1018: Halo: The True Meaning of Christmas – One Shot, Part One

Title: Halo: The True Meaning of Christmas
Author: Half-Jaw
Media: Video Game
Topic:  Halo
Genre: Sci-Fi/Romance
URL: Halo: TMOC
Critiqued by AdmiralSakai

Hello, noble patrons! First off I’d like to thank Lyle and the rest of the regular Librarians for allowing me to present you with this guest riff- I am, in fact, AdmiralSakai, the green (or occasionally pink) fractal from down in the comments section.

I’d also like to thank suzumeshoujo and the livejournal badfic_quotes community for bringing this fic to my attention through their own excellent sporking. While the site looks to have been dead for a while now there may still be lurking authors there who would appreciate some views after all this time.

With that out of the way, today we’ll be examining a sappy, crappy, and mercifully short Christmas-themed ‘fic from the dark underbelly of the Halo series.

Gosh, the Halo series.

Halo gets a bit of a bad rap from a lot of people because, being a large and long-running franchise of first-person shooter games, your average player is a multiplayer-obsessed twelve-year-old boy. However, there’s a lot of actual thought and writing put into the game’s design, world, and plot, so anyone who bothers to play through the campaign mode shouldn’t be surprised to find a large and lively fan community that genuinely cares about the source material (albeit sometimes drawing unnecessarily harsh distinctions between themselves, the “real” Halo fans, and the aforementioned 12-year-old boys).

The franchise’s main trilogy consists of Halo: Combat Evolved, Halo 2, and Halo 3, chronicling the adventures of an augmented supersoldier named Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 in his attempts to save… well, basically the entire galaxy. There are also three major tie-in games in the form of Halo Wars, Halo 3 ODST, and Halo: Reach, which ranged from wonderful in their own right to not great but enjoyable; Halo 4, which was produced under a new developer and wasn’t very good at all; and a whole raft of additional novels, comics, miniseries, and miscellaneous other things. All of this content is filled with additional lore and just about everything references everything else in some obscure capacity or another, making the Halo universe absolutely massive and more than a little bit daunting. As I explain things in the riff I will necessarily have to simplify and cut out large sections of lore, but I’ll try to condense the most relevant details and also some of the most interesting while leaving wiki links for the curious.

Fortunately, to understand this ‘fic you actually need to learn precious little of the Halo corpus, because the massive, driving, overarching concept of the trilogy, the titular Halo Array, a titanic ancient superweapon of last resort built to defend the galaxy from a fate even worse than the complete annihilation it offered, has absolutely no presence whatsoever in this ‘fic.

Pictured: A thing Half-Jaw finds completely unimportant.

Pictured: A thing Half-Jaw finds completely unimportant.

Instead this ‘fic focuses, somewhat broadly, on the Human-Covenant War. The Covenant is a theocratic federation of alien civilizations, all of whom worship the Forerunners (Halo‘s resident precursor civilization and the architects of the Halo Array) as gods and are generally kind of assholes. At the start of Halo: Combat Evolved, they’ve spent a good twenty or thirty years trying to wipe all humans out of existence because our treatment of (and possible connection to) Forerunner artifacts offends their religious beliefs. The humans, organized under the generally virtuous and only occasionally fascist United Nations Space Command, have done a reasonably good job of trying not to die, but given the Covenant’s somewhat superior technology and vastly superior numbers (they can easily field enough ships to glass the surface of an entire planet) it hasn’t been going well.  Halo: CE opens with military ships fleeing the destruction of Reach, a major human colony; Halo 2 opens with a Covenant assault on Earth.

Since this ‘fic features them pretty heavily, some explanation is also in order on the Sangheili. Known to humans as Elites, the Sangheili are a Covenant species that, due to their insanely militaristic quasi-feudal culture, runs most of the organization’s military, both as field officers and high-level commanders. They like energy swords, great big warships, and overwrought war poetry.

Pictured: A Sangheili, otherwise known as a squidhead, hinge-head, split-lip, or any number of even less flattering things.

Pictured: A Sangheili, otherwise known as a squidhead, hinge-head, split-lip, or any number of even less flattering things.

They’re also the second-most-important species in the entire Covenant, and actually founded it alongside these floating assholes, the “Prophets” or San’shyuum, giving them a seat on the High Council and the ability to lord over basically all of the other races involved in the whole affair.

Pictured: Two of the three Prophet Hierarchs of the Covenant, the Prophet of Truth and the Prophet of Mercy.

Pictured: Two of the three Prophet Hierarchs of the Covenant, the Prophet of Truth and the Prophet of Mercy.

This all made one of the “lesser” Covenant races, the Jiralhanae (“Brutes” in human military slang), a bit jealous, and one of the main plot threads of Halo 2 is a power struggle between the two races that culminates in the Brutes taking the Elites’ council seat and military position with the Prophets’ blessing, launching a massive retributive genocide, and ultimately forcing the Elites into a shotgun alliance with the humans. It’s not exactly a friendly relationship seeing as the Elites were not too long ago gleefully leading the charge to wipe out human colonies, but in the end the toll of the civil war, along with shenanigans, provides the humans enough additional leverage to prevail over what’s left of the Covenant by the end of Halo 3.

There’s a bunch more to cover in terms of characters and setting, but we’ll get to that as it comes. For now, let’s continue to explore an epic world of life-or-death action, dazzling science, and political intrigue, and watch as this “Half-Jaw”… person reduces it to the literary equivalent of off-white wallboard spackle.

A/N: I do not own Halo. It is owned by Bungie. This fic was co-wrote with Doctor Anthony. We hope you all like it and have a very Merry Christmas.

We open with the usual disclaimer. While I don’t include them myself I don’t get all bent out of shape about them when other people use them (no harm in reaffirming that this is intended as a fanwork, after all), but this one doesn’t even seem like it was trying. Also, it’s “co-written”, and I can’t think of any particular reason why the ‘M’ in “merry” would be capitalized, but the rest of the ‘fic is actually pretty clear of spelling errors (if not grammatical or logical ones).

The Arbiter was walking down the main hall of the Cairo station when he noticed some strange decorations.

Oh…. kay…? I don’t like where this is going…

Also, the Arbiter, Thel ‘Vadam:

Pictured: The last thing a brute ever sees.

Pictured: The last thing a brute ever sees.

Not a lot of the Arbiter’s character is necessarily that relevant here, save that he is one of the most important and powerful Elites in the Halo series. His politics are his people’s, and so while he started out as a fleet commander who glassed several human planets by the end of Halo 2 he wound up on the same side as the UNSC and fought with distinction alongside Master Chief John-117 through the course of Halo 3. He is also the subject of a… disturbing number of “Arbymance” ‘fics that pair him with John-117, Miranda Keyes, Sargent Johnson, or really any other human.

Cairo Station (no “the” required, thank you very much) is one of many human military defense platforms orbiting Earth, special mostly because the Chief was tasked with defending it in a mission in Halo 2. Even though most of its fellow defense platforms were destroyed, I’m pretty sure it survived into at least the beginning of 3 because the human brass that were on it appear alive and well in that game. However, while it does have a Half-Life-1-style rail transit system running around inside it, it is far too large to have a “main hall”.

Actually, I’m hoping the transit system might be the “main hall”. The Arbiter wandered into it thinking it was for travel on foot, got knocked on the head by an oncoming tram, and is just hallucinating all of this silliness while the UNSC medics try to figure out how to treat his alien physiology. It’s safer than the alternative, at least…

He was looking for his second in command R’tas Vadum, the Shipmaster of the Shadow of Intent.

Sighhh…..

*Slips on a lead-lined glove, reaches into the ‘fic, and repositions the apostrophe.*

It’s Rtas ‘Vadum. And yes, it will be punctuated the wrong way every time the name is mentioned in this ‘fic. I do almost feel like I should reward the author for at least being consistent and not going full Tata Gilesbie on us… here, have a Redemption Crumb I found between the sofa cushions.

Oh, right, Rtas ‘Vadum (no relation to ‘Vadam, and I’m sure there’s a whole list of ‘Vadims and ‘Vadoms somewhere in the Sangheili Army who are very confused by all of this).

Pictured: The last thing a lot of Brutes ever see.

Pictured: The last thing a lot of Brutes ever see.

Another very important Sangheili and all-around badass, ‘Vadum is in fact the Shipmaster of the supercarrier Shadow of Intent (although he holds a bunch of other titles too). However, he is not the second in command of Thel ‘Vadam but his commander. And yes, as the picture implies his nickname is “Half-Jaw,” the same as our author’s, and said author happens to have a low-res portrait of ‘Vadum as his/her profile pic… although I’d assume that the real one can at least spell his own name correctly.

“What are these decorations for and where is all the laughter coming from?” he thought to himself. He continued walking down the strangely decorated halls when the laughter got louder. He was standing outside the main room.

It’s just some Marines having a laugh at the concussed squidhead wandering around in a daze on the train tracks.

Also, Cairo Station does not have a “main room”. It has multiple habitat sections, fire control for a giant fuck-off coilgun in the middle, and a command bridge overseeing it all, any of which could plausibly be considered a central area… but all of which are currently indistinguishable from the Void.

And what are all of these Sangheili doing ambling around a human military station without an escort, anyway? Who’s going to keep them from wandering into restricted areas, interfering with equipment they don’t understand, getting jumped by humans unwilling to forgive their conduct over the last 30 years, or jumping random humans for their conduct over the last 30 years? Cairo Station has fucking auto-cycling airlocks on it, for Pete’s sake!

The Arbiter walked into the main room of the station and saw several Humans and Sangheili drunk including Johnson and the Master Chief as well as R’tas celebrating around the Christmas tree in the center of the room.

Hoo boy. First off, it’s not yet important who “Johnson” and the Master Chief even are, so I’ll defer their infodump until later.

Second off, heloooooooooo awkward phrasing. Why do I get the feeling that the “co-wroter” originally just had the Chief and Johnson here, and then Half-Jaw the author inserted Half-Jaw the character later on in the “process”?

Third off, Sangehili are never, to my knowledge, mentioned drinking alcohol anywhere in the Halo universe, so I have no idea if it would make sense for them to drink socially or for that matter even be affected by alcohol, but even if they did seeing as human-Sangheili relations never really got far beyond grudging respect I doubt they’d be doing it with UNSC personnel.

Aww, screw it, I’m making a counter for this. So far one for the Arbiter wandering around Cairo Station as he pleased, and one for the drinking games:

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 2

Finally, why is there a Christmas tree on a military defense installation (or in the center of the Void, for our purposes it’s the same thing)? We can assume that since the Elites are human allies and walking around on (or over) Earth this is post-Halo 2, and since the Human-Covenant War ended on December 11th, this isn’t an active wartime situation so I could see discipline being relaxed enough to permit some celebration by the station’s crew, but… not decorations and trees everywhere, even in what might be one of the habitat sections.

He looked around some more and saw 343 Guilty Spark and Cortana talking when Miranda Keyes appeared in front of him holding a bottle of wine.

GAAAH!!

I don’t care if we’re in the Void and active camo is a thing. Don’t. Do. That!

Again, 343 Guilty Spark and Cortana don’t matter quite yet, but Miranda Keyes certainly does.

Pictured: Someone you do not want to piss off.

Pictured: Someone you do not want to piss off.

Commander Miranda Keyes-Halsey is a personal favorite of mine, a bright young officer given a ship command probably earlier than she should have been given the personnel shortages of the War. She’s a competent tactician and more than capable of inspiring her troops to do some really incredible things, but she has a tendency to charge into things without thinking (usually while wielding the largest weapon easily available) and getting herself into trouble.

She’s also unlikely to pop out of the Void with a bottle of wine, but I’ll just assume she was going to club some Brute Chieftains to death with it or something and leave it at that…

Except that like Johnson and 343 Guilty Spark, Commander Keyes dies at the end of Halo 3. If she is alive here, that means this would take place between 2 and 3… but not only would that mean it’s closer to Halloween than Christmas going by the in-game calendar, but there’s currently a giant-ass Covenant fleet heading right for Earth that this defense platform is sort of going to need to, you know, defend against.

And then very quickly and suddenly she kissed him and when she broke the kiss she smiled and said “Arbiter, youre standing under the mistletoe”. The Arbiter looked up and saw that he was indeed standing under a bush and he smiled.

Ok, let’s take another look at a Sangheili soldier, specifically his mouth:

Pictured: Not a very happy camper.

Pictured: Not a very happy camper.

How exactly does something with this jaw structure kiss a human? How exactly does something with this jaw structure smile???

I also have to wonder why Thel doesn’t either back away from this clearly intoxicated babbling human or gut her on the spot for disrespecting him like this, and why a loyal UNSC Navy Commander would think doing any of this crap was a good idea.

Actually, for all she knows, mistletoe might be a deadly poison to Elites and she just caused a major diplomatic incident.

I’d sure be more fun to read than this…

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 3

He looked back at Miranda and said in a hushed voice, “What is going on here?

Your guess is as good as mine, pal.

What are all these weird decorations for?”

Oh, these are just photos and mementos the station personnel put up in the habitats. You know, things to remind them of all the friends and loved ones that you personally murdered when you glassed Reach.”

Also, the Sangheili vocabulary ranges from relatively formal to a particularly purple Ren Faire. I do not think it includes “weird”.

Miranda looked at the Arbiter and smiled as she replied, “These are Christmas decorations. We are celebrating Christmas with a party. Would you like to join the party? This would be your first Christmas and I would like to make it a good one. I have brought us a bottle of wine.”

Sigh….

Miranda, the Arbiter is not a three-year-old child. He can understand compound sentences.

The Arbiter said as he looked at Miranda, “I would be honored.”

WHYYYYYYYY?

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 4

The couple went to a private table in the corner by the large decorated tree.

I love how it’s been two minutes and three lines of dialogue, and they’re already a “couple”. Also, not only does wherever this is in Cairo Station have private tables (not a feature I thought was common in military mess halls), but the table is in the corner of the room, near a tree that was previously described as in the center. That only makes sense if the Void is a Minecraft crafting grid.

Or is just really small, I guess…

Meanwhile Guilty Spark said to Cortana “Now miss Cortana I was wondering if you honor me with a dance on this special day of celebration?”

Hoo boy. Cortana and 343 Guilty Spark.

Pictured: Cortana 2000, Cortana XP, Cortana Vista, and Cortana 8.

Pictured: Cortana 2000, Cortana XP, Cortana Vista, and Cortana 8.

Cortana is John-117’s in-suit AI, essentially a computer copy of the brain of one of Earth’s most brilliant scientists (who also happens to be Miranda Keyes’s mom). She/it is usually confined to a plus-sized SD card in his helmet, but can inhabit other computer systems as well. She functions as a mission control during the game (despite the fact that much of Halo 3 is spent without her), and I always was very impressed by the games’ writers’ ability to show the close working relationship the two had without it becoming angsty (not with 100% reliability, of course, but most of the time they got it right). Cortana also died, but that was in Halo 4, and since this ‘fic came out in 2008 I can hardly begrudge the authors that. For that matter, the character-warping she got in 4 isn’t that much better than what’s going on in this ‘fic. Not that this means the ‘fic gets it right of course…

Pictured: The Monitor of Installation 04

Pictured: The Monitor of Installation 04

343 Guilty Spark is a beachball-sized Forerunner robot tasked with maintaining part of their Halo Array. He/it is slavishly adherent to his own hardcoded instructions, whether those instructions dictate that he save human beings from danger or sterilize half the galaxy, and as a result he has oscillated back and forth between ally and antagonist throughout the series. Like Miranda Keyes, Spark was killed at the end of Halo 3 after making a general ass of himself, but at this point I have no idea what to make of the fact that he’s not only alive but on good terms with the people he tried to execute.

The author almost gets his trademark creepily cheerful, mildly florid speech pattern right, so I’ll give credit for that, although I have no idea why he’d be talking to Cortana (or “miss” Cortana as she is inexplicably referred to here) about anything non-technical. It doesn’t seem like an AI designed to spend thousands of years on a megastructure without any contact with other intelligent life would be designed with a lot of social interaction capability, but that’s probably just me bringing all of that difficult actual computer science into this…

The AI looked at the monitor and replied “Alright if it will kill the time, these parties are always so boring anyway.”

Guilty Spark replied by saying “Splendid, now meet me at terminal A-C4 when your ready miss Cortana”.

Blech.

Meanwhile Johnson drank another shot of Whiskey and said “That’s my twentieth glass Chief, beat that!”

Ok, who had the callsign Whiskey and why is he or she being ingested instead of being interred according to whatever UNSC protocol dictates for pilots liquified on impact?

In all seriousness, though… despite being, you guessed it, dead by the end of Halo 3 (killed by 343 Guilty Spark, no less!) I could totally see Master Sergeant Avery Junior Johnson challenging the Master Chief to a drinking contest. I mean, just look at the guy:

Pictured: Basically every disciplinary officer's nightmare as far as rowdy NCOs are concerned.

Pictured: Basically every disciplinary officer’s nightmare as far as rowdy NCOs are concerned.

The problem is his partner.

Pictured: The Halo series' cover model

Pictured: The Halo series’ cover model

What a lot of people don’t understand is that John-117 is a bland character for a reason. The SPARTAN-II Program was one of the UNSC’s more… ethically dubious ideas, a supersoldier project that started candidates early- at about five years old. The Chief’s personality was basically ripped out and replaced with years of intensive combat training, and as a result he is effectively precluded from ever having any sort of meaningful social interaction with normal humans. That’s part of what makes his bond with Cortana so compelling- it’s literally the only sort of interpersonal connection the man can comprehend.

I highly doubt he drinks, or plays video games, or really does anything other than kill Covenant- that (more or less) was what he was engineered for.

But enough ranting. Let’s get back to the Christmas carnage.

The Spartan replied by drinking down two shot glasses filled with whiskey and R’tas cracked open another bottle of whiskey “It’s going to be a long night,” he thought to himself.

Yes, Half-Jaw. I get it. They are drinking whiskey.

*ALARM BLARES*

Goddammit, where did I leave my Gravity Hammer

*A few [DATA EXPUNGED] noises later…*

A long night, indeed.

Now, originally this ‘fic was supposed to go fit nicely into one spork, as it is rather short, but there are so many things wrong with it and so many things to exposit about that I’ve taken up a decent chunk of riffing space as is. Therefore, Halo: The True Meaning Of Christmas will have to be continued next week.

Yippeeeeeeee……

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35 Comments on “1018: Halo: The True Meaning of Christmas – One Shot, Part One”

  1. leobracer says:

    This is quite possibly the last thing I was expecting to see today.

    I was kind of hoping to see a continuation of ‘Philosopher of Earth’, to see what kind of nonsense the misanthrope was spewing out of his ass.

    Oh well, there’s always next time.

  2. agigabyte says:

    Vadum is in fact the Shipmaster of the supercarrier Shadow of Intent
    It’s an Assault Carrier. The Supercarrier is the massive upscaled assault carrier from reach, which in my opinion was a huge fuck up. They buthered the lore if Nylunds [I]Fall of Reach[/I] but instead of replacing it, tried to merge the two into a giant contradiction of established lore. Sorry about that short multi topic rant, I just get really pissy when someone mentions the CSO or Halo Reach lore if I haven’t ranted about it recently.

    • agigabyte says:

      Why isn’t “” working?

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        “I’m not sure.”

        And nice catch on the carriers. I was playing Reach while I wrote this, so maybe the wires got crossed?

        And yeah, Reach was… kind of a mess story-wise, but I count it far above Halo 4 because, while not up to the series’ usual standards, the writing wasn’t particularly bad. 5… has me worried.

    • agigabyte says:

      I meant the quote thing. The one that grays stuff out.

      I’m still getting H5, but only for the gameplay, as after escalation I don’t trust 343 with lore.

  3. Placido Farren says:

    Kissing a Sangheili? With that mouth? I wonder if it’d be like making out with a Xenomorph.

    ….

    Not that I’d know what that’s like. I mean, who would?

  4. Placido Farren says:

    They like energy swords, great big warships, and overwrought war poetry.

    As for me, I like reading, casual strolls in the park and plotting the downfall of my enemies.

  5. Even more importantly, how is Chief drinking through the armor, he almost never takes off?

  6. infinity421 says:

    He looked around some more and saw 343 Guilty Spark and Cortana talking when Miranda Keyes appeared in front of him holding a bottle of wine.

    …Ooooh boy. This is gonna suck…

  7. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    Oh my god, I think I remember reading this

    I actually recall being back in like… grade 6 or something and actually enjoying a lot of Half Jaw’s stuff. Which… doesn’t say much tbh, almost everything under the Halo/Metroid section was a “favorite” of mine XD

    Aww shit, I’m trying to rack my brain and remember this here… I remember reading a couple of silly Halo Christmas specials but I can’t seem to remember if the one where Arbiter tackled a Christmas Tree thinking it was a fucking flood form was actually a chapter from a really awesome fic called Domestic Affairs (at least as far as my memory serves me, it had a great deal of depth and batshit awesome background behind the purely silly and fluffy stuff going on) or if it was possibly from here…

    …uhh, lemme see. Based off of what you said about it being ‘sappy’ I’m gonna guess they went for a Miranda Keyes/Arbiter thing? Then again, I guess that’s not a very specific identifier seeing how it’s kinda common. lol Eh, might as well dig in and see exactly how meh my tastes really could’ve possibly been back then.

    • DasCheesenBorgir says:

      Okay, definitely not this fic. Not as a knock towards it or anything directly of course, but I guess Arby just saw a Christmas Tree and didn’t mistake it for a Flood form so…

      Oopsie.

      brb, gonna go check up on Domestic Affairs and see if that was indeed the one I was thinking of :D

    • DasCheesenBorgir says:

      wait a sec

      ‘Keyes-Halsey’

      WUT

      All that time browsing Halo wikis as a kid… uhh, these ARE the Keyes and Halsey I’m thinking of right?

      Shit. Where was that actually revealed? I’m seriously just hoping it wasn’t in one of the games because holy shit would that be embarrassing to me to know I never paid attention to that XD

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Ok, according to the wiki this was finally confirmed in the bonus journal people other than we mere plebeians got with Halo Reach. Looking back over The Fall of Reach, The Cole Protocol, and the Halo CE Remastered Terminal videos (oh god, when Terminal videos were actually in the game…) the implications paint a pretty comprehensive picture.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Oh god, Half-Jaw has written other ‘fics???

      Links.

      I must be having them.

      • DasCheesenBorgir says:

        Or at least I think they did? idk

        …they MAY have had a couple of Christmas song parodies set to Halo uploaded, but I’m not sure about other actual stories. Might’ve actually just been that one tbh, it’s been a looooong time.

        Could be just that the name stands out since the actual Half Jaw (too lazy to look up the real name and am not very confident in my ability to remember names with fukn apostrophes in them to use the real name :p) oddly ended up being one of my favorite characters at the time despite having rather minimal screentime.

        Hoping he and some of the old elite faces show up in Halo 5. I’ve always been a sucker for the highly formal and scary dogmatic knightly types, especially when it’s applied to sci fi, so it’d be nice to see them in action in that sense again- although to be entirely honest, I kinda stopped paying attention to Halo lore/background once 4 came around.

        I mean, Locke seems like a decent enough character at first glance, being ONI spec ops of some sort? Point being, 4 kinda lost me once they introduced the new fucking college kids as those godawful Spartan IVs in the Spartan Ops cutscenes. I’m sincerely worried that aside from a few rare instances of decent hardasses like Palmer, most of the current Spartans are gonna be like them. Fuck those guys. I can’t even remember their squad designation let alone their names >:(

      • DasCheesenBorgir says:

        nvm

        seriously

        you fucking personally LINKED the author’s profile at the top of the page

        18 more stories in his archive

        knock yourself out XD

      • agigabyte says:

        It’s “Rtas Vadum”. They love to use the “Vad*m” for city names.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        nvm

        seriously

        you fucking personally LINKED the author’s profile at the top of the page

        18 more stories in his archive

        knock yourself out XD

        Actually, I didn’t. That appears to have been added by Lyle or one of her minions, who were also responsible for my receiving a guest riff slot in the first place. I didn’t even notice it until you mentioned it.

        [Rant.]

        I’m somewhat iffy on Palmer myself. The concept isn’t a bad one, except that 1) She’s colored like a health pack for some incomprehensible reason, and 2) she stays in Mission Control an awful lot, which is not something I’d expect from a SPARTAN of any designation whatsoever. It was somewhat forgivable in the swamp mission, where presumably somebody might have to stay behind to protect the squishies and wounded, but in Convoy she’s right alongside you and NOT fighting. There’s more detail on the subject in an old review I wrote, I’ll have to see if I can dig it up, but combined with the inexplicable removal of female UNSC Marine personnel (did not play extensively, some may be hidden that I missed but that says something on its own) and the angstification of Cortana, it starts to look like they decided to add EclipsePheniox to their writing staff.

      • agigabyte says:

        The UNSC is apparently also now all American.

  8. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    Wow, okay. That was… a lot worse than I remembered it. Then again I didn’t really remember anything from most of these fics I read as a kid at all, but I suppose I could chalk it up to the fact that… nothing actually really even happened here?

    Well, shit. Gonna just have to wait til the next part I guess.

    Also, might as well get this off muh chest while I’m still wound up-

    -EVERY FUCKING TIME I see people go knocking the professional soldier archetype as ‘bland’ I’d like to fucking deck ’em in the head with a wrench. That’s not to say that they’re necessarily WRONG all the time where I’m pretty sure in a lot of instances the game devs are just kinda lazy, but still- lack of emotion =/= bland. Just a damn shame that people can’t get anything that’s not served up to them on a an explicitly verbal/visual silver platter these days and then just chalk up another point on their running tally of character archetype chart.

    I don’t think I’d mind so much, since this is obviously a personal preference in terms of audiences just happening to like certain personalities, if goddamn lazy-ass game review sites and ‘official’ articles/journals pretty much always end up playing it off that way. At the very best they give some bullshit about how characters like that “let the player project themselves” SHUT THE FUCK UP

    Seriously, I’m not sure if I’m the best judge on this, but isn’t this exactly what they ended up pulling with Samus in Other M? Turn her from a mostly silent bounty hunter in suped up neon spess mehreen power armor into THIS?

    Well at least they didn’t put in a fucking secret bikini/”Zero Suit” mode (may as well be the same damn thing… FUCK’S SAKE, WHAT HAPPENED TO HER INCREDIBLY BADASS ARMOR) at that rate.

    No, I just guess if the lead character isn’t a typical North American hormone-driven monkey who wears their emotions on their big-sweaty arms these days they’re not valid ‘deep’ characters. Fuck’s sake. Yes, I’m being horribly stereotypical in that sense while whining about audiences stereotyping faceless protagonists, but I think a little bit of self-entitlement is natural when you hold an unpopular opinion.

    Biggest sore spot for me in particular, fucking Commander Shepard? So much for ‘playing the way you want to’. At the very least they had a strictly neutral option in the 2nd game that would result in an actual sense of risk and casualty to your squad members… but no, they get rid of that by the 3rd game just so they can play up your character as either a flaming asshole or goody two shoes, or in my case what the game identifies as a confused and bipolar mess of hormones and chemicals as a result of me trying to pick the most ‘neutral’ option every time.

    I wouldn’t be so hugely pissed off if Shepard was supposed to be military, and I can’t even have the option of making him/her a cold and callous results-driven individual. Renegade just makes them a jackass more than anything.

    What was that other game from a while back? The Last of Us? I remember hearing of its ‘amazing’ story so much blah blah blah, watched like maybe 30 minutes of a compilation of all the cutscenes in-game into a movie and just flat out ragequit from watching. Again, that’s opinion, but the point I’m trying to push is that I’m a little bit pissed off that that’s the ONLY form of character people seem to accept as ‘valid’ these days, while any character that doesn’t cuss or cry or act ‘human’ in any sense of the word in ten minute intervals are just ‘outlets for the player’. And unless the game makes a point of shoving that ‘humanity’ into the player’s face every ten minutes to make them more ‘relatable’ then it’s not a ‘character/story driven game’.

    FUCK

    FUCK

    FUCK

    FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK

    • DasCheesenBorgir says:

      s’pose I may as well throw this one in while I’m expressing my childish and laughable raege

      • DasCheesenBorgir says:

        Not that I’m trying to say Manhunt or Terminator express childish wangst, but of course I was using them to express it in that context through glorified violence. :D

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      [Rant]

      I feel like there’s a lot of potential for a well-developed essay in here, and having fought my own personal war on angst for years now, I’d like to discuss/respond at greater depth at some point in the future.

      As for the Chief, there’s an important distinction in that he’s bland in the same way Lou from Nightcrawler or Ren from Palaven’s Dogs is bland- his poor conversation skills, general lack of empathy, and utterly unexciting personal life are an important part of his character and influence the way he reacts to the world and it reacts to him. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t like when even relatively competent writers claim he’ll “break down” when the wars are over- while his upbringing was certainly traumatic, he works as a person.

      • DasCheesenBorgir says:

        The thing is, I don’t have a problem at all with people trying to develop him past that a little- I don’t think they’re bland but I definitely think that ANYBODY needs to change in order to keep it somewhat dynamic.

        It’s just that I’ve noticed
        a) people don’t really have a tendency to bother with that
        b) when they do, it comes off as really… rushed. As in, there’s no respect for the personality that’s already been established and I’d have to guess it’s because they wouldn’t really know how to feasibly morph the character over time. Like when you say the “Chief’ll break down” sorta thing, I’m pretty sure I’ve seen multiple examples of that where the only reason why it seems so wrong is cuz it happens so fucking quick, and they try to play it off as though that’s how he’s always felt. It needs time, it needs a very different setting with very different people probably providing some sort of idealistic clash or at fundamental difference in thinking that then FORCES him to change somehow-

        -…okay, maybe not all that specific…

        …lol, I’ll admit that’s the sorta rambling mindset I’ve been in ever since I started writing my own shit last year, and I’m always feeling self conscious preaching it cuz I KNOW I fucked up and made some really cringeworthy shit in my own story. But that’s sorta my general idea I’m putting, you get the point right?

        It just seems like so few people consider the prospect of change, and even fewer still seem to handle it in the way I was hoping they would. I honestly don’t think I could say there’s a single fic I’ve read yet that really… nails down his character if you ask me. At least not one that’s had him undergo any sort of change- maybe The Last Spartan by DinoJake, but I haven’t really been keeping tabs on that as of late tbh and I… actually can’t even remember if I thought it was to my tastes anymore. lol

      • DasCheesenBorgir says:

        Really, the only thing I can think of that really handles a lead character that’s completely fucked in the head in that sense is this:

        Spoilers, obviously. I was a little dubious of it since I fukn hate anime and just isntantly assumed that the dudes in that insanely badass armor would be faceless stormtrooper mooks, but…

        …well, without spoiling too much (the entire series revolves around it) it’s more like a complete inversion of that idea.

        Just fucking look at it :D

  9. […] you’re unfamiliar with the franchise I will helpfully direct you to the beginning section of my previous Halo riff– since all of Half-Jaw’s ‘fics seem to focus on the Sangheili rebellion during […]

  10. […] More basic information on the Human-Covenant War and the Halo fandom in general can be found in the introduction to my True Meaning Of Christmas riff, or on the Halo Nation links scattered throughout this […]

  11. […] first encountered this particular gem in the same place as Halo: The True Meaning Of Christmas – Shojumishojo’s old livejournal sporking collection, which did the first two […]


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