|Political and military information|
- "I don't want to be left behind."
- — Soren-066
- Catherine Halsey: "I'm a scientist."
- Soren: "Not a sigh—, not a sigh—"
- Catherine Halsey: "No, I'm not a psychiatrist. You've been seeing a lot of psychiatrists, haven‘t you? Because of your parents' deaths?"
- — Doctor Halsey identifies a source of anxiety for Soren.
Soren was born in early or mid-2511. At a young age he was brought to the Outer Colony of Dwarka, a harsh world still in the process of being terraformed. There he was raised by his mother and her husband (his stepfather), who grew illegal crops on a farm in the middle of a forest preserve around one hundred kilometers from any other settlements. Soren spent a lot of time in the woods as a child, though his mother always warned him not to go far, fearing he might think the area was just as safe as the parks that had existed where they had previously lived. Soren sometimes helped his mother in preparing food, though what their family ate was limited to prepackaged provisions—they did not harvest from the forest. His mother used to tell Soren various stories and fables.
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When Soren was barely six years old his mother succumbed to a Dwarkan disease for which treatments were readily available. She had not been taken into town to see a doctor, however, because Soren's stepfather had been too worried about going to jail for his illegal farm. The law required that symptoms of the disease be reported to the planetary officials, after all. By the time her husband became convinced he had no other choice but to seek medical attention for her after just a few days of observing her symptoms, she was already dead and he was sick. According to official records, both Soren's mother and stepfather had initially dismissed what she was experiencing as nothing more than a cold and it was thought they may have been unaware of the treatments that existed due to their remote and isolated residence. His stepfather seemingly refused to face the reality of his wife's loss, as he moved her body into their box room and locked the door, telling Soren that it was not possible to see her because she was too sick and needed to be alone to recover. A few days later Soren stole the key to the room late at night after his stepfather had had too much to drink. After creeping slowly through the door he saw the rotting corpse of his mother and cried for a while before sneaking back out and locking the door behind him. He returned the key to his stepfather's bedside table and snuck back to the kitchen, where he sat and brooded. Eventually he came to the conclusion that his stepfather must be responsible for his mother's death and it was this, among other thoughts, which led him to get up from the chair he'd been seated in and grab the sharpest knife from the nearby counter. It was big and heavy from his point of view and he'd even had to stand on his tiptoes just to reach it. He then slowly made his way back to his stepfather's bedroom and pulled a chair closer to the bed so he could stand on it and overlook the sleeping man. He stayed that way for what seemed like hours until light began to seep into the room. He waited a little more after that, but as soon as his stepfather rolled over to expose his neck Soren struck, falling forward and jabbing the blade between the sleeping man's neck and shoulder a little above one of his clavicles. The boy immediately took off running at that moment and vanished into the surrounding forest. Well-hidden within a clump of bushes, he watched as his stepfather emerged from their home and called out for him and demanded to know what was wrong with him. He'd removed the knife and sprayed his wound with biofoam. Soren remained completely still as the injured man passed by his hiding spot in search of him.
The first night spent on his own was difficult for Soren. The cold air and sounds of the forest kept waking him up or kept him awake, but he still managed to get up at dawn to creep back to the clearing where his family's prefabricated house was. He might have tried to sneak back in to get some food, but the sight of his stepfather waiting for him through a window kept him from doing so. Turning back to the woods, his efforts next turned to catching his breakfast. He tried to snag one of the toothless squirrel-like creatures that inhabited the surrounding trees but they were much too fast for him. Neither sitting in wait for them to come to him or throwing rocks at them gave him any success. Soren eventually settled for eating larvae and worms discovered on the underside of a dry, rotten branch he stepped on. After a few hours had passed and he didn't feel sick, he elected to turn over more logs to eat his fill. Before night fell he started to experiment, moving a little farther away from the house and making several beds out of the leaves and needles of different trees. He found that one type of leaf raised a row of angry, itchy red bumps along his wrist after he touched it so he made sure to avoid it thereafter. He had to try out several of the beds he'd made before finding one soft and warm enough to let him sleep. After a few days like this, he had determined where exactly in his little patch of forest to search for grubs and when to leave a log alone to return to days later. Certain berries and plants he knew to avoid from watching the ghost squirrels, but others he only wrote off after they made him sick or just produced a bitter taste. Every morning and evening Soren continued to watch his stepfather from the bushes, and though he tried to break back into the house a few times, the windows were too strong.
Weeks passed like this until one morning Soren's stepfather emerged from his home coughing badly and clearly sick. The man started to head back by middday, but suddenly fell to the dirt and lay still there before he could make it. After a long time he finally stirred and began to crawl toward his truck, but he could not lift himself into it. Lying on his back, he then was faced by Soren standing over him. He begged his stepson for help finding medicine but Soren remained unmoved. His pleas soon turned to threats and then flattery, but Soren only watched dispassionately as he finally slipped into unconsiousness. He then sat down by his stepfather and remained with him there until he finally was dead two days later.
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He then buried his mother and stepfather and after staying in the house for a while he trekked 112 kilometers to the nearest human settlement where he was placed in the care of social services. He never told anyone exactly what had happened to him. Instead he simply said that both his parents had died shortly after each other, and after several months living alone he set off to find civilization.
When Dr. Halsey came to Dwarka to observe Soren she openly gave him the choice of whether or not he wanted to join her "experiment" or stay on Dwarka in foster care. Soren chose the first option, and immediately left Dwarka with Halsey and Lieutenant Jacob Keyes.
On September 23, 2517, Soren 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. Halsey told them that from this moment on, the complex on Reach would be their home and their fellow trainees would be their family. And though 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.
Soren and the other children were awoken by drill instructors at 0530 hours the next morning. Chief Mendez addressed them all, saying they were to shower at the barracks aft and then return to their cots to dress. Soren 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 "SOREN-066" 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 lifts the kids were finally given a respite in the form of water. Next, Mendez ordered them to join him on a run. They jogged through the military compound, past more barracks, along a river, and over a bridge, finally coming to a stop in the courtyard of a naval officers' academy. There Soren 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, Soren and the others were served crackers and milk and treated to a history lesson concerning the Battle of Thermopylae. 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. 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 and then make it back to the start. The last team to make it back would go hungry that evening. This punishment ultimately fell on Team Three, of which Soren was not a part.
The second day of training 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. When it came time for the "playground" again, Mendez declared that they were to keep the same teams they had the prior day. The teams had a brief moment to strategize, as the course had been made more complicated as compared to before. Three days later, on September 28, all the trainees were given haircuts. 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 push-ups.
- "Don't get distracted by irrelevant data. And above all don‘t let yourself get left behind."
- — Catherine Halsey gives Soren advice that will stick with him for years.
With the lived experience of surviving on his own on Dwarka, life on Reach in the Spartan camp seemed less of a challenge to Soren than it did to many of the other recruits. Camouflage became a way of life for him; he faded into the background when in groups, wanting neither to come to attention as one of the leaders nor to be seen as an outsider. He stuck to the anonymous middle. During the first year or so he spent as a trainee he found it exceptionally difficult to sleep since the sounds made by his bunkmates reminded him of his stepfather. He would sometimes wait until everyone else had fallen asleep and then slip slowly out of his bed to hide under it; sleeping in the damp, musty space near a wall where he felt safer. On one morning when he had failed to return to his bed before the others woke, the way they looked at him made him feel even less safe. As time passed Déjà taught he and the others algebra, trigonometry, and the history of numerous battles and the rulers they happened at the direction of. Human history classes included a module devoted to Earth in which they were shown images of whales. Through simulations the trainees learned to pilot various crafts, including the predecessors and variants of the GA-TL1 Longsword. These simulations even included what to do in the event of a crash landing. By mid-2519, Soren had been taught how to 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. Training often involved obstacle courses and mock patrols, and Soren was quick to figure out the best ways through the former and could fade quickly into bushes and undergrowth while on the latter. Mendez tricked, trapped, and tortured the children to the point where they hated, but then eventually, admired him. Soren and the others regularly made covert treks to Camp Hathcock in the Highland Mountains to pilfer food and supplies. Training in the Highland Mountains was split between Painland, facilities within CASTLE Base, and another location. At these locations, Soren 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. By the time Soren and the rest had all reached that age they had already earned every combat rating. At some point during their training, Soren 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 at 0630 hours, 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-117 would be dropped off first, but before he was he sighted a lake and the river which fed it out the Albatross' windows and pointed it out to Sam-034, who understood John's plan and passed it along to the rest. Shortly after 0801 hours, all the trainees had met back up with one another in one place. Kelly-087 pieced together the maps from everyone's pieces. It turned out that the extraction point was a full day's hike from where they were. At noon the children stopped to stretch and eat berries they had gathered along their journey. 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 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. It fell to Kelly and Sam to convince the guards that Sam had broken his leg. When their guard was down, that was when the rest would strike. As soon as one 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 Soren and the rest to suddenly pelt the man with stones from their hiding places. 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. Once all seventy-five children were aboard the Albatross, Déjà lifted them off the ground and returned them home.
In the third year of training in 2520, Soren and the others began physics courses, which included the study of classical mechanics. On September 20 of that year, the candidates experienced their first casualty in the form of a handler who 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 the history of military training lethal force had often been employed and that deaths were an inherent risk. In 2521 Soren and the other children began to learn counterinterrogation techniques, in particular that of of seizing the initiative. At some point during their training, the Spartans went through a fleet tactics course wherein they were taught a particular planetary assault doctrine. There were times during training that Soren noticed Doctor Halsey standing at a deliberate distance, watching him with an expression on her face that he could not interpret. Once, when he was nearly eleven years old, she approached him as he ran through an exercise with the other children. He was hesitating as he wondered which team he ought to join. The doctor asked him if everything was alright. The boy replied in the affirmative, but slipped up and called her "Sir" before blushing and correcting his mistake. Halsey just smiled and told him he shouldn't get distracted by irrelevant data, then pointed past him as both teams ran for the skirmish ground and added that above all he shouldn't let himself get left behind. As the years of training proceeded, the children were routinely matched up as teams against one another. By 2523 the trainees had begun to be matched up in exercises against Tango Company, a unit of UNSC marines.
Prior to the augmentation procedures, Dr. Halsey once again asked Soren whether or not he would like to participate. Confused, Soren asked her why he was the one selected to make the choice, to which Halsey replied, it simply turned out that way. Knowing the risks, Soren chose to participate, stating that he "did not want to be left behind."
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.
On March 9 of 2525 Soren 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. They had their heads shaved, intravenous lines inserted to deliver a sedative, and incision vectors lasered onto their bodies. Other medications administered beginning on this date included dopamine for hemodynamic support and a tacrolimus/mycophenolate mofetil combination for immunosuppression. The various augmentations, under the purview of Project: ASTER, were carried out the following day, though some preliminary work had begun by 1552 hours on the ninth. With the assistance of surgeons, biotechnicians, and automated robotic machinery, the surgical procedures the recruits endured included occipital capillary reversals, the carbide ceramic ossification of their bones, the insertion of catalytic platinum thyroid implants, injections to enhance muscle strength and endurance, and the fibrification of their neural dendrites to make them superconductive. They also were treated with gene therapy and underwent transgenic hybridization.
During the augmentation process, Soren dreamed of a hulking, deformed creature pursuing him through a forest, occasionally giving out a cry of pain. The creature eventually caught up to him and smashed him. Soren awoke during the augmentation process but fell back asleep into another nightmare. This time, he dreamed of lying on his mother's bed, the same one she died on. His stepfather was in the same room, described as more shadow than man. During this dream another figure, his dead and rotting mother, was in the same bed, when a sudden wash of pain, like broken glass being worked into his veins, woke him up again.
When he awoke, he was restrained to the bed. Soren tore himself from his restraints and attempted to run. A doctor attempted to give Soren a hypodermic injection, but he broke the man's wrist, stabbed another doctor in the neck with the needle and punched a third as he fled, sending him flying into a wall. During his escape, he was stopped by Chief Petty Officer Franklin Mendez and a squad of UNSC marines armed with tranquilizer darts.
After awakening again, he was in a brig, now chained by titanium wrist-lets. He was visited by Dr. Halsey, who informed him that he had been in comatose for three months, and his body did not react as planned to the muscular enhancement injections and the thyroid implant, which had caused his muscles to grow in ways that were unpredictable. Only by using the carbide ceramic ossification process was he saved. One leg was more or less normal, if a little bowed and twisted, however the other was severely gnarled and about six inches shorter. His arms were incredibly muscular, painfully so, giving him the greatest upper body strength of any Spartan. The fingers of one hand were twisted and bowed, functioning more like a pincer or claw. To deal with the intense pain Soren was given massive amounts of painkillers, however he did not like the way they clouded his mind, so he gradually weaned himself off them.
Soren was incredibly disappointed when Mendez told him that he couldn't certify him for active service. Mendez told Soren that if he were to join a team of other Spartans, they would constantly be reminded of the Spartans which didn't make it through the augmentation procedures, and they would see it as their responsibility to keep him alive, thus hurting their focus and ability to perform. Additionally, there was no body armor which would fit his unique physique, and his deformed hand made it too difficult to fire a weapon. Against his will, Soren was relegated to a desk job, similar to Fhajad-084.
Insurrection and disappearance
Although his superiors assured him they would find a better fit for him, Soren remained a paper pusher until he was sixteen. As his "temporary" position began to feel more and more permanent, it became hard for Soren not to feel resentful. This made the young Spartan particularly vulnerable to the ideas of a technician named Partch, who began feeding him ideas sympathetic to the Insurrection. Instead of reporting Partch, Soren listened. Slowly and almost imperceptibly, his views changed until he found himself on the side of the rebels.
After several months of hinting, Partch told Soren that they were going to defect, but first they were going to obtain a "souvenir" for their cause. One night, the two broke into a geological research lab, forced open a locked cabinet and retrieved a small titanium case. However, they were interrupted by Randall-037, another Spartan. Randall was justifiably suspicious of their explanations, and escorted them out of the lab so that he could verify that they were supposed to be there. As they left the lab, Soren attacked Randall, and as the two struggled until Partch shot Randall with a tranquilizer dart. Soren and Partch then fled the facility and commandeered a Longsword fighter which Partch had pre-prepared and hacked, complete with a dumb AI named Captain Teach whom Partch had fast-grafted to convert him to their cause. Their plan to escape Reach failed, however, as they were pursued by other aircraft, which sufficiently damaged the Longsword to prevent it from breaking free of the planet's gravity. Captain Teach and the backup computer system were damaged or destroyed, forcing Soren to manually crash-land the craft himself, breaking Partch's neck in the process.
When Mendez and his Marines found the wreckage, relatively little was left, the only thing of note being Partch's burned body. Dr. Halsey told Mendez that she believed Soren had survived the crash, but due to his upbringing in the woods, Soren would not be found unless he wanted to be. Halsey had Mendez give up the search, arguing that Soren was no threat to them: he was not a traitor, just a lost soul. Without a body, Soren was officially declared missing in action.
Behind the scenes
Soren is reminiscent of Ephialtes of Trachis as he is portrayed in the graphic novel and film 300. Both are deformed and unfit for battle, and betray the Spartans after they refuse to let them serve. In Pariah, he is referred to as Soren-66; however, SPARTAN naming conventions would mean he was actually known as Soren-066.
On August 2, 2019 Showtime revealed that in the television series the network is airing Soren-066 will be played by Emmy nominee Bokeem Woodbine. The announcement described Soren as a morally complex privateer at the fringes of human civilization whose fate will bring him into conflict with his former military masters and his old friend, the Master Chief.
List of appearances
- Halo: Evolutions, Pariah, Prologue
- Halo: Evolutions, Pariah, Chapter 2
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 5
- Halo: Evolutions, Pariah, Chapter 5
- Macmillian.com - Excerpt for Halo: Evolutions
- Halo: Evolutions, Pariah, Chapter 1
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 3
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 4
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal, September 28, 2517
- Halo: Fall of Reach, Boot Camp
- Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 27
- Halo: Evolutions, Pariah, Chapter 9
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 27
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 6
- Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 24
- Halo: First Strike, Chapter 19
- Halo: Reach, Highlands
- Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 7
- Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 4
- Halo: First Strike, Chapter 24
- Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 1
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal, September 20, 2520
- Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 13
- Halo: Silent Storm, Chapter 17
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Chapter 1
- Halo: First Strike, Chapter 17
- Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, "Pariah", page 30
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal, August 22, 2524
- Halo: Blood Line, Issue #4
- Halo: Blood Line, Issue #3
- Halo: The Fall of Reach - The Animated Series
- The Fall of Reach, Chapter 6
- Halo 5: Guardians, John-117's loadout
- Dr. Halsey's personal journal, April 1, 2525
- Halo: Official Spartan Field Manual, page 83
- IGN - Halo TV Series Casts Natascha McElhone as Cortana and Dr. Halsey
- Tumblr - Natascha McElhone, Bokeem Woodbine, Shabana Azmi, Bentley Kalu, Natasha Culzac and Kate Kennedy join the cast of Halo!