By GrimBrother One -
Would you look at that? A mere four short weeks (as opposed to four long ones) since our last rendezvous, Canon Fodder is back with another round of lore look-ins. This time around we’re excited to take a look at various fictional elements surrounding Outpost Discovery. But first, there’s some awesome brand-new fiction coming down the pike that we can’t wait to get into your eager hands.
TO OBLIVION, AND BEYOND
First up is Halo: Oblivion, the Troy Denning-penned follow-up to last year’s Halo: Silent Storm. If for some reason you haven’t had a chance to read the official excerpt yet, here you go!
2526. It has been more than a year since humanity first encountered the hostile military alliance of alien races known as the Covenant, and several weeks after the United Nations Space Command’s devastating counterattack of Operation: SILENT STORM was deemed an overwhelming success. The UNSC has put its faith in the hands of the Spartans, led by the legendary Master Chief, John-117: enhanced super-soldiers raised and trained from childhood via a clandestine black ops project to be living weapons.
But the Covenant—enraged and fearful of their enemy’s unexpected strategies and prowess—is not taking its recent defeat lightly, and is now fully determined to eradicate humanity from existence, brutally overrunning the ill-fated planets of the Outer Colonies faster than retreats can be ordered.
If the UNSC has any chance of stemming the tide of the war, the Master Chief and Blue Team must drop onto an empty, hellish world in order to capture a disabled Covenant frigate filled with valuable technology. It has all the makings of a trap, but the bait is far too tempting to ignore—and this tantalizing prize is being offered by a disgraced and vengeful Covenant fleetmaster, whose sole opportunity for redemption lies in extinguishing humanity’s only hope of survival…
Denning continues to add more memorable moments to Blue Team’s already-legendary CV, all while sprinkling in several eyebrow-raising implications for deep-lore detailers and drawing in some awesome connective tissues that we think readers like you will definitely appreciate.
And speaking of readers that appreciate awesome new Halo fiction, Outpost Discovery was seemingly overflowing with them! Needless to say, it was such a cool experience to be able to mix and match passionate Halo fans on both sides of the creative fence, the image below being just one such example.
Troy shares some sneak-peek secrets with the marvelous Monica Lowry (far left) and her fabulous fiction fireteam. Also in the running for best shirts ever.
Halo: Oblivion releases on Sep 24 – next week! – and you can grab a copy for yourself right here.
DIVIDED WE FALL
And just in case Oblivion wasn’t enough, the very next week we’ve got the second swing in our one-two print-publishing punch landing on Oct 1, as Halo: Meridian Divide hits the shelves. Written by Cassandra Rose Clarke, Halo: Meridian Divide picks up where Halo: Battle Born left off, as Saskia, Dorian, Evie, and Victor continue to try and find their place in a rapidly-changing world.
It's been three months since the colony world of Meridian was invaded by the alien alliance known as the Covenant. Under the close watch of the military, Evie, Dorian, Saskia, and Victor have been put into an accelerated training program with ONI, the Office of Naval Intelligence. And to the teens' surprise, ONI has a mission for them: Return to their hometown on Meridian and monitor the Covenant's efforts to retrieve an ancient Forerunner artifact of untold power.
But what seems like a simple job quickly spirals out of their control. With the artifact at risk of falling into Covenant hands, the stakes are raised, and ONI tasks the teens and their team of militia fighters with extracting the artifact for study. After a series of missteps with command costs the militia more than half their fighting forces, the teens take matters into their own hands. Their journey will take them far behind enemy lines, into the heart of the war zones on Meridian.
Like its predecessor, the novel gives fans a glimpse into the Halo universe through an incredibly unique civilian lens, providing a perspective on the Covenant war not often found in traditional Halo fiction. And also like its predecessor, since we're talking about Outpost Discovery today as well, it's cool to note that the Outpost's own Owen-B096 graces the novel's cover.
What sort of adventures did the Spartan-III super-soldier endure before his eventual deployment to Outpost Discovery? You'll have to check out the book to find out. Halo: Meridian Divide will be out on Oct 1, and you can snag a copy for your own shelf here.
CONVERSATIONS ABOUT THE UNIVERSE
Speaking of amazing authors like Troy Denning and Cassandra Rose Clarke, we wanted to share another lore-leaning aspect of Outpost Discovery that you might be interested in. The Outpost wasn’t just littered with cool tidbits from the Halo universe to enjoy and discover in the exhibits and attractions, it was also a place where conversations were had with Halo creators and curators about what it’s like to be tasked with painting on Halo’s capacious canvas.
If you weren’t able to be there in person, you're in luck, because you can now listen in on these conversations for yourself. We’re excited to share four fiction-focused panels that we think you will really enjoy. Keep in mind that these videos are taken directly from the on-site feed that was shown at Outpost locations in Chicago, Houston, and Anaheim, and weren’t originally intended for “vidoc” style or normal broadcast format, so there might be times where we have slides up instead of camera feed, or that the sound isn’t quite level-balanced during Q&A, etc. We figured that even despite a bit of awkwardness, you might hopefully be okay with approximately four hours of unedited Halo author talk and shenanigans.
THE WRITE STUFF: CHICAGO
FEATURING: Greg Bear, Troy Denning, Anne Toole, Frank O’Connor, Kenneth Peters, Andy Dudynsky
Our first major fiction panel kicked off in Chicago, with our old friend Bravo moderating a conversation featuring Halo creatives across several swimlanes of diverse media, from books and comics to manuals and guides.
THE WRITE STUFF: ANAHEIM – PART ONE
FEATURING: Joseph Staten, Cassandra Rose Clarke, Anne Toole, Frank O’Connor, Ed Schlesinger, Jeff Easterling
In Anaheim, we started off a double-fiction-feature with a chat discussing some of the ins and outs of Halo storytelling in a variety of different mediums. We also touched on some of the ways that approaches have changed as the franchise continues to evolve.
THE WRITE STUFF: ANAHEIM – PART TWO
FEATURING: Kelly Gay, Christie Golden, Troy Denning, Matt Forbeck, Jeff Easterling
It was an honor to host this rockstar-lineup of authors responsible for creating some of the most amazing – and most recent – stories in Halo fiction. We chatted inspirations, approaches, and more, as well as answering more crowd-Q&A.
CANON FODDER LIVE! – HOUSTON
FEATURING: Jeff Easterling, Frank O’Connor
The Beamish cosplay champion and I sat down together to have a casual conversation about creating and curating canon in the Halo universe, as well as answering some questions directly from the audience. It’s a fun fiction fireside chat that we think you might enjoy. Maybe we’ll do another one on stream sometime.
There is perhaps nothing better than this thumbnail.
If you’ve been following along on HaloWaypoint.com, you might be familiar with our Discovery Dispatch series, which previewed several of the Outpost’s major themes and attractions leading up to the event’s opening earlier this summer, including some scattered bits of associated fiction. Today we’ll aim to collect all those details in one handy dandy place for our lore-leaning folks, from deeper links to Easter eggs.
In the days following the Covenant War, humanity launched an exploratory initiative meant to act both as an educational tool, as well as a mobile recruitment station aimed at inspiring and training the next generation of UNSC personnel. And thus, Outpost Discovery was born.
The primary goal of the outpost is to protect humanity by arming them with knowledge of their own history – from their enemies and heroes, to their triumphs and tribulations. Outpost Discovery travels across Earth, stopping in major population centers and inviting average citizens to explore the legacy of humanity’s survival and experience the thrill of being part of the UNSC’s first line of defense against whatever threats still lurk in the galaxy.
Developed in the late years of the war as a means of safekeeping the UNSC's many rich traditions and extensive history, Gabriela is a highly advanced 5th generation artificial intelligence. She was designed to direct all functions and activities of the mobile logistics facility known as Outpost Discovery, from the strategic management of each exhibit and operation in the facility to the progression track and process for every new recruit. Gabriela also facilitates the skill analysis for all personnel and provides them with information and guidance which allows them to function at peak performance levels.
ORIGINS & NEURAL TEMPLATE
While Gabriela’s service record and age are classified by the Office of Naval Intelligence, her visualization and personality are based on the neural scans of Admiral Gabriela Castaneda, whose record is available to the public. Castaneda was highly esteemed by those in her charge for her unwavering confidence in their abilities and potential, traits still echoed by the AI of Outpost Discovery. Gabriela herself is authoritative yet compassionate, and still maintains the wry sense of humor that her human template was known for.
Castaneda was a fearless leader in the UNSC Navy for many years, best known for her service during the Insurrection in the late 25th century. The admiral was not only one of the most profound voices advocating diplomacy before the conflict, but as an impressive tactician and wise leader, her efforts led to many lives being saved in what was otherwise a devastating conflict. Shortly after Castaneda's death, her brain was used to cast a neural template for the new artificial intelligence matrix that would eventually become Gabriela.
DEVELOPMENT & RESCUE
Conceived during the later years of the Covenant war, Gabriela's creation represented humanity’s attempt to rebuild - even if it might mean from the ground up. In many ways, Gabriela represented a contingency plan - when all was said and done, this AI would become a time-capsule of sorts, prepared to imbue survivors with rekindled hope after an impossible victory, or to carry on a lost history, ensuring our species' legacy could still be learned by those who came after. The UNSC frigate Promise of Dawn was to be a vessel of safekeeping for Gabriela's nascent AI matrix, but shortly after the fall of Reach in 2552, she was thought lost forever when the Promise was deemed lost with all hands. However, a year later the UNSC learned that the ship had crash-landed on a planet called Sephune III, its surviving crew marooned and led by a wanted scientist by the name of Dr. Chen Bax.
This revelation prompted the UNSC to send Spartan-II super-soldier Linda-058 to the planet's surface to eliminate Bax and extricate the AI matrix. Linda's heroic efforts eventually did lead to Gabriela’s rescue and return, giving humanity back the opportunity to leverage her unique and vital abilities.
The user interface for Acheron Security’s OPCHA-V1 Memory Matrix Containment and Display Module
INITIALIZATION & DEPLOYMENT
Following her safe return into UNSC hands, Gabriela was eventually fully initialized and deployed to Outpost Discovery, a role which she was in many ways specifically created for. Central to the function of this mobile logistics facility is the education and invitation of new recruits into the future of the UNSC, roles which include exploration, discovery, and the protection of humanity. The overarching purpose and function of this kind of facility required a highly advanced AI in order to equip and train new recruits, preparing them for the challenges and rigors of deployment on the front lines of the UNSC.
In the Outpost’s “Ring Experience” attraction, attendees were taken on a voyage across an active Halo installation, via live feed from an OQ-45 Honeybee drone broadcast into a Remote Display Capsule (RDC). The RDC is a large, immersive display which allows multiple users to view the data feeds from a Honeybee drone (or other compatible surveillance sources) in real-time. These systems are particularly useful for survey and exploration missions and have also proven to be popular with visitors to UNSC outreach and recruiting events.
OVERVIEW & OPERATION
Developed in the post-War period, the Honeybee entered service in 2554 with special units assigned to the UNSC's xenoarchaeological survey groups and long-range commando groups. One of the most advanced remotely-operated vehicles in the UNSC inventory, the Honeybee serves as a unsung hero in both war and peace. Its advanced sensor systems are capable of detecting enemy forces both on the ground and during air combat operations, and can alternatively be tasked with cartographic scans and mineral surveys for civil and scientific missions.
The Honeybee is unmanned, but they are monitored closely by human or smart AI controllers located at a distant command post. Multiple users can take advantage of the Honeybee's advanced multi-channel datalink system, which allows several analysts to simultaneously use and direct the vehicle's sensors in parallel. The Honeybee is VTOL-capable or can be fast-launched using a mag-rail assist.
The Honeybee is built for speed, endurance, and a low sensor profile. It is surprisingly durable as well, adapting combat-proven flight systems and materials originally developed for Misriah Armory's AV-49 Wasp project. The most notable feature of the Honeybee is its large, faceted multi-stack Ocelli sensor cluster. Other sensors, including a LIDAR and GPR, are located below the Ocelli along the bottom of the craft. The sensor cluster is the most fragile part of the drone, and even incidental damage requires expensive maintenance.
The wings of the Honeybee hold small turbofans, which provide lift. At the rear of the craft are two compact hybrid fusion drives, which can push the drone into planetary orbit. Although not its intended use case, the Honeybee does have enough fuel to conduct limited space missions after leaving a local gravity well.
MEET THE LOCALS
While touring the ring’s exterior and interior environments, keen-eyed attendees might have noticed some particularly interesting inclusions, such as notable wildlife and a “big boi” Sentinel type. If you’re interested, you can click the links below to download turnaround renders of each item in this section, each modeled by our awesome friends and partners at Falcon’s Creative Group.
The sky leviathan, or <olfmeri>, as it was known to Lifeworkers, is most accurately described as an “avian cetacean,” and is one of the most elusive and mysterious creatures encountered on any Forerunner installation. In many ways, their ability to defy gravity seems almost impossible, given the incredible size and nature of these beasts. These gentle leviathans are as large as many Earth species of whale and bear striking similarities to the huge aquatic mammals, but with one key difference: while whales on Earth find their domain in the planet’s oceans, these creatures, originally witnessed on Installation 00, actually grace the skies of the ancient forge world. The biological mechanisms behind their buoyancy is still a mystery to ONI scientists, though there are no shortage of curious theories.
Known as the blind wolf, <morolaath> are bipedal predators with a theropod-like anatomy, appearing to be something akin to Earth’s ancient dinosaurs. While they have no eyes or arms, unnervingly large fangs extend from their jaws. These deadly creatures are most often known to hunt in packs and were encountered several times on Installation 00 during Operation: FAR STORM.
Known by Lifeworkers as <rangmejo>, quadwings are one of the most ubiquitous species of fauna that have been encountered on Forerunner installations by the UNSC, with a few individual specimens even being procured for scientific study. What scientists have found is remarkable evidence of genetic optimization; the creatures representing one of perhaps a number of species specifically selected and adapted by Lifeworkers to play diverse and important roles within a wide range of ecosystems, helping contribute to the overall health and stability of a biome. Quadwings are large pterosaur-like creatures with two sets of impressive wings flanking a narrow, muscular body. At one end of that body is a head featuring a strong, lengthy beak and a protruding crest – often brightly colored. At the other is a long tail that can represent over half of the quadwing’s frame.
These Sentinels accompany other Forerunner machines and assist them with their tasks, using a combination of support systems and offensive weaponry.
The largest constructs are classified as strato-sentinels, taking the roles of grand builders and overseeing architects for major Forerunner works. Those used in military applications were often classified as weapon-ships, capable of being fitted with naval-scale ordnance and defensive systems.
FOR SHIPS AND GIGGLES
Outpost Discovery also featured a couple of tidbits for those that are interested in the maritime meanderings of the Halo universe.
CAA FIRST REVERIE
The CAA First Reverie was one of nearly a hundred ships that launched from Luna in 2362, igniting what would come to be called the Domus Diaspora – the grand exosolar colonial era of humanity. Built in the dockyards around Mars, the First Reverie was one of the legendary Phoenix-class support ships, 2,500 meters long and capable of transporting 11,000 colonists from the Sol system to the distant reaches of the stars. Colony support ships often deployed D20 Heron dropships to quickly establish a functional infrastructure and active presence on the surface of a new world.
UNSC FIFTH WINTER
The UNSC Fifth Winter is an Orion-class carrier that proved a vital asset in several naval engagements throughout the Covenant war. At the outpost, attendees and recruits were able to simulate a routine personnel transfer from the Fifth Winter to ground-side rendezvous Station-Bravo-Lima while aboard a D77 Pelican, callsign Delta 331.
SUPPLICATION OF PURITY
In 2552, near the end of the war, a Covenant SDV-class corvette named Supplication of Purity crashed on the planet Tribute. The vessel was found to be mostly intact, and as a result, several key ship compartments were salvaged by the Office of Naval Intelligence. Eventually, key elements of the recovered craft were assigned to Outpost Discovery, where Recruits and attendees could learn more about this incredible alien technology.
Alien vessels like these were home to some of the UNSC's most perilous operations. At the outpost, attendees were able to undertake a brief exercise inside the ship in order to highlight the rigors and challenges of infiltrating a Covenant vessel, as well as serving to communicate the necessary tactics of a UNSC boarding action against a hostile enemy ship.
AND NOW, A WORD FROM OUR SPONSORS
One particularly cool aspect of diving into the Outpost Discovery experience – particularly the companion app – was the opportunities for attendees to “sign on” with a specific corporate backer. Each of the four available in-universe companies represented a specific industry within the Halo universe.
The sustainable power of applied ingenuity.
- Headquarters: Concord
- Focus: Mobility Equipment/Armor
- Notable Products: Series-12 SOLA Jetpack, GEN2 Mjolnir variants (LOCUS, WARMASTER, WETWORK)
- Role: Lethbridge Industrial, known for their innovations in large-scale gravitic control systems, now develop specialized Spartan armor and materiel systems and are based out of the city of Lethbridge, Corsica on the colony of Concord.
HANNIBAL WEAPON SYSTEMS
Power unleashed in the face of adversity.
- Headquarters: New Carthage
- Focus: Security Systems/Armor
- Notable Products: Colossus Mark II [J] ADS, AV-49H Wasp, GEN2 Mjolnir variants (DEADEYE, GUNGNIR, RECRUIT)
- Role: Specializing in security technology development and small arms, Hannibal Weapon Systems, based out of Kotka, Pori of New Carthage, now primarily focuses on the manufacturing of Mjolnir Spartan armor systems and upgraded variants of select UNSC vehicles.
Battle tested for your homeworld.
- Headquarters: Mars
- Focus: Weapons
- Notable Products: MA5B Assault Rifle, BR55 Battle Rifle, Longsword Interceptor/Strike Fighter, F-41 Broadsword
- Role: Now based in the city of Shoreline of the Martian territory of Eos Chasma, Misriah Armory is the largest military weapons and equipment manufacturer in human history, with facilities spread across much of human-occupied space.
AMG TRANSPORT DYNAMICS
From the road, to the track, to the battlefield – we move the galaxy forward.
- Headquarters: Luna
- Focus: Vehicles
- Notable Products: M12 LRV/FAV Warthog, M274/290 ULATV Mongoose, Phaco GT
- Role: For over a century, AMG Transport Dynamics has remained the primary source of military vehicles for the UNSC, as well as developing a select range of civilian vehicles and homologated competition models. Their central office and production plant are based out of the city of Crisium, within the province of Naniwa, Luna.
THIS SPARTAN LIFE
Of course, the Outpost Discovery experience wouldn’t be complete without an appearance from our two resident Spartan-III super-soldiers, who were at every stop making sure that threats remained neutralized, and sensitive intel and technology remained in the right hands.
Part of the vaunted Alpha Company, Hazel-A302 caught the attention of Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb’s advisors during the Battle of New Constantinople at barely sixteen years old. Her deft and diverse skillset led to her conscription into the ranks of the clandestine Headhunters contingent, where she racked up over a dozen confirmed kills on high-value Covenant targets, as well as the successful recovery of several key classified assets, any one of which might have spelled doom for the UNSC had they fallen – or remained – in enemy hands.
Born on the moon Eremus, Owen-B096 was orphaned at a young age on Jericho VII when his parents were killed during a Covenant attack. Owen was soon given a new purpose however, when his candidacy into Beta Company of the SPARTAN-III program was confirmed. In 2548 he was part of a UNSC defensive operation aimed at staving off a Covenant incursion on the colony of Meridian, setting in motion a series of events that would strongly impact the young super-soldier for years to come. [events that you can catch up on in the novels Halo: Battle Born and Halo: Meridian Divide.]
Phew! Before we go, I wanted to make sure and highlight some of the awesome community content to come out of Outpost Discovery as well. There was a ton, but I wanted to highlight a particularly cool example by Toa Freak of the Halo Canon YouTube channel, who recently put up Part 2 of their “Lore of Outpost Discovery” videos. It’s pretty awesome.
Make sure you also check out Part 1, as well as their video recording of the “Halo Story and How to Get Into It” panel from the Chicago stop of Outpost Discovery, featuring canon-curious community content creators like Toa, Hidden Xperia, Brendan “Lor” Lowry, Mr. Admirals, and more discussing strategies and helpful tips for getting the most out of the vast and expanding Halo universe.
And with that, I think we’ll call it for this particular issue. Hopefully we’ll get at least one more up before the end of the calendar year, we’ll see. Now next year? That’s likely to be a very different story…
Until next time… Live well, play Halo, and NO RUNNING ON THE COMBAT DECK!