After Commander Shepard and Master Chief have escaped and destroyed Halo they and the survivors are lost in space, with three ships to their name and no certainty of what to do next. Further complicating things is that in addition to the Marines and Army troopers rescued from the ringworld, a non-negligible cadre of Batarian and Kig-Yar deserters who helped them out in the previous story are now stuck with them, and very few are happy with it. Shepard tries to keep the peace amongst the squabbling factions, but it's an uphill battle as everyone has a different idea as to what their ultimate goals should be. But they finally get some direction when a Covenant Assault Carrier happens upon them.
It also has a companion story, The Adventures of the Lucen: The VykurCorp Conspiracy, which covers Dr. Liara T'Soni and her own Ragtag Bunch of Misfits as they try to hinder the titular corporation's collusion with the Covenant. Tropes for that story go at the bottom of the page.
- Adaptation Expansion: Goes even further than the last two stories did. While nominally following the events of Halo: First Strike, it adds on sub-plots about an artifact hunt (expanding the importance of the Forerunner Crystal from the source material by turning it into one of four Plot Coupons), a conflict with Snarlbeak, a Kig-Yar pirate leader, and continues plot threads set up by the previous story.
- Alien Arts Are Appreciated: The Kig-Yar, and Zek in particular, take a strong fondness to human film and music. They take a special liking to Jaws and Gremlins in particular. Jaws because it calls to mind old sea shanties from their native Eayn, and Gremlins, because they find the titular monsters highly relatable. They also enjoy Pirates of the Caribbean for obvious reasons. However, it turns out that Zek and Retz, at least, strongly dislike Shakespeare's works.
- And Now for Someone Completely Different: The Action Prologue focuses mainly on a female Kig-Yar tomb raider named Taq, a never-before-seen Original Character, to set up the events of the main story.
- Crapsack World: After a mishap with the Amplifier, Shepard, the Master Chief, and Cortana were all transported a year and half into the future, where everything has gone to literal hell. After the three of them disappeared, Zek and his crew abandoned the group, who rushed to the Halo Earth to defend it from the Covenant, but without Shepard or the Chief's heroism, the UNSC was utterly curbstomped by an alliance between the Covenant and the Reapers. Shepard's crew attempted to return back to their home universe through the wormhole, but the Covenant and the Reapers followed them back and launched a massive offensive against the galaxy. All of Shepard's companions except for Tali, Miranda, Liara, Wrex, Grunt, and Zaeed were killed in the early stages, and things got worse when the Flood unexpectedly entered the scene. The Quarian Migrant Fleet was wiped out by Flood-controlled Geth, all of the Council homeworlds fell, Tali ended up going insane from both the enormous personal loss and the lingering presence of the Gravemind eroding at her sanity, all of the major space fleets were decimated in an attack against Harbinger, and by the time Shepard and the Chief arrive, Earth is a war torn wasteland caught in the middle of an apocalyptic grudge match between the Flood and the Covenant/Reaper alliance.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Demonstrated in how Zek and Snarlbeak treat unggoy in similar circumstances. When an unggoy servant screws up Zek's drink order, he is content to give him a tongue-lashing for his failings and simply dismiss him. When another unggoy servant screws up Snarlbeak's order, Snarlbeak has his right-hand man, Lurz, take him out back and kill him. The latter event freaks out Zek so badly that he starts to second-guess his own Fantastic Racism.
- Zek invokes this further during his rant about Shakespeare. Upon watching Henry IV, he points out that betrayal is acceptable in Kig-Yar society if it's a spur-of-the-moment decision brought on by a change in circumstances. Starting a working relationship with the intent of betraying someone to begin with, however, is considered exceptionally heinous.
- Fantastic Racism: Zek, a Kig-Yar, cares little for the unggoy aboard his ship and is quick to chew them out for any failings in their service. To Shepard's dismay, his first mate, Retz, who is otherwise the Only Sane Man in Zek's crew, agrees with him. To be fair, Zek draws the line at brutally murdering them for their screwups, something that Snarlbeak has no qualms about and actually disturbs Zek.
- Field Promotion: Lieutenant Haverson and Colonel Holland decide to give McKay a Rank Up to Captain to recognize her status as the leader of the ODSTs and to congratulate her on her success in leading the troops during the battle in the Forerunner cargo ship against the Promethean Crawlers. Haverson notes they can't make it official yet (as he's not allowed to promote someone over his rank and Holland is Army, not Navy), but they are allowed to deputize her through emergency provisions (which falls under their current circumstances quite well). Getting Vice-Admiral Whitcomb to officially recognize it once they pick him up from Reach helps matters of legitimacy as well.
- Ghost Ship: The multi-group alliance ends up finding and exploring the wreck of a long-crashed Forerunner cargo ship. Unfortunately, it's not quite vacant; it's filled to the brim with hostile Promethean Crawlers.
- G-Rated Drug: Sugar has a much stronger effect on Kig-Yar than humans, to the point where Zek and Retz consider marketing it to further finance their pirate operations.
- Ground Hog Day Loop: Grunt and Zek get stuck in one over the course of six hours thanks to a mishap with the Amplifier and the Time Crystal. Shout Outs to Groundhog Day abound.
- Not So Different: Zek from his father, Dread Feather, whether he likes it or not. Be it both of them leaving their loves behind (Zek's mom and Taq), to being forced into the Covenant, to even rebelling against them in the name of freedom and refusing to be a slave.
- Sanity Slippage: Showing she's still not over what happened to her on Halo, Tali ends up getting the echo of a Precursor stuck in her head thanks to one of the Forerunner artifacts and the remaining scarring from her Flood spore infection, which slowly starts to drive her insane and against the crews as it manipulates her into helping it while disguising it under her trying to kill it. She's barely able to finally root it out and kill it for real once they convince her that she's being tricked.
- Towers of Hanoi: Discussed by some of the tech specialists while trying to solve a Forerunner puzzle. When Tali brings up Shepard having to solve this on Noveria, Halsey grimaces and then explains that when she made the various A.I. she's worked with do it, they all stopped speaking to her for days afterwards. Cortana challenged herself to it once, and got so sick of it that as soon as she finished, she deleted the program from Halsey's computer.
- We ARE Struggling Together: Shepard is faced with an extremely unenviable helping of this. The humans don't trust Zek's pirates or Varvok due to their prior hatred of humans, and for Varvok, the feeling is mutual. Zek has no ill will towards humans, but isn't above leaving out crucial details to further his own hidden agendas. Between the humans themselves, the Marines and Army hate the ODSTs due to the latter's mutiny attempt at the end of the previous fic, while the ODSTs see the rest of the UNSC soldiers and Marines as traitors and sellouts for willingly cooperating with aliens. Most of the ODSTs in turn (Save Buck, Romeo, and Dutch) have a rather frosty relationship with their new CO, Lieutenant McKay, who tried to reason with Major Silva and then sided with the anti-mutiny Marines when he blew her off.
- Wretched Hive: The Hollow, a hollowed out moon inhabited by all sorts of Kig-Yar pirates, criminals, and similarly disreputable folk.