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"Go, passer-by, and tell the universe
That we perished in the cause,
Faithful to our orders."
It is late November 2552, and the Covenant Civil War is in full swing. But the people of the desert world Crassus don't know that. An out-of-the-way, strategically-unimportant UNSC colony, the human settlers eke out a living, mostly clustered around the planet's only real city, Horizon. Consisting of a few million civilians and a few thousand marines, they try to eke out a living in the harsh climate, living in relative peace. But all that changes...
The Sangheili/Elite battlecruiser Pride of Sanghelios is shot down over Crassus by the Jiralhanae/Brute assault carrier Implacable Duty. The Elite ship crashes on Crassus, and with Horizon having no functional ships the human & Elite factions are stranded with no way to call for help, while the Assault Carrier, led by High-Chieftain Torikus, settles in to start an attempt to wipe them off the map. The Elite forces, led by Shipmaster Vtan Arume, must forge an at-first uneasy alliance (well, uneasy on the humans' side; the Elites have no problem with it) with the humans of Crassus, and the two forces must work together to save their city and themselves from utter annihilation.
This fic is a rare golden example of how to do a truly superb story. All characters are well-rounded and develop believably over the course of the story, the tale is filled with suspense, well-done battle scenes, and Hope Spot after Hope Spot, with neither side showing any long-lasting advantage over the other. Spelling errors are also rare (though it has a lot of British-English spelling). This is definitely a must-read for Halo fans.
The author's description of the story as found on his page: "The first in a series of inter-connected events, this account sets out the events on the remote Outer Colony Crassus. While ultimately deemed inconsequential in the selective eyes of history, to the combatants involved it was anything but. Indeed, the Crassus campaign was significant for a number of precedents, most notably the willingness of Sangheili ground forces to allign themselves with UNSC personnel. Chaotic, bloody and protracted, the battle itself dragged on for some seven days prior to grinding to a crushing, unexpected halt. Even by the bloody standards of the First Covenant-Human war, the Siege of Horizon remains a well documented conflict, notable for its savagery, even to this very day."
Add more tropes as you spot them.
- Ace Pilot: Zuka, Perry, Santos.
- All Your Super-Scarab Are Belong To Us - at the end.
- Anyone Can Die
- Arm Cannon: The Brute Ripper, basically two Spikers (minus the blades) mounted on the forearm, with a palm-squeeze trigger.
- Badass: Damn near everyone. Particular notice goes to ODST Staff Sergeant Murphy, who escapes pretty much every attempt made by fate to kill him, and Rukth Kilkaree, who is perhaps the most badass Elite in all of Halo fiction.
- Badass Creed: Arume & Torikus each give their own when squaring off toward the end.
-- "High-Chieftain Torikus, Shipmaster of the Implacable Duty, Lord of all Covenant forces on the world, Faithful Servant of the Hierarchs, blessed be."—"I am Vtan 'Arume, of the Clan 'Arume, Shipmaster of the Pride of Sanghelios, and I have come to end this conflict, through victory or death."
- Bald Black Leader Guy: Staff Sergeant Raymond Howard.
- Battle in the Rain / Empathic Environment: As the story nears its climax, Horizon experiences a rainstorm for the first time in over a decade. Helps the UNSC/Separatists in more ways than one; not only does it help them refill their water stores, it also helps put out the enormous fire that felled the second Scarab.
- BFG - Several, including the repurposed gun from the grounded UNSC Frigate Anchises, and the Super-Scarab's three main guns.
- Big Bad: Brute High-Chieftain Torikus.
- Big Good: Two of them: Administrator Jennings and Shipmaster Arume.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Hunter pair busting in to slaughter a pack of Brutes that had stealthed their way into where the human children were hiding.
- Bittersweet Ending: The UNSC and Separatists win, but at an enormous cost.
- Bling of War: Torikus's helmet is very fancy.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Unlike the games, the effects of weapons on both sides are described and shown in all their gruesome detail.
- In keeping with the novels, wherein Covenant plasma weapons routinely vaporise arms, legs, and entire bodies.
- Boisterous Bruiser: Zuka 'Ornon.
- Casual Danger Dialogue: Characters mostly save talking for the all-too-brief lulls, but this shows up now and again. Shipmaster Vtan, alone with a jammed weapon, hears the enemy charging at his position and absently remarks, "Disconcerting."
- Character Development: Everyone, even minor characters who are dead within three paragraphs, are given good characterization, and the main characters develop smoothly throughout the course of the story, especially Flight Officer David Perry's trek from a pilot with no combat experience to speak of and more than a hint of cowardice, to an experienced soldier as his time on Crassus rolls on.
- Children Are Innocent: Little Sarah Jennings, who wins the hearts of the Separatist Grunts and a Hunter pair.
- Click Hello: Not Quite Dead Ferikus does this.
- Scarab-Top Caterwauling: Vtan lets out a triumphant roar after slaying Torikus.
- Combat Breakdown: As the siege reaches its end, both sides find themselves short on ammo and falling back on improvised weapons. Comparisons are made to medieval tactics.
- Death by Looking Up: Yik looks up in time to see Zerat about to drop a boulder on him.
- Dirty Coward: Director Cauldwell.
- Disney Death: Murphy has two: escaping the firestorm used to kill a Scarab, and saving Perry from a Brute onboard the Super-Scarab after seemingly being shot down
- Distant Finale / Where Are They Now? Epilogue: Among other tidbits, it reveals that Sarah Jennings was the author of The Crassus Campaign - A History, which the fanfic was based on.
- Drop the Hammer: There are several Brute Chieftains; it's to be expected.
- Dynamic Entry / Surprisingly-Sudden Death: The two Hunters defuse a hostage situation by bursting through a wall and taking out the offenders.
- Enemy Civil War: why the Elites and the Brutes aren't on the same side. Also, some Brutes conspire against other Brutes.
- Eye Scream: One of the Elites has his eye burst open during the initial crash. Also, when a Warthog is under attack, and the windscreen gets shot in, one of the marines gets a facefull and eyefull of shrapnel. His frantic clawing at the wreck of his eyes only serves to drive the glass deeper in.
- Famous Last Words: Rukth: "Then avenge us, brother. Avenge us all."
- Fire-Forged Friends: On a grand scale, between the Humans and the Elite-led forces.
- Fluffy Tamer: Little Sarah, who befriends a Hunter pair and doesn't find them scary in the least.
- Genius Bruiser: It's noted several times that Brutes aren't all Dumb Muscle.
- Goomba Stomp: Vtan saves Perry by crushing a Brute skull under his feet while dropping from a zip line.
- Groin Attack: There's a brief mention of someone taking a Spiker round to the groin.
- Handicapped Badass: Rukth lost his left eye in the initial ship crash. Zerat later loses his against Yik.
- Heroic RROD: During the entire battle, the commanding officer, Major Gregor Abelev, kept himself awake for the entire week by massively overdosing on combat stims. The result is that his body collapses and he spends most of the rest of his life bedridden after the war ends.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Zuka Ornon, his Banshee heavily damaged and his body heavily wounded, says a fond farewell to his new friend Perry and flies his banged-up craft directly into a hostile Scarab's exposed core, saving the city.
- Hired Guns: The Jackal/Kig-Yar Yik, "Slayer of Men", as well as the rest of the Kig-Yar.
- Hopeless Campaign: For the vast majority of the story.
- Hope Spot: Every time it looks like the humans & Elites are starting to get the upper hand, something happens to tip the balance back towards the Brutes' favor.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Little Sarah becoming a close friend to the Hunter pair, to the point where they're willing to abandon their post to save her from Stealth Brutes.
- Human Shield: Near the beginning, a Brute takes Sarah as one, infuriating the Elites ("Honorless cur! Hiding behind a youngling?!"); the Brute is promptly sniped by Zerat, and Sarah is unharmed.
- Improbable Aiming Skills : Zerat Omdolo is pretty much the Sangheili counterpart to Spartan-II Linda-058. His calling card is to shoot enemy snipers right through their optic-mounted scopes... from over a kilometer away.
- Also shown by Brambley during his scene with the Obstructive Bureaucrat.
- Infant Immortality: Despite countless close calls, Sarah makes it out of the campaign unscathed, and gets the last line of dialogue.
Sarah: That was some adventure, mom!
- Invisibility Cloak: The Elites make very good use of their active camo.
- Ironic Echo: "You should have finished what you started".
- It Has Been an Honour: Last words of Commander Song.
- Also spoken by Zuka 'Ornon before his kamikaze run.
- Also invoked by Rukth 'Kilkar before the climax of the war.
- Jerkass: ODST Specialist Smith is shown to be a minor one. Also a Deadpan Snarker.
- Kill It with Fire: Improvised flamethrowers are used to great effect. Later, the Humans kill a Scarab by luring it into a fuel refinery and then setting a few charges.
- Large and In Charge: Torikus; a marine who sees him toward the end thinks that "If the Brute's society ensured that only the largest and strongest took power, then surely this monster was an emperor".
- Last Stand: When Rukth is overwhelmed and killed, he takes countless Brutes with him before finally going down.
- McNinja: The Spec Ops Elites, their Exiled/Outcast cousins, and the Infiltration Brutes.
- More Dakka: The Sangheili outlander Marikos loves human chainguns.
- Mythology Gag: "Combat devolved."
- This segment from Chapter 21 should sound familiar to anyone who's played around with Theater Mode.
As the adrenaline coursed through Rukth's system, the entire battle slowed to a crawl. It was as though the entire universe had been recorded, and then played back at half-speed.
- One of the ODSTs in Chapter 25 is named Mendoza, after the unfortunate Pvt. Manuel Mendoza from Halo: Combat Evolved.
- The phrase "Were it so easy". Used in Chapters 16 and 28, the Arbiter says it in Halo 3's beginning and end.
- A hologram of the Prophet of Truth is playing on the bridge of the Ubiquitous Triumph in "End Game", saying lines from Halo2.
- Being a story based on a Bungie game, there are numerous references to the number seven, i.e. the battle lasts seven days.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: Most Brute names qualify, but Malwrekus deserves specific mention.
- Nigh Invulnerable: The Super-Scarab takes a lot of punishment and keeps going.
- No One Could Survive That: The reaction to seeing the Scarab that gets immolated by the refinery... Moments before Murphy's Warthog emerges.
- Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Brute Chieftain Malwrekus feels this way as his Scarab punches its way through the city's defensive wall... and gets blasted point-blank by artillery cannons.
- Non-Action Guy: Perry, when he's not behind the controls of an aircraft.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: 2LT Joseph Brambley, first seeming to be Major Abelev's spineless Yes-Man, soon reveals that he's actually an experienced Badass and a superb leader.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: Traxus Terraforming director Michael Cauldwell. Scared in compliance AWESOMELY by 2LT Brambley.
- Odd Friendship: Between Flight Officer Perry and Sangheili Helmsman Zuka 'Ornon.
- Offhand Backhand: Rukth barely notices his killing of Jiral'ja Captain Relgar.
- Pyrrhic Victory: The UNSC and the Separatists win, but over half the colony and less than a dozen Elites survive. Horizon itself is no longer economically viable and is eventually abandoned. No mention is made of whether a new colony was built on Crassus.
- Potty Failure / Bring My Brown Pants - The above-mentioned Director Cauldwell pisses himself in fear after Brambley scares him into submission.
- He does it again when a pack of Brutes finds him.
- Perry struggles with this throughout the story. He manages to hold it in.
- The Power of Friendship: According to Vtan, this is the reason why the Separatists and humanity has won instead of the Covenant.
- Ramming Always Works: The opening space battle, where the Duty gets a face-full of the Sanghelios' engines.
- Zuka does this against a Brute controlled Scarab
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Two of them: Administrator Amanda Jennings and Shipmaster Vtan Arume. The latter was very quick to propose an alliance with the humans, and the former was (upon seeing that they'd saved her daughter) quite willing to accept.
- Red Baron: Rukth Kilkar becomes known to the Covenant Loyalists as "The Black Sangheili".
- The two Hunters become known by their human allies as "The Hammer and The Anvil"... in addition to little Sarah's nicknames for them: "Jib & Jubb".
- Rock Beats Laser: Literally; Zerat kills Yik by sneaking up behind him and crushing him with a huge rock.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Towards the end, Bralterakus abandons Torikus and his forces on Crassus, taking their ship with him.
- Sequel Hook: Bralterakus takes the Brute ship with him and becomes a dread warlord. The fate of Vtan and his Elites is never mentioned; "that's another tale entirely..."
- Shoot the Messenger / You Have Failed Me: Torikus has a bad habit of killing underlings who displease him or bring bad news.
- Shout-Out: The author has read more than a little of Gaunt's Ghosts. In particular, Charlie Platoon's last stand, and Tactical Response 23.
- I would say more than that. The whole thing reads like Necropolis, about the Siege of Vervunhive. But despite that, it deviates quite a bit: the walls are to prevent sand storms, the citizens are trained by the ODSTs instead of just plain fighting back, and there is a MAC cannon hardmounted inside the city. Dan Abnett never used jump pack equipped infiltrators, or bloodthirsty bikers, or an orbiting spaceship that could easily obliterate the city. But even with these variations, it is still very reminiscent of Necropolis and other Gaunts Ghosts novels. The Scarabs replacing the crab-walker-tank-things from Necropolis, Yik the Man-Slayer replacing the Sniper from Sabbat Martyr, Rukth mixing Mkoll and Mkvenner, and other things. One notable deviation is that there is no arrogant Nobles trying to take control (well, at least after Brambley convinced them otherwise... ) and no real enemy on the inside. The whole city is devoted to surviving. While this doesn't detract from the reading, it does kind of take out that extra edge.
- The following phrase should be familiar to anyone who's read The Guns of Tanith (Just replace Rukth with Mkvenner):
Rukth... Rukth was terrifying.
- Shrouded in Myth: Rukth becomes a legend to both sides as the Black Sangheili.
- The Siege: Pretty much the entire story.
- Simple Staff: Rukth shows himself to be at his most effective when wielding a spike/blade-tipped staff made from the hilt of Brute Chieftain Malwrekus' gravity hammer.
- Single Biome Planet: Crassus has been stated to be pretty much one big desert.
- The Starscream: Brute Chieftain Bralterakus.
- Super Prototype: The Brute Super-Scarab, armed with three main guns.
- Taking You with Me: When the allied Grunts run out of methane, some of them activate grenades and leap into the enemy numbers. Also, Zuka's sacrificial destruction of a Scarab.
- There Was a Door: How the Hunters play the Big Damn Heroes while rescuing Sarah from Brute Infiltrators. Made even better in that nobody ordered them to rescue this human girl- they decided to rescue her on their own.
- To Serve Man: It is implied several times that Brutes eat human captives.
- Heck, it's outright stated when Torikus goes about figuring out the logistics of surviving on Crassus long enough for the Covenant to come and retrieve them after Bralterakus takes the Implacable Duty and leaves. He mentions in an offhand comment that they would use the humans as both slave labor and a food source, so this obviously isn't something they haven't done before.
- Training the Peaceful Villagers: "Murphy's Militia."
- Tranquil Fury: Vtan goes into this after Rukth is killed.
- Torikus goes into this after the first attack fails. ".... it betrayed his barely contained primal rage. His voice, however, was unusually calm, restrained even. This was Torikus at his most deadly: not as a mindless berserker, but as a calculating murderer."
- War Is Hell: This one should be rather clear by the end.
- Wave Motion Gun: There are Scarabs; many Scarabs. And the Super-Scarab, which has three.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Asked (Why not just glass the colony from orbit?) and answered; pride and a lust for glory
- Zerg Rush: At one point, a huge wave of Brutes tries to push through a wall of Elites wearing Jackal shields, in a scene akin to soccer hooligans rushing a fence. But in this case, the fense pushes back, holding strong, and the humans fire down on the Brutes, killing dozens. It's stated that the Brutes were so tightly packed and were trying so hard to push through, that many Brutes were dead on their feet because there wasn't room to fall over once they were killed.