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Johnson redirects here. For other uses, see Johnson (disambiguation).
Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson (SN: 48789-20114-AJ ) was a senior non-commissioned officer of the UNSC Marine Corps who served during in the fight against the Insurrection and the Human-Covenant War. Johnson was a highly trained marine, who also served with various units of the Naval Special Warfare Command, most notably the highly classified ORION Project, the UNSC's first super-soldier program.
Johnson played a vital role over the course of the Covenant War. He resisted the Covenant's attack on Harvest at the outbreak of the war and went on to participate in numerous engagements. In the war's final months Johnson fought during the Fall of Reach, on Installation 04, at Earth, on Installation 05, and on the Ark and Installation 08. He was key to the formation of an alliance between humanity and Thel 'Vadam and the Fleet of Retribution following the Great Schism in November 2552. Ultimately, Sergeant Major Johnson was killed by monitor 343 Guilty Spark while attempting to prematurely activate Installation 08.
Avery Junior Johnson was born on November 23, 2474 on Earth in the United Republic of North America's Greater Chicago Industrial Zone, a sprawling metroplex covering regions that once were part of the American states of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin. From the time he was six years old, he was raised by his aunt, Marcille, after Zone social services placed him in her care due to an angry end to his parents' marriage. His father had left his mother so distraught that she could no longer care for herself, let alone an active, six-year-old boy. Marcille's sons were already grown by the time she adopted Avery and consequently he was dressed with many of the worn-out clothes they had worn at his age, which did not always fit due to his tall, broad-shouldered frame. His aunt worked hard to patch and sew so that Avery always looked his best, however, especially for church. Aunt Marcille was Evangelical Promessic and her religiosity resonated with the young Avery, who accompanied her to church services. Avery's first day of attendance left him with memories he would carry for the remainder of his life: the suffocating pinch of his white, freshly starched oxford shirt, a little paisley tie, argyle socks beneath neatly cuffed tan slacks, and the smell of carnauba wax, liberally applied, to mask the scuffs in his oversized, wingtip shoes. Avery and his aunt lived in a walkup apartment on Blackstone Avenue for the entirety of Avery's upbringing.
Early military career
Avery enlisted with the United Nations Space Command Marine Corps when he was nineteen years old. His aunt bid him farewell by telling him to make her proud and reminding him to always do what was right. He had become convinced that innocent people, like his aunt, were threatened by those involved in the Insurrection, an undeclared civil war between the Unified Earth Government and disparate groups resisting its authority that had kicked off in earnest in 2496. Avery excelled as a marine and often warranted special training and special missions. By the first few years of the twenty-sixth century, he had been handpicked to become part of the ORION Project, a joint effort by the Office of Naval Intelligence and the Colonial Military Authority to create biologically augmented super-soldiers to quell the Insurrectionist tide. Avery traveled to the planet Reach where he underwent a series of bioengineering protocols and grueling physical and mental tests. As part of ORION and NavSpecWar, he was granted entrance into the Naval Special Warfare Sniper School, where he exceeded the expectations of his superiors. In addition to training as a sniper, he also learned to deploy in Single Occupant Exoatmospheric Insertion Vehicle orbital drops and became an accomplished close quarters battle fighter. In 2502, then-Corporal Johnson deployed to Harvest as part of Operation: KALEIDOSCOPE, a campaign with the goal of assassinating key rebel leaders. On March 13, Avery acquired a position on a rooftop and with the assistance of a spotter, used an M99 Stanchion rifle to kill Jerald Ander, the leader of the Secessionist Union on the planet, as a truck carrying him passed by. Johnson was involved in numerous other classified operations against the Insurrection during his years with ORION. The final of these for the project was Operation: TANGLEWOOD. Due to unmet expectations and exorbitant costs, the ORION Project was then deactivated in 2506. Johnson was reassigned to a position in the Marine Corps once again. Avery was a leader during many black operations missions over the course of the Insurrection.
In 2513, the UNSC launched Operation: TREBUCHET, an extensive campaign to crush insurrectionists in the Outer Colonies. As part of this ongoing offensive, then-Staff Sergeant Johnson led a unit of Marines on June 16, 2524 during an effort to neutralize the bomb-making capabilities of rebels on Tribute. Before dawn, the two four-man squads took to the air with AV-14 Hornets. At fifty-seven minutes and sixteen seconds into the mission, the hornets crested a line of crumbling hills the marines got their first line-of-sight view of their objective: one of Tribute's struggling industrial settlements; and, somewhere inside the town, a suspected Insurrectionist bomb-shop. The hornets dropped the strike force off on the edge of town and Johnson took point for his squad. He set a brisk pace and led them over a chain-link fence and around piles of plastic crates and pallets until they reached the front of what looked like nothing more than a rundown vehicle repair shop. After signaling their position to Byrne and receiving a similar confirmation, Avery kicked in the thin metal door that led inside. Most of the surprised insurrectionists were unarmed at the moment of the breach and those that were had nothing more than snub-nosed automatic pistols that did little against the marines' body armor. Johnson personally neutralized a triggerman before he could detonate any explosives. The firefight lasted less than ten seconds and resulted in the deaths of twelve insurrectionists. Four others surrendered. Avery attempted to use an ARGUS device to detect any significant chemical compounds of interest in the vicinity, but the recent firefight made it impossible to nail down the location of any hidden bombs. Johnson relayed this complication to the tactical operations center on board the UNSC Bum Rush and received approval from Lieutenant Colonel Aboim to extract information from their hostages by any means necessary. Byrne selected one unlucky man and proceeded to break both his legs before he confessed they had been mixing explosives into the synthetic rubber treads of tires. The explosive compound in nearby tires was quickly uploaded to the database of similar materials used by the rebels. Less than a minute later, an ARGUS drone patrolling one of the highways leading into Casbah City, the planet's capital, identified the compound in skid marks left by a sixteen-wheel hauler. The truck was located as it pulled into the parking lot of a Jim Dandy roadside diner. More of the explosive was also detected inside the diner. Byrne killed the other three insurrectionists that had surrendered but kept the one who talked as a prisoner, per orders from the operation's ONI representative. He and Avery both led their squads back to the hornets.
Twenty-eight minutes elapsed during their flight. The craft took up positions behind a smoked-glass, multistory office building across the highway from the Jim Dandy. The drone provided Avery with thermal imaging of the situation. Now armed with a stanchion sniper rifle, he took aim at the man that had been the driver of the truck. He waited for the individual to finish his meal and exit the building before sending a round straight through two of the office building's steel-reinforced, polycrete floors and into him at fifteen thousand meters per second. The target was torn asunder by the shot. The ARGUS was still showing a bomb within the restaurant, so Byrne's team made to land and enter while Avery's continued to provide coverage from above. The source of the reading was a purse near where the man had been sitting. As Byrne was about to retrieve it, the woman to whom it belonged exited one of the diner's bathrooms. Realizing what was happening, she grabbed a young boy to turn him into a human shield and produced a detonator, threatening to use it if the marines did not back off. Avery was ordered to kill the woman from his position, but he hesitated due to the risk he would be putting the child at. Byrne yelled that if Johnson would not take the shot, then he would kill her himself. Johnson affirmed that he was firing, but as he waited for an opening that would minimize the chances of harming the boy, the boy's father lunged at the woman and she detonated the bombs. Both her purse and tires on the truck outside engulfed the diner in fiery explosions that killed everyone inside but Staff Sergeant Byrne. In total, the dead numbered thirty-nine civilians, (including the woman) and three marines.
After the incident, Johnson came home and found his aunt dead of natural causes, and soon went on a massive drinking binge. He started a brawl with bouncers at a Chicago club, and ended up in a gutter until he was found by Lieutenant Downs, a UNSC Marine Corps recruiter. He was reassigned to the planet Harvest by Jilan al-Cygni. Officially, Johnson was reassigned to train the Colonial Militia on Harvest, but their actual mission was to create a covert anti-insurgency unit, and to lay an ambush on insurgent forces suspected in the disappearances of DCS freighters around Harvest.
Johnson met Healy as he came to Harvest. After the man tried to get drinks and women instead of heading straight to where they were ordered, Johnson angrily confronted him.
Upon meeting Byrne again in the barracks shortly after arriving, he was confronted on why he didn't take the shot to kill the Insurrectionist. Johnson tried to explain that he didn't want to hit the child she was holding hostage, and apologized for the loss of Byrne's squad. This did not deter Byrne from starting a brawl. Initially, Johnson had the upperhand, nearly choking the larger man into unconsciousness with a belt, but was kicked in his unprotected groin, stunning him for a few moments. Before Johnson could recover, he was grabbed by the throat and lifted off the ground. Byrne rebuked Johnson, before Captain Ponder entered. Ponder threatened to shoot Byrne if he did not release Johnson, forcing Byrne to do so. Ponder warned the two marines that if they wanted to take any anger out on each other, this was the last time they could do so. Johnson refused at first, but after being punched by Byrne, he swung so hard that the other Staff Sergeant's tooth was knocked from his mouth, coming to rest by Healy.
Johnson began training the marines not long after.
However, while lying in wait on a bait freighter, he and Sergeant Byrne, who was also assigned to the position, fought and defeated four bird-like extraterrestrials in the first official battle between the UNSC and the alliance of alien species known as the Covenant. Johnson and Byrne (with the rest of the militia of Harvest) were also present at the initial negotiations between the Brutes and the humans. They also fought Brute Chieftain Maccabeus, his nephew Tartarus, and several Grunts. He aided Staff Sergeant Byrne and ONI operative Lt. Cdr. Jilan al-Cygni in repelling the Brute ship Rapid Conversion long enough to allow most of the planet's population to escape into the Tiara, a station attached to seven different space elevators stationed on the planet. Later, he would become romantically involved with al-Cygni after escaping from the planet. Although Johnson and al-Cygni seemed quite taken with each other it is unclear whether they formed a relationship, or how long it lasted.
On March 7, 2526, Johnson was called to a meeting on the UNSC Everest with Vice Admirals Preston Cole and Michael Stanforth as well as Doctor Catherine Halsey. With the war with the Covenant getting desperate, the three discussed options and revealed that they wanted Johnson, as a veteran of the First Battle of Harvest and a member of the ORION Project, to be a part of whatever solution they came up with. Based on his own experiences on Harvest, Johnson offered his opinions on the various Covenant races he had encountered. Johnson was informed of the existence of the SPARTAN-IIs and their enhanced abilities. As the Spartans were only fifteen, Stanforth felt that they needed a sergeant to help lead and teach the Spartans, albeit one who wouldn't give orders. Though disgruntled about being effectively made into a babysitter, Johnson agreed to take up the role.
Johnson subsequently took part in Operation: SILENT STORM, a counterattack against the Covenant aimed at buying humanity time to develop effective countermeasures against their seemingly unstoppable enemy. During Task Force Yama's slipspace journey to their first destination, Johnson began working with the ODSTs of the 21st Space Assault Battalion, also known as the "Black Daggers." At first, the marines had proved to be no match for the Spartans during their training exercises, but that changed when Johnson introduced new and unorthodox strategies. While the Spartans continued to outclass the individual ODSTs, victory was no longer certain when facing large numbers that now knew how to coordinate an effective assault. Four days into the training, Colonel Marmon Crowther had the Spartans and the entire battalion of Black Daggers gather to be briefed on his plan to board and destroy Covenant vessels. When Crowther presented a plan that made poor use of the Spartans' abilities, John-117 spoke out and Johnson backed him up, helping to convince the colonel to consult with John before making his decision.
Battle of Seoba
Arriving at the ice quarry on Biko's moon of Seoba that had been selected as the staging point for their mission, Johnson was positioned in the troop bay of the UNSC Ghost Song alongside John-117 for a practice deployment set up by Colonel Crowther. However, it was discovered that insurgents aligned with the Biko Independence Army were occupying the quarry already. With the insertion no longer a drill, Ghost Flight maintained its approach vector and began to drop off its first detachments of Black Daggers, which were immediately torn to shreds by enemy weapon emplacements. John disobeyed orders and jumped from the prowler before his designated time, knowing that he would withstand the fire long enough to take out the nearest bunkers. After John and Blue Team had softened up the insurgents, the ODSTs and Johnson deployed with little difficulty. Shortly afterward, Johnson regrouped with the Spartans in the shadow of a derelict mass driver as they formulated a plan to destroy a convoy of insurrectionist Civets climbing out of the quarry to repair a communications relay that had been damaged during the insertion run. The convoy was eventually destroyed by Lieutenant Nelly Hamm's ODSTs and the quarry was taken. A day later, Johnson was summoned by Captain Halima Ascot for a debriefing in the quarry's Assembly Chamber 4L430. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss what went wrong during the operation and what led to Alpha Company's unusually-high casualties. Ultimately, the conversation turned to the Spartans and their qualifications, which then led to a discussion about their true ages. It was revealed that they were only fifteen at the time, giving Crowther a reason to sideline them for the rest of the operation. Then, the group began to discuss the insurgents' seeming preparedness to defend the quarry. John-117 suggested that they had been waiting for the Covenant, not the UNSC. Just then, a Covenant flotilla arrived in-system. Johnson and the others rushed out of the room to prepare for battle.
The entire 21st Space Assault Battalion was loaded onto the prowlers of Task Force Yama, with Captain Ascot's UNSC Starry Night and the rest of Night Flight receiving the last company. Johnson was among the Black Daggers who boarded the Starry Night. As Night Flight prepared to launch, the alien flotilla began bombarding their berth within the quarry. Ascot was alerted of this, and she ordered the four prowlers to launch immediately. Before it could clear the edge of the quarry, the Starry Night was struck by the bombardment, sending it crashing into the quarry's terraced ice walls, coming to a rest halfway up a fresh avalanche of ice. The prowler was heavily damaged, with its bow ripped off and the rest of its fuselage crumpled and warped. Johnson—now with a concussion—and four ODSTs survived the crash, but Captain Ascot and the rest of the crew were killed. Because no other units were available to check on the status of the downed Starry Night, John-117 diverted his Spartans to search for survivors. By the time they reached the prowler, a Covenant intrusion corvette had already arrived to recover the human stealth vessel for study, deploying EVA-equipped infantry to secure their prize. To delay them and also bring the Starry Night down to the quarry floor, John had his team fire just below the prowler with their grenade launchers, causing another avalanche. This allowed Fred-104 to lead a team into the Starry Night, secure Johnson and the other survivors, and prepare the vessel's nuclear self-destruct system. The Spartans fought off Covenant boarders and the concussed Johnson "guarded" the ship's escape pod as Linda-058 finished arming the nuke. With it set to detonate in thirty seconds, Fred led his two fellow Spartans, the ODSTs, and Johnson into the Starry Night's escape pod and ejected into the moon's low gravity. With everyone clear of the blast radius, the nuke blew, destroying the prowler and the corvette that had been drawing it upward via gravity lift.
Working with Crowther
Johnson was still recovering from his concussion the next day, March 20, when he attended a funeral service for the two-hundred-and-three UNSC men and women killed at Seoba. The ceremony was held in the UNSC Vanishing Point's command hangar as it skulked in high orbit over Biko. After a chaplain gave the eulogy, Lieutenant Commander Hector Nyeto—Task Force Yama's de facto commander following Captain Ascot's death—had Johnson call the two formations of the honor company to attention, order the hangar crew to raise the pressure barrier, and then open the outer hatch. Johnson performed these duties with the appropriate pomp, and the capsules were lifted out into the void of space by the decompression wave. Nyeto saluted and recited the Committal he had prepared, having Johnson close the outer hatch and dismiss the honor company once he had completed his brief speech. Most of those present filed out of the hangar, only leaving the six Spartans well enough to attend and a few senior officers. When Nyeto promised to John-117 that he and his compatriots would continue to see action despite their young ages, Colonel Crowther contested this, saying that the Spartans reported to him. In response, Nyeto reminded Crowther that he now reported to him, and that Admiral Cole surely knew about their unique situation before assigning them to the operation. What followed was a heated debate that ended in Nyeto conceding to Crowther after being threatened with a report to a UNSC board of inquiry.
As the remaining personnel departed from the hangar in a shocked silence, Johnson was joined by Crowther on the walk back to the Black Daggers' quarters. Crowther apologized to him for having that exchange in front of everyone, but he told the colonel that he had seen worse. Truthfully, Johnson had never seen two commanding officers openly threaten each other with career ending charges like that. He also warned Crowther that his disagreement with Nyeto was not a "pissing match" he was going to win, as it had been decided far above his pay grade that the Spartans were not children and that they were the right fit for the mission. Crowther surprised Johnson by agreeing with this sentiment, saying that the young supersoldiers had saved them at Seoba and that they were ready for battle. He then revealed that he was suspicious of Nyeto and his strange attitude toward the Spartans. It had seemed to him that Nyeto had purposefully stalled in supporting them during the previous day's battle. As such, Crowther wanted to keep the Spartans away from Nyeto until he figured out what was going on. Inwardly, Johnson agreed that he had similar suspicions about the lieutenant commander. To keep the Spartans away for a time, Crowther informed Johnson that he was sending them on a mission to sabotage the Covenant's supply chain at Etalan.
Despite Johnson being ordered to get some rest and let the effects of his concussion subside, Crowther sent him to visit Blue Team in one of the Vanishing Point's maintenance hangars later that day. At this point, a Covenant fleet had arrived and begun its assault on Biko, and the Black Daggers had been deployed to attempt boarding operations. When Johnson strode into the hangar still in pain with a hangover-like headache, he was dressed in blue light-duty utilities and a pair of boots. After John and Fred asked him how he was feeling, Johnson asked Blue Team if they were just going to sit in the hangar all day bellyaching and watching the battle from a distance. John told him that's all they could do with Crowther standing in their way. With that, Johnson informed them of their new mission from the colonel. The Spartans—especially Linda-058 and Kelly-087—were skeptical given Crowther's apparent past attitude toward them. Johnson leveled with them and admitted that the secrecy was warranted given the suspicions surrounding Nyeto. While the Spartans had their own suspicions of the lieutenant commander, John presented the possibility of Crowther using this mission to Etalan as a way to eliminate them—the Black Daggers' primary competition. Johnson admitted that the idea had never crossed his mind, but that it was possible. However, he asserted that the only way to determine if the mission was a setup would be to accept it. With this, John agreed.
Battle over Etalan
Later same day, Johnson, the Spartans, and Dr. Halsey left the Kolaqoa system aboard the UNSC Vanishing Point with two prowlers serving as escort. During the slipspace journey, Johnson and John-117 discussed which vessels of the logistics fleet they would make priority targets. Ultimately, they decided that they would target the munitions supply vessels first and the food supply vessels second, as the loss of those necessities would bring the Covenant offensive in this part of human space to a standstill.
On March 22, the three ships dropped out of slipspace near Etalan, spending the next four days observing the logistics fleet's movements and trying to discern which vessel served which purpose. By March 26, the Vanishing Point's analysts felt confident that four of the fleet's fifteen vessels were equipment freighters carrying spare parts and other materials that would be used to keep the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience operational in the field. At this point, the logistics fleet was seemingly preparing to break from orbit over Etalan, evidenced by the fact that they had begun syncing their orbits and bringing their fusion reactors to full power. Since time was running out, Gold and Green Teams were deployed in S-14 Baselards to destroy the equipment freighters as Johnson and Blue Team discussed what vessels they should target during the second phase of the attack. The plan called for each of them to pilot one of the Banshees that the Spartans had captured in a mission over Netherop a few weeks earlier. They would fly the Banshees straight into the hangars of the target vessels, crash the fighters with a HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon in the cockpit, and then go EV and await prowler pickup. For the purpose of this mission, Johnson was equipped with space assault armor, an M99 Stanchion, and an M41 SPNKR.
Johnson suggested that they take out what the analysts believed to be Mjern-pattern agricultural support ships, but Fred pointed out that they weren't even sure of that and they could be petting zoos for all they knew. Still, Johnson argued that could destroy all of the "petting zoos," and they'd be stuck without whatever they needed them for. However, Dr. Halsey walked over and informed them that she had identified the fleet's munition supply vessels as the three large "air-skimmers" seen dipping in and out of Etalan's upper atmosphere. Johnson, unconvinced that she could have determined that, asked how she knew. After some prodding, Dr. Halsey explained that the "air-skimmers" were collecting gas from Etalan's atmosphere to refine into plasma. She then revealed that she knew that Nyeto and his subordinates were Insurrectionist spies, and that she had found surveillance devices in her lab on the Vanishing Point. Despite Johnson and Blue Team's worries that the spies might have gotten access to the Spartans' armor, they prepared to follow through on their part of the mission, now targeting the three "air-skimmers" instead.
When John received a promotion to Master Chief Petty Officer from Crowther, Johnson was present and stated that he and Crowther had talked the promotion over and both had agreed that it was the best thing for the mission as the unheard of four-rank promotion solidified John's authority over the Black Daggers. Along with Crowther, Johnson cautioned John about "leading from the front" and what could happen if they lost John in combat. Before going their separate ways, John thanked Johnson for showing him how much John didn't learn during Spartan training on Reach and Johnson promised to help him again anytime.
Attack on Zhoist
During the attack on Zhoist, Johnson was stationed on the prowler UNSC Ghost Song with Crowther and waited on the flight deck as backup for Crowther to relieve Hector Nyeto of command when he revealed his true colors. After Nyeto tried to betray Sierra Force to the Covenant, Crowther made his move to relieve Nyeto of his command and arrest him for treason. However, the entire Ghost Flight turned out to be Insurrectionists loyal to Nyeto and the bridge crew turned on Johnson and Crowther, killing Crowther. Johnson killed the sensor operator, Crowther's killer and fled, single-handedly taking down seven Insurrectionists on board the Ghost Song. However, Nyeto blew the Black Daggers, who were all wearing sealed assault armor, into space. To stop Nyeto's plot, Johnson briefly activated his distress beacon, drawing the Covenant's attention to Nyeto and ultimately forcing the traitor to flee into slipspace. Having realized what Johnson was up to, John managed to keep Sierra Force from giving away their position by reacting to the beacon and subsequent Covenant response.
Following the betrayal of Nyeto, Johnson was left floating in space, but was rescued alive. The last person rescued alive from libration point three, Johnson had nearly frozen to death because his suit's heaters had failed and had run out of rebreather time resulting in a nearly fatal buildup of CO2 in his system. Wrapped in a space blanket and wearing an oxygen cannula, Johnson shared Sweet William cigars with John as they, along with the rest of Blue Team, watched the destruction wrought by the successful operation upon the Covenant world of Zhoist. Every time debris from the Ring of Mighty Abundance entered the atmosphere, Johnson cheered, particularly when six ships of the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience were destroyed by the octas carried by Black Daggers who had been taken prisoner upon those ships. Johnson began to reprimand Daisy-023 for acting like succeeding in the operation meant they won the whole war, but stopped himself and left it to John as her rightful commander and praised John's response.
Decades of War
Johnson was later present in the fall of the planet Reach. During the final stages of the battle on August 30, 2552, Johnson led a search-and-destroy team aboard the orbital Reach Station Gamma, made up of PFC Wallace Jenkins, and Privates Bisenti and O'Brien. They were almost killed by the attacking Jackals and Elites, but were later picked up by SPARTAN-IIs Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 and Petty Officer Second Class Linda-058. He escaped onto the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, which fled the battle into slipspace.
Battle of Installation 04
After coming out of slipspace, the Pillar of Autumn came across a Forerunner artifact known as Halo. The Covenant, cautious not to damage the ring world by firing at the Autumn in space, began boarding actions to "cleanly" neutralize the Autumn by boarding the ship and wiping out the crew and altering its course away from the Installation, before planting charges and blowing it up. On board, Johnson helped defend the Autumn from the invading Covenant boarding troops, but like everyone else was forced to abandon ship when Captain Jacob Keyes issued the order.
Sergeant Johnson's escape pod and one of his fireteams landed on the ring, with most of his Marines surviving. However, as soon as they regrouped, Covenant strike teams viciously attacked them. With his platoon scattered all over the valley, he was glad to see John-117 coming up to assist in the nick of time.
Johnson and Fire Team Charlie were evacuated by Captain Carol "Foe Hammer" Rawley and remained at Alpha Base for some time until asked to join a mission, led by Captain Keyes, into the inner workings of Installation 04. The crew intercepted a Covenant transmission detailing the transport of numerous weapons to somewhere in the swampy regions of Installation 04. This, as well as a captured Elite's testimony of a large weapons cache located in a swamp, prompted Keyes to investigate. Johnson, being an experienced and respected sergeant, accompanied the captain along with his squad.
Shortly after they were dropped off, the squad came across a structure leading underground. As they ventured further into the facility, they came across several Sangheili corpses with scrambled innards. Passing them off as friendly fire, they proceeded deeper into the facility until they entered a seemingly empty room. Annoyed by Private Manuel Mendoza's paranoia, Johnson shrugged off the situation until massive numbers of Pod infectors barged out of the nearby holding cells and attacked the squad. As each Marine fell, Johnson was forced to kill a few of his own men, who were mutating before his eyes and would have killed him if he had done otherwise.
Johnson, however, was able to survive the ambush uninfected due to his skill, tenacity and physiological enhancement, though when asked how he survived, he claimed that the Flood had not been able to infect him. Later, a query by the AI Cortana into Johnson's medical history claimed that he had a condition known as Boren's Syndrome. This disease was supposedly contracted while he was stationed at Paris IV. When the Covenant attacked Paris IV, Johnson fought valiantly; during the battle, he repossessed a crate of Covenant plasma grenades when his troops needed them and used them all against the enemy troops to keep them at bay so his fellow soldiers could evacuate. He received a commendation for bravery, and a twelve-hundred-rad cumulative dose of radiation as an unanticipated "bonus" from all the plasma detonations. Allegedly, the Boren's Syndrome had an unexpected side effect, as it made him effectively immune to infection by the Flood because the radiation scrambled his nervous system so much that Pod infectors could not force a match. This supposedly rendered the Flood unable to control him. However, the Boren's Syndrome story (referred to as the "Paris/BS Spoof"), was a hoax to cover up Johnson's involvement in the ORION Project, and his survival from the Flood was solely due to his ability to fight off the parasite before it could infect him thanks to his augmented physique and superior skill, as opposed to an actual immunity.[Note 1]
John-117 presumed Johnson dead after finding Private Jenkins' helmet recorder log, showing the gory details of the Marines' fates. However, Johnson escaped after Master Chief found Corporal Lovik and the remains of his team.
Operation: FIRST STRIKE
Johnson met up with Lt. Elias Haverson, Cpl. Locklear, and PO2 Shiela Polaski, escaping Halo's destruction in a Pelican moments before it collapsed in multiple explosions. Polaski piloted the dropship away from the ring, meeting up with a GA-TL1 Longsword carrying the Master Chief and Cortana, who had also escaped the Flood and Halo. Having seen Jenkins’ video himself, SPARTAN-117 was alarmed by Johnson's appearance and promptly pulled Johnson's own M6D pistol and pointed it to his head. Johnson had expressed no objection, and assured the Spartan that he was fine and not infected from the Flood, although it took Cortana's intervention to convince the Chief that Johnson was still human.
Without a viable way to return to the nearest safe outpost, it was decided that the new crew would take over the nearest Covenant ship in the vicinity, the Ascendant Justice, a Covenant capital ship. The Master Chief assumed command due to his higher-priority mission, although Lieutenant Haverson was the ranking officer, and Johnson assisted Master Chief by helping him assert control over Corporal Locklear and Haverson. After they boarded the Ascendant Justice, Johnson and the others made their way through the ship towards the bridge, where he witnessed a showdown between the Master Chief and a Sangheili, where he brought down the alien’s shields in order for SPARTAN-117 to push the Elite into an escape pod and send it away from the ship.
After they had captured the Covenant ship, not being able to return to Earth because of the Cole Protocol, Master Chief suggested they return to Reach to regroup. They proceeded with this plan despite protests that Reach was almost certainly a dead world. When they arrived at Reach, the planet was almost completely glassed, except for a small portion. Using a Covenant dropship, they traveled to the surface of the desecrated planet, where Johnson was becoming nervous. After they landed, they found the surviving SPARTAN-IIs and Dr. Catherine Halsey. Johnson was the first to realize that they were surrounded by thousands of invisible Covenant, and pointed it out to Vice Admiral Whitcomb before their dropship walked into the trap.
After a harrowing escape, Johnson accompanied the new and growing crew as the ship moved through Slipspace. Unknown to him, Dr. Halsey and the Master Chief were reviewing his medical files. They matched Johnson’s survival against the Flood to his Boren’s Syndrome. Flood DNA was present in Johnson’s blood, but it was dormant and non-infectious. Halsey also confirmed that Johnson had gained some unique regenerative abilities as a side effect from the attempted assimilation back on Halo when they accidentally opened the Flood containment facility. Halsey had prepared two separate documents for ONI Section Three to review:
Halsey placed the decision of which data crystal to give to ONI in the Chief's hands. If he gave them the first crystal, ONI would probably have dissected Johnson in an attempt to figure out how he resisted the Flood, killing the Sergeant. The Chief had thought at first that the first crystal held the better solution, despite it essentially being a death sentence for his friend, but later decided to save Johnson's life by crushing the first crystal.
Although Johnson's involvement in Operation: FIRST STRIKE was minimal, he came up with the idea to attack the Covenant space station Unyielding Hierophant in order to delay the Covenant from finding Earth. Johnson continued to be of assistance when the Spartans began the mission, staying behind with Cortana in the damaged UNSC Gettysburg while they charged head-on into the Covenant ship after the operation.
Invasion of Earth
Most of the crew returned to Earth safely, and they were given time to rest and were debriefed on their experiences. While aboard Cairo Station on October 19, Johnson was interrogated by Dr. Veronica Clayton of ONI in regards to the events surrounding Operation: FIRST STRIKE.
The next day, Johnson was promoted to Sergeant Major and was awarded the Colonial Cross by Lord Terrence Hood for his actions on Halo. During the ceremony, a Covenant excavation fleet headed by the Prophet of Regret arrived at the Human homeworld, sparking the Battle of Earth.
Johnson aided in the defense of the Cairo along with John-117. As the Spartan led the human forces deeper into the station, Johnson and Commander Miranda Keyes, the daughter of the deceased Jacob Keyes, boarded the UNSC Frigate In Amber Clad.
As they arrived on the surface, Cortana intercepted data that pointed towards one of the Covenant’s spiritual leaders being present in the invasion. Johnson led Pelicans full of marines into battle, but they were shot down by a Covenant Protos-pattern Scarab before they got close to the ship that carried the High Prophet of Regret. Wielding a sniper rifle, Johnson fought in the residential district of the city, providing cover fire and serving as a lookout. As the Master Chief went on to find Marines from another downed Pelican, Johnson stayed back and joined the rescue units to provide cover. Viewing the Scarab as a threat to the mission, he returned to In Amber Clad to bring a Scorpion tank for the Chief to use in a front line assault against the Covenant invasion force.
After the destruction of the Scarab, Johnson picked up the Chief and brought him back into In Amber Clad, which pulled up next to the massive Covenant ship just as it took off into Slipspace, the human vessel being close enough to "piggyback" along on the same jump.
Coming out of Slipspace, Johnson was shocked to learn that there was another Halo, nearly choking on his ever-present cigar. Determined to find and capture the Prophet of Regret, Commander Keyes ordered SPARTAN-117 to clear a landing zone and the Sergeant to take two flights of Pelicans and land on the ring. Johnson carried out the orders and followed the Chief and a small detachment of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers onto the surface, providing artillery and troops by means of dropships to fight the Covenant stationed in the ring’s ancient temples.
During the mission, Cortana translated a message from Regret being broadcast on the Covenant network, and learned that Regret planned to activate the Halo, which would wipe out all life in the galaxy. Pulling information gathered from the first Halo, Keyes found the location of Delta Halo’s library, housing the Index which was needed to activate the ring. She ordered Johnson to extract his troops and return to In Amber Clad for reassignment.
Johnson and a group of his best Marines joined Commander Keyes on a search for the Index deep inside the Quarantine zone. As they neared the center of the massive structure, the small unit was attacked by a large amount of Flood. They dug in and fought the creatures off, finally locating the Index. Johnson helped Keyes grab the key, but before they headed out, they were attacked by Thel 'Vadamee, the Covenant Arbiter, who had emerged from active camouflage to attack the two. Johnson was quickly incapacitated and captured by Tartarus, current Chieftain of the Jiralhanae, and brought to the Covenant capital city, High Charity, orbiting the ring.
Johnson, Keyes and other UNSC soldiers were held prisoner in the city, until the High Prophet of Truth instructed Tartarus to activate the ring and initiate the Great Journey. Tartarus ordered his Jiralhanae to split Johnson, Keyes, and the captured Oracle into two different Phantoms as they descended back towards the ring. Johnson was joined by Staff Sergeant Banks and Gunnery Sergeant Stacker for execution by a pack of Jiralhanae at the Bastion of the Brutes near Halo's control room. Moments before their deaths, the Arbiter and his squad burst out of the nearby structure and attacked the Jiralhanae, distracting them long enough for Johnson and his Marines to board the nearby Scarab walker.
After the executioners were killed, Johnson and his Marines commandeered the Scarab, and confronted 'Vadamee. Despite their mutual enmity, they both agreed that Tartarus needed to be stopped at all costs. Johnson suggested that 'Vadamee commandeer a Banshee to provide air support as they traversed the canyon towards the Control Room. Johnson fired the Scarab's focus cannon to destroy the heavily armored door, allowing the Arbiter to get inside.
Armed with a Particle Beam Rifle, Johnson arrived during the Arbiter's confrontation with Tartarus, keeping his gun trained on the Chieftain's head to prevent him from forcing Keyes to insert the Index. Tartarus threw 343 Guilty Spark at Johnson, knocking him over. Swiftly, he forced Keyes to insert the Index into the control panel, starting the firing process. The Arbiter and his squad of Elites challenged Tartarus, and Johnson provided backup, using his Beam Rifle to bring down the Chieftain’s shields. With his shields down, 'Vadamee was able to kill Tartarus, thereby allowing Keyes to grab the Index and stop Installation 05 from firing. However, Spark revealed that the shutdown activated a failsafe system; the rest of the Halos were set to standby mode, and could only be activated remotely from what Spark informed them was "The Ark". After the Arbiter asked him its location, Spark gave them coordinates to Earth.
The release of the Flood from the ring, however, would put their plans to get to Earth on hold. The new allies would rendezvous with the Arbiter's comrade, Rtas 'Vadumee, now shipmaster of the recently captured assault carrier Shadow of Intent, flagship of the separatists' fledgling Fleet of Retribution. Together, they formulated a plan for sterilization and quarantine. Spark remained with the fleet to coordinate containment efforts while Johnson, Keyes and the Arbiter raced back to Earth aboard one of the fleet's vessels to warn humanity and to locate the Ark.
Return to Earth
Upon their return to Earth around November 15, 2552, Johnson met with Office of Naval Intelligence Captain Veronica Dare aboard the Quito Terminus to interrogate a Covenant Engineer that her squad had captured during the Battle of New Mombasa almost a month prior. With clearance from Lord Hood, Johnson plied the creature with questions regarding the current excavation near Voi and the Ark. Despite his best efforts, ultimately they were unable to obtain any actionable intelligence before the Prophet of Truth and his Forerunner Dreadnought arrived two days later.
When John-117 crash-landed in the Tanzanian jungle after bailing out of the Dreadnought, he was recovered by Johnson, the Arbiter, and a squad of Marines. After a few minutes of hiking through the jungle, he and his squad split off from the Master Chief and the Arbiter after encountering enemy Phantoms, reasoning that they would be safer apart than together. Johnson and his team proceeded to continue through the woods, and arrived at the evacuation site several moments before John-117 and 'Vadam. However, enemy Banshees soon discovered the awaiting Pelicans, and he was shot down, crash landing about a kilometer away. He and the surviving Marines were forced to flee pursuing Brutes. At some point Johnson and his men were captured. After being freed by the Spartan, he grabbed the nearest weapon and helped fend off incoming Covenant until Hocus, a Pelican pilot, came to the rescue. Hocus eventually arrived, destroying two Phantoms that were pinning Sergeant Johnson, the Chief, the Arbiter, and the surviving Marines down. Johnson was evacuated along with the Master Chief, the Arbiter, and surviving Marines.
Sgt. Johnson, John-117, and 'Vadam were brought to a UNSC base codenamed Crow's Nest, deep underground in the African jungle. There, they linked up with Commander Miranda Keyes, who briefed them on the situation. When the base was attacked by the Covenant, Johnson and the Arbiter stayed behind to defend the ops center while the Master Chief went off to secure the perimeter. After a lengthy battle, he was forced to fall back as Jiralhanae overran the control room. He rendezvoused with Keyes and 'Vadam in a Pelican, and guided the Chief through the base to an elevator that would take him to the Pelicans. Unfortunately, the base exploded before the Chief could reach Johnson, forcing the Sergeant to leave him to meet up with Gunnery Sergeant Reynolds under the base instead.
Johnson warned the Chief that the Covenant had uncovered what he thought was the Ark, and that the humans had to get to it. Johnson provided air support for the Spartan and the Marine survivors, dropping off Warthogs so the Chief and his Marines could break through Jiralhanae blockades on the Tsavo Highway. During the Battle of Voi, he dropped off several Mongoose ATVs to assist the Master Chief in destroying a Covenant Deutoros-pattern Scarab. Johnson remained in a Pelican dropship for most, if not all of the Battle of Voi, dispersing armor and troops throughout the city as necessary to help push the Covenant back. When the Pelican made a crash-landing in Voi, Johnson probably docked on the UNSC Forward Unto Dawn along with Commander Keyes. He was present when the Master Chief retrieved a message from Cortana, who had been left behind on the Flood-infested High Charity. Johnson was one of the Marines that followed the High Prophet of Truth to the real Ark, which was located past the slipspace portal generated by the device the Covenant uncovered on Earth.
Assault on the Ark
After the Fleet of Retribution's arrival at Installation 00 on December 11, Johnson descended to the Ark with a half a dozen Pelicans along with the Master Chief, and helped him secure a landing zone and stop the construction of an AA battery. He later brought in a platoon of Marines led by Gunnery Sergeant Stacker, and some tanks from the frigate, helping throughout the mission, until the location of Truth was discovered from the Cartographer.
He then went on to command the second squad in taking down the third tower that was projecting the shield barrier protecting Truth in the Citadel. There, he, along with his squad, were overrun and captured by overwhelming Brute, Hunter and Drone forces. Johnson's squad was killed, and he was brought to the Citadel.
The Prophet of Truth attempted to use Johnson to activate the Ark, and set off the Halo array, but he only taunted the Jiralhanae, in particular a Chieftain, in hopes of angering the Brute to the point where he would kill him, and deny Truth the ability to activate the array. Miranda Keyes attempted to rescue him by crashing a Pelican through a large observatory window. Keyes was able to kill one brute, a Chieftain, and fatally wounded another, but was surrounded. Realizing what the Prophet of Truth wished to use them for, Johnson told her that she should kill them both so they could not be used. While Keyes hesitated, Truth shot her in the back with a Spiker, killing her instantly and used the demoralized Johnson to activate the Array. Johnson was rescued by John-117 and Thel 'Vadam, along with a horde of Flood. After the Master Chief deactivated the array, the Flood turned on the three, and while Johnson managed to escape on Keyes' Pelican with her body, the Chief and the Arbiter were knocked off by the Gravemind, forced to fight their way back through the Flood.
After it was discovered that a Halo was located within the Ark, a plan was developed to activate that ring and that ring alone, which would destroy the Flood on the Ark, including the Gravemind, ending their threat once and for all, while simultaneously sparing the rest of the life in the galaxy. This was possible because Cortana still held within her the code to the Index from Installation 04, the first Halo. After John-117 invaded High Charity to recover Cortana, destroying the city on his way out, Sergeant Johnson helped the Master Chief and the Arbiter fight through hordes of Flood to get to the control room of the new Halo, providing cover fire with a Spartan Laser. Johnson tried to activate the ring despite 343 Guilty Spark's suggestion that they wait for it to be finished, which could take several days. Realizing that "his" ring was about to be destroyed again, the Monitor turned on his allies, firing his sentinel beam into Johnson's front armor piece and fatally wounding him.
While the Master Chief fought the rogue construct, Johnson used the last of his life and fired his laser, rendering Spark vulnerable. With a few choice words ("Kick his ass") he handed the Chief his weapon and fell unconscious. After the rogue AI was destroyed, Johnson gave John-117 the chip containing Cortana, and told him "Don't ever let her go". Despite John's promise that they would not leave him behind, the dying sergeant knew that he wasn't going to make it, requesting that the Chief "send [him] out with a 'bang'" before dying of his injuries. Following his wishes, John-117 left his body in the Control Room as the ring activated, its unfinished state meaning that the activation sequence tore itself apart. Johnson's body was disintegrated in the explosion while Chief and Thel 'Vadam took Johnson's Warthog to escape on the Forward Unto Dawn. Johnson's death brought condolences from Cortana and Thel 'Vadam, whom Johnson aided in his fight against Tartarus.
On March 3, 2553, a portrait of Johnson was seen among the fallen and dead on the Voi Memorial. The Avery J. Johnson Academy of Military Science, where members of the SPARTAN-IV program practice live fire training, was named in his honor.
Avery Johnson's behavior was often eccentric, delivering bizarre and outlandish speeches to boost the morale of those serving under him. However, as shown in Contact Harvest, he also was a no-nonsense NCO who cared deeply for the lives of his troops. Johnson believed in pushing his soldiers to their limit in training, in order to give them a better chance of surviving real combat.
He was best known for his typical "gung-ho" attitude towards life, personal goals, and as a leader to his fellow Marines. This earned him a reputation, respect, and admiration from his subordinates and superiors alike. Johnson was a noted fan of "flip music", a style of music similar to the heavy metal from the 21st century. He was also known as being one of a select few outside of the SPARTAN-II Program to befriend Master Chief Petty Officer John-117, a soldier with whom he fought alongside many times throughout the first and final months of the Human-Covenant War; ultimately dying in his arms after being critically injured. He has a large amount of respect for the SPARTAN-IIs, and appears to respect every human fighting for humanity, as well as the Sangheili when they joined forces with the UNSC. In return, Thel 'Vadam respects him as well as after his death, offering condolences to John, "I am sorry, Spartan" and "even in death, your Sergeant guides us all."
In Halo: Combat Evolved and Halo 2, Johnson seemed energetic and well-humored, often cracking jokes, puns, and insults at the expense of the Covenant or even in response to UNSC transmissions, as shown in the following quote:
Age and appearance
Johnson's age is affected by the same ambiguities as all beings who undergo extended voyages through space. Born in the late 2400s, chronologically Johnson would have been over 70 years old at the time of his death in 2552. He has spent much of his life in cryosleep. Cellular activity is slowed to near standstill in cryosleep, effectively halting the aging process. As a result, Johnson's biological age is significantly less than his chronological age as measured by Terran chronology. His ORION augmentations likely played a part in this as well, as they were known to have extended the active service careers of many of the program's former members.
Johnson has received three known medals in his service: The Colonial Cross and the Purple Heart, as well as the UNSC Legion of Honor, which may have been a posthumous decoration. Johnson was not awarded any medals during his time with the ORION detachment, due to the sensitive nature of its missions.
Easter eggs and glitches
List of appearances