Halo: Ghosts of Onyx is the fourth novel in the Halo series. The book is written by Eric Nylund and published by Tor Books. It was officially released on October 31, 2006, and was released as an Audio Book on February 6, 2007. The unabridged version includes 9 disks, and is narrated by Jonathan Davis.
In addition, the announcement of the title also included a confirmation that Ghosts of Onyx was not the last planned Halo book. At least two more novels would follow, as part of a contract with Tor, the other two being Halo: Contact Harvest, and Halo: The Cole Protocol.
The SPARTAN-II program has gone public. Tales of super-soldiers fending off thousands of Covenant attacks has become the stuff of legend. But just how many Spartans are left? While John-117 defends a besieged Earth, and the myriad factions of the Covenant continue their crusade to eliminate humanity, an ultra-secret cell of the Office of Naval Intelligence known as "Section Three" devises a plan to buy the UNSC vital time. They're going to need hundreds of willing soldiers, though...and one more Spartan to get the job done.
Planet Onyx is virtually abandoned and the perfect place to set this new plan in motion. When John-117 destroys Halo, however, something is triggered deep within Onyx. Action begins to boil and the Ancient Forerunner technology stirs. Armadas of UNSC and Covenant race to claim the Forerunner secrets in order to change the course of the Human-Covenant war.
But this reawakened and ancient force may have plans of its own...
Prologue: Beta Company's Victory at Pegasi Delta
The prologue begins with the 300 SPARTAN-IIIs of Beta Company being deployed to the Covenant Planet, Pegasi Delta in 2545. Out of the 300, 291 hit the ground and proceed towards their target, a Covenant refinery. The Spartans manage to destroy the facility, but due to unexpected heavy Covenant resistance in the form of seven large Covenant cruisers, misidentified as part of the factory by the orbiting STARS Satellite, only two; SPARTANS Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091, survive. Tom and Lucy are revealed to be only twelve years old, and Lucy is severely traumatized and rendered mute, being diagnosed with post traumatic vocal disarticulation after the deaths of the other Spartans and several of her companions from Team Foxtrot, Adam-B004 and Min-B174.
Section 1: Ambrose
The narrative then moves back to 2531 to a raid by SPARTAN-II Blue Team against insurrectionists on Planet Victoria to recover stolen FENRIS nuclear warheads. Though the team is captured by General Howard Graves and the rebels, the timely intervention of Kurt-051 allows the team to complete their mission without any other serious problems, but Graves is killed during the course of events, preventing the team from learning valuable secrets the General held about the rebels' command and intelligence structure. Five months later, Colonel James Ackerson of Section Three of the Office of Naval Intelligence, meets with three ONI officers, Rear Admiral Rich, Captain Gibson and Vice Admiral Parangosky. During the meeting, Ackerson moves forward a proposal for a new SPARTAN program which retains most of the effectiveness of the Series II program without the high costs of the previous project. This becomes the SPARTAN-III program, a more streamlined, "disposable," as well as more numerous, company of SPARTANS that must be trained for high-risk operations where extreme tactics are called for. Also referred to as suicide missions. Ackerson is given the UNSC controlled world Onyx with the purpose of training the SPARTAN-IIIs, and is promised one of the SPARTAN-IIs to train them. The next month, Kurt, Kelly and Fred are sent to Station Delphi in the Groombridge 34 system to "investigate" a ruptured Shaw-Fujikawa Translight Engine. When Kurt tries to approach the engine, his T-Pack malfunctions and sends him spinning away into deep space. Kurt awakes a month later and meets Ackerson, who informs him that the events as Station Delphi were staged in order to recruit him. Kurt is told of the SPARTAN-III project and is given orders to train the volunteers of the SPARTAN-III program. Ackerson promotes him to Lieutenant, Junior Grade and assigns him the surname Ambrose to hide his previous service as a Spartan.
Section 2: SPARTAN-III
The section begins on Onyx, where Kurt reduces the four hundred ninety-seven volunteers for the SPARTAN-III program to three hundred trainees by ordering a nighttime high-altitude aerial drop from Pelicans, in order to assess who among the volunteers "wants" to be a Spartan. One of the volunteers, Shane, is frightened by the prospect of a drop, and is taunted by another recruit, Robert. Upon reaching the ground, Shane attacks Robert for teasing him, and the two are separated by Navy personnel, who comment on the aggressiveness of the two, hoping "the rest of them are like this."
Several years later, Kurt returns to the Point of No Return to be briefed on Alpha Company's performance and to proceed with training for Beta Company, a further 300 recruits selected from 418 candidates. There he learns of the complete destruction of Alpha Company during Operation: PROMETHEUS. Devastated by the images of the battle and the loss of his soldiers, Kurt improves the training regime for Beta Company, and presses for upgrades to their SPI armor systems, but regardless, most are killed in action during Operation: TORPEDO, with the exceptions of Tom-B292 and Lucy-B091 who, through Kurt's efforts, are assigned to assist Kurt on Onyx with training Gamma Company, despite Ackerson's protests. In a further effort to reduce casualties, Kurt then institutes an illegal procedure during Gamma Company's augmentations, this time comprising of 330 recruits, designed to alter the Spartans' brain chemistry and make them resistant to pain and shock. The AI Deep Winter notices this, but unaware of the perpetrator, tells Kurt, who takes it upon himself to ensure that the files regarding the augmentations are purged.
Section 3: Intruders
The narrative switches to October 31, 2552, the top three teams of the SPARTAN-III Gamma Company, Teams Saber, Katana, and Gladius, conduct a training exercise near a restricted area on the planet deemed Zone 67, only to find themselves and other UNSC personnel under attack by an unidentified class of alien drones. Very quickly, the few humans on the planet are either wiped out or struggling to survive against this new, unexpected threat. Team Gladius are killed in the attack and Katana are reported missing, with Chief Mendez and team Saber being the only fighting force left to repel the attack. During the attack one of the drones attempts to communicate with Ash, referring to him as a possible Reclaimer. It's believed that the remaining members of Gamma Company may not have been on Onyx at the time.
Section 4: Dr. Catherine Halsey
Doctor Catherine Halsey and Kelly-087 arrive in the Zeta Doradus System, as they get closer to Onyx they are attacked by the Drones and crash land. Once on the planet, they meet up with the human survivors of the attacks, including S-III Team Saber, Kurt, and Chief Mendez. Halsey identifies the drones as Sentinels from the Artificial intelligence, Cortana's logs of the events of Halo: Combat Evolved. Halsey proceeds to call for reinforcements, piggybacking her transmission on, ironically, another transmission made by Cortana at the end of Halo 2. On the message she calls out for caution about the danger coming from the Dreadnought that includes SPARTAN-117, as well as the omniscient threat of the Flood, which was trying to escape from Delta Halo at the time.
Section 5: Blue Team
Section five presents Earth, two weeks after the New Mombasa slipspace event, where the planet is under siege by Covenant forces. Fred-104, Will-043, and Linda-058 are pulled out of the line of fire by Fleet Admiral Hood, who responds to Halsey's call for reinforcements by dispatching the Spartans to Onyx. After hijacking a Covenant destroyer called Bloodied Spirit and killing all Covenant on board by suffocation, the Spartans head for Onyx, only to be caught in the middle of a battle between Brute and Elite ships on the way. The Spartans barely escape and arrive at Onyx only to be attacked by the Sentinels. They escape using a Covenant Dropship and link up with the survivors, and then make their way toward the restricted area of Onyx after shaking Sentinel pursuit.
Section 6: The Ghosts of Onyx
Within this section, the story takes place on Delta Halo, where the Covenant are in the midst of a civil war. The Elites intercept Halsey's message, learn of the existence of Onyx and its Forerunner artifacts then regroup at a Covenant world called Joyous Exultation. There, the Sangheili leader Xytan 'Jar Wattinree rallies the Elites together and discuss the apparent treachery of the Brutes and Prophets, and how to go about handling the situation. Ship Master Voro 'Mantakree speaks to his fellow ship masters and suggests that they go to Onyx, as well as be vigilant of the Flood threat. He is promoted to the rank of Fleet Master and is given command of a fleet of eighteen destroyers, two cruisers, and one carrier. They then prepare to go to Onyx to retrieve the Forerunner technology. Meanwhile on the Covenant Supercarrier Sublime Transcendence, a Grunt named Kwassass stumbles upon the Huragok who are busy examining what is revealed to be Admiral Whitcomb's NOVA bomb. The Huragok unknowingly arm it after Kwassass messes with the arming device for sometime. Shortly after the fleet departs for Onyx, the NOVA detonates, scorching Joyous Exultation with over 300 km per hour winds, severely devastating its surface, shattering its nearby moon, Malhiem, into billions of fragments, and disintegrating the Covenant armada.
Section 7: Reclaimers
The Covenant fleet and UNSC reinforcement fleet arrive at Onyx, where they encounter one another and the Sentinel defenders, which attack anything approaching the system. In the ensuing battle, the entire UNSC fleet is destroyed save for one prowler-class vessel, which stays hidden and observes events unfolding. The humans on Onyx discover an ancient Forerunner city, Dr. Halsey determines that the entire planet is actually a "Shield World" referred to by the Forerunners as The Sharpened Shield. The Sharpened Shield was constructed by the Forerunners to protect themselves from the firing of the Halo Array, which are designed to eradicate all sentient life should the Flood escape.
Fighting off determined Covenant pursuers, they press on into the heart of the planet to find its secrets, but not before the ONI AI communicates to Dr. Halsey the importance of shutting down a Forerunner factory located at the "tip" of the plant that manufactures a new Sentinel every six seconds, or 600 per hour. After disabling the factory, the group proceeds to the location of Team Katana. They find eight pods that are able to sustain life by opening a very small slipspace wormhole inside of the pod. Making the occupant there but also somewhere else, making him/her/"it" virtually invulnerable to any outside force. Five of theses pods contained members of Katana. It is unknown who or what the other three contain. Possibly Forerunners, or possibly ONI personnel that were active in Zone 67. They then press in to the planet's core, where they discover a Slipspace rift that transports those who pass through it, into a miniaturized Dyson Sphere that is separated from normal space-time by advanced Forerunner Slipspace technology. Entrance to the Slipspace bubble is in countdown, after being activated by the destruction on Halo installation 04. Once the countdown is completed the entrance to the Dyson Sphere will be closed, with no means to reopen it. Will-043 and Holly-G003 fall fighting off the Covenant forces, Will-043 engaging several Hunters in hand-to-hand combat, before meeting his demise, earning him even the Sangheili's respect. Halsey, Mendez, Tom, Lucy, and the other Spartans escape. After promoting Fred-104 to Lieutenant, Junior Grade, giving him charge of the remaining personnel. Kurt remains behind in order to stop the Covenant from following the humans into the Dyson Sphere. He waits for the core doors to fully close and then he lists Kurt Ambrose as MIA under SPARTAN-051 along with the Spartans Will-043, Dante-G188 and Holly-G003, adhering to the tradition of never listing a fallen Spartan as KIA. He ends his life responding to the Elite Fleet Master, "Die? Didn't you know...? Spartans never die," then detonating the two FENRIS nuclear warheads that the team had taken with them.
From outside Onyx, the surviving UNSC prowler Dusk watches on as the planet's surface rips apart, to reveal that the entire world is constructed of literally trillions of Sentinels, all connected together to provide an impenetrable defense around the Dyson Sphere at the heart of the planet. Within this sphere, which features terrain similar to that of Earth, Dr Halsey reveals that five pods they recovered after destroying the sentinel factory are pods that suspends the user inside a Slipspace field, the user is extruded into an alternate set of spatial coordinates excluded from time and nothing can harm them, because technically they are not there. 5 of the remaining Spartans, known as Team Katana, are each trapped in a Slipspace Field Pod. Concluding the story, Fred-104 takes command of the remaining survivors who find themselves alone in the vast habitat. Fred orders Dr. Halsey and the others to find the Forerunner artifacts and search for method of escape. Kelly then welcomes the new Spartan III's to the Blue Team, stating that they were "going to make a great team."
Critical reception to Ghosts of Onyx was mostly positive. IGN stated that it did some "pretty nifty things" and that it was "an interesting and very sneaky way to conclude a story without spoiling Halo 3's story." Arbiter's Judgment stated that it was "a grand continuation of Nylund's previous work, and if you enjoyed it then you will enjoy Ghosts of Onyx, plain and simple."
However, Subnova had reviews that were less than positive, stating that "it introduces a new character...well, 300 new characters, while incorporating no old ones, and it dizzies the reader with new facts and information." It also noted how John-117 and Cortana were "ignored," and only appeared in one section, rather than in the past books.
- Main article: Halo: Glasslands
For several years, Ghosts of Onyx was one of the most popular Halo novels to have a sequel made. Frank O'Connor had hinted at the possibility of a follow-up to Ghosts of Onyx, authored by Eric Nylund. The sequel was already in talks by early 2010. The sequel to the bestselling novel was announced on July 20, 2010, and despite the earlier talks with Nylund, it was confirmed to be written by Karen Traviss, award-winning novelist and author of the Human Weakness short story in Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe. The novel is set to be the first of several to explore the Halo universe after the events of Halo 3.
- The name Ghosts of Onyx is reminiscent of the song Ghosts of Reach from the Halo 2 Original Soundtrack.
- Before the confirmation of the book itself, the book's placeholder and showcase online name was "Ghosts of Coral". This raised much speculation about i love bees' significance to the Halo series.
- During the stage that it was still called Ghosts of Coral, two chapters were cut from the novel for 'pacing reasons', though Nylund has expressed a desire to release these.
- There are two different backcover variants; one with a SPARTAN in SPI armor and another with a SPARTAN-II in Mark VI Mjolnir Armor.
- On his blogsite, Eric Nylund has confirmed that there will be a reprint some time in the future, fixing many errors in the book. The time for this reprint is not yet known.
- Camp Currahee is most likely a reference to the real-world Camp Toccoa, a training area for the 101st Airborne Division during World War II, which was located near Currahee Mountain in Georgia. It was popularized by the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers. Kurt-051's pseudonym, "Ambrose," is likely a reference to Steven E. Ambrose, the author of the book upon which the miniseries was based.
- This book, along with Halo: Contact Harvest and Halo: The Cole Protocol, were collected in the Halo Boxed Set.
- ↑ http://xbox.ign.com/articles/749/749402p1.html
- ↑ http://arbitersjudgement.blogspot.com/2006/11/halo-ghosts-of-onyx-review.html
- ↑ http://www.subnova.com/books/
- ↑ Halopedian Strongbadrunner contacted Eric Nylund, and he said the notation of her as G122 was an error.
- ↑ halo.bungie.org: Re: Frankie, Frankie, Frankie... #1
- ↑ halo.bungie.org: Re: Frankie, Frankie, Frankie... #2
- ↑ Bestselling Author Karen Traviss Set To Explore The Halo Universe
- ↑ http://www.ericnylund.net/2008/02/foul.html
- ↑ http://www.ericnylund.net/2006/11/quick-fix.html
- Amazon.co.uk Halo Ghosts of Onyx
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- Wikipedia's article on Ghosts of Onyx