|Political and military information|
- "They let me pick. Did I ever tell you that? Choose whichever Spartan I wanted. You know me. I did my research. Watched as you became the soldier we needed you to be. Like the others, you were strong and swift and brave. A natural leader. But you had something they didn't. Something no one saw, but me. Can you guess...? Luck."
- — Cortana
Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 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. By August 30, 2552, John's career service vitae recorded two hundred and seven ground engagements against the Covenant in which he had participated. By August of 2558, he 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.
Among most humans John is known simply by his rank as the "Master Chief" or (erroneously) the "Chief". 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.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Early childhood
- 1.2 Abduction and conscription
- 1.3 Training begins
- 1.4 Taking the initiative
- 1.5 Facing Tango Company
- 1.6 ASTER
- 1.7 TALON
- 1.8 MJOLNIR
- 1.9 Unrelenting
- 1.10 Alpha Corvi II
- 1.11 Enemy of my enemy
- 1.12 Radiant Arrow
- 1.13 Task Force Yama
- 1.14 ICE DANCE
- 1.15 Battle of Seoba
- 1.16 Etalan
- 1.17 Master Chief
- 1.18 SILENT STORM
- 1.19 Circinius IV
- 1.20 Fighting two wars
- 1.21 New Hope
- 1.22 FALLEN WALLS
- 1.23 WARM BLANKET
- 1.24 Late War
- 1.25 OCEAN BREAKER
- 1.26 RED FLAG
- 1.27 Mark V
- 1.28 The Fall of Reach
- 1.29 Rude awakening
- 1.30 Halo
- 1.31 Regroup at Alpha Base
- 1.32 Saving Keyes
- 1.33 Fighting for control
- 1.34 The Flood
- 1.35 Betrayal and sacrifice
- 1.36 Dust and echoes
- 1.37 Ascendant Justice
- 1.38 Return to Reach
- 1.39 FIRST STRIKE
- 1.40 Battle for Earth
- 1.41 Mombasa
- 1.42 Installation 05
- 1.43 Hunt for Truth
- 1.44 Return to Earth
- 1.45 Installation 00
- 1.46 Installation 08
- 1.47 Missing in action
- 1.48 Requiem and the Didact
- 1.49 Conflicting loyalties
- 1.50 Battle aboard Mantle's Approach
- 1.51 Gamma Halo
- 1.52 Clinquant
- 1.53 Self-reassignment
- 1.54 The Fallen Spartan
- 1.55 BIRD IN HAND
- 1.56 Absent without leave
- 1.57 Genesis and revelation
- 1.58 Reunion
- 1.59 Revolution
- 1.60 Fake burial and legacy
- 2 Personality and traits
- 3 Relationships
- 4 Physical characteristics
- 5 Armor
- 6 Production notes
- 7 Gallery
- 8 List of appearances
- 9 Notes
- 10 Sources
- "Well, he was a little younger than me, but, let me tell you, that boy did not look like a kindergartner. He was a big kid. My friend, Katrina, and I used to meet him in this vacant lot in the neighborhood. The three of us would build these obstacle courses out of random junk and then race. Ya' know, just kid stuff. On warm nights, sometimes our parents would let us go out to the green space and lie in the grass. And we'd just lie there, stare up at the stars."
- — Ellie Bloom recalls her childhood with John to journalist Benjamin Giraud in 2558.
John was born on March 7, 2511 on the Outer Colony of Eridanus II. He was raised by his mother and father and by the age of six he attended school at Elysium City's Primary Education Facility 119. Decades after he last saw her, John could still remember his mother as being very kind and smelling of soap. She sometimes took him down to the beach where he would play in the sand. John's closest childhood friends were girls: Katrina, Parisa, and Ellie Bloom. John, Ellie, and Katrina would often compete against one another in obstacle courses they built out of random bits of junk in a vacant lot in their neighborhood. He and Ellie, who lived just a few houses down on the same street as his family, would be permitted by their parents to go out to a green space on warm nights to lie in the grass and stargaze. At school, John was known for being competitive and for being particularly good at winning games of king of the hill that took place on a grassy hill at the end of Primary Education Facility 119's playground. He considered chess to be boring and too easy. By the time Dr. Catherine Halsey met John, he reportedly was not allowed to play gravball anymore due to his always winning. When John wasn't playing various games, he spent the rest of his free time watching vids. In April of 2517 John had his picture taken and it was the resulting image which the Office of Naval Intelligence later provided to Catherine Halsey. On August 3, 2517, John and Parisa were playing with one another at Lake Gusev. Parisa walked too far out into the lake and might have drowned but John saved her life. Afterward, he promised to marry her and always keep her safe. Parisa's father took a photograph of the two friends as they laughed hysterically at John's father's antics. Parisa would keep the photo with her long after she thought John had died. Over the next two weeks following the incident at the lake, John went on to score forty-five victories in king of the hill at school, leaving his opponents with a dozen broken bones, be they arms, clavicles, or fingers, and himself with a chipped tooth.
Abduction and conscription
- "As per Naval Code 45812, you are hereby conscripted into the UNSC Special Project codenamed SPARTAN-II. You have been called upon to serve. You will be trained... and you will become the best we can make of you. You will be the protectors of Earth and all her colonies. This will be hard to understand, but you cannot return to your parents. This place will become your home. Your fellow trainees will be your family now. The training will be difficult. There will be a great deal of hardship on the road ahead, but I know you will all make it. Rest now. We begin tomorrow."
- — Catherine Halsey welcomes the abducted children to their new reality.
At some point during the weeks that followed, John was abducted by ONI and replaced with a flash clone of himself. ONI operatives initially stole John directly from his bed while he was sleeping one night and were set to swap him for the clone then and there, but John woke up and had to have his mouth covered and be given a drug to knock him out. John was put into cryostasis and whisked through slipstream space to Reach, the nexus of the United Nations Space Command's armed forces. Once revived on September 23, 2517, he and seventy-four other children were led into an amphitheater through four sets of double doors, each accompanied by a naval drill instructor. There, at around 2300 hours, far below the ground within a FLEETCOM military complex, Halsey informed them that per Naval Code 45812, they were thereby conscripted into SPARTAN-II. She explained that they had been called upon to serve and that they would be the protectors of Earth and all its colonies. John wrinkled his forehead in confusion at this, but sat up straight and listened to the doctor's words with rapt attention. Halsey told them they could not return to their parents and that from this moment on, the complex on Reach would be their home and their fellow trainees would be their family. And through the training that lay ahead of them would be difficult, she expressed her full confidence in their ability to overcome it. With that said, she told them to rest and that they would begin the next day. Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez had the children escorted to their barracks, fed, and put to bed. As they were being led away from Halsey, John kept his gaze on her, stoic and unmoved by the drastic turn his life had just taken. Trainers took away the quarter that Doctor Halsey had given John but he fought against them doing so, even breaking a few fingers in the process.
- Main article: SPARTAN-II training
- John-117: "But I won. I was first"
- Franklin Mendez: "Yes, you were first. But your team came in last. Remember this: you don’t win unless your team wins. One person winning at the expense of the group means that you lose."
- — Chief Mendez teaches John and the other trainees a very important lesson.
Whilst dreaming about his mother John was shouted awake the next morning at 0530 hours by Chief Mendez and prodded with a humbler stun device when he did not pull himself off his cot right away. The same scene played out across the barracks with other children and drill instructors. Chief Mendez addressed them all, saying they were to shower at the barracks aft and then return to their cots to dress. At the prodding of Mendez' humbler, John stripped down and joined the other children on a conveyor to be washed in lukewarm soapy water and then rinsed in an icy cold spray. A trunk at the foot of his cot held underwear, thick socks, combat boots, and a matching set of gray sweats with "JOHN-117" stenciled on the chest. Once everyone was clothed, Mendez marched them outside and had them form five rows of fifteen children each. From there, they were ordered through a series of calisthenics which included one-hundred each of jumping jacks, sit-ups, deep squats, knee bends, and leg lifts. After the leg lefts the kids were finally given a respite in the form of water. John had just enough time to flop down on the grass and then roll to his knees briefly before Mendez was ordering them to join him on a run. They jogged through the military compound, past more barracks, along a river, over a bridge, finally coming to a stop in the courtyard of a naval officers' academy. There John and the others met Déjà, a so-called "dumb" A.I. who had been given the job of continuing the trainees' formal education. Within the building, John and the others were served crackers and milk and treated to a history lesson concerning the Battle of Thermopylae. John, still hungry after finishing his crackers, swiped those that belonged to a girl next to him when she wasn't watching. After the lesson the trainees were told they were heading for the playground, but this turned into a two-mile run to a forest of twenty-meter-tall wooden poles, rope cargo nets and bridges, knotted climbing ropes, pulleys, and baskets. Mendez had them form three lines and declared that each row of three would be a team. John found himself in the third team, paired up with a boy to his right named Samuel-034 and a girl to his left, Kelly-087. John could tell that Kelly was not happy about the arrangement. Chief Mendez explained that they would be playing a game called "Ring the Bell" in which the objective was for every member of each team to ring a brass bell that hung from a slide pole next to the tallest wooden pole. John asked what they would win for ringing the bell and making it back to the start first, to which Mendez responded that they would win dinner. The last team to make it back conversely, would go hungry that evening. As soon as the Chief shouted permission, John took off as fast as he could, scrambling up a cargo net and across a platform. He made it to a basket attached to a pulley, but rather than trying to lift his own weight that way, he opted to ascend directly up a nearby hanging rope. John easily outpaced all the other children and made it back to the starting point first, having rung the bell three times. Elated as he had been to be the winner, Sam and Kelly came back last, as they had gotten stuck in a line that had formed around the end of the course. Mendez congratulated everyone but singled out the members of Team Three, including John, as the ones who would be skipping dinner. He made it clear to John that although he had been first, his team had been last, and thus he had lost. John was greatly upset by this all the way back to the barracks, where he received a liter of water and was soon fast asleep.
The second day of training, September 25, began just like the first. The trainees spent the morning doing calisthenics and in the afternoon reported to Déjà to learn. This day, she taught them about the hunting strategies of wolves and emphasized the importance of the pack over the individual in accomplishing a challenge, such as taking down a moose. Once again, John stole someone else's crackers. When it came time for the "playground" again, Mendez declared that they were to keep the same teams they had the prior day. When Sam and Kelly approached John, Sam gave him a shove and threatened to knock him off one of the poles if he didn't help the two of them. Kelly added to this by saying she would jump on him. John reluctantly agreed to help them as long as they didn't slow him down. The teams had a brief moment to strategize and the course had been made more complicated as compared to before. Noting that there was still a large basket and pulley at the opposite end, however, John insisted they should all make a run for it as their best option. Kelly claimed to be fast, so John told her to hold the basket for them if she got there first. When Mendez shouted, "Go!" Kelly did indeed make it there first. Another boy tried to get her to give it up to him but both John and Sam came up behind him, pushing him away and telling him to wait his turn. By the time Team Three managed to raise themselves up to the bell, two other teams had already gotten there via other routes. John could tell that Mendez seemed pleased with the change in how he tackled the game. Sam clapped he and Kelly on their backs after their return across the starting line and suggested they should be friends. Both agreed. Three days later, on September 28, all the trainees were given haircuts. John had a picoliter of blood drawn on November 4 of 2517 for analysis by a biochemical analysis lab. On May 24, 2518, the children were forced at 0920 hours to run through a course while being shot at with paint pellet guns. Each trainee that was hit was made to do an exorbitant amount of pushups. By December 10 of 2518, Doctor Halsey and CPO Mendez had identified John as one of four potential leaders for all the trainees, the others being Kurt-051, Jerome-092, and Fred-104. Though Chief Mendez wanted to wager on Kurt, Halsey was confident John would be their leader eventually.
Taking the initiative
- John-117: "No one’s being left behind. We’re going to figure a way to get all of us out."
- Kelly-087: "How? Mendez said—"
- John-117: "I know what he said. But there’s got to be a way—I just haven’t thought of one yet. Even if it has to be me that stays behind—I’ll make sure everyone gets back to the base."
- — John demonstrates his commitment to his fellow trainees.
John learned more during the first few years of training on Reach than he almost certainly would have ever learned at Primary Education Facility 119 on Eridanus II. Déjà taught he and the others algebra, trigonometry, and the history of numerous battles and the rulers they happened at the direction of. By mid-2519, John could string a trip line, fire a rifle, and treat a chest wound. Much of the Spartans' early training took place at Military Reservation 01478-B, known as "Painland" to the soldiers made to endure exercises there. As a result of the demanding challenges Chief Mendez put the children through, John spent plenty of time in Painland's emergency first-aid station. John and the others regularly made covert treks to Camp Hathcock in the Highland Mountains to pilfer food and supplies. John often teased Serin-019 for her habit of taking the leftovers of every other kid she could. Training in the Highlands Mountains was split between Painland, facilities within CASTLE Base, and another another location. At these locations, John and the others began to be tested against a company of orbital drop shock troopers in jungle maneuvers. Amazingly, the children, who averaged around eight years old, often won. At some point during their training, John and the others accompanied Mendez to the colony of Emerald Cove, where they were given a mission that involved spending time underwater. Mendez sabotaged half the air tanks provided to the trainees, and in response they ended up stealing his. Afterwards, they all ditched the Chief for a whole week while they camped on an island with nothing to do but light bonfires, eat clams and calamari, and surf.
On July 12, 2519, all seventy-five children were transported, via D96-TCE Albatross, to a military wilderness training preserve in the Highland Mountains. While en route, Chief Mendez explained that each trainee would be dropped off alone in different locations throughout the preserve with only a piece of various maps provided to them. Their goal was simply to reconvene at a designated extraction point, but the last one to arrive would be forced to walk back to base. Mendez announced that John would be dropped off first. He had just enough time after this revelation to sight a lake and the river which fed it out the Albatross' windows and point it out to Sam, who understood John's plan and passed it along to the rest. Dressed in fatigues, a heavy parka, and boots, John ran down the ramp and into the snow-covered forest when the dropship landed. He immediately set out in the direction of a particularly sharp mountain peak since he knew from getting an aerial view that the river was in that direction. When he found a stream which led to the larger water body, he followed the direction it took but still kept to the cover offered by the forest. Wild blueberries served as a brief snack as he hiked. Once he eventually arrived on the shore of the lake that he'd meant to meet the others at, the sound of someone hooting like an owl signaled that Sam was near. John and Sam traversed the shoreline, eventually adding Kelly, Fred, and Linda-058 to their number. Sam decided to carve a mark into a tree that they could remember the location by for years to come. They soon after gathered everyone else together in one place. John had Sam take James-005, Linda, and Fhajad-084 to scout around them while he watched Kelly piece together the maps from everyone's pieces. It turned out that the extraction point was a full day's hike from where they were so John told them children to move out as soon as the scouts returned. Several miles into their trek, Sam told John he thought that the mission was too easy so far and John agreed that there was likely some part that Mendez hadn't told them about. At noon the children stopped to stretch and eat berries they had gathered along their journey. During the break Fhajad broached the subject of who among them would be left behind, to which John replied that he didn't intend for anyone to be left, but that if someone had to be, he would willingly volunteer.
It was near sundown when they finally came upon their destination in a meadow where another Albatross dropship sat. This one was guarded by six men without any uniforms. John and Sam were the ones who scouted ahead and saw the scene first, so they were then also the ones who explained the situation to the rest. John was certain that the men wouldn't just let them board peaceably, so he devised a plan wherein someone who play the role of a "rabbit", luring the men into a trap but being quick enough not to get caught themselves. Kelly enthusiastically took this job. It would be up to her and Sam to convince the guards that Sam had broken his leg. When their guard was down, that was when the rest would strike. John accompanied Kelly to the meadow and gave her the chance to let him be the rabbit instead. She responded with a hard punch to his shoulder for daring to doubt her. When she revealed herself she managed to get one man to chase after her. John crept back stealthily to where Sam lay on the ground, watching for the right moment. As soon as the man, unprovoked, was about to use a humbler stun device on Sam, John launched a rock at his head. The projectile missed but it signaled the rest of the children to suddenly pelt the man with stones from their hiding places. He was bleeding on the ground and barely conscious when John walked over to kick him in the face and ribs. This basic strategy was repeated, but the second time the remaining five men were set upon at once by the trainees, who assaulted them with rocks, fists, and boots. John opened a link to Déjà within the dropship and asked if she could teach him to fly it. Déjà responded by saying he was in no way authorized to do so, but that she could take control of it herself if he gave her access. One all seventy-four others were aboard, Déjà lifted them off the ground and returned them home.
Once safely back, John was personally summoned to Chief Mendez' office. The Chief glowered at the trainee as he read over a report from the exercise. Doctor Halsey joined them shortly. Mendez pointedly asked John why he had chosen to attack the men he'd set to guard the dropship and then essentially steal it. John defended his actions by citing their lack of any distinguishing insignia and a failure to identify themselves. Mendez had to admit that it indeed appeared they had not. He exasperatedly asked Halsey what they ought to do about John's actions. She suggested that the answer was obvious: that he be promoted to Squad Leader over the others. In the third year of training in 2520, John and the others began physics courses, which included the study of classical mechanics. For his part, John was more interested in tactical theory than Newton's laws of motion. On September 20 of that year, the candidates experienced their first casualty in the form of a handler that was accidentally killed by Carris-137. Memorial services were held and all of the trainees attended. Following the loss, Halsey had Déjà emphasize that throughout this history of military training lethal force has had often been employed and that deaths were an inherent risk. After John turned ten years old in 2521, he and the other children began to learn counterinterrogation techniques, in particular that of of seizing the initiative. At some point during the training, the Spartans went through a fleet tactics course wherein they were taught a particular planetary assault doctrine.
Facing Tango Company
- Tango Company marine: "We gotta find that damned flag or the captain will have our asses in a sling. Where is it, kid? And where's the rest of your pack? What's so funny?"
- John-117: "You idiots are bunched up."
- — John taunts his captors just before they come under fire from a hail of darts.
As the years of training proceeded, the children were routinely matched up as teams against one another. John usually led Blue Team. Years later, he recalled often losing whenever his team had to compete with Green Team, led by Kurt-051. By 2523 the trainees had begun to be matched up in exercises against Tango Company, a unit of UNSC marines. On July 12 of that year, four years to the day since the exercise that made John Squad Leader, he led a six-person team in its seventh operation against the company. They hadn't lost yet. Their objective on this date was to capture their opponents' flag and exfiltrate with it. John's team was comprised of himself, Sam, Linda, Kelly, Fhajad, and Fred. On the twelfth they managed to capture sniper-spotter team that had been tasked with hunting them down. From them they learned that Tango's captain had given orders to win no matter what, even if it meant bloodying some of the kids this time.
During the evening of the next day, they stole shards of mirror from Tango Company's latrine. In addition, they hunted a squirrels, which Fred combined with unripe berries and the antibacterial ointment in their first-aid kits to make a paste to poison the marines' dogs. On July 14, the game was still ongoing. John returned from peering over a rise which overlooked the Longhorn Valley to report that everything looked clear at the moment. He had Fred and Linda, both armed with SRS99C-S2 AM sniper rifles liberated from their captives, check their weapons to ensure they were in working order. For his part, John had been issued a narq-dart pistol by Chief Mendez. Fhajad had been able to modify the 114mm APFSDS rounds the sniper rifles fired so that they could carry the narq-dart capsules at a much further effective range than his pistol ever could. John used a twig to outline their plan in the dirt. In order to get the flag he would lead Sam, Kelly, and Fhajad as Red Team into the base. Linda and Fred would be Blue Team and would be responsible for dropping the men guarding the flag outside. Fred complained about having to stay back with Linda, but John reminded him that in addition to being their second-best sniper, he was also their best spotter. Though it was only a little after 1000 hours then, the trainees planned to spring their attack at 0500 the next day. Once Red Team had used stun grenades to incapacitate the marines inside their base, they would grab the flag and make a run for it, with everyone reconvening at the designated LZ. John made sure to stress that no matter what happened, nobody was to emerge from hiding near the LZ until he gave the all clear signal: a six-note singsong tune that Déjà had taught them.
John led Red Team to crouch and crawl through the forest until they reached a gravel road. Two large rocks were rolled onto the road and it wasn't long before a supply truck came along that had to stop when its occupants found the way ahead blocked. Two marines emerged, both expecting an ambush, but as they moved the rocks away John and the others silently rushed the truck and wedged themselves against the undercarriage so that when it set off again, they were carried along underneath. The truck took them about a kilometer to the unit's base. When the time came for the vehicle's bottom to be inspected at a security checkpoint, Red Team produced their mirror shards. They had spent the entirety of the previous night practicing how to match the movement of the mirror used by the opposition so that they were able to perfectly use misdirection to make the truck's undercarriage look clear. Once it was parked inside a warehouse and left there, the trainees allowed themselves to emerge. John had Sam fill up canteens with battery acid while Fhajad picked the lock on a door nearby. John was bleeding from one of his ears as a result of gravel striking him during the commute so he took time to bandage his head before moving to patrol their surroundings with Kelly to ensure no dogs, cameras, or guards were present. One Fhajad got through the lock, each preteen split off to move through the shadows to different portions of the base. John sent Kelly to secure an exit at the perimeter fence and each of the boys went to a different barracks and crawled underneath. As soon as he was beneath the one he'd selected, John began chewing three sticks of gum whilst applying battery acid to the plywood bottom of the building with a rag to weaken the wood. The gum was then used to stick each of his three stun grenades to the bottom. With only around thirty seconds until 0455 hours by the point he was placing th grenades, he set them to all go off in five minutes' time before sprinting back to the warehouse at 0458 hours.
When all the stun grenades went off, confusion and panic swept the camp. In the midst of the chaos, one of the men who had been raising the company's flag as was customary for that time was dropped by Linda. John ran toward the second man who had been assisting with the flag. He missed his first shot with the narq-dart pistol, but Sam and Fhajad put two in the man's back which John followed up with two to his chest. Another marine got a shot off at John that went wild before he took one of Blue Team's darts to his skull. John stuffed Tango Company's flag into his shirt and ordered everyone to run for Kelly's exit, where she had weakened the chain-link fence with acid so she could push right through it. John was barely surprised that the marines were using live ammunition to shoot at them this time. By the time they were running from the camp reports of machine guns firing were behind them and a tank had rumbled to life in the compound's center. Red Team took cover under a series of logs to hide from a Pelican when it flew overhead. It was at 0545 hours when the team reached the LZ where they were to meet Mendez at 0700 hours. Each trainee hid and remained completely quiet. At 0610 hours a Pelican landed nearby and John had to grab Fhajad to stop him from moving out of cover. He reasoned that the Chief would never arrive earlier than he had said. John moved thirty meters away from the others before choosing to reveal himself, almost certain that he was springing a trap by approaching the Pelican. He was urged aboard, but John could tell this was a bluff by Tango Company and said as much. As such, the craft emptied and he was soon surrounded by four marines with assault rifles pointed at him. One doubled John over with a punch to the abdomen before patting him down, shaking him, and demanding that he return their flag. John could only laugh at the man, because both Red and Blue teams at once fired a series of darts into each of the men. John grabbed a pistol from the one who'd been accosting him and clambered into the Pelican. He discovered that another was flying around fourteen kilometers out. Running back across the field, it took whistling the all clear signal to get his teammates to emerge and police the marines' weapons.
- Main article: Project ASTER
- John-117: "I know this is one of the Chief’s exercises. But I don’t know what the twist is. Can you tell me, Doctor. Halsey? Just this time? How do I win?"
- Catherine Halsey: "I’ll tell you how to win, John. You have to survive."
- — Halsey acquiesces and puts the ordeal ahead of John in terms he understands.
On August 22, 2524, the Spartan-II candidates were rerouted during a training exercise to the opposite side of Reach from which they normally trained. This was done at the behest of interested parties in ONI who wished to observe them firsthand. At some point after the trainees had began to physically mature, an incident in which one of them, Margaret-053, was blinded during a beating meted out by four other teens, caused Chief Mendez to replace everyone's mess hall time with a period of fasting until the perpetrators were identified. It was not uncommon at this time for two trainees to spar one another with pugil sticks while trying to balance on floating logs while the rest watched. Doctor Halsey had the oppurtunity to have a lengthy chat with John on February 23, 2525 and was surprised to learn that he could tell they were about to enter a new, more severe phase of training. She had not yet divulged the details of the upcoming augmentations each teenager would be undergoing. John could sense that she was worried about something, however, and told her that he and his team were ready for anything.
One March 9 of 2525 John and the other Spartan-II candidates were transported to Medical Facility Endurance in orbit over Reach in order to undergo a series of invasive procedures designed to physically, chemically, and genetically augment their bodies. By a little after 1130 hours, John was in pre-op within a surgical bay. Doctor Halsey and Chief Mendez both stopped by to find John with his head shaved, an intravenous line already delivering a sedative, and incision vectors lasered onto his body. When Halsey asked how John was doing he replied that he was trying to see how long he could fight off the sedation for. Only then did John notice the Chief and attempt to sit up and salute, but find himself unable to. He said that he knew this must be one of the Chief's exercises, but asked Halsey if just this once, she could tell him how to win. Halsey told him that he would win if he survived. The various augmentations, under the purview of Project: ASTER, were carried out the following day. With the assistance of surgeons, biotechnicians, and automated robotic machinery, the surgical procedures John endured included occipital capillary reversals, the carbide ceramic ossification of his bones, the insertion of a catalytic thyroid implant, injections to muscle strength and endurance, and the fibrification of neural dendrites to make them superconductive. He also was treated with gene therapy and underwent transgenic hybridization.
When the procedures had been completed, only thirty-three of the teenagers had ostensibly been augmented successfully. As far as John was made aware, twelve others had been injured during the operations so severely that they would be unfit to be Spartans and the remaining thirty had died. The truth, conversely, was that those pronounced dead were in fact cryogenically preserved in the hopes that they could be revived later, and some of those that were crippled would go on to be rehabilitated and join the ranks of Spartan-IIs in the future. But at midnight at the start of March 30, John had been made to believe that forty-two of his people had been become casualties. The thirty-three to have officially come through the procedures unharmed and the twelve to have been grievously injured both gathered together at that point within the missile launch bays of the UNSC Atlas, an Epoch-class heavy carrier heading for the Lambda Serpentis system. Adorned in black dress uniforms, they bid farewell to what they thought were twenty-nine of their lost brothers and sisters as stainless steel canisters were ejected into space. John and the others saluted in unison. When orderlies began to wheel away the dozen who could not move on their own, John stopped them to ask where they were taking his men. At this, Mendez requested a moment with John and advised that he let them go, assuring him that the Navy would continue to care for them and offer them opportunities to serve as they were able. John relented and then asked what the orders Mendez had for he and the others. The Chief commanded two full days of bed rest to be followed by microgravity physical therapy aboard the Atlas until they had all fully recovered. The surgeries had been performed twenty days ago but John was still dealing with regular headaches, pain and bleeding in his eyes, aching bones, and general clumsiness as he adapted to his new physical form. Mendez also informed John that in the days ahead Déjà planned to run the teens through some dropship pilot simulations and to cover some more organic chemistry and complex algebra, as long as they were up to the challenge. Before they separated, John asked what he must have done wrong as Squad Leader to lose so many of his soldiers. Mendez walked with him to a view screen where they could observe the canisters as they vanished into the void and told him that a leader must be willing to send those under his command to their deaths. He made sure John understood that there was difference betweenspending lives and wasting them, however. John openly wondered whether the majority of the trainees' lives had just been spent or wasted and got no answer from Mendez. Sam joined him once Mendez had gone and guessed at what the Chief had said to him, surmising that it had amounted to telling John to accept his duty and "suck it up". John angrily rebuffed Sam's suggestion, saying that it sounded nothing like Mendez, and when Sam invited him to go to the shooting range later, he instead went off on his own to hit the gym.
For the next three weeks, John and the others were put through a routine of stretching, isometric exercises, and light sparring. They were also under orders to consume five high-protein meals per day, each followed by mineral and vitamin injections in the ship's medical bay. The Atlas was patrolling the Lambda Serpentis system by April 22 and it was on this date that John first meant to resume weightlifting. He visited the carrier's gym at 0430 hours to find it empty. John initially began with arm curls and then moved on to the leg machine, but in both cases discovered that they weights felt far lighter than they should have. In order to correct for this, he had to use all the machines on the side of the rotating conical space that simulated two times Earth-normal gravity. When he moved on to use a speed bag, he found that it seemed to move far slower than it should from his perspective. In order to ensure it was indeed he that had changed and not various parts of the gym that were off, John took a pin from the locking collar on a bench press and dropped it where there should be one standard gee of acceleration toward the floor. Four orbital drop shock troopers entered the gym after John's experiment and before long one whom had lay down to use the bench press had all the weights slide off one side of the bar. John apologized, since he had been the one to remove the pin, and was met in return with hostility from the men. Two on either side of him grabbed his arms and another moved to put him in a headlock from behind. John responded by breaking one of the ODST's nose and slipping away just as their sergeant called for everyone to stand down. The sergeant suggested that if they wanted to fight, they should do it inside a nearby boxing ring, so John climbed up and slipped through the ropes immediately. The largest ODST joined him there. By this point a number of other troopers had entered the gym as well and were watching. John began by striking the man twice in the face and then breaking some of his floating ribs with a hook. He brought his heel down on the man's knee and after three more punches he was dead. Aghast at the shocking display, the three others who had come in with him all rushed the ring at once, one wielding an iron bar as a weapon. John wrenched the bar from its owner, breaking his wrist and shattering his spine in the process, and used a single kick to crush the genitals and break the pelvis of another. The last man was sent flying overtop the ropes when John swung the bar at his chest, stopping his heart. All had been taken out in less than five seconds. John heard the voice of Chief Mendez calling for him to cease. The Chief directed the bewildered sergeant to report to Ops for debriefing and then told John his workout was over for the day. Unbeknownst to John, the sergeant, or the ODSTs, the confrontation had been engineered by ONI as a test of his augmentations. Mendez let the Chief know that he had been confused as to whether he should treat the ODSTs as teammates or targets, but Mendez assured him that he had been right to neutralize what had been threats to his person. John had followed the chain of command and protected himself, and Mendez reiterated that these were to always be chief among his priorities. John retired to shower and rinse the blood from his body, not giving the two dead and two injured men a further thought.
Once the Spartans were returned to Reach, it became evident that the facilities they had used up until that point would no longer be suitable for training. On the first day back, three trainers were killed during hand-to-hand exercises. On September 10 John and the thirty-two others were relocated to a titanium mine that had been used to store Mark I powered exoskeletons. The teens were put through a number of exercises against trainers who now wore the exoskeletons for their safety. And though they hadn't left the cavernous room they'd been dropped into, by the next day they had somehow acquired a length of rope and black suits that made completing their objectives easier. In addition, they continually managed to locate hidden cameras to disable them. Halsey visited on the eleventh to observe their progress and got to witness John dropping into a bunker during a game of Capture the Flag, where he sent one trainer flying eight meters with a kick and disabled another's exoskeleton with a flurry of strikes. John also managed to dodge a barrage of stun rounds fired at close range before ripping the 32mm minigun from the suit and using it against its owner.
- Main article: Operation: TALON
- "Good morning, Spartans. I have good news for you. The word has come down. Command has decided to test your unique abilities. You have a new mission: an insurgent base in the Eridanus system."
- — Doctor Halsey briefs her Spartans on their first combat mission.
At 0400 hours on September 12, 2525 the teens were mustered and ordered aboard the UNSC Pioneer, a Halberd-class destroyer bound for the Eridanus system. They gathered within the Pioneer's briefing route while in transit at 0600 hours and by 0605 were greeted by the entrance of Halsey and Mendez. Halsey informed them that word had come down from Fleet Command permitting the first real mission for the Spartans. A team would be tasked with infiltrating an insurgent base in the Eridanus asteroid belt thought to be harboring United Rebel Front leader Robert Watts. In order to find the asteroid the rebels had been using, they would need to stow away aboard the Laden, a Parabola-class freighter that would be departing dock over Eridanus II in just six hours. The ship was slated for routine recertification of its engines, but its current manifest and its captain betrayed it as almost assuredly being set to deliver supplies to the hidden insurgent base. For this mission, codenamed Operation: TALON, John was promoted to Petty Officer Third Class and given his pick of whom to bring with him to complete it. He chose Sam, Linda, Kelly, and Fred and told the rest that they would have the harder job of having to stay behind. Overtop form-fitting body armor, each member of the mission donned grease-stained blue coveralls that matched what the crew of the Laden wore. John told the other four to stock up on their own preferred gear and weaponry at the destroyer's weapons locker on the condition that save for Linda's SRS99C-AM, everyone use weapons that fired .390-caliber ammunition so they could share their collective supply. John took an MA2B assault rifle, a combat knife, and five ammo clips. In addition, he would carry a panic button—a tiny single-shot emergency beacon that could mark the location of the base for the UNSC or alert the Pioneer via a prowler on standby that they needed rescuing.
After disembarking at the space dock above Eridanus II, the Spartans slipped past the lone guard in the freighter's cargo bay and took up residence in its deserted central rotating section. It made for a perfect hiding spot, as the large volume of water that ringed its inner surface masked their thermal signatures and blocked any motion sensors which might have detected the five of them otherwise. Through the ship had originally been scheduled to leave on the twelfth of September, it was not until shorty after 1210 hours on September 14 that it might departed from dock. John checked in with the UNSC Athens, the prowler on standby, shortly before it left via a secure burst transmission. He let the prowler know that they were in position and would send another update at 0400 hours the next day. John and the others rigged support nets among the upper girders in the center of the spinning tank. Kelly was able to determine that their ETA was in around ten hours, so John gave instructions to sleep in shifts. Kelly additionally was able to pull up the Laden's cargo manifest, which exhibited several luxury items almost certainly meant for Watts or his officers. John decided to tag the items in question so they could track them once they docked with the asteroid hideout. Fred expressed some doubts about the mission but John reassured him by reminding him that every task they'd been assigned in training had been accomplished successfully. John lay down to sleep, telling Kelly to wake him in four hours. While he slept, John dreamed that he was alone in a desert environment when suddenly Kelly appeared before him, her face covered in blood. When she spoke, he was then faced with the real Kelly, who was waking him up to let him know they had begun to decelerate and would evidently be arriving sooner than initially expected. John commanded all lights to be shut off before he popped a hatch above them to take a peek with a fiber optic probe. Seeing that the space above was clear, they all entered it and rappelled ten meters to clear the tank. Once they were free from the spinning section, they changed into their disguises and made sure all weapons and other pieces of equipment were stowed in duffel bags. The arrival of simulated gravity once they reached the cargo bay signaled that the Laden had docked to a spinning body larger than itself. Kelly led them to the crate of luxury goods and John, Linda, and Sam stood guard while she and Fred planted a tracking device inside it. John came very close to shooting a dockworker that almost noticed them, but the man moved on and John kept his finger from pulling the trigger of his MA2B. After confirming he could track the crate through his helmet's HUD, John stowed it and led the others onto the base. The Spartans casually made their way to the dock's public showers to discuss their next moves. John decided the showers would serve as their fallback position and that a Pelican they'd noticed on the dock would be their chosen means of escape. Slipping on his helmet showed that the crate was on the move, so John had Blue Team move further into the city in pursuit. After pinpointing it one more time in an alley which they ducked into, he could see it was now being carried on a robotic tram. Following it at a discrete distance led them to a twelve-story building, where John and the others saw three men unload it and carry it inside.
Two guards flanked the outer doors to the building. John gave Kelly the go-ahead to approach them. She surprised one man by grabbing his rifle and twisting, yanking him inside the building in the process. John got the drop on the second guard and snapped his neck from behind. Both corpses were hid out of view as everyone shrugged out of their coveralls and put on their helmets. On the other side of another set of doors, John and Linda took down five individuals, with John specifically killing two uniformed guards near an elevator. He then directed his team to take the stairs all the way to the top floor, where the tracker showed the crate of items had been taken to. After nine double flights of stairs, John determined that they would need a better entrance once they reached the final floor due to the distribution of the thermal signatures detected on it. He had his team cross an empty hall on the ninth floor to the elevator and then proceed to climb up the cable extending the length of the shaft. At the top, he counted down from three before yanking the doors open with Sam. Within, five armed guards were taken by surprise and killed quickly by Linda, Kelly, and Fred. John could see that the navigation marker they had followed was behind a door in the room they were. Without only the slightest hesitation, he kicked it in and came face-to-face with three more guards and behind them, Colonel Robert Watts. John couldn't risk hitting their target, so he was forced to dive to cover instead of opening fire. In the process three rounds from the URF guards found their mark, with one penetrating his suit and pinging off his ribs. Undeterred, John rolled to his feet and fired a three-shot burst into one of the men's forehead from his new position off to the left. The other Spartans were able to similarly do away with the other two, leaving only Watts. From behind a wet bar, John signaled Sam and Fred to fire over Watts' head so that he ducked. John vaulted over the bar at this and jumped on top of the rebel leader, wrenching his pistol away and breaking one of his index fingers and one of his thumbs in doing so. John then chocked the colonel into near-unconsciousness so Kelly could easily administer a dose of polypseudomorphine to sedate him. She followed this by injecting biofoam into John's wound so that he would be stable for a few more hours and helping him up from where he had collapsed after taking down Watts. John directed his Spartans to seal Watts inside the crate from the Laden as he secured a rope to an outer balcony and used it to rappel down into an alley. The others followed suit with the crate in tow once he signaled the coast was clear.
They all put their coveralls back on and entered the building adjacent to what had apparently been a barracks of some kind for the URF. They exited half a block away and walked briskly back to the showers at the docks. John made everyone check the seals on their suits and sent Sam off with C-12 to create an exit. After pinging the Atlas and tossing the panic button into an empty locker, he and the others hijacked the stolen Pelican noted earlier. A series of explosions at the end of the dock tore through and airlock door and the emergency doors that tried to seal the breach. The explosive decompression that resulted sent many workers and others tumbling into the vacuum of space outside. Once Sam had caught back up with them, the Pelican blasted away from the station. John ordered Sam to check on the status of their prisoner at five minutes out and was satisfied to hear he was still alive. Kelly reported that they had two hours before they would reach their extraction point. She could tell John was bothered by the loss of life they had caused among the civilians on the asteroid, but John pushed his feelings away and told her nothing was wrong because they had won. John was later awarded the Purple Heart for the wound he had sustained during the mission.
- Catherine Halsey: "Well? How does it feel?"
- John-117: "Like I was made to wear it, ma'am."
- — John responds enthusiastically to being outfitted with Mjolnir armor for the first time.
By November 6, all the Spartans had departed Reach aboard the Paris-class heavy frigate UNSC Commonwealth. The next three weeks were spent handling a variety of minor missions under the guidance of Doctor Halsey on their way out to Chi Ceti IV on the edge of UNSC-controlled space. All of the Spartans worked together to put down multiple insurrectionist factions on Jericho VII and also to remove a black market bazaar near the Roosevelt military base. During the final of these deployment in which Blue Team worked together as a singular unit, John sustained severe injuries to his shoulders and his right flank. It was at 1750 hours on November 27 that the Commonwealth finally emerged in real space in the Chi Ceti system. During the last leg of the journey through slipspace, John had used the ship's education database to look up the word Mjolnir and determined the project must concern some sort of weapon. Immediately after their arrival in the system Halsey summoned John to the bridge. Before he left the bunkroom where the thirty-two other Spartans were, he told Sam to get everyone ready in case they were needed soon. John took an elevator, saluting Captain Wallace and nodding to Halsey once he arrived. The doctor called his attention to a screen displaying deconvoluted radar signals, including one that may have been a ship eighty million kilometers away. In the event that the anomalous ghost on the radar signal signified a Covenant vessel, Captain Wallace ordered all hands to battle stations. Halsey let John know that they needed to take the frigate's dropship to the surface of Chi Ceti IV to get to Project MJOLNIR at the Damascus Materials Testing Facility in Vhalkem. John accordingly relayed this information to Sam and told him to have everyone mustered in Bay Alpha with a Pelican ready for drop in just fifteen minutes. With barely any warning, an alien ship suddenly emerged from slipspace just three thousand kilometers of the Commonwealth's prow. John could only watch as the frigate was forced into battle against a sleek craft a third its size but with much better defenses. John finally spoke up after they had sustained a significant amount of damage and suggested that Captain Wallace direct GA-TL1 Longswords to distract the enemy to but them time to offload the Spartans and Halsey at Chi Ceti IV. Wallace agreed to sacrifice Longsword Squadron Delta to fulfill their mission as thy neared the planet and asked that those going to the surface try to rendezvous in orbit by no later than 1900 hours.
After landing, it took around fifteen minutes for a freight elevator to carry Halsey and the Spartans down into the depths of Chi Ceti IV, finally depositing them in an underground hangar at around 1845 hours. There, the doctor introduced them to Project MJOLNIR, an initiative to outfit each of them with the most advanced armor ever created by humans in the modern era. Halsey walked the teenagers through the various ways Mjolnir armor would improve their abilities in combat but also made sure they each understood the risk they would be taking by agreeing to use it. Tests with unaugmented volunteers given the armor had ended catastrophically and computer modeling for the Spartans had been insufficient, meaning that whether their enhancements would actually allow them to use the armor was still an unknown. Despite the risk, each on of them volunteered at once to be the first to try Mjolnir, but Halsey ultimately decided on John being the one to demonstrate it first. Once a team of technicians had taken fifteen minutes to fit the various pieces in place Halsey asked him to slowly raise one of his arms to chest level, which he managed very carefully. She then coached John through the basics of walking and gradually built up the speed and complexity of his motions. After fifteen minutes, John could walk, run, and jump almost without thinking about the difference the powered armor made to his movements. Doctor Halsey directed him to try running through a nearby obstacle course with the armor while the remainder of the Spartans were fitted with theirs. On the course John leaped over a three meter high wall, shattered concrete targets with punches, sunk knives up to their hafts when thrown into target dummies, and even felt confident enough to let bullets deflect off his armor. To his own amazement, he even dodged one or two of the rounds when he tried. The others ran through the course as well, but John could see that there was a lack of coordination to their movements. He expressed his worry regarding this to Halsey, who reassured him they would all get used to the suits soon enough. She let him know that each of them had even been given subliminal training to prepare them during their last trip through slipspace in cryostasis. The Spartans spent thirty minutes drilling in their new armor before Captain Wallace contacted them to say that the thy had made contact with the Covenant ship again. Though its slipspace capability was evidently still damaged from the previous engagement, it was moving toward them through normal space. Wallace offered to try to draw the enemy away to buy them more time, but Halsey decided the time had come to fight instead.
- Main article: Battle of Chi Ceti IV
- John-117: "Spartans, this is what we've trained our entire lives to do. If we lose here, we lose everything."
- Spartans: "Sir, yes, sir!"
- — John reminds the Spartans of just how serious their task is.
Kelly picked up a radiation signature coming from deeper in the vessel, so they followed it down a side branch off of another corridor. Kelly opened the next set of doors as she had before while John and Sam took flanking positions on either side. The Kig-Yar on the other side seemed to have known they were coming, as it was ready with an activated point defense gauntlet and fired an overcharged Type-25 plasma pistol as soon as doors opened. John would have been hit by the blast had Sam not shoved him out of the way and caught the full brunt of the weapon himself. Return fire from the Spartans was initially deflected by the alien's shield gauntlet while it continued to shoot and hit Sam, so John charged forward and slammed his foot into the shield, knocking it away. It was then a simple matter for him to jam the barrel of his rifle right into the Kig-Yar's mouth and splatter its blood and bits of bone on the wall behind it. John helped Sam up, who claimed he would be okay, and then policed the Jackal's gauntlet to pass on to Halsey for study. The room they found themselves in overlooked a chamber that held what the Spartans reasoned was either the ship's reactor or some kind of weapons system. A third Kig-Yar sighted them but scrambled for cover rather than engage. At this point, Sam asked for John and Kelly's Anvil warheads and said they ought to simply shoot out the glass which separated them from the next chamber and toss them down into it. John agreed and told him to set their timers so they would explode in three minutes after being armed. He then was forced to regretfully order Sam to remain behind to defend them while he and Kelly escaped, as his armor had been breached and he wouldn't be able to make it back to the Pelican or the Commonwealth. Sam had already known this was to be his fate, but Kelly took some convincing on John's part. He and Sam parted with a clasping of hands, with John squeezing his. He grabbed Kelly's arm when she hesitated to leave and the two of them were soon forcing the nearest set of doors shut behind them. They raced back down the corridors the way they'd came until they were exiting the hole in the hull. They waited for an opportunity when a pulse laser fired and escaped through the gap in the ship's shield just as explosions tore through it behind them. Kelly clung to John as the Covenant vessel was finally torn apart pieces shooting past them. John then understood what Chief Mendez had meant differentiated lives wasted with those spent and knowing that the Covenant could in fact be beat, felt ready to go to war. He, Kelly, and all the other Spartans that had not made it on the Covenant ship made it back aboard the Commonwealth. On December 1, the Halcyon-class light cruiser UNSC Persian Gate appeared in the Chi Ceti system and took Halsey and the Spartans from the Commonwealth. On the Persian Gate, Halsey led a funeral service for Sam wherein an empty casket was ejected into space around Chi Ceti IV.
Alpha Corvi II
- Main article: Battle of Alpha Corvi II
- John-117: "You left them there. They fought for us and you left them there."
- Yao: "They don't matter. Not in the big picture. We lost this battle. But it's one small part of a much larger war. that war is bigger than this planet. It's bigger than any one life. Even bigger than any one Spartan. We're fighting for the survival of human civilization."
- John-117: "All due respect, ma'am, they fought for us and we should have fought for them."
- Yao: "That will be enough, soldier."
- — John makes his dissatisfaction with abandoning allies to the Covenant clear to Lieutenant Commander Yao.
On December 3, 2525, a substantial Covenant force emerged from slipspace near Alpha Corvi and proceeded to began an attack on the system's second planet. It was at this point that the four remaining Spartan-II warriors of Blue Team whom had participated in Operation: TALON were briefed on the attack while already en route to the system. Lieutenant Commander Yao told John and the others that they would be dropping on the outskirts of Jamshid and engaging the Covenant from the rear. Their objective was to lessen the pressure on the main UNSC garrison within the city so that a proper counterattack could be prepared. It was also imperative, they were told, that they operate independently of Ground Command and refrain from having any contact with anyone from the Marine Corps whatsoever. After reviewing updated medical scans for the team, Halsey made sure to ask John if he was okay to fight, given the injuries he's taken before they'd gotten to Chi Ceti IV. John stated that he was fine and when asked whether he would tell her if he wasn't, he merely replied that she'd find out if that ever happened. Upon arrival at the planet, Blue Team was redirected to the mining settlement of Black Reef and ordered to neutralize the invaders there and discover why it was being targeted. During their insertion via a D77-TC Pelican, Nora, an A.I. on the Persian Gate, introduced the Spartans to various scouting and reconnaissance enhancements their armor was outfitted with for this mission, including prototype active camouflage technology.
Blue Team was set down in a ground vehicle on the beach and immediately began taking fire from United Rebel Front troops encamped a short distance away. Kelly-087 and Fred-104 recommended taking them out quickly so they could move on to deal with the Covenant, but John-117 opted for a different option. He activated his active camouflage and crept up on the small band, only revealing himself when he could reach out and touch their apparent leader. John identified his team as being responsible for capturing Colonel Robert Watts and argued there was no way they could hope to beat them. He told them what had happened to Harvest and through appealing to their immediate common enemy, was able to get the leader, Whitaker, to agree to work together for the time being. At John's insistence, he ordered his squad to circle around and rendezvous with the rest of their forces at the edge of a lagoon. From there, they would hit the Covenant from one side and drive them toward where Blue Team lay in wait. In order to keep an eye on their uneasy allies, John sent along a surveillance drone to keep a visual on them. The plan worked, and Blue Team unloaded on the Covenant with BR55 battle rifles when the distance between them closed. During the fighting, John's drone was destroyed by a shot from a Kig-Yar's Type-25 plasma pistol. The Sangheili and Kig-Yar that remained escaped into the mouth of a tunnel that led deep into the mines beneath the reef's bedrock. John was determined to pursue them, not least of which because he was curious about a strange device a Sangheili took in with him. Whitaker informed him that though the mine was an expansive mess of tunnels, it only had the one entry and exit, meaning the enemy was trapped within it. Yao soon let John know that a host of new dropships were inbound. Most of them were heading for Jamshid, but three Spirits would reach Black Reef in just three minutes. Whitaker volunteered to hold the mine entrance with his people so the Spartans could pursue the Covenant forces that had vanished within.
The passageway traversed by Blue Team took them more than thirty meters below sea level. When a light was sighted ahead Fred asked whether they ought to activate their camo, but John opted to wait until just before a group of Sangheili, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy encircled them from multiple side tunnels. Unfortunately, the Spartans were still possible to make out, so John decided to drop the camo as they engaged the enemy. After disposing of their ambushers, he led them through one of the passages they had come from until they came into a large chamber filled with enemy forces led by a Field Marshal. A skirmish erupted but was interrupted when the insurrectionists above triggered used satchel charges and an M41 SPNKR to collapse the entrance to the mine. the resulting blast triggered a flood of water to rush into the chamber where the Spartans were fighting. When John ordered the others to sound off after escaping the flooding, it became clear that Linda had been separated from the others and was not responding to hails. John determined that their primary concern was still the completion of their mission, but that finding her would come afterward if necessary. John and the two who remained with him continued to fight until the eventually made contact with Linda again, who had ended up just on the other side of a nearby cave wall. She requested urgent backup from the others and John told her they would be there as soon as possible. He had Kelly launch her drone through a hole to the other side to determine whether or not they could simply blast through the rock. Satisfied that it would be possible, John attached an MX-8 explosive to a Type-1 plasma grenade and used them both to knock a hole in the wall. The Spartans burst through to the other side, where they found more Unggoy, Kig-Yar, and Sangheili waiting. Once all the Covenant were dead, Blue Team's could focus its attention on escaping the rapidly flooding tunnels. Fred revealed that his armor had been breached by a cut from the Field Marshal's energy sword, but since their only way out would involve going underwater, John told him to just hold his breath and assured him they would make sure he got out. John had the team wait until the chamber they were in filled up completely and then led them out of the submerged mine toward the shore, with Kelly and Linda bringing up the rear to make sure Fred was okay.
After emerging from beneath the waves, Nora made contact with the Spartans and informed them that the ground action in their immediate area was making it impossible for the Pelican Tango 807 to extract them safely. John affirmed that he and the others would clear a spot for it to land. Blue Team suddenly found themselves aided by Whitaker and a small group of other surviving rebels, with a few of them having even managed to hijack Blue Team's ground vehicle and now bring it to bear against the Covenant to aid the team. Once Tango 807 landed John confirmed with its pilot that they were on their way. The Spartans and URF allies all made their way to the craft in order to escape the doomed planet, but only John, Kelly, Linda, and Fred were permitted aboard. John angrily repudiated their pilot for leaving the insurrectionists behind, but the man stood his ground as he had only been following orders. Once they were back aboard the Persian Gate John confronted Lieutenant Commander Yao about abandoning Whitaker and the others. He was incensed that though the rebels had fought for them, they had not done the same for them. Yao told him that was enough and stormed off. Halsey reminded John that keeping his team alive was all that had mattered in the end, and also then asked him if he had been able to see what the Covenant had been looking for under Black Reef. The Persian Gate soon slipped away from Alpha Corvi II before it could be destroyed along with it.
Enemy of my enemy
- "What matters is that out soldiers were fighting alongside the insurrectionists. Why would we protect the enemy?"
- — Chyler Silva reacts to viewing leaked footage from John's helmet.
At some point during the first few months of 2526, at least John and Fred were deployed to support UNSC Marine Corps forces in a mission to capture a leader of the Insurrection. John found and secured their target, but the man warned him that someone else was coming. The mission parameters suddenly changed dramatically when the arrival of the Covenant forced John and the others to briefly ally with the rebels against their common enemy. John ordered his squad to fall back as soon as it became clear a third faction was present.
- Halima Ascot: "I need to be sure you understand the risk. We're working at the edge of your armor's capability, with more unknown variables than we can count. If something goes wrong, there won't be much chance to recover."
- John-117: "If you're saying we'd be one our own, Spartans are trained—"
- Halima Ascot: "I'm saying the Starry Night will do everything possible, but we're limited by orbital mechanics. It might be smart to wait for an opportunity that's not quite so marginal."
- John-117: "With all due respect, ma'am, I disagree. We've been here a day already, and our luck won't hold forever. Sooner or later, an enemy patrol will spot the Starry Night, or a second Covenant vessel will arrive, or the enemy commander will decide it's time to move on. I can think of a dozen things that might go wrong if we don't go now."
- — John convinces Captain Ascot to give the Spartans the green light to launch their attack.
By March 4 of 2526, John and the rest of Blue Team had been assigned to the Razor-class prowler UNSC Starry Night. They were joined by Green Team, led by Kurt and also comprised of Anton-044, Malcolm-059, and Solomon-069, and Gold Team, led by Joshua-029 and also including Naomi-010, Daisy-023, and Grace-093. The uninhabited planet of Netherop in the Ephyra system had been recently glassed but by this point the only enemy vessel remaining in orbit was a Covenant frigate. The Starry Night observed the frigate for over twenty-four hours before the twelve Spartans gathered in the prowler's drop bay by 0342 hours on March 5. The prowler's captain, Halima Ascot, was hesitant to give the teams permission to go EV to board the enemy craft given the large number of unknown variables, but John reminded her that current intelligence summaries indicated only one Covenant species didn't breathe oxygen, meaning the frigate should support human life, and moreover argued that the longer they waited, the more things there were that could go wrong. From her place on the bridge, Ascot finally did relent and signaled that she would direct the Starry Night to begin a slingshot maneuver around the planet in five minutes' time. For this mission, each Spartan's Mjolnir had been temporarily modified to test skunkworks modifications and also tinted with a refractive coating that would it was hoped would conceal them from the enemy. John was armed with an M99 Stanchion, a suppressed MA5K carbine, and an M6D magnum. At three minutes from the start of the maneuver, John ordered final checks and for his part looked over his inspection partner, Fred. He believed this boarding action should be easier than the impromptu one he ordered previously at Chi Ceti IV, but still reiterated that if anyone missed, thy should power down and wait to be rescued. Kurt questioned what had John so worried, but he denied he was and simply claimed he was confirming procedure and apologized for overbriefing, saying it was likely due to how much they still didn't know about the aliens. Encouraged by Joshua that the Covenant wouldn't know about Spartans either, John thanked him and then reminded everyone to not activate their rebreathers until they were clear of the hatch. With one minute left, each team lined up behind their leader, with each from the second row back holding on to the thruster pack of the Spartan in front of them. The Starry Night swung into the slingshot and the bay doors opened so they could leap from the craft. Their target was a group of five Type-27 Banshees returning to the frigate. The plan was to covertly match orbits and velocities with the fighters and follow them into the larger ship. By the time John had reached equilibrium so he was headed directly for the Banshees they were eighty kilometers away.
By 0402 hours, the spartans were diving at a shallow angle into the planet's gravity well at thirty-three thousands kilometers per hour relative to it. When his HUD signaled it was time, John began to decelerate and flatten his angle of descent. Over the next forty minutes, he and the other Spartans crept stealthily toward the five fighters. When only eight minutes remained until the frigate would reappear over Netherop's horizon John had the assault squad form on him and begin to overtake the Banshees even more quickly, since the larger Covenant ship's sensor umbrella could pose a risk once the planet no longer was between them. The Spartans grouped together by team but were still careful to maintain at least one hundred meters' distance between each of them. Nine mniutes later, John gave the signal to tighten the formation and arrange it so that each Banshee had at least two Spartans fifty meters below it. John and Fred climbed into an orbit directly behind the leftmost craft, stopping just two meters from it. Once they reached the mothership the Banshees bled off excess velocity and held position fifty meters beneath its belly. One by one, they rose past an energy barrier into the docking hollow beneath its tail, and the Spartans moved to follow the final one inside. John directed Fred and Kelly to deal with the pilot of the last Banshee and then used his Stanchion to begin firing on the occupants of the hangar, first taking out a Yanme'e and Unggoy in quick succession. Two further shots felled two Sangheili, and following this John could see no more living targets so elected to dispose of the rifle so it would burn up in Netherop's atmosphere. His MA5K would be more useful inside the frigate. All twelve Spartans had managed to board the ship by 0502 hours without triggering any alarms.
Once it was evident they would be able to breathe the atmosphere on the ship, John gave the okay to switch off their rebreathers. He ordered Gold Team to gather equipment to dump for collection and analysis by ONI's Beta-3 Division and led Blue and Green teams to an oversize iris hatch at the back of the hangar. The hatch leaves retracted before John could find a control pad or mechanical release, revealing two oblivious Kig-Yar which were immediately shot and killed by he and Fred. John tasked Green Team with securing all compartments and intersections as they moved forward and then advanced up a passageway which curled steeply upward along the curve of the ship's hooked tail. After fifty meters it ran through two ninety-degree twists, artificial gravity keeping them planted against the floor all the same, so that they then found themselves facing down a hall above the hangar deck. After another fifty meters iris hatches on either side gave way to tall, swinging hatches that did not automatically open when someone came near. Kelly offered to blast through them with breaching cord but seeing as they were already seventy seconds into the boarding action John denied her request and argued that they almost certainly only led to airlocks anyway. A dozen paces from another large hatch that John figured opened to the ship's main body, he had Blue Team halt and ready heavy weaponry for when Kelly breached the door. Their element of surprise was ended, however, by a sensor operator on one of the six prowlers in the area who activated SQUADCOM and gave away their presence. Kelly blasted through the hatch nonetheless and John helped the others eliminate the opposition on the other side with a M9 fragmentation grenade. John then put two rounds into the head of every alien on the other side, no matter whether they were only wounded or already dead. Sprinting up another passage toward where the bridge was suspected to reside, high in the bow, Blue Team cut down about fifty aliens who were attempting to flee or take shelter. After three hundred meters the frigate appeared deserted. Another fifty meters ahead, John signaled Kelly to blow another hatch and sent Linda and Fred to take covering positions. Kurt reported that Green Team was on the third deck and searching for the engineering deck but before John could get an update from Joshua the hatch in front of Blue Team opened and the Covenant on the other side lobbed plasma grenades at the Spartans. John launched himself forward through the opening to find himself suspended in a gravity lift slowly carrying him downward. John was hit by a number of radioactive projectiles fired from Type-51 carbines wielded by Sangheili above him but rolled onto his back as he descended and managed to break through the personal energy shielding of one to kill him. Kelly got another and then Linda and Fred followed them into the lift once the surviving Elites had traveled past the hatch, taking out another from above. The direction the lift sent things in reversed without warning, sending them all barreling upward past the hatch Blue Team had entered through. John managed to get the sit-rep from Joshua he had wanted before they were ambushed and then told him to focus on disrupting any counterattacks the remaining Covenant may try to launch. John then realized that the lift could we weaponized and shouted for everyone to grab onto something just before the polarity was reversed again, but violently. John hung on to a ladder rung but the others were yanked back to the bottom. A nearby hatch opened up and John opened fire on it with his MA5K. Kelly reported a compound rib fracture so John ordered Fred to get her out of the lift tube, also telling Linda to vacate it and to join up with Green Team. The nearby hatch led to the bridge, so John began lobbing grenades and before long it was filled with dead and dying Sangheili.
The shipmaster, hanging onto life and still seated on his throne, took fire in his left arm from John's M6D but it was not enough to keep stop him from activating a sort of dead man's switch. Hatches opened throughout the bridge and unarmed and unarmored Sangheili that remained tried to escape through them, but John casually blew holes through their chests with the magnum's .50 caliber nickel-plated rounds. Kurt reported that the Covenant, save for the Yanme'e, were abandoning ship, so John pieced together what was happening right away and called for his Spartans to escape the vessel as well. He made his way onto the bridge with the intent to stop the shipmaster from taking them all out while keeping in touch with the others, who all reported successful evacuations, save for Linda. She was being herded by Drones but was almost in the hangar, so she told John to make his move. Two Yanme'e tried to catch him by surprise but he had no trouble dealing with them. When he went for the commander in his throne, however, it spun away from him and dragged its hand off the yellow blister on an armrest John figured to be a dead man's switch. John dived for one of the open hatches and the escape pod beyond it, slapping at the controls for anything that would launch it. His armor's hydrostatic gel locked up as the ship came apart behind him while the pod sped away.
Task Force Yama
- John-117: "I look forward to serving under you, Colonel. Feel free to call on me if you have questions about Spartan capabilities or our experiences fighting the aliens."
- Marmon Crowther: "I've been fully briefed on both, Petty Officer. I'm sure you and your Spartans will prove a vital asset to the operation."
- — John concedes authority to Colonel Crowther for Operation: SILENT STORM.
All twelve Spartans made it off the Radiant Arrow safely and were ferried to Battle Group X-Ray in deep space in the Polona sector. John was summoned to the tactical planning center of the Point Blank-class stealth cruiser UNSC Vanishing Point, which he and Doctor Halsey both entered at 0558 hours on March 8. Dressed in his khaki service uniform, he was invited to take a seat at the conference table within by Vice Admiral Preston Cole. Others gathered in the TPC included Captain Ascot, who was announced as the leader of Task Force Yama, Colonel Marmon Crowther, commander of the 21st Space Assault Battalion of ODSTs, and Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson, who Cole described as a special tactics sniper with plenty of experience fighting the Covenant. Task Force Yama, Cole and Ascot explained, was to be made up of the Vanishing Point and three squadrons of prowlers, and everyone present was being attached to it for Operation: SILENT STORM, a desperate mission with the stated aim of boarding as many Covenant capital ships as possible in order to detonate small-yield tactical nuclear weapons within their hulls. John met the proposed operation with enthusiasm but Colonel Crowther was less optimistic about the idea. When Halsey spoke up to suggest John should command his ODSTs, however, John pushed back against her and said that he would defer to the colonel. Seeing as the planet Biko lay right in the path of the enemy's current invasion route, it was decided that Battle Group X-Ray would travel there to wait for the attackers, and would begin harassing them to draw attention from the task force so it could slip past their defenses. Sergeant Johnson was assigned as a training resource for the "Black Daggers", the ODSTs of the 21st, but he would work with the Spartans during the operation due to similarities in experience between he and they. Johnson indicated he was looking forward to working with John, who reciprocated the statement.
It took ten days to travel from their location in the Polona sector to the Kolaqoa system where Biko resided. For John and the other Spartans, the first three days were spent training against the Black Daggers in the Vanishing Point's mission preparation hold. The initial exercises, with both opposing forces armed with tactical lockup rounds, were simple zero-gee combat scenarios with equal numbers on both sides. As they continued, Crowther gradually made things more difficult for the Spartans. Once he filled a hold with floating obstacles and ordered four Spartans to recover a nonexistent ball while facing off against en entire platoon. He also charged all twelve of the Spartans with holding a position against an assault that only ended when nobody could maneuver in the space due to all the floating strike-locked ODSTs. He additionally devised a hostage rescue situation in which the hostage turned out to be a hostile imposter. As these exercises continued, the Black Daggers began to have more successes then when they began, and eventually Sergeant Johnson began to lead the Spartans' opposition. Under his direction, they employed tactics which turned the Spartans' strengths against them, but also required a large number of simulated casualties for the Daggers.
On March 12, the fourth morning of the journey, Crowther called all assault personnel to the cruiser's drop hangar. The colonel congratulated the 21st on what he had witnessed over the past three days and then announced that when they moved against the Covenant he meant to have a single Spartan assigned to twelve of the battalion's platoons and to have them be the ones to carry the nukes. Furthermore, he intended to begin integration exercises that day based on this division. John was angered by both the decision and that Crowther had not consulted him first, but it took Avery Johnson's prodding him about his thoughts on the matter to draw Crowther's attention. The colonel noticed the two talking during his speech, so pointedly asked John to repeat whatever question he must have meant to ask. He shared his concerns about splitting up his Spartans but was rebuffed. When Johnson joined him in questioning the strategy, he got Crowther to admit he had doubts about Spartans leading assaults due to their young ages. Daisy scoffed at this, and drew Crowther's focus. He asked how old she was and John informed him that information was classified, only to have him reveal he knew their DOBs had been falsified. On paper, they were nineteen years old, but thanks to the Paymaster General's records Crowther had figured they must have begun training as early as age eleven. John reminded him that ONI would not look kindly on him doing too much digging. The tension was only broken when Johnson suggested that he, Crowther, and John decide on strategy together after first running some exercises with teams arranged how he was asking. Colonel Crowther agreed with this and asked of John would be okay with three days like that, to which he merely said the battalion was Crowther's to do with as he saw fit. Despite the apparent concession, by the end of those three days Crowther remained convinced and still doubted the Spartans' lack of experience, leading him to move forward with his original plan.
The ODSTs and Spartans kept training daily until the Task Force Yama finally reached the Kolaqoa system and Biko's third moon, Seoba, on March 18. By 1426 hours, less than twenty minutes after exiting slipspace, John and Johnson both found themselves in the back of the drop bay of the Razor-class prowler UNSC Ghost Song behind the forty member strong First Platoon of the 21st's Alpha Company. John had been designated the platoon's fire-support soldier and was naturally carrying a lot of heavy weaponry. The Ghost Song had begun an insertion run meant to simulate a dismount-under-fire. The exercise was being referred to as Operation: ICE DANCE and also would serve to establish a presence for the task force in an abandoned ice quarry on Seoba where part of it would wait for the Covenant. Before the order to deploy could be given, however, an urgent burst from Colonel Crowther informed everyone in the drop bay that the operation was no longer a drill. The Biko Independence Army, it turned out, was attempting to stage a coup against the colonial chancellor and the quarry that was Yama's target had already been occupied by insurrectionists using it as a staging grounds for their revolution. The leader of Ghost Flight, the squadron to which Ghost Song belonged, entered the bay and further informed the platoon that Alpha Company was being tasked with preventing the rebels from transmitting from a comm center that would be hit by prowlers initially but could very well be operational again within thirty minutes. Once Lieutenant Commander Hector Nyeto was finished briefing the platoon, he signaled for John to follow him back into a passageway behind the drop bay. Nyeto explained that he wished to apologize to John, for it had been one of his people that broke comm silence and alerted the Covenant to the Spartans' presence on their ship at Netherop. John told him that as long as it didn't happen again, he didn't see a need for it to go any further. Nyeto then casually remarked that he had thought his sensor operator had gotten them all killed because he must have forgotten how good the Spartans were, thanks to being trained since the age of five. Though Nyeto was slightly off, John was still shocked at the commander's apparent insight. Nyeto let him know that an ODST buddy of his, now dead, had told him stories about training against eight-year-olds on Reach seven years ago. John accidentally confirmed his suspicions when he grew defensive and threatened to report Nyeto for breaking security protocols. The commander became apologetic soon after and swore to keep the information to himself and even shared that he sympathized with John in light of Crowther's poor strategy. Sergeant Johnson entered at this point to let them know First Platoon's lieutenant, Nelly Hamm, wanted to evacuate the bay in two minutes. As such, John and Nyeto parted amicably.
- John-117: "You played me. We were decoys."
- Nelly Hamm: "I needed to get that missile launcher looking in another direction, so Nyeto could do a prowler drop without losing another bat. In these tank suits, I figured you Spartans had a better chance of surviving than anyone else."
- John-117: "That makes sense, but you still lied to me—and that put my people at unnecessary risk."
- Nelly Hamm: "That's right, soldier. I guess that's what happens when you don't obey orders. It's one shitshine after another."
- — Lieutenant Hamm reminds John she outranks him and that insubordination won't be tolerated.
The Ghost Song's jump hatch opened at 1433 hours but when it did, the ODSTs on the other side immediately began to suffer casualties under a barrage of M41 Vulcan fire. Lieutenant Hamm called for the pilot to abort the dismount so the prowler lifted away. John moved forward to assist with pulling a wounded trooper on the threshold back inside against the prowler's thrust, and after doing so passed him off to Hamm so that he could get a good look at the situation below while she was preoccupied with caring for him. John spotted bunkers which had been dug into the icy slopes ahead of their planned landing zone and from this reasoned that the insurrectionists couldn't have been waiting for them because it would have taken longer to construct those bunkers than the length of time Yama had been in the system. Johnson, however, cautioned him to not rule out the possibility that they had been warned even before that. Hamm was upset by John's transparent action and berated him for being out of position. John apologized but then proceeded to ready an M41 SPNKR to fire upon a bunker below, even shaking Johnson off when the marine tried to stop him. At over a kilometer and a half away, the nearest one was out of the effective range at this point, so without hesitation John stepped out into open air. He used thrusters to accelerate his descent in the moon's low gravity, only firing a rocket once his target was within three-hundred and fifty meters. He decelerated and performed and evasive corkscrew as he landed, but not before firing once more before reaching the ground. John was about to launch a 40mm grenade from the M301 grenade launcher attached to his MA5B, but Kelly took care of his target before he could, the members of Blue Team having dropped right after him at Johnson's call to do so.
John commanded the rest of Blue to form up and meet him at the nearby docks. He ran and leaped in the low gravity, all the while firing his rifle and taking fire in return. John's concern was locating any hangars that might be launched from, seeing as the mission involved not allowing the rebels to get a message off Seoba. Once he reached the docks he dropped into a bay for cover and was soon after joined by not only Fred, Kelly, and Linda, but Johnson and Lieutenant Hamm as well. The lieutenant was furious at his disregard for her orders but John defended his actions as necessary. Johnson, always the diplomat, appeared to take Hamm's side but in doing so got the conversation to shift to what needed doing next. A convoy of Civets was heading up the mountain where the comm center lay, no doubt intending to repair the damage done. Three more friendlies, one of whom was the Alpha Company commander, Zelos Cuvier, were given covering fire by Blue Team so they could join them at their position. Cuvier commended Hamm for what he thought had been her decision to send in the Spartans. Hamm gave no indication that the truth had been anything different and then recommended that they make further use of the Mjolnir-clad soldiers to stop the Civets by sending them up the tube of the large mass driver which ran up the slope of the mountain with the comm center. John agreed to the plan, but given that the tube was partially filled in with ice, he requested vacuum-suitable M7057 flamethrowers and thermite paste for his team and Fred pointed out they would need lots of C-7 as well.
By 1456 hours Blue Team covered the last dozen meters that separated them from the base of the mass driver. The tube extended five kilometers up the mountain slope. John ordered Linda to watch their backs while he used a thermite carbon cord to cut through ice covering a loading breach. Fred was doubtful about the wisdom of the strategy for beating the Civets, which made John irritated, but ultimately Fred convinced him that Hamm was up to something by using them in this way. Johnson, included on their TEAMCOM, offered to talk to Ascot about having the Spartans trade places with First Platoon, but John refused to accept the offer. He further addressed Kelly's concerns about making it in time by assuring her the ice would thin as they got closer to the top. furthermore, John declared that despite the narrow space through which they had to move, they would not be crawling that distance since they were each outfitted with thruster packs. After trying out some different positions, he settled on lying on his belly with his arms stretched out in front. He instructed Linda to stay back to provide their ascent as an observer and sniper, and with Fred following him and Kelly bringing up the rear, the three began to be propelled forward with their thruster jets. The first part of the journey through the tube was relatively flat, but soon the climb up the slope started. Linda let John know that their presence within the old mass accelerator was noticeable due to ice plumes rising off its exterior as they passed by. John's first reaction upon hearing this was to order Fred and Kelly to turn back and let him go on alone, but both flatly refused. John, being in the lead, broke through three curtains of ice before telling Linda to avoid any high-risk maneuvers as she covertly advanced up the mountain out in the open. After eight minutes, John had made it about two-thirds of the way but suddenly stopped when a barrage of Vulcan fire started chewing through the tube ahead of his position. Kelly offered to make a hole and fire her SPNKR at whomever was shooting the turret, but John denied her request. He instead opted to create a distraction by using both thermite-carbon cord and their I-Jet to draw fire behind them. The resulting explosion worked as planned and the three were two hundred meters ahead of the blast when it occurred. The end of the tube was just fifteen hundred meters further and John told Linda to hold her position then due to a series of other explosions she reported on mountainside. As it turned out, a prowler drop was soon underway which stopped the Civets in their tracks. Hamm had meant Blue Team as a distraction the entire time. John, Fred, and Kelly covered the last kilometer to find the lieutenant and others from the First Platoon already planting charges in the comm center when they emerged. She congratulated the Spartans on a job well done but received nothing but ire from John for having lied to them and using them as she had. Not one to back down, Hamm defended her strategy and reminded him that she hadn't forgotten his prior disregard for her orders, stressing that this type of thing could be expected more often if he continued down that path.
The next day, John presented himself to Captain Ascot at 0816 hours during an after action debriefing held around a folding conference table within Assembly Chamber 4L430 in one of the quarry's abandoned habitats. After taking a seat at the table, John was given the opportunity to explain why he had concluded that the insurrectionists had known about their attack ahead of time. He also defended his actions in aboard the Ghost Song to both Ascot and Crowther and stated that he hadn't expected Alpha company to follow him when he jumped from the drop bay. Nyeto, ostensibly coming to John's defense, let it slip that the Spartans were young. Halsey panicked and thought John might have told him their true ages but he explained to her that Nyeto had figured it out on his own based on reports from an ODST friend. The revelation prompted both the captain and colonel to state that they refused to send the Spartans into combat henceforth. John remained silent on the matter, but by the time the conversation came back around to how the enemy had known they were coming, he was pointedly asked by Sergeant Johnson for his thoughts. He suggested that the rebels may have remained on Seoba instead of fleeing because they had been waiting for someone—and that someone must have been the Covenant. He argued that the only reason the BIA would stage a coup now was if it thought by surrendering the colony to the aliens they could save it. This could only mean that the Covenant must be inbound soon, so John suggested that they ambush the aliens with the intent of making them think the insurrectionists had set them up. Ascot agreed with John's idea with the provision that SILENT STORM still went forward. It was 0835 hours when John began to argue for his Spartans' place in the operation to Crowther but before he could get a sentence out a chorus of alarms signaled that five Covenant corvettes would reach Seoba in twenty-two minutes. As everyone rushed to load all prowlers, Crowther made sure to let John finish making his point. Despite the advantage he and the others would give, however, he was adamant about not sending teenagers into battle. To make up for this, he instead directed Blue, Gold, and Green teams to guard and load the more than three hundred prisoners captured the previous day for transport. Before parting John made one request of his own: that Crowther cease from calling him son, something he had been making a habit of doing.
Battle of Seoba
- Main article: Battle of Seoba
- Joshua-029: "What are we doing?"
- John-117: "Going after the Starry Night."
- Kurt-051: "Funny, I didn't hear Colonel Crowther authorize that."
- John-117: "He didn't need to. We're all that's left."
- — John takes initiative in order to keep sensitive data out of Covenant hands.
By 0847 hours, John and the other eleven Spartans were marching the prisoners onto a Banta-class transport named the Emmeline within the quarry's Subsurface Maintenance Grotto 6M430. John, assisted by his Mjolnir's onboard computer, was able to single out General Harper Garvin, a priority target for ONI interrogation, within the crowd. The Emmeline would be launching for Biko, but John told Garvin to step forward so that he could keep him back for ONI. Despite threatening to break bones, the others surrounded Garvin to protect him and a woman, Petora Zoyas, came forward instead. She attempted to distract him but he wasted no time telling his Spartans to stand at the ready before seizing her tunic lapels in his gauntleted fist. With only eight minutes until the Covenant was estimated to arrive, he could not afford to waste time, so he informed her she could be executed for her interference and at that, Garvin finally relented and presented himself to John. He gave the order to resume loading the rebels. Garvin questioned how John had recognized him and in response John claimed he had once seen him lecture at Luna OCS. Artillery strikes then shook the grotto, even though seven minutes still remained till the Covenant's original estimated ETA. John could hear Ascot calling for the Starry Night to launch but she was soon cut off and Nyeto broke in to inform those listening that her prowler had been hit and downed in the quarry. Urgent to concluded his business with the prisoners, John told them that anyone not aboard in one minute would be left behind to die. And since all prowlers had already launched and only the Spartans remained to secure the Starry Night, he also sent Garvin back to his people since he could no longer afford to babysit him. John led his Spartans to the grotto's airlock and told them his intentions for keeping the prowler out of Covenant hands.
They emerged into the quarry's exterior maintenance yard at 0859 hours as plasma bolts impacted all around. John led the teams thirty meters forward before stopping to request a waypoint for the crash site. Colonel Crowther broke in over the channel to ask what John was doing but agreed that the Spartans were the only option, seeing as nobody else was left groundside. John had Kurt and Joshua work with him to create a search line out of all twelve that moved forward through the sublimation fog at a trot. The waypoint which appeared on John's HUD indicated the prowler was downed somewhere between four and eight kilometers away, and at that point Covenant forces were predicted to be close enough to land troops within just two minutes. At this, John ordered his squad to advance at a full run with their eyes pointed toward the ground. Debris from the ship might be the first thing they were able to sight, after all. With one minute remaining till the Covenant was there, the estimated distance had narrowed to between five and seven kilometers. By the time that maximum distance dropped to five meters, a few more minutes had gone by. At two kilometers, John finally saw the ship. It had impacted about halfway up the quarry wall and now sat about seven hundred meters from the bottom amidst the debris from an avalanche it had created. Fred was the first to point out an inbound Type-25 Spirit which soon began spraying fire in the Spartans' direction. John then announced that their main priority had changed from rescuing the Starry Night's crew to denying any of the data it carried to the enemy. With around thirteen hundred meters between he and the prowler, John contacted Crowther again, who concurred that it could not be allowed to fall into Covenant hands. Speaking to both the colonel and Lieutenant Commander Nyeto, John only asked that they do what they could to keep alien dropships off their backs.
As soon as John finished speaking a stream of plasma bolts caught him at chest height, fired from an unseen vehicle within the fog. When he could finally see it as it swerved toward him, he fired a grenade from his MA5's underslung launcher, which detonated upon impact with the Jiralhanae pilot's head. With at least four more of the rapid attack vehicles registering on his motion tracker John signaled Gold and Green teams to deal with them while Blue went for the Starry Night. Once within forty meters of the avalanche's base John leapt ten meters up in Seoba's weak gravity to get a better look at the ship above the fog. It was being swarmed by Sangheili, Jiralhanae, and Kig-Yar, and two Spirits were in position overhead. John called out to Nyeto to ask where their air support was and was reassured it was on its way. At the bottom of the slope he ordered Blue Team to follow his lead in firing grenades beneath where the prowler rested. Before they even exploded, however, a plasma strike sent the mass of snow and ice tumbling further down. John tried in vain to get above it was was quickly buried under tons of snow and ice by 0909 hours. His HUD showed that only six of his Spartans had escaped being immobilized like he had, so he turned over command to Fred at once and told him to stick with the plan to board and blow up the Starry Night. Unable to do much else, he once again checked on the status of their air support with Crowther and Nyeto to only to be told again that it would be there soon enough. It took John over two minutes to finally dig himself out. Once he was able to reorient himself he confirmed that Fred, Linda, and Malcolm-059 had made it aboard the prowler. Linda was in the midst of arming its Fury tactical nuclear weapon. John warned Fred that four Brutes, four Jackals, and four Elites were on their way inside and when he was notified that four ODSTs and Sergeant Johnson had survived, with the Sergeant suffering a concussion, he advised that grenades be taken away from him. John additionally agreed to a thirty second timer being set for the blast to give them all time to get away. When John finally pulled himself free of the snow he set off at a run while firing his M6D at the Sangheili he judged to be in charge. Holes in its chest made the alien collapse but as he fell John grabbed him by the throat and shoved him toward the second Elite. John was just able to get inside the swing from the second's energy blade, grab his wrist, and fold him onto his own sword. He was then caught off guard as he was hit from behind by a shot which ruptured his armor. His suit began to slowly lose pressure as he somersaulted, rolled, and dug into the snow to find ay semblance of cover. John's attacker was dealt with by Anton-044 and Joshua, who offered to assist him with a patching kit. Noticing that a Covenent ship hanging low in the sky over the Starry Night looked as if it could lift the craft into itself at any moment, John yelled for the nuke to be set off as soon as possible. He, Joshua, and Anton bounded down the slope to but at least half a kilometer between themselves and the blast. Seoba's lack of atmosphere meant they didn't have to worry about a shockwave. As soon as all eight Spartans were accounted for in the wake of the explosion, which destroyed the Covenant vessel above it, John had Joshua then patch him up so he could go check on each one of them. The wreckage of the Covenant ship yielded some sort of holoprojector which the Spartans recovered for study.
At 0630 hours the next day, March 20, John and five other Spartans well enough to attend stood in their dress blues within the Vanishing Point's command hangar for a funeral service which honored the two hundred and three men and women of the UNSC who had died on Seoba in just the past couple of days. Once the company was dismissed, only the Spartans, Nyeto, Crowther, Halsey, and a handful of senior officers stayed behind. John stared down Nyeto long enough to make the man cross over to him and clap him on the arm, congratulating him for his squad's performance the day before. Now that Nyeto was in command of the task force and not Ascot, John requested that her decision to sideline the Spartans be reconsidered. Nyeto assured him they would be seeing plenty of action under his command, but at this Crowther broke in to object. He threatened the commander with a court of inquiry should he send teenagers to fight with his Black Daggers and in so doing got him to relent. Halsey took John by the arm and led he and the five other Spartans toward one of the hangar's starboard exits.
- Avery Johnson: "John? John, what the hell are you doing? Son, listen to me. Don't be a goddamn hero. Damn it, answer me, John!"
- John-117: "I'm here, Sergeant. But Sarge, with all due respect... you really need to stop treating me like a kid."
- — John asks Sergeant Johnson for a certain measure of respect right before risking his life via a HAVOK detonation.
Crowther continued to resist Nyeto's desire to see the Spartans returned to active status, which left them frustrated and angry. At 1534 hours the four members of Blue Team and four other Spartans were residing in one of the Vanishing Point's smaller maintenance hangars when the Covenant's Fleet of Inexorable Obedience emerged in force from slipspace in the Kolaqoa system. They could observe the enemy ships on a bulkhead monitor, and when many smaller crafts launched only to swirl around the larger ships in tight escort patterns, Fred noted that such a formation struck him as odd. John explained the strangeness of this away by stating that different weapons required different tactics, but Kelly also spoke up in agreement with Fred and Linda thought that perhaps the Covenant was just aiming to be unpredictable. As they continued to observe, however, Kelly concluded that the fleet must have somehow been warned about the strategy Task Force Yama sought to employ against its ships and John could not help but say that she may be right. Knowing about SILENT STORM's aims explained why the enemy appeared to be guarding against boarding actions and why it had tried to hard to capture a prowler the day before. John guessed that General Garvin had been the one to tip the aliens off, but could not explain how he had gotten the necessary intelligence first. John vowed to find out how such a breach could have occurred as fighting raged between the Covenant and the Bikon space navy. Sergeant Johnson walked up behind Blue Team soon enough, and after waving off a question from John regarding why he wasn't resting, asked the four of them if they planned to just lounge around the hangar and bellyache. He went on to rhetorically ask if there might be more they could be doing, and John perceived that the sergeant was speaking outside the chain of command. Johnson informed them that Crowther wanted the Spartans to volunteer for a special mission, albeit quietly. As it turned out, his statements at the service had been meant to provide him with cover and he actually hoped to send the Spartans to the planet Etalan, a recently-glassed human world where the enemy fleet's logistics convoy still resided. In addition, he let them know about mounting evidence which indicated Nyeto could not be trusted. John was hesitant to decisively condemn the new task force commander and had reservations about Crowther as well, but ultimately agreed they had to take the mission. The Vanishing Point and two prowlers slipped away from the rest of the task force that day.
On the way to the Igdras system, John and Avery decided that they ought to attack the Covenant convoy's munitions supply first and then its food supply. After arriving on March 22, the stealth cruiser and its escort observed the enemy for four days before beginning their assault approach on the twenty-sixth. during the days which led up to this point the Spartans spent most of their spare time in Doctor Halsey's special projects hangar learning how to operate all manner of captured Covenant equipment. Halsey had even given them a few lessons on which panels in a Type-27 Banshee's cockpit needed to be watched closely. By 0546 hours on March 26 the Spartans of Blue Team and Sergeant Johnson were all fully armored and armed with Mark 2521 Havok nuclear devices. Identifying which vessels were the Covenant's munitions carriers had so far proven difficult, but Doctor Halsey approached the five in the cruiser's aft fighter hangar to let them know she had been able to deduce which ships fit the bill almost right after they had first been observed. She told the sergeant and the Spartans that she had only neglected to share this information with them due to the prevalence of bugs on the ship placed by insurrectionist infiltrators working for Hector Nyeto. At this John expressed concern about the possibility that their MJOLNIR might have been compromised, and although she dismissed the notion at first Halsey eventually admitted a small chance remained that one of Nyeto's people had gotten to it in the maintenance module before she discovered the extent of the problem. Before Halsey finally got that point John had already ordered the rest of the team to have their onboard computers run diagnostic checks on the suit systems and then to run similar checks on the computers themselves. The plan called for the Spartans of Blue Team and Johnson to fly captured Banshees right into the hangars of the enemy ships they were targeting and then to extract immediately after by going EV for prowler pickup, leaving the nukes armed in the Banshee cockpits. Gold and Green Teams had already launched against the Covenant in four of twenty S-14 Baselard Space Strikers by the time Halsey revealed which ships they'd be going after first. The five of them were still holding back simply because they would only be authorized to attack once it was clear the other Spartans were achieving their objectives as planned. With around nine minutes estimated to go before a separate trio of remotely controlled Baselards led pursuing Covenant fighters protecting munitions carriers past the Vanishing Point's bow, Halsey let it be known that she was close to uncovering the location of the aliens' primary supply depot in that area of space. She was confident that if enough damage could be done at Etalan to force the invasion fleet to resupply, she would be able to pin that location down for good.
At 0559 hours John gave the signal to Johnson and the others to load up. He took control of the middle Banshee of the five and after confirming the readiness of his team with the remote pilot of a Baselard which they were to follow out of the hangar, piloted the craft into space after a ten second countdown. The launch was timed to immediately follow an attack with M42 Archer missiles from both the Vanishing Point and the remotely controlled space striker on a squadron of enemy Banshees drawn toward their position. John and the others then opened fire with their own on the Baselard in front of them, which allowed the Vanishing Point to remain undetected. John then led his flight to link up with the reassembling Covenant squadron, ignoring all hails in the hope that it would just be assumed they had damaged communication equipment. A trio of the crafts matched velocities with the humans and for nearly a minute one hung right alongside John at a distance of no more than twenty meters. John attempted to communicate with a standard wing waggle but only drew a similar response after dropping the fighter's tail and lifting its nose. Once the craft controlled by John's flight had fully linked up with the rest of the squadron its unit commander synced their orbits above the logistics fleet. A pear-shaped materials freighter ten kilometers ahead suddenly vanished in the wink of a nuclear detonation, which was followed by a series of others. One was close enough to the squadron to leave all the banshees dead in space due to the overwhelming of their radiation shielding with gamma rays. John made the decision at that point to go EV in order to continue the attack, asking if anyone had visuals on their targets, a trio of carriers collecting gas from Etalan's atmosphere. Johnson had managed to locate the first, which was less than fifty-two kilometers away and in an orbit around ten kilometers below theirs. John resolved to take that one out himself, ordering Kelly to take the second, Fred the third, and for Linda and Johnson to provide cover with their M99 Stanchions. After a count of three, he ejected from his Banshee along with the others and fired his thruster pack to direct him toward the first carrier. With five minutes and twenty seconds until he matched orbits and intercepted the first of the air skimmers, John declined to have Johnson cover him and instead told the sergeant to take care of either Fred or Kelly. Despite his insistence that things be done his way, however, Johnson had already committed to a vector which placed him a kilometer behind John. This division of covering fire had been Linda's idea, and when John reacted with apparent incredulity she said that he could be yell at her later. Soon after John switched to congratulating Johnson on his thinking when his HAVOK detonated behind them among the other Banshees, eliminating witnesses whom had seen them go EV. At almost three minutes until interception John's target was in an orbit five kilometers below him and was twelve kilometers behind. As soon as only two minutes and thirty-seven seconds remained he shut off his primary thruster and used maneuvering jets to swing him about so he was descending to intercept facing backward. Two seconds later he fired the thruster again to begin decelerating hard. At this point eight Banshees broke off from where they had been near the ship and moved to engage him. One veered off but as soon as the remaining seven opened fire Johnson recommended John abort his approach. With just around two minutes left John desperately tried to obscure the enemies' targeting sensors by firing his underslung grenade launcher, but this only worked briefly. He finally had to shut off his thruster pack once more and switch to using only the jets. In doing so, he put himself on a new course that would not involve syncing orbits but would lead to an impact with the ship nonetheless and which cut forty seconds off of his ETA. With only fifty seconds left until they met he entered a time delay of thirty seconds on his nuke and warned Johnson that he didn't want to be within five kilometers of the carrier in about forty seconds. The marine urged John not to be a hero but with only thirty-six seconds left, it was too late. At thirty seconds John initiated the nuke's countdown sequence and immediately let go of it. Doing so caused it to continue flying toward the ship as it had been while being held but John activated his thruster and burned hard past the ship before the detonation. When the nuke did explode, the blast caused space all around John to flash white but for that directly ahead of him and for his armor's shell temperature to climb way above the danger level.
- Marmon Crowther: "I have something for you, but first I want to make something clear. After what you did at Seoba and Etalan, you deserve these—and you deserve the full ceremony, on the bridge of the largest ship in the fleet. But... that's not what you're getting. There are going to be some very experienced Black Daggers in your group wondering why you're in command and they aren't, so we need to act now. This will remind them it's because I said so."
- John-117: "Sir... That's the rank insignia of a master chief petty officer."
- Marmon Crowther: "I'm aware of that, John. I couldn't find anything without a space assault rating, but what the heck... we're all special ops."
- John-117: "That's a four rank jump, sir."
- Marmon Crowther: "And I'm going to catch ten kinds of hell for it from FLEETCOM. Maybe even from Admiral Cole. But he's the one who told me to do whatever's needed... and this is needed."
- — Colonel Crowther presents John with the field promotion that would define his image in the years to come.[note 2]
Through observation of a Covenant relief convoy which arrived at Etalan shortly after Yama's attack, Doctor Halsey was able to use the captured starholo to identify the most likely location of the fleet's supply depot. All of Task Force Yama departed on March 31 and did not emerge from Slipspace Transit Node Bhadra in the Muruga sector, over two hundred light-years beyond the furthest point of human exploration, until April 14. The last week of that journey saw John meeting with Colonel Crowther and Avery Johnson for regular planning sessions concerning the upcoming mission. During these meetings Crowther made sure to consult John about every aspect of the planning. By 0458 hours John found himself standing in one of the Vanishing Point's hangars, ready to board the command ship for Sierra Force, the Razor-class prowler UNSC Black Widow, with only fifty meters separating him from where the traitor Hector Nyeto stood at the boarding ramp to the UNSC Ghost Song. Crowther and Johnson were offering him some last-minute guidance. Despite being fully armored, Johnson suggested smiling and waving at the commander to make it less obvious that John wanted to kill him there and then, which Crowther additionally had to caution him against. After leading the two other men up the boarding ramp into the Black Widow for further privacy, John apologized to the colonel for how he had responded to his earlier reticence to trust the Spartans. It was then that Crowther surprised him by producing a metal armor insignia displaying the rank of a master chief petty officer. John was taken aback, as he was still only a petty officer first class at the time and such a jump in rank was unheard of. Crowther insisted that although he may be reprimanded for such a meteoric field promotion, he believed it was necessary for the mission that every ODST in the two companies John was being placed in command of, including two captains and a fistful of lieutenants, knew that he had the full backing of their colonel. Even so, John couldn't help but refuse but was told he had no choice in the matter, as Crowther and Johnson had talked it over at length and the acceptance of the rank was to be considered an order.
The colonel affixed the insignia high on John's chest plate, right over his left collarbone. John finally gave in and made it clear he understood the necessity of the promotion. He promised that under his leadership, Sierra Force would get the job done, but did share his concern for the well-being of Dagger Force, which both Crowther and Johnson would be part of. John had been allowed to handpick the flight commanders for Sierra Force, which would be made up of four prowlers divided into two flights. About ninety percent of his reasoning for who he chose, Esme Guayte and Jim Linwoo, had to do with the fact that they had been raised on Earth. Dagger Force was being led by Nyeto and numbered three prowler flights. Dagger would approach the Covenant's supply world, designated "Naraka", first in an attempt to draw out its defensive flotilla stationed at Libration Point Three. Sierra Force was supposed to follow a few minutes later. Before the two took their leave, Crowther shared one final bit of wisdom with the young master chief, telling him that sometimes a good commander cannot be a hero. One trait in which he had yet to see in John was the willingness to send his people to their deaths, if that was what was necessary. John only pushed back against this charge slightly but ultimately thanked the colonel for the advice. Once only John and the sergeant were left alone, the two said goodbye to one another and John thanked him for the lessons he'd learned in their short time together. As soon as Johnson had departed as well Linda found John in the vestibule and jokingly congratulated him on his "nice bling" and suggested he shouldn't let it go to his head. She then reported she'd discovered a bug in the Widow's wardroom and that Kurt had also found one in the UNSC Quiet Man's. John chose to see the presence of the devices as a good sign that Sierra Force's flight commanders weren't working for Nyeto and when Linda reminded him they still might not trust him when things kicked off, he just assured her that was what his bling was for. The Black Widow launched from the Vanishing Point shortly afterward and John moved toward the flight deck while Linda remained amidship. Naval Lieutenant Guayte scowled at him for entering the compartment without permission but John pretended not to notice. After a short while, she seemed she was about to question his presence but suddenly noticed John's new insignia and was taken aback, pointedly asking where that had come from. John informed her Colonel Crowther had given it to him. Following Dagger Force's transition to slipspace Guayte was about to begin the countdown for following it but John stopped her and handed her a data chip Crowther had also given him, telling her it had new orders. The chip contained a recorded message from the colonel which accused Nyeto of treachery and stated he should be considered received of command. The lieutenant paused it, asking John if he'd known about this. He responded in the affirmative and let her know about the eavesdropping devices his Spartans had found aboard the force's prowlers. Continuing the message revealed that there was an alternate vector through which they should slip. Guayte sat in silence briefly but then turned to John and made it known she understood he was in charge, asking him to please not get them killed.
- Fred-104: "Wow. What are they building there?"
- John-117: "Who cares? Either way, we're going to blow it up."
- — John commits to destroying the under-construction Hammer of Faith upon first laying eyes on it.
By 1519 hours on April 15 the Black Widow and the rest of Sierra Force had begun the insertion approach toward Naraka. Dagger Force should have begun to infiltrate the planet's libration point outposts at that point and the plan of attack called for Sierra Force to insert Spartans and a platoon of Black Daggers at four different locations near an orbital support ring which encircled the entire world above its equator. Using EV tactics, those inserted would then try to board and destroy as many facilities along the ring as possible using nuclear devices and tubs of octanitrocubane. Due to his position on the Widow's flight deck, John was present when Avery Johnson's space assault distress beacon was detected transmitting in the open and some suit chatter on the First Platoon Alpha comm channel. Something had evidently gone very wrong with the planned effort to retake control of Dagger Force's prowlers from Nyeto. John was certain that the sergeant would not compromise the mission by activating an emergency beacon the enemy was sure to detect, so when ten frigate-sized vessels departed the Libration Point Three outpost he could only conclude that Johnson was intentionally luring them in his direction. As such, he told Lieutenant Guayte he believed they should stick to their plan. The alien ships were accelerating on a vector that would bring them within around one hundred kilometers of Sierra Force, and since they could feasibly plan to swing around for a tail attack, Guayte had to decide whether or not to change course and risk exposure if they were indeed still hidden. Once again, John advised sticking to their current course and suggested that the aliens could be chasing a Ghost Flight prowler, since their vector intersected Sierra's original slipspace approach. Several tau bursts eventually signified the departure of Ghost Flight's prowlers from the system. John was stunned at the realization that Nyeto had been able to crew three prowlers with traitors. Given that Sierra Force would evidently be facing a hot insertion, John told Guayte to just get them within EV range of the orbital ring. This soon proved to be undoable, however, because a fighter shell was maintaining a tight anti-infiltration web around the ring's orbital facilities. It was obvious to John that this was yet another sign that their plans had been leaked to the enemy. In response, he elected to come up with what he called "Plan D", in which they would access the ring by landing troops on Naraka's surface to attack it by means of what looked to be enormous gravity-elevators which connected the planet to the ring like spokes of a wheel. Additionally, he wanted each prowler's compliment to go for a different one. The lieutenant was unsure about splitting their forces like that but John argued it would only increase their chances that at least some would make it to the target. She reminded him that in order to being down the entire superstructure they would need to destroy at least ten facilities and made sure he understood that if the spokes weren't actually what they appeared to be, extraction from the surface would be out of the question. John knew this, and when Guayte finally gave her approval, he requested permission to retire to the ship's drop bay to prepare for the insertion. Guayte gave him leave, telling him to expect to be dirtside in just sixteen minutes. Joining the rest of Blue Team and Third Platoon Delta Company in the drop bay, John explained the new plan and began securing weapons and devices to his armor, including an MA5B with grenade launcher and an M90 shotgun. Each Spartan also took possession of two octas and a thirty-megaton HAVOK nuke. After a few minutes the Black Widow was plunging into the planet's atmosphere. John tasked Fred and Kelly with leading the dismount, followed by twelve ODSTs each and then by himself and Linda, with the remainder bringing up the rear. When only three minutes remained until touchdown John ordered final checks, running through his own systems list in kind and exchanging visual inspections with Linda. At one minute he ordered all chatter to cease and at thirty seconds signaled for weapon safeties to be taken off. When the hatch opened the Spartans and ODSTs dropped to two and a half meters to the pavement of a bustling transfer yard at the base of their designated elevator.
The first thing John noticed after landing was that the glassy pavement he was standing on was pulling he and others toward the elevator along with the haulage sleds which carried cargo to its base. Realizing that it was only emerald green bands that ferried supplies continuously in that direction, John sidestepped to cease moving forward involuntarily at around one hundred and twenty meters from the target. He asked Fred if he'd noticed any opposition left in the wake of the volley the Widow' had led with and was told some injured Jiralhanae could be taking cover behind some wrecked sleds ahead of them. John confirmed the Third Platoon had cleared the prowler with Guayte so it could take off and she in turn let him know that of the three other bats, the Quiet Death and Widow Maker had come under fire and been forced to turn back and the Quiet Man had broken up during its final drop. Green Team, as far as she could tell, was gathering survivors and continuing the attack. John allowed himself to be carried forward with others toward a skirmish line Kelly and four of the Black Daggers had set up. He then ordered she and Fred to flank the breastwork of sleds in their path while he and Linda gathered two of their own to construct a makeshift mobile barricade. John made sure to leave a slight gap in the middle between the two sleds and called for someone with an M41 SPNKR to come forward and take charge of it. Small Bear, the platoon's lieutenant, yelled for a trooper named Chavez, who didn't hesitate to put himself in the gap. They moved forward, and right as John asked Chavez if he could see anything through the surrounding smoke the marine fired both of the launcher's rockets. Before he could reach for a second set he was struck repeatedly by white-hot spikes fired from one of the Brutes' Type-25 Spikers. John got off a blind shot with his M90 in response but it was Fred and Kelly which cleaned up the Jiralhanae after that point. Once Kelly told him they were clear John yelled for a medic to help Chavez and told Kelly and Fred to rejoin them and grab as much ammunition as they could. From there the ODSTs and Spartans were carried into a sorting tunnel where the blue column of the alien elevator met its base. He asked the lieutenant if Chavez would make it but Small Bear said that the medic, Mehran, was giving him "the shot", a powerful narcotic used to relieve the pain and anxiety of a dying trooper. Removing her Fury nuke from its magmount on her person, she stated that the marine deserved a big send-off. John told her to lock in a forty minute countdown on the device and to leave it there.
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By 1718 hours John was seated in the crew lounge of the UNSC Night Watch alongside the rest of Blue Team, Green Team, and Sergeant Johnson. The sergeant offered him a Sweet William cigar but the first draw he took made him cough so hard he popped all eight butterfly bandages which had been applied to keep his neck wound closed. As they watched out the viewport, John and the seven other Spartans present cheered each time a segment of the fleet-support ring burned up in Naraka's atmosphere. As soon as the chronometer on the wall showed 1719 hours, eight final octanitrocubane detonations signaled the fruitful handiwork of Green Team and the Black Daggers. An awed silence fell over the compartment at this. Soon enough, conversation resumed and when Hector Nyeto's betrayal was brought up, John agreed that Colonel Crowther deserved to be avenged. In his opinion, though, the best way to honor him would be to continue with SILENT STORM. He did assure Daisy that they would get the traitor and kill him eventually, however, as he was certain he'd be coming after them again.
- Main article: Battle of Circinius IV
- "Stay close to me. It's your best chance of survival."
- — The Chief to cadets Orenski, Lasky, Silva, and Sullivan.
The colony world Circinius IV came under attack by the Covenant on April 26, 2526. As part of the counterattack against the Covenant, John, Kelly, and Fred were deployed to the surface to evacuate residents. John tracked a distress signal from what remained of Hastati Squad of the Corbulo Academy of Military Science and found them covering in a training room with a Sangheili zealot about to attack. John crept up behind the zealot and stabbed it in the back of its neck with a combat knife, instantly killing it. He turned to the four cadets--April Orenski, Thomas Lasky, Chyler Silva, and Michael Sullivan—and told them that they didn't have much time to get out. John radioed Kelly and informed her that he had secured four survivors and that she ought to inform command and bring her team north for Pelican extraction at Evac Alpha. As far as John was concerned, these four cadets were by then the only remaining survivors on the entire planet. He told them to armor up quickly, as they had only fifteen minutes to get to their evacuation point. Sullivan pointed out that the nearby lockers were inaccessible to them, so John simply tore the doors from their hinges. Once everyone was sufficiently armed and armored, the group proceeded cautiously down a darkened hall of the academy. John eventually signaled a stopping point, as he had heard what might be enemies ahead. He ordered the cadets to stay quiet and to remain in place while he left to deal with any nearby threats. When John did return, he asked who the best shot among them was. Silva and Orenski were both singled out, and once he confirmed Lasky could drive an M12 Warthog, each of those three was given a role. Their goal was General Daniel Black's LRV parked just outside the building. When asked who he was, he simply replied that they could call him "Master Chief".
John and the cadets exited into the black of night and it wasn't long before they came under fire. Kig-Yar with Type-51 carbines and Type-31 needle rifles were posted on the roof above them. Sullivan was hit once with a Subanese crystal but John stepped in to let his armor take the brunt of a second which would have found its mark also. John returned fire with his MA5D assault rifle and yelled for the others to get down behind cover. He then committed to intentionally drawing the enemy's fire so that they could make it to the Warthog. John's M6H magnum soon landed consecutive headshots on the Kig-Yar. With the immediate attackers dealt with for the moment, he jumped down from the higher position he had attained and ordered everyone into the hog. They took off with Lasky driving and John manning the mounted M41 Vulcan machine gun. The Warthog carried the five of them down a forest road away from Corbulo. With only a little more than four minutes until they needed to be at the Pelican, John steered Lasky to bear right for an access directly ahead and to pick up speed. A Type-1 plasma grenade was suddenly lobbed into the road in front of the vehicle. The Warthog powered through the resulting explosion but they started taking fire from Kig-Yar among the trees armed with Type-33 needlers. John opened fire with the Vulcan and advised controlled bursts on the part of Orenski and Silva while also pointing out targets for them. He contacted Kelly once again and told her to track his position to be ready for evacuation. Without warning, the Warthog slammed into one of the Kig-Yar and this, combined with the damage it had already suffered from being hit with exploding Subanese crystals, slowed it to a halt, now unable to restart. John jumped off the back and immediately went to address Sullivan's worsening wound with biofoam, telling Orenski to take over on the chaingun. The biofoam made it so Sully could walk, but it was then that Chyler revealed she had also been hit and now that the canister had been emptied, it was even more imperative that they get to the Pelican soon. John commanded the cadets to take themselves north as fast as they could until they ran into his team. He then took off and soon found himself facing down an imposing Mgalekgolo.
John was able to defeat the Hunter but when he found the cadets again, they had stopped moving because Silva had died. He offered his condolences and asked for any ammunition they could provide, as he had spent all his bringing down the Mgalekgolo gestalt. None of the cadets had any rounds remaining either, but Lasky produced an M9 fragmentation grenade and offered it to the Chief. Before long, the another Mgalekgolo, the bonded gestalt of the one which had just perished, went from hunting them to shooting its assault cannon at them. The three cadets and John tore through the forest to get away but stopped once they jumped down from a ledge and took cover behind it. Kelly was, at this point, insisting that John leave them, but he refused to do so. He implored her to give them more time and then ordered the Hastati remnant to go on without him while he dealt with their pursuer. Lasky responded by declaring that he would be a decoy so that the Chief could sweep in from behind. Before he could quash the idea, Lasky took off running. John let him distract the Mgalekgolo for a moment before making his move. When he rushed the hulking giant, however, it smacked him with its pavise shield and sent him flying backwards. The next time he made an attempt at the colony he used the shield to his advantage, climbing up it and vaulting over the mass of worms. He landed on its back and without a second's thought plunged the grenade into an exposed mass of Lekgolo. He flipped backward off of it just as the grenade detonated and blew the gestalt to pieces. John paused just long enough to gather up a piece of its armor before rejoining his evacuees. As daylight dawned, he let Kelly know they appeared to be in the clear and that she could have their pilot bring the D79-TC Pelican down in the clearing they had made it to. Everyone boarded and they were soon away. John gave the armor fragment he had gathered to Lasky, addressing the cadet as "soldier" and commending him for his performance. The Pelican escorted the Spartans and Corbulo cadets safely away from the planet's surface as. The glassing of Circinius IV had already begun that day, but fighting between the UNSC and the Covenant continued on the planet well into mid-July.
Fighting two wars
- "You 'Spartans' have put quite a dent in our efforts to liberate the frontier worlds. Station Jefferson in the Eridanus asteroid belt last year; our destroyer Origami; six months ago, our high-explosive manufacturing facility; followed by the incident in Micronesia, and our saboteur cell on Reach. I didn't believe it until I saw the video. All by the same four-man team. Some said 'Blue Team' was a myth."
- — General Howard Graves recounts the exploits of Blue Team against the URF.
During the first decade of the war, Blue Team fought on dozens of besieged worlds, buying time for orderly UNSC withdrawals and civilian evacuations and leading strikes deep into the heart of enemy forces to destroy key ships and eliminate Covenant commanders. During these first ten years a handful of victories were secured by Spartans even after orbital superiority was lost at colonies under attack. Though the colony of Green Hills was one of the first to be glassed by the Covenant soon after Harvest, like Harvest, the UNSC did not immediately abandon it. In 2527 John found himself fighting alongside ODSTs on the ruined world. At least around two years and ten months after the initial attack on Circinius IV, John returned to the planet as part of Operation: PHALANX. The operation's goals included both the evacuation of a civilian population that still remained on the surface and the observation of the enemy's invasion patterns.
In mid-2530, John and the three other members of Blue Team successfully assaulted the United Rebel Front's Station Jefferson in the Eridanus asteroid belt. They dealt another blow to the rebels at some point between then and the last few months of the year when they boarded the URF destroyer Origami and completed a mission which removed the ship from the Front's possession. This campaign against the Front then led to John, Kelly, Fred, and Linda carrying out a mission to halt the manufacturing of of highly-powerful explosives at one of its dedicated facilities in October or November of 2530. At two points between then and the advent of May in 2531, the four-Spartan team deployed against pockets of the URF that existed on two of the UEG's core worlds: Earth and Reach. On Earth, they were deployed to deal with a rebel element in Micronesia, and on Reach, they put an end to a saboteur cell.
At some point following Operation: PHALANX but preceding Operation: WARM BLANKET in 2544, John is known to have participated in operations SWITCHBACK and HORIZON. Details regarding the former are highly classified, but the latter involved the destruction of Covenant exploratory fleet elements near the colony of Cascade.
At some point during the course of the war, John, aided by Fred and the rest of Blue Team, boarded a Covenant vessel called Perpetual Devotion. Once aboard, the Spartans overloaded the ship's reactor and made it off just before it exploded. On one occasion a large city on a colony world was under attack from a CAS-class assault carrier, which had launched hordes of Type-26 Banshees and landed ground troops, both of which were killing civilians indiscriminately. John and six other Spartans jumped from two D79-TC Pelicans, using their armor's integrated thrusters to land in the city and immediately begin engaging the enemy with MA5D assault rifles. At another time, John found himself alone far outside a human city facing down a hulking Jiralhanae with a Type-2 gravity hammer. Surrounded by a crashed Pelican and the corpses of dead Sangheili, and himself having been rendered weaponless, John met the Brute head-on and kicked off its chest, sending it reeling backwards. John met the ODST and future Spartan-IV Edward Buck at some point during the war post-2528 and the two fought together. Some time prior to the Covenant's attack on Sigma Octanus IV in 2552, John was awarded the Legion of Honor medallion for saving a platoon of marines. The marines had been pinned down inside a bunker by a stationary energy weapon emplacement but John came to the rescue and took out twenty Covenant troops by himself.
- Main article: Raid on Camp New Hope
- "As you surmised, this was all for your benefit. We scraped our fissile material together and made sure it was done so sloppily that even your Office of Naval Intelligence saw it happen. We anticipated the miraculous Blue Team would be sent. I am not disappointed that your leaders' minds are still so easily read."
- — General Graves to John-117
By April of 2531, the NAVSPECWEP's Spartan-IIs, and Blue Team in particular, had but put a significant dent in the efforts of the United Rebel Front to free the Outer Colonies from UNSC control. A URF cell in the 111 Tauri system reached out to the regional UNSC Central Command and claimed to be willing to give up three stolen FENRIS nuclear warheads in exchange for medication and treatment by UNSC doctors being provided to some of their people whom had supposedly contracted Boren's syndrome. Command responded by covertly deploying Blue Team to the planet Victoria on May 1 with orders to recover the stolen warheads and target any Front leaders present. John-117, Kelly-087, Fred-104, Linda-058, and Kurt-051 infiltrated from the UNSC Bunker Hill and approached the rebel base, Camp New Hope, under the cover of darkness. Kurt's inclusion during the mission marked the first time an additional Spartan had been added to the team since Sam-034 had died, bringing the roster back up to five once more.
John led his team to the perimeter of the rebel base and in quick succession, they silently eliminated perimeter guards by approaching them stealthily. For his part, John wrenched a guard's neck upward until he heard the sound of a dislocation. Once he got confirmation from his team regarding the others, he signaled them to move forward. John, Kurt, and Kelly ran for the base's gatehouse three-hundred meters away while Linda started to pick rebels off with her sniper rifle. Kelly surprised those within by dropping flashbang grenades from a hatch in the roof right before John breached the door by tearing the door and its frame from its steel reinforcement to the wall. By the time John brought his weapon to bear on the enemies inside, Kurt had already killed three. John dispassionately executed seven remaining men struggling to orient themselves with head-shots. He delegated the task of dealing with New Hope's security system to Kurt and Kelly, who put cameras and detectors into loops so that they wouldn't be revealed further in. She stated that they would only have a fifteen minute window in which they wouldn't have to deal with drones or dogs, given the current rotation and refueling schedule. John ordered everyone to move out, even though Kurt hesitancy and doubt about their ability to not being spotted. The Spartans skirted around one warehouse, went underneath an officers' barracks, and finally arrived at a central warehouse which John was certain held what they were seeking, thanks to a radiation counter he had been outfitted with for this operation. He had Kurt go secure a modified Warthog that was parked nearby so that they would be ready for a quick exit while the rest of the team spread out around the building. He authorized Linda to begin sniping rebels in her sight and then charged inside, followed shortly thereafter by everyone else but Kurt. Three FENRIS warheads were prominently displayed on steel racks but before John could do anything about it, he and the others were caught off guard by the sudden effects of an old antigravity plate pointed at their position. The URF commandos who had sprung this trap intended to trick the Spartans' Mjolnir into thinking it was under ten times the force of Earth's gravity. In response, the armor automatically increased its internal pressure and momentarily rendered its wearers unconscious.
John awoke to find himself propped against a wall, still fully armored but now fitted with a neural-inhibitor collar and still suffering somewhat from the effects of rapid decompression. Rendered unable to move, he was approached by the URF's own General Howard Graves, who proceeded to gloat about how easily the UNSC had taken their bait. Before anything else could happen, however, an Asteroidea anti-personnel mine came flying through the doorway, triggered and thrown by Kurt. The deadly explosion that followed was joined by three others after Kurt drove the warthog into the warehouse and tossed three more mines at Blue Team's captors. He freed his teammates, and at John's command, hopped back behind the wheel of the warthog once more and drove them out, now with the warheads. URF hostiles in the surrounding area realized what was happening and before long, the hog was taking fire from armor-piercing rounds and being pursued by three MAKO-class attack drones. To avoid being hit with a drone-fired missile, John ordered the modified vehicle's back hatch opened so he and Linda could snipe their flying pursuers out of the sky. The D77-TC Pelican that had brought them down to Victoria saved the team from the one missile that had been managed to be fired. With no time to spare, the pilot had the bird latch onto their vehicle and lift it skyward, carrying them like that all the way into orbit where the Bunker Hill was waiting to slip out of the system as soon as they were aboard. Kurt revealed it had been the large amounts of AP rounds the rebels had which had made him uneasy while in the guard tower. John told him that from there on out if anything else ever gave him pause during an op, he should make sure to report it right away.
- Main article: Battle of Jericho VII
- Kelly-087: "It’s a shame to leave this place. There are so few left."
- John-117: "There will be other places to fight for."
- Kelly-087: "Will there?"
- — Kelly and John comment on the abandonment of Jericho VII.
By 2535, John had been attached to the destroyer UNSC Resolute, commanded by Captain de Blanc. He had already witnessed the glassing of a least one world while working with de Blanc when the ship was deployed to Jericho VII in the Lambda Serpentis system for Operation: FALLEN WALLS. Covenant forces began a ground invasion of the planet on February 9, 2535, and for three days the Spartan-IIs of Blue, Red, and Green teams battled against them. During the fighting, John-117 commanded Blue Team, outfitted with its own D77-TC Pelican and comprised of himself, Kelly-087, Fred-104, Linda-058, and James-005. In order to stop the ground advance, Blue Team was tasked on February 12 with drawing out the Covenant's rear guard so that Red Team could slip through its lines amidst the confusion and planet a HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon at the aliens' staging area so that when the next ship landed to unload more troops, it would trigger the bomb's detonation. In the morning, Blue Team buried a spiderweb pattern of Lotus anti-tank mines along a hill near a beach, where John and the others planned to lure Covenant troops.
At 0500 hours, John's motion sensors alerted him to the presence of more than one hundred enemies near the position where the mines had been buried. He immediately signaled all teams to halt their progression and assessed the threat by way of a HUD-linked fiber optic probe which he snaked up and over a three meter ridge of rock. The visual showed a valley absoutely overrun with Unggoy—easily a thousand of them. This same group had been responsible very recently for the massacre of the 105th Drop Jet Platoon. He passed along what he was seeing to the rest of Blue Team and instructed Kelly to use a pair of M41 SPNKRs to eliminate four stationary plasma cannons before unloading into the rest of them. Fred-104 and James-005 were told to help him with "crowd control" and Linda was given the job of setting off the mines at the opportune time. As soon as Kelly leapt into action, John, Fred, and James opened fire with MA5B assault rifles, shooting armor-piercing rounds at first and then shredder rounds subsequently. John took a barrage fire from a Type-33 needler, but the Subanese crystal projectiles only bounced off his armor before detonating. The Chief gave the command to fall back in five seconds once Linda informed him the Covenant would have air support in the area in just two minutes. The closest Unggoy of the charging crowd was only three meters from their position along the ridge when John tossed two fragmentation grenades and turned to run. It took he, Fred, and James thirty-two seconds to sprint half a kilometer up a sandstop slope, beneath which lay the buried mines and that ended at a cliff overlooking an ocean beach. Once they were a safe distance from the planned explosions, John gave Linda permission to detonate the Lotus mines. He, Fred, and James picked off those that still remained after the devastating blasts.
Suddenly, five Type-26 Banshees appeared over a ridge and raced toward their position at over one-hundred kilometers per hour. After giving all teams under his command permission to fire and surviving the first pass the craft made at them, John ordered Fred and James to perform a Theta maneuver. The three Spartans regrouped afterwards at the cliff edge and rappelled down steel cables already waiting for them. Fred was told by John to cover him while he prepared to detonate another trap: ten hidden fougasses packed with napalm and ammunition casings that would serve as shrapnel. When the five Banshees were just fifty meters away, John jumped from the cliff face and pressed the button sent them crashing into the sea. All five Spartans rendezvoused on the beach and John learned from Red Team that their part of the operation had been successful. He had Kelly patch him into SATCOM so he could report the victory to Captain de Blanc, but the captain informed him that things were going poorly in orbit and that the Spartans were being pulled out. In fifteen minutes' time, Blue Team had made its way ten kilometers down the beach and dusted off in its waiting Pelican. After docking in the Resolute's port bay, John took an elevator to the bridge, using the time it took to get there to review Red Team's after-action report. Though they had stopped the Covenant on the ground, it made little difference to the planet's ultimate fate. With the battle orbit lost, nothing else could be done. At thirty-million kilometers out from Jericho VII, John requested permission to stay on the bridge so he could observe its final glassing. Captain de Blanc granted him his wish, and for the next hour he stood completely still as he stared at the view screens. The captain then gave the order to leave the system.
- Main article: Operation: WARM BLANKET
- John-117: "What happens if we run out of time?"
- Lucius Jiron: "Then our only choice will be to annihilate the Covenant fleet, the package and your entire team. Is that clear enough?"
- John-117: "I understand."
- — John confirms the gravity of the mission.
In 2544, the Inner Colony, Miridem, came under assault by the Covenant. The colony was declared lost after over two weeks of fighting. During civilian egress, an evacuation craft carrying Dr. Catherine Halsey was intercepted at the edge of the planetary system and disabled before it could slip away. The Covenant evidently realized the value of Halsey as a prisoner, for only she was spared and taken prisoner aboard the Third Fleet of Glorious Consequence's flagship, Resplendent Fervor. The day after losing Miridem, Vice Admiral Berlin M. Tursk sent a message from the UNSC Swiftsure to Lucius Jiron, captain of the prowler PRO-49776, in which he told the captain he would be receiving Spartans shortly and that he ought to prep his OF92 booster frames for a quick and dirty extraction of the doctor.
By the time Blue Team was aboard the prowler, now composed of John-117, Kelly-087, Fred-104, Arthur-079, and Solomon-069, the Third Fleet of Glorious Consequence was being prevented from initiating slipspace jumps by the powerful magnetic field of the star, Ascon. Captain Jiron briefed the team before their departure and let them know they would only have a ten minute window to locate the package and return it to the UNSC. The Spartans saluted when he was finished and proceeded to their booster frames. John stayed behind briefly to ask what would happen if they ran out of time, to which Jiron said they would have no choice but to do whatever they had to in order to annihilate the fleet before it got away with its valuable asset.
The five EVA frames came under fire from pulse laser turrets and plasma torpedos almost immediately after the fleet noticed them. John gave advance warning of the incoming projectiles and lasers and had his Spartans optimize their frames for mobility. They all managed to evade the initial salvoes and even use their MITV pods to do some damage to the hull weaponry of the CCS-class battlecruisers shooting at them. Solomon and Kelly broke off to investigate a seemingly positive reading Solomon was receiving from the first battlecruiser he landed a scanning device on. John was skeptical of their prospects of locating their target so easily, so he flew his OF92 into the cruiser's hangar just in time to warn Kelly he suspected it was a trap. The two of them made it out just as an antimatter charge was detonated, destroying the ship and killing Solomon as well. At this point, multiple similar readings were being recognized across many ships in the fleet. John concluded they were all decoys like the last and that their best bet would be to aim for the flagship. When a formation of Type-31 Seraphs bore down on the four remaining Spartan-IIs, he said to ignore them and to stay on target toward the CAS-class assault carrier Resplendent Fervor.John commanded they stick to a tight formation and begin charge their M92 gauss cannons to fire at a single point in the carrier's aft hangar bay. Unfortunately, Arthur was killed while trying to defend the others from the Seraphs and Kelly had to abandon her frame to join Fred on his. With only two left, John had them fire everything they had, both gauss cannons and MITV missiles, at the Fervor's aft hangar bay. The Spartans even ejected from their booster frames so they could be sent slamming into the bay doors as heavy projectiles. John and the others survived the resulting explosions and entered the hangar encased inside a Z-4190 bubble shield. With only three minutes left to complete Operation: WARM BLANKET, John ordered a full sprint into the ship's interior. Armed with an MA5C assault rifle and dual M7 SMGs, John took down Jiralhanae, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy as they raced down corridors in search of their target. M6 Spartan Laser to create openings in the ship's bulkheads twice for them to pass through. Suddenly, the Sangheili Major, Thel 'Lodamee, and two minors ambushed John and the others. Fred leapt in to assist John, killing one of the minors, and elected to stay behind to face down the other two so John and Kelly could keep running ahead. At this point, the fleet's Supreme Commander, Luro 'Taralumee, initiated the splitting of the ship into detached sections in an effort to halt their advance. John and Kelly, in vacuum between the dispersed portions of the carrier, locked hands and she swung him toward the foremost section. He only hesitated briefly upon landing, regretting leaving his closest companion behind.
John chanced upon the doctor soon after he made his way forward. She was still in cryostasis within a cryotube taken from the evac craft she'd been kidnapped from. John initiated a quick thaw and woke her, jokingly asking if she slept well. Halsey thanked John, relieved to see him. The two made their way for utility shuttles they could use to escape but were met by Thel 'Lodamee, whom had evidently gotten away from Fred. John opened fire with his MA5, but the Elite's Type-1 energy sword was able to block the bullets. Surprisingly, Thel tossed John a second sword. Realizing he was being challenged to a duel, the Chief activated it and before long the two were clashing blades as Halsey looked on. At that moment the fleet became clear of Ascon's magnetic interference, however, and 'Tarulamee decided to once again break off the portion of the ship John, Halsey, and Thel were in before jumping to slipspace. Rather than leave the major behind, though, he was caught up in a gravity field and pulled back to the foremost section. Now free to leave, John and Halsey boarded a Ren and blasted away from the remainder of the ship before it was scuttled. They were accosted by a group of Seraphs left behind by the fleet, but were saved thanks to the combined efforts of PRO-49776 and another Seraph that had been commandeered by both Kelly and Fred.
Once safely back aboard the prowler, John mourned the losses of Arthur and Solomon and considered whether he could have beaten the major had their duel continued, as he had been exceptionally strong. John resolved to be stronger in the future, which Halsey agreed they would all need to be. Soon after the successful rescue of Doctor Halsey, John was ordered to redeploy to Miridem as part of Operation: IRON FIST, with the dual goals of denying the Covenant access to valuable assets on the planet and the partial recovery of critical cyberinfrastructure assets alike.
- "Everyone else might have cheered at the images of humanity's superheroes diving in and kicking some Covenant ass, but all I could think about was how useless it was to pin our hopes on a few handfuls of super-soldiers who couldn't possibly be everywhere we needed them to be."
- — Edward Buck recalls his reaction to watching footage of the Spartans taking back Draco III.
On January 10, 2545, the Covenant began a brutal assault on the colony world of Draco III. Its defenses were overwhelmed in a short amount of time and the Covenant began to land forces on the surface. The majority of the Spartan-IIs, including John and Linda-058, were directed to reinforce the colonists. Before arriving, the Spartans were shown footage of a massacre on the surface which had been relayed to them via satellite linkup. John and the others could only watch as humans were herded together and then torn apart by ravenous Unggoy and Kig-Yar. By the time the Spartans finally made it to Draco III, there was nobody left to rescue. Despite being too late to save the victims, John and the others made sure that they were avenged. Their retaliation resulted in the deaths of every Covenant soldier on the planet and footage of it was broadcast to the public in order to boost morale.
At one point during the fighting on another human colony, he arrived too late to the scene of a battle and found fellow Spartan-II Daisy-023 had been killed.[note 3] Her corpse was without a helmet, so John kneeled to close his fallen sister's eyes and clasp her hands over her chest. He also took note of a loop with a tiny teddy bear on it that she had dropped, which he reverently placed between her fingers.
- Main article: Operation: OCEAN BREAKER
- "We've come to take Sigma Octanus IV back from the Covenant, Corporal. To do that, we're going to kill every last one of them."
- — John-117 plainly tells Corporal Harland what his Spartans were there to do.
Covenant ships arrived at Sigma Octanus IV on July 17, 2552 and begin landing ground forces straightaway. Vice Admiral Michael Stanforth's Battle Group Leviathan redirected to defend the planet by the next day, among which were John and eleven other Spartan-IIs. At just under 1800 hours, the dozen Spartans were flown to Alpha Headquarters by Pelican in response to a call for help from Corporal Harland, who had assumed command after the near-destruction of the base and the deaths of all but ten marines stationed there. Upon exciting the craft, John met Harland and let him know that they were there to take Sigma Octanus IV back and to kill every last one of the Covenant there.
The Master Chief's first order of business, after surveying what remained of the headquarters, was to lock down the area. He directed Kelly to post a guard on the dropship, to put three others on patrol, and to have the rest of the Spartans secure the landing zone. Turning back to Corporal Harland, he informed him that as of 0900 hours, Naval Special Weapons had assumed control of the ground operation, meaning that the marines now reported to him. Harland proceeded to brief John on what had transpired so far. Once he had concluded, John told him to put his wounded in the Pelican and to have the rest split into three groups that could rotate standing guard and sleeping. He had the leaders of Red Team and Green Team, Joshua-029 and Linda-058, respectively, meet him at the LZ, where they went over the goals of Operation: OCEAN BREAKER. Their objectives were to both gather intelligence on enemy troop disposition and defenses at Côte d'Azur, the planet's largest population center, and as long as no civilians remained, they were to detonate a HAVOK tactical nuclear mine within the city, which would destroy the Covenant's landing zone and kill thousands of its fighters. A secondary goal during the mission would be to minimize contact with Covenant forces as much as possible. Blue, Red, and Green teams each planned to split up and reconnoiter a different portion of the city. As Côte d'Azur was thirteen kilometers away and it was just after 1830 hours then, John estimated they should all be in place by 1930 hours at the latest. Each team would enter the city via its sewers, with downtown being Blue Team's goal. The various teams could keep in contact with one another by using the steel pipes in the sewers and ground-return transceivers. John let Joshua and Linda know that as soon as they left, the Pelican would take the marines south of their current position. Once the mission was concluded they would meet there. Should it be destroyed, an emergency SATCOM link and survival gear was stashed at an alternative location. Assured each leader understood their roles, John called Blue Team together and went over their part of the mission. Kelly was put in charge of the nuke and their medical gear, Fred took the explosives, and James took their extra COM equipment. Armed with silenced MA5Bs, M6Ds, fragmentation grenades, and combat knives, Blue Team took off through a swath of dense jungle.
They made their way carefully, stopping every hundred yards to survey the area for targets. When they did come upon Covenant soldiers, they were two single-file lines of Unggoy minors moving toward Alpha Headquarters at just one-hundred meters from the Spartans' position. John had his team spread out on a hill opposite another one that the Unggoy were approaching, save for James, who remained hidden below to take out the rear guard as soon as it passed him by. When James signaled that the moment was right, John ordered everyone to take the Grunts out silently. Armor-piercing rounds made short work of the stocky aliens and Kelly was soon policing and passing out Type-25 plasma pistols. The only other potential opposition Blue Team encountered on their way to the city came in the form of Type-26 Banshees overhead, which the Spartans hunkered down in the mud to avoid being spotted by. Once they emerged from the jungle and into open fields and rice paddies they each donned camouflage cloaks to mask their thermal signatures. Near the beach at the edge of the city, John and Fred bent aside bars to allow them access to the sewage outlet they had been aiming for. Blue Team sloshed through hip-deep muck in the cramped pipes until it reached its destination and John snaked a fiber optic probe through a drainage grate in order to get a clear view of the street above them. The same process was repeated under the next block and this time John spotted and filmed the activity of a Huragok, a species which he at that point had no knowledge of. Further south, John and the others found themselves near the city's museum of natural history, which was surrounded by more than fifty Kig-Yar and hosting a pair of stationary guns atop its steps. Curious, he sent Kelly to scout ahead down a passage that led underneath the museum and had James us the ground-return transceivers to contact the other teams. Linda reported no survivors in the residential section explored by Green Team but Joshua let him know that Red Team had found twenty civilians hiding in a cargo ship docked at the city's wharf. Speaking to all teams, John ordered Green Team to meet up with Red Team and assist its efforts to evacuate the civilians back to the Pelican immediately. Kelly returned at that moment and shared that she had found that the only thing keeping them from the museum was a steel plate they could burn through. Assuming that the other teams would take care of getting the civilians out, John told her to arm the nuke.It was around 2010 hours when John attached the device to the wall of the sewer. The mission's parameters could have allowed him to have them fall back to the Pelican then, but he was overly suspicious about what would interest the Covenant within the museum. John had Fred use thermite paste on the plate Kelly had mentioned and after making sure the coast was cleat with a fiber optic probe, John pulled himself up into a room dedicated to maintenance and storage. He ordered Kelly to jam motion sensor signals as soon as they picked them up, but it was too late. The Spartans could only hurriedly hide before four Kig-Yar came to investigate. John got the drop on one, impaling the base of its head with his combat knife, and crushed the skull of another with his right foot. The other two were quietly dispatched by Blue Team's silenced MA5Bs. Each Spartan took one of the aliens' point defense gauntlets and crept single file up a circular staircase to the museum's main foyer. It was empty but for the flattened corpse of a Kig-Yar crushed underfoot by a Mgalekgolo gestalt. The first blast from one of the gestalt's assault cannons burned away James' left arm from the elbow down. John managed to activate his point defense gauntlet in time to get it in front of him before he was similarly hit, but the incendiary gel burned melted the gauntlet an sent him flying through the wall into the adjacent room. Realizing they were outmatched, he called for his Spartans to switch to shredder rounds and fire a ring around the Lekgolo, causing them to fall through the floor into the basement. Before they could recover, he had everyone assist him in tipping over a large quartz monolith onto the creatures, pinning them both down below. John noticed that a case the Mgalekgolo had placed a certain piece of granite within was teetering over the edge of the new pit and yelled for Kelly to grab it as it fell, which she did. John didn't know what their interest had been in the rock, so he stowed it to deliver it to others to puzzle over. after kicking over the beacon transmitting the laser, he helped James back through the halls, retracing their steps all the way to the sewer and eventually the rice paddies at the city's edge. Fred rigged a ground-return relay with a crude antenna to the external surface of the pipe.
John led his team south along the coastline. Once James finally slipped into unconsciousness, he slung him over his shoulder. A patrol of twelve Unggoy made John signal his team to hide momentarily as they ran past. At just a kilometer from the rendezvous point, John let Linda know they were coming and triggered a smoke grenade to emit blue smoke to mark their approach. Green Team took James aboard the Pelican after Blue Team reached the clearing. John had Linda give the perimeter one last check. Corporal Harland was in awe at what the Spartans had accomplished but John simply shrugged his astonishment off, saying that it had been their mission. Once Linda announced they were clear, John piled into the bird with everyone else. As the dropship arced away from the surface, its pilot warned that about two-hundred Banshees were inbound toward them but John calmly stated that they would take care of it. With the activation of his remote radio transceiver and the keying in of a final fail-safe code, the light from the system's two suns was swallowed up in an apocalyptic nuclear blast behind them. The dropship docked with the Marathon-class heavy cruiser UNSC Leviathan, which was soon on its way back to Reach for repairs.
- John-117: "Doctor Halsey, you did say ‘capture’ the Covenant leaders—not eliminate them?"
- Catherine Halsey: "Correct. Our profile of Covenant society indicates that if you were to kill one of their leader caste, this war could actually escalate. Your orders are to preserve any captured Covenant leaders at all costs. You will bring them back to UNSC headquarters, where we will then use them to broker a truce, possibly even negotiate a peace treaty with the Covenant."
- — John questions the wisdom of RED FLAG but is given a satisfactory explanation.
The Leviathan arrived in the Epsilon Eridani system on August 1, 2552. By this date, Reach had already come under attack by the Covenant. When they reached the planet, all knowledge of the fighting was purposefully kept from John and the other Spartans in the hope that what ONI called Operation: RED FLAG might not be compromised. The Leviathan was back at Reach by August 12. At 1100 hours that day, while fighting raged across the southern Viery Territory, John, none the wiser, reported to Camp Hathcock in the Highland Mountains. Alone, he took a Warthog and passed through two gates before parking and entering the UNSC military complex he had been summoned to. An elevator took him to to the third subbasement of the building, where a military police attendant told him to wait in a debriefing lounge for the committee to call for him. Corporal Harland was already there, evidently having been called to report on the battle for Sigma Octanus IV just as John had. The corporal stood and saluted as soon as he saw the Chief, but John told him to be at ease. Harland, still overly impressed by the Spartans' performance, chanced at asking how one went about joining such an outfit, to which John cooly replied that you don't. When the doors at the far wall opened, Jacob Keyes walked out. John only recognized him as an officer and so customarily saluted but Keyes stopped, realizing who the Chief was, and said that it was good to see him again. He reminded him that they had met long ago and before taking his leave warned John that the committee within, and the ONI brass in particular, was rather irritated about some of the ways things had played out on Sigma Octanus IV. He had ten minutes to consider what Keyes could have meant by that before they finished with Harland and it was John's turn. Twelve naval officers, ONI and otherwise, were waiting for him. A woman among them began by congratulating the Chief on the victory and then went on to say they simply wished to review some of the intelligence he had collected during the mission. John answered questions about the Huragok, how the Mgalekgolo apparently treated the Kig-Yar they deployed with, and the rock he had collected to the best of his ability. It was eventually made clear that those present in the room were frustrated by the obliteration of Côte d'Azur and the loss of of evidence regarding Covenant activity in the city. John defended his actions, as he had been following orders from Naval Special Weapons and Section III of ONI. John endured slight disrespect from the committee's members for a brief moment longer before he was finally dismissed. Back in the lounge, he found Doctor Halsey waiting to speak to the men and women inside next. She asked how he was and he said he was glad to have won at Sigma Octanus. John asked her how Chief Mendez was doing and she shared what little she knew. Before disappearing behind the doors to the committee, she asked if he would like to score what could be the biggest victory they'd have and said she'd be speaking with he and the other Spartans soon.
It was not until August 27 that John and twenty-four other Spartans were gathered together at 0800 hours underneath the Highland Mountains FLEETCOM complex to be briefed on Operation: RED FLAG. There, in the same amphitheater in which they had been brought as children thirty-five years prior, Doctor Halsey explained to them the plan. The mission's goal would be to capture of one of the Covenant's hierarchs so that a ceasefire might be brokered with those that remained in power. Intelligence indicated that the three hierarchs spent their time either at the hegemony's mobile capital city High Charity or aboard either CSO-class supercarriers or CAS-class assault carriers. The capture of a hierarch would require taking control of a Covenant ship and piloting it, unsuspected, back to High Charity. Capturing an assault carrier or supercarrier would be preferable because with luck one of the San'Shyuum High Prophets would be aboard and a trip to High Charity would be unnecessary. In order to pull RED FLAG off, it had been determined that a colony of significant value to the Covenant and boasting many ancient alien artifacts, would in all likelihood need to be sacrificed in order to draw these Class-Five assets, possibly with hierarchs, in so that Spartans could infiltrate them. The best shot at taking over a large ship would come after a fleet believed it had secured a major victory. Given the current situation on Reach, ONI had decided to make the most of a losing fight and enact RED FLAG there. It was for this reason that the truth of the invasion had been kept from the Spartan-IIs while final preparations were made. Even as Halsey explained what they were being asked to do then, she did not tell them the Covenant was already there or that RED FLAG was always meant to involve purposefully letting their guard down. John asked for clarification at two points during her explaination He wondered what kind of specialist personnel they would be responsible for whom could access the Covenant ship's computer systems and also questioned the decision to kidnap a hierarch as opposed to killing one. The latter inquiry was answered with the intel suggesting the Covenant would be open to a truce if it could be blackmailed into one, but Halsey held back on sufficiently sharing too much about what kind of help the Spartans would have, as she said she'd be going over further details with each Spartan in person over the next few days. Halsey finished by telling her Spartans that she had convinced FLEETCOM not to order them on this op. Should they choose to embark on this mission, they would be volunteering to do so. John rose to his feet, accepting the challenge without hesitation, and was thereafter followed by each of the others.
- "This is the real Mjolnir. What you have been using was only a fraction of what the armor should be. This is everything I had always dreamed it could be."
- — Dr. Halsey reveals Mark V Mjolnir to the Master Chief.
Two days later at 0600 hours on August 29, John presented to Military Reservation 01478-B. A series of MPs verified his identification before leading him to the prep and recovery area where he was told Halsey and others were waiting for him. He was met within the medical bay of the prefab structure by a Navy captain in the garb of a ship's doctor and instructed to undress, which John did so. His neck was soon being swabbed with antiseptic and he was told to lie down by Doctor Halsey as she entered the room. He was there to have a few components of his neural interface upgraded. The surgical procedure was completed very quickly and John was thereafter handed a paper gown and told to follow Halsey outside to a field command dome with fabric walls. Inside stood a brand-new suit of the newest generation of Mjolnir. John, assisted by a pair of technicians, complied in trying it on. According to Halsey, this represented what MJOLNIR had always been meant to be. Hundreds of minor technical improvements had been made over the armor customary to the previous generation, but the most notable additions was a reliable energy shield, based on the Covenant's use of such, and a weave of memory-processor super-conductor sandwiched between its reactive circuits and the inner biolayers. The latter would allow the wearer to carry and artificial intelligence that could interface between they and the suit. After acclimating somewhat to using and adjusting the shielding, Halsey informed him that several challenges were ready for him in order to test the suit's capabilities and also introduced him to Cortana, the A.I. chosen to serve as the infiltration specialist for RED FLAG. Halsey produced Cortana's memory-processor core, explaining that not only would she allow the Spartans to take over a Covenant ship, but she would also allow John to personally use his armor more efficiently by way of improved reaction times. At Halsey's insistence, he kneeled down so that she could slot Cortana into the socket at the base of his helmet. Her smooth, female voice was soon speaking through his helmet speakers. After the two had greeted one another Halsey suggested that the best way to get acquainted would be through simulated combat, referring again to the challenges that had been set up nearby. Halsey warned him that some in ONI still doubted the Spartans' capability to execute RED FLAG and might even prefer to see him fail the tests, if not ensure that he did. Halsey shared in his confidence. She told him that after she left the dome, he would need to count to ten and then make his way to the reservation's obstacle course. At the far end was a bell for him to ring and in order to reach it he was authorized to neutralize any threats that got in his way. She and the technicians took their leave and less than ten seconds later John heard the telltale sound of MA5B assault rifles bolts being chambered.
With only one second left in his countdown, three armored ODSTs entered the tent with rifles leveled. John leapt into action, grabbing the weapon from the first to fire at him and dislocating the man's shoulder in the process. John spun the weapon and cracked the soldier's ribs with its butt before lashing out likewise at one of the others. The second ODST's head snapped back, signaling to John that he had fractured his vertebrae and certainly given him a concussion at the very least. The last ODST managed to get some shots off, but they only ricocheted off the Chief's energy shield. A moment later John slammed the man's own rifle down into his leg, causing a jagged spike of bone to burst through his fatigues, and finished him off with a blow to the head. He moved to collect their ammunition and a combat knife while Cortana informed him of seven more outside, as indicated by his motion tracker. She openly wondered why he had taken care not to kill the three men, which he defended by stating that the threats had been neutralized regardless. In order to catch the seven outside by surprise, he pulled down the pole in the center of the tent holding it up. As it collapsed around him, he slashed a hole through the fabric and rushed out, wielding the pole as a weapon. Three men went down from a single swipe at their legs and another crumpled when John hurled it at his chest like a javelin. Before the man was hit, however, he had primed a grenade. Not willing to let the soldier die, John rushed to kick it away. The remaining marines started landing shots that drained his shield. He dealt with one by strike at his sternum with an open palm, fired rounds from the MA5B into another's knees, and concluded by simply punching the last man's helmet. Cortana let John know that he had finished off the ten adversaries in just twenty-two seconds, though he had technically began forty milliseconds earlier than he'd been permitted to. John scooped up a bandolier of grenades and ran toward the nearby barracks in order to slip under the buildings and crawl to where the obstacle course began. Right before he was about to run across the ten acres of jagged gravel that it started with, Cortana alerted him to an infrared signal she decoded and realized was an activation signal for a Lotus mine. She suggested that if he could pinpoint just one that she may be able to estimate the locations of others based on the standard randomization procedure used by UNSC engineers. It only took the toss of one grenade to reveal where two mines had been, and from that Cortana devised a constructed a minefield in John's HUD that she was was confident was at least 93% accurate. Thanking her for saving his life, he began to carefully pick his way around where the mines were predicted to be. Once he had made it to the other side of the gravel field safely, Cortana discovered something else: scrambled radio frequencies on the D band that indicated encrypted orders from the reservation to Fairchild Airfield. While she investigated further, the Chief came to what was known as the razor field and found himself the target of emplaced 30mm chainguns. He fired at the lines powering the servos for one of the guns and used it to disable those adjacent to it. Others fell prey to his grenades. John had raced right through the last bit of steel wire that gave the razor field its name when Cortana's voice returned to let him know she had accessed a satellite through SATCOM and that he had an AV-19 SkyHawk bearing down on him. Not wasting any time, he sprinted to the Pillars of Loki and began leaping across them.
When the SkyHawk did appear, it unloaded with 50mm cannons and just a few glancing shots took his shield down halfway. Cortana calculated that they had just eleven seconds before the pilot could make another pass so John forewent the pillars and instead sprinted through napalm and sonic grenades. Cortana advised abandoning the course and running for cover, but John was determined to keep to the parameters that had been given to him. All that remained was an open field between they and the bell, but both knew John wouldn't be able to dodge a Scorpion missile were one to be fired on the next pass. with no other option, John told Cortana to calculate the inbound velocity of the missile when it came and based on his reaction time, to tell him exactly when he would need to sidestep and deflect it. Amazingly, the plan worked and John managed to knock it away so that instead of being torn apart by the explosion, it only sent him flying six meters. Now bleeding inside his helmet, he covered the last half-kilometer in seventeen seconds and tore his Achilles tendon in the process. He rang the bell three times and suddenly heard Halsey's voice shouting over a COM channel for Colonel James Ackerson to call off his men. Speaking to John, she said to stay where he was and that a recovery team would be sent to collect him. John knelt as blood dripped from his nose and mouth and thanked Cortana for her help, still oblivious to the fact that the planet was burning around them.
The Fall of Reach
- Main article: Fall of Reach
- Kelly-087: "Sir? I know this mission will be tough, but... do you ever get the feeling that this is like one of Chief Mendez’s missions? Like there’s a trick... some twist that we’ve overlooked?"
- John-117: "Yes. And I’m waiting for it."
- — John and Kelly both agree that something seems off about their current orders.
John and the two dozen other Spartans boarded RED FLAG's dedicated Halcyon-class light cruiser, the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, before 0400 hours on August 30. At Admiral Stanforth's insistence, they kept their presence from COM channels or computer networks. Once aboard, they began working on a Pelican with extra armor meant to serve as a boarding craft for the operation. The primary storage bay on C deck had been converted from to a barracks and it was there that Captain Keyes, selected to command the Autumn, found them. John greeted Keyes upon his arrival on the deck and apologized for not having asked permission to board. Keyes assured him that was quite alright and made sure John knew to just ask if they needed anything. He thereafter returned to the bridge, having given the Spartans his regards.At 0519 hours, John and the other Spartans could feel that the Pillar of Autumn was turning back around when they had been under the impression that it would soon be jumping away from Reach. Unsure what was happening, John told Kelly to have Fred and Joshua prepare the cryo tubes and to get Linda to gather a team to secure their gear. For his part he would find out what had changed. He tried to get the attention of Cortana on the nearby intercom, but it was the captain who answered, saying there had been a change of plans and that he was on his way to brief them. John announced Keyes' arrival when it came and the Spartans all stood at attention in response. At first, Keyes wondered if he and the Chief might speak in private, but John warned him that they'd need to leave the deck to escape the Spartans' hearing. Resigning that everyone would need to know anyways, Keyes announced that the Covenant had found Reach and that more than one hundred alien vessels were inbound. Still unwilling to admit he already knew the planet was being written off, Keyes declared that Section Three's mission would have to be abandoned in light of the need to defend Reach. In doing so, he got John to realize that defending Reach and capturing a large Covenant carrier did not have to be mutually exclusive objectives. He told the captain that if they could get close enough and punch a hole in a ship's shields, his Spartans could board it. Keyes gave the appearance of begrudgingly agreeing, saying that he was hesitant to hand over Cortana before his ship's "dumb" A.I., Wellsley, had finished initializing, but that he would fly without one if the opportunity to take over a ship presented itself. Before he returned to the bridge, Keyes told the Master Chief to have his Spartans ready in twenty minutes, as that would be when they should arrive at the rally point ships were being redirected to. As soon as he'd gone, John told Fred and James to refit another Pelican so that it had a shaped charge made of every scrap of C-12 on its nose for use as an exploding battering ram.M41 SPNKRs, thruster packs, ammunition, and grenades. Privately, he told Kelly to collect three HAVOK nuclear mines and prepare them for transport. She openly questioned whether there was something they had overlooked, and John had to agree that it did seem that way. At 0558 hours, John received a priority Alpha transmission from the captain which updated him on the situation in space and on the ground. The ground-based generators that powered Reach's orbital defense platforms were threatened by the invasion forces and on Gamma Station in orbit, the prowler UNSC Circumference had unsecured navigation data that was being targeted by inbound Covenant ships. John shared this information with all the other Spartans and once he was speaking to Keyes over the view screen, He offered to protect the Circumference's NAV data with three Spartans while the rest deployed to defend the generators. Keyes resisted the idea, not least of which because he understand how RED FLAG had been outlined, and suggested that the Autumn could simply detonate a nuke near Gamma Station. John rightly pointed out, however, that the electromagnetic pulse given off by the detonation could burn out the superconductive coils of the nearby ODPs. Conversely, conventional weaponry might not eradicate the data. The only option was to board the station. Keyes, clearly conflicted, finally relented and told the Chief that he was free to enact his plan, telling him that his Spartans could launch in two separate Pelicans in five minutes' time. Kelly volunteered to lead the space op, but John said he would be spearheading that. He picked Linda and James to accompany him as part of Blue Team and made Fred the temporary leader of the rest, collectively labeled Red Team.
Gamma Station was around ten thousand kilometers away when John piloted the Pelican loaded with C-12 on its nose away from the Autumn. At 6016 hours it had come within one thousand kilometers, when a Covenant frigate suddenly emerged from slipspace just a kilometer away from their position. John yelled for Linda and James to brace themselves as he spun the dropship into a reverse burn and then killed the engines entirely in order to evade detection. Two more frigates followed the appearance of the first but with just thirty kilometers remaining before they hit the station, John had no choice but to reignite the engines to bleed off as much acceleration as possible. The bird violently slammed into the station tail-first, flatlining John's shields, crumpling the cockpit's displays, and freeing everything in the rear compartment that had been tied down. John confirmed that no one on his team was injured before giving the order to exit immediately. He snatched his MA5 and M41, along with five spare clips of ammunition and a satchel filled with C-12, detonators, and a Lotus mine. John searched in vain for his thruster pack in amidst the jumbled mess but ultimately had to abandon it for the sake of time. Clipping himself to the outside of the Pelican, which was now embedded in the side of Gamma Station, the Chief ordered James to police the explosives still undetonated on the prow and told Linda to scan the remaining frigates with her SRS99C-S2 AM sniper rifle (one frigate was destroyed by a shot from an ODP's Magnetic Accelerator Cannon). Soon enough Linda announced that they had incoming. John ordered they all take cover as a dozen pods and numerous Sangheili rangers shot toward the station, firing Type-25 plasma rifles and Type-33 needlers. James did not respond in time and his thruster pack was punctured by an exploding Subanese crystal, which sent him tumbling away into the void. The pod that attached itself to the skin of the station nearest to their position deposited Kig-Yar rangers and John had to brace against the Pelican to fire at them. A fragmentation grenade finished off the pod's occupants and John directed Linda to secure it. He then proceeded to wedge two more grenades into the C-12 still on the dropship's prow. After joining Linda inside the pod, he had her fire at them just as the Pelican was swarmed by enemies. The blast that followed tore through five decks of Gamma Station and John and Linda were making their way inside in no time. Their target was on B level two decks down and three hundred meters to port.
John paused long enough in a B level corridor to attach the Lotus mine to the deck and rig its proximity detectors so it would explode for anyone that tried to follow them. He and Linda pulled themselves along handrails until they reached a doorway to the docking bay which held the Circumference. Using his fiber optic cable, John sighted four marines pinned down by thirty Kig-Yar and a number of Unggoy. He and Linda both jumped in to assist, but John directed Linda to focus on helping the marines while he made his way to the ship. Just as he was about to head for the prowler, however, he noticed a slight flicker behind their position on his motion tracker. John backtracked into the hall outside the bay and was beset upon by a Sangheili minor. He slammed into the Elite just before it could it could get off a shot with a Type-25 plasma pistol. They two began an extended hand-to-hand engagement which carried them down the hall in the null gravity. John was ultimately able to prevail through locking his armor's glove articulation around the alien's wrist and turning its own weapon against it. One shot from the pistol overloaded its shields and successive strikes from John's right fist cracked open its vacuum suit. He finished off his Sangheili opponent with a shot to the head. By the time he made it back to Linda, twenty more Kig-Yar and joined the fray and more reinforcements were approaching from their rear. Captain Keyes reached out over COM then, announcing that he would bring the Autumn close enough to pick them up in just five minutes and that they had until then to secure the NAV data. Were they unable to do so, he would be forced to fire on their position. John opened a channel to the four marines: Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson and privates Wallace Jenkins, O'Brien, and Bisenti. He advised they tighten up their fire so that they take out one Jackal at a time, then had Linda use grenades to kill a good number. John commandeered a nearby D77-TC Pelican and lifted if from its berth to both provide cover for Linda and the marines and to begin cutting down Kig-Yar with its chain gun. Thousands of enemy contacts were heading their way, so he yelled for everyone to get in and used the Pelican's weaponry, including an Anvil-II air-to-surface missile, to blast through the Circumference's cockpit. Linda took the controls while he launched himself to find the NAV database core, which he promptly destroyed with his assault rifle. John took back the piloting of the Pelican upon his return, but the outer bay doors remained closed. Linda attempted to get the station's A.I. quartermaster to open them but received no response. for this reason she took it upon herself to exit the craft so that she could trigger a manual release. As more Covenant forces poured into Docking Bay Nine, John brought the full arsenal of the Pelican to bear on them. just after the bay doors began to open, however, Linda was struck numerous times by plasma fire which burned through her shields and melted the armor covering her back, chest, and head. He yelled for the marines to grab her and pull her floating body inside and rocketed away from the station once they did so.
Once they were clear John asked Sergeant Johnson if he could fly the Pelican, to which the marine answered in the affirmative. John immediately retreated to the rear section where Linda lay and knelt by her. She managed to ask whether they had succeeded in destroying the NAV data and John confirmed they had, and just then her vital signs flatlined whilst he held her hand. Keyes let him know they were one minute from picking them up and John confirmed they were ready. He took control back from Johnson and docked the bird himself. As soon as they were back aboard the cruiser he made all haste to get Linda's body to a cryo chamber to freeze it, hoping desperately that she might be able to be revived at a later date. Medical technicians tried to get him to let them examine him, but John declined and made his way via elevator to the bridge. There, he debriefed with the captain and confirmed the mission's success. He did ask that they scan for FOF tags, hoping that James might still be alive, but nothing was found. To make things even worse, Keyes let him know that they had lost contact with Red Team below. The captain said that RED FLAG was still their mission, even if it now was an even now a longer shot than it always had been. To give it any hope, however, he believed they needed to escape the system soon. The captain called for the initiation of a slipspace jump at 0647 hours, but before one could be made, a transmission for the surface evidently was received. The Autumn was apparently expected at the ship-breaking yards in Asźod, as Doctor Halsey had tasked the remaining Spartan-IIIs of NOBLE Team with delivering a fragment of Cortana to the ship there. Keyes permitted the brief landing of the cruiser in order to take possession of the fragment before they fled the doomed planet for good.
- Main article: Battle of Installation 04
- Jacob Keyes: "Get Cortana off this ship. Keep her safe from the enemy. If they capture her, they'll learn everything. Force deployment, weapons research... Earth."
- John-117: "I understand."
- — Captain Keyes makes the importance of John's next objective clear to him.
In keeping with the stipulations of the Cole Protocol, Keyes had commanded Cortana to calculate a vector for a randomized jump that would point them away from Earth or any populated colonies. And though she did plot a trajectory that was in compliance with Article 2 of the protocol, she combined information gleaned from both the artifact on Sigma Octanus IV and navigation data from an ancient alien vessel buried under Reach's Babd Catha Ice Shelf to pinpoint a specific location near the base of the Orion Arm. It would be weeks before they exited slipspace, so John entered cryostasis along with most of the crew. On September 19 the Autumn emerged in the Soell system before a gas giant orbited by a peculiar ring-shaped superstructure. Cortana had already initiated orders to begin the process of waking the Chief soon before the ship dropped back into realspace, but by the time he was fully awake, they had already come under fire from Covenant ships from the Fleet of Particular Justice that had followed and beat them to the destination. As John slowly returned to full consciousness, he dreamed of his mother, who suddenly took on features of Doctor Halsey and then Cortana as well. A threatening beast approached from behind the chimeric woman in his dream and he instinctually moved to protect her, but he found he could not lift his rifle because he had once again become a six-year-old boy. The nightmare ended abruptly with the voice of Tech Chief Thom Shephard apologizing for the quick thaw from outside John's cryotube.
John dealt with the painful freezer burn on his skin in silence as Thom led him through various tests to ensure his armor's health monitors, targeting and optical systems, and recharging energy shields were all functioning correctly. The captain's voice soon came over a loudspeaker and ordered those in Cryo Two to send the Chief to the bridge immediately. Covenant boarders suddenly then burst in on Samuel Marcus in the observation deck above. John could only watch as the tech officer was killed. He followed Thom out of the bay into a corridor, but an explosion tore through a nearby door and instantly killed him as well. John doubled back to vault over a pair of power conduits, placing him in a maintenance hallway, and continued on that way. He was able to force open a partially melted door and duck under another that was only partially lowered as he followed signs pointing to the bridge at the fore of the ship. He ran right into a Sangheili minor after emerging from a darkened access corridor, but a fireteam of marines took it down for him before anything else could happen. John thanked the fireteam's squad leader for the assistance and sprinted the rest of the way from there. John found Keyes at the captain's station, where he was greeted by he and Cortana. Keyes admitted that despite Cortana's best efforts, they never really had a chance against the pursuing fleet. As such, he cited the Cole Protocol yet again and ordered John to take possession of Cortana in order to get her safely off of the Autumn. John agreed to take her down to the alien ringworld, and thereby hopefully keeping her out of the hands of the Covenant. Once he had slotted Cortana's data crystal chip into his neural interface Keyes gave the Spartan his own M6D magnum, seeing as the Spartan hadn't yet taken the time to acquire a weapon of his own. John saluted and left the bridge to find that the fighting between the naval and marine personnel and the Covenant boarders had spread dangerously close to the command deck. He paused to appropriate ammunition from a fallen ensign after closing her eyes where she lay. John's target was a Class-3 Bumblebee lifeboat in the cruiser's lifepod bays. The first Covenant opposition John encountered after arming himself took the form of three Unggoy which he eliminated easily.
John soon acquired an MA5B assault rifle with close to four hundred rounds of 7.62mm armor-piercing ammo. After rescuing a group of marines in a galley, Cortana led him through a hatch and up one level, where he encountered a Sangheili Special Operations Officer leading a group of Unggoy. John tore through the Elite's shields with his MA5 and turned his attention to the Unggoy, thinking sure that he had killed the officer. At Cortana's direction he continued through another hatch and up a flight of metal stairs. There John encountered Private O'Brien, whom he had helped rescue aboard Gamma Station and who was now wounded. John fought off three Sangheili and a Kig-Yar nearby and in doing so, gave the other marines in the area the chance to launch a hastily organized counterattack. The Chief moved on once he was satisfied the area was reasonably secure, passing through another hatch and helping a pair of marines deal with a group of Unggoy. Cortana urged him to hurry, as the lifeboats were beginning to launch. John assured her he was trying to get to the launch bays as fast as he could. He was about to launch into a sprint when he was suddenly hit in the back by a bolt of plasma. John rolled with the blow and sprang to his feet to see an Unggoy that had dropped from an overhead maintenance way. John killed the stocky alien but was then set upon by a trio of others which followed it by dropping onto his shoulders. John shook them off before one could attach a primed Type-1 plasma grenade to him. Cortana yelled for him to get aboard the last lifeboat remaining, so he took off running after dealing with each of those that had ambushed him. Another marine charging to get aboard Bumblebee Lima Foxtrot Alpha 43 fell on the deck but John scooped the man up and tossed him aboard before entering himself. John told the pilot to launch and so it immediately then blasted away from the Autumn to dive toward the ring. A scared marine looked to the Master Chief for assurance that they would be okay and in response John offered a comforting hand on the man's shoulder.
- Cortana: "I’m showing a lot of photonic activity. The excited photons have displaced the air around the light path."
- John-117: "Which means?"
- Cortana: "Which means that the light has become coherent. Solid. How did you know what control to push?"
- John-117: "I didn’t. Let’s get the hell out of here."
- — John and Cortana react to the Spartan's intuitive ability to use technology on the ringworld.
As the massive structure drew ever closer, John queried Cortana as to what it could be. She could only tell him that based on what she could glean from the Covenant battle network, the aliens referred to it as "Halo" and it held sort of religious significance for them. Two minutes and fifty-one seconds after launching from the Autumn, the ring opened up as Lima Foxtrot Alpha 43's pilot guided them past its edge and over its inner surface, which all aboard could se was covered with plains, mountains, and hills. Cortana suggested that John might want to take a seat and get strapped in, but he told her they'd be fine and remained standing for their descent. Unfortunately, due to a chance airbrake failure, the lifeboat rushed toward the ground too fast and when it slammed into the dirt John was thrown off his feet. His helmet careened into a bulkhead, knocking him out. When he finally came to hours later, he could hear Cortana urgently trying to get his attention and warning that Covenant forces were on their way, the crash having triggered a lot of radio traffic on their end. After struggling to his feet, he became more aware of his surroundings and found that he was the only survivor of the impact. John gathered as much ammunition and other supplies as he could, including a quartet of fragmentation grenades, before Cortana recommended moving into some nearby hills. He then crossed a strange, burnished metal bridge just as a Type-25 Spirit appeared. The Master Chief skirted the cliff edge on the far side of the bridge and took up a position at a crevice where a boulder touched the cliff. Two Type-26 Banshees were also on immediate approach, and he waited until the first was within range to open fire with his MA5B. He got the first craft to pull out if its dive but the second was able to pelt him with plasma fire. When the first returned for another pass, however, he hit it again with armor-piercing rounds and caused it to explode into flames before rushing straight into the cliff wall. His shields replenished, John jumped atop the boulder to get a better look around before the other Banshee returned. Troops deployed from the Spirit were encroaching on his position. One group of Unggoy was preoccupied with the wreckage of the Bumblebee, but another was coming from the direction of the hills he'd been told to head for. John first dealt with the seven Grunts across the chasm from him, taking them all out with twelve shots from Keyes' M6D. The other group fared no better against him and he was soon dashing forward into some slight cover offered by a copse of trees. He ran from cover to cover as he made his way uphill, soon running into three more Unggoy led by two Sangheili: a minor and a major. He dealt with the Elites first and was then able to pick off the rest as they tried to scamper away. John continued onward through a meadow of sorts and could hear the sound of automatic weapons fire ahead, which to him signaled the presence of UNSC marines. As such, he sprinted in its direction. Cortana was soon able to confirm that a group of marines had similarly crash-landed nearby and at just over three hours and fourteen minutes since leaving the Autumn, he found them engaging Sangheili, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy around a large blocky structure of some kind.
From a distance, he first took aim at a trio of Grunts and opened fire on a Sangheili minor before any of the enemy realized where he was. He made his way down a slope toward the fellow soldiers, only stopping to scavenge a few plasma grenades off a dead Unggoy. Private Bisenti, who John had rescued on Gamma Station, was the first to meet him and when John asked him for his commanding officer the private called over Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson. The Chief requested a status report, so Johnson let him know that marines were scattered all over the valley they found themselves in. Cortana told them both that since she had gotten in touch with Wellsley, a Pelican was on its way to pick them up. Before long, however, a Spirit dropship was upon them an unloading a clutch of Unggoy and a Sangheili. The combined fire of the marines and the Master Chief was more than enough to make easy work of the foolhardy Covenant attack, but soon another another dropship arrived to unload more troops. This time a trio of Kig-Yar protected by their distinctive round shields led the charge. John sprinted straight into the Jackals' line, tearing them up with his assault rifle before landing a primed Type-1 plasma grenade on the Sangheili leading them. He hunted down the rest of the attackers and was then greeted by a voice from his radio receiver declaring that Pelican Echo 419 was inbound. Just then, three more Class-3 Bumblebees were sighted overhead as the distance as they tore through the ring's atmosphere. John was resolved to beat the covenant to where they landed, so as Echo 4-19 approached Cortana asked that its pilot, Carol Rawley, disengage the M12 Warthog LRV she was carrying. John made for the Warthog after it hit the ground to find that out of all the marines, one had elected to forgo the evac and instead act as a gunner for him. And so when John sped away in the vehicle toward the nav indicator Cortana place, he took Private First Class M. Fitzgerald with him.
Cortana's navpoint led them to a gaping metal tunnel at the bottom of a large dry wash. Within, he maneuvered the LRV up ramps, through a series of tight turns, and eventually to the very edge of gap. He backed the hog up and warned Fitzgerald to hang on and then floored the petal so that they were able to sail across the distance to the other side. They next emerged within a huge interior space where their path again came to an end, but this time due to a massive chasm that would be impossible to jump the Warthog across. Covenant forces which had already begun exploring soon began hitting the Warthog with plasma but Fitzgerald did what he could to hold them off. With no path forward, John exited the vehicle and helped the marine return fire. Just as John was about to charge into close quarters with the enemy, however, the private fell to the ground, having been hit with a Subanese crystal fired from a Type-33 needler. John landed three shots on a charging Grunt and slammed the butt of his magnum into its partner's head. Fitzgerald had crawled to cover behind the Warthog so John rushed to pack his wounded bicep with biofoam. After confirming he was okay, he allowed Fitzgerald to take his place on the LAAG once more. It took the two of them the better part of the next fifteen minutes to clear the rest of the cavernous room of Covenant forces. Once it seemed they had all been eradicated, he asked Cortana if she had any ideas for how they could proceed. She guessed that some kind of controls must exist to extend a across over the gap, so John let Fitzgerald know he was going to look around for anything that might make that happen. He surveyed a the immediate area in vain and was about to give up and head back to the Warthog when he chanced upon a gap in a wall on their right side. It led to a ramp that took him twenty meters up before a sharp left turn, where he walked right into a waiting Sangheili major. The Elite swung a blow at John's head, but he ducked in time to let it glance off his shields. The Chief landed a few shots on the saurian alien before dropping a grenade and ducking back around the corner to avoid being hit by the explosion that followed. Past the Sangheili's corpse, the corridor opened to a narrow ledge, ending at at a pair of small, glowing orbs which hung suspended above a roughly rectangular frame of blue matte metal. Within that frame a series of seemingly holographic displays pulsed and shifted and to John's puzzlement, he felt as if he should recognize them. Instinctively, he touched one of the symbols and was further surprised when his finger met resistance. He was forced to admit to Cortana that he wasn't sure what he had done, but shortly thereafter, harsh, white light formed within the gap, creating what looked like a bridge made of light. Cortana was able to identify that excited photons had displaced the air around the otherworldly construction, rendering it effectively solid. John again reiterated that he hadn't know what he was doing when he had turned it on and just suggested that they get the hell out of there.
Regroup at Alpha Base
- Antonio Silva: "Are you familiar with a man named Charles Darwin? No, probably not, because he never went to war. Darwin was a naturalist who proposed a theory called ‘natural selection.’ Simply put, he believed that those species best equipped to survive would do so—while other, less effective organisms would eventually die out. That’s what happened to the Spartans, Chief: they died out. Or will, once you’re gone. And that’s where the ODST comes in. It was the Helljumpers who took this butte, son—not a bunch of augmented freaks dressed in fancy armor. When we push the Covenant back, which I sincerely believe we will, that victory will be the result of work by men and women like Lieutenant McKay. Human beings who are razor-sharp, metal tough, and green to the core. Do you read me?"
- John-117: "Sir, no sir."
- — John refuses to accept the notion that his Spartans were part of a failed experiment.
Before rolling across the light bridge, John first tested its integrity with his foot. Convinced it would hold, he told Fitzgerald to hang on and gunned the hog across. The tunnel on the opposite side opened up into another valley. The Chief guided the LRV to the top of a grassy rise and headed toward a gap in a cliff face to the south. He drove through s shallow river and turned through another rocky pass before finally stopping minutes later at a ledge overlooking a lifeboat and an assortment of Covenant troops. The aliens sighted them almost right away, so John steered down into the valley while Fitzgerald cut them down with the hog's M41 Vulcan. After John swung the vehicle around another of the mysterious structures, Cortana notified him of marines in hiding up on a nearby hill. A lone Sangheili in his path leveled a weapon as John sped in the direction of the survivors but the Warthog rolled right over him before he could get off a shot. The marines greeted the Chief when he arrived and their sergeant let it be known that he was glad to see them. The remaining Covenant attempted an assault on their position but Fitzgerald was able to handle it. Cortana let Rawley know they had found marines that needed to be picked up and the flight captain, going by the call sign "Foehammer", in turn said she had spotted the locations of the additional lifeboats in the area. The better part of the afternoon that followed was spent checking the interlocking valleys, locating the rest of the survivors, and dealing with any Covenant forces that tried to interfere. During this time, Cortana learned that Captain Keyes and the rest of the Autumn's surviving command crew had been captured. In total, John, Cortana, and Fitzgerald rounded up sixty-three Marine Corps and Navy personnel. When there was no one left to rescue, he climbed aboard Echo 419 himself. Rawley told him they would reach Alpha Base in thirty minutes. John thanked her for the ride and was fast asleep thirty seconds later.
Alpha Base, established atop a butte covered with strange structures left behind by whomever had built the ring, offered few amenities. Even so, John was able to get ten full hours of uninterrupted sleep and eat components selected from two MREs. He also took the opportunity to take a two-minute hot shower. John had just finished drying off and scrounging a fresh set of utilities when a private stuck his head into his quarters and said Major Antonio Silva was asking to see him in the Command Post. John had just been about to run a routine maintenance check on his armor before donning it again but the marine also warned that Silva had said he was to leave it there in the prefab memory-plastic cubicle. John submitted to the major's request but mad sure to activate the suit's security system and secure the rest of his gear before buckling a magnum around his waist and heading out. The CP had been set up within the centermost of the mesa's alien buildings. John presented himself to two ODSTs standing guard at Silva's door and was waved inside. Major Silva was seated at a makeshift desk but when he met the Chief's eyes John snapped to attention and announced that he was reporting and ordered. Rather than immediately telling him "At ease", Silva instead let him linger as he was and proceeded to make sure the Chief understood his place on the chain of command. He made it clear that John was to unquestionably obey any order given by himself or Lieutenant Melissa McKay, one of the ODSTs at the door who had followed him inside. As John understood the chain of command perfectly well enough, he had no problem agreeing. Silva then established that he was familiar with the Master Chief's record, but while he considered his martial prowess impressive, he nevertheless thought little of the Spartan-II program and believed it to have been a failed experiment. John listened to the ODST berate both himself and his fellow Spartans as being inhuman freaks who knew nothing but war without saying a single word in return, but when asked whether he read the major, he took a deep breath and responded in the negative. The two men stared at each other for over five seconds after that before Silva credited him for his loyalty to his fellow soldiers. Satisfied that he had gotten his point across, he finally gave John permission to be at ease and invited him to sit with he and Lieutenant McKay so he could brief them on how he planned to rescue Captain Keyes.
- Jacob Keyes: "Coming here was reckless. Thanks."
- John-117: "Any time, sir."
- — The captain expresses gratitude for his rescue.
By the time seventeen hours and just over eleven minutes had passed since John had blasted away from the Pillar of Autumn, he and a group of ODSTs were riding in Echo 419's bay as the bird weaved through low-lying hills toward the Truth and Reconciliation, a CCS-class battlecruiser undergoing repairs and holding position about three hundred meters above a plateau. The cruiser was also the location in which Captain Keyes was being held prisoner. Wellsley had concocted an array of signals designed to trick the Covenant's technicians into believing any approaching UNSC dropships were actually their own. As they approached the Helljumpers' Sergeant Parker reminded his troopers that the Master Chief would be disembarking first and moving to clear the outer defenses around the ship's gravity lift. John returned the sergeant's thumbs-up gesture when he offered it and as soon as Parker gave the signal he led the charge down the ramp, dropping to the ground from where the Pelican hovered about a foot in the air. John's first move was to sidestep and sweep the area before creeping along a rocky footpath to his right. He was armed with an SRS99C-S2 AM sniper rifle, an MA5B assault rifle, a full combat load of ammo, grenades, and other gear, plus two M19 missiles for the attacking force's SPNKRs. Cortana warned John of the presence of enemies ahead and he in turn took cover next to a tree before locating the Type-29 Shade emplacements on the far side of an excavation beneath the cruiser.
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Fighting for control
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Initially, the fierce fighting on Halo was solely between UNSC and Covenant forces, but after the Covenant unwittingly released an ancient parasite, the Flood, the majority of both forces became infected or destroyed. John was sent by the Installation's monitor, 343 Guilty Spark, to retrieve the Index, an activation device for the Halo ring. Seeing the danger posed by the Flood first hand, John willfully took up the role as a Reclaimer.
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Betrayal and sacrifice
Upon John's return to Halo's Control Room, Cortana revealed that Halo's true purpose was not only to destroy the Flood, but prevent its spread by targeting all sentient life within its blast radius. John was then forced to disrupt Halo's firing system by disabling the ring's phase pulse generators in order to delay the Monitor's plan. John carved a path through the three-sided conflict among the Covenant, the Flood and the Forerunners' Sentinels. Soon after, he tried to rescue Captain Keyes, but was too late. Captain Keyes had been transformed into a proto-Gravemind Flood form. After infiltrating the Covenant cruiser Truth and Reconciliation, the Chief managed to retrieve the Captain's neural implants, which he used to activate the Pillar of Autumn's self-destruct sequence. After the sequence was aborted by 343 Guilty Spark, he proceeded to manually overload the fusion reactors, which would subsequently destroy both the Pillar of Autumn and Installation 04. After successfully destroying the fusion reactors on the Pillar of Autumn, John used a Warthog to reach the extraction point where Pelican Echo 419 was to recover him. John reached the extraction point, only to witness the Pelican crashing after being shot down by a pair of Banshees. Quickly making his way to the ship's Launch Bay 7, John used the sole Longsword fighter stored there to escape Halo just before the Autumn's engines detonated, destroying the Halo.
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Dust and echoes
- John-117: "Scan it again."
- Cortana: "Already completed. There's nothing out there. I told you: just dust and echoes."
- John-117: "Scan the field again. If you don't find something out there we can use, we're dead. This ship has no slipspace drive, and no cryo. There's no way to get back and report. Power, fuel, air, food, water—we only have enough for a few hours. So scan. Again"
- — John desperately urges Cortana to keep searching for a solution to their predicament.
At 1637 hours on September 22, John finally allowed himself a moment to just sit and think and remember all the recently deceased. He asked Cortana to scan the debris field again, but she noted that she already had and that there was nothing out there. Even so, John implored her to continue trying, seeing as they were without a slipspace drive or means of cryopreservation and only had enough power, air, water, and food for a few hours at most. When she still failed to register any transponder signals or distress calls he suggested actively scanning each object in the area but was informed doing so could take eighteen days. When Cortana did finally detect a signal, it was revealed to be coming from a CCS-class battlecruiser appearing from the far side of Threshold's moon, Basis. John immediately ordered the A.I. to power down everything besides their passive scanners and whatever minimal power she needed to keep herself and the ship functioning. Five more battlecruisers followed in the wake of the first and finally the flagship of this small fleet element came into view: a DDS-class carrier. John drifted from his spot in the pilot's seat to the Longsword's aft compartment to find its weapons locker empty with his own MA5B only holding thirteen rounds. He returned to the sysops seat upon a declaration from Cortana that she had found something, and that something seemed like it could be a cryopod from the Pillar of Autumn. John instructed her to bring them toward it using the Longsword's maneuvering thrusters only but was told this would take twenty minutes and that the Covenant vessels were predicted to encounter it in as little as five. In order to allow them to reach it first, John put his helmet back on and resealed his armor so that Cortana could vent their atmosphere to provided added propulsion. Their ETA dropped to just two minutes and as they came closer to their target, it turned out to actually be three cryotubes affixed side by side. John dared to feed a little more power to Cortana's systems and she soon after found another new contact that strongly resembled a Pelican stuck on a chunk of rock a half-kilometer in diameter. Cortana thought it might have crashed there but John was certain, based on the position of one of its wings, that it had been intentionally parked there in a way that left it ready for takeoff. As Cortana swung their craft about to intercept the pods, John returned aft to tether himself and braced against the second explosive decompression that followed when by fitting himself within the empty weapons locker. After, he leapt from the rear to where the the three cryotubes drifted just thirty meters away. John just barely managed to hook a finger on the furthest cryopod and then secured himself to them. He hastily pulled himself and the pods back to the Longsword, but as he did so two of the enemy cruisers began to accelerate towards it and ready their weapons to fire. Before they did so, however, three missiles from the Pelican drew their attention toward it instead. John brought his cargo aboard and rushed to get seated again.
Against Cortana's protestations, John unloaded on the trailing ship with the fighter's guns and told her to get him a firing solution for their ASGM-10 missiles to target its plasma turrets when the energy shielding around them dropped. He relinquished fire control to her and proceeded to send the craft accelerating deeper into the debris field after she fired the four that they carried. Cortana took over piloting the Longsword after that and John was able to perform a sweep scan of his own in order to try to find anything that could help them. He decided to finally hail the Pelican and was introduced to Warrant Officer Shiela Polaski. The Master Chief urged Polaski to meet them at a NAV point almost directly on top of the flagship and had Cortana slow their speed so both smaller craft would arrive at the same time. The six cruisers stopped stopped firing at them out of fear of hitting the DDS-class carrier. Once the Longsword and Pelican were around twelve hundred kilometers away from one another John asked Polaski to hand establish a system link with them so Cortana could take over control of both vehicles to attach them to one another. At three hundred kilometers from the flagship it finally began to bring its weapons to bear on them but their extreme oblique approach angle and speed made them hard to hit. Both the Pelican and Longsword passed the carrier and began a slingshot orbit around Basis and it was at this point that they both met each other at just prior to 1710 hours. John moved aft to the access hatch connecting both ships and was shocked when the first person he pulled through was none other than Staff Sergeant Avery Johnson. John's first reaction was to kick the hatch shut and slam the marine against the hull, drawing Johnson's own pistol and pointing the barrel at his forehead at the same time. He had been sure the staff sergeant had been consumed by the Flood, given that he'd last seen him in the footage recorded by Private Jenkins' helmet cam. He demanded to know how it was possible for him to have escaped unscathed, to which the man simply claimed that the Flood had passed him by as if it was disinterested in him. Cortana noted that a preliminary readings from Johnson's biomonitors indicated he was free of infection, so the Chief relaxed enough to return his sidearm to him. Three other survivors from the Pelican joined them thereafter. In addition to Warrant Officer Polaski, a pilot from the 23rd Naval Air Squadron, there was an ODST by the name of Locklear and finally Elias Haverson, a lieutenant of the Office of Naval Intelligence. John let everyone know that given their lack of slipspace-capable transport, their only option was to seize control of one of the Covenant's nearby ships after they completed their slingshot around Threshold's moon. Though the lieutenant outranked him, John felt comfortable asserting authority over him since he still intended to carry out Operation: RED FLAG. Haverson, of course, was well aware of RED FLAG and reluctantly submitted to the Spartan's tactical command. John told Locklear to grab extra weapons, ammunition, and grenades from the Pelican while he briefed them on his plan to capture the carrier.
After a joyful reunion, the surviving humans aided John in capturing the Ascendant Justice.
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Return to Reach
- Main article: Raid on Reach
- "He sent his team down to the surface of Reach... sent them to their deaths. What commander wouldn't go back? And what commander wouldn't hope that they were alive? No matter what the odds?"
- — Lieutenant Haverson about John's motives
The survivors 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 super-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.
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- Main article: Operation: FIRST STRIKE
- "We're going to take this fight to the Covenant. We're going to launch a first strike."
- — John-117 to his team about mission ahead of them
John and remaining Spartan-IIs Linda-058, Grace-093, Will-043, and Fred-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 for Earth
- Main article: Battle for Earth
- John-117: "Sir, permission to leave the station."
- Terrence Hood: "For what purpose, Master Chief?"
- John-117: "To give the Covenant back their bomb."
- — John requests leave to personally guide a Covenant antimatter charge out of Cairo Station to be used against the invaders.
The UNSC Gettysburg reached Earth by October 19. The next day, John reported to the armory of the Moncton-class orbital weapon platform Cairo Station near midday in order to receive a suit of Mark VI Mjolnir armor. A gunnery sergeant overseeing the armory noted various ways in which the Chief's Mark V had suffered damage at Reach, Installation 04, and aboard the Unyielding Hierophant. To this, John cooly responded by stating that he ought to tell that the Covenant, seeing as those he'd killed hadn't seemed to have noticed. He then cooperated with the sergeant in order to run the armor through a series of diagnostic tests that ensured its targeting and energy shielding were working correctly. Sergeant Avery Johnson came to the armory to collect John so that the two of them could proceed to the bridge where they were to be honored for their recent actions. John had agreed to participate in the ceremony while others on Blue Team were debriefed or subjected to psychological analysis with the understanding that there wouldn't even be cameras at the event, but when he and Johnson stepped off a tram near their destination they were greeted not just by cameras but by a cheering crowd of marines as well. At this, Johnson reminded him that he was completely hidden inside his armor, despite having told the sergeant he would be dressed more appropriately for the occasion.
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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 Elites, Grunts, and Drones 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 a Covenant assault carrier. 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.
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- Corporal Palmer: "So you gonna follow this pipe all the way out to the Mombasa Quays?"
- John-117: "No. I‘m going to make sure the rest of you make it out of here alive."
- Corporal Palmer: "Gosh! That‘s awfully nice of you. Look, you may be a Spartan, but..."
- John-117: "Exactly, Corporal. And if we had all been Spartans back there none of us would have died. Now let me do my job."
- — John shuts down the corporal's questioning of his abilities.
In Amber Clad deployed three D77-TC Pelicans above the city of Mombasa, Kenya, on the East African coast. Their target was the flagship of the Fleet of Sacred Consecration, the CAS-class assault carrier Solemn Penance, which was hovering low over the city. Admiral Hood charged John with personally capturing the Prophet of Regret once they were aboard. Unfortunately, all three birds were knocked out of the sky before they could reach the carrier by a Type-47A Scarab, with the one carrying the Master Chief catching fire from the Scarab's heavy plasma repeater and subsequently crashing down into a building in Old Mombasa. John momentarily lost consciousness following the impact but awoke at Cortana's urging and pulled himself out of the burning wreckage. She assured him she was working on a solution to find them transport so they might still achieve their objective. The Master Chief and the marines who had survived the crash made their way through an alley, killing a lone Unggoy in the process. On the opposite side a force of Sangheili, Kig-Yar, and Unggoy bore down on them so the small unit opted to dig in and defend that position. John helped the marines fend off two waves of attackers before a host of Yanme'e joined the third, which was similarly dealt with. The fourth such wave involved troops led by an Elite zealot being dropped right into the courtyard they were defending by a Type-52 Phantom, but after the aliens were eliminated a Pelican finally arrived to pick John and the others up. Unfortunately for them, however, the courtyard was too small to land in so its pilot said to meet him at a landing zone on the other side of some nearby buildings. Just after the dropship steered away toward the LZ, a pair of Mgalekgolo burst through a gate. Sergeant Johnson called for the marines to stand back and let the Master Chief handle the new threat, which he did so. John, Johnson, and the others worked their way from there toward the waiting Pelican, but a request for aid from Second Squad's Gunnery Sergeant Marcus Stacker led John and Cortana to stay on the ground. At the behest of Commander Keyes, Johnson boarded with the new goal of assisting in the deployment of armor and reinforcements throughout the city, the plan to board the Solemn Penance forgotten for the time being.
The Chief and those marines that joined him fought their way through an alley under fire from Kig-Yar snipers, Sangehili, Unggoy, and more Yanme'e. Once they finally reached Hotel Zanzibar, where Second Squad was pinned down, they were able to rescue them and follow Stacker into the hotel. Within, they only had to contend with a few Sangheili and Unggoy before emerging on the opposite side. There, John was personally greeted by the arrival of two marines in an M12 Warthog who said Commander Keyes had sent it specifically for him. Now that Second Squad was safe, Cortana turned John's attention back to the CAS-class assault carrier, which she noted was currently surrounded by many Covenant troops directly beneath where its gravity lift offered a point of entry near the city center. John, Private First Class Chips Dubbo, and another marine set out in the Warthog across the Old Mombasa beach with the aim of reaching Kilindini Bridge and using it to cross Kilindini Channel into New Mombasa. The trio sped past and contended with Type-32 Ghosts, Covenant tower emplacements, and a Type-52 Phantom and only received a slight warning from Keyes before drop pods launched from theSolemn Penance unloaded a number of Sangheili onto the battlefield. The Warthog pushed through to a tunnel leading toward the bridge, within which the three were faced with infantry and Ghosts, Type-27 Shade turrets, Type-42 plasma cannons, and Type-29 Shadows. Cortana urged that thy destroy the Shadows to keep the surrounding Covenant forces from being able to regroup. While within the tunnel she also explained that through monitoring the enemie's communications she had learned the fleet had not actually expected to find humanity on Earth.
Upon exiting the tunnel at Kilindini Bridge, John exited the Warthog to approach a small group of surviving marines watching the the same Scarab which had downed his Pelican finish traversing the bridge on the opposite side of the channel from them. A Pelican lowered then to drop off a M808B Scorpion tank and Sergeant Johnson also disembarked to ask the marine survivors what had happened to the rest of their platoon. He then ordered the remnants of the devastated platoon to join the Chief, who would be taking control of the tank, in rolling across the bridge in pursuit of the Scarab and the carrier. John climbed aboard the hulking vehicle and was soon driving it it across whilst firing its M512 smooth-bore high-velocity cannon into a series of Ghosts, Banshees, Phantoms, and a Type-26 Wraith. More Wraiths and Ghosts were waiting at a toll plaza on the far side but these too fell to the Scorpion's weaponry. With the Scorpion damaged and the marines whom had aided him killed in the preceeding fight, John left the tank behind and cut across the toll plaza on foot. He found himself faced with the decision whether to go through the outbound tunnel of the Mtangwe Underpass, which bore the scars of a recent attack by the Scarab, or the corresponding inbound tunnel, which was undamaged. The arrival of Type-26 Banshees made him dash beneath a concrete canopy which sheltered and island of toll booths in order to remain out of sight. Inside one of the booths were the skeletal remains of an attendant, who John realized must have died transfixed in terror rather than fleeing, something which gave John pause and made Cortana remind him that most people find Scarabs rather unsettling. Shrugging, he moved along the line of booths until he found a straight shot to the inbound tunnel mouth seventy-three meters away. It took about four-and-a-half seconds for him to sprint the distance, sliding to a stop against a burnt-out sedan. He snaked his way through the next eighty meters of tunnel, moving from cover to cover in case of an ambush. Deeper in the underpass, he heard human voices about one hundred and fifty meters ahead but soon discovered the main route had been sealed off and heavy blast doors had also blocked access to the Moi Avenue junction off to his right. He urged Cortana to see if she could find another route to the center of New Mombasa's industrial zone and of course, she already was looking. It was then that he finally spotted the source of the voices: a squad of UNSC marines from the First Battalion, Seventh Regiment out of Eridanus II. A marine by the name and rank of Private Jemison sighted the Chief and began to cross the thirty meters between them to greet him. John similarly moved to meet the private but before they could say very much the report of a Type-33 fuel rod gun from behind him made him spin about and land a single shot from his BR55 battle rifle through the neck of the Unggoy Heavy who had fired the weapon.
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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 massive 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, Lieutenant Commander Keyes was granted permission to follow it. John, and all on board In Amber Clad, were transported to Installation 05.
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- Main article: Battle of Installation 05
- "This is not your grave...But you are welcome in it."
- — The Gravemind to John-117 after capturing the latter
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 a High Prophet, 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 with his armored hand. While this act killed Mercy, he was shortly thereafter resurrected as a Flood-controlled puppet. John faced another crucial dilemma: the Covenant had the Index and could activate Halo; however, Earth's Home Fleet stood little chance of withstanding Truth's remaining forces.
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 Forerunner Dreadnought, but not before promising to return for Cortana after he stopped the Covenant.
Hunt for Truth
- Main article: Scramble onboard Forerunner Dreadnought
- Lord Hood: "Master Chief, you mind telling me what you're doing on that ship?"
- John-117: "Sir, finishing this fight."
- — A brief conversation between the Chief and Lord Hood after his arrival aboard the Forerunner Dreadnought
Onboard the Forerunner Dreadnought, when it passed 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.
Return to Earth
- "Crazy fool! Why do you always jump? One of these days, you're gonna land on somethin' as stubborn as you are! And I don't do bits and pieces!"
- — Sergeant Johnson about John's escape methods
John exited the Dreadnought and crash-landed on Earth, where he was found by Sergeant Johnson, the Arbiter, and the rest of their Marine squad. 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 Prophet-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, but not before Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood told John his plan to counterattack the Covenant forces above and surrounding the excavated Forerunner artifact near Voi. Lieutenant Commander Keyes decided to evacuate all troops before Truth could launch his assault. John, Thel and the remaining UNSC Marines defended the base during its evacuation, planting a massive bomb to destroy the base along with the invading Covenant forces. The Master Chief fought his way through dozens of Jiralhanae warriors, escaping the explosion 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 three Anti-Air Wraiths, a Scarab, and a Covenant anti-aircraft battery, allowing Lord Hood's remaining frigates to fire upon Truth's Dreadnought. Unfortunately, MAC rounds had little effect on the Forerunner Dreadnought, 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. During the battle, Shipmaster Rtas 'Vadum came to aid the UNSC. He deployed a Special Operations Sangheili strike team through orbital insertion pods, assisting John as he attempted to recover a fragment of Cortana hidden aboard the vessel, who he learned was on the crashed vessel. Aided by the unexpected appearance of 343 Guilty Spark, John retrieved the damaged data device and was brought aboard 'Vadum's flagship, Shadow of Intent. The Sangheili were able to stop the Flood infestation by glassing the city and its surroundings, much to Hood's anger.
The Sangheili and the UNSC watched Cortana's recording, which contained 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.
- Main article: Operation: BLIND FAITH
- John-117: "You know me. When I make a promise..."
- Cortana: "You...keep it. I do know how to pick 'em."
- — John-117 reminding Cortana of his promise
Recognizing the fate of all life within the galaxy was at stake, the UNSC-Sangheili task force was determined to stop Truth from activating the remaining six Halos at any cost. The infantry strike team descended in Pelicans and Phantoms while the Shipmaster's fleet fought a 3:1 battle against an armada of Brute controlled ships. John landed on the surface of the Ark, eliminating Covenant loyalists in the area to secure a landing zone for UNSC frigate UNSC Forward Unto Dawn, and to find the Ark's Cartographer. Traveling in Scorpions, Warthogs, and captured Prowlers, John and other Marines located the Cartographer and learned that Truth was in the Installation's Citadel, a structure where the entire Halo Array could be activated. John then escaped from the Cartographer and proceeded to assault the fortress. 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.
John-117, Thel 'Vadam, and a squad of Marines were assigned to separately attack three barrier towers, which were emitting a protective shield around the 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.
After defeating the last remnants of the Covenant forces around the Citadel, including two Scarabs, John and 'Vadam entered the Citadel. Although Miranda Keyes had forced her way in, breaking through the central window with her Pelican, she was soon surrounded. Knowing that only a Reclaimer could activate the Halo array, Johnson demanded that Keyes kill him, and then commit suicide to prevent galactic extinction. However, Keyes hesitated for a split second, during which Truth shot and killed Keyes with a Spiker. Truth then forced Johnson to begin the activation sequence for the array. In an unexpected turn of events, John and 'Vadam again made a temporary alliance with the Flood to stop the activation of the Halos. Truth's final unit of personal guards were crushed by the unlikely allies. As John and the Arbiter reached the Prophet, it was clear the San'Shyuum was already succumbing to the parasite. Thel 'Vadam executed the last of the High Prophets with his energy sword, while John deactivated the rings.
The Gravemind then betrayed John and 'Vadam, laughing as it had successfully used the pair again for its own ends. 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.
- Main article: Raid on Installation 08
- "You are the child of my makers. Inheritor of all they left behind. You are Forerunner. But this ring...is mine."
- — 343 Guilty Spark, betraying the Master Chief
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.
John stood his ground, even after being hit by several energy blasts, and fought against Guilty Spark with all of his strength. Although the Monitor seemed to be invulnerable, Johnson shot the Monitor with a Spartan Laser, temporarily distracting him. He then handed John his weapon which seemingly destroyed Guilty Spark once and for all. Avery's injury was fatal, and he requested that his friend "send [him] out with a bang," after handing over Cortana's data chip.
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
- "Wake me... when you need me."
- — John's last words before entering cryostasis
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. 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.
Requiem and the Didact
- Main article: Battle of Requiem
- Cortana: "Seems like old times."
- John-117: "Ready to get back to work?"
- Cortana: "I thought you'd never ask."
- — John-117 and Cortana about being partners again
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.
- "The Didact has to be stopped. If you won't do that... I will."
- — John-117 to Captain Del Rio before disobeying his order.
With a momentary lull in the fighting, John was called to a strategy meeting with Andrew Del Rio, Captain of the Infinity. Skeptical of the threat of the Prometheans, Rio ordered an immediate attack on a Forerunner gravity well preventing the ship from leaving. A strike force of Spartans led by John was deployed with a Mammoth ultra-heavy ground vehicle supporting the attack. Facing daunting odds, the UNSC was able to defeat a large armored strike force of Covenant and Prometheans and disabled the gravity beam. Diverted to an underground facility along the way, John was confronted with a vision from the Librarian, who warned him of the Didact's plans to enslave humanity with a device known as the Composer. The Librarian also provided John with a gift: a medical treatment to counteract the Forerunners' devolution of the human genome, and a means to resist the effects of the Composer.
Regrouping aboard the Infinity, Captain Del Rio dismissed the threat of the Prometheans and prepared the ship to depart the system. Defying direct orders, John took the increasingly unstable Cortana and departed the Infinity. Armed with a Pelican gunship provided by Commander Lasky, John launched several attacks on support pillars providing the Didact's Cryptum with shields and power, with the goal of preventing him from leaving the planet and attacking Earth and other colonies. John's attempt to stop the Didact ultimately proved unsuccessful, as the Didact managed to leave Requiem aboard his vessel, escorted by a flotilla of Covenant ships. Stowing away aboard a Lich, Master Chief pursued the Forerunner to Ivanoff Station, a UNSC research base orbiting Halo Installation 03 where the Composer was kept. Dr. Sandra Tillson, a lead researcher aboard the base, helped guide John to the artifact amidst a swarm of Covenant attackers. Despite John reaching the artifact first, the Didact was successful in obtaining the Composer and immediately tested the device on the crew of the station, completely destroying their bodies and assimilating their minds to power additional war machines. However, John survived, thanks to the genetic enhancements imposed by the Librarian.
Battle aboard Mantle's Approach
- Main article: New Phoenix Incident
- "You persist too long after your own defeat. Come then, Warrior. Have your resolution."
- — Didact to Chief acknowledging his efforts to stop him
With the Didact approaching Earth, planning to imprison all of humanity into digital form, John pursued the Forerunner aboard an F-41 Broadsword fighter on the outer hull of the Promethean's ship. As the ship exited slipspace near Earth, John was surprised to find the Infinity and the rest of the Home Fleet ready and waiting for the Didact. John was able to destroy the ship's point defense guns, giving Infinity the chance to punch through the vessel's hull. Entering the breach, John fought his way to the Forerunner's location. Despite the UNSC's best efforts, the Didact was to fire on Earth with the Composer, digitizing the entire population of New Phoenix, Arizona. Armed with a HAVOK warhead, John confronted the Didact for the second time on a hard light bridge. While John was no match for the Forerunner's powerful abilities, the dying Cortana was able to immobilize the Didact with hard light shackles. The weakened John then planted a pulse grenade in the Didact's armor, blowing him off the bridge and sending him falling into a slipspace rupture underneath the Composer. With time having already run out, John detonated the nuclear bomb manually as a desperate last resort.
Using the last of her power, Cortana was able to save John from the blast, saving his life at the cost of her own. The two had one final conversation, with John remarking that he was supposed to have protected her. Cortana insisted that they were supposed to protect each other, and did. Smiling and seeming at peace, Cortana welcomed John home, and then faded away completely. Left adrift in space, John was recovered by a UNSC search-and-rescue team shortly afterward. Later, John spoke with now-Captain Lasky about the loss of his companion and the nature of their duty as soldiers. Aboard the Infinity, John rejoined Palmer and the other Spartans, and had his MJOLNIR Mark VI armor removed for the first time in several years.
- Main article: Skirmish on Installation 03
- John-117: "Admiral Hood asked that I act as an advisor for your mission."
- Fred-104: "Just as an advisor? You told the old man you're coming with, didn't you?"
- John-117: "That a problem, Lieutenant?"
- Fred-104: "If you hadn't, I'd have ordered you to come along myself."
- — John teases Fred about he now technically outranking him as an officer.
Transport took John from the Infinity to HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6 in Sydney a short time later that day, where he debriefed concerning recent events before the UNSC Security Council. He recounted everything that had happened to him since he awoke over Requiem to Army General Nicolas Strauss, Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood, Generals Hogan and Dellert of the Marine Corps and Air Force respectively, and CINCONI Serin Osman (formerly Serin-019), whom John had not seen since he was fourteen years old and had thought dead since then. General Strauss worried that some part of Cortana may have survived and was now beyond their control, but John assured him that she was gone and also adamantly charged that she had not been without protection during the nearly five years spent adrift on the Forward Unto Dawn when the general suggested so. General Hogan was similarly skeptical concerning the Didact's defeat and John had to agree that he could by no means be considered killed for certain. John did say, however, that what had befallen New Phoenix could not happen again since he had destroyed the Composer. Hogan openly discussed the council's plan to put the blame for the attack at the feet of the Covenant, suggesting also that the public should be told it was stopped by the return of humanity's greatest hero.After he was dismissed, Lord Hood caught up to John in the hall outside the room where they had debriefed and apologized for the unprofessional behavior of Strauss and Hogan. John stated that he was in no place to comment as such, and at this Hood half-jokingly noted that he could probably be made an admiral himself at this point with little pushback from anyone, or simply an officer at the very least. The Master Chief brushed off the idea by claiming that "the Admiral" just wouldn't have the same ring to it. John walked with Hood to another room, where the fleet admiral admitted that he had a problem he was hoping he could enlist John's help in solving. He reported that just an hour earlier, fractured bits of audio had been received from the surface of Installation 03 and forthwith all contact with the science team stationed there had been lost. Listening the transmissions indicated to John that Promethean constructs had evidently appeared on the Halo. Hood also let him know that Black Team, comprised of Spartan-IIs John had grown up with, had been assigned to guard the scientists and were also now unable to be reached. John was surprised to hear that Black Team was still operational and didn't think twice about volunteering to investigate Gamma Halo himself. Hood had only been asking that John advise another team being dispatched there, but the Chief made it clear that he needed to see what was happening himself, as he knew of no reason why mechanical Prometheans should be cropping up outside of Requiem. John soon discovered that the team Hood had pegged him to advised was none other than Blue Team, now just composed of Linda-058, Kelly-087, and Fred-104. John met his three oldest remaining friends and companions in a hangar within the ship which would be carrying them to the Khaphrae system.Lieutenant, jokingly asked if his presence would be a problem, to which Fred said that he'd have ordered him to come along if John hadn't offered.
The day after the Didact's attack, the Spartans of Blue Team arrived at Installation 03 and deployed via their own GA-TL1 Longsword given to them for this mission. Kelly received no response when she hailed the science team but John encouraged her to keep trying. John landed near the location of the science team's last known coordinates and almost immediately after disembarking, Linda picked up tracks which were unrecognizable to her, but instantly noted by John to have been made by Promethean crawlers. The tracks came from what was decided to be "north" on the ring and led "south" to where the scientists had been. John led the others to follow them until they reached a camp, and there he and Kelly discovered the scientists' corpses while exploring it. Fred and Linda, however, found Black Team. Otto-031 , Margaret-053, Victor-101, and Roma-143 had been killed right alongside the scientists. Fred, shocked by the loss of four fellow Spartans, asked the Chief if crawlers could have done this. John doubted any number of the mechanistic quadrupeds could have been enough to overpower them and suspected something else must have been involved. As the team backtracked to see where the assailants seemed to have come from, John had Kelly notify ops of the latest developments. Before the Spartans could reach the crawlers' point of origin they were set upon by Promethean knights which materialized around them. John ordered everyone to engage at will and managed to take down two of the knights himself with his MA5D assault rifle. Once they had been dealt with the team finally came upon the gaping hole in the installation from which the UNSC Infinity had extracted the Composer from earlier that year. After sliding down the side of the excavation to investigate further, Kelly pointed out a tunnel on its northwest face which led deep underneath the ring's surface. John led his team through it down into the depths of Gamma Halo and they were soon faced by an otherworldly sight: the Composer's Abyss. All around them were projected the essences of seemingly tortured victims of the Composer and before them lay an active portal. Fred pointedly asked if there was anything John could advise them on regarding what they were seeing, but John merely led them to keep moving forward, which meant stepping through the portal.
- Didact: "You carry no weapon."
- John-117: "I carry your weapon. I thought we might take a moment to talk."
- Didact: "Diplomacy in your final hour?"
- John-117: "You killed my friend. You killed millions of humans. You tried to kill me. I've tried to end you with blades, with guns, with explosives, by knocking you in slipspace... None of it works. I bet this does."
- — John and the Didact exchange final words with one another before full control of the Halo is turned over to 859 Static Carillon.
On the other side of the portal, Blue Team found themselves within what appeared to be a derelict Forerunner city on an unknown planet. John reassured Fred by pointing out that as long as the portal remained open they would have a way home. John led the others to the edge of a drop-off overlooking the city, where they could see a single light on in a tower ahead. John finally admitted that he was now highly suspicious that the Didact personally may have been responsible for the deaths on Gamma Halo. The team eventually discovered six Composers, evidencing that the one from Gamma Halo had not been a unique creation. The Didact suddenly surprised the Spartans from behind them and John ordered everyone to fire on him. The hulking Promethean only had to stomp on the ground to create a shockwave that knocked John and the others to the ground. In the sky above, Installation 03 then emerged from slipspace at the same that more Promethean constructs appeared and moved in to attack. John and the rest of Blue began shooting back at the knights, crawlers, and watchers accosting them. A monitor identifying itself as 859 Static Carillon approached the humans, revealing that the Didact planned to take Gamma Halo to Earth to eradicate humanity there. The monitor also let them know that while he cared not for the outcome of the feud between the Didact and humans, he was opposed to the presence of the mechanical Prometheans on his installation, as he had been promised by the renowned Warrior-Servant that they would not be brought there. John ordered everyone to race back to the portal so they could get on Gamma Halo to stop the Didact's plan.
Upon returning, Blue Team sped past the Composer's Abyss and out into the light, scrambling up and out of the hole just as one of the Composers was set into place just as the original had been found. The Spartans were knocked forward by an electrical discharge that followed and suddenly found themselves facing down the Didact yet again. The Forerunner swatted Linda, Kelly and Fred aside, but just as he was moving in to finish Kelly off, John struck from behind and managed to pierce his right eye with a combat knife. The Didact appeared unfazed by this, however, and responded by seizing John by the head and lifting him into the air, all the while squeezing to crush his Mjolnir helm. John was certain at that moment that his time to die had finally come, but he was saved by his teammates, who forced the Didact to respond by flinging John at them to bowl them over. John and Fred collided, but Kelly and Linda proceeded to both get close enough to land shots on the Didact's armor. Still, their efforts were to no avail and he might have been able to exterminate Blue Team just as he had Black Team had 859 Static Carillon not arrived to fire on the Didact with his laser. The monitor teleported the Promethean away and Blue Team found itself alone with Carillon. John's ears were ringing, his helmet was fused so that he couldn't remove it, part of his visor had shattered, and his armor as a whole was power cycling. Even still, he assured Fred that he could still operate when asked. John inquired as to where Carillon had taken the Didact and learned the ancilla had thought it best to place him within the most secure part of the Halo: the control room. Thankfully, he had only done this after his attack made the Didact drop the installation's activation index, which John now scooped up, openly musing on the idea of using it to fire the Halo to finish off their enemy. 859 Static Carillon balked at this thought and reminded John that doing so would kill all sentient life within twenty-five thousand light-years. Carillon instead recommended John use the index be used to deactivate certain safety protocols so that he could have greater control over the ring and deal with the Didact himself.
John directed Fred, Kelly, and Linda to return to the Longsword and to take off while 859 transported him to the control room. Upon arriving, he found the Didact at the central console. The ancient warrior was surprised to see John was both alone and unarmed. Rather than either attacking one another, the two adversaries instead talked, with John specifically reciting the deaths he blamed the Didact for and noting that while he had tried to end him now via a litany of means, he was sure than he had finally found the way to remove him for good. Before he could be stopped, John slid the index into the control panel. The Didact was confused by this, as he could not believe that the Master Chief would kill them both along with everyone else in range of the Halo's firing. John then revealed that he didn't mean to fire it, but merely to allow Static Carillon to shed the section of the installation that housed the control room. This process had already begun and by the time the ejected section holding the Didact slammed into the planet below, John had been teleported safely away. He and Static Carillon appeared together in a flash of light aboard Blue Team's Longsword and John thanked the monitor for his assistance. Carillon announced that it would be taking Installation 03 elsewhere for repairs and in order to hide it.
- Fred-104: "What'd Hood say?"
- John-117: "Gave the all clear. We're going back to work."
- Kelly-087: "Where to this time?"
- John-117: "Anywhere we're needed."
- — John misleads the rest of his team to avoid them knowing that Hood had ordered them to take it easy for a while.
Blue Team was able to make it back to Earth by July 28, where John met alone with Admiral Hood to discuss the fates of Installation 03 and the Didact. He made it clear that neither he nor the rest of Blue Team knew where 859 Static Carillon had disappeared to and that it was probably best to only consider the Didact "contained", not killed. When the section of Gamma Halo had crashed into Clinquant, there had been five Composers present, after all. The impact seemed to have activated them somehow, which would have reduced the Didact to a digital essence. Hood asked if the Chief was okay given everything that had happened since Reach, to which John answered in the affirmative. Regardless, Admiral Hood ordered he and the rest of his team to take some time off in order to rest and relax. When John met back up with Kelly, Linda, and Fred, however, he lied, telling them that Hood had cleared them for to head back into the field. Sometime shortly following this, John underwent a psychological evaluation wherein it was determined that he was unlikely to stop repeatedly taking on missions anytime soon. Without informing Hood, the Office of Naval Intelligence subsequently assigned Blue Team to its backlog of high-priority missions. These classified operations included diplomatic escorts through hostile territory, counter-piracy efforts against salvagers, and strikes against Covenant outposts. During one of these missions John found himself at a certain point to be the only member of Blue Team that had not taken up Forerunner weaponry to fight with. During another mission that took John to what had once been a Covenant world, he faced down a Type-1 energy sword-wielding Sangheili named Monn I'zar armed only with a combat knife.
On September 26, 2557 John met for an interview with an operative from ONI's Beta-5 Division with the code name of Sapphire Three. They met to have their discussion at the terminus of the Borneo Space Tether far above the Pacific island of the same name. At just after 0721 hours, the conversation turned toward John's recovery of Cortana from the stasis vestibule within High Charity in December of 2552. Sapphire Three asked John to describe what sort of state Cortana had been in when he found her, to which he replied that she had been functional in spite of potential defects. John further explained, when prompted, that these defects included problems with her response times, synchronization confidence, diagnostic alerts, and a few other things. The operative inquired as to whether she had told him beforehand that she had held on to the activation index from Installation 04 and John had to admit that she had not. Sapphire Three pointed out that this would have qualified as a violation of Article 2477-6 of the UNSC Charter for Xenoarcheological Artifact Recovery and Quarantine, to which John had nothing to say. When the line of questioning broached the subject of the possible "residual interface anomalies" John experienced after leaving Cortana behind on the Covenant city, John simply reported what he'd been told concerning a Software Trauma Analysis that had looked at the anomalies. According to the report, what had seemed like messages from Cortana were actually just echoes of her personality matrix in his neural interface and may have been been caused by her extensive data consumption in Installation 04's control room. John told the operative that he never brought the issue up after he and Cortana reconnected and when asked whether he agreed with the STA's conclusions, said that he didn't see why it was important.
Once 2558 dawned, Blue Team's assignments saw them deployed to the fringes of human civilization where fighting was raging harder than ever between several independent multi-species sects and alliances. At different points John and the others fought against Jiralhanae on a human colony, protected civilians from attacking Kig-Yar, and at one point even found themselves fleeing from a CCS-class battlecruiser which was firing its pulse laser turrets at them on the ground. By August of this year, John had personally completed two hundred and nine military operations, including one hundred and thirty-six full campaigns.At one point in 2558, Blue Team was stationed at the construction site for a new ONI research facility, awaiting orders, when the facility suddenly came under attack by a fanatical ex-Covenant group. The hostiles managed to capture an M510 Mammoth, disable its governor, and drive it down a steep hillside toward the site's main fusion reactor. Blue Team followed in pursuit in an M12 Warthog LRV with Fred at the wheel. After an hour had passed since the attack started, John, Kelly, and Linda ejected from the Warthog when it was close enough to the rampaging Mammoth. Once aboard, he ordered Linda to stay up top to provide him with cover and Kelly to go below. He soon followed Kelly and through the use of an MA5D assault rifle and combat knife, John took out at least one Sangheili and two Kig-Yar, wresting control of the hulking vehicle from its hijackers.terrorism just defended against.
Blue Team's missions eventually took them back to the Epsilon Eridani system and the glassed remains of Reach in particular. The Spartans split up but eventually came back together at a certain location for a reason entirely personal to all of them that Command had permitted them to indulge in. John and Linda approached Kelly and Fred in a Warthog and upon exiting asked if the place they stood was really what remained of they were looking for: the spot in the Highland Mountains' military wilderness training preserve where Sam-034 had carved a symbol into a tree so many years before. In his honor, John, Kelly, and Fred looked on as Linda carved a similar symbol, now used to represent Blue Team, into a large outcropping of lechatelierite. John verbally reflected on what Sam had meant to each of them and recalled that they last time they were all together in the preserve, he had asked them to trust him when he said he could get everyone home. As such, he pointedly asked if each of them was willing to continue trusting him and to keep following his lead.
The Fallen Spartan
- Main article: Raid on Biko peace talks
- "Not only is the Chief innocent, but he saved the day. He pulled off the impossible. I've got everything I need to prove it too, and the best part is I've got the UEG blatantly implicating themselves in legislative negligence and then conspiring with the Biko magistrate to cover it up! Coercion, bribery, all of it! Those arrogant pricks could have prevented the whole thing, and they know it too! ONI and the UEG have been sacrificing the Chief this whole time to save their own asses, to distract the public from what we've been digging up on them!"
- — Benjamin Giraud comes to a sobering realization.
At some point in the latter half of 2558, peace talks between humans and Sangheili were scheduled to be held at the Outer Colonies regional embassy on Biko. Around a week before the meeting was to be held, the ambassador and peace activist Richard Sekibo uncovered a serious threat that could disrupt the talks and petitioned the Unified Earth Government for support. The UEG Senate disregarded his request, but when the day came, John landed in the densely populated city where the talks were being held. Sekibo's intelligence had been correct, for the extremist group known as Sapien Sunrise had managed to infiltrate the embassy and were plotting to assassinate Sekibo and frame the Sangheili for his death. The ship John used to enter the planet's atmosphere was moving so fast that it registered as a fireball to the air traffic artificial intelligence monitoring it. John charged toward the embassy at a dead sprint. He burst into the chamber where the delegates were gathered and without a moment's hesitation, shot the Sapien Sunrise operative acting as Sekibo's bodyguard with a handgun at point-blank range. This provocation started a firefight that ultimately cost the lives of nineteen humans and three of the Sangheili. John took possession of Sekibo and fought his way out of the embassy with the Sangheili survivors. In addition to Sekibo's bodyguard, eight of the other humans present had been part of Sapien Sunrise: four embassy guards and four civilians. Of the civilians, two were janitors collectively armed with a rocket launcher and two were couriers carrying fragmentation grenades. John killed all nine, including the bodyguard, with just twelve rounds from a handgun, though he was armed with an MA5D assault rifle as well. They all boarded the ship he had arrived on and fled the planet thereafter, but the ambassador succumbed to wounds inflicted during the shooting, making him the nineteenth casualty. The day after the firefight interrupted the peace talks local officials investigating a signal beacon found his body in a field where John had left it. That same day the Sangheili clan that had sent representation to the talks broadcast an official transmission to Earth in which its kaidon denied any involvement in what had transpired and also defended John's innocence in the matter. This transmission was buried by the Unified Earth Government and the UEG's magistrate on Biko, Laurel Adams, took actions to keep the local leadership and media from speaking out either, ensuring that the involvement of Sapien Sunrise remained unknown to the rest of humanity.
Ten days after the violence on Biko, the Office of Naval Intelligence intentionally leaked a previously suppressed incident report from the embassy that detailed the Master Chief's involvement in events and made it appear that he had burst into the building and killed people there unprovoked. Every journalism outlet and social hub immediately was abuzz with coverage of the story and John was soon widely being accused of abducting and killing Richard Sekibo, slaughtering civilians, and even colluding with the enemy. On Earth, the predominant reaction from people was panic, as it seemed that humanity's savior had finally gone rogue. News presenters began referring to John as "the Fallen Spartan". In the Outer Colonies, however, his purported actions were largely believed to have been carried out under the direction of ONI. The Chief was simply seen as a disposable weapon being wielded by the agency to cripple Sekibo's diplomatic vision. Some were also gladdened to see Earth's champion brought low by the leaked report. Less than twenty-four hours later, a second leak was put out in the form of a video from the incident. The footage seemed to corroborate everything in the report and immediately polarized people across human-occupied space even further. The leaks, combined with recent reporting from Benjamin Giraud on the poaching of Outer Colonies children for the Spartan-II program, created widespread unrest in those colonies. The New Colonial Alliance took full advantage of the moment and soon massive demonstrations were common and there were many renewed calls for embargoes, boycotts, and even independence from the Unified Earth Government. Some UEG politicians tried to levy the situation for their own disparate agendas, from increased military spending to tax relief. Now a freshman senator, Andrew Del Rio called for the decommissioning of all extant Spartan-IIs. The senator eventually retracted his proposal when Laurel Adams and the UEG at large announced the conclusion of an investigation that cleared the Chief of any suspicions of wrongdoing. Evidence implicating Sapien Sunrise in Sekibo's death was made public and at the same time, Benjamin Giraud's reporting was discredited, since ONI had played a large role in providing him with unreliable evidence. These reversals served to quell the fervor in the Outer Colonies and in the eyes of many, lay the spurious accusations concerning the Spartan-II program's sordid history at the feet of Giraud alone.
BIRD IN HAND
- Main article: Raid on Argent Moon
- Fred-104: "We're outnumbered here, Chief. A few thousand to one."
- John-117: "Surrendering Argent Moon is not an option."
- — John and Fred about their mission
On October 23, 2558, John and the rest of Blue Team were deployed from the UNSC Infinity for Operation: BIRD IN HAND, a mission to find and secure Argent Moon, an ONI research vessel that had been missing for nineteen months. 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 his Covenant forces on board. 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 forces attacked them while Blue Team defended themselves, waiting for the Prowler to prep for launch. With the hangar cleared and the Acrisius ready, John contacted the UNSC Infinity and informed them that he would be sending Blue Team to Meridian. However, Infinity was mysteriously already aware of Cortana's return and ordered John back to them while another Spartan team was sent to deal with her. Rejecting their orders, John and Blue Team chose to go AWOL and evacuated aboard the Acrisius, leaving the Argent Moon as it exploded.
Absent without leave
- Main article: Battle of Meridian (2558)
- Spartan Locke: "Sir, you are absent without leave. This is your one chance to come home peacefully."
- John-117: "I have a job to do."
- — John-117 and Spartan Locke about current state of affairs
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
- Main article: Battle of Genesis
- "Stand down, Cortana. Come home with us. It's not too late to stop this."
- — John trying to convince Cortana to stop
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.
- "This isn't over. Not by a long shot."
- — John-117 confirms his resolve to combat Cortana's plans for the galaxy.
It only took a few minutes to traverse the portal through slipspace. When the Pelican emerged, the Spartans found themselves flying through a cavernous cave, which they excited to be faced with a deep Sanghelios night. John remained quiet while the others determined where they were and what they ought to do next. When he finally did speak up, it was to apologize for everything that had recently happened. Linda was the first to dismiss his apology, as he had done what he thought was right and had been backed up by she, Kelly, and Fred every step of the way. Locke also conceded that John had done what he could to stop Cortana. Buck followed this by suggesting that seeing as John had known her the best, he might be the key to stopping her. John confirmed that he wasn't even close to calling the struggle against her and the other A.I.s over. Locke mentioned that if they could get back to the UNSC Infinity, Halsey might be able to work out a solution, which caught John and the other Spartan-IIs by surprise. John asked if she was alright and learned from Tanaka that she had been the last time Osiris saw her, though she was missing an arm. Fred took this opportunity to take what Buck had said on step further, noting that it was Halsey, not John, that knew Cortana best.
The portal had deposited them relatively near the Sangheili city of Sunaion off the coast of Qivro. Vale guessed that the Swords of Sanghelios were likely still camped in Nuusra where they had recently staged an attack on Jul 'Mdama's Covenant from just days prior. Locke said that he wouldn't leave before finding Commander Sarah Palmer or confirming she was KIA, which John agreed to. Before long, fires were spotted that indicated the location of a Sangheili encampment where they expected the Swords to be. John told Kelly to take them in to land. He and Locke lined up at the ramp and exited the dropship together after in touched down, coming face-to-face with Palmer, Arbiter Thel 'Vadam and a group of his Sangheili, and Doctor Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, whom John had not seen in over six years. As surprised to see him as he was to see her, Halsey told him that it had taken him long enough. As the rest of Blue Team revealed themselves as well, John introduced them to Thel, who proceeded to invite the new arrivals to join in a celebratory meal commemorating their victory over the last of Jul 'Mdama's Covenant. Halsey revealed that she had gotten a message from Roland on the Infinity and that it would be appearing off of the far side of Suban the following day at 1800 hours. Now that they had transportation, they could be there waiting for it when it showed. Buck expressed skepticism regarding Roland's allegiance given recent events, but Halsey insisted they'd already be dead if Roland was compromised. John nodded at this. Taking off his helmet, he said they'd be staying there for the night and flying out first thing tomorrow. From there the humans joined the Sangheili in dining on colo and kuscatu. John, Kelly, Fred, Linda, and Halsey went off on their own for a time to talk. When John rejoined the rest of the gathering, he asked Palmer what had become of the Guardian which reportedly had arrived to disrupt the power across large regions of the planet. She admitted she wasn't entirely sure. Later, John took part of the night to reminisce and catch up with Thel, who told him that he had received reports of it and Promethean soldiers pacifying cities on the other side of Sanghelios that were proving to be openly hostile to Cortana's ultimatum.
Everyone was awake around an hour before sunrise and all the humans piled into the Pelican. The Arbiter bid John farewell, and while the two clasped arms, expressed his confidence that they could stand against this new threat as they had stood together against the hierarchs and the Covenant. John thanked him and then they were off, soaring through and past the planet's atmosphere on a trip that took them just a few hours. John advised everyone to keep an eye out for the Guardian, should it reappear. With about twenty minutes until the Infinity's projected arrival, Fireteam Osiris broke out a game of Hearts, but John and the others declined playing. When Infinity finally did show up, Kelly landed India 127 in its fifth portside bay. The Spartans were met by a lieutenant whom announced that Halsey, Locke, Palmer, and John were wanted on the bridge. As the rest of Blue Team went to have their armor removed, John accompanied those three to meet with Captain Lasky.
- "This isn't a new war. The war is already over. Cortana won. What we're talking about now is starting a revolution."
- — Michael Crespo comments on the power balance in the galaxy following the Created uprising.
A little over one-and-a-half years into the fight against Cortana and the Created, John found himself once more on the surface of a Halo ring. On May 27, 2560, he caught sight of a signal flare that had been ignited by a group of four marines. He picked up the four men, one of whom had been injured past the point of being able to walk unassisted, in an M12 Warthog and transported them elsewhere on the ring.
Fake burial and legacy
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.
Personality and traits
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- "Our duty as soldiers is to protect humanity, whatever the cost."
- — Master Chief about what it takes to protect human lives
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. 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. 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. As he did during the Battle of Circinius IV by drawing a Hunter's attention in order to give the cadets 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 at a fraction of normal speed. It is almost a clairvoyant state of mind, and as a result of this, has an acute intuitive insight and perception of any situation 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.
- "Of course, John volunteered. He was always the first to explore the unknown for the rest of us."
- — Kelly about John's decision to test Mjolnir armor
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.
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 by two ranks. Blue Team also willingly followed John when he chose to go AWOL.
- "Folks need heroes, Chief, to give 'em hope, so smile would ya, while we still got something to smile about!"
- — Avery Johnson to John upon entering Cairo Station's bridge for receiving badges.
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. With the development of SPARTAN-IV program many soldiers enlisted with 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.
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.
- "The thing about John is that he only really knew three ways to react to people. If you were his superior officer, he obeyed you. If you were in his squad, he would die for you. But if you were a threat, then God help you."
- — Samuel-034 about John's behavior
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.
- "Exhausted as I am, the steadiness in Chief's voice focuses me. Steels me like nothing else. Because I know he's already three steps ahead."
- — Kelly-087
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- "All the way to the end, brother."
- — Fred-104
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- "Sam was my friend. He was my brother. He was our brother."
- — John-117
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- "We were supposed to take care of each other. And we did."
- — Cortana to John moments before perishing
In a strange twist of fate, John-117 built a close friendship with the AI Cortana, a construct "born" from the mind of Dr. Halsey herself. Despite some initial hesitation towards working with an AI out of fear of conflicting directives, John and Cortana quickly formed a formidable team. After a near-fatal training exercise masterminded by ONI Colonel Ackerson, John realized that Cortana would be a great help instead of a liability. During their exploits on Installation 04 and afterward, John displayed a firm trust in Cortana, even believing in her when Lord Hood was unsure of the reliability of her word that she had a way to stop the Flood. Years later, on Requiem, he went as far as to disobey a direct order to give her up for decommissioning. Cortana ultimately sacrificed herself to save him and John was clearly upset by her death. Her death made him ponder what it really means to be human.
After being made aware of her potential survival the Chief again disobeyed an order to return to the UNSC and sought to investigate the situation himself. After witnessing firsthand the terrible aftermath of Cortana's awakening of the Guardians, he refrained from making any premature conclusions about her involvement until reestablishing contact with the AI. However once arriving at the Forerunner world of Genesis and having several evasive conversations with her, the Master Chief grew suspicious of Cortana's motives, to the point of having to verbally call her out on attempting to use their past friendship as a means to manipulate him. When Cortana eventually divulged her plans to use the Guardians as a forceful instrument against those who will oppose her rule, John made one final attempt to talk her into standing down peacefully and return home. His efforts proved unsuccessful, and he was forcibly locked into a Cryptum along with the rest of Blue Team by Cortana; ultimately being rescued by Fireteam Osiris shortly after.
During the Covenant War, John developed a comradeship with the veteran UNSC Marine Avery Johnson. The two fought side-by-side in several battles, from Reach to Installation 04 to Earth, the campaign on Delta Halo, as well as on the Ark where Johnson would ultimately meet his end by 343 Guilty Spark. The Master Chief and Johnson cared greatly about one another, and 117 trusted Johnson without doubt as seen when he allowed Johnson to take Cortana to be inserted in Installation 08's Core. Following Johnson's death, John was visibly saddened.
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- Thomas Lasky: "Chief, I won't pretend to know how you feel. I've lost people I care about, but... never anything like you're going through."
- John-117: "Our duty, as soldiers, is to protect humanity. Whatever the cost."
- Thomas Lasky: "You say that like soldiers and humanity are two different things. Soldiers aren't machines. We're just people."
- — Lasky tries to comfort Chief over Cortana's death.
John encountered Lasky when he rescued the survivors of Hastati Squad at Corbulo Academy. When John planned to sacrifice himself to ensure the safety of the squad from a Mgalekgolo, Lasky volunteered to be bait and together they managed to defeat it. John presented a shard of the Mgalekgolo's armor as a keepsake to Lasky for his courage, further motivating Lasky to become an officer. Both later reunited on Requiem after tracking the distress call sent by Cortana from the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn. He respects John deeply and even used his authority as a Field Commander to allowing him to desert using a fully armed Pelican that was readied under the pretense of pursuing John if he had left the Infinity. After Cortana's sacrifice, Lasky was unable to comfort him despite his similar experiences.
- Jameson Locke: "Your people used to call him "Demon." Was that an insult or a compliment?"
- Thel 'Vadam: "An insult, to be sure, but one with a modicum of respect. He was indeed my enemy, but, in time, I named him ally... even friend. The events which forged this bond are… complicated."
- — Locke and the Arbiter about Chief
John and Thel 'Vadam's first meeting on Delta Halo was hostile, with the Arbiter continually referring to the Spartan as "Demon" and John's insistence that the San'Shyuum were making a "big mistake" by activating the Halo rings. Upon their next meeting on Earth, John was quick to try and kill the Sangheili before Johnson stopped him. They remained initially wary of one another, but learned to trust each other in combat against the Covenant and the Flood. Thel proved his trustworthiness to John through actions such as assisting him in the rescue of Sergeant Johnson, or counseling his fellow Sangheili not to glass all of Earth after the Flood outbreak at Voi. When they reached the Ark, the two's reliance on each other was cemented, and John demonstrated his respect for Thel by allowing him be the one to kill the Prophet of Truth. The Arbiter also came to his aid on High Charity despite having little need to do so, and chose to fight with John to the end in his efforts to stop the Flood and consoled him on Johnson's death. 'Vadam was the last one to see John alive before the latter went missing after the war, and afterward expressed to Lord Hood mild doubt that John might be dead. 'Vadam would later refer to John as a "friend", and upon learning that he was still alive following the events on Ealen IV, Thel believed that he was the key to the galaxy's future. During the Battle of Sunaion, Thel referred to the Chief as the greatest of all Spartans, and later asked Spartan Locke to give the Chief his greetings. Following John's arrival at Sanghelios, 'Vadam greeted him with a dinner to celebrate their victory over Jul 'Mdama's forces.
- "He’s so serious. Thoughtful eyes, though. Attractive in a primitive animal sort of way, don’t you think, Doctor?"
- — Cortana comments upon a photograph of John to Catherine Halsey after seeing him for the first time in it.
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 clear eyes and thin eyebrows set in an oval face still betrayed his age. 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. The result was a man that would eventually stand just over two meters tall (six feet and ten inches) and weigh one-hundred and thirty kilograms (286.6 pounds) at Earth-standard gravity. 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 blood type is O positive and his genome is a hybridization of his original and added sequences. Cortana and Catherine Halsey both consider him somewhat attractive in a "primitive animal sort of way". As of 2560, John is around forty-nine years old. 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 rifle. One of the bullets managed to penetrate the suit.
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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.
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| L'Adjudant in Halo: Combat Evolved and in the Halo novels published by Fleuve Noir.|
Le Major in almost every media since Halo 2.
| Jefe Maestro in almost every media|
|Check out our collection of quotes related to John-117 in its quotes page.|
|Browse more images in this article's gallery page.|
- John is the protagonist and main playable character throughout the core of the Halo series. He is voiced by Steve Downes in the original trilogy, the Reclaimer Saga, Halo: Reach's Firefight mode, and the audio version of "Palace Hotel". In the Halo Legends shorts "The Package" and "Odd One Out", John is voiced by David Wald. In Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn, he is physically portrayed by Daniel Cudmore, who is known for portraying the mutant Colossus in the X-Men film series, while provides his voice. Bruce Thomas provided John's motion capture performance in Halo 4 and apparently served as the model for his face in the game's Legendary ending.
- John-117 is likely named for Sylvester Stallone's character John Spartan, from the 1993 action film Demolition Man. Spartan is placed in cryostasis before awakening decades later, much like how John-117 is introduced emerging from cryosleep in Halo: Combat Evolved.
- John appears as an Easter egg in Halo: Reach, asleep inside a cryo pod in the Pillar of Autumn's hangar.
- Late in the development of Halo: Combat Evolved, (when the game was known simply as Halo) Microsoft urged Bungie to change the main character's title from "the Master Chief" to "the Commando", as they felt that it better suited the tone of the game.
- In Halo 5: Guardians, John-117's character-specific base attributes are increased melee damage and faster shield and health regeneration rates. His default weapons loadout includes an MA5D assault rifle, an M6H2 magnum, and two fragmentation grenades.
- A tower in the shape of John's helmet can be found on Mars in Bungie's Destiny.
- Fable II makes a reference to the Master Chief with a character of legend named "Hal", also called the Minstrel Chief. The armor featured (clearly inspired by Halo's MJOLNIR Powered Assault Armor) is known as "Hal's Armor". A sword resembling the Energy Sword is also featured in the game, known as "Hal's Sword". In addition, with the Special Edition, the player can obtain the title "Master Chief" for their hero for free from any title vendor.
- A wax sculpture of the Master Chief is on display at Madame Tussauds in Los Angeles and Amsterdam. He is the first video game character to receive a Madame Tussaud's wax sculpture.
- John's surname is consistently unknown. However, because his redacted name in the Eridanus II census record takes up less space than the surnames of Rolla Hedegaard and Hirayama Tatsuyuki, it can be determined that his surname is less than nine letters long.
John-117's biochemical analysis card, created on 04/11/2517.
John boarding the Unrelenting.
Master Chief leading Blue Team in combat on Alpha Corvi II.
The Master Chief aboard Echo 419 approaching the Cartographer.
John and Blue Team fighting side by side aboard Argent Moon.
Profile images and portraits
John-117 in Halo: Combat Evolved, clad in MJOLNIR Mark V armor.
John-117 in Halo 2, clad in MJOLNIR Mark VI armor.
John-117 stands back-to-back with Thel 'Vadam in Halo 3.
John-117 in The Package.
John-117's Firefight profile image in Halo: Reach.
John in his Mark IV MJOLNIR armor in Halo: Fall of Reach - Covenant.
John in Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary.
John-117 in Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn.
A render of the Master Chief in Scanned.
Full-body portrait of John-117 wielding an MA5D in Halo 4.
John-117 and the rest of Blue Team on the cover of Halo: Escalation #10.
John-117 in Halo 2: Anniversary.
John at age 14 after his augmentations in Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series.
John in a black body suit in Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series.
A hologram of John in Halo Wars 2.
An early John-117 drawing by Shi Kai Wang for Halo: Combat Evolved.
Concept art of John-117 undergoing Mark VI armor diagnostics for Halo 2.
Concept art of John-117 and Thel 'Vadam inside a Forerunner facility for Halo 3.
Early concept art of John-117 in his armor for The Package.
Concept art of John-117 with a cloak for Halo 5: Guardians.
John-117 facing a horde of Sangheili Storm.
Unused concept of John-117 for Halo Wars 2.
List of appearances
- ^ As John is subordinate to Naval Special Weapons, it is unlikely that he could have earned exclusive service medals from the Army, the Marine Corps, and the Air Force. These medals may have been bestowed on behalf of the Office of Naval Intelligence in order to boost morale.
- ^ John misspoke here, as it would only be a three rank jump to go from being a petty officer first class to a master chief petty officer.
- ^ The colony on which Daisy died appears to be Sargasso in Halo: Legends, Homecoming. This would place her date of death in late 2546. However, the name is not explicitly stated in the film and 343 Industries writer Jeff Easterling has said that the location is "undefined publicly". As such, Halopedia has elected to leave it ambiguous for now.
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Halo Waypoint - Master Chief
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Data Drop Five
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition - dossiers
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 23
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 11
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 9
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 5
- ^ a b c d Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 3
- ^ a b c Halo 3, campaign level Arrival
- ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 28
- ^ a b c d e Halo 3, Epilogue
- ^ Halo 4, Prologue ("His file reads missing in action.")
- ^ Halo 4
- ^ a b c d e Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Blue Team
- ^ a b Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Glassed
- ^ a b c d Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, The Breaking
- ^ a b c Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Guardians
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Halo: Escalation, Issue #10
- ^ a b Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Reunion
- ^ a b c d e f g h Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 01
- ^ Halo Warfleet, page 22
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 2
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Halo: The Flood, Chapter 1
- ^ a b c d e Scanned
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: Evolutions, Palace Hotel
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, September 15, 2517
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 4
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 25
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series
- ^ a b c d Halo: Fall of Reach, Boot Camp
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, September 28, 2517
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, additional materials
- ^ Dr. Halsey's personal journal, December 10, 2518
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 27
- ^ a b c Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 24
- ^ Halo: Mortal Dictata, Chapter 15
- ^ Halo: First Strike, Chapter 19
- ^ Halo: Reach, Highlands
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 7
- ^ a b Halo: First Strike, Chapter 24'
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 7
- ^ a b c d e Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 1
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, September 20, 2520
- ^ a b c d e Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 13
- ^ a b c Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 17
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halo: First Strike, Chapter 17
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 1
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n The Fall of Reach, Chapter 6
- ^ a b c Dr. Halsey's personal journal, April 1, 2525
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, August 22, 2524
- ^ Halo: Blood Line, Issue #4
- ^ Halo: Blood Line, Issue #3
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, February 23, 2525
- ^ a b Halo 5: Guardians, John-117's loadout
- ^ a b c Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 83
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, January 7, 2535
- ^ Halo Wars 2, phoenix logs, Alice-130
- ^ Halo Waypoint - Canon Fodder #100: Sweet Centennial
- ^ a b c d e Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 03
- ^ a b Halo: The Flood, Chapter 5
- ^ a b c Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 8
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 10
- ^ a b c d Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 19
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 13
- ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 12
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j Halo: Collateral Damage, Issue #1
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 14
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Halo Universe, page 221
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: Collateral Damage, Issue #3
- ^ a b Halo 4, Reclaimer
- ^ a b Halo: Collateral Damage, Issue #2
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Michael "Sully" Sullivan
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 3
- ^ a b c d e Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 14
- ^ a b c d Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 15
- ^ Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 22
- ^ a b c Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 2
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 5
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 8
- ^ a b c d Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 10
- ^ a b c Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 11
- ^ a b c d Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 16
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 20
- ^ a b c Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 19
- ^ Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 27
- ^ a b c d e Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 25
- ^ a b Halo: Silent Storm, Epilogue
- ^ Halo Waypoint Forums - Today in Halo
- ^ Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 104
- ^ a b c d e Halo 4, Shutdown
- ^ Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 10
- ^ Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 57
- ^ a b c Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 82
- ^ Halo Wars: Genesis
- ^ a b Halo 5: Guardians, Blue Team
- ^ a b Halo 4, Prologue
- ^ Halo: New Blood, Chapter 1
- ^ Halo on Twitter
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: The Fall of Reach, Prologue
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Halo Legends, The Package
- ^ Halo Waypoint, EVA Booster Frame
- ^ Halo Mythos, page 54
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 20
- ^ a b c Halo: The Fall of Reach, Adjunct
- ^ Bungie.net: MA5C Assault Rifle
- ^ a b c Halo Legends, Homecoming
- ^ a b c Halo: New Blood, Chapter 2
- ^ Jessica Shea on Twitter 01/10/2545 
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 20
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Halo Universe, page 300
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 17
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 18
- ^ a b c d e f g Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 21
- ^ Halo: Fall of Reach, Covenant
- ^ a b c Halo: Fall of Reach, Invasion
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 23
- ^ Data Drop Two
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 26
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, August 27, 2552
- ^ Data Drop Four
- ^ Halo: Reach, ONI: Sword Base
- ^ a b Dr. Halsey's personal journal, August 12, 2552
- ^ Halo: Reach, Tip of the Spear
- ^ a b c Dr. Halsey's personal journal, August 29, 2552
- ^ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 2
- ^ a b c Halo: Reach, The Package
- ^ a b c d Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 32
- ^ a b c d e Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 34
- ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 29
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 30
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 35
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 37
- ^ a b c d Halo: The Fall of Reach, Epilogue
- ^ Halo: Reach, The Pillar of Autumn
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: Combat Evolved, The Pillar of Autumn
- ^ a b Halo: The Cole Protocol, Chapter 2
- ^ Halo Warfleet, page 12
- ^ Halo Mythos, page 65
- ^ a b Halo: The Flood, Prologue
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s Halo: The Flood, Chapter 3
- ^ a b c d e f Halo: the Flood, Chapter 2
- ^ a b c Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo
- ^ Halo Waypoint - CATALOG INTERACTION
- ^ a b c Halo: The Flood, Chapter 4
- ^ Halo: Combat Evolved, The Truth and Reconciliation
- ^ a b c d e Halo: First Strike, Chapter 5
- ^ a b c Halo: First Strike, Chapter 6
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 97
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 271
- ^ Halo: First Strike, pages 329-336
- ^ Halo: First Strike, pages 242-246 (2003)
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 336 (2003)
- ^ a b c Halo 2, Cairo Station
- ^ Eleventh Hour Reports - SUBJECT: HEIRLOOMS
- ^ Halo Warfleet, page 31
- ^ a b c Halo 2, The Armory
- ^ a b c Halo 2, The Heretic
- ^ a b c d e f Halo 2, Outskirts
- ^ a b c Halo 2, Metropolis
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level Metropolis
- ^ a b Halo 2, campaign level Regret
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level Delta Halo
- ^ a b Halo 2, campaign level Gravemind
- ^ a b Halo 2, campaign level High Charity
- ^ Halo 2, campaign level The Great Journey
- ^ Halo: Uprising Issue 1
- ^ Halo: Uprising Issue 2
- ^ Halo: Uprising Issue 3
- ^ Halo: Uprising Issue 4
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level Sierra 117
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level Crow's Nest
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level Tsavo Highway
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level The Storm
- ^ a b Halo 3, campaign level Floodgate
- ^ a b Halo 3, campaign level Cortana
- ^ Halo 3, campaign level The Ark
- ^ a b Halo 4: The Essential Visual Guide, page 129
- ^ a b c Halo 3, campaign level The Covenant
- ^ a b c d e Halo 3, campaign level Halo
- ^ Halo Legends: Origins
- ^ a b Halo 4, campaign level Dawn
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Requiem
- ^ a b Halo 4, campaign level Forerunner
- ^ a b c Halo 4, campaign level Infinity
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Composer
- ^ a b c d e Halo 4, campaign level Midnight
- ^ a b Halo 4, Epilogue
- ^ Halo: Spartan Strike, Operation B: Steadfast Pursuit
- ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Halo: Escalation, Issue #8
- ^ Halo: Glasslands, Chapter 3
- ^ a b c d e Halo: Escalation, Issue #9
- ^ Halo Mythos, page 162
- ^ a b Halo Waypoint - Community Update: Brute Force
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Didact
- ^ a b c Halo Mythos, page 185
- ^ a b c Halo Legendary Crate, Data Drop #9
- ^ a b c d e Halo: Tales from Slipspace, On the Brink
- ^ Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 12
- ^ a b c Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 09
- ^ a b c Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 13
- ^ a b c d e f g Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 08
- ^ a b c d e f g Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 10
- ^ a b Hunt the Truth, Season 1 Episode 11
- ^ Halo Waypoint: Linda-058
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Unconfirmed
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Evacuation
- ^ a b A Hero Falls
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level, Genesis
- ^ a b c d e f g h i Halo: Bad Blood, Chapter 1
- ^ a b Halo: Bad Blood, Chapter 2
- ^ a b c d Halo Infinite reveal trailer
- ^ Halo: Bad Blood, Chapter 11
- ^ wccftech.com 343i: Halo Infinite To Feel Like A New Adventure, Good Starting Point for Newcomers; Coming To Xbox One & PC
- ^ Believe - Gravesite
- ^ GameTrailers: Making of the John 117 Monument
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 25
- ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 205
- ^ Halo: The Flood, page 165
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 235 (2003)
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 334 (2003)
- ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series, Act Two
- ^ The Cost
- ^ Halo: Escalation, Issue #7
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians Limited Edition, John-117 personnel profile
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Glassed
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Reclaimer
- ^ Halo 4, campaign level Shutdown
- ^ Halo: First Strike, page 268 (2003)
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians, The Breaking'
- ^ Halo 4 Campaign, level Epilogue (Halo 4 level)
- ^ Halo: Bad Blood
- ^ a b c Eurogamer: Why 343 isn't ready to show us Master Chief's face
- ^ a b Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 106
- ^ a b Halo 4, Epilogue
- ^ Halo Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to the Halo Universe, page 227
- ^ Halo 4, Dawn
- ^ Halo: New Blood, Chapter 14
- ^ YouTube: Halo Canon Exclusive Interview
- '^ Game Informer, 2012 May Issue
- ^ https://mobile.twitter.com/GrimBrotherOne/status/791063783280025601
- ^ Jeff Easterling's Twitter: GEN2; in Escalation
- ^ Halo Waypoint - Cannon Fodder: Conventional Warfare
- ^ Halo 5: Guardians, campaign level Unconfirmed
- ^ YouTube: First Look: Halo 4 Forward Unto Dawn (Live Action Series)
- ^ Game Informer, November 2010 (Marcus Lehto: "That is in fact the Master Chief. We felt that if he were to show up anywhere, this was the place to do it. Placing him in the "hushed casket" was the one way we felt his presence in Reach would be appropriate. Anything greater than that would have diminished the importance of Noble Team, including yourself as the last remaining Spartan willing to stay behind and fight on Reach to the very bitter end."
- ^ 343 Sparkast #6
- ^ imgur: Blue Team Perks (Halo 5)
- ^ Joystiq: Master Chief crash lands into Fable II
- ^ Madame Tussauds: Master Chief