Homecoming is one of the seven short films comprising the anime adaptation of the Halo universe, Halo Legends. Homecoming focuses on the tragedies involving the SPARTAN-II conscription in 2517, and the supersoldiers coming to terms with their origins.
Homecoming follows Daisy-023 who, after years of manipulation, escapes the Spartan training facility on Reach. The story is told in a non-linear fashion, jumping back and forth between Daisy's past escape from the facility and her present involvement in a battle against the Covenant.
Like all Spartan-IIs, Daisy is abducted as a child and placed into the training and augmentation program. A few weeks after the augmentations, she and four other Spartans hold their trainers at gunpoint, before being granted permission to leave by Dr. Catherine Halsey, the creator of the Spartan-II project. The Spartans escape Reach and go their separate ways, with Daisy returning to her home planet of Sargasso.
Upon arrival, she finds that the UNSC is already searching for her. She eludes their patrols and finds her home, where she encounters a wheelchair-bound girl whose appearance is nearly identical to hers. It is then that a Hornet approaches, with Halsey on board. Halsey explains via COM that the abducted Spartans were replaced with flash-clones, to cover up the kidnappings. Halsey unsuccessfully attempts to convince Daisy to return to the training program; instead, the confused Spartan draws her weapon and aims it at the clone. She hesitates for a while, and lowers the weapon. As she begins to leave, the clone calls out to her, and gives her a small teddy bear on a chain that Daisy lost when ONI Agents abducted her. Daisy returns to UNSC custody, and the clone dies soon after.
Later, during the Harvest Campaign in the Human-Covenant war, Daisy-023 assists several Marines that had been pinned down by enemy fire. As she assists the Marines in reaching an evacuation point, she encounters Ralph-103, a fellow escapee who is now working as a Marine. As the evacuation Pelican dropship lands and the Marines board the vessel, Daisy is impaled by Needler rounds. She unsuccessfully attempts to provide covering fire using a pistol; the Pelican is completely destroyed with Fuel Rod Gun fire, killing everyone aboard. Daisy dies soon after from the Needler rounds.
A narrator explains the history of humanity's colonisation efforts after the invention of the Shaw-Fujikawa Slipspace Drive. A large installation can be seen in space. Narrator: In 2291, Slipspace travel makes colonisation a reality. In thirty years, mankind establishes the inner colonies in the heart of the Milky Way, and soon, into the outer periphery. In the year 2525, the human race encounters an advanced alien alliance. This alliance called itself "the Covenant." The Covenant decrees humanity an affront to their gods, and the Human-Covenant war begins. Within a decade, the outer colonies are almost completetly annihalated by the power of the Covenant. In the face of direct attacks on the inner colonies by Covenant forces, humanity's only remaining hope depends on special unit of genetically augmented soldiers. These soldiers were known as the SPARTAN-IIs. The screen cust to black. "Homecoming" is written there. The UNSC Marines attempting to take Harvest are ordered to pull out. Sergeant Hauser and his team attempt to withdraw, but are attacked by a large amount of Covenant troops. One of the Marines is hit by a Plasma Pistol overcharge. Hauser takes cover behind a large piece of rubble.
Hauser: They finally decide to give the order to pull out and now this. Damn it, this just ain't my day. An Elite fires a Fuel Rod at the entrenched Marines. Hauser sees the Fuel Rod coming.
Hauser: Mac, watch out! Mac's position is hit by the Fuel Rod. Mac himself is engulfed by its explosion. Grunts advance through the rubble.
Hauser: Here they come! The Grunts fire on the Marines' position. Drones fly in overhead, firing their Needlers. One Marine is hit through the visor. As the Marines return fire, the needles explode and the Marine's helmet rolls away.
Hauser: God damn it, it just ain't my day. A Drone appears behind Hauser, who turns just in time to see it blasted out of the sky. Another soldier uses a shotgun to blast the remaining Drones out of the sky. The Grunt's turn their attention to the newcomer, a SPARTAN in red CQB armor, who returns fire with an assault rifle.
Hauser: What the hell? The SPARTAN puts several of the Grunts down with the assault rifle. The supersoldier dodges an incoming Fuel Rod and kills the Ultra Elite who fired it. More drones fall to the assault rifle's fire.
Hauser: Maybe this is my day. Alright, men! Let's welcome our Chief Petty Officer with some backup! The Drones continue to advance, but are killed by the collective fire from the Marines and the SPARTAN. One gets behind the SPARTAN, knocking the commando off a ledge. Before the Drone can deliver a fatal overcharge right to the head, Hauser finishes it off with a sniper rifle.
Hauser: And stay down. The SPARTAN leaps back up and turns. The SPARTAN removes her helmet, revealing the herself to be Daisy-023. Hauser and his team approach her.
Hauser: How's Gamma 4?
Daisy-023: Gamma 4 is gone.
Hauser: Then that means this planet is finished.
Daisy-023: And it won't be the last, sir.
Marine: I have the main unit on the line.
Ralph-103 (COM): Rescue team will be in accordance with the order to fully disengage. Dispatching a rescue craft. All active units respond immediately.
Daisy-023: Team Gamma here. Roger that. We are completely surrounded.
Ralph-103 (COM): Copy that, Marine. We're dispatching a rescue ship to your location, but we I'm afraid we can't exactly give you curbside service. Sending co-ordinates for an extraction point. Looks like you and your men are going to have to make your own way to the...
Daisy-023: Wait a sec.
Ralph-103 (COM): What?
Daisy-023: I know that voice. Is that you?
Ralph-103 (COM): Daisy. That's you, isn't it?
Hauser notices a bear on a string hanging from Daisy's armor. Daisy remembers her past, when she, Ralph and three other SPARTAN-II Trainees escaped from their training facility. The escapees run through the woods surrounding the facility, having apparently run for the entire time.
Ralph-103: Where do we go now?
Joseph-122: I don't know. Anywhere but that place.
Ralph-103: Yeah. I don't want to think what they'd do to us if we did go back.
The scene flashes back even further, showing the SPARTANs' original escape. Daisy and the other SPARTANs use their M6Cs to hold their trainers as hostages in front of Doctor Catherine Halsey, creator of the SPARTAN-II Program, who watches on.
Daisy-023: We're not going to be your toys any more!
Ralph-103: She's right. We're sick of your training.
Daisy-023: We're leaving! And you can't stop us!
The scene jumps back forward to Ralph and Daisy sitting by a campfire. The other SPARTANs are asleep.
Daisy-023: What would our moms and dads think of us if they saw us?
Ralph-103: It's been seven years.
Daisy-023: I wonder if they'd recognise us. Not because we've grown up but because of what's been done to us. All of those years of training, all those horrible surgeries and augmentations.
Ralph-103: But everything's changed now. And not just us. Do you really think you can go home?
Daisy-023: It doesn't matter, I'm going. I have to. It's the only home that I have.
Ralph-103: I guess tomorrow's goodbye, then.
Daisy-023: We won't be able to see each other anymore, will we?
The scene shifts to a city on Reach. Daisy runs through the back alleys while searchlight-equipped Hornets search for her. She overhears the pilot's orders on her headset.
Pilot (COM): Of the five escapees from the facility, only subject Joseph-122 has been captured. The search for the other four is a Priority Red Directive. Repeat: the search for the other four is a Priority Red Directive!
Daisy stows away aboard a cargo vessel heading for her home planet, Sargasso. Alone, she contemplates her arrival.
The scene shifts to Harvest in the midst of the war. Daisy, Hauser and the Marines are now being assailed by Jackals and Skirmishers. While Daisy and Hauser manage to kill a few, more take their place. One of the Marines is killed by a Plasma shot.
Hauser: Not again. I'm getting off this rock, and I'm not going home in a body bag, either.
Daisy-023: I'm going to create a distraction. Keep low. You make a run for the extraction point.
Daisy ducks out of cover and engages the Jackals, drawing their fire away from Hauser's Marines. The scene shifts once more to Daisy on Sargasso, now running through her hometown. She passes a fountain, remembering her abduction at the hands of ONI Agents, losing the bear on the string seen earlier, then her first round of augmentations, overseen by Dr Halsey. Flashing back to the present, she tears her dog-tags from her neck and throws them into the fountain, where they sink.
Back on Harvest, Daisy and the Marines observe the extraction point, which is guarded by Covenant.
Hauser: Jesus, they're everywhere.
Daisy-023: All the more reason to move out as soon as we see the extraction craft.
Hauser: That sounds like a good idea to me. I'm gonna go find us a 'Hog.
Daisy continues to stare at the extraction pad, which is on a plateau at the end of a long bridge. WHe then looks down to her bear, and once again recollects her return to Sargasso. The extraction point proves to be similar to Daisy's old home on Sargasso, which is located on an island at the end of a bridge. Daisy looks on, then continues towards it.
Meanwhile, Hauser has found two Warthogs for the push twoards the extraction point, with Daisy manning the turret on the lead vehicle. She uses the M41 LAAG to mow down Covenant troops.
Daisy-023: Don't you dare slow down!
Hauser: Heads up!
The extraction craft, a Pelican breaks through the cloud cover. The pilot uses the Pelican's chin-gun to clear the landing site.
Ralph-103: You okay down there?
Daisy-023: They're here.
The Warthogs approach the bridge linking the two sides. An Elite throws a plasma grenade moments before being killed, which lands on the bridge and detonates.
On Sargasso, Daisy partially crosses the bridge to find a wheelchair-bound girl picking flowers from the garden. The girl looks up, and Daisy realises that she is a near-exact copy of herself: a clone. A Hornet flies in overhead, this time carrying Dr Halsey herself.
Dr Halsey (COM): Notice any resemblance?
Daisy hears Halsey over her headset, and looks up.
Dr Halsey (COM): The secrecy of the SPARTAN-II Program could not be jeapordised, but the disappearance of 75 recruits for the program would have created some difficult questions. But if the children never vanished, there wouldn't be any questions to ask, would there? The clone lives a 'life' in your place. The life that was originally intended for you. Come back to the facility, 23. It is where you belong. It's home.
Daisy draws her sidearm and raises it at the clone. The clone looks up, apparently oblivious to the fact that an exact copy of herself is pointing a pistol at her.
Meanwhile, the plasma grenade thrown by the Elite has destroyed both Warthogs. Apparently, the only two survirors are Daisy and Hauser.
Daisy-023: Sarge! Are you all right?
Hauser: I will be, as soon as we're out of here.
Daisy-023: Look, go on ahead. I'll cover you.
Hauser: There's no way I'm gonna leave you-
Daisy-023: Just go! Now!
Ralph-103 (COM): Step on it!
The Pelican is being assailed by Fuel Rod Gun-wielding Elites.
Daisy-023: Let's go!
The two make a run for the Pelican. Meanwhile, Daisy's teenage form runs across her own bridge, coming face to face with her clone. The scene returns to Harvest, where Hauser and Daisy run for the extraction point, firing on the Covenant as they do so.
Ralph-103: Faster! Faster!
The Pelican prepares to land, clearing the area as it does so. On Sargasso, Daisy hold her clone under a gun. The SPARTAN holds her stance for a few monents, then prepares to fire. Meanwhile, a surviving Elite raises his Needler. Daisy, seeing the Elite, pushes Hauser out of the way, taking the hit in doing so. Three rounds pierce her armour as she falls, losing her bear as she does so. Hauser reaches the Pelican.
Daisy hits the ground. An Ultra Elite moves in for the kill brandishing an Energy Sword, but Ralph jumps off the Pelican with an assault rifle, knocking it off the bridge.
Ralph-103: I'm coming! Stay right there!
Daisy-023: There's no time! Go, Ralph! Get that ship out of here now!
Despite the Marines' best efforts, The Elites continue to pelt the ship with fuel rods. Daisy manages to kill a few with her M6, but the Marines are overwhelmed. The Pelican takes too much damage and explodes. The explosion engulfs the Ralph, the Marines, and the Elites. Daisy too is killed in the explosion.
Daisy Clone: Sometimes I have this dream.
The scene cuts back to Daisy and her clone on Sargasso. Daisy is walking away, having chosen not to shoot her clone.
Daisy Clone: Always the same dream. I dream I'm strong. Stronger than anyone. Like you. Just like you are.
Daisy turns. The clone hold up the bear seen on Daisy's armor.
Daisy Clone: Here. I want you to have this.
Daisy-023: But why me?
Daisy Clone: I don't know, to be honest with you. I just-something tells me that I should. I want you to take it.
Daisy accepts the bear, and leaves. The scene then cuts back to Reach, where a van holding both Daisy and Ralph can be seen returning to the facility.
Ralph-103: My clone. He was...he was sick. I think I killed him.
Daisy-023: Don't do this to yourself, Ralph. You did...what you had to do. So did I.
The van approaches the facility. The van driver makes a call to the facility. "Spirit of Fire" plays in the background.
Driver: Transport to base. Custody of Daisy-023 and Ralph-103 restored. Subjects' ETA: one hour. After making contact with their clones, the remaining two escapees used their small arms to commit suicide.
On Sargasso, medical monitors show that Daisy's clone has died as it was supposed to. Her parents weep by her bed, and her body is interred in the garden.
On Harvest, John-117 approches her body. He closes her eyes, then notices her bear lying in the remains of her shattered helmet. He picks up the bear and places it in Daisy's hands.
Charlie 1: This is Charlie 1. Sending new rendezvous co-ordinates. Prepare to disengage.
Joseph Chou was inspired by Eric Nylund's novel Halo: The Fall of Reach which detailed the background of the Spartans. After discussing story ideas with Shinji Aramaki they decided to create a story about a group of Spartans that escape and one who ultimately faces their former life and self. The story was taken to Production I.G for development where it was presented to director Koji Sawai who had worked for Production I.G in the past including work with Mamoru Oshii. I.G President Mitsuhisa Ishikawa chose Sawai for his known ability to portray females in a very strong way with both affection and beauty.
Sawai, who is presently a director for Bee Train Productions Inc., (a former subsidiary company of I.G) along with his friend Koichi Mashimo brought in their own team of artists and animators including long time writing collaborator Hiroyuki Kawasaki. Sawai's objective was to bring the studio’s own unique style and flavor with their best staff to the episode and the entire Halo Universe in the time allowed.
While all promotional materials cited Production I.G as the producer of Homecoming, the official video release credits Bee Train with the principal animation work, with studio head Mashimo acting as the executive producer. He was also given credit as being the director in the promotional materials and by the website.
In their audio commentary Frank O'Connor and Joseph Chou mentioned that the anime style used in Homecoming is in striking contrast to the story. While the story is quite dark the color pallet is bright and done in what is seen as the traditional anime style. Chou also expressed interest in making a story similar to Homecoming, but focusing more on the broader SPARTAN-II Program itself, more faithful to the depiction in The Fall of Reach, rather than the individual characters, as in Homecoming.
- How Daisy holstered her M6 sidearm would be physically impossible, since the handle and trigger guard occupy the center portion of the weapon, yet the holster appears rectangular, with no slit at the back for the handle. The fact that the rear iron sights are visible prove that the handle was not exposed at the opening. The holster itself appears to be suited for pistols with a design similar to those of modern-day pistols, with the handle closer to the hammer.
- In this episode Dr. Halsey calls Daisy by her SPARTAN Number tag - 023. However in the books Dr. Halsey often calls them by their real names, which she will then shortly after criticize herself about it every time as she believes she can not get too attached to the subjects.
- It is also highly unlikely that a Spartan would decide to opt out of the program, especially after receiving the augmentations. The Spartans are always referred to as a tight-knit group, so the fact that multiple Spartans are shown running away from Halsey and the trainers seems unlikely.
- Although it is possible to cause 3 tightly packed Warthog to flip over when the plasma grenade detonated on the bridge, it is impossible to have killed all other marines on board except Sergeant Hauser and Daisy-023.
- An error is made in this episode. Some of the Drones seen are seen flying sideways and upside down. This defies the Laws of Physics as their wings beat downwards to produce lift and would have no effect if the Drone was upside down.
- However, it is possible that the Drones' anti-gravity pods (used by all drones because of the planet's increased gravity) can work upside down, like those of a Banshee. This, however, is unlikely, as a Banshee's can only operate upside down for very limited times.