In the last article, we look at the events of Halo 4, which saw Master Chief and Cortana discover the Forerunner world of Requiem and thwart the Didact's plan to exterminate humanity, albeit at the apparent cost of Cortana's life.
Complete Halo timeline series
In this one, we're going to cover the events of Halo 4's post-campaign Spartan Ops mode that details the UNSC Infinity's return to Requiem and the subsequent events that take place afterward.
February 2558 CE (Current Era): The UNSC Infinity returns to Requiem
Due to the high probability that many Forerunner artifacts exist on Requiem, as well as the fact that the remnant Covenant forces (led by the Sangheili Jul 'Mdama) that weren't defeated during the Didact's attack on Earth still occupied the planet, the UNSC Infinity was redeployed to Requiem in February of 2558. Their goal was to reclaim it from the Covenant and capture as much technology as they could from the planet for the UNSC.
Upon arriving at Requiem, the Infinity and her frigate support fleet immediately began to engage with the Covenant's fleet, which was caught off-guard by humanity's arrival. Simultaneously, the vessel deployed an extensive amount of aircraft, vehicles, infantry, and special operations personnel to the planet's surface; this combined offensive from the UNSC Army, Air Force, and Marines was very successful, and the UNSC was ultimately able to establish a significant "beachhead" of several forward-operating and research bases across the planet. The Covenant forces, as well as their Promethean allies, retreated as a result.
In the aftermath of the main battle, a group of Spartan-IVs known as Fireteam Crimson was able to recover a special Forerunner artifact that, unbeknownst to them, was a translocation device that was capable of teleportation to the surface of Requiem. Dr. Henry Glassman, the UNSC Infinity's chief engineer, is subsequently teleported to an isolated location on Requiem when he inspects it; he is then captured by Jul 'Mdama and the Covenant, and 'Mdama forces him to try and activate a shrine to the Librarian that contains one of her personality imprints, revealing that he wants to gain access to a treasure trove of Forerunner artifacts he believes is inside.
Dr. Catherine Halsey is brought aboard
After Glassman's disappearance, the Infinity's Captain, Thomas Lasky, orders to have Dr. Catherine Halsey brought aboard to study the artifact and learn more about it. Though she does this, Halsey ultimately becomes more interested in learning about the Librarian and how she can be interacted with. Through a hidden form of communication, she actively begins cooperating and discussing this subject with Jul 'Mdama, as he is also interested in doing the same — despite the fact that he's the UNSC's enemy. Captain Lasky and Spartan-IV Commander Sarah Palmer discover this betrayal, however, and take Halsey into custody.
Meanwhile, Gabriel Thorne, a member of Spartan-IV Fireteam Majestic, is teleported like Glassman was by the translocation artifact and captured. Dr. Glassman, however, is able to activate the shrine to the Librarian; this caused Jul 'Mdama and his men to become distracted, giving him a chance to escape. As he isn't a Reclaimer (a human), 'Mdama was not given access to converse with the Librarian, and the shrine closed once more. Glassman escaping distracted the guards escorting Spartan Thorne to 'Mdama, which allowed Thorne to overpower them. Together, the two began traveling to one of the UNSC's bases on the planet.
The UNSC Infinity is attacked
Wishing to capture Halsey so that he can work with her, Jul 'Mdama activated a special Forerunner anchor device that kept the Infinity in place, allowing his Promethean Knight allies to teleport onto the vessel en masse. This caught the ship's crew off-guard completely, and as the Marines on-board struggled to defend the vessel, 'Mdama's fleet initiated an offensive, launching its own boarding craft. Various Spartan-IVs were able to eventually return to the ship and assist in taking it back, but not before a Promethean Knight was able to grab Halsey and teleport to 'Mdama with her. Meanwhile, as the Covenant forces retreated since they accomplished their objective, Spartan Thorne and Glassman were successfully evacuated back to the Infinity.
Halsey obtains the Janus Key
Due to the fact that Halsey, now captured, poses a monumental security risk to the UNSC, the Office of Naval Intelligence orders Captain Lasky to have Halsey assassinated. Commander Sarah Palmer departs to accomplish this before Lasky can say anything; not wishing to have her killed, he sends the other Spartan-IVs to Jul 'Mdama's location with orders to save her.
After she is brought to Jul 'Mdama, Halsey is able to interface with the shrine to the Librarian and is allowed to access its contents, as she is a Reclaimer. The Librarian's personality imprint explains to her that there is a repository of Forerunner artifacts called the Absolute Record, and that if she brings a special item called the Janus Key to it, it will unlock and give Halsey a massive amount of Forerunner artifacts that she can use to propel humanity forward technologically. Then, the Librarian gives her the Janus Key, but when Halsey exits the shrine, Jul 'Mdama immediately takes half of it, thinking that it's what they were looking for. Halsey hides the other half of the Janus Key from him, and in that moment, Spartan Thorne appears and she throws it to him out of desperation so that 'Mdama doesn't get both halves, as Halsey was only using him as a means to an end.
Shortly after, Palmer arrives and tries to kill Halsey. Realizing what was happening, 'Mdama called for a small army of Prometheans to teleport in and shield both him and Halsey. However, she managed to hit Halsey in the arm; this would later lead to it being amputated. As 'Mdama ran with Halsey slung over his shoulder, the rest of the Spartans arrived and dispatched of most of the Prometheans. However, the final Knight present managed to teleport both 'Mdama and Halsey to safety. Then, falsely believing he had what he wanted, 'Mdama set a course for Requiem to collide with a nearby star as his fleet fled, hoping to cause the UNSC Infinity, which was still trapped by the anchor device, to be destroyed in the process. However, the Spartans were able to disable the anchor before the collision, and the UNSC managed to escape the system before Requiem was destroyed.
July 2558 CE: Halsey and 'Mdama obtain the full key
Five months after the destruction of Requiem, Dr. Halsey ultimately decides that she should try and obtain both halves of the Janus Key so that she can carry out the Librarian's wishes, despite the risk of Jul 'Mdama obtaining all of the technology in the Absolute Record for himself. To do this, the two of them construct a fake Janus Key half on the planet of Aktis IV that gave off a signal that would draw the UNSC to investigate. As expected, the UNSC arrived and sent down a Pelican dropship with its half of the Janus Key aboard, as well as a Broadsword fighter serving as an escort. Their plan was to finally see how the two halves of the Janus Key would interact.
As the aircraft flew down to the planet, they were shot down by Covenant anti-air guns. However, these batteries did not belong to Jul 'Mdama; they were Sali 'Nyon's, who was a rebel from 'Mdama's own forces. 'Nyon used his possession of half of the Janus Key to attempt to convince his followers that he was a true prophet. Unfortunately for him, one of his troops ultimately decided that he was a false prophet and stole the artifact, intending on returning it to 'Mdama and rejoining his cause. He met with Dr. Halsey, who was guarded by a contingent of 'Mdama's troops, and she verified that he had a real part of the Janus Key. Unbeknownst to any of them, however, a group of Spartan-IVs led by Commander Palmer had followed 'Nyon's trooper and attacked the group, intending to get the full Janus Key themselves. In the chaotic battle that ensued, Halsey and 'Mdama were ultimately able to retreat with the complete Janus Key in their possession, much to the UNSC's frustration. With it, they are able to obtain a rough location of the Absolute Record.
September 2558 CE: The Absolute Record is found
After two months of studying the Janus Key, Dr. Halsey is able to pinpoint where the Absolute Record and she and Jul 'Mdama decide to head towards it. What they didn't know, however, was that Dr. Glassman, Commander Palmer, and her Spartan-IVs were able to hijack a Phantom dropship and board one of the ships in Jul's fleet, hiding on it so that they could potentially stop 'Mdama and Halsey. 'Mdama ultimately decided to enter the portal to the Absolute Record alone; Commander Palmer, Glassman, and a Spartan-IV named Holly Tanaka managed to find a way aboard his ship before he did so.
At the Absolute Record, Dr. Halsey, Jul 'Mdama, and his Zealot warriors traveled to a special chamber that contained a Forerunner artificial intelligence. Instead of giving Halsey access to the treasures of the Absolute Record, though, the AI detected the presence of the other humans on 'Mdama's ship, and summoned them to the chamber. The AI intended to question the two factions in order to see which one was deserving of the Absolute Record's secrets, but Halsey, impatient, hacked the AI and took control of the chamber. Using this opportunity to rid herself of 'Mdama, Halsey ordered the local Forerunner Sentinels to attack him and his Zealots, who did not know she was betraying them.
To gain an upper hand, 'Mdama ordered his flagship to fire into the Absolute Record. This causes damage to the facility and momentarily knocks out the power systems, which allows the Forerunner AI to regain control from Halsey. The AI immediately relinquishes Halsey's control and makes the Janus Key vanish through slipspace to an unknown location, asserting that because of her rash and impatient action, she will no longer be offered the chance to obtain what lies within the Absolute Record, regardless of what the Librarian wanted. Commander Palmer and her team escape using the Absolute Record's teleporting system, while Jul 'Mdama and his forces grab Halsey and flee back to their ship, retreating. Ultimately, the conflict resolved without anyone gaining what they wanted. However, the loss of the Janus Key and the Absolute Record was about to become the least of the universe's worries, thanks to a certain returning AI...
What did you think of the destruction of Requiem and the ultimate disappearance of the Janus Key? Personally, I really like this story up until the part where the Janus Key vanishes, making the entire tale meaningless in terms of the overall impact it had on the Halo universe. Keep an eye out for the next article, which will go over the events of Halo 5: Guardians.
Great Halo games
All the greatest Halo games are available now on Xbox and are heading to PC too throughout 2019 and beyond.
Halo: The Master Chief Collection (opens in new tab) ($30 at Microsoft)
The Master Chief Collection is a fantastic game that lets you experience the entirety of Master Chief's saga in one convenient package.
Halo Wars 2 (opens in new tab) ($40 at Microsoft)
Halo Wars 2 is arguably the best real-time strategy title on Xbox One, offering players a wealth of incredibly satisfying, Halo-themed content.
Halo 5: Guardians (opens in new tab) ($20 at Microsoft)
Halo 5: Guardians is the latest Halo first-person shooter title, and it's got plenty of good content within that most players will have a good time with.
The Janus key/Absolute Record arc may still return in a future entry of the franchise, so the entire tale is not meaningless from that point of view. Let's assume this is Janus key pt 1. while the next part is on hold for now.. This was a really good one, thanks!
Great summary as always, Brendan. What's the source for the second half of this story where they go to the Absolute Record? And did each half of the key point to half of the artifacts at some point?
Thanks for reading! The source is the Halo: Escalation comics, and each half is useless on their own. They only point the way then they’re connected. Best guess as to why it works like that is because the Forerunners wanted a safety system so one half of it could be taken to prevent someone mad with power from using it.
When I was reading Escalation, it felt like it was how Season 2 of Spartan Ops could have played out. I have to wonder if the original plan was to have it end with the Janus key being assembled, with later seasons having the UNSC and Covenant racing each other across the galaxy to collect Forerunner tech.
And then they just canned it, throwing the Janus key away in the comics for those who cared to go look up the story; and for those that only got the story from the games, they used the first mission of Halo 5 to tie up that storyline with a nice little bow before drop-kicking it into the rubbish bin.
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