By GrimBrother One -
Wow. Is that number correct? Pretty crazy, really… I distinctly remember the meeting in the old Kirkland studio site – in a building that had seen the incubation and development of so many incredible and iconic Halo titles and ideas, here was little ol’ me pitching the idea of a fiction-focused blog feature to act largely as a vehicle for highlighting and surfacing new Universe Encyclopedia articles that were populating Halo Waypoint a pretty rapid pace at the time. Of course, in my mind though, it was also to fill a niche that I, as a fan, had had wanted for years myself – a regular feature that focused specifically on the vast and often daunting fiction of the Halo universe. It was meant to tantalize the grizzled lore veterans, yet help introduce newer fans into the deeper fiction.
Since its first inclusion as part of the Halo Community Update in Sept. of 2014, Canon Fodder has been a versatile vehicle that has taken us – yours truly included – on all sorts of journeys in Halo, exploring hidden corners of the fiction, being the source of new narrative reveals, and in general acting as a haven for those just as interested in the technical designation of a new Banshee or the darker secrets of ancient aliens as they are the viability of a four-shot BR or epic flag cap.
Your interactions and passion as a community have been in many ways Canon Fodder’s greatest legacy – seeing the galvanization of like-minded lore-lovers, and the rise of many a canon-curating content-creator has been brilliant. From Flood-flavored freakouts and over-the-top excitement for new novels, to impassioned wailing and heated debates over logic plague logistics and character assassinations, your conversations, curiosities, and captivation, your debates, delusions, and dissections… they’ve made every article, every reveal, every issue all worth the while. Today is as much a celebration of Canon Fodder’s readers as it is its revelations.
So today, we’ve got a few cool things to chat about that we hope you’ll find interesting, including proper “definitive” new visualizations of some cool items and entities in the universe, some community Q&A, words from Halo creatives, and some community-born creations.
One of my favorite things to include in these pages have been our “Deep Links” featurettes, taking a closer look at more obscure narrative nuggets from around the universe, be it from games, books, or other sources. For today’s CF centennial, we wanted to do something a little extra special, and include not only some new lore, but a few new visualizations as well to help fully flesh them out. Hope you enjoy!
Sunray Squad were the stars of Halo Wars 2: Operation SPEARBREAKER, taking the fight to the Banished on a dangerous mission to stop the launch of a Forerunner fighter. With an RTS, it’s often a bit more difficult to flesh out characters visually during gameplay, and Sunray was a team of soldiers we really kinda fell in love with and wanted to give a bit more attention to. Halo Wars 2’s Art Director Jeremy Cook dusted off his old paintbrushes to help us create a new hero piece for CF100 to honor these standout soldiers. They aren’t Spartans, they’re just bonafide badasses who do whatever it takes to protect their squadmates – and humanity as a whole.
Click the main image below for a super high-res wallpaper version and read on to learn more about some of the specific details captured; Mr. Cook's "old brushes" have plenty of magic still left in them apparently! There’s quite a few hidden little bits for lore-lovers to discover – we hope you enjoy this deeper look into these hot-dropping helljumpers.
Sunray 1-1 is the lead element of Boomerang Company, and arguably the most lethal and proficient ODST squad currently deployed on the Ark. Most recently, Sunray stopped a Banished plot to employ a Forerunner Despair-class fighter against the UNSC Spirit of Fire.
Upon returning from their successful mission, Sunray wasted no time in moving on to meet additional challenges. Deployed into some of the most hostile, Banished-occupied areas of Installation 00, Sunray has encountered hostile resistance from Warlords, Sentinels, and Forerunner armiger contingents alike.
Sunray's most recent missions involve the elimination of Banished commanders identified by Isabel as being critical to Atriox's attempts to harness the Ark's power. Shortly after SPEARBREAKER, Major Vaughn led Sunray on a successful clandestine assassination of a Jiralhanae captain. Employing tactics gleaned from archived after-action reports from Operation: GREY VEIL on Heian, Lance Corporal Sparks landed a killshot that has quickly become legend amongst other marksmen aboard the Spirit of Fire.
Gruss carries a full complement of biofoam canisters, ready to administer necessary aid at a moment’s notice.
Warrant Officer Quinn expertly wields an H-165 Forward Observer Module (or Target Designator) to mark points and targets of key interest. Quinn’s H-165 is linked both to the Spirit of Fire and to Corporal Turpin’s MQ-96 Support Drone for maximum tactical advantage. However, her WILLOWKEY TSCS (with upgrades provided by Isabel) is arguably Quinn's most important piece of kit.
Lance Corporal Sparks’ ODST helmet is equipped with a SinoViet LCX-20V1 sensor module. The combination of his sensors and information provided by Boomerang Company’s battlenet is vital for providing Sunray 1-1 with threat assessments and tracking data on multiple targets at long range.
Corporal Turpin employs a MC5 ID/NT tacpad and hardened battlenet uplink to track and operate her support drone. Her remote sensor package can locate and designate targets for both the drone and Spark.
Nicknamed “Hank,” Corporal Turpin’s MQ-96 Support Drone is equipped with light defensive measures, ideal for providing both cover and reconnaissance. The MQ-96 boasts impressive compatibility with a wide range of complementary systems and equipment.
Major Vaughn always keeps spare chemlights on hand for situations where other methods of signaling are unusable or unsafe. He rarely speaks of the dog tags he has carries – and ODSTs know not to ask about them.
Vaughn’s M41 SPNKr rocket launched features a hand-painted mustang, emblematic of his early career as an enlisted Marine.
Weapon charms, hand-fastened in the field with errant scraps and natural materials. An activity to both pass the long waiting hours and reinforce focus.
Sparks’ Stanchion was manufactured on the Spirit of Fire, but his favorite Ohana Prescient Systems’ smart-link scope is of Mars provenance. The detail work is a bit more personal.
Also, for you eager wiki-wizards out there, below you’ll find individual shots of the squad for use on character profile pages. Enjoy!
- Sunray 1-1 – Unit Patch
- Major Vaughan – Team Leader
- Warrant Officer Quinn – Technical Liaison
- Petty Officer Gruss – Medic
- Corporal Turpin – Drone Operator
- Lance Corporal Sparks – Designated Marksman
FIGHT IN FLIGHT
Next up are visualizations provided by Chase Toole showcasing the inspiration of an infamous Warzone boss, plus proper “hero art” for an older mainstay in Covenant aerial armadas.
Mvon ‘Sraom was one of the Covenant’s most storied Sangheili pilots, a legend whose deft skills at the controls of a myriad of aerial craft left an indelible mark on those who flew alongside and against him. Commanding a Banshee christened <Saban’amnsir> (“Red Fang”), Mvon was responsible for countless human casualties, and his practiced ruthlessness saw both civilian and military targets fall to his pinpoint plasma fire. Though they did not know his name, the distinctive livery of the Red Fang was well known to the UNSC, and intelligence analysts soon began to take particular note of where the infamous “Baron” might pop up next.
The mystique surrounding Mvon and his Red Fang only grew larger when he seemingly vanished following the Great Schism. Over the next several years, scattered reports from across several distant outposts and colonies have appeared which appear to describe Mvon’s distinctive craft and combat harness, though these accounts have not been independently confirmed.
TARASQUE HEAVY FIGHTER
During the height of the Covenant’s reign, the empire’s fleets contained a myriad of eclectic craft, all ordained to use their inherent gifts and abilities to carry out the will of the Prophets. The venerable Tarasque heavy strikecraft has long served as a messenger of destruction for those in the Covenant who balked at the sacrifices necessary for the Great Journey, and as envoy for the conversion and compliance fleets which put new species on the path to salvation.
Though the Tarasque has become less ubiquitous in the current Age, the success of its design pattern casts a long shadow over its successors and cousins, such as the Phantom dropship. In particular, the Tarasque’s refined and efficient controls are still the standard by which Covenant strikecraft control systems are measured, and many Sangheili flight harnesses are produced with the interface jacks and cyberlink translators necessary to synchronize with these craft.
343 Lead Concept Artist Darren Bacon gives us this absolutely gorgeous piece of art that focuses on humanity, but in the aftermath of struggle, and with eyes set forward towards a hopefully brighter – and often unexpected – future.
There are few things that capture the human imagination more than images of pioneers staking claims and building futures on new frontiers, though reclamation of worlds devastated by the Covenant War will require decades of hard work and ingenious new applications of terraforming technology. The hardy engineers, survivors, and soldiers who crew the stations clawing life from glass come from all walks of life and backgrounds, but all are united by a shared vision of humanity among the stars.
Among their tenacious tools of the trade is the TurboGen Spade. Named after a hardy herbivore native to Reach, the Spade is designed for operations on rugged colonial worlds that possess only minimal infrastructure. The Spade and its sibling frontier trucks share parts – and handling characteristics – with the ubiquitous Warthog, which meant that many recruits were already proficient with basic vehicle maintenance and off-road driving skills before they ever arrive at UNSC boot camp.
As many of you know, author Matt Forbeck is working on a new novel called Halo: Bad Blood – a follow-up to his original Buck-based adventure. Today, we wanted to share a special preview of the book’s cover, illustrated by the illustrious Isaac Hannaford. Hope you enjoy!
Another fan favorite has always been the Q&A section, so we figured Issue #100 wouldn’t be complete without grabbing a few community queries and providing a bit of lore-laden enlightenment.
XxDerpy117xX: What class of carrier is the UNSC Atlas?
A: The UNSC Atlas is one configuration of an Epoch-class heavy carrier. Keep in mind that specific visualization details will sometimes vary across transmedia channels.
TheTrekspert: Are UNSC hull numbers consecutive? e.g. is FUD 106 FFGs “older” than Aegis Fate?
A: Within a series, generally. But number sequences can be skipped for various reasons (planned ships that never get produced, bureaucratic maneuvering, etc) and older numbers reused for new ships in order to “inherit” the identity of a particular storied vessel.
Unikraken, and literally every member of the SOTP team: Please, dear lord, tell us the canonical size of the UNSC Cradle?
A: By a very strict reading of the sources (Halo: The Fall of Reach, p. 182) the UNSC Cradle is approximately 35 meters in length and 30 meters in width. More seriously, the length is not explicitly noted in the Story Bible, but our current measurements place the Cradle at approximately 1,800m x 600m.
A shadow crossed the fore camera of the Iroquois as the repair station Cradle maneuvered closer. Cradle was essentially a large square plate with engines. Large was an understatement; she was over a square kilometer. Three destroyers could be eclipsed by her shadow. The station running at full steam could refit six destroyers, three from her lower surface and three on her upper surface, within a matter of hours. [Halo: The Fall of Reach, 2010; pg. 182]
JP: What is the color of the Arbiter’s armor in Halo 3: silver or gold?
A: Silver, though it does pick up a golden hue in Halo 3’s warm lighting conditions.
As we reflect on CF’s centennial celebration, I thought it would be fun to grab some thoughts from a couple folks here at 343 who in many ways – both directly and indirectly – have had a key impact on both this feature itself and many of the narrative nuggets showcased within it. Kenneth Peters (Franchise Writer) and Nick Ardizzone (Narrative Designer, Grunt Gab-god) have been instrumental in helping craft a number of memorable moments in the franchise over the past few years, so let’s get their take on a few things, shall we?
What are your personal favorite aspects of the Halo universe, whether it be specific characters, settings, factions, time periods, etc?
KEN: That’s a difficult question … I would have to say the aspect of Halo I find most interesting right this second is the time period between the late 21st century to the opening of the 26th. There’s a lot of twist and turns in the story of humanity and the Covenant during those five centuries that take us from the world we know now to a wider universe with green cyborgs putting boots to alien backsides on ancient ringworlds. We managed to compile an overview of this period for Halo: Mythos, but I look forward to opportunities to further explore that era.
NICK: I think my favorite part of Halo is how we can contrast humanity against a galaxy of otherworldly threats. I love that we have these complicated human characters with military backgrounds and we’re free to set them against a wide array of different alien species.
What is your favorite Halo project to have worked on personally?
KEN: Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Halo 2 my favorite game in the series, and to have a hand in how it was brought forward and remastered was a dream come true. I can't wait to see it on the Xbox One X.
NICK: Although it was amazing to be able to provide the voice for the refined and dignified Yapyap THE DESTROYER on Halo Wars 2, I have to say my favorite title to work on was Halo 5: Guardians. It’s always a joy to flesh out the non-human species, and we got to write a huge amount of stuff for the Elites and Grunts. It’s hard not to love a world where a Grunt scientist speculates if humans spin meatsilk cocoons.
Sum up, if you can, what you enjoy most about creating in the Halo universe.
KEN: There’s no way to summarize that in the space allotted. At the risk of being a little cryptic, I will say that the opportunity to help be a catalyst for the creative energies of Halo and sci-fi fans is extremely rewarding and humbling and is the reason I can’t wait to come in to work each day.
NICK: It’s incredibly fulfilling to be able to look below the surface of this galaxy-spanning war and see the little stories underneath. The Halo universe has heartfelt, human moments like the messages from the settlers on Meridian as well as grand war stories like the Covenant’s defeat at Sunaion, and they’re both mixed in with wonderfully weird stuff like the poetry of Vel ‘Trokaik.
One of the coolest things to see over the past couple years has been the reemergence of several awesome fiction-focused community corners, all contributing in their own unique ways to helping discuss, dissect, investigate, and inevitably evangelize this crazy made-up collection of worlds, characters, vehicles, weapons, and events we all adore.
We wanted to give a few of them a chance to share their own thoughts on how they feel about the Halo universe, so give them your eager eyes and ears for a few moments, and also make sure you check out their sites, videos, channels, forums, and podcasts. There are a ton of brand new like-minded (even if often differently opinionated) community members eager to chat some Halo lore.
The lore, while not my first entry into the Halo universe, was my primary gateway. I played Halo 2 during not long after its release, but since my parents were stringently against having a video game system in the house, I had to find other ways to immerse myself in this fascinating new sci-fi universe. You can imagine my excitement when another friend introduced me to the books.
As soon as I picked up Halo: The Fall of Reach, I was hooked, and upon completion, my fate as a Halo lore fanatic was sealed. Since then, though I’ve gotten and played all the Halo titles, my primary love has remained with the lore, so when Canon Fodder came on the scene in late 2014, I was fairly excited to see a lore-dedicated blog, a new way to get answers to burning question, a new vehicle to initiation conversation with fellow fans, and a new way to get people interested in the lore of the Halo Universe.
So, Happy 100th issue, Canon Fodder! It’s been quite the journey getting here, and here’s to the journey still to come. Thank you Grim for pumping these out and thank you 343 for allowing this feature to exist.
For all my ruminations on Halo’s complexity, what makes it ‘work’ is remarkably simple. It all comes back to that moment at the start of Halo 1′s second mission - where you exit the escape pod and suddenly it’s as if the entire game has opened up before your eyes. You trace the line through the valley, past the waterfall, and then up the band in the horizon that curves back around - over your head - to reveal a world unlike any other.
By that point you’ve either accidentally walked off the edge of the cliff, or utterly failed to notice that the Covenant have landed - registering, too late, that the patch of burned grass where the plasma grenade detonated was once you.
That was the moment Halo came to life. It’s the entire premise of the series in a nutshell, regardless of whether it’s a game, book, comic, audio drama... from the time of the Forerunners to the rise of the Banished, that sense of awe, mystery, and danger is, has been, and always will be Halo’s ambrosia and nectar.
Halo has a long history of richness and diversity, expanding across video games, novels, comics, and more. With all of that content, incredibly passionate fans have established themselves in numerous communities, thriving off of the exploration of great stories and themes.
At The Archive, we've long specialized in facilitating quality discussions and debates surrounding the Halo universe, where theories have been built, powerful stories have been recorded, and where we continue to strive for a strong and welcoming community atmosphere for fans of the lore, or otherwise.
We appreciate the vastness of this universe provides which allows discussion, interaction, and analysis that sustains communities and passions like ours. Over the years it's been a great journey to witness and partake in the rich storytelling and depth Halo has offered and we remain committed to its future. - The Archive
The Halo universe is so sprawling these days that there’s a seemingly-endless number of fan niches to inhabit. At Forward Unto Dawn, our focus is on the story—the fantastic settings, the characters you root for (or root against), and the scenes that you want to talk about it with others. Sometimes it's the quiet moments.
For a genre seeped in pulp military sci-fi, taking a stroll across the universe in Greg Bear's Forerunner trilogy was great, the scope and scale of the Halo universe growing page by page. How alien and wonderful the universe could be, years after the first game. As story fans, sometimes we need our expectations challenged. When it’s done right, it makes the universe infinitely larger. The pages turn themselves. And the Halo universe becomes a place we’ve called home for years. —Dani and David
What I love most of the Halo Universe is how it continually expands and introduces new characters, worlds, technologies, and species. It even expands upon the cultures of the already established factions and races. I also love that the fiction doesn’t really have a black and white when it comes to the many different organizations in the Halo Universe. The prime example of this is ONI. My greatest passion is diving into the Covenant, its splinter groups, and its client species, namely the Sangheili. I just love looking at their culture and seeing how many different civilizations that were inspired when developing the warrior-race that we all know and love.
May the Urs’ light shine upon you all, fellow warriors!
-Kaidon Nakai ‘Vodar (Covenant Canon)
Howdy folks, I’m CIA391, an admin from Halopedia. (But many may know me from all around the place heh) I simply love helping people learn about the Halo Universe and making resources for everyone to use.
If I had to describe Halopedia, it would be like a domain of information that never ends, and you can dig for hours and find new stuff you never even heard off in the Halo Universe before. Like have you ever heard of the best characters ever – Spock the cat, and Keiichi-047? Everyone is welcome to join Halopedia in numerous ways, from the site itself, to our twitter, to our facebook, and our Discord.
If I had to say what my favourite parts of Halo fiction was, it would have to be the obscure stuff, the stuff I have to dig to find. Like websites that once held cool lore that are long gone now and translating the Forerunner language. The latter I managed to translate the Halo 4 one by myself.
Becoming an admin for Halopedia was simply one of the best choices I ever made, opening doors like friendships with several communities and places who also love to learn about the Halo Lore.
Although we all have different opinions and tastes, there’s one thing that every one of my fellow editors on Halo Nation share: a passion for the Halo franchise and especially its lore. While I cannot speak for everyone on the wiki, I personally love the Halo universe for how incredibly vast and fully-realised it is. Every corner is just brimming with intriguing detail, the occasional mystery, and always the potential for interesting stories to be told; I’ve never come across a part of the universe that I didn’t want to know more about!
I especially love pieces of media such as Dirt, Hunt the Truth and Broken Circle, where the black and white, “good vs evil” morality often presented in the games is subverted, by exploring the motives of insurrectionists or of members of the Covenant (and remnant factions), and delving into the more sinister side of ONI and the UNSC.
In my humble opinion, the Halo universe goes far above and beyond what is required (and, indeed, expected) of a video game universe. It is much more than simply a vessel for the games’ stories; to me, it’s a fully-fledged fictional universe capable of standing amongst the greats such as Middle-Earth and Star Wars.
Building any creative and extended universe allows for endless corners of it to be explored and tested, providing all types of stories and characters to be discovered for readers, gamers and artists to hold onto and call their own. That’s the heart behind what Podcast Evolved searches for in the Halo Universe. In so doing, Halo’s expanded universe becomes more than the just books, comics, and games: It connects us. Expands our friendships and community involvement on an international level. We have befriended and met many so many loving and accepting indviduals through our shared love of the series.
Among us, stories like Midnight in the Heart of the Miltholian, Halo: Ghost of Onyx, Halo: Silentium, Halo: Last Light, the Halo Graphic Novel, all share a thread that makes the Halo universe what it is on their own, while providing very different stories to engage it’s most passionate fans and start the discussion with new ones.
From the myriad games, books, comics, and other projects, the Halo universe is such a large and intricate medium that it has allowed for a huge number of sub-communities to not only develop, but flourish. The narrative around space combat in Halo is so detailed and engrossing by itself that it spawned my own labor of love, an RTS mod for Sins of a Solar Empire called Sins of the Prophets, that focuses on fleet combat between the UNSC and alien factions.
Every year new content comes out of Halo that keeps my team passionate and busy updating our project with the latest information and lore that a community of tens of thousands of Halo fans come together to discuss and play. I feel that the unique setting and tone of the Halo universe allows for compelling gameplay you can't get anywhere else. We're incredibly excited to see where Halo goes from here and how we'll be able to integrate that into our own adventures. - Unikraken
The past few years have brought some incredibly memorable moments and additions to the Halo fiction, and as we look towards the future, it’s good to head into the deep with a healthy perspective. There are some scintillating new adventures in Halo’s narrative and storytelling future, in a wide range of different media and across the universe’s timeline. Some of these adventures will be here before you know it, and others considerably farther off in the distance. There will be both pockets of old familiar feelings, and unforeseen explorations. The last few years have given us all a considerable amount to talk about, and the years to come are certainly poised to do the same. We can’t wait to share these journeys with you.
Before we go, some very important credit goes to the folks who entertained my ridiculous notions about this series and let me run with it. Folks like Corrinne Robinson, Frank O’Connor, Che Chou, Joshua Davis, Rob Semsey, and Andy “Bravo” Dudynsky, all who supported the endeavor and let me roll the proverbial dice on something that was most assuredly going to be initially consumed by a relatively small – but passionate – subset of the overall fanbase. Without the support of these and other founding fodders, you wouldn’t be reading this today, over three years and a hundred issues in.
And so, that wraps things up. Hope you have enjoyed our time together, not just today, but throughout our crazy canonical journey. I can’t thank readers of this space enough for their passion, dedication, and conversation over the past few years. It’s been an absolute blast, and has meant a great deal.
Until next time… Live well, play Halo, party on, and be excellent to each other.