Literature / Halo: Ghosts of Onyx

Halo: Ghosts of Onyx is the fourth Halo novel, and the third (and final) one written by Eric Nylund, published in 2006. The book primarily tells the story of the SPARTAN-III Super Soldiers (the successors to the SPARTAN-II program) and their training on the classified planet Onyx, but it is also an informal sequel to Halo: First Strike, with much of the novel taking place concurrently with the second half of Halo 2 (in particular, it expands upon the opening salvos of the Covenant's Great Schism).

Contains Examples Of:

  • All of Them:
    "We've got incoming," Fred's static-filled voice crackled over the COM. "Sentinels."
    "How many?"
    "Sir, all of them."
  • Badass Boast: Vice Admiral Whitcomb delivers one (posthumously) through a recording in a NOVA Bomb:
    "This is the prototype NOVA Bomb, nine fusion warheads encased in lithium triteride armor. When detonated, it compresses its fissionable material to neutron-star density, boosting the thermonuclear yield a hundredfold. I am Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb, temporarily in command of the UNSC military base Reach. To the Covenant uglies that might be listening, you have a few seconds to pray to your damned heathen gods. You all have a nice day in hell..."
  • Badass Crew: Blue Team and Team Saber. Both are Spartan teams, so it's a given.
  • Badass Normal: Chief Mendez is back (this time training the Spartan-IIIs), and as badass as ever.
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Shield World housed inside Onyx has a diameter of 300,000,000 km. However, it's contained within a slipspace bubble that makes it appear on the outside to have a diameter of only 23 cm.
  • Bookends: The story both begins and ends with Kurt saving the lives of the rest of the Spartans in his team, and Kelly telling a fresh and unproven Spartan that "they're going to make a great team."
  • Brandishment Bluff: When the Elite cruiser Incorruptable's engines are still recharging, its Shipmaster Voro 'Mantakree is able to trick a Brute frigate into retreating by depressurizing a launch bay to turn his ship and venting excess plasma into the cannons to fool the enemy ship's heat sensors.
  • Captain Smooth and Sergeant Rough: Invoked as the difference between Lieutenant Commander Kurt and Chief Mendez regarding the Spartan-IIIs they're training:
    Kurt: Chief, I'm sorry that order had to come from you.
    Mendez: I understand, sir. You're the CO. You have to inspire and command their respect. I'm their drill instructor. I get to be their worst nightmare.
    • Later when the Sentinels start to attack, the Spartan-IIIs wonder if they're hearing artillery strikes. They conclude that while Kurt wouldn't use artillery against them, there's a good chance that Mendez would.
  • Combining Mecha: Onyx Sentinels are capable of combining into a number of configurations, including ones powerful enough to one-shot Covenant capital ships.
  • Commanding Coolness: Kurt, all the way to the very end. He is a Spartan-II, after all.
  • Determinator: Spartans, natch.
  • Dodge the Bullet: Kelly demonstrates that dodging bullets is for sissies, by dodging a laser blast. She then flips off the Sentinel that fired it.
  • Double Meaning Title: Does "Ghosts of Onyx" refer to the Sentinels that were nicknamed as such? Or to Kurt's Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane vision of his dead teammates?
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Mendez again.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome:
    • Kurt, who nukes an entire Covenant army.
    • Will should get a mention too. He killed a Hunter with his bare hands.
  • Dyson Sphere: Onyx turns out to house a Forerunner Shield World, which was designed to be a safe haven from the Halos and Flood.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom:
    • Onyx isn't really a planet in the traditional sense, but it does disintegrate into billions of Sentinels.
    • The NOVA Bomb not only destroys an entire Elite fleet, but it vaporizes much of a nearby planet and completely shatters its moon.
  • Enemy Mine: Voro negotiates a temporary truce between the Elite and Brute fleets fighting around High Charity in order to stop the Flood from escaping. The two sides quickly go back to fighting each other even before the Flood have been completely dealt with.
  • A Father to His Men: Kurt, who ultimately just wants as much of his Spartan-IIIs to survive as possible.
  • Field Promotion: At the end of the book, Kurt promotes Fred to Lieutenant.
  • Forbidden Zone: Zone 67.
  • Five-Man Band: The Spartan-IIIs of Team Saber:
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: The loss of almost all of Beta Company on Pegasi Delta causes Lucy to have one, resulting in her not speaking ever again. Or, at least, not for many years. Ash has one when Holly is killed. He shakes it off pretty fast though, as they still have a battle to fight.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Holly to save Kelly.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Kelly cuts an Elite in half.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Ash comes up with the idea to use the Sentinels to destroy the generators for the Sentinel production facility.
  • Hope Spot: Admiral Patterson is down to one carrier and three destroyers, facing two damaged Covenant destroyers. One is taken out, leaving a single Covenant ship utterly defenseless. And then a Covenant fleet of 32 ships comes out of slipspace between the lone destroyer and the four UNSC ships, and promptly annihilates the human vessels.
  • It Can Think: Unlike regular Sentinels, the ones on Onyx turn out to have impressive learning capabilities.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: Cortana's message to the UNSC advises NOVA-bombing Installation 05 to contain the Flood infestation.
  • Laser-Guided Tykebomb: Unlike their predecessors, the Spartan-III super soldiers were made to be expendable, with most of them dying on suicide missions by their early teens.
  • Made of Iron: The fact that Will was even able to take a few steps before keeling over and dying after taking an unshielded blast to the midsection point-blank from a Hunter's cannon is testament to his toughness.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Before Kurt dies, he sees all of his deceased friends giving him the all clear to detonate the nuclear warheads on Onyx. It does not specify whether or not he was actually seeing their ghosts or if he was hallucinating but either way this moment can double as a Tear Jerker.
  • Mle Trois:
    • Around High Charity, you have Flood vs. Elites vs. Covenant.
    • Around Onyx, you have Sentinels vs. UNSC vs. Elites.
  • Mook Chivalry: Various Elites just stand back and watch as Will fights the Hunters. Justified though, as it's said that the sight of someone fighting two Hunters in hand-to-hand combat has left them too stunned to move. Furthermore, their sense of honor would probably prevent them from intervening anyway. The Spartans fortunately don't feel this way, and promptly shoot the Elites.
    • There is another possible reason for them holding back - in Halo: The Fall of Reach, it is shown that Hunters do not care about other Covenant soldiers, even going so far as to step on them if they are in the way. Later, Halo 4: Forward Unto Dawn showed that other Covenant soldiers will completely evacuate an area just to stay out of the way of Hunters. It's possible the Elites just didn't want to get squished.
  • Not So Different: When Kurt confronts Halsey about why she decided to desert the UNSC and lure as many Spartans to safety with her as possible, she points out that Kurt himself is more than willing to flout the law in order to ensure his own Spartans' survival.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    Voro Nar 'Mantakree: One last fight, demon. You will die and we shall reopen the silver path.
    Kurt: Die? Didn't you know?... Spartans never die. Kurt proceeds to nuke Voro and his entire army.
  • Psycho Serum: Gamma Company's Spartans are illegally injected with drugs to increase their aggression, strength, endurance, and tolerance to injury. Interestingly, Kurt's motives for doing so was to increase Gamma's chances of survival.
  • The Reveal: Played with. Lucy is obviously taken aback and awestruck when Kurt reveals to her his MJOLNIR armor from back when he was still an active Spartan-II. Since a sharp reader will notice that Kurt says he has not worn the armor since his first day training Alpha Company, and Lucy and Tom are both from Beta Company, this seems to heavily imply Tom, Lucy, and the rest of Beta and Gamma Companies never knew Kurt was a Spartan-II. Of course, the reader already knew that. And amusingly enough, Lucy can't tell anyone.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Onyx Sentinels have incredibly powerful energy shields, but they only activate against fast-moving objects, making them vulnerable to slow projectiles like falling rocks, making it a very literal case of this trope.
  • Rouge Angles of Satin: The first edition of the book was full of glaring typos, such as the Spartans sneaking past Grunt "salves" and trying to escape Covenant "persuaders."
  • Sacrificial Lion: Kurt and Will.
  • Suicide Mission: What the IIIs were created to undertake; the reader gets to see firsthand the two main operations which wiped out almost the entirety of both Alpha and Beta Companies.
  • Taking You with Me: Kurt detonates nuclear warheads in Onyx's core room, taking all Covenant forces on the planet with him.
  • That's No Moon!: The entire planet of Onyx is revealed to be made up of Sentinels, unknown to the humans who have established a base there.
  • Theme Naming:
    • The known teams of Gamma Company are all named after blades: Saber, Katana, and Gladius.
    • The known team names for Beta Company are from the Military Alphabet.
  • The Speechless: Lucy apparently loses her ability to speak as a result of being traumatized from the outcome of Operation: TORPEDO.
  • Title Drop: Some Spartan-III recruits claim to have seen a "Ghost of Onyx". It's later reveled they are Sentinels. It's also meaningful because just before Kurt performs his Heroic Sacrifice, he sees his dead friends join him on the battlefield for one last time: Literally, the Ghosts Of Onyx.
  • Trapped in Another World: In the end, the main characters get trapped in a Shield World inside Onyx, with no apparent means to return home.
  • You Shall Not Pass: Kurt holds off Covenant forces long enough for the Slipspace portal on Onyx to close, thus saving the other Spartans, Mendez, and Dr. Halsey.