Behind every soldier, there is a tragedy that hardened them. John-117 was one of the many children abducted from their homes for the Spartan-II program. Stripped from any future outside of war and violence, John-117 and the other conscripted children began a series of military indoctrination and tactical warfare. In addition to the psychological conditioning, biological and mechanical enhancements, including the MJOLNIR battle armor. Behind the science, testing, and combat training, lies the mastermind of the entire controversial program, Catherine Elizabeth Halsey, one of Halo’s secondary characters, and one of its most intriguing. Her drive and intellect has made her a voracious seeker of knowledge, but also at odds with the political structure of the UNSC.
Catherine Halsey was born on Endymion on March 19th, 2492. Not much is known of her childhood, but she was vastly intelligent for her age. By the age of 15, she was writing her second doctoral thesis on archaic line commands. This placed placed her in eminence as a scientist for the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), and started her campaign to make the UNSC and humanity technologically and evolutionarily more advanced. Under her supervision as the scientific advisor for ONI, Halsey developed and deployed smart AIs throughout the UNSC, which would incredibly increase the processing power and functionality of their bases, ships, and vehicles. It is also at this time she developed the MJLONIR armor and started the Spartan-II program to create humanities new superweapon, more valuable than any ship or soldier before or after. The Spartan-II program was started to address the Insurrectionist movement that threatened to divide the human colonies. The leap from using mature soldiers, like the Spartan-Is of the ORION project, to children for the Spartan-IIs was an idea the Halsey and ONI agreed upon. Children between the ages of 4 and 6 were selected based on their superior genetic makeup, fitness, and mental acuity. One hundred and fifty children were picked by the genetic testing, but ONI could only fund seventy-five, so Halsey went out interviewing each candidate to hand pick who her Spartans would be. The children were then abducted to a base on Reach and prepared for a life of war.
Despite her seemingly cruel exterior, and the moral ambiguity of her work, Halsey would later develop somewhat of a trace of human empathy. She felt guilt over dooming the lives of children taken for the program to a life of constant violence, and came to love each of her Spartans. She knew each one by name, even with their full body armor on, and knew their innermost secrets, thoughts, and natures. She had a great deal of respect for her Spartans, and they too, reciprocated that respect. She was so attached to them that the death of any Spartan would cause her pain and caused her to grieve. This feeling of guilt and wanting to help her “children” led her to take remaining Spartan-IIs from the battle of Reach to a Forerunner shield world to keep them from war, to live and fight another day. Unfortunately for Halsey, the UNSC and ONI did not see the charity in this action, and arrested her for hijacking a ship and stealing Spartans. Her punishment was to use her advanced knowledge of forerunner tech, gleaned from staying on the shield world and finding ancient technologies, to build the UNSC Infinity, the most advanced ship in the system.
Catherine Halsey’s work is the most influential in human history. The Spartan-II program indisputably saved humanity from extinction, and would be the greatest defense that the UNSC has to offer. The exploits of Master Chief is evidence of this, having saved humanity from the Flood, the Covenant, and now the Forerunners. The combat effectiveness of the UNSC would also have major setbacks if smart AI systems were not integrated in their ships. Despite all of this, Catherine Halsey is viewed as heartless and dangerous. She cares little for humanity as a whole, only of her creations, which the UNSC has taken from her, and the UNSC treats her as a criminal, in spite of all her work that runs their operations and is the backbone of their success. Her defection to the Covenant Remnant, and her desire for revenge, is symptomatic to the fact that ONI ordered her assassination and the UNSCs distrust of her, which could be largely thought of as an act of fear.
What is there not to fear in the Catherine Halsey? She Is the most intelligent woman of her age, has advanced knowledge in Forerunner tech, is gutsy and calculating. Her dedication to problem solving is to obsessive levels, often makes cups of coffee and totally forgets about them in the piles of work in her office, as she solves another scientific endeavour. This being said, she is a major war asset, and has the potential to give any side of the conflict an advantage. He defection to the Covenant Remnant for revenge is a powerful threat, and could prove dangerous for the UNSC. Imagine the resource that the Covenant has in its disposal, the advanced technologies and knowledge, and then put it in the hands of humanity’s smartest mad scientist, even Grunts could become lethal. As her character develops, will we see a darker side of her now, or learn more of her ultimate quest for knowledge? As she was the one the Librarian chose to carry the Janus Key, who knows what role Halsey has yet to play, but we will watch it come to pass with excitement.