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"Ah, but Djanka, there's another difference between Spartans and marines... Marines can be killed. Spartans aren't human. They're faster, stronger, smarter. They cannot be stopped. They just keep on killing, without mercy, till there's nothing left to kill."
The Professor, "Contact"

Halo is a live-action sci-fi TV show based on the long-running video game franchise of the same name, produced by 343 Industries, Amblin Television, Showtime Networks, and Paramount Television Studios. It premiered on March 24th, 2022 as a Paramount+ exclusive, with season two premiering February 8th 2024. The show takes place in an Alternate Continuity from the rest of the franchise, adopting much of the premise and lore but creating a new narrative. This alternate continuity has been officially referred to as the "Silver Timeline."

In the year 2552, humanity is at war with an alien menace known as the Covenant. While outmatched in technology, their best defense is the deployment of the SPARTAN-IIs: coldblooded, enigmatic and efficient Super Soldiers who are enhanced chemically, surgically and with Powered Armor. But the Spartans were initially created to suppress Insurrectionists in open revolt against the Unified Earth Government, and attempts by the United Nations Space Command to spread knowledge of the Covenant and the Spartan exploits are dismissed as propaganda in the outer colonies.

On the planet Madrigal a Covenant attack is thwarted by the Spartan Silver Team, lead by the decorated Master Chief Petty Officer John-117 (Pablo Schreiber). Only one local survives the assault, Kwan Ha (Yerin Ha), the daughter of a Insurrectionist cell leader. Silver Team discovers the Covenant had located a mysterious alien artifact on the planet, one that has special significance to their highly dogmatic religion. The artifact is connected to an extremely powerful weapon, one that will upset the balance of the war. John-117 questions what the artifact can do and how far the Covenant will go, and Dr. Catherine Halsey (Natascha McElhone) develops an advanced artificial intelligence called Cortana (Jen Taylor) to increase the capabilities of the Spartans even further.

The cast also includes Danny Sapani as Captain Jacob Keyes, Olive Grey as Commander Miranda Keyes, Charlie Murphy as Makee, Bokeem Woodbine as Soren-066 and many more.

Previews: Official Trailer 1, Official Trailer 2, Season 2 First Look.


Halo contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Diversity: While the expanded universe media has become increasingly diverse as time went on, the games themselves tend to have a limited supporting cast that generally leans towards Caucasian characters with a few POC characters like Sergeant Johnson and Jameson Locke. Here, several canon characters are given a Race Lift like Jacob and Miranda Keyes, and there are several Canon Foreigners like Kwan and the other members of Silver Team who are Asian and black.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: Halsey and Parangosky have their personalities switched. The game's canon has Halsey as one of the most moral members of the Office of Naval Intelligence, while Parangosky is the head of said organization and one of its vilest members. Here, Halsey is portrayed as a Control Freak Evilutionary Biologist while Parangosky comes off as a Reasonable Authority Figure. ([[spoiler:The second season goes in a different direction, with Parangosky becoming The Man Behind the Man and Halsey Defaulting To Good.)
  • Adaptational Early Appearance: The first game takes place after the eponymous Halo has been found, and with the Battle of Reach in the Back Story. The show dramatizes all of this, with the opening scenes of the first game corresponding to the end of the show's second season.
    • The Spartans are wearing the Mjolnir Mark VI Powered Armor. In the original lore Spartans were using Mjolnir Mark IV and had only gotten Mark V (the first with Deflector Shields) just before the Battle of Reach. Mark VI didn't show up until Halo 2.
    • Prophets, Brutes and the Covenant HQ High Charity were introduced in Halo 2, with the first in particular being a matter of mere rumor and speculation by the UNSC. All of these are shown in season one. Season two also includes the introduction of The Arbiter.
    • The Flood is discovered in a Forerunner lab on Onyx, which results in an outbreak there just before Chief even reaches Halo.
  • Age Lift: Due to compressing the timeline of the lore Dr. Halsey is depicted as younger than she was during the same time period of the games. She was an elderly woman in her sixties with white hair as she had created the Spartan program over 30 years prior. This also reflects her slowly losing her influence to the newer generation of leadership looking to push her aside. The show reimagines her about 15 years younger, still with blonde hair and maintaining her position within the UNSC.
  • Alien Autopsy: The UNSC is actively researching and trying to understand the Covenant's technology and member species, to the point where it seems to be standard practice after a battle to collect Covenant gear and bodies to be dissected and studied whenever possible.
  • All There in the Manual: Almost literally in this case: series newcomers Vannak-134, Riz-028 and Kai-125 were developed by Bungie with intention to introduce them where possible. No opportunity arose before they appeared in the show. (This is only so much consolation to fans who were hoping to see Blue Team, who would have served a similar purpose and have the advantage of being a pre-existing part of canon.)
  • Alternate Continuity: As discussed on the official Halo website, the series does not take place in the same canon as the games and other Halo media, instead opting to use the original lore as a base on which to build a new narrative and universe, referred to officially as the "Silver Timeline". This is highlighted with Chief leading the eponymous Silver Team, an original Spartan team whose members don't exist in canonical Halo lore, rather than the canonical Blue Team. More broadly, the show has an original core narrative that condenses about twenty-five in-universe years worth of lore into happening at the same time. note 
  • Art Evolution:
    • Cortana is portrayed as having fairly realistic human hair and skin tone with a blue tint and subtle sparkles of light, more like a real person being projected from another location rather than a clear hologram made of blue/purple light and data code running over her body like in the games.
      • In season two Cortana looks significantly different, using the same uniform but the human skin tone is gone and she's more of a solid purple/blue coloring. While still voiced by Jen Taylor, who also did her motion capture in the first season, in season two her motion capture and facial design is provided by Christina Bennington. Note that Cortana has a different design in almost every game, so this is almost tradition.
    • The Covenant design aesthetic is very close to the games, with a handful of minor alterations to fit a bit more into a live action setting. The way the infantry armor looks, Elites and Brutes especially, eschews the high-tech alien Powered Armor look (while still obviously being advanced) and instead appears almost medieval in the way the layers fold and intersect with each other.
      • Compared to their previous depictions, Elites are taller, stand up straighternote , and are far more muscular, making them more closely resemble Brutes in their silhouette. Their head design is also modified from the games, with their lower mandibles curled more under the head for a more plausible closed-mouth position (previous elites would have their mandibles flared out to the side, making them look like their mouth is always open and snarling) which makes their head more snake-like.
      • Brutes are accordingly larger to make them stand out against Elites, while basing their design from the more contemporary Halo Wars 2 and Halo Infinite.
      • Prophets have slightly more human-like features, taking some cues from the Halo 2 Anniversary redesign but with more expressive and less squid-like eyes. They also have much less ornate headgear, limited to tiara-like jewelry, while retaining the chairs that resembled the crowns already.
    • Season two sees a notable visual overhaul due to a shift in production crew.
      • The color saturation is turned down and the depth of field in the camera work is a lot more shallow. The first season had all major action sequences in broad daylight and utilized a longer depth of field, keeping the environment in focus at almost all times. The first episode of the second season highlights this shift in approach by having an action sequence take place on a foggy mountaintop, with enemies bursting from a cloud wall and characters largely shown in silhouette.
      • Weapons and armor has evolved and upgraded just slightly. This is most notable with the MA series Assault Rifle, the ones used in season 1 is fairly sleek and takes inspiration from the original Halo trilogy while season two takes cues from both Reach and Infinite in making it look more detailed and functional with segmented ammo readout and firing mode switches.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Soren was from a one-off short story about a Spartan II candidate who failed the augmentations and went AWOL. This series makes him a contact for Master Chief, and the viewpoint character of the pirate haven of The Rubble.
    • Dr. Halsey is a main character in the Halo: The Fall of Reach, a prequel novel to Halo: Combat Evolved, but was not seen or mentioned directly in the games until Halo: Reach (the fifth game). The show makes her a major character, which is logical given the focus on the origins of the Spartans. Similarly, other ONI characters like Parangosky and Ackerson were exceptionally minor figures except in their relationship and rivalry with Halsey, while the show makes them much more prominent as UNSC leaders.
  • Background Halo: Multiple shots throughout the series pose characters with light sources or rings behind their heads, presumably as foreshadowing of the Halo that the plot will eventually revolve around.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: While it is their ship, it is shown that the UNSC extensively monitors every function of Silver Team's Condor dropship. There are cameras in every single room, every single panel has triggers and access alarm, and the ship's flight controls are locked to an AI autopilot that is directed from Reach. Even their armor sends extensive real time data on both the mission and their biometrics back to Halsey for analysis, and its functions can be overridden from base at will.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: Compared to the games, the show has much more graphic deaths. The first episode alone shows plasma weaponry exploding humans into Ludicrous Gibs and Elites getting their heads blown off. This is toned down in the second season, the action could still be brutal but it's a matter of a few blood splatters rather than flying limbs and heads being caved in.
  • Canon Foreigner:
  • Colour-Coded for Your Convenience: As in the games, rank among the Covenant forces is indicated by the color of their armor. During the attack on Madrigal, the commander of the Elite squad wears red armor to designate his higher rank compared to the rest of the squad in blue armor.
  • Costume Porn: The Mjolnir Powered Armor is quite detailed and complex, with the undersuit being a fully realized outfit of its own as the Spartans are often seen wearing it in casual activities. Beyond that, the uniforms of the UNSC and civilians are exceptionally well realized, with numerous crowds showing a wide variety of futuristic styles and selections.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the games and books would have varying tone, they tended towards heroic military sci-fi with a healthy amount of humor and over-the-top action. The show reimagines a number of things from the story and lore to be more dramatic, violent and morally questionable than it was before. Plasma weapons don't just burn targets, it causes them to explode. Spartans were conditioned to be loyal through hormonal suppression implants and erasing memories, rather than just through training and education. Cortana's creation was through creating a self-aware flash clone of Halsey and then dissolving its brain as part of a neural mapping process while it was conscious, instead of removing the brain from a catatonic flash clone and scanning it separately.
  • Dark Messiah: The Blessed One, a human leader among the Prophets, whom even the Prophet of Mercy speaks to with a certain degree of respect.
  • Death of a Child: Played for Horror as the first casualties of the Covenant raid on Madrigal are Kwan's friends, who are blown apart by Elite plasma rifles. As the raid continues, the Covenant also massacre all of the children hiding together in an improvised shelter.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Kwan's father, Jin Ha, gets stabbed by an Elite when he tries to protect her. Her mother was also killed by Chief during a conference of several high-ranking Insurrectionists.
  • The Dreaded: Spartans are feared by both the Insurrectionists and Covenant alike; some of the old Insurrectionist veterans claim they can't be killed, and even the Covenant's Elites mutter "demon..." when seeing them approach.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The Elites and the Covenant as a whole are set up and established as ferocious and monstrous fighters when they massacre nearly all of the Madrigal Insurrectionists, starting with Kwan's friends. Silver Team is similarly established when they easily defeat the Elites.
  • Establishing Series Moment: The Covenant attack on the Madrigal Insurrectionists that opens the show has rather shocking combat violence that was never realized in such a way in the games or other media (besides the books), with energy weapons blowing off limbs and cutting people in half directly on camera; not even children are spared from the violence. Additionally, the Spartans themselves fight their hardest to save the Insurrectionists, only to casually walk away from the only survivor the moment they have a new objective. As such, the scene demonstrates both War Is Hell by not sanitizing the violence and Greying Morality in how the Spartans are rather distant from the very humanity they're trying to protect.
  • Evolving Credits: The second season retains the same basic style of the first season, where sand seems to solidify over Master Chief into the armor. But the opening theme is a much stronger remix of the famous gregorian chant, there is a tighter shot on the helmet forming where we see his eyes and the final image is a Halo deep in space.
  • First-Person Perspective: Several shots are seen through the view of the Spartans' HUDs in a manner similar to their depiction in the FPS games.
  • Four Lines, All Waiting: The show's first season has a number of ongoing plot lines: Makee leading the Covenant search for the Sacred Ring; Kwan attempting to return Madrigal to self-rule; the Master Chief as an Emergent Human discovering the secrets Halsey has kept from him; and General UNSC Shenanigans, typically following Halsey, Miranda Keyes, Jacob Keyes, Silver Team or some combination thereof.
  • Genre Shift: Much like the game its based on, the second season finale veers the series into a more Cosmic Horror Story direction with the introduction of the Flood as they rapidly spread and infect all of Onyx.
  • Good is Not Nice: Spartans may be ruthless and single-minded soldiers feared as bogeymen by the Insurrectionists, but they are still ultimately fighting to save all of humanity; in the opening battle in the first episode, Silver Team are actually attempting to protect the Insurrectionists from the Covenant. That said, afterwards they merely acknowledge Kwan as the Sole Survivor before immediately leaving to investigate what the Covenant were doing nearby, leaving Kwan entirely alone and forcing her to stumble after them.
  • Helmets Are Hardly Heroic: The Spartans, including Master Chief, spend quite a lot of time helmetless. Even when they do put their helmets on, it's not long before they're off again.
  • Hotter and Sexier: While not prevalent in every episode, the action-oriented nature of the games make the occasional romantic, nude and even sex scene in the show all the more notable.
  • Human-Focused Adaptation: Alien characters from the Covenant, a religious conglomerate of extraterrestrials, are a core component of the games and the lore, being the dominant enemy force but given considerable development over time with numerous named characters and an Enemy Civil War story arc. But the limitations of a TV show restrict the ability to portray them easily (due to a lack of Rubber-Forehead Aliens) as well as their overwhelming resources and technology would break the budget. As such, focus of the show lies with political infighting within the UNSC, the civilian colony Insurrectionists who see the UNSC as The Empire and the Covenant as propaganda, the moral ambiguity in projects like the creation of Cortana and the origins of the Spartans, while Master Chief's Character Arc involves reconnecting with his humanity. That's not to say The Covenant are inconsequential as their own goals and politics are given some exploration but they are largely represented by Makee, a Canon Foreigner who is a human indoctrinated into their faith.
    • The second season sees the Covenant given slightly more attention and development, with the introduction of the Arbiter (albeit not the one most are familiar with), who leads the primary Covenant force, and is given a rivalry with Chief. However, he's still ultimately a supporting character for Makee, serving as an aid for her in her personal quest.
  • Humanity Is Infectious: While Spartans are still technically human, a combination of their training, augmentation and hormonal suppression can make them seem very inhuman in behavior and temperament. After touching the artifact John becomes aware of memories that give him an emotional response, and that unfamiliar feeling is something he cannot fully comprehend. He takes the step to remove a pellet in his back that mutes his emotions and afterwards explore the culture of Reach, experiencing concepts of romance and music with new eyes. This behavior has an impact on the other members of Silver Team too.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The second season all uses one-word titles and are locations that are important to the plot of the episode. The first episode "Sanctuary" opens with an evacuation of the planet Sanctuary, while the second episode "Sword" ends with a scene set in Sword Base. This makes the last episode something of a Spoiler Title in being called "Halo."
  • Immune to Bullets: Even without their personal shield, Elites appear to be fairly resilient to small arms fire. One is shown being peppered with bullet wounds while still trying to kill the shooter, his armor deflecting most of the bullets as he shields himself with his arm. This would explain why the Spartans always go for a headshot with their M6 Magnum to make sure they stay down.
  • In Name Only: The series was not designed to be a direct translation of the games story and the gameplay itself, but a Continuity Reboot that gives them a little more freedom on the story and the cast of characters. It draws heavily from the deeper lore that many fans are not familiar with and thus many things such as the equipment, locations, characters and the origins of the Spartans are faithfully represented. These lore elements, though, have also been in flux and have changed over the years as different writing teams have added and modified what came before. Thus some changes are closer to one aspect of the Halo canon and further away from another aspect of Halo canon, and that's in addition to other changes made for the purpose of a Pragmatic Adaptation (most notably that Master Chief is not in armor constantly and thus he has a face now). The differences were more prevalent in season one before some changes in season two brings it back in line. But more specifically:
    • The Human-Covenant War is treated as a background to motivate different elements of human politics, a necessity due to the expensive CGI needed to depict the aliens, but while the main canon focused almost exclusively on the UNSC the show introduced two subplots dealing with the Outer Colonies which has next to no canon reference. The first is Canon Foreigner Kwan Ha trying to liberate Madrigal from UNSC apologist Vishner Grath while there is also Soren who is a pirate king on The Rubble, he is an Ascended Extra nonetheless given an immense upgrade in importance. There is also the involvement of Makee, a human assimilated and indoctrinated into the Covenant, whereas in the games the Covenant were extremely genocidal against all humans.
    • The Spartan Program was treated as a Necessarily Evil decision to prevent greater loss of human life, and Dr. Halsey made a couple of steps to try and make it as humane as possible and not lie to the recruits. Some minor changes to the nature of the program made Halsey a more villainous figure who uses the Spartans for her own goals, including a secret protocol that's designed to brainwash the Spartans into carrying out an attack on their fellow soldiers just so she can slip away with her ill-gotten gains. In turn these changes facilitate Master Chief to undergo a story arc where he rediscovers the humanity he lost as a result of the Spartan program. In the games he just accepted his role because that's all he knows while the show has him be less stoic and more emotional as he recovers his suppressed memories, expressing outrage at what Halsey did to him and the other Spartans.
  • Internal Reveal: Chief realizes that the visions he's been having are in actuality memories and tells Halsey about them. Something she's known since he started having them.
  • Jurisdiction Friction: Dr. Halsey is in charge of the Spartans and has first dibs on any material recovered by them. While Admiral Parangosky is directly above her, Halsey's near untouchable job security has her freely sidestepping Paragonsky's directions on a regular basis. When Halsey goes above her in a meeting with UNSC upper command when it comes to the Cortana Project, an annoyed Parangosky immediately starts organizing a "parallel team" to undermine Halsey's unrestrained R&D projects. Given this other team is headed by Halsey's daughter Miranda, it's being taken personally.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: It's revealed that during his augmentation, Master Chief's memories of his past life had been "sealed". The artifact that he encounters and activates on Madrigal appears to have reawakened them.
  • Last-Name Basis: Everyone refers to Dr. Catherine Halsey as Halsey, including her own daughter Miranda.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Master Chief in the games is a Featureless Protagonist, deliberately designed as such so that players can transpose themselves onto the character and he would largely says things the player would be thinking ("I need a weapon"). Later games would seek to flesh out his character a little more, but remains helmeted out of tradition. The series as a whole spends a bit of time trying to tackle what it means to have that kind of character in a different medium. Thus a lot of conversations are had about whether Master Chief is anything more than a piece of military hardware who does what he is told to do or if he is his own person. In a deviation from tradition John-117 doesn't constantly have the helmet on, and despite being a living legend most marines have never seen his face.
  • Leitmotif: The show opts to use an original score than reuse the established music from the games, but those classic compositions can still be heard at key points. Especially the famous "Gregorian Chant" theme, which is used briefly in the opening sequence and at other points related to the Halo itself. The opening sequence itself largely uses a new theme, which is treated as the anthem for Master Chief himself.
  • Les Collaborateurs: Vinsher and his men want to bring peace to Madrigal by working with the UNSC...and murdering the Insurrectionists on the planet, as well as establishing a pro-UNSC climate that will allow them to be left alone and do whatever they want. Vinsher himself acts as their public face.
  • Movie Superheroes Wear Black: MJOLNIR Powered Armor in the games tends to be brightly colored, with Master Chief's iconic olive-drab green actually being one of the more low-key examples, considering some Spartans (both player-customized and otherwise) can wear colors as eye-catching as purple, orange, or white. In the show, Master Chief's armor is designed similarly to what he wears in Halo 2, Halo 3, and Halo Infinite, but with a darker olive green color like his Halo 4 and 5 armor, while the other members of Silver Team have their armor in varying shades of dark navy blue, with subtle accent colors to help distinguish them.
  • Mythology Gag: The game remixes a lot of material from the games and the expanded universe into its own story, enough that it has a separate page.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The Elites are introduced this way, murdering Kwan's friends from off-screen with brief glimpses of them obscured by the woods. When they approach the Madrigal outpost, they are fired upon by machine guns, which are soon blown up. The Elites then come out of the ash and smoke of the explosion.
  • Not His Sled: The game canon established that only humans could activate Forerunner technology, and the Covenant would kidnap humans and force them to activate it for them. But, while any human could do it in the games, the ability in the show is extremely rare, the Master Chief and Makee currently being the only known humans capable of doing so. To that end, Covenant have not just kidnapped but assimilated Makee into their religion and call her "the Blessed One" because she has that trait.
  • Pacified Adaptation: Halo: Combat Evolved is a First-Person Shooter, and the business of using guns on aliens forms the bulk of gameplay. The show is instead a character drama, and has only six action scenes in the nine-episode first season.
  • Race Lift: Several characters have had their ethnicities changed from the games:
    • The previously Caucasian Jacob Keyes is of African descent, though Halsey remains Caucasian, and their daughter Miranda is visibly mixed-race.
    • Admiral Margaret Parangosky was also previously Caucasian, but is of Indian descent in the series.
  • Raised by Orcs: Makee is the Covenant’s Token Human, taken in by them at a young age and taught to oppose her own species due to her ability to use Forerunner technology.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: The Insurrectionist movement against the UNSC is shown in a far more positive light than in the source material, who were generally characterized as dangerous political extremists responsible for the deaths of countless innocents who even allied themselves with the Covenant on several occasions. In the show, the Innies on Madrigal are shown to be largely blue-collar communities who were forced to take up arms after it became evident the UNSC was targeting their leadership for assassinations. This humanizes the cause and the people, but other cells are shown to be more brutal and at odds with each other's methods.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Covenant, as per tradition. At the beginning of the series though, the UNSC still have no idea what they want.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: The Master Chief refuses to kill Kwan as he was ordered to.
  • Soft Reboot: The second season has a tonal shift, focusing more on the Covenant threat and utilizing a Time Skip to alleviate some lingering story arcs. Notably, though, is all major plot points are still accounted for but the general feel is resetting under the new approach.
  • Shout-Out: During Miranda Keyes' first scene, there's some background ADR calling Commander Shepard to the Skyllian Response Center. The "Skyllian Blitz" was a military operation in the which is central to the War Heronote  and Ruthlessnote  backstories for Shepard, which the player may choose from whilst crafting their Player Character.
  • Shrouded in Myth: No one outside the military knows much about the Spartans except that they are somehow better in every way and impossible to kill.
  • Technology Porn: Outer colonies are shown with an industrialized Used Future aesthetic, while UNSC ships and planets have sleek designs with holographic interfaces. The title sequence shows Master Chief's armor forming around him in a way that looks he is being covered in sand before it morphs and solidifies. UNSC military gear is rendered in loving detail, from the vehicles and weapons to the science labs with holographic projections and touch screen interfaces.
  • Token Human: The Covenant has a human agent directing their actions, the Blessed One.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Kwan not wanting to be the mouthpiece of the UNSC is certainly understandable, especially after just watching her father butchered. However, threatening to blame them for the massacre they rescued her from and further dividing humanity makes their decision to have her executed a lot more understandable.
  • Trojan Horse: Following the Covenant's successful mission in retrieving the Eridanus II keystone, they send down Makee in a drop pod, and she allows herself to be found and captured by the Master Chief and the UNSC. While the audience may know better, the UNSC surely doesn't, and thus Makee finds herself as a mole behind enemy lines, to complete whatever objectives she and the Covenant have in mind.
  • Used Future: The colonists on Madrigal are shown with pick-up trucks, vans and rifles that look near identical to modern vehicles and weapons. But this provides a significant contrast when Spartans arrive with Powered Armor and sleeker futuristic weapons, and especially the sanitized, holographic environments at a UNSC complex on Reach.
  • Worldbuilding: While the story still surrounds the UNSC vs Covenant and finding Forerunner technology premise, the bulk of the show is about exploring the origins of the Spartans, seeing the culture of Reach and other human colonies and the internal politics of both the UNSC and the Covenant. Open combat is relatively rare (due to the limitations of a TV show) but when it does happen it gets violent.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: In the season 1 finale, Mercy and Regret confirm that they're planning to kill Makee as soon as she has used the completed keystone to guide them to the Halo. Kai takes care of it for them.

Alternative Title(s): Halo

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Flood Infection on the Onyx

The end of Season 2 has the debut of the Flood, unleashing a zombie-based scenario on the UNSC Onyx.

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