Canon Fodder: Phoenix Blog
And we’re back for round two of Canon Fodder this month!
When last we met, just a few short weeks ago, we revealed the description for Kelly Gay’s upcoming novel Halo: Epitaph (which is now up for pre-order!) and teased how some elements of the Fracture: FIREWALL event in Season 3 of Halo Infinite will actually have deeper roots within the core canon.
For our second outing of the month, we’ve got our recent all-new Noble Team short story to share with you, along with additional details about its two newcomers (or, depending on your point of view, old-timers)—Thom-A293 and Rosenda-A344.
It’s also Halo Wars 2’s sixth birthday, and we’ve got some fun little treats to mark the occasion in the form of some new art, a new Canon Fodder-exclusive Phoenix Log, and at long last... the formal release of that White Buffalo song which played over the E3 2016 trailer!
The Noble Intention event has just wrapped up for Halo Infinite, a last surprise we had cooked up for you all to round off the Winter Update.
It seemed only appropriate that the foregrounding of Halo: Reach’s armor and aesthetics should culminate in the return of Noble Team, but with a bit of a twist—an earlier configuration of the squad, featuring Thom-A293 and Rosenda-A344 (more on them below).
And so, we released the tie-in story Halo: Winter Contention, which you can experience on Halo Waypoint, in the form of a PDF, or as an audiobook on YouTube.
December 2551. Though the Covenant invasion of Concord has seen a rare UNSC victory, the Spartans of Noble Team find themselves stranded in a remote hinterland town. While the Covenant’s orbital presence has been neutralized, the remaining alien survivors have regrouped and prepare to make a devastating final stand.
With dwindling time and no reinforcements, Kat-B320 comes up with a daring plan to do what Spartans do best and turn the tide – and it’s up to Thom-A293 and Rosenda-A344 to make it happen.
A ROSE AND A THOM
At the center of the Noble Intention event were the Spartan-III super-soldiers known as Thom-A293 and Rosenda-A344.
During early conceptual exploration for Halo: Reach, inspiration was drawn from the likes of Akira Kurosawa’s classic film Seven Samurai (1954) and John Sturges’s The Magnificent Seven (1960). It was originally thought that Noble Team would have seven members, but—as is often the case in game development—the intersection of intent and budget came into play.
Reach represented a huge leap for Halo in terms of how art and animation brought its characters to life, with new technology capturing the fidelity of human faces and motion-capture performances like the series had never done before. But in order to make that advancement a reality, Noble Team would be consolidated as five members with your own personal Spartan joining as the sixth.
And so, we would see Thom perish in the live action trailer “Deliver Hope,” which depicted the battle on Fumirole in April 2552.
Here, we see that Thom is clad in armor that bears closer resemblance to the “default” Noble Six character. For the Noble Intention event, we purposefully drew upon the color scheme that Isaac Hannaford gave Thom in the original Reach concept art (depicted at the start of this section) to represent how he looked in December 2551.
Naturally, by the time the conflict at Fumirole came around in April 2552, these colors have evidently faded—due to natural wear-and-tear over time that comes with Spartan deployments, or he simply got a new nondescript grey paint job. You pick.
Rosenda would effectively vanish altogether. Her only canonical reference could be found as a footnote in the Personnel section of Bungie.net’s Halo: Reach page for Emile-A239's profile, but she would also be a loadout name in Reach’s Custom Game options and her service tag appears as an Easter egg on an automobile’s license plate in Halo 3: ODST. Yes, really!
Here, Rosenda is considered as a replacement for Emile in case Noble Team is deployed against human rebels, owing to his excessive brutality.
As Halo: Winter Contention contextualizes this, Rosenda’s established familiarity with Noble Team would have made her an ideal Spartan to rotate back onto the team roster. However, as the end of Winter Contention also hints towards, Noble Team would ultimately not be facing rebels, but the beginnings of Covenant activity pushing into the Volanus system where the fateful Battle of Fumirole would take place, culminating in Thom’s death and Kat losing her arm to the fuel rod blast of a Banshee.
Thus, Emile-A239 would take up a more permanent role as Noble Four, serving as the merciless wrath of the team until his death during the fall of Reach.
SERVICE NUMBER: S-A293
HEIGHT: 7ft 0in (213.36cm)
WEIGHT: 250lbs (113.4kg)
BIRTH WORLD: Dwarka
DATE OF BIRTH: October 15, 2525
Orphaned during the Covenant’s brutal siege of Dwarka in 2530, during which Jiralhanae shock forces were deployed to residential sectors, the freighter carrying Thom and a dozen other children made an unexpected rendezvous with an ONI vessel. This change in fate would ultimately lead Thom to Onyx, where he would be trained to become a Spartan-III super-soldier as part of Alpha Company, demonstrating remarkable support capacity as a member of a team.
Reassigned prior to Operation: PROMETHEUS, which would see the total destruction of Alpha Company, Thom would be designated as the sixth member of Noble Team. His youthful exuberance and jovial nature greatly contrasted with the more stoic temperament exhibited by his teammates, and after sacrificing himself during the battle of Fumirole in April 2552, it was felt that any levity within the team died with him.
SERVICE NUMBER: S-A344
RANK: Warrant Officer
HEIGHT: 6ft 10in (208.3cm)
WEIGHT: 219lbs (99.33kg)
BIRTH WORLD: Earth
DATE OF BIRTH: January 5, 2525
Born in the Greater Chicago Industrial Zone, Rosenda’s parents moved to Vodin early in her life to take up posts as colonial administrators. Sent off-world among the first group of evacuees when the planet came under attack, she was orphaned when the Covenant destroyed the planet’s orbital elevator and bombarded evacuation centers.
Brought to Onyx as one of the 497 candidates for SPARTAN-III Alpha Company, Rosenda acclimatized quickly to her situation and caught the eye of Franklin Mendez as an exceptional individual. She would ultimately be reassigned before the fateful launch of Operation: PROMETHEUS.
Given the designation of Noble Four, Rosenda was one of the longest-serving members of Noble Team before she was transferred to another deployment at the end of Operation: OFFSET EYE in December 2551. As a result, she was not present during the fall of Reach and saw the Covenant War through to its end, where she would continue to be sent on covert missions against Covenant remnant factions and rebel groups.
Long before Jun-A266 became a headhunter of the recruitment world for the SPARTAN-IV program, he served as a headhunter of a very different kind. He went on to become a member of Noble Team, and would avoid the deadly fate that awaited the rest of his squadmates during the fall of Reach—escorting Doctor Catherine Halsey to CASTLE Base before escaping the planet.
With the Winter Update’s focus on Reach-related events, aspects of Jun’s storied history—and that of the SPARTAN-III program in general—have taken center stage in the Intel that has dropped over the course of the Winter Update for Halo Infinite. As with Season 2, we have compiled these into a centralized blog which you can check out in the link below.
Looking ahead, Intel will be published in a central blog that we will update over the course of Season 3 with each new entry, and you can continue to expect to see it published in-game in the MOTD carousel of Halo Infinite as well.
This month marks the sixth birthday of Halo Wars 2. Unfortunately, saying “Six years, six long years...” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, but that’s not going to stop us from celebrating this much-loved entry in the series with some cool stuff!
Like many of you, I personally have a profound love for this game. The debut of Atriox and the Banished as a new faction in the universe, the return of familiar characters and settings as the UNSC Spirit of Fire was brought to the Ark, the countless hours spent playing multiplayer, Blitz, and Terminus Firefight...
And, of course, like many of you, I have wanted that absolutely incredible song by The White Buffalo which played over the unforgettable E3 2016 trailer to be released.
And to that, I say at last: mission accomplished.
A huge thank you to everyone involved in making this happen. Folks across 343, Microsoft, Blur, and Unison Music Group were all incredibly enthused about finally getting this song released!
Halo Wars 2 is a game full of stunning artwork—from the campaign mission screens to the Phoenix Log entries, to the Blitz cards, and beyond.
As part of Halo Wars 2’s birthday festivities, we thought we’d reach into the art vault and bring you a selection of pieces. Some of these are things you’ve no doubt seen in various corners of the game, now being shown in their full glory, while perhaps one or two are making their first-time debut.
PHOENIX LOG: LET ‘VOLIR
And finally, to cap this celebration off, we’re going to deliver a new Waypoint-exclusive Phoenix Log.
For those who may need a reminder, Phoenix Logs were a variety of codex-style entries that players could unlock in Halo Wars 2. These gave background information and lore to units, characters, buildings, locations, and also provided some short stories for maps and events from the UNSC, Banished, and Forerunner perspectives.
In this entry, we catch up with Let ‘Volir—former shipmaster of the Enduring Conviction, and currently the leader of all Banished forces on the Ark following Atriox’s return to the galaxy in order to secure Zeta Halo and unleash the Xalanyn.
BONDS OF BROTHERHOOD
Let ‘Volir // Shipmaster’s Log // Oth Liqattu, 2559
When I first joined the Banished, it was due in so small amount to necessity. After the War of Annihilation, we who had served were cast adrift in uncertainty—faith in false gods held no sustenance, a hundred different leaders of countless fractured armies emerged to claim their piece of the Covenant’s spoiled carcass, and the Arbiter sought to make peace with those we had slaughtered.
But while a thousand petty conflicts were waged, the Banished had been built in the shadows. When Atriox emerged, it was with purpose, direction, and vigor—a place for worthy warriors of all species.
It took me some time to see it, but while the galaxy cascades into unfettered chaos, it is the Banished that shall reside at the center of the storm. We hunt, we take, we live.
Once, I saw my duty as being only to protect my own crew. In this, I know that I failed, for it was under my command that the Enduring Conviction was torn asunder in the skies above the Ark. I understand that my penance for this failure is an even greater responsibility. What I think of as my crew has had to expand beyond those who served with me aboard the Conviction—it must now encompass all Banished forces as we continue our bid to secure the great foundry of the Forerunners.
I foresee much hardship on the path ahead, but whatever those trials may be, I have faith—not in false gods or divine journeys, but in the certainty that the strength of what Atriox has built, the enduring might of the Banished, will ultimately bring us the swift and decisive victory we seek.
That brings this issue of Canon Fodder to a close.
For those who are interested in reading more about some of the events that took place on the Ark following the end of Halo Wars 2, you should definitely check out Troy Denning’s novel Halo: Divine Wind.
We’ll be back next month to cover all things related to Season 3 of Halo Infinite. Until then, see you in the Community Collection playlist!