Chronique:Canon Fodder - Concert of Words
Halo 3 turns sixteen, we’ve got an extensive Q&A on all things Halo: Outcasts, there’s a new Swords of Sanghelios ship visualization to get you acquainted with, we recently released a new Tenrai-themed Story Shard, fiction-focused offerings are coming to the 2023 Halo World Championship—and there’s plenty more to cover.
Let’s dive straight into it!
Canon Fodder is coming to the 2023 Halo World Championship!
You may recall that we did a Canon Fodder LIVE panel at the 2022 event last year, where we announced the upcoming novel Halo: Epitaph.
We’ll be back for another round of Canon Fodder LIVE at this year’s event, where we’ve got more announcements to share and a very special guest in the form of Troy Denning!
Fiction fans attending the event and watching the Community Stage stream on YouTube can look forward to seeing Troy on the Canon Fodder LIVE panel and a Halo Book Club panel where we’ll be chatting in more detail about the characters and eras that Troy has written—from Veta Lopis and the Ferrets, to the adventures of Blue Team, and the most recent outing of Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam and Spartan Olympia Vale in Halo: Outcasts.
If you’re attending the event, you will also have the opportunity to get your Halo books, merchandise, and on-site posters signed by Troy.
We look forward to seeing you there, and be sure to check out our Road to HaloWC 2023 blog for full details.
On the subject of Halo: Outcasts, let’s get into the questions that you’ve been sending our way...
Note that if your question hasn’t been answered here, we may have that banked for a future Q&A—or we may even ask Troy himself at HaloWC.
Cosmo-alman: Can you clarify Cortana and the Created having access to Fortress-class ships? Because if they really do, that would undoubtedly make them by far the strongest faction in the current setting, Fortress-class ships are absurdly large and have insane firepower.
At the height of the Forerunner ecumene’s power, Fortress-class vessels would typically be crewed by hundreds of thousands of Warrior-Servants and their personal ancillas, networked in deep synchrony to coordinate millions of weapon-ships and attack craft, as well as other ship functions—from combat systems to assembler vats.
While the Created do indeed possess at least one Fortress-class vessel known as the Long Reverence, the extent to which they are able to bring to bear the might of this warship is a pale imitation of the Forerunners’ capabilities in their primacy due in part to significantly smaller numbers and comparatively limited processing capacity. With Created-aligned intelligences spread across Cortana’s sphere of influence in the galaxy, it would likely take many millennia for a notable fraction of a Fortress-class vessel’s potential to be harnessed.
Sevman2001: I take it, from the cover at least, that the energy sword the Prometheans confiscated from Thel at the beginning was NOT the Prophets’ Bane. If this is true, did this second sword have any significance to Thel, or was it just an extra sword he had brought along?
While it is customary for a Sangheili to keep themselves armed, the weapon that Thel sought to wield at the High Gathering were his words. The Prophets’ Bane remained in Vadam Keep—a gesture that he hoped would signal these peaceful intentions.
CaedHart: So with the rise of the MJOLNIR [GEN3] armor platform, is MJOLNIR [GEN2] still in use with any Spartans on far-flung worlds or on the front lines?
There are indeed certain places where GEN3 armor wasn’t—or simply couldn’t have been—rolled out in the wake of the Created uprising.
It is important to note that each generation of Mjolnir does not necessarily render the one before it obsolete. It is a technology standard and baseline, and improvements can be "back ported" if needed. Upgraded GEN1 and GEN2 Mjolnir (with or without the GEN3 specs) will remain in service for years to come.
AstralRemembrance: In Outcasts we saw that Sloan didn't yet manage to achieve full integration with the Domain, but during the events of Precipice he seems to be well, and even offered to cure Athos's rampancy too. Did it mean that, by the time Precipice took place, Sloan managed to achieve full integration with the Domain and 100% cure himself?
As Sloan notes in Outcasts, the Domain has not had a uniform effect on AIs concerning rampancy, and describes his own experience as “a relative plateauing of his current deterioration.”
In Part 3 of Precipice, Athos is reached out to by Proxy after being located by the Executor. Following a protracted debate, Proxy offers Athos a place among the new assemblies of the Created, though stops short of providing further specific details pending his acceptance. It is worth noting that no “cure” for rampancy is explicitly offered in this passage.
With the Domain out of reach following Cortana’s demise on Zeta Halo, Sloan would look to other methods that might further maintain operational stability—but that is a story for another time…
HaloGuy: Does the FIREWALL Story Shard take place alongside, or after Outcasts?
Precipice is set after the opening of Halo Infinite, in the wake of Cortana’s demise—and is therefore after the events of Outcasts.
Then_Ocelot_431: What is the current mainstream Sangheili view of those who became Banished Sangheili?
It is difficult to quantify a “mainstream” view, as the Sangheili have found themselves going in a lot of different directions in the years that followed the Covenant’s fall.
Some are loyal to the Swords of Sanghelios, some have joined various Covenant remnant factions, others have sought plunder and profit with the Banished, and there are others who fall into none of these camps at all.
Without the Covenant empire as the all-encompassing centerpiece of Sangheili society, there are many evolving perspectives.
EternalFount: Is there a connection between the fighting suits of the inhabitants of the tel and those of the San'Shyuum Prelates?
Nizat’s forces within the tel had what they called “Sanctum’s Hide” grow on them specifically as a result of years of exposure to the dust within the ancient structure. Prelates are outfitted in advanced powered armor formerly developed by the Sacred Promissory on High Charity.
JacksonSX35: Was it tempting to squeeze other Spartans that Vale has interacted with into the story, like Tanaka or Locke? Or was singularly developing Vale and Thel’s friendship the most narratively enticing option from the outset?
Halo: Outcasts was definitely conceived as a story that would center around Olympia Vale specifically, where we would get to see how she operates on her own initiative. She is a great character to have as a diplomatic liaison with the Sangheili, and—as you can see from the book—there are other major character points of view across the various factions involved in the story.
Drof497: What is the distinction between the contemporary Swords of Sanghelios and the "Concert of Worlds" the Arbiter proposes?
The Swords of Sanghelios are a Sangheili-specific organization. What Thel seeks to build with the Concert of Worlds is much broader, encompassing a multi-species alliance, of which the Swords of Sanghelios would be a vital aspect.
Poptartmenace: At this point, are the majority of the Banished forces on the Ark, or in the galaxy itself?
Only a relatively small number of Banished forces went to the Ark, led by Atriox. The broader forces of the Banished remained active in the galaxy.
Morhek: I expected the Elites to be a lot less cool with having a human-made AI overlord taking their weapons. Has Elite society been changed that much by the Blooding Years, or is this fatalistic resignation?
In the context of how the situation develops at the start of the book, Doisac has been destroyed by Cortana three days prior, setting an example of what the cost of defiance is. Those who would boldly rise up against occupying armiger forces would quickly and needlessly meet a swift end, or—worse still—invite only greater hostility from deadlier constructs under Created control.
It is this context that spurs Thel’s own desire to find an answer to Cortana’s Guardians.
BaconShelf: Could you provide any further details on the command frigate Sword of Harmony?
It’s your lucky day!
Sword of Harmony[modifier]
In Halo: Outcasts, the Arbiter journeys to Netherop in a command frigate named Sword of Harmony.
While we’ve seen the Covenant’s Ester-pattern armored frigate visually depicted in the 2022 Halo Encyclopedia, the Sword of Harmony is a new design forged by the naval artisans of the Swords of Sanghelios.
Since we’re talking about all things Outcasts, how about we go ahead and show off this cool new vessel?
SCC-class Sword Frigate[modifier]
'Sword of Harmony' illustrated by Glenn Israel and Salvatorre Yazzie
ENTERED SERVICE: Tenth Age of Discovery
MANUFACTURER: Kolaar Manufactorum
LENGTH: 2821.5ft (860m)
SCC-class vessels, and specifically the A'uzr-pattern, were used as command ships for Covenant fleet detachments, such as those assigned to provide security and enforcement of outlying tithe regions. Most were destroyed during the Great Schism and subsequent civil wars, but the design has proven to be of great value in the modern era, and the Swords of Sanghelios have commissioned the Kolaar Manufactorum, located within the state of Vadam, to resume production.
As the Covenant strictly controlled the design patterning of starship templates for millennia, the Swords of Sanghelios are still in the process of studying and fully comprehending the depth and breadth of the Prophets’ hoarded knowledge. This is an effort undertaken not only to prevent undesirable deviations, mutations, and replication errors in existing templates, but to forge improved patterns that reflect a hopeful new future for the Sangheili.
Lines of Lineage[modifier]
Whether by convenience or happenstance, the A'uzr-pattern has much in common with the newer, and much more common, Ceudar-pattern of SDV. This is used by canny shipmasters to hide its presence in battles.
While other Sangheili factions scavenge the remains of the Covenant empire’s carcass, the Swords of Sanghelios are taking the painful and expensive path of creating new ships and testing new permutations of ancient design patterns. The Sword of Harmony, utilized by Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam on a critical mission to Netherop in 2559, is a notable success in this regard. The ship is based on the proven A'uzr-pattern, but with novel changes never considered by Prophets even in the Covenant's primacy.
The forge-workers and naval artisans at Kolaar have noted the ship greatly resembles the dart-shaped tatir, large aquatic predators that hunt in the warm waters of Sanghelios. It is not clear if this was the original inspiration behind its design in the early centuries of Covenant expansion.
Today just so happens to be Halo 3’s sweet sixteenth, which will undoubtedly make many folks feel old if they were around that age when the game released. Me? I was thirteen in 2007 and will be hitting thirty next year—something I find equal parts terrifying in contemplating the relentless march of time, but also a happy moment to reflect on the enduring friendships that came about from this game.
Countless hours lost to partying up for "one more game” in matchmaking, leapfrogging across custom game matches by joining when your friends were playing with a group of people you’ve never met, pursuing that elusive Two For One achievement (until you convince the right people in Lone Wolves to line up for you on High Ground... we all did that, right?)
But, of course, the core appeal for us fiction fans was finishing the fight, a venture that can be undertaken by up to four players who—for the first time in the series—would not all play as the Master Chief. In Halo 3, we saw the introduction of N’tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham, who would represent players three and four respectively in your party.
Usze and N’tho were first introduced to us in an old Bungie.net blog from July 2007, titled “The Tru7h About Co-Op in Halo 3,” where Bungie revealed that they were not simply working on two-player online co-op, but four-player. And with that increase in player count came an opportunity to expand the Halo universe with two new Sangheili characters whose original bios can be seen in the image above.
So much new information in just a few short paragraphs! The Fleet of Retribution, Toha ‘Sumai (may he rest), war colleges in specific regions on Sanghelios, the Ascetics... all this marvelous background lore to give these two otherwise silent player characters (who sadly do not appear in cinematics—perhaps they are simply lingering out-of-frame!) some details that ground them in the Halo universe we had come to know and love.
And this would not be the last time we saw them.
In the 2015 novel Halo: Hunters in the Dark by Peter David, both Usze and N’tho returned as central characters. Set in 2555, this story saw them voyage back to the Ark to prevent the foundry’s monitor, 000 Tragic Solitude from firing the Halo Array.
Following the events of Halo 3, both Usze and N’tho had aligned themselves with the Arbiter’s Swords of Sanghelios and would work alongside their human allies, though far-reaching consequences from the Covenant War would see tension arise between some of them.
And during the course of this story, we learn a bit about some of the specific involvement they had during the events of Halo 3, concerning the events of the mission The Covenant.
“We and the humans took dropships and were deployed along the beach there,” he pointed. “After we deactivated the shield-distributing towers, the Demon—your Master Chief—led us into the interior hub that surrounded the citadel. It was there that we made the final stand against the Covenant, seized the citadel, and stopped Halo from firing.”
Halo: Hunters in the Dark, Chapter 11
After saving the galaxy from extinction once again, Usze and N’tho returned to Sanghelios.
Usze would go on to establish the Riftborn, a special operations division of the Swords of Sanghelios dedicated to joint military operations with the UNSC aboard Anvil Station. And N’tho would turn his attention to assisting the Arbiter’s efforts to stabilize the unrest and civil strife that continues to keep a powerful hold over the Sangheili.
Usze and N’tho have made further appearances in Halo Mythos (visually depicting the events of Hunters in the Dark), the 2022 Halo Encyclopedia (giving them up-to-date character profile appearances), and most recently in the opening couple of chapters of Halo: Outcasts.
In the spirit of uniting great lore with great times spent playing through Halo 3’s campaign with friends, here’s an image gallery of these two Sangheili—and a hearty shoutout to amogoftea and Mr Evil 37 for joining me in this great journey to finish the fight once again.
While we’re rolling with the theme of all things Sangheili in this issue, we have also very recently released a new Story Shard for the Tenrai III event, titled Duality.
Duality is a Tenrai-themed reimagining of the episode “The Duel” from Halo Legends, featuring some amazing bespoke artwork from William “Pixelflare” Cameron and Duncan Shaffer.
While many of us are likely very familiar with the story of Fal ‘Chavamee and how his role in history led to the rank of Arbiter being twisted into a symbol of shame by the Prophets, the teller of this tale finds that he has a new ending in mind. This dire cautionary tale about the price of disobedience and heresy does not truly speak to the state of the galaxy after the Covenant’s fall—a time of turbulence and uncertainty, but also of unexpected allyship and growing bonds of unity between former foes...
And on the subject of Halo Legends, our latest Intel drop for Season 4 of Halo Infinite takes the form of a journal entry from Dr. Halsey concerning the data recorded of the mysterious ruins on Heian, as seen in the episode “The Babysitter.”
Cal-141's sacrifice would shake the foundations of Halsey’s high estimation of her Spartans, as several of them would perish in rapid succession—Sheila-065 during the Battle of Miridem, followed by Solomon-069 and Arthur-079... all three of them falling in battle for Halsey herself. Spartan-II casualties on this scale would not be seen again until the fall of Reach in 2552.
Community Lore Corner[modifier]
For even more Halo lore, let’s check out some of the cool projects that folks in the community have been working on.
GammaCompanyMark takes a look at the Zanar-pattern light cruiser, most prominently seen throughout Halo 4.
WildWildWes explores the lore and history of the Jiralhanae, highlighting what is known of their physiology, history, culture, society, and their homeworld (rest in shattered pieces, Doisac...)
HiddenXperia has done a deep dive into the iconic Needler and breaks down exactly why you should indeed fear the pink mist.
Covenant Canon has broken down the story of the Prophet of Inner Conviction, one of the main characters from the beloved novel Halo: Broken Circle, who plays a pivotal role in the earliest years of the Covenant's formation.
The story of Staff Sergeant Marvin Mobuto is told in Halo: The Flood, concerning a marine on Alpha Halo who met with 343 Guilty Spark prior to the Master Chief’s encounter with the monitor. Mobuto’s body would be found during the Chief’s harrowing journey through the Library, earning the Spartan’s respect for how far he had managed to make it before falling.
NotPipi has put together an animated tribute to the character to tell his story, which you should definitely check out.
That concludes this meeting of the Concert of Words. Go and celebrate Halo 3’s birthday and relive the old days with your friends, give the new Story Shard a read as you prepare to finish up that Tenrai III Event Pass, and then be sure to get ready for an unforgettable time at the 2023 Halo World Championship from October 13-15.
We can’t wait to see you there!