. Captain Jacob Keyes ordered John to be woken from cryosleep, and tasked him with ensuring the escape of Cortana while he crash-landed the Pillar of Autumn on the then-unidentified ringworld. John escaped the ship and landed on the structure via SKT-9 Bumblebee lifeboat.
Believing himself to be the only surviving Spartan-II, John launched several successful guerrilla attacks against the Covenant, launching a Raid on the Truth and Reconciliation to rescue the Captain and a follow-up battle for the Silent Cartographer and Assault on the Control Room. John was later deployed to investigate the disappearance of Captain Keyes inside a believed weapons cache, where he ultimately engaged - for the first time - the parasitic Flood. John was assisted by the AI 343 Guilty Spark, with the Monitor helping him secure the installation's Index to fire the ring and eliminate the Flood permanently. Upon returning to the control room however, the Spartan was met by Cortana, who informed him that he had been deceived and that the ring would not destroy the Flood, but its food - all sentient life in the galaxy. John and Cortana ultimately set out to destroy the ringworld, destroying the Pillar of Autumn's fusion reactor to destroy the megastructure. The two escaped the cruiser in a GA-TL1 Longsword.
Return to Reach
After the destruction of Alpha Halo, Cortana and John discovered three cryotubes floating nearby, one containing Linda-058, and retrieved them. Soon after, the Covenant flagship Ascendant Justice and several cruisers appeared from behind Threshold, having taken cover from Halo's destruction. A nearby Pelican dropship which had docked on an asteroid floating among Halo's debris field fired at the cruiser to distract it. After a successful escape from the Covenant battle group, John linked the two vessels and brought its passengers aboard the Longsword; these included Lieutenant Elias Haverson, Corporal Locklear, Warrant Officer Sheila Polaski and Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson. After a joyful reunion, the surviving humans aided John in capturing the Ascendant Justice. The survivors commandeered the ship and traveled to Reach to look for any Spartans who may have escaped the planet's glassing.
John succeeded in locating some of his fellow Spartans on Reach, along with Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb and Dr. Catherine Halsey. They returned to the carrier and linked it with the damaged UNSC frigate Gettysburg. Before traveling to Earth, they decided to head into the Eridanus system where they discovered that the rebel base, Eridanus Secundus, was still intact, now led by Governor Jacob Jiles. After receiving some repairs, they were forced to abandon the rebels in the face of a Covenant assault, and made their way toward the Covenant refit-and-repair station, Unyielding Hierophant, where an enormous fleet was poised to invade Earth.
Raid on Unyielding Hierophant
John and remaining Spartan-IIs Linda-058, Grace-093, William-043, and Frederic-104, focused on finding a way to stop the Covenant from reaching Earth, the location of which had been compromised. They decided to destroy the Unyielding Hierophant in order to slow the fleet's departure. The Spartan-IIs infiltrated the station, which was located in the Tau Ceti system, and after spending eleven hours on board, they arrived at a temple where a copy of Cortana warned them of the nearby Jiralhanae guards. Linda took up a sniping position and the other four Spartans entered the temple. John was nearly killed by ambushing Brutes, but the team managed to slay their attackers quickly. Grace, however, was torn in half by three Brute Shot rounds. John activated the fail-safe on her armor, denying her body to the Covenant.
The team then sabotaged the generators in the Unyielding Hierophant, and as they escaped through a side door, the fail-safe on Grace's armor activated, disintegrating a pursuing Covenant lance. John, Fred, and Will were quickly spotted by Banshees, but their pilots were killed by Linda's precision sniper fire. The Banshees were then recovered by the Spartans. John doubled back to retrieve Linda and the team escaped by destroying a glass atrium, exfiltrating via space-walk and arrived back at the Gettysburg.
Vice Admiral Whitcomb and Lieutenant Haverson piloted the Ascendant Justice straight into the Unyielding Hierophant. Whitcomb discussed the battles of the Alamo and Thermopylae briefly with John, then prepared to fight the Covenant off while the Unyielding Hierophant's fusion reactor detonated. Each of the five hundred Covenant ships maneuvered next to the Ascendant Justice, desperately to recover a Forerunner navigation crystal. The Admiral and the Lieutenant were both killed when the station's fusion reactor exploded, annihilating 486 ships of the Covenant fleet, leaving only around a dozen intact. The paltry survivors of the Prophet of Truth's fleet would later be committed to reinforce the Prophet of Regret's botched attack against New Mombasa on Earth. John left after witnessing Whitcomb's and Haverson's sacrifice, and arrived at Earth with the last members of his team, Linda, Will, and Fred, as well as Johnson and Cortana. They also brought with them news of the Covenant's imminent invasion.
Before she left the group to embark on her own mission, Dr. Halsey presented John with a dilemma regarding the combat data on the Flood which she had analyzed. Providing the standard data set to Lieutenant Haverson would protect Sergeant Johnson from possible experimentation by ONI. However, providing him the complete data, which contained reference to Sergeant Johnson's escape from the Flood due to his Boren's Syndrome, would supposedly result in Johnson's death. While John initially gave the complete data to Haverson, after the lieutenant's self-sacrifice he decided to spare Johnson's life and destroyed the crystal containing the full data.
Battle of Earth
Aboard Cairo Station, John received a suit of Mark VI MJOLNIR and attended an award ceremony with Lieutenant Commander Miranda Keyes and the newly promoted Sergeant Major Avery Johnson. The ceremony was interrupted by the arrival of the Covenant Fleet of Sacred Consecration, initiating the Battle of Earth. Upon discovering a Covenant antimatter charge on board Cairo Station, John fought his way through waves of boarding parties until he reached the bomb, allowing Cortana to access and deactivate it. Feeling he could put the device to better use than the Covenant, John launched himself and the charge towards the Covenant assault carrier Day of Jubilation. A timely bombing run by Longsword interceptors opened a breach in the warship's hull, allowing John to direct the bomb into the ship's fusion core. With seconds to spare, he launched himself back into space just before the vessel detonated. The UNSC In Amber Clad quickly recovered the free-falling Spartan.
John was then deployed to New Mombasa, East African Protectorate aboard the In Amber Clad, in an attempt to board the Solemn Penance, the Prophet of Regret's flagship. Both of the strike teams' Pelican dropships were shot down by a Protos-pattern Scarab. John and the surviving Marines fought their way to the other Pelican's crash site. After rendezvousing with Gunnery Sergeant Stacker at Hotel Zanzibar in Old Mombasa, the Master Chief destroyed Covenant infantry and armor along the shore of the city as he chased the Scarab. Upon arriving at the edge of Old Mombasa, John commandeered a Scorpion tank from Sergeant Major Johnson, which he used to punch a hole through the city's alien occupiers.
After intense fighting through numerous highway tunnels and suburbs, John reached the industrial zone, where Marines under the command of Sergeant Banks were pinned down by Covenant forces. With the assistance of the Marines and a large stockpile of weapons, John boarded the Scarab and destroyed it from the inside. John was then transported to In Amber Clad to intercept the Prophet of Regret's flagship. When the flagship started to enter slipspace, Keyes was granted permission to follow it. John, and all on board In Amber Clad, were transported to Installation 05.
Forced to act quickly at Installation 05, John was deployed groundside in an SOEIV along with several Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. Cortana told John of the Prophet of Regret's intent to fire Halo and complete their religion's Great Journey. Recognizing the extreme nature of the threat, John was tasked with locating and assassinating Regret. He tracked the Prophet to a vast temple in the middle of a lake, but not before witnessing hundreds of Covenant vessels coming out of Slipspace, followed by High Charity, the Covenant's holy city. Quickly disposing of a force of Sangheili Honor Guards, John assassinated the Prophet and escaped the temple before it was destroyed by a nearby carrier. John jumped off the edge of the structure and into the lake below.
Losing consciousness from the impact, John was captured by the Flood's central intelligence, the Gravemind. Shortly after, the Arbiter was also captured. The Gravemind appealed to John's common interest in preventing the firing of the Halo array. Reluctantly, John agreed. The Gravemind then tasked both captives with locating the Index, sending them to the two most likely locations where it could be found. John was sent to High Charity, interrupting a sermon by the Prophet of Truth. The conflict between the Sangheili and Jiralhanae came as a direct result of John's assassination of Regret, leading the Covenant to civil war.
John wasted little time in devastating the ranks of the Prophet's guardians, chasing the surviving Hierarchs through High Charity. John nearly cornered the San'Shyuum and their Brute escorts, but was too late to prevent Truth's escape. A dying Prophet of Mercy, infected through the throat by a Pod infector, snarled that Truth had ordered his Dreadnought to Earth where he would complete the destruction of the human race. John then tore the Pod infector from Mercy and crushed it. Ultimately, John was forced to leave Cortana behind. In the event of Halo's activation, she would detonate In Amber Clad's reactors directly and perish with the city. John boarded the Anodyne Spirit, but not before promising to return for Cortana after he stopped the Covenant.
Hunt for Truth
Onboard the Anodyne Spirit near Jupiter, John was contacted by Io Station, but maintained radio silence. Rampaging through the ship, he attempted to find the Prophet of Truth and assassinate him. John found himself faced by an extremely large force of Covenant troops including at least three Hunter pairs, who fired on him simultaneously. He was hit by several assault cannon beams, and was confronted by a Brute Chieftain who began to interrogate him about the "Key of Osanalan". However, the Spartan stuck the Brute with a plasma grenade and escaped. The Chief continued his push through the ship, eventually arriving in Truth's chambers and setting his sights on the Prophet. With Truth in his sights, he was caught by surprise by a Jackal and shot in the back. He fell and landed right in front of the Prophet's Brute guards. While the Chief managed to get several shots at Truth, the Prophet was shielded by his gravity throne and made his escape, while the Chief was left to fight off dozens of Covenant. John, having failed in his attempt to take control of the Forerunner Dreadnought's trajectory, fought his way out of the Forerunner ship's airlock in a commandeered Ghost. On the surface of the Dreadnought, he was ordered to find a way to return to Earth quickly, ultimately ripping off a door and using it as a heat-shield with which to jump down onto the planet below.
Return to Earth
John's descent through Earth's atmosphere was traced by UNSC forces participating in the Battle of Sector Six, at which point a strike team led by Johnson and Thel 'Vadam made their way into the jungles of Kenya to recover the Spartan. Johnson believed the Chief to be dead, and requested heavy lifting gear in order to recover the Spartan's body. However, John awoke to battle-ready condition only moments later, showing his incredible tolerance to pain and shock. He attempted to attack the Arbiter, believing that the Elites were still a human enemy. Johnson informed him that the two races were now allies, as the disillusioned Arbiter and the Sangheili had been expelled from the Covenant.
John and the Marines traveled through the jungle, searching for evacuation to a nearby military base. Johnson and his team split up from John and the Arbiter. The sergeant and his squad were captured by loyalist Covenant Brutes, although they were soon rescued by John and 'Vadam. After taking heavy fire from Phantoms, a Pelican dropship evacuated the team to a UNSC base known as Crow's Nest.
The hidden facility soon came under attack, with John, Thel and the remaining Marine forces ordered to defend the base during its evacuation. The Master Chief fought his way through dozens of Jiralhanae warriors, escaping the explosion of a planted self-destruct bomb in an elevator. He met up with several Marine survivors underground, and they escaped the base and headed for the city of Voi along Tsavo Highway, crushing Covenant resistance on their way.
At the Battle of Voi, John dashed towards what was believed to be the Ark. Instead, the artifact opened a slipspace portal to the Ark. With Marine support, John and Thel 'Vadam destroyed numerous Covenant armoured assets preventing UNSC aircraft from making a strike, allowing Lord Hood's remaining frigates to fire upon the landed Anodyne Spirit. Unfortunately, MAC rounds had little effect on the keyship, and Truth fled through the Portal with his remaining loyalist forces. The UNSC remained behind on Earth to determine their next move.
Just as the battle seemed over, a Flood-infested Covenant warship crash-landed in Voi. John and his allies fought to contain the Flood infection, eventually destroying the infected warship and recovering a fragment of Cortana hidden aboard the vessel. John retrieved the damaged data device and was brought aboard Rtas 'Vadum's flagship, which revealed a warning that High Charity, now overwhelmed and controlled by the Gravemind, was heading for Earth. However, she offered hope, hinting at a way to stop the Halos from firing and to neutralize the Flood. Convinced of the reliability of Cortana's message, John resolved to journey to the Ark, while Hood mobilized remaining UNSC forces on Earth. John accompanied a joint UNSC-Sangheili task force through the portal aboard the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn to the Ark. Shadow of Intent.
Immediately upon arrival at the Ark, John led a strike force of ODSTs onto the megastructure's surface to engage the Covenant there and locate the installation's Cartographer. He led an armored convoy through the desert to the facility, engaging extremely heavy resistance in the process. Upon entry at the Cartographer site, John was met by Cethegus, who had been promised great power by the Prophet of Truth if he defeated John, though the Chieftain was ultimately killed. After his arrival to Installation 00, John began to discover a number of terminals containing ancient Forerunner communications logs, as well as direct messages from the Forerunner ancilla Mendicant Bias.
Following the capture of the cartographer, John-117, Thel 'Vadam, and a squad of Marines led by Johnson were assigned to separately attack three barrier towers, which were emitting a protective shield around the prophet's Citadel. Although John and 'Vadam managed to deactivate two of the towers, Sergeant Johnson was captured at the third, spared only to activate the Halos from the Ark's Citadel. John, 'Vadam, and the Elites deactivated the last tower, lowering the shield. Just as the Shadow of Intent was about to destroy the Citadel, the Flood-controlled High Charity exited slipspace, bringing the Flood into the conflict and disabling the Shadow of Intent. John subsequently led a large convoy to attack the Citadel, ultimately defeating two Scarabs and forging an alliance with the Flood to break the Prophet's lines and finally bring an end to the war. Thel executed Truth while John deactivated the now-primed Halo Array before attempting to extract with Johnson and the body of the now-dead Miranda Keyes.
The Gravemind then betrayed John and 'Vadam. After fighting past waves of Flood, the two escaped with their lives. As they were leaving the Citadel, John saw a vision of Cortana that led him to the exit. There, he learned her plan: a replacement for Installation 04 had been built by the Ark, but was not yet connected with the rest of the Array. Since the Ark and the ring were so far from the inhabited galaxy, John decided to activate Installation 08 and destroy the Flood once and for all. But first, he headed to the remains of High Charity to keep a promise to Cortana. On High Charity, John cut his way through hordes of Flood, taunted with images of Cortana falling into rampancy and by threats from the Gravemind itself. He finally reached the failing AI, on the verge of succumbing to the Flood's influence. After recovering her storage module, Cortana readied the Activation Index from the first Installation 04. John then destroyed the holy city by overloading its backup generators. On his way out, Cortana detected a friendly contact, which turned out to be Thel 'Vadam. High Charity exploded as the trio narrowly escaped on a Pelican.
Activating the Halo
The final mission of the war for John, 'Vadam, and Cortana was to destroy the Flood forever by activating the replacement Installation 04. The three landed on the Halo, discovering that the Gravemind had survived High Charity's destruction and was already trying to rebuild itself on the Installation. Flood dispersal pods released combat forms against John and the Arbiter, forcing them to fight their way up to the Control Room, where the ring could be activated. During the battle, Sergeant Johnson arrived and assisted the Chief.
After defeating the Flood forces around the Control Room, 343 Guilty Spark unlocked the door to the interior. Once inside, however, Guilty Spark realized that the team intended to fire the Halo before it could be completed, which would destroy the ring. Unable to cope with losing a second installation, 343 succumbed to rampancy. The AI mortally wounded Sergeant Johnson, and then turned on the Spartan, though was ultimately killed by John. Cortana then activated Installation 08, and the survivors fled to the Forward Unto Dawn onboard a Warthog. As they fought the Flood and local Sentinels on the way, the Gravemind addressed them telepathically one last time, warning them that their victory would not spell total end for the Flood. The team boarded the Dawn and escaped the firing and destruction of ring and the Ark. However, the Slipspace portal the frigate opened could not sustain itself under the stress, and its closure severed the ship in half, sending 'Vadam to Earth. John and Cortana were left drifting in unknown space.
Missing in action
John and Cortana were presumed dead after several months of searching by the Commander-in-Chief of the Office of Naval Intelligence, Admiral Margaret Parangosky. The forward half of the Forward Unto Dawn, bearing the Arbiter, crash-landed on Earth. On March 3, 2553, Lord Hood commissioned a memorial near Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in honor of UNSC service members lost during the war. The ceremony was attended by John's closest folks - Dr. Catherine Halsey, SCPO Franklin Mendez and his comrades - Frederic-104, Kelly-087 and Linda-058, as well as by Naomi-010 and Serin Osman, formerly known as Serin-019. Thel 'Vadam also was present at the dedication of the memorial. He was thanked by Lord Hood for standing alongside John "to the end"; knowing the resilience of the Spartan first hand, Thel expressed doubt as to the soldier's death. The Arbiter departed then for Sanghelios aboard the Shadow of Intent along with Rtas 'Vadum, to ensure the security of their people. John's Spartan tag was carved onto the memorial by an unknown party and was accompanied by the improper insignia of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
Unknown to everybody else, John and Cortana managed to survive the explosion of Installation 08 in the remaining cargo portion of the Forward Unto Dawn, but it was nearly powerless and could not be properly navigated. Cortana, relieved that John had survived, explained this to the Chief, and that it could take years before anyone could discover their distress signal. In a similar conversation to one after the destruction of Installation 04, Cortana listed what John had done and told him, "It's finished," and this time, he agreed with her. John entered a cryotube, at which point Cortana stated that she would miss him. John replied her to wake him when she needed him.
In 2556, while still stranded in space, Cortana attempted to talk to John while he was still asleep. Unable to get a response from him, she recounted the history of the galaxy, seemingly unaware that John could not hear her, and showing major signs that she was descending into rampancy.
Post-Covenant War period
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 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.
Raid on Mantle's Approach
With the Didact approaching Earth, planning to imprison all of humanity into digital form, John pursued the Forerunner aboard an 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 Infinity, John rejoined Palmer and the other Spartans, and had his MJOLNIR Mark VI armor removed for the first time in several years.
The Composer's Forge
On July 25, 2557 John was debriefed by the UNSC Security Council, though this questioning session as well as his survival were kept secret from Doctor Halsey. John confirmed that Cortana and the Composer were both destroyed over Earth, but he was unable to confirm the Didact's death. With there being no proof of a living Forerunner, the Council decided to tell the general public that the attack on New Phoenix was caused by the Covenant remnants and ended by the return of a hero, the Master Chief. Following his meeting with the Security Council, the Master Chief met with Lord Terrence Hood. Hood asked the Master Chief if he could advise a team on Installation 03 to investigate the loss of contact with a science team escorted by Spartan Black Team on the ring. The Master Chief then reunited with Blue Team, consisting of Frederic-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058.
John and the rest of Blue Team took a Longsword fighter to Gamma Halo and landed in near the science team's camp. There, the Spartans found the corpses of both the science team and Spartan Black. After being attacked by Promethean Knights, Blue Team discovered the former location of the Composer and within, the Composer's Abyss, a facility used to store the Composer's victims. The Spartans entered a slipspace portal at the end of the Abyss and were teleported to the Composer's Forge, housing six new Composers, where they were confronted by the Didact and his Promethean constructs. During the battle, 859 Static Carillon, the Forge's monitor, transported Installation 03 over the Forge by the Didact's request. The Didact subsequently took one of the Composers and departed for the Halo, intending to use the ring to eradicate humanity. Infuriated by the Didact bringing his "abominations" to the Composer's Forge, Static Carillon allied with the Spartans and escorted them back to the portal, holding off the hordes of Promethean machines.
Blue Team returned to the surface of Gamma Halo from the Composer's Abyss, arriving just in time as the Didact's new Composer rose from the pit. John fell behind while the Didact attacked and prepared to kill the others, starting with Kelly. Before he could do so, the Master Chief snuck up behind the Didact and stabbed him in the eye with his combat knife. Intending to correct his mistake of not having killed the Spartan when he had the chance, the Didact grabbed John by the helmet, lifted him up in the air and squeezed, cracking his visor. However, the rest of Blue Team intervened, forcing the Didact to throw John aside. The Forerunner quickly and easily subdued all four Spartans, but Static Carillon arrived and teleported the Didact into the Halo's control room before he could finish them off.
After recovering, John picked up the ring's Activation Index the Didact had dropped and intended to confront the Forerunner in the control room while the rest of the team returned to their Longsword. Using the Index to override the system's safeties, the Master Chief gave control of the Halo to Static Carillon who then ejected the section of the ring housing the control room, causing it to plunge toward the planet below. The monitor teleported John away just as the segment struck the Composer's Forge and the Didact was disintegrated by the Composers. John and Static Carillon materialized aboard Blue Team's Longsword, where the monitor bade farewell to the Reclaimer before departing to take Gamma Halo to an undisclosed location.
John returned to Earth with Blue Team where he was debriefed by Fleet Admiral Hood. While Lord Hood believed the Didact to be dead, the Master Chief considered it safer to call him "contained". Hood ordered John and the other Spartans to take a leave from combat, but upon returning to his team the Master Chief instead told them they were embarking on a new mission. In the following months, John led Blue Team on numerous classified operations, virtually without pause. These missions included diplomatic escorts through hostile territory, counter-piracy efforts against salvagers, and strikes against Covenant outposts. The Master Chief's determination to undertake mission after mission without rest was discussed by two high-level individuals within ONI, who deemed his self-reassignment a predictable consequence of his nature and unwavering dedication to his career. At some point amid these operations, John and Blue Team returned to the glassed Reach to remember Sam's sacrifice.
On September 26, 2557, two months after the New Phoenix Incident and Cortana's supposed death, a Beta-5 Division operative named Sapphire Three personally conducted an interview with John at Borneo Station, discussing his interactions with Cortana back in late 2552. She inquired him about Cortana's state at the time of her rescue on the Ark and about cryptic messages he had experienced while he was lightyears apart from her.
In early 2558, Blue Team was stationed at the construction site for a new ONI research facility, awaiting orders, when the facility came under attack by fanatical ex-Covenant. 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 Warthog LRV. John, Kelly, and Linda ejected from the Warthog when it was close enough to the Mammoth. The three of them managed to wrest control of the hulking vehicle from its hijackers. Kelly discovered scientists hiding inside the mammoth and relayed this to John, who was driving. Their presence meant he could not just drive it off a cliff, as doing so would almost certainly kill them. Instead, he steered it away from the reactor at the last second, but the near miss still resulted in the destruction of a decent amount of fabricated material that had been constructed. Kelly ensured that the scientists onboard were okay. The manager in charge of the construction project rushed over to Spartans after the smoke cleared and demanded to know who he should blame for the damage. John, who had taken the Mammoth's controls, took all responsibility for caused damage. 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 directed the team to return to a nearby airstrip, as their next mission orders had come in.
In 2558 John and the rest of Blue Team discovered that an extremist organization known as Sapien Sunrise was planning an attack on Richard Sekibo on Biko. As a peace conference on Biko between the UEG and Sangheili representatives was coming to an end, John entered the embassy and instantly killed a member of Sapien Sunrise who was disguised as Richard Sekibo's bodyguard. A firefight began, in which a total of eighteen human lives were claimed. John fled the embassy alongside the Sangheili delegation, which he escorted to safety. Outside the embassy, the rest of Blue Team was waiting in an evac ship for John. Unfortunately, Sekibo was killed and John was unable to save him. His corpse was left behind in a field near the embassy on Biko. The next day, local officials discovered a signal beacon that led them to the body of Sekibo. After this event, the UEG and Biko government covered it up by making it appear that John had killed authorized bodyguards and Sekibo. This false story was spread throughout the inner colonies. The media started referring to John as "The Fallen Spartan". As Benjamin Giraud prepared to expose the cover up, and reveal the atrocities committed by the people behind the SPARTAN-II program, the UEG and Biko undercut him by radically reversing their claims, admitting and denouncing the involvement of Sapien Sunrise in the attack, utterly discrediting Giraud. Even Senator Andrew Del Rio, who had condemned the Master Chief in an official statement, reversed his position and took some immediate leave.
On October 23, 2558, John and the rest of Blue Team were deployed from the UNSC Infinity on a mission to find and secure Argent Moon, an ONI research vessel that had been missing for nineteen months. Departing from a D79-TC Pelican, Blue Team managed to infiltrate the Argent Moon by shooting out one of the windows, subsequently causing many Sangheili part of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant to be sucked out into the vacuum. Ascertaining that there were no human survivors aboard, John and the others fought towards central control, where they planned to disable the gravity and life support systems on the ship in order to kill off the rest of the Covenant. They were almost there when a Mgalekgolo destroyed a catwalk they were crossing and so fell multiple stories. While alone John experienced a vision from the Domain, with the image of Cortana telling him that it was open and that Meridian was next and the Reclamation was about to begin. He then was treated to a vision of a Guardian rising up from a bottomless chasm. Upon coming to, he found himself amongst Blue Team once more and told them what he had seen. Resolving to deal with it later, they continued onwards according to their original plan.
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 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 evacuated aboard the Acrisius, leaving the Argent Moon as it exploded.
Absent without leave
The very next day, the UNSC declared John-117 AWOL. Fireteam Osiris, a Spartan-IV unit led by Spartan Jameson Locke, was tasked with recovering Blue Team and the Acrisius. Upon arriving at Meridian, Blue Team landed at Apogee Station and proceeded make their way downwards to where the dormant Guardian lay buried. Their arrival on-planet was witnessed by multiple colonists, who were wholly unaware of their intentions. Also unbeknownst to the people of Meridian was the fact that their own Governor Sloan purposefully ensured nobody tried to stop them, as he was already serving Cortana at that point. Blue Team encountered no resistance from the Warden Eternal or any mechanical Prometheans. Fireteam Osiris caught up to Blue Team as they were entering the Guardian and Spartan Locke ordered John to stand down and return to the UNSC peacefully. He told John that Cortana was their concern now. This caused John to lash out and begin a physical fight with Locke, as the rest of Fireteam Osiris looked on. He was able to overpower Locke and lock him in place with the armor restraint that had been meant for him. He then entered the Guardian without any more interruptions, and once he was aboard, it began to awaken. Fireteam Osiris scrambled to escape the collapsing chamber it had been held in as it rose out of the ground, carrying John and the rest of Blue Team. The Guardian caused massive amounts of destruction as it took to the air, both from the very fact that it was emerging from beneath the earth and from electromagnetic shockwaves it sent out continually. During this time, many mechanical Promethean forces were deployed from the Guardian to engage Fireteam Osiris as they tried to escape the destruction in their Pelican. The Guardian jumped to slipspace on a course for Genesis, taking Blue Team with it. In the wake of the emergence, John was declared KIA on Meridian by the UNSC two days later. It was thought that he was at least partly responsible for the civilian deaths caused by the Guardian on the planet, and it was decided an official story needed to be invented that did not reveal his AWOL status and Osiris' mission to hunt him and Blue Team down.
Genesis and revelation
Upon landing on Genesis, Blue Team came across a series of computer consoles sounding musical tunes of Oly Oly Oxen Free. Following the path unlocked by interacting with those consoles, Blue Team battled through stranded Covenant forces before meeting the Warden Eternal. Shortly after learning of the Warden Eternal's role as Cortana's defender, John demanded to meet her, only for the Warden Eternal to refuse and commence hostilities. Shortly after Blue Team's defeat of the Warden Eternal in battle, Cortana finally revealed herself to them, expressing relief that they made it to Genesis. Upon questioning Cortana on the circumstances of her survival, they learned that the Domain had saved her; Cortana referred to it as the "water of life" for AIs. Suspicious of Cortana's desire to reunite with them, Blue Team proceeded further into the planet in order to physically locate her. Shortly afterward, Fireteam Osiris caught up with Blue Team. They warned John that Cortana was potentially dangerous, only for John to respond that he had already come to the same conclusion.
Before the two Spartan teams could team up, Cortana separated Blue Team from Osiris in separate parts of the installation. Blue Team fought an uphill battle through Promethean forces and multiple bodies of the Warden Eternal before physically meeting Cortana. There she revealed to them her plan to use the Guardians as a means of enforcing a forced peace upon the galaxy, giving sentient beings "a chance to be more than they are naturally". Comparing Cortana's behavior to that of Doctor Halsey's SPARTAN-II program, John pointed out a flaw in Cortana's plan: high collateral damage and a loss of free will. John pleaded with Cortana to stand down and return to Earth with the team. Cortana refused and forcibly sealed Blue Team in a Cryptum, intending to keep them in stasis for 10,000 years. With the aid of 031 Exuberant Witness, Fireteam Osiris narrowly managed to free Blue Team from the Cryptum. Upon his release, John asked Locke where Cortana was; Locke could only respond, "Gone, sir."
Following Cortana’s departure, both Blue Team and Fireteam Osiris together fought their way through hordes of Promethean constructs to reach a D79-TC Pelican that had previously arrived on the planet via a Guardian’s Slipspace entry. Based on Osiris' recommendation, John and his team agreed to return to Sanghelios; the joint team requested Witness’ help, who opened a Slipspace portal for them.
Upon their arrival at Sanghelios, now mostly in the dark due to the Guardian attack at Sunaion, they correctly deduced they’d find their allies near the region of Nuusra. There they regrouped with Thel 'Vadam and his Swords of Sanghelios who had just destroyed the remaining cell of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant. In 'Vadam's field command post, John and Locke also met up with Spartan Commander Sarah Palmer and Dr. Catherine Halsey, whom John had not seen since before Operation: FIRST STRIKE in 2552. Spartans then were invited to join Sangheili in a celebratory meal commemorating their victory, while the Arbiter and the Master Chief subsequently spent part of the night reminiscing about their past. Also the Arbiter reassured the Chief in his support in the coming fight against the Created. The next day, the humans left the planet for a rendezvous with the UNSC Infinity near Suban, one of the moons of Sanghelios.
On October 7, 2559 John and the rest of Blue Team, now outfitted with new sets of third-generation Mjolnir armor, were deployed from Infinity on Reach in an D102 Owl, the UNSC Special Delivery. 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. Trying to escape the enemy pursuit, who discovered their insertion craft, the Owl's pilots, Major Eznik Van Houte and First Lieutenant Maks Chapov, attemted a vanishing maneuver resulting in their emergency crash-landing on glassed surface of Reach. To repel the enemy attack on their crash site, whom John identified as the Banished, Spartans used the drilling jumbo as an anti-aircraft turret against Seraph patrol. Collecting the Owl's crew and mining machines, Blue Team proceeded in the direction of Highland Mountains. To speed up the mission John suggested to commandeer a Phantom from Banished controlled Kisköre Base. Splitting his team in two, John ordered Linda to protect the Owl's crew and mining machines while he, Kelly and Fred infiltrated the base. However, as the fighting started, his squad came under heavy attack by Banshee squadrons guarding the base. John was hit in left leg, Kelly took a serious shot to the chest and Fred suffered a severe concussion. In order to escape the enemy fire, Kelly blew a hole in the glassed surface of Kisköre Canal and the team ended up inside an old half melted water pipe going under the canal. There John, Kelly and Fred encountered members of Viery Militia led by Colonel Sasa Boldisar. The militiamans led Spartans to their base where John learned that there were actually three different clans amongst the Banished: Legion of the Corpse-Moon, Ravaged Tusks and Keepers of the One Freedom working together to find something and that the militia were planning to use HAVOKs recovered from an old UNSC armory to draw the Banished away from Reach. Realizing that nuclear explosion would inevitably draw attention of Cortana and chances of success of Operation: WOLFE would be reduced to zero, John suggested helping the militia to take down Banished armory in New Mohács, calling in additional Spartan support from Infinity.
After Linda's squad regrouped with John, he ordered to use the drilling jumbo and the LHD to bore a tunnel under the glass right to the Banished-occupied settlement. Under the cover of night, Blue Team slipped in to the enemy base, using silenced firearms eliminated the patrols and proceeded to disable the shield barrier surrounding New Mohács and to undermine as many of Banished armored vehicles and aircrafts as possible. As the barrier went down and the explosives were set off, Viery Militia's warthog convoy swarmed the streets of New Mohács. Suffering heavy casualties, the militia managed to get a hold on the settlement. After the fighting stoped, John ordered to prepare for enemy counterattack, set up anti-aircraft defenses using Anacondas, Scythes and Lances as well as Lotus mines. As the Banished launched their attack, John and the rest of Blue Team held off the enemy onslaught long enough for UNSC reinforcements to arrive. Hundreds of Spartan-IVs and ODSTs under command of Sarah Palmer helped repel the attack and secure New Mohács for good.
On October 12, John finally got an opportunity to proceed with his primary objective - securing of Doctor Halsey's assets. Aboard the Pelican, with a wing of F-41 Broadswords to escort them, Blue Team were heading towards the CASTLE Base. Soon however they were intercepted by the enemy Banshees and Seraphs and shot down, crash-landing not too far from the base's entrance, which technically was a vertical shaft that had served as an old titanium mine. With additional air support, consisting of twelve GA-TL1 Longswords sent from Infinity, Blue Team managed to clear the area around the shaft from the members of Keepers of the One Freedom. Using nanobraided titanium cables John, Fred and Linda started their descend. As the Spartans were passing twelve hundred meters down, they realized that the Keepers were looking for ancient Forerunner installation located far below the CASTLE Base all along. Reaching the bottom of the shaft Blue Team secured the Banished pirate lift which they were planing to use to lower the mining machines from the surface to the base's entrance tunnel. John ordered Fred to investigate the Forerunner facility, while he and the rest of the team were clearing the passage to the base. As John and Kelly made their way inside, they encountered a subroutine of Kalmiya, a prototype "smart" AI which was destroyed in 2552 to prevent the Covenant from collecting any information after the Reach had fallen. Bypassing Kalmiya's security systems, Kelly gained access to the Doctor Halsey's laboratory vault and secured three cryobins and a lockbox. John then ordered to retreat back to the surface and then to Infinity.
During their trip back, Fred reported John, that during his time in the Keeper's tunnels he encountered Veta Lopis, the ONI's Ferret team leader, with whom Fred worked on several occasions before. As a double agent within the Keepers of the One Freedom, she provided Fred intell on the Banished plans on Reach - to open a hidden underground slipspace portal, which would allow their leader, Atriox, to return from the Ark and for the Keepers to travel there to initiate the Great Journey. Upon their return to Infinity, the Spartans were met by Cpt. Veronica Dare and Dr. Halsey, whom John informed about the mission success. The team then proceeded to hangar mouth from where they observed how a huge slipspace portal above the Highland Mountains collapsed in on itself and the Banished corvette vanished in slipspace escaping Reach just in time as the ship's sensors signaled the imminent arrival of one of Cortana's Guardians. The next moment Infinity jumped into slipspace.
Battle of Installation 07
On December 11, 2559, John was briefed by Dr. Halsey on his mission on Zeta Halo to contain Cortana and return her back to Infinity for deletion. For this operation he was split from the rest of Blue Team, whom were sent on a mission of their own by Cpt. Lasky, and paired with The Weapon, a new AI created by Dr. Halsey from the assets recovered on Reach, specifically to lock Cortana down.
Upon their arrival on the very next day at Installation 07, Infinity and her escort fleet were ambushed by Banished dreadnoughts and boarded by their raiding parties. Led by Warmaster Atriox the Banished managed to quickly overwhelm UNSC forces aboard Infinity. Realising they were losing their ground, Cpt. Lasky ordered the deployment of the Weapon to proceed with the mission to lock down Cortana and then to abandon ship. Providing assistance in Lasky's safe evacuation, John ordered the Spartans of Fireteam Taurus to escort the Captain to his lifeboat while he held off assaliants in hangar bay. However John was attacked by Atriox and was unable to best him in an one on one melee. The limp Spartan was thrown from the the hangar bay and into space. John ended up floating above Halo for six months, saved only by his armor's survival mode. He was presumed dead by the Banished.
On May 28, 2560, by chance, John was recovered by Fernando Esparza, a lone Pelican pilot who had been stranded in his dropship in John's vicinity for some time. After bringing John aboard and rerouting what little power he had into his suit, the man welcomed him back and informed John of UNSC's loss in the battle, partial destruction of the Ring and it's relocation to unknown space. Suddenly the craft was caught in stasis beam originating from nearby Banished dreadnought Ghost of Gbraakon. John left the Pelican and proceeding through the debri field infiltrated the warship. Making short work of the it's crew, John made his way to the bridge. Being unable to shut down the stasis beam, he decided to scuttle the ship by taking out cooling manifolds to the engines causing an overheat. At that moment John came in contact with War Chief Escharum, who assumed command over Banished forces on the Ring and urged the Spartan to continue his pointless fight for he would die soon enough. As the ship exploded around him, the Master Chief raced back to the hanger bay where Echo 216, now freed of the stasis beam, was waiting for him. Boarding the Pelican John received a message from The Weapon. Using ship AI Chief traced the message source to a subterranean structure at the fragmented section of the Ring and rigged the autopilot to take them there. Once inside, John reached the core of the structure where he retrieved The Weapon, who informed him that Cortana was deleted by now and that her own deletion protocoles were disrupted by unknown reason. On his way to the surface, Chief was confronted by Warlord Tremonius, a commander of the Banished outpost located above the structure. But ultimately the Jiralhanae was outmatched and killed by the Spartan. Clearing out the base, located near wreckage of UNSC Mortal Reverie, John secured the landing zone for Echo 216.
As they were planning their next move to stop the Banished from using the Halo, The Weapon intercepted a UNSC distress signal and traced it to another Banished outpost. Esparza delivered the Master Chief to a closest save position from there Chief proceeded to investigate a distress signal. On his way, he recaptured FOB Golf, one of the UNSC Forward Operating Bases occupied by the Banished. Reaching the Tower John successfully infiltrated the base and on top level discovered a Spartan Hudson Griffin trapped in a large machine and tortured by Chak 'Lok, Sangheili Warlord in charge of the facility. The two dueled one-on-one and John killed Chak 'Lok. Despite being freed from a torture device, Griffin succumbed to his wounds, but not before informing Chief of the Banished's search for the Conservatory at the Excavation Site up north of the Tower. Acting on Griffin's information, John and the Weapon investigated the coordinates. At the seemingly deserted dig site, they found that the Brute laser drill had cut through Forerunner materials into a subterranean structure. However before they could enter, the drill activated and cut off their entrance. As John got to the drill's control room, he was confronted by the dig site security commander Chieftain Bassus. After a brutal fight, the Master Chief managed to kill Bassus, allowing the Weapon to overload the mining drill and destroy it granting them a safe passage inside the structure.
Once inside the Coservatory John fought through Banished troops until he encountered the 117649 Despondent Pyre, the monitor of Installation 07. Suddenly the Pyre was attacked by Skimmers and rushed away. Following the monitor deeper into the structure, Chief soon discovered it's dismantled chassis. As the Skimmers returned attacking the Chief, the Spartan fought his way out of the Conservatory. However near the exit he was met by The Harbinger, a member of ancient Xalanyn race imprisoned by the Forerunners on Zeta Halo and awakened by the Banished. Using the encephalon she retrived from the Pyre she initiated the process of Reformation and then fled the facility heading towards the nearest Reformation Spire with Master Chief on tail. After dealing with the Banished guards outside, John and the Weapon entered the Spire and encountered the Adjutant Resolution, the Installation's sub-monitor, who informed them of the Spire's purpose: to rebuild the Ring. As the Master Chief could not allow that to happen, he ordered the Weapon to shut down the Spire, which made the Resolution intervene by inserted himself into a Sentinel mech and attacking Chief in attempt to defend the Spire. Victorious, John and the Weapon initiated shutdown and escaped the collapsing tower onboard Echo 216. Onboard the Weapon revealed a whole network of structures like this across the Ring controlled from the Command Spire suggesting it as their next objective.
However, while en route to the Command Spire, Echo 216 was hit by Gorespike cannons and crash landed. The Master Chief proceeded to destroy each cannon with the help of the Weapon, while Esparza stayed behind in crashed Pelican. Eliminating the Banished defenses and clearing a path futher, John returned to crash site, but was confronted by Tovarus and Hyperius, two Jiralhanae brothers and members of Hand of Atriox, a special operations unit trained by Escharum, with a singular purpose - to track down and kill Spartans. After a long fight the Master Chief managed to defeat the Spartan Killers and retrieved Esparza. Reunited they proceeded to the Command Spire. Anticipating the Chief's intent to stop the Reformation, The Harbinger modified the data sequence for accessing the Nexus locking down it's entrance. Upon this discovery the Weapon developed a plan to bypass the lockdown by utilizing data strands gathered from nearby Forerunner energy beacons. As the task was completed the pair entered the Nexus.
Reaching the core of the structure John inserted the Weapon into Nexus's sytems, however foreseeing this event, the Harbinger hijacked the Weapon's routines and paired them with Despondent Pyre's encephalon in order to concenrtrate the reconstruction process on Silent Auditorium. Realising the possibility of the Weapon's corruption, John initiated her deletion protocol, not willing for her to become compromised like Cortana had. Yet the Weapon managed to override her deletion protocol, break free of the Harbinger's influence and steal the encephalon for herself. The Spartan's actions created a big gap in their relationships as she took on a more dejected and sarcastic tone while dealing with him. Nevertheless she activated the Gravity lift which would allow them to enter the Command Spire and cease the Reformation. On his way to the top, John once again encoutered the Adjutant Resolution sporting a new combat chassis. Destroying yet another mech, Chief proceeded to the Spire's Observation Platform. As the Master Chief deployed the Weapon into the terminal, she used the stolen encephalon to halt the Reformation and requested for John's pick up, stating that, considering his mistrust, she would rather stay here all by herself. However their conversation was interrupted by sudden appearance of Jega 'Rdomnai, a Sangheili blademaster and a Spartan Killer, who infiltrated Echo 216 and took Esparza as a hostage to lure the Spartan to Escharum. John ordered the Weapon to track the Pelican and open a portal to a closest possible location. Then the pair proceeded through determined to save Esparza together.
Test of legends
Exiting the portal John and the Weapon found themselves inside a Forerunner structure known as the Repository. There the AI uncovered a message left behind by Escharum where he taunted the Spartan with a recording of Esparza being tortured and in which he embedded his coordinates so as to make it easier for John to find him. Proceeding through the Repository, the Master Chief and the Weapon discovered many fragments and memories of Cortana, shining the light on the events that led to creation of the Weapon in the first place. Observing Cortana's cruel actions during the Created conflict, the Weapon was horrified and became even more devastated when she realized that she was an actual copy of Cortana. Afraid of becoming as merciless as Cortana was she restored her deletion protocols and asked Chief to delete her. John refused, insisting that they would complete the mission together, though while he didn't trust her, he wanted to.
Emerging on the surface, the Weapon identified the Escharum's coordinates as the House of Reckoning. Nearby, the Master Chief discovered a small Banished outpost where he killed the forces guarding it and commandeered a M808 Scorpion tank parked there. Utilizing the heavy firepower John cut through Banished garrison and reached his target. Once inside, Escharum made Chief fight through multiple waves of Banished troops in several arenas constructed from UNSC ordnance and buildings up until he was confronted by Jega 'Rdomnai. Despite using his active camouflage extensively, 'Rdomnai was ultimately killed by the Master Chief, finally avenging the several UNSC personnel that he had ambushed during the six-month-long Banished occupation. As John arrived at the heart of the House of Reckoning, he found Esparza locked in a similar torture device as Spartan Griffin was. As he attempted to free the pilot, the Spartan was attacked by Escharum. With the AI assistance John managed to outsmart and defeat the Brute War Chief and free Esparza. Mortally wounded but not dead yet, Escharum staggered over and demanded that the Spartan continue their battle. However, the Master Chief refused and caught and held the dying Escharum who promised that his death would inspire others and requested that the Spartan tell them that he had died well. Escharum then died of his wounds in the Master Chief's arms, surprising Esparza with the respect that the Spartan had given to the War Chief as he died given the latter's reputation as a monster. The Master Chief recognized that in the end, Escharum was just a soldier, hoping he'd done the right thing and questioning his choices. While Esparza believed that it was over with the death of the Banished's leader, the Master Chief warned him that it was not that simple and that there would be consequences as there always were. Recognizing that imminent threat in the face of the Harbinger remained, the trio recovered Echo 216 and Esparza flew John to the Silent Auditorium.
Despite the Banished setting up defenses to protect the Harbinger, John managed to breach inside. As they were fighting through enemy ranks the Weapon revealed to John that the Silent Auditorium was the place where Cortana was locked down and died. Deeper inside the structure they encountered more echos of Cortana reminiscing her actions and repenting, realising her mistake in assuming the Mantle of Responsibility for herself, which ultimately led to humanity's downfall, John's supposed death and allowed Atriox and the Banished to get control over Zeta Halo and free the Endless. And as she could not allow that to happen, she destroyed part of the Ring, keeping the Banished from being able to use it, which also prevented the Weapon from being deleted, knowing that the Master Chief if he is alive would need the other AI's help. Witnessing Cortana's sacrifice, John and the Weapon were stunned by her actions. Later on the pair were once again met by Adjutant Resolution, though this time the submonitor provided assistance and unlocked a safe passage for them, expressing his apologies for his earlier hostility outbursts as he believed the Harbinger was trying to repair the Ring, while in truth she only wanted to free her people, which could not be allowed. When the Master Chief reached the main chamber, he discovered that the Harbinger was interfacing with transmitters to locate the members of her species. The Weapon attempted to intercept the connection by disabling transmitters. With the help of an unknown entity, the Weapon managed to shut down all three transmitters, but not before the connection successfully located the Endless. At the same time, the Master Chief fought and eventually defeated the Harbinger and her Banished and Skimmer allies. Dying, she sent a message to an unseen ally of her own, telling them that they had what they needed and vowed to the Master Chief that the Endless would return. As the Harbinger died John and the Weapon discovered yet another echo of Cortana, though this one was a direct message to John. In it she expressed hope that her plan worked well and John had found his way this far with assistance of his new AI partner and called this a chance to make amends and to rectify mistakes. Cortana admitted that she was wrong, having forgotten that the reason that she chose the Master Chief in the first place was because they were supposed to be the perfect team together. And that in her final moments she wanted to make sure that John and his new companion learned from her mistakes and became stronger because of them. As the message ended the last remaining echo of Cortana faded away leaving John devasted and the Weapon speechless. And at the same moment the Auditorium started to collapse around them cutting off the exit. But the sudden appearance of a portal allowed the pair to escape the crumbling structure.
The portal led them to a desert region located on a damaged fragment of the Halo ring. The Weapon informed John that somehow it took them three days to reach this location. Soon they were extracted by Esparza, who received the signal from Chief's beacon. With the intention of finishing the fight the team traveled back to Outpost Tremonius from where they could proceed with liberation of Halo from Banished occupants.
Personality and traits
Until the age of six, John lived a normal life with his family on the colony of Eridanus II. His conscription into the SPARTAN-II program was to shape much of his personality in the years to come. However, despite his difficulty relating to non-Spartan personnel, John nevertheless showed great depth of character throughout his many years of service.
As with all Spartans, John strives to win at any situation, at all costs. Although the drive to win was ingrained to the Spartans as part of their indoctrination, John appears to have possessed such an inclination even prior to his conscription; as a child, he would win at any game he played, including chess, gravball or King of the Hill. He is extremely determined to complete any mission at hand, and often disregards his personal safety to do so.
John is also noted for his exceptional luck, which, along with his combat skills and unyielding persistence, has allowed him to emerge victorious from situations many would consider impossible. Because of his many years of constant combat and military conditioning, John is not as emotional or sensitive as he once was, especially to fear. Although he is not devoid of fear, he simply acknowledges the feeling and puts it aside. He is calm in the face of danger but not foolhardy, as demonstrated during his first encounter with the Gravemind, when he warned the Arbiter that his arrogance was likely to get him killed. John is generally stoic and taciturn, but not devoid of a sense of humor and often makes dry remarks about the situation in hand to his teammates and allies.
On several instances, John has been forced to make tough decisions in order to achieve his goals, such as leaving behind his Spartan comrades on Reach or Cortana on High Charity, though he did come back on both occasions. More than once John has had to disobey orders to preserve human lives, as he did when he decided to keep Cortana to himself instead of surrendering her and pursue the Didact on his own. This decision proved right when the Didact was stopped before he could compose the entirety of Earth's population. The members of Fireteam Osiris, sent to recover John after he went AWOL, understood why he disobeyed the orders, and were confident that once the Chief discovered the truth behind Cortana's actions, he would do the right thing, as he always did.
He fully embraced his life as a soldier acting as a "shield and sword" for humanity in times of need. He feels no resentment towards Doctor Halsey because of his conscription, instead accepting the life imposed on him as a chance to live up to his full potential, in part because he was little more than a playground bully when he was conscripted. As every Spartan, John has a strong sense of duty and commitment towards the UNSC. When he was asked by Warden Eternal that whenever "Cortana's Guardians are in motion and those who oppose her rule attempt to take back their worlds, will he help her to hold on to power or will he stand in defense of his own species?", John answered "Cortana knows the answer already".
He does not see himself as a superior being and fears for the lives of others before his own, putting himself in harm's way for the safety of civilians, and fellow soldiers, and does not judge others. Indeed, he is known to show an exceptional care for soldiers under his command and has shown great respect for the baseline humans he has fought alongside. An example of this is during the Battle of Installation 04. When making his way up to the Silent Cartographer, two Helljumpers, PFC Hosky and another Corporal, were killed by two Hunters. Afterward he regretted their loss, blaming himself for their deaths. This, and his reaction to Johnson's death on Installation 08 show that he does exhibit care and sympathy for soldiers under his command, even if he does do a good job of concealing his feelings. In the first two days of training on Reach, John learned two lessons that affected him personally and which he took to heart: you win if the team wins, and the team is stronger together than any one individual alone. He never endangers the lives of those under his command if it is unnecessary. He would rather risk his own life instead of the others. During the Battle of Circinius IV, he drew a Hunter's attention in order to give the cadets a chance to run away, even with him running out of ammo. Deciding to follow Cortana's lead to Meridian on his own, John wanted to keep other Spartans from violating the UNSC regulations, though they decided otherwise and chose to remain by his side. He was also impressed by the humans who comprised his team following his escape from Installation 04, including Sheila Polaski and Corporal Locklear, both of whom he considered to have been worthy of being Spartans.
John is also known as a man of his word and will strive to keep any promise he makes, even at great personal risk. As he was forced to leave Cortana behind on High Charity, John promised to come back for her after dealing with the Prophet of Truth. Cortana chided him not to make a promise when he knew he couldn't keep it. However, despite incredible odds, John did keep his promise, as he fought his way through the Flood into High Charity to retrieve her. Upon finding her, Cortana was in a weak and damaged state. Unfazed, the Master Chief told her, "You know me. When I make a promise..." to which Cortana replied, "You keep it." This encouragement gave her the strength to compose herself after enduring the mental tortures of the Gravemind.
John's unfaltering, determined nature also serves to mask his feelings on many occasions, as he prefers to devote all attention to the goal at hand. He is cautious and observant, only making changes in his plans if they are of the utmost necessity. John is smart and noted for thinking outside the box, using unconventional means to reach his goal. He realizes his duty as a Spartan is to serve and help those in need, and can work professionally with anyone he is sent into battle with. Although John has difficulty understanding the 'undisciplined' lifestyle of civilians, he is fiercely protective of their lives and humanity as a whole. The mass slaughter of civilians at the hands of the Covenant was enough to drive even the stoic John into a cold rage. After the massacre on Draco III, John and his Spartans remained on-site until every Covenant soldier responsible for the atrocity was dead.
John greatly dislikes being kept in the dark, ambushes and fighting human soldiers. Once, when cornered by four large ODSTs in a gym, he did his best to avoid a confrontation. In the end, he was forced to defend himself with lethal force. While killing Covenant never placed a burden of guilt on John, ending the lives of fellow human beings was something he never felt comfortable remembering. Also John, as with many Spartan-IIs, hates space battles, as being stuck on a spaceship during a space battle makes him feel helpless. As a soldier, John knows when it is appropriate and inappropriate to fight, and has great control over his emotions thanks to a clear state of mind. Due to his augmentations, he reacts much faster than an average human, seeing events in a fraction of the time a normal person would. It is almost a clairvoyant state of mind, and as a result of this, John has an acute intuitive insight and perception of any situation, whether combat or non-combat. He has been known to have vivid and long-enduring memories of the past, such as in dreams. No matter how well-adjusted he is, however, John always seems to need to have a quiet place away from crowds after a battle in order to feel at peace.
While reflecting on his life during his battle with the Didact John stated that he did not remember anything from his childhood from before his conscription: not his name, his family, his home, except the King of the Hill game he played with the other children in his school's playground. Through thirty years of warfare he was always prepared to die in battle, but when he was about to die by Didact's hand on Gamma Halo, he discovered he was not ready to die. After defeating the Didact, John continued to obsessively embark on new missions even after receiving an R&R order from Lord Hood.
By the time of the Battle for Zeta Halo, John seemed to have become somewhat more open, opening up to Fernando Esparza about his failure to stop Cortana and comforting the man over his losses. However, John was visibly surprised and didn't know how to react when Esparza hugged him. At the same time, John only reluctantly worked with the Weapon and made no secret of the fact that he didn't trust her despite the fact that John couldn't have accomplished the things that he did on Installation 07 without her help. This stemmed from the Weapon being a copy of Cortana and presumably lingering hurt and distrust caused by Cortana's betrayal. After being confronted by the Weapon multiple times over his behavior and the AI finally discovering the truth, John chose not to delete her because he did want to trust her even though he didn't yet.
Throughout his training, John proved himself as one of the most promising leaders among Spartans, and Dr. Halsey considered him the best candidate in the entire program. His aspiration to win and his care of his teammates eventually helped him gain the position of squad leader. In years to come, many Spartan fireteams emerged with their own leaders. John took command of Blue Team, though he kept his commander role for the whole SPARTAN-II company. During Operation: SILENT STORM, John so greatly impressed Colonel Marmon Crowther that the Colonel, who had previously expressed doubts about the Spartans, promoted John to the rank of Master Chief Petty Officer from the rank of Petty Officer First Class, a previously unheard of three-rank bump. However, Crowther recognized that John's inexperience left John having trouble differentiating between being a commander and a leader and gave the young Spartan advice that he would take to heart.
As a senior Spartan, John took his responsibilities very seriously. After the augmentation procedures that took lives of nearly a half of Spartans, John was devastated; observing how his crippled brothers and sisters were transferred to other UNSC divisions almost made him furious. He did not want to lose them, though he understood that they could no longer fight alongside him. John was the one who volunteered to test Mjolnir armor even after Dr. Halsey confirmed that all previous testers died in process. Being a leader, John would not order his men to do what he could not do in the first place. He was always confident in his men's capabilities, suggesting the most proficient ways to solve the matter, which were considered by non-Spartan personnel as suicide.
What affected John the most were the deaths of people under his command; John considered every Spartan lost during the war as his own mistake, swearing to become stronger the next time. During the Fall of Reach, John lost contact with his Spartans, however, he was sure that some of them survived the glassing and was determined to save as many as he could. More than once John took command of mixed units or squads consisting of Marines. He was capable to organize them to act as a Spartan fireteam, achieving despite almost impossible odds. On Requiem, during the initial engagements between UNSC and Promethean forces, John assumed tactical command of Infinity's ground forces including Spartan-IVs, despite being outranked by many of them. Upon his return to Blue Team, Fred-104 ceded command to John despite outranking him. Blue Team also willingly followed John when he chose to go AWOL.
After the end of Human-Covenant War, John became an icon as a soldier who had played a pivotal role in ending the decades-long war and in doing seemingly gave his life. He was lauded as representing the ideal of a human soldier by UNSC propaganda, a view embraced by many among the general population. Considering John his personal hero, journalist Benjamin Giraud attempted to find out about his background and personal history. When John was declared dead, on many human worlds statues were built in his honor. Private companies started selling action figures in John's likeness; Gabriel Thorne's grandmother bought one after he was recruited into the SPARTAN-IV program. During his military career John served as a source of inspiration and morale booster for others whenever he was on a battlefield. Chief's determination and selflessness made Thomas Lasky, then a young, doubtful cadet, dedicate his life to military service, eventually reaching the position of commanding officer of the most advanced human ship. In the case of Colum McGinnis, who was attempting to desert the UNSC after witnessing the horrors of the Flood, John was able to inspire him to not only rejoin the fight willingly, but insist on being sent on further missions. With the development of SPARTAN-IV program many soldiers enlisted with the Spartans to be like the legendary "Master Chief". Such as Gabriel Thorne, who enlisted believing the Spartans were special, and that had he been one, he could have saved his family in New Phoenix. Years later, when the UNSC discovered that the Chief actually survived and managed to prevent the Didact from enslaving the entire human race, they decided to cover it up as a Covenant remnant attack which was successfully fended off via perfectly timed return of the UNSC's greatest hero, thus again underlining the Spartan's supposed invulnerability. However, when Chief decided to go AWOL the UNSC declared him KIA during Battle of Meridian in order to hide his status and preserve his reputation.
Because of his reputation and experience, John's de facto authority far surpasses his nominal rank, and UNSC personnel of all levels are known to defer to his experience and charisma. When Lord Hood offered John a commission, even suggesting he could be conferred the rank of admiral, the Master Chief jokingly replied, "'The Admiral' doesn't have quite the same ring to it". At the time of his going AWOL in October 2558, Spartan Sarah Palmer implied that John and Blue Team had been operating essentially independently for some time, commenting that "He does what he wants". When the Master Chief chose to defy orders to go after the Didact, Lasky and Palmer visibly made no effort to arrest him as ordered by Captain Del Rio and Lasky defied orders to help the Master Chief directly as he trusted him enough to not take the risk the Master Chief was wrong. Indeed, it was Del Rio who was relieved of his duties after returning to Earth, not the Master Chief or anyone who sided with him.
In the eyes of the Covenant, John-117 was branded as The Demon and was considered the main nemesis of the entire Covenant, with most of the Covenant fearful of his presence. Thel 'Vadam stated that the personal title emblazoned on John-117 was an insult, but also held a modicum of respect. The Covenant respected him in terms of his strength and how he was able to defeat thousands of Covenant troops effortlessly, with even Thel 'Vadam at the time unable to stop him from destroying Installation 04. Despite the Covenant's dissolution following the Prophet of Truth's death, John-117's nickname as a demon remains in use by many former members of the Covenant.
On March 3, 2553, Lord Hood commissioned a memorial near Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa in honor of UNSC service members lost during the war. The ceremony was attended by John's closest folks - Dr. Catherine Halsey, SCPO Franklin Mendez and his comrades - Frederic-104, Kelly-087 and Linda-058, as well as by Naomi-010 and Serin Osman, formerly known as Serin-019. John's Spartan tag was carved onto the memorial by an unknown party and was accompanied by the improper insignia of the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy.
In 2590, there was a ceremony for John-117 at an unspecified location near the areas of fighting during the Battle for Earth. However, his coffin is empty. In 2607, the John-117 Monument began construction to commemorate the Spartan's service to mankind. In 2610, when the documentary Believe was being filmed, it had been over fifty years since the end of the Great War.
John does not open easily to strangers, and has notably shown an aversion to taking his helmet off in the presence of others unless necessary. Friendships are made for life, however—once given, his trust is forever. Like most Spartan-IIs, he thinks of Doctor Catherine Halsey as a nearly mother-like figure, and holds a deep personal respect for his trainer and mentor SCPO Franklin Mendez. His fellow Spartan-IIs, Cortana, Dr. Halsey, and SCPO Mendez, being the only family he really ever had, assume a larger-than-life importance for John-117.
John formed close friendships with the other Spartans he grew up with since his childhood, most notably Samuel-034 and Kelly-087, his first friends within the group. While still feeling the loss of comrades deeply, he has grown more accustomed to combat than most soldiers. Nevertheless, he was deeply affected by the deaths of each of the Spartans, particularly Sam. He was also saddened by Linda-058's apparent death aboard Gamma Station and was greatly relieved after Dr. Halsey successfully resuscitated her. However, having accepted the responsibility of command for the Spartan-IIs, he has come to maintain a certain professional distance to his comrades and mostly keeps his feelings to himself to maintain his authority.
John has pale blue eyes and reddish-brown hair. As a six-year-old child, John bore a few freckles on his cheeks and had a noticeable gap between his two front teeth. His hair, when it was long enough, was untidy. John was larger than most children his age even as a kindergartner. The Spartan-II program molded his body into something formidable even prior to the extensive augmentations he underwent in 2525, but even afterward his smooth skin, clear eyes, and thin eyebrows set in an oval face still betrayed his age. As a teenager his youthful face tended to undermine the confidence of seasoned commanders he interacted with. By the age of fourteen, he already had the body, however, of an extremely athletic adult. The catalytic thyroid implant he received at that age boosted the growth of his skeleton and muscles via a growth hormone, and a series of intramuscular injections with a specific complex of proteins boosted the density of his musculature. As a result he suddenly stood over two meters tall and just over a year later weighed almost one-hundred and thirty kilograms at Earth-standard gravity. John eventually grew to six feet and ten inches and massed at precisely one-hundred and thirty kilograms (286.6 pounds). The augmentation process also left his hands, arms, chest, shoulders, back, and legs deeply scarred by lengthy incisions, in addition to accentuating his eye color.
John has earned additional scars in battle which cover his body, including one that runs across his cheek beneath his left eye. In addition, by August of 2552 his head also showed evidence of three large subdural hematomas. Biological and cybernetic augmentations, coupled with decades of fighting from within Mjolnir powered assault armor, has ensured that John's skin is unnaturally pale. He keeps his hair worn short. His face boasts serious but thoughtful eyes, a firm mouth, a strong jaw, and the last remnants of his childhood freckles. As is common among the men and women of the UNSC Armed Forces, the base of John's skull displays a prominent neural interface. His genome is a hybridization of original and added sequences.[Note 3] Additionally, a geas which affords him an immunity to the Composer, among other gifts, was unlocked by the Librarian's essence on Requiem in July 2557. Cortana and Catherine Halsey both consider him somewhat attractive in a "primitive animal sort of way". Crow's feet and other wrinkles are plainly visible on his face, giving him the visage of a relatively older man. John's age does not comport entirely with his physical body, as he has spent a not insignificant portion of his life in cryostasis, during which the aging process is nearly halted. The longest stretch of time John was frozen for was four years, seven months, and ten days while he and Cortana were stranded aboard the aft section of the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. It is thought among medical specialists that Spartans may be able to outlive most other humans, though this hypothesis has not yet had the chance to be tested.
As a Spartan-II trainee, one of the first suits of armor John was introduced to was a type of form-fitting, lightweight polymer black body suit. This suit could deflect small-caliber rounds and was equipped with a refrigeration and heating unit that could mask infrared signatures. The integrated helmet had encryption and communications gear, a heads-up display, and thermal and motion detectors. John could also activate headlamps on the helmet and attach a fiber optic probe to it. Sealed tight, the entire unit had a fifteen-minute reserve of oxygen to let John survive in vacuum. Though still a little bulky if trying to hide it beneath clothing, the armor's tightness made it uncomfortable and limited his range of motion. Additionally, it also often needed repairs but was difficult to repair in the field. John used one of these suits during training and also during Operation: TALON, the first real mission given to the Spartans. During the op, he was shot in the side at three points by an HMG-38 heavy machine gun rifle. One of the bullets managed to penetrate the suit.
Throughout his career, John has shown a preference for the standard-issue set of the given Mjolnir armor generation used at the time. His Mjolnir armor is invariably colored olive green with a gold visor, which has made his appearance iconic among humans and Covenant alike. At some point during his four-year cryosleep aboard the Forward Unto Dawn, Cortana used nanomachines to repair and physically alter John's MJOLNIR Mark VI armor. Cortana also rewrote the suit's firmware, altering the HUD as well as improving the suit's shield-recharge rate and its compatibility with Covenant and Forerunner armor plugins. His upgraded suit displays the Braille characters "117" on the left of the breastplate.
Immediately after the Mission to Installation 03, John received an upgrade for his Mark VI armor from ONI's Watershed Division, bringing it into the GEN2 line of Mjolnir PAA. The armor still looks like his updated GEN1 Mark VI, the most prominent difference being a redesigned bodysuit. His armor also now lacks the prominent gash on the chestplate and his helmet is intact again after the Didact severely damaged it during Blue Team's battle against him on Installation 03. His visor was once again cracked by Spartan Jameson Locke on Meridian, after an argument about Cortana.
His upgraded GEN3 suit displays the characters "117" on the left of the breastplate. In this suit, John has upgraded capabilities, particularly after taking modules from the armor of dead Spartan-IV's that he encounters. Unlike previous iterations of his armor, John's GEN3 armor possesses holographic emitters in the palm of his left hand, allowing John to display the Weapon's avatar to communicate face to face with the AI, transfer her into computer systems, or interact with others around him. In his GEN1 armor, Cortana had to communicate with others using the radio or John's helmet speakers and spoke to John within his own mind.
MJOLNIR Powered Armor Systems
John has demonstrated easy familiarity with various weapons, though unless a mission specifically requires something, has shown a preference for the MA5 series of assault rifles as his mainstay.
Non-canon and dubious canon appearances
Odd One Out
John was traveling in a Pelican with Cortana and SPARTAN-1337 and witnessed the latter fall out of the aircraft and plummet to the planet below. He then informs Jacob Keyes that 1337 would most likely be fine, as he has been in similar situations and that he is a trained Spartan-II, the best of the best. Later, John contacts 1337 via radio, telling him to head to the rendevous point.
On July 21, 1999 Bungie Software and Steve Jobs announced the video game Halo at Macworld. This announcement was accompanied by a screenshot which showed a very early version of the player character, a soldier in green armor resembling that which would eventually be worn by the Master Chief when Halo: Combat Evolved released over two years later. By November of that year, it was reported in Computer Gaming World that much of the game's story had yet to be realized. At this time and about a month earlier in a PC Gamer article, the armor-clad individual controlled by the player was referred to variously as a "standard soldier" or "marine". In the PC Gamer article, the game was also described as one in which players would be able to control a powered-armored human soldier or one of the Covenant enemies. Screenshots showed multiples of the armored soldier that would eventually become John-117 existing in the game world simultaneously.
John-117 was originally named by Eric Trautmann as a reference to the biblical verse Revelation 1:17, which reads as follows according to the New Revised Standard Version of the text: "When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he placed his right hand on me, saying, 'Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last'." The author of this biblical text names himself "John" within it. According to Trautmann, this identifier was a the origin of one of many "huge fights" between himself and Bungie concerning ideas which came out of the writing sessions of the Halo Story Bible, a work originally constructed by he, Brannon Boren, and Matt Soell.
Profile images and portraits
Concept art and early builds
List of appearances