1025: Halo: The True Meaning of Christmas – One Shot, Part Two

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 again, noble patrons, and welcome back to Halo: The True Meaning Of Christmas!

Those were agonized howls of delight, I’m sure.

Previously in this stilted, beige romp across Earth orbit, we saw Arbiter Thel ‘Vadamee wander around a very Voidy section of Cairo Station, coming across a Christmas party for no particular reason and getting Commander Miranda Keyes’ head lodged in between his mandibles or something. The two decided they were in love because that’s a thing humans and Elites are apparently doing now, one armless, legless AI asked another armless, legless, immobile AI to dance, and a bunch of other characters reduced to cardboard cutouts decided to drink themselves out of this terrible ‘fic, leaving The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter at a very respectable 4.

So, let’s see what fresh distortion of the Halo trilogy our brave investigation will uncover today.

While at a private table on the other side of the room the Arbiter and Miranda were talking while keeping their eyes off each other as the kiss under the mistletoe was going though their minds as both of them had loved every moment of it.

Huh.

Looks like the Cairo Station officer’s mess serves Word Salad.

And of course, The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 5

The Arbiter not used to having these feelings for a Human looked at Miranda and said as he tried not to stutter, “Would you like to dance? I think that is what you call it. And maybe you could tell me more about this Christmas celebration you are having. Is it for a battle?”

Wow. The Arbiter is almost acting vaguely like an alien here.

Nah.

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: Still 6

“No,” Miranda said as she moved slowly with the Arbiter.

When did they get up??

Also, Sangheili have saurian, recurve legs. I don’t want to know what happens when they attempt to dance, but I doubt it would be particularly graceful.

She looked up at the Arbiter and asked, “What is your name? I can’t keep calling you Arbiter.”

Also also, when he became the Arbiter Thel ‘Vadam officially lost his name. He eventually reclaims leadership of Vadam Keep on Sanghelios and presumably at least some part of his old identity, but that’s not until the leadup to Halo 4, so he should just insist on being called the Arbiter and cling to what little Sangheili honor he has left in this… thing.

“It is Thel Vadam. But only you can call me that and only in private,” he whispered in her ear.

Or… that could happen.

This is also getting a biiiit more physical, and I suppose the rant on that topic might as well go here: Ignoring for a moment the incredible political, cultural, and personal barriers to a human and Elite engaging in any sort of romantic involvement (not in the least the fact that Sangheili are really big on bloodline continuity and arranged marriages), xenophilia is a pretty rare thing in the Halo universe (I can only think of one semi-confirmed and one implied instance in the entire EU) because physiologically and socially the various aliens are all pretty different.

A human military officer finding herself attracted to Elites would probably seek pretty serious professional help and might not be allowed back in service; an Elite suddenly attracted to humans would probably commit ritual suicide out of shame.

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 7

Miranda didn’t even ask why he wanted it a secret

Probably because that explanation would require acknowledging that he comes from a radically alien culture and wouldn’t really be able to connect with a human anywhere other than on the battlefield.

and she started to explain Christmas to Thel.

“Christmas Thel is a time for family and fun, but we haven’t really celebrated it recently with the war but now, for the very first time in years we can really celebrate peace and family”.

Whatever the hell that means… I’m glad she’s at least acknowledging there was a war.

The two of them moved closer together and Thel could actually feel Miranda’s breath on his neck and he didn’t mind at all.

First off, I have no idea how these two are supposed to be positioned in relation to anything, much less each other, but if they’re reasonably close together then the Arbiter’s actual head is going to be sticking out well behind Miranda’s shoulder.

I am also unsure what humans in general or our breath in particular smell like to Elites, but given that they look like carnivores and their breath probably smells pretty rank to us… I think the Arbiter would mind very much.

Thel looked into Miranda’s eyes and said “Sound’s like a lovely holiday Miranda”. And Miranda laughed slightly before she replied “Yes Thel it is a wonderful holiday”

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 8

*Reaches into the ‘fic and plucks out a spare apostrophe.*

Did you know these things will shatter car windows if you throw them point-first?

Meanwhile at terminal A-C4 343 Guilty Spark was getting anxious for Cortana to arrive and suddenly she appeared and Spark made a batch of holographic flowers appeared in her hands and said “Cortana I hope you like these flowers, they are a recreation of flower’s from the Forerunner home world”.

“…and then the Orcs climed up the window and grabed Laura and then Laura woke up and screamed and then the gard went into her room and saw lots of Orcs and then Legolas ran down the hall.”

Cortana smiled and said “they are beautiful Spark, thanks”.

And then, we have the problem of “flower’s from the Forerunner homeworld”. It’s well-established by the time Halo 3 comes out that 343 Guilty Spark knows nearly nothing about topics unrelated to Installation 04. He probably doesn’t know where the Forerunner homeworld is, much less what sort of plant life was on it.

And then there’s the problem of making a hologram appear “in” Cortana’s hands. Halo kind of fucks with what her holographic avatar can actually do– In Halo 3 she is transferred from a Covenant console to her SD card by waving the card through her avatar, and in Halo CE she physically picks up an object in Installation 04’s control room, but both the Forerunners and Covenant had a greater or lesser command of hard-light holography, a technology that humans have failed to master.

Here, that means the flowers must either be a separate hologram that Spark himself is projecting, or he is physically tampering with her avatar’s model to add them. The latter seems like a bit of a rude thing for an AI to do, and while well-intentioned rudeness is totally in character for Spark I don’t think Cortana would just sit by and let that happen… but then again she is seemingly unaware that Spark tried to kill her not too long ago. If it’s the former, not only would the “flower’s” (a flower’s what? Pollen? Petals? Stem??) go away as soon as Spark left, but I’m not entirely sure if Cortana would be able to even see them, since she perceives the world through sensors often far away from where her avatar is being projected.

You’re. AIs. Just send her the gene sequence, or a 3-D model, or something. It’s unlikely that she’ll care, still, but at least then you would have actually had a chance. A chance at what, exactly, is still something I’m not too sure about,seeing as YOU’RE COMPUTER PROGRAMS, but a chance nonetheless.

Spark then activated the Alternate reality computer

Which is totally a thing, and has a very good reason to be on an active military installation.

(Word of advice, Spark, don’t even look at any of the files with a .xxx extension.)

and suddenly they were in a ballroom standing on an empty dancing floor in human form.

Gaah!

Seriously, stop doing that!

Also, ignoring for the moment the fact that somewhere in the Void there is a floor that is attempting to dance, while I could sort of see Cortana adopting a more fully human appearance if given the opportunity, she’d probably just look like she does now- an idealized version of her creator, who it should be noted is still very much alive.

343 Guilty Spark is right out- while it was eventually revealed that he was originally a protohuman who got forcibly computerized by the Forerunners for really quite stupid reasons, that information was established during the buildup to Halo 4.

When this ‘fic was written, there was no indication that Spark was ever anything other than a beach ball. In light of that fact, and because there is of course no description of any kind regarding what he actually looks like, I’m just going to assume he is still a beach ball.

01

Spark held out his hand and said to Cortana “may I have this dance?”

Dancing dancing dancing WHY IS IT ALWAYS DANCING???

Cortana took it and they both started dance around the ballroom with smiles on their faces as they did.

I don’t know why, but this stands out to me as some of the worst grammar we’ve seen in the ‘fic thus far. The scary thing is, I know I’m wrong.

Back at the bar, R’tas looked at the Master Chief and Johnson and said in slurred speech as he pulled a bottle of Sangheili whiskey from a bag and placed it on the bar, “Now boys, let us see of you can handle this. I would bet you both, hic, wimp out.”

Again, dubious on the existence of “Sangheili, whiskey”, but I definitely don’t think it comes in a bag.

And the, hic, usually florid elites are, hic, still talking like high-schoolers.

And The Friendly Neighborhood, hic, Hinge-Head Counter: 9

And, hic, great. Now Half-Jaw’s got, hic, me doing… whatever the “hic” that’s supposed to be.

Johnson said as he placed his glass next to R’tas and said, “You’re, hic, on.”

*ALARM BLARES*

Dammit.

I just cleaned the DRD off of that Gravity Hammer.

I’ll be back in a moment.

The Master Chief looked at both of them and said, “You’re going down.

R’tas poured the all a tall glass and said, “Here’s to holiday spirit. Phooey”

SMACK.

Elites. Do not. Say. “Phooey”.

Although it is nice that he decided to pour an extra drink for The All. I wish people would be more polite to the plenipotent metaphysical concepts they meet every day.

Johnson replied, “I second that. Christmas is for wimps.

R’tas said as he placed his arm around Johnson, “Borther we must stick to, hic, gether on this.”

I… can’t even tell if “Borther” was the character’s mistake or the author’s.4

N’tho looked at Usze and said, “How many cards do you need?”

And SUDDENLY BIT CHARACTERS.

N’tho ‘Sraom and Usze ‘Taham are the names given to the two Elites co-op players control in Halo 3. They basically don’t exist in singleplayer, and while they got some additional characterization later on they are initially about as generic and soulless as you can get while still remaining a persistent NPC.

So yeah, they’re a perfect fit for this ‘fic.

Usze replied, “I need three. Brother would you like some more of this eggnog, as the Humans call it.

“Yes, please, ” N’tho said as he dealt the cards.

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 10

I don’t even want to know what cream does to a reptilian species that has no method or need to process milk products.

“We would appreciate it if you didn’t,” one of the Marines said as he waved the air, “I’ll sit this one out. I need air.”

Whatever the hell that means.

He turned to leave and thought to himself, “And I thought Johnson was bad with the SBD’s when he had tacos and beer.”

Granted, this is pretty close to Marine-level humor, but why is he thinking it and not saying it aloud?

Oh, wait, it’s because while often not in the ways the speakers intended, the Marines’ dialogue in the games was actually, you know, funny.

All looked over at the bar when there was an out burst of bad singing.

To go along with the “out burst” of bad writing.

Meanwhile in the ballroom Cortana and Spark had finished the waltz and was now dancing to a song from Elvis Love Me Tender playing on the loudspeaker.

Keep in mind that this takes place in (or near, I really have no idea any more) the year 2552. This would be equivalent to a couple dancing to 16th-century tavern music today.

And when the song was over Spark kissed Cortana who kissed him back.

I will freely admit that I have zero experience in this area, but isn’t it kind of difficult to do one without doing the other?

Suddenly they were both back on the station

GAAAAAH!

and Cortana looked at Spark and said “Thanks for the date Spark, I had a lot of fun tonight, I have to go check in on John and see if he’s okay.” The Forerunner AI looked at Cortana and as she disappeared he softly said “I did too Cortana now go look after the reclaimer.”

Reclaimer is a title, it should be capitalized… but I’m just so glad that… that‘s over… I won’t linger on the small stuff.

Meanwhile Thel and Miranda had finished dancing and were now looking out a window and they both at the planet Earth below them

And I think you just your verb there.

I for one am going to assume that they cursed at the planet Earth below them, because that would at least be something interesting.

and slowly their hands clasped together as the planet started to turn

I’m torn between freaking out because their hands have independent volition and freaking out because the planet was stationary beforehand. Aww, what the hell, I’ll freak out over both.

and they saw the continent of Africa half glassed still to this very day.

That… happened in Halo 3. Literally just before Johnson, Keyes, and Spark left Earth on a mission from which they would not return.

And yet here they are, still alive and well.

Their moment was interrupted by the commotion from the bar. Thel looked at Miranda not wanting this moment to end and said lovingly, “We must go. It is either your men or mine but either way we don’t want the place destroyed.”

As Thel and Miranda walked in they saw the trio at the bar say in unison, “We are here to announce we love whiskey and would like to marry it.” With that said the three passed out and hit the floor.

Thel said into his com link, “N’tho and Usze, we have a problem.”

I’m not even going to try to figure out where everyone is in relation to everyone else. Euclidean space is not a concept the Void understands.

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter… 11?

“Yes, Arbiter, we can tell. What shall we do with him, the Shipmaster is in a very incapacitated condition,” N’tho said as he took another drink of egg nog.

“We will decide that once we all sit and discuss it. For now let us leave them there,” the Arbiter said in a disgusted tone, “Meet us at the table nearest the drunken trio.”

Wow, that’s… almost close to actual Elite grammar.

After N’tho and Usze arrived at the table and sat down Thel looked at the trio of drunks and said, “So what do we do about them, we can’t just leave them here, the smell would be enough to kill even Gravemind.

Painful hyperbole is painful.

(Also, Gravemind and Gravemind Remastered. For why the hyperbole is painful.)

The other three present nodded when suddenly Guilty Spark and Cortana appeared.

GAAAAA-

*Drops dead of a sudden heart attack.*

*Respawns in the terrible reworked Forerunner armor from Halo 4.*

Thank you, Half-Jaw.

Miranda suddenly broke the silence that had fallen over the table by saying, “We get those three to bed, but in a different way.”

What, like sideways or something?

The others gathered around the table listened intently as Miranda explained and everyone agreed to the plan and those that could picked the drunks off the floor and headed towards the Master Chief’s bedroom.

Ok, while John is kind of the single most important soldier Earth has and probably would warrant private quarters, seeing a “bedroom” referred to is damned odd. Also, wouldn’t that be a secure location other people couldn’t just waltz into?

Once there N’tho and Usze, with the Arbiter’s help, proceeded to remove R’tas’s armor and placed him in the oversized bed. They also placed the passed out Master Chief on his left and Johnson on his right. Then left the room.

Why do I feel like there should be an intrusive sitcom laugh track playing over this?

Also, this is an incredibly disgraceful thing for important Sangheili warriors to be doing, and in that last sentence I think you might have forgotten your .

The Arbiter looked at the other two Sangheili and said as he clicked his mandibles into a grin, “I think after this our brother R’tas will probably think twice about drinking too much,” he turned to Miranda and continued, “Come, I want to look at the sunrise as it passes Earth. If we hurry we will just make it.”

The Friendly Neighborhood Hinge-Head Counter: 12

As Thel and Miranda then ran to the observation platform and looked out the window as the sun rose over the planet.

That’s… not even an approximation of a sentence.

Thel looked Miranda in the eyes and suddenly he kissed her and afterward’s he whispered in her ear “Merry Christmas Miranda” and left the platform and Miranda went after him and she kissed him.

“… and the Orcs was back at Mondor and then Laura said”put me down”and then the Orcs did and then the Dark lord came out of the fire and said”welcome Laura”and then Laura looked at him and said”no it can’t be”and then she tryed to run away but the Orcs got her.”

And how is that even supposed to work? I have a sudden, horrible vision of Commander Keyes trying to make out with the Arbiter’s back as he calmly walks away.

And as she did Miranda Keyes realized that she had discovered the true meaning of Christmas and it was love.

You know… the Library should really stock some of those little white air-sickness bags for passages like this.

Their kiss was broken, as well as the silence, by a horrified cry as R’tas awoke

That… might just be the single most awkward segue in the ‘fic thus far.

and saw his armor on the floor and that he was between Johnson and the Demon. “Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! What have I done?!”

Johnson and the Demon, presumably.

And was soon joined by two more ear piercing screams that could be heard even on Earth.

And while sound cannot travel in a vacuum… corniness apparently can.

And that’s it.

That’s the end.

Originally I was just going to condemn this entire thing outright for sappiness, but on further reflection I suppose something like this could be done well… if the timesquiggles were somehow rectified, it wasn’t as corny, the full implications of this being the first Christmas in 30-odd years that wasn’t celebrated on the front lines of a war for human survival were explored properly, the thawing of human-Sangheili relations was portrayed as an ongoing thing, and the grammar did not exist somewhere between A Jedi’s Destiny and Legolas by Laura.

That’s all for this one, loyal patrons. See you in the comments section!

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14 Comments on “1025: Halo: The True Meaning of Christmas – One Shot, Part Two”

  1. The Crowbar says:

    …What the f-

  2. agigabyte says:

    agig: Huh?! This…. But…. WHY?! WHY THE HELL IS THIS PIECE OF SHIT EVEN A THING?!

  3. Tie Dye Mage says:

    This is also getting a biiiit more physical, and I suppose the rant on that topic might as well go here: Ignoring for a moment the incredible political, cultural, and personal barriers to a human and Elite engaging in any sort of romantic involvement (not in the least the fact that Sangheili are really big on bloodline continuity and arranged marriages), xenophilia is a pretty rare thing in the Halo universe (I can only think of one semi-confirmed and one implied instance in the entire EU) because physiologically and socially the various aliens are all pretty different.

    Seriously author, this is Halo, not Mass Effect. You can’t expect to get away with this kind of stuff.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Well, it would be interesting to see the subject looked at by, you know, a competent writer. In the Kilo-Five trilogy (generally quite good, although The Thursday War was a bit heavy-handed, and I say that as a feminist myself) we actually see that humans and at least some of the ex-Covenant species have begun to interact in a manner not completely dominated by kill-or-be-killed. Presumably, xenophilia would end up becoming more common sooner or later, as cultures diffuse and old hatreds subside, but it would certainly still be limited by how physically compatible the various species are. Again, interesting to deconstruct the actual problems therein.

      • The Crowbar says:

        Heh…

        Makes me wonder.

        How would a krogan and a volus work…?

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        Not well, I’m sure.

        On that note, while Elites are usually the unfortunate lust objects in these sorts of ‘fics, I’d say the Covenant species that actually has a decent chance of accomplishing something with humans would be the Kig-Yar (“Jackals”)- they’re about the same size (somewhat smaller), breathe basically the same thing, and unlike Sangheili or Jiralhanae aren’t so strong as to be dangerous in their day-to-day interactions.

        http://halo.wikia.com/wiki/Kig-Yar

      • Tie Dye Mage says:

        To The Crowbar: I don’t know but you can bet that Fornax would have a section exclusively for that pairing.

        To AdmiralSakai: I agree that it would be interesting to furthur explore relationships between humans and ex-Covenant species. I would prefer friendships to romances partly because of the “physical limitations” you mentioned. Friendships between the two have, in my opinion, have not been explored much in the games, the only prominent example being Master Chief and The Arbiter. However, if there is an story out there that could make a romance work, I would be interested in reading it.

      • AdmiralSakai says:

        I’ve heard good things about both Domestic Affairs and War, Peace, and Other Galactic Customs, but in between college, the Library, and my own ‘fic I have not had the chance to check them out myself.

      • Tie Dye Mage says:

        Just finished reading Domestic Affairs. Liked it. My favorite chapter was “Target Practice.” To me, nothing makes things more exciting or funny than an ill-conceived bet.

  4. DasCheesenBorgir says:

    Now I’m actually really curious as two what these apparent canon cases of subdued xenophilia are.

    Will laugh so hard if it involves a colony of Lekgolo.

    Will be kinda pissed off if both are of a human male and female elite, idk why but that specific concept just… kinda pisses me off whenever I see it. Which is especially weird since I don’t really mind if the genders are inversed. Subconscious sexism perhaps? lol

    Oh

    nvm, has something to do with the Forerunners doesn’t it?

    *interest in topic instantly plummets to rock bottom*

    But yeah…

    In regards to your comment on how something like this could work, Id highly suggest checking out Domestic Affairs btw

    A buncha the characters have been tweaked and the setting as well, obv, for the crazy shit entailed in there to work out, but Id say that the surprising amount of detail put in holds it together as a sorta fkn crazy fluff standalone.

    My problem with stuff like this is that it’s just so incredibly forced- it honestly kinda reminds me of the sort of spontaneous, poorly thought out, repetitive and predictable slapstick “what if” kinda thing my friends and I would spew out on the pkayground… then again I guess I just described the origin of fanfiction in general, so that’s kinda moot. lol

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Now I’m actually really curious as two what these apparent canon cases of subdued xenophilia are.

      1) As early as the aftermath of Halo 2 (I’m thinking Fall of Reach, but not sure), it is implied that the Prophet of Regret is a little bit more enamored with his Sangheili underlings than is entirely proper. This has serious repercussions, as Regret’s admiration for the Sangheili was one of the things that was keeping the Brutes from killing them all.

      2) In… I forget, the book that comes after Glasslands, one Kig-Yar pirate tells another something to the effect of “I’m not asking you to sell your grandmother to a flat-face [(human)] pervert here.”

      Anyway, I have never seen human male x Sangheili female attempted before, probably because the female Elites weren’t really interacted with until the Kilo-Five series. Dr. Phillips, the human “Sangheiliologist” from those books, does spend some time around them, but seems more protective of the species as a whole than attracted to any of its members.

    • AdmiralSakai says:

      Oh yes, and on the subject of sexism, uncomfortable human x Elite pairings, and general wtf, I took a look at one of HJ’s other ‘fics, A New Covenant. If I do another guest riff, this will be it.

  5. TacoMagic says:

    You know… the Library should really stock some of those little white air-sickness bags for passages like this.

    The literary sickness bags are in the pocket under your seat. They’re right next to the temporal sickness bags and the melodramamine.


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