Canon Fodder: High-Value Histories
Welcome back, fiction fans! September is here already, which means it’s time for a new issue of Canon Fodder.
This month, we’re taking a long look back across many games in the series, from Halo: Combat Evolved to Halo Infinite, to explore the stories behind a number of the “high-value targets” you’ve fought. You no doubt sensed that these particular foes were a big deal, but their names, roles, and stories have remained largely unknown—until now.
Also featured in this issue is a collection of incredible lore content created by various members of the community, and another Q&A sourced from r/HaloStory (where you can log your questions for future issues!)
Halo: The Rubicon Protocol, the latest novel by acclaimed author Kelly Gay, released just last month (and has gone on to become a USA Today bestseller!)
In our last issue of Canon Fodder, we sat down for a fireside chat with Kelly herself to discuss the story of this new book, its characters, and how it serves to enhance the campaign experience of Halo Infinite.
The Rubicon Protocol gives us a closer look at the personnel of the UNSC Infinity who struggled to survive on Zeta Halo over the six months that followed the devastating Banished ambush and eventually led to the awakening of the Master Chief.
In case you missed ‘em, we dropped three chapter previews of the novel which you can check out below:
- PREVIEW 1: The UNSC Infinity is under attack! Take another look at the Banished assault on the UNSC Infinity from a different perspective.
- PREVIEW 2: Safe at last? Follow a group of survivors who—after a grueling week of fighting for survival—finally find safe harbor at the UNSC Mortal Reverie. But for how long?
- PREVIEW 3: Christmas on Zeta Halo. Stranded on a fragment of the shattered section of the ring, Spartan Horvath spends the festive season with an unexpected Banished guest he must work with in order to survive.
If that whets your whistle for a new Halo story, whether this is your first foray into the expanded universe or simply your latest return to it, you can grab a copy of Halo: The Rubicon Protocol in trade paperback, ebook, and unabridged audiobook formats.
Happy reading! (Actually, that’s a lie, a lot of sad and horrible things happen to characters you’ll probably quite like in this book... but you know what I mean.)
Moving onto the meat ‘n’ potatoes (po-tay-toes!) of this issue, let’s talk high-value targets...
In Halo Infinite, one of the activities within the campaign’s hub area are the high-value targets—various Banished individuals (or, in some cases, worm colonies) with a notable presence on Zeta Halo.
While high-value targets represent a new system brought to the campaign experience of Halo, by no means have all the enemies we’ve fought in previous games been faceless nobodies. In fact, as early as 2003, when Halo: The Flood released as an adaptation of Halo: Combat Evolved, some enemies encountered in the game were recontextualized as specific operatives within the Covenant—we even saw certain events that occur in the game from their perspective.
Previously, we’ve talked about a couple of these, such as Cethegus (depicted in the image above), the Jiralhanae chieftain at the end of Halo 3’s mission “The Ark,” who challenges the Master Chief to a one-on-one fight while his jump-pack troops watch on. But there are more. Plenty more!
So, let’s take a look back through the Halo games and pick out some of the high-value targets who have appeared. Some you may recognize from various corners of the universe, while some might be entirely new...
Encounter: The Maw (Halo: Combat Evolved)
After initiating a wildcat destabilization of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn’s fusion core, Cortana directed the Master Chief to an elevator which would take them up to a vehicle bay in order to make their escape. The elevator, however, would arrive with a group of Covenant forces led by a black-armored Elite.
The special operatives of the Covenant were known by many to be fanatics who were chosen more for their willingness to risk both their own lives and the lives of those under their command. Zuka ‘Zamamee, however, was a less conventional example of his kind.
Having been wounded by the Master Chief during the boarding action against the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, 'Zamamee was rescued by a unit of Unggoy led by Yayap, who was praised for his actions and transferred from the comfort of his somnolent command to serve the spec-ops officer directly as he attempted to hunt down the Demon who had shamed him. This Unggoy, however, would prove to be ‘Zamamee’s undoing after a failed assault on the UNSC’s Alpha Base.
Zuka would perish upon eventually returning to the Pillar of Autumn, where he faced the Master Chief a final time. As the Spartan headed to the elevator that would take him to the vehicle bay after destabilizing the ship’s reactors to destroy Installation 04, the detonation of several grenades would cause ‘Zamamee to fall and break his back, leaving him to wait for his first glimpse of paradise beyond death.
IGIDO NOSA HURRU & OGADA NOSA FASU
Encounter: The Silent Cartographer (Halo: Combat Evolved)
After ending the security lockdown and returning to the structure that hosts Installation 04’s Cartographer, the Master Chief found that the Covenant had upped the site’s security as two Mgalekgolo stood guard by the entrance.
Igido Nosa Hurru was bonded with Ogada Nosa Fasu, a union that made for a particularly deadly combination due in part to the unique relationship shared between them. Where Hurru was composed of a gestalt of “elder” Lekgolo, wizened by many years, this colony did not become large enough to split for longer than what has been speculated to be the “usual” rate of growth for their species.
As a result, the Mgalekgolo gestalt that composed Fasu were notably younger, and were characterized as being forthright and keen to seize the initiative in battle, whereas Hurru possessed a greater proclivity for conducting combat from range.
Both human and Sangheili xenoanthropologists have speculated that their present knowledge and terminology around bonded pairs is more limited than previously thought. Some relations notably bear closer resemblance to that of parent and child than “siblings,” leading to much speculation about what other social configurations the Lekgolo possess beyond those which were known to have been cultivated to be useful according to the Covenant's needs.
Informed by Zuka ‘Zamamee that a lone Demon had killed two of their kind on the island, Hurru and Fasu hoped for the honor of killing the Demon themselves.
Encounter: Outskirts, Metropolis, Delta Halo, Regret (Halo 2)
After the Solemn Penance penetrated Earth’s orbital defense grid and began deploying troops to Old Mombasa, among the retinue of veritable Covenant infantry encountered by UNSC forces were groups of Kig-Yar snipers. Many were also deployed to key strategic locations on Installation 05.
The Prophet of Regret greatly valued martial prowess among the ranks of the Covenant across all its client species and was known to personally select individuals and groups to serve as deadly enforcers of his will.
Among this number were the Jha’kaar, a specialized order of Kig-Yar snipers. They bore no distinguishing markings, boasted no unique armor, accessories, or weaponry beyond that which was standard field-issue, and their names were known only to their commander.
To all others, they appeared as ordinary as any other Kig-Yar unit, but those few who know the name “Jha’kaar” have heard the hushed whispers of snipers hitting their mark on shots most would describe as impossible, as if possessed by preternatural instinct. The true nature and extent of this “order,” along with their influence and allegiances amongst active factions, remains unknown.
Encounter: Tayari Plaza (Halo 3: ODST)
As Edward Buck made his way through the Covenant-occupied streets of Tayari Plaza to reach Veronica Dare’s drop pod, he encountered several groups of dead Sangheili who he noted had seemingly been killed not by human forces, but by the Jiralhanae.
When the Prophet of Regret arrived at a world identified by a luminary as Erde-Tyrene, he had not anticipated that he had stumbled upon the cradle of their enemy. As the Day of Jubilation was eviscerated by a lone Demon and the threat of Regret’s lack of preparedness grew clear, Rhul ‘Salmutee—shipmaster of the Solemn Penance—saw fit to deploy their most veritable combat units in order to secure and occupy key strategic urban areas.
Blademaster Vero ‘Ahtulai, renowned for his mastery of pzish’zawk, the blade form of wielding dual energy swords, was on the ground when the Solemn Penance jumped into slipspace. He immediately sought to unite the brothers who had been left behind, stranded on an enemy world with no reinforcements, but his efforts would be quickly met with betrayal as the Jiralhanae received secret orders to eliminate the remaining Sangheili.
Vero and thirteen of his brothers would perish as the bloodthirsty chieftain, Bracktanus, quickly made his move, targeting the blademaster first to demoralize the rest. The last thing Vero saw was the reverse-blade of the chieftain’s hammer impacting against his chest, which threw him to the ground beneath graffiti of a human word he would never fully grasp.
Encounter: NMPD HQ (Halo 3: ODST)
After Alpha-Nine survived multiple waves of Phantoms and Banshees on the rooftops of New Mombasa’s skyscrapers, a Jiralhanae chieftain entered the fray and severely injured Kojo “Romeo” Agu with his gravity hammer.
Bracktanus became known to the UNSC after a conversation between two Unggoy was recorded by Corporal C. Errera, who served as a sniper spotter during the fall of Reach. The Unggoy discussed the ever-growing feud between the Sangheili and Jiralhanae, noting the favor that the Prophets were showing to the latest addition to the Covenant as they climbed ranks with unprecedented speed. Bracktanus, then a captain, notably killed a Sangheili in cold blood on the hallowed ground of a Forerunner shrine, but received no punishment for the heretical act.
Bracktanus soon rose to the rank of chieftain and served as a key player in the Prophet of Truth’s schemes, enacting secret orders to eliminate the Sangheili left on Earth after the abrupt departure of the Solemn Penance.
Scouring the city of New Mombasa for any holdouts of their Sangheili rivals, and crushing any human resistance his pack came across, Bracktanus would meet his end at the hands of several ODSTs of Alpha-Nine—Edward Buck, Taylor Miles, and Michael Crespo.
Encounter: Data Hive (Halo 3: ODST)
Veronica Dare and Jonathan “The Rookie” Doherty navigated the subterranean data center facility that contained the Superintendent AI, encountering a Yanme’e hive within. At the end of a series of walkways, the path forward was blocked by a leader unit that bore a golden carapace and enhanced shields.
Yanme’e society is divided into three social castes: domestics, workers, and protectors—all of which exist to service the queen of their respective hives. The protector caste served as the Yanme’e equivalent of a military force, where the highest “rank” hitherto observed among them is the hiveward.
When deployed to alien planets, Yanme’e quickly set about establishing hives—typically in subterranean areas which are difficult for hostile elements to reach. In the event that hives are breached, however, a coordinated defense is required to ensure these “strongholds” retain their entrenched positions. These efforts are typically led by hivewards, who are distinguished by their golden carapace and possess the authority to command all ranks below them. Because of their specific role, hivewards are almost never seen outside of the hive itself.
Within the Covenant, hivewards were granted more privileged weaponry as well as more powerful personal energy shields.
Encounter: Long Night of Solace (Halo: Reach)
After making their way to the bridge of the Ceudar-pattern heavy corvette known as the Ardent Prayer, SPARTAN-B312 encountered the vessel’s shipmaster: General Ardo ‘Moretumee.
Renowned as a tactical and cunning leader, Ardo ‘Moretumee was known to be an inscrutable presence both on and off the battlefield. A close friend to Supreme Commander Rho ‘Barutamee, both Sangheili shared a deep fascination with the Forerunner artifacts they were tasked with recovering and researching, and both also shared ambitions for where they hoped their own great journey would lead: the hallowed halls of Maethrillian itself.
When Operation: UPPER CUT was initiated by the UNSC at Reach, Ardo would meet his end at the hands of SPARTAN-B312 and Jorge-052 during the subsequent boarding action that would lead to the destruction of 'Barutamee’s supercarrier, Long Night of Solace.
Encounter: Forerunner (Halo 4)
As the Master Chief battled through Covenant and Promethean forces to a supposed relay satellite, hoping to send a signal to the UNSC Infinity, a final Promethean Knight attempted to dispatch this errant Reclaimer from unleashing a terrible force contained for a hundred millennia...
Endurance-of-Will was born into the Warrior-Servant rate and held to rigid principles of honor and discipline, and it was the legendary Bitterness-of-the-Vanquished who guided her mutation to first-form.
Before the Forerunners’ war with the Ancestors, Endurance shared a romantic connection with the Didact, though he would choose to marry outside of his own rate after meeting the Librarian on Charum Hakkor.
After the Didact was driven to madness, following his encounter with the Gravemind, Endurance assisted the Librarian in imprisoning him within Requiem. Loyal to her commander to the end, she submitted herself to the Composer in order to guard the Didact’s Cryptum for the countless millennia to come.
In 2557, Endurance would fail to prevent the Master Chief from interfacing with the Cryptum and awakening the Didact. Her damaged essence was recovered by UNSC forces in 2558 and closely monitored by ONI as she was integrated into Warzone simulations aboard the UNSC Infinity. Here, Endurance unexpectedly found some measure of peace as she willingly served penance for her failure by sharpening the steel of a new generation of human warriors to become worthy of their inherited legacy.
Encounter: Osiris (Halo 5: Guardians)
Fireteam Osiris witnessed a Kraken deploy to the snow-covered ranges of Kamchatka as they made their way towards Dr. Halsey’s position. Here, a furious battle between Covenant and Promethean forces was led by General Kitun ‘Arach, who also notably appears in several recovered Mission Intel logs.
The sundering of the Covenant in 2552 left the Sangheili reeling in post-war uncertainty. Where some sought to forge new paths towards forward-looking forms of enlightenment, others redoubled their faith in the idea of the Covenant, and few exemplify this split as tragically as the ‘Arach family.
Once free of the corruptive influence of the San’Shyuum and the foolish ambitions of Jul ‘Mdama, Kitun ‘Arach wished to reshape the Covenant’s leadership into a military council, inspired by renowned figures like Imperial Admiral Xytan ‘Jar Watinree. Largely uninterested in continuing a costly war with humanity and his own kind, Kitun sought security, independence, and might for Sanghelios—but most importantly of all, he wished to have his brother, Jacul ‘Arach, by his side.
Jacul, however, had pledged his service to the Arbiter and sought to convince Kitun to join him. When these brothers met on the field of battle at Sunaion, neither would live to see the light of Urs rise over a new day on Sanghelios.
Encounter: Silent Auditorium (Halo Infinite)
Within the Silent Auditorium, the Master Chief fought through waves of Banished foes who threw themselves at the Spartan to buy time for their mysterious Xalanyn ally. Perhaps the most dangerous of these foes was the Jiralhanae Warlord encountered in the final phase of this battle, who fought with a zeal and ferocity that matched even the most powerful enemies encountered by the UNSC.
Warlord Horatius was a Jiralhanae elder who served as part of the “Exodus Guard,” the Banished forces that traveled back to the galaxy from the Ark after the “portal under the mountain” was uncovered on Reach at Escharum’s command.
Rendered numb to the dire circumstances suffered by the Jiralhanae over the years, from their induction into the Covenant to the razing of Oth Sonin, Horatius was inspired by what he saw in Atriox and Escharum: two generations, master and pupil, wizened age and vigorous youth, fighting to secure a worthy future for their kind.
When it seemed that Atriox had perished, Horatius bound his pledge to honor the warmaster’s pursuit of the Xalanyn in blood—both his own and the enemies he felled in the months leading to the eventual discovery and awakening of the Harbinger at Zeta Halo.
With much work to be done after the Harbinger’s release from her cylix, Horatius was appointed as an “honor guard” for their mysterious new ally, where his strength would be put to its final test against the greatest foe of all: the Master Chief.
COMMUNITY LORE CORNER
One of the great rewards of a universe so full of lore is seeing it reflected back through the eyes of the community, who add their own flavors of creativity to it in various ways. Let’s do a bit of a round-up of some of the good stuff that fans have been creating...
First of all, the YouTube account known as Halo Infinite Store Customization has helpfully put together a showcase of the Spartans from The Rubicon Protocol. Their armor, attachments, coatings, visors... everything you need to do your own “in-game cosplay” of these new characters is bound up in this three-and-a-half-minute video! (See the description for each individual item.)
Halo Guy is back with another Zeta Halo exploration video, this time offering an extensive discovery tour to find various locations featured in Halo: The Rubicon Protocol. When working on the book, we thought it would be pretty darn cool if somebody attempted to trace as much of the boat crew's journey as possible, knowing it'd be a colossal undertaking to do so—correlating the game and book, allowing for changes in terrain and details over time, and so on. But Halo Guy has, once again, delivered the goods!
Some issues back (oh my goodness, I’ve been doing this long enough now to have lost track!), we delved into the lore of the Banished outposts in the campaign of Halo Infinite. Interested in a refresher of that information with some slick ‘n’ stylish presentation? WildWildWes has got you covered!
There are lots of ideas thrown around for what “a Halo movie” might be, and Covenant Canon has delivered one such idea with a feature-length breakdown of the ranks of the Banished across all species encountered in the game, corroborating some of the latest information from the Halo Encyclopedia.
Speaking of which, the Halo Encyclopedia has been out for a few months now (how time flies!) and we’re starting to see that folks have really had a good chance to soak in its vast amount of information. Still not picked up a copy? Check out this review from ThunderBuddy, who goes into detail about what this blessed tome has to offer.
In the modern age of content, information delivered quickly and precisely has become increasingly popular—from TikTok, to YouTube shorts, to “Story” features. There’s a new form of content out there and folks are putting together Halo lore videos in that format, such as Lore Tours who has done a two-minute run-down of all the generations of Mjolnir armor.
And finally, Tom Jurassic has put together a beautiful cinematic showcase of locations in Halo Infinite which are also seen in The Rubicon Protocol, from the wreckage of the UNSC Mortal Reverie and the Harbinger’s cylix chamber, to Chak ‘Lok’s Tower, Spartan Stone’s lifepod, and beyond...
ThatEdBoy117: What caused the Flood outbreak on Delta Halo?
Before the activation of the Halo Array, the Forerunners stored dormant specimens of the Flood on each installation for future study, hoping that one day a cure might be found for the parasite.
Long before humanity and the Covenant would arrive at Delta Halo, the installation’s containment protocols failed in one of its research facilities, and this breach led to a catastrophic Flood outbreak which 2401 Penitent Tangent did not address.
Further details on these events are explored in the “Cold Storage Reports.”
RealRockManJJ: How are the Covenant remnants (particularly Jul ‘Mdama’s) doing as of the time of Halo Infinite?
Following the culmination of the Great Schism and the death of the Prophet of Truth, the Covenant was split asunder. What was once a singular, united whole became a compelling opportunity for numerous splinter factions to claim their piece of the empire’s technology and resources, many of which called themselves “Covenant.”
In the years immediately after the war, Jul ‘Mdama had the most notable success of uniting large groups of the former Covenant client species under the alliance's old name. After his death on Kamchatka and the decisive defeat suffered on Sanghelios, however, it is thought that his version of the Covenant, at the very least, will never rise again. Nevertheless, many sects still retain the weighty name, some with an undiminished zeal that rivals the ardor of the original.
Spencer Butler: Does it ever get itchy inside Mjolnir?
They say that the most harrowing battles faced by the Spartans are those waged against the onslaught of alien foes from without, but few pay mind to the battles that must be fought from within on such occasions when no armor technicians are around...
EternalCanadian: The Volant armor in Infinite mentions Spartans assigned to Army Airborne units, are these Spartan teams permanent attachments to specific battalions, companies, or divisions, and would similar assignments be done with other units (like Army Rangers, ODSTs, AAG units, etc), or is it an exclusively Army partnership?
These are typically temporary assignments of special forces assets for an operation or campaign. The Spartans work alongside every branch of the UNSC military, but some units have higher-tier access to super-soldier assistance.
Allison Tarasova: At what point is reformation of a ring not feasible? Zeta sustained quite a bit of damage, but it seems like it wasn’t catastrophic enough that it couldn’t be fixed.
Zeta Halo has indeed received significant damage over the millennia. When it was known as Gyre 11 as part of the senescent array, captured by the Primordial and the rogue Mendicant Bias, the ring was downsized from a diameter of 30,000km to 10,000km after sustaining significant structural damage following exposure to massive shearing gravitational forces.
While the UNSC has some educated insight into the maintenance and remediation systems of several Halo rings, it has been noted that even disparate shards of installations which have been “destroyed” (such as Installation 04’s Alpha Shard, depicted in Halo: Nightfall) are capable of sustaining themselves to an impressive degree under the right conditions.
Kingrawer: What the pheru doin?
They ain’t livin’, that’s for sure!
TheArbiter117: Love that we finally got the names of Bornstellar's parents! But... which parent is which?
Wise-Hands-to-Forge is Bornstellar’s father and Maker-of-Cherished-Mountains is his mother.
CKnight: So that unidentified soldier in the cell next to Lucas Browning was Griffin, right?
(Confession time: even while working on the book, I did not myself realize this until the end of my first draft readthrough!)
AutobotKing: With the attack on the Infinity at the start of Infinite, are Blue Team members Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091 somewhere on the ring or were they off ship at the time; meaning they are nowhere near Zeta Halo?
Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091 are stationed at Shield World 006, commonly referred to as “Onyx” or “Trevelyan,” serving as part of the security staff for the Onyx United Research Project with the Sangheili and Unggoy.
More of this particular area of the Halo universe is explored in the novel Halo: Legacy of Onyx by Matt Forbeck, which details events around Onyx in the wake of the Created uprising in 2558.
And that’ll do it for this issue!
Hopefully you’ve all got some interesting new details to chew on here—connections to draw, curiosities to be seen in a slightly new way on your next replay of some of the games, conversations to have across the universe...
Until next month, Reclaimers...