Brace for impact.
It is a night sky: several bright pinpoints of white light, stars, hang in the center. It's a tranquil forest, with lush forestry and a winding river. Then, Cortana's voice begins whispering in voice-overs.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "They let me pick. Did I ever tell you that? Choose whichever Spartan I wanted."
- Cortana: (voice-over) "You know me. I did my research. Watched as you became the soldier we needed you to be."
As the camera pans down, something comes into view entering the atmosphere, trailing flames splitting the night sky. Although it is not recognizable at this time, it is the Prophet of Truth's Dreadnought.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "Like the others, you were strong and swift and brave. A natural leader."
The fireball comes nearer, at an oblique angle to the camera.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "But you had something they didn't. Something no one saw, but me."
A second, lesser fireball breaks off from the main one. It moves at an oblique angle to the first, which is to say, towards the camera. It moves closer while the first vanishes behind a spray of trees.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "Can you guess?"
The object moves even nearer, and its trajectory begins to curve until it is heading directly for the camera.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "Luck."
The fireball roars past the camera and smashes into the ground with an earth-shattering impact. For a moment, we can see that the area is a jungle, quiet and peaceful, and now, full of light and sound. Cortana's last words are tinged with humor.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "Was I wrong?"
Fades to black.
Pan down on the same forest, but now it's early morning, with the sun streaming through the trees onto the smoking ruin where the object hit ground. In the foreground, an armored gauntlet is visible. In the background, several Marines move around; 1st Squad. The one in the back wears a Sergeant's cap. The Marines of 1st Squad anxiously observe an object just below the camera position. A dread silence permeates the jungle.
- Marine #1: "This ain't good."
- Marine #2: "Damn. How far did he fall?"
The Sergeant in the hat turns around and takes a long drag on his cigar.
- Marine #3: "Two kilometers, easy."
- Sergeant Johnson: "Stay sharp!"
The Marines move closer to the object while one aims his gun to the left then the right of the camera looking for any sign of the enemy. For the first time, we can see that it is John-117. He lies at one end of his own personal crater, the result of falling about two kilometers. Despite the motionlessness of the man inside, the armor is neither scratched nor singed, apart from a large scrape across the upper right of the chestplate. John lies in an odd position, like a dropped statue; the figure is still; hands raised awkwardly. The Spartan is still and silent. The Marines move closer to John, taking up combat positions. One sits down beside him and takes out a small computer.
- Sergeant Johnson: "Corpsman?"
- Navy Corpsman: (doubtfully) "His armor's locked up. Gel layer could have taken most of the impact..."
He taps something in on the computer. With a hiss, John's outstretched arms collapse onto his chest. The Marine checks for vital signs. No readings.
- Marine Corporal: "I don't know, Sergeant Major."
Johnson kneels by the side of his fallen friend and places a hand on his chest, feeling for breath, or any sign that the man is alive. He inadvertently breathes smoke into John's face. After a few seconds, he sighs sadly, reaches behind John's head and pulls Cortana's empty chip out of his helmet.
- Sergeant Johnson: "Radio for VTOL, heavy lift gear. We're not leaving him here."
An armored hand reaches up and grabs his wrist. It is John-117's.
- Master Chief: "Yeah. You're not."
He pushes himself slowly to his feet.
- Sergeant Johnson: (gives off a small sigh of relief) "Crazy fool! Why do you always jump? One of these days, you're gonna land on somethin' as stubborn as you are! And I don't do bits and pieces!"
John says nothing. Instead, he reaches down and takes Cortana's chip from the Sergeant's hand and lets go of his arm.
- Sergeant Johnson: "Where is she, Chief? Where's Cortana?"
John stares at the data crystal, and for a second, Cortana's face flashes across the screen, along with an echo from the previous game.
- Cortana: (voice-over) "Don't make a girl a promise... If you know you can't keep it."
Johnson gives him a confused look.
- Master Chief: "She stayed behind."
John inserts the chip into the port at the back of his helmet.
- Sergeant Johnson: "Corporal? Make it quick."
- Marine Corporal: "Sorry, sir. (to Master Chief) Your armor's still in partial lockdown."
The Corporal gives him a screen with a red light.
- Marine Corporal: "Look up here, sir."
It goes green when John-117 looks at it.
- Marine Corporal: "Okay. Now down here."
If the calibration doesn't work:
- Marine Corporal: "Tracking looks off, Sergeant Major."
- Sergeant Johnson: "Make it quick, we've got to move."
- Marine Corporal: "Up here sir."
John looks up.
- Marine Corporal: "Again, down here."
John looks down.
- Marine Corporal: "Good." (to Johnson) Everything checks out, Sergeant Major."
- Sergeant Johnson: "Kick off the training wheels, Corporal. He's good to go."
John looks around, taking in his surroundings. Somewhere near him is a familiar sight... the heat-wave effect of a Covenant Active camouflage. Johnson gives it a nod. An Elite decloaks, revealing itself to be the Arbiter, Thel 'Vadam. John-117 moves with fluid grace, brushing aside Johnson and another Marine next to 'Vadam, drawing Johnson's pistol from its holster.
- Sergeant Johnson: "Chief, wait!"
John-117 jams the pistol between 'Vadam's mandibles.
- Sergeant Johnson: "The Arbiter's with us!"
'Vadam glares at John-117, showing no sign of discomfort or making any move to point the gun away from himself. John hesitates to lower his gun.
- Sergeant Johnson: "Come on now."
Johnson grabs John's shoulder.
- Sergeant Johnson: "We got enough to worry about without you two tryin' to kill each other!"
The Spartan slowly lowers his gun. 'Vadam clacks his mandibles together: a shrug.
- Thel 'Vadam: "Were it so easy."
Thel Vadam makes to move past John-117, but the Spartan pushes him back, and 'Vadam turns and walks away.
- Thel 'Vadam: "We must go. The Brutes have our scent."
- Sergeant Johnson: (Easy/Normal) "Then they must love the smell of green."
- Sergeant Johnson: (Heroic) "Then they must love the smell of hero."
- Sergeant Johnson: (Legendary, variant 1): "Then they must love the smell of bad ass."
- Sergeant Johnson: (Legendary, variant 2) "Then they must love the smell of bad ass. And I left a little present for you, Arbiter. And I'm walking away. Ha-ha-ha!"
- Sergeant Johnson: (Legendary, variant 3) "Then they must love the scent of testosterone."
- Sergeant Johnson: (Legendary, variant 4) "Then they must love the scent of a real man."
- Sergeant Johnson: (Legendary, variant 5) "Then they must love the smell of Bvlgari. Yeah, I'm doing a little product placement! I gotta get paid, too!"
He grabs an Assault Rifle from a nearby Marine and holds it out to John. Swiftly, the Spartan snatches it, as if annoyed by 'Vadam.
Fades to black.
- Main article: Glitches
- As soon as you can move, go forward and press the Y button about one second before the border fades out. Your Pistol will just randomly appear on the screen.
- Sometimes on Heroic or Legendary, the words, "Your armor is still in partial lockdown," appear during the loading screen of Sierra 117.
- The name may be a reference to Halo's predecessor, Marathon, an earlier Bungie game, in which "Arrival" is also the name of the first level.
- The Halo 3: ODST Original Soundtrack Bits and Pieces is a reference to a quote by Johnson during the cutscene of Arrival "And I don't do bits and pieces!"
- Arrival is the first tutorial level in the Halo Trilogy not to take place on a Human space vessel orbiting a celestial body. Halo: Combat Evolved's very first level was on the UNSC Pillar of Autumn orbiting the Halo mega-structure and Halo 2's first level was set on the UNSC MAC defense platform Cairo in a geosynchronous orbit around Earth.
- If you look closely at the data pad the Marine carries, you can see an X-Ray of Master Chief's helmet revealing his skull. To the left of John-117's skull, there is a photo of what could be John-117's face.
- However, the picture could be the Corpsman's for object identification purposes.
- Contrary to what players might think, John-117 did not land on Earth using just his MJOLNIR armor as protection. At the other end of the crater is a metallic object, suggesting John ripped it out of the Forerunner Dreadnought and rode it down to Earth. A page in The Art of Halo 3 supports this theory. Also, the metallic object appears to be a Forerunner door of some sort due to the support bracing on one side, as any player that remembers certain levels of Halo 2 will tell you. And in the Halo Encyclopedia it shows John-117 using a piece of metal for protection as he enters the atmosphere.
- John-117 appears for the first time in Halo 3 at precisely 1 minute and 17 seconds into the cutscene, when the camera descends to reveal his outstretched arm. This is both a reference to his number (117) and to seven because it is 77 seconds in.
- It should be noted that in Arrival, re-entry occurs before sunrise, and in the Landfall miniseries, re-entry occurs after sunrise (though they are in different places). The Landfall miniseries takes place in Pakistan, accounting for the time difference.
- When the corpsman is inspecting John-117, Johnson addresses the corpsman as corporal. This is possibly an error as corpsman are Navy units, and the rank of corporal is Army/Marines. It is known that both Marine and Navy ranks are included in the game as John-117 is a Master Chief Petty Officer, and several other characters from the game also have Navy ranks (such as those about any UNSC ships like Lt. Command Miranda Keyes.)