So, what is the Classic Halo Universe and why, even thought it is clearly fan fiction, does it get its own separate section? That will take some explanation. If you don’t care and you just want to read some action-horror stories set against a backdrop of Halo, then go back to that drop-down menu and hunt for something that looks interesting. If you are interested in a little bit of pointless history, then let’s get started.
I began writing fan fiction in January 2004. What I consider to be my first real fan fic was called Dreary, a crossover of Unreal Tournament and John Carpenter’s The Thing, and it was awful. I wrote a second story in February called An Experiment Gone Wrong. It was a horror story set in the Perfect Dark universe. It was also awful. I’m not sure where I would have gone if a momentous occasion had not come to pass.
In a way, the stage had been set for me to seriously begin writing thanks to a few big events. The biggest two being that we had just moved to a new house, and it was easily the best place I’d ever lived, and we had just gotten an amazing computer for Christmas. What was truly the catalyst, I think, the spark that lit the flame that still burns to this day, was when February 2004 rolled around. My mother bought me something I had desperately wanted as a late Christmas present: a brand new Xbox and a copy of this game I’d been hearing SO much about: Halo - Combat Evolved.
I played Halo with an almost religious obsession after I got it.
Halo has lit my creative imagination on fire in a way no other video game, movie, book, or piece of entertainment media ever has. I’d say that probably 50% of my entire fan fiction career was spent writing stories for Halo. It was this perfect amalgamation of things. Besides coming in at I’m sure the exact right moment, when I was primed to be massive influenced by something that I loved, Halo had the paradoxical appeal of having both a clear and distinctive world, and yet a vast, open, and largely uncharted universe. It set a massive stage, but only filled in tiny portions of it.
The thing that appealed to me the most about Halo, I think, was that because it was a broad sci-fi setting with relatively simplistic and straightforward technology, politics, and stories, I could put basically anything I wanted in that universe, and make it fit. That remains true to this day.
I began writing my very first Halo fan fiction in February. It was called Through the Eyes of Another. Reflecting on why I wrote what I wrote back then, and, in fact, why I still, to this very day, write fan fiction, I’ve come to realize that I largely have a single goal. I want to somehow capture, translate, and share whatever I was feeling when I played a game. I was desperate to do this, and I suppose I still am.
When I first arrived on fanfiction.net, the Halo section was tiny, barely over 300 stories altogether. I didn’t care. Honestly, at that point, the only thing I cared about at all was getting the stories written and getting them out there. Back then, we had almost no metrics available to know how many people were reading our story. The only possible way to tell was reviews. My motivations were pretty pure back then. The plot of Through the Eyes of Another was very simple. It was basically the story of Halo, but through the eyes of one of the lowly Marines who help you out along the way. I wanted to write a character who was more down to earth, who wasn’t a super-soldier with a suit of power armor and high-tech shielding. And so, Alex Steele was born.
After finishing that story, I tinkered around with a few other ideas. A sequel to Through the Eyes of Another that was really terrible, because I just couldn’t come up with a good idea for some reason, and an extremely short lived follow up to the Halo campaign featuring the Master Chief. I think I got through a single chapter, then gave up. I actually can’t even remember the title. And then, in late March, I hit upon my next idea, one that I thought was so cool, and wondered why no one else was doing it. Crossover.
Owen Frost was born then. I had since purchased the three Halo novels at the time: Fall of Reach, The Flood, and First Strike, and in reading through them, learned about the Orbital Drop Shock Troopers. I fell in love with the concept and wrote Owen Frost, Hell Jumper. It started out as a fairly typical Halo action story, but then quickly jumped into a horror crossover with the Alien series. I mean, come on, Halo vs. Aliens, how awesome would that be?
These two stories were what really became the foundation of my Halo career, such as it is. I’m glad to be able to say that evidently, I started two trends in the Halo section, because besides getting decently popular, I noticed, after I had written them, that suddenly a lot of stories from the perspective of Marines, and crossover stories, were popping up. So that was cool.
Now honestly there’s about a decade of history to cover, so I’ll try to cover the big things.
I really got going during the Halo 2 era. I rebooted both Alex Steele and Owen Frost more than once. I managed to get several stories written for Alex Steele, but only one sequel to Owen Frost, which was called Owen Frost, Survivor, and featured both Aliens and Predators. Then my friend Aphotica wrote a third one, called Owen Frost, Warrior, which was a huge tone shift and a crossover with The Thing. He wrote a fourth novel, Owen Frost, Commander, which was an original crossover, and delved even farther into the madness that he typically writes. (He’s a way better writer than I am, and, by several magnitudes, more inventive and creative.) I briefly toyed around with the idea of coming back and actually began writing a fifth story, Owen Frost, Executioner, at one point, which was a crossover with Pitch Black. I liked it, but couldn’t finish it. There were actually a lot of plans for far more sequels, but they never really came to fruition.
At one point, I had a kinda-sorta shared universe thing going on with two other authors, Obsidian Fourteen (formerly Sykotic Marine, he changed his name to follow my Obsidian Thirteen at one point), and M. Cartwright (who used to be known as JEDIKNIGHT32). The farthest we ever really got was I once wrote a Halo/Doom crossover featuring his character David Carson from his story The Marine of Charlie Company, called Resurrection. There were more plans, but I’m evidently bad at co-authoring stuff and they never came to fruition.
I think, to make this easier, I’ll break it down by the year.
2005 saw a lot of activity.
I wrote a weird little comedy-action story called A Marine’s Guide to the Halo that was massively inspired by Aphotica.
I wrote To Be A Marine. Basically, it was the Through the Eyes of Another for Halo 2. I was going to do a sequel called A Marine’s Life and actually got started, but it never went anywhere.
I wrote an extremely bizarre story called When the Lines Begin to Blur. It was experimental, strange, and never went anywhere.
I started and failed to finished some also really weird, silly, goofy stories. Ringworld Flux was going to be a big crossover, basically featuring a random assortment of characters thrown into a Halo situation. I remember it at least had Sergeant Apone from Aliens, the Terminator, and HK-47 from KOTOR. There were likely more random and bizarre characters thrown in. This never went anywhere. And another called The Long, Dark Teamtime of the Halo. And another called The Rap Gingerbread Man. They were incoherent strings of madness.
I began work on what was, at the time, my most ambitious project ever. It was called PROJECT: Arkangel, and was a crossover of Halo and StarCraft. I think I finished it, but I can’t be sure. I know I got really far, at least into Book 3 (of 3). It was epic, extensive, and a lot of fun.
2006 was a bad, bad year for me. Technically speaking, the bad times began in late 2005. My first ever girlfriend, who I fell insanely in love with, left me. Then my stepdad died a few days before Christmas. I was already pretty unhappy with life in general, (mainly high school, being a loser in high school REALLY fucks you up emotionally), so I entered 2006 in a really bad state of mind. It lasted until about July, when I met the woman who would become my wife, who I’m still ecstatically married to. (I know a lot of people say stuff like this, but I basically won the marriage lottery. Our marriage is so statistically unlikely.) So there was kind of a dramatic turn around halfway through the year. On top of that, I graduated high school around that time, and got my first job, and learned how to drive. A lot changed that year.
That year was the year for extremely bizarre experimentation. I started off the year by writing a story called Chromium Oxide: Why Does It Hurt? It was about…I’m honestly not sure. Mainly, it was about a Marine stationed on a distant snowbound world locked in perpetuate twilight, meeting and falling in love with a woman in the city he was stationed at, doing weird stuff like making a giant flower out of metal and waxing philosophical and eating Taco Bell, and two secret societies, one human and one Covenant, focusing on the protagonist, as they believed him to be the culmination of an ancient prophecy. I actually got pretty far into it, but never finished it. It was really weird.
I also got about nine chapters into a story of absolute esoteric weirdness called Ardagio’s Lift that was kind of similar to Chromium Oxide. It existed solely because I was reading Fight Club for the first time and it lit my brain on fire.
I began writing something called CODENAME: Crankhead, which came from watching Jarhead and Crank, and resembling neither of those films. I think I wrote one chapter and gave up.
I began writing a story called Fallen. It was an experiment. I wrote it only past midnight in the dark. It was a horror story that eventually became my novel DEATHLESS.
I began writing a story called Smack That, (yes, inspired by the song). I have no idea what it where it was supposed to go, only that it involved a guy finding a real hot woman with cat ears, and abandoned it after one chapter.
I tried resurrecting Through the Eyes of Another by writing a third story called The Steele Chronicles. It threw Alex Steele against The Thing, Aliens & Predators, and DOOM. I finished it and it came out surprisingly well.
I saw the trailer for Grindhouse and fell in love with it. So I wrote a massive crossover called Planet Terror. It featured Halo, Silent Hill, Friday the 13th, Riddick, the protagonist from The Thing video game, the protagonist from the DOOM novels, and Tremors. I wrote a scene where Riddick led an army of men astride the tops of a fleet of John Deere tractors. It was a lot of fun.
I tried to recapture the magic of Through the Eyes of Another and To Be A Marine with a story called Omega Halo that was too ambitious and I abandoned.
I began planning a massively ambitious project called Apotheosis Ataxia that was supposed to be a giant crossover featuring original characters from six other fan fiction writers. Basically, they’d dream up the characters, I’d write the story. Unfortunately, it never got off the ground.
2007 was kind of a massive revival. I mean, freaking Halo 3 came out. One of the best games ever made.
I began and theorized several weird and mainly unrealized projects this year, but two main things came out of it. The first happened after I played my very first custom match of Living Dead. I wrote High Ground, which spawned two stupidly ambitious projects. (Okay, one was a bit more realistic, the second was just insane.) The first was The Zombie Chronicles. Basically, it was a collection of stories named after stuff in the Living Dead playlist, all telling different perspectives of a planet being overrun by zombies in the Halo universe. High Ground told the story of an exhausted Fireteam taking up refuge at an isolated structure amidst the zombie crisis. Save One Bullet was about a Marine who survived a crash and begins making his way across the planet, looking for survivors. Hell’s Janitor was about a prison janitor who decides to clean up the planet by killing as many zombies as he can, and was written more as a grindhouse than anything else. Shotguns & Pistols featured a small team being sent to a polar research base and learning the origins of the zombies. Alpha Zombie was to be the last. I never wrote it, but it was about a man being hunted through a burning city by an Alpha Zombie. Obsidian Fourteen expanded on this, writing a companion piece called Windhover, which was the story of a character that one of the characters from High Ground was talking to over the radio.
The insane project I started was called The Multiplayer Chronicles. I wanted to write a sort of shared universe of stories, each one taking place in one of the multiplayer maps for all three of the Halo games. Yes, insane. There are dozens of them. I managed to write High Ground, Snowbound, Sandtrap, Lockout, and Valhalla. I also enlisted the aid of other writers. Stories for Ghost Town, The Pit, Guardian, Blackout, and Headlong & Turf were started, as well as a few others. It felt like 2004 all over again. It was a lot of fun. Ultimately, I became overwhelmed and lost interest in the project, and it fell by the wayside.
2008 was okay, sort of. My girlfriend had gone off to college, so I was dealing with a long distance relationship. This was when I technically wrote most of the Multiplayer Chronicles and Zombie Chronicles.
I again attempted to write an epic Halo story and I think I succeeded. Okay, I at least finished it. It was called The Great Journey and it was a follow-up to Halo 3’s ending. I remember liking it.
I wrote another story kind of like Planet Terror called Phobic Dementia, though it was a lot smaller by comparison. Basically, a group of people get trapped in a survival-horror situation featuring a lot of monsters. It pulled from Dead Space, Friday the 13th, Silent Hill, Quake, DOOM, Jurassic Park (kinda), Half-Life, and a few others. It was fun.
I tried writing a weird story that was oddly inspired by Red vs Blue…sorta? It wasn’t comedic, it was the beginning of an epic journey across the galaxy where everyone else seemed to be dead. It didn’t get far.
2009 was another kind of revival.
This marked my renewed love of Toonami which, at the time, had been canceled. I rediscovered those Total Immersion Events, and they called deeply to me, so I decided to novelize them, but in Halo form. I ended up writing five of them. I novelized the first three T.I.E.s, The Intruder, Lockdown, and Hyperspace, and then wrote two original ones: Mystery in Space and Final Message.
I wrote a gruesome horror story called Stricken that I eventually rewrote into an original novella and had published for awhile. Still plan to rewrite that one someday.
I wrote a weird story called 10,000 Fists where the Master Chief was forced to go rogue and rely on a group of Elite extremists called the 10,000 Fists to clear his name. I finished it, but it was awful. Like, really awful. I thought I had a cool idea, and maybe I did, but I couldn’t execute it at all.
I did a sort of revival of High Ground in the form of a story called Survival, that was actually the proto-version of Necropolis.
The biggest thing I did that year was to novelize ODST. It was called The Rookie, and it was about the protagonist of the game, a pretty direct novelization, only with one huge twist: the rest of his squad doesn’t exist, he’s been hallucinating the whole time. It was a lot of fun to write.
I wrote a crossover of Halo and Dead Space called Out There, in the Dead Space.
2010 was a weird time for me. As 2009 came to a close, I decided that I wanted to reboot everything. So when 2010 came around, I deleted everything I’d ever written and started fresh with a novelization of the first three DOOM games. Probably not a good idea, if only for archival sake, but what’s done is done. Admittedly, I don’t remember a whole lot from this year. I got married and moved to a brand new city, got a brand new job, and was kind of an emotional and mental wreck for a little while there. I don’t handle transition, even happy transition, too well. Plus, I think I was just kind of moving away from Halo. Reach came out, and I wasn’t too impressed. I was more enamored with Mass Effect and some other games at the time. I know I tackled the DOOM trilogy for the first half of the year, and a Silent Hill story, and other random stuff after that.
I do know that I began rewriting Toonami as a continuous story instead of a series of stand alones. I did finish it and I felt pretty good about it.
I also know that I did attempt to launch a really big Halo story that hardly got anywhere. I remember having huge ideas for it, it was going to be epic and galaxy spanning. It was basically a successor to all my goals for that RvB inspired story, but I just could not make it work no matter how hard I tried and I gave up kind of early on. And I think that just put a damper on my dreams for Halo for a little while.
Since the only thing that matters is one particular series of stories, I’ll go by year after this.
2011 was another huge revival. I began rewriting The Rookie, changing it to The Rookie Chronicles, starting with a loose adaptation of the character’s origins, and then expanding beyond Halo 3: ODST. It became a massive, huge project, almost the biggest I’d ever written. It ended up being over 150,000 words and at the height of its popularity, it had something like 1,000 regular readers, which is insane to think about now. I just kept adding onto it, writing more and more as the months went on.
2012 changed everything again. My wife graduated college and she abruptly got a job opportunity in New Mexico, so we had to pick up and move very suddenly. I found myself in a strange place. She made enough money that I didn’t have to work, and could focus on my writing. I spent approximately nine months in almost total isolation, as I made no friends in New Mexico, and rarely left the apartment now that I didn’t have to. It was also the only time my wife and I have ever lived with just us and no one else. It was kind of a trial by fire and I think gave me the mindset needed to truly focus on writing as a career. I wrote Living Dead, another adaptation of High Ground, intending it to be a new series, but got sick of it, finished it, and rolled it into the Rookie Chronicles universe.
2013 was weird, but good. Halfway through the year, we picked up a job as dorm parents and had to live with a dozen teenagers in a bed & breakfast in Santa Fe. It was around this time I began really getting my shit together. I had wrapped up The Rookie Chronicles in December 2012, and wanted a little break, so I wrote an experimental novella called Adrift that served to bridge the gap between The Rookie Chronicles and the forthcoming The Rookie Chronicles 2: Black Ops Rising. It featured a new character working with the Rookie on a Flood-infested ship. I wrapped it up just as 2013 hit, then, instead of taking a break, for some reason launched right into Rookie Chronicles 2. Unfortunately by then I was experiencing massive burnout. I had intended Rookie Chronicles 2 to be even more massive than the first one, with tons of ideas, but even by the second chapter I was getting sick of it. I ended up finishing it on a kind of unsavory note in June 2013 after cutting out well over half of the story. I briefly toyed with the idea of a follow-up series featuring the protagonist from Adrift, who had since gone on to become a bigger side character, but gave up after writing only one chapter. I knew I was done. I turned away from Halo, and fan fiction, for a little while after that. I completely stepped away from the site, totally burned out, and instead shifted my focus to WattPad and original content. Which was good, because I managed to get my shit together and launch my writing career.
I didn’t return to Halo for 2014, 2015, or 2016. Although I was thinking about it. A LOT. Part of what kept me from coming back was, admittedly, Halo 4. I hate that game, and I hate Halo 5 more. 343i has run the franchise into the ground, so I don’t acknowledge them at all. Despite that, I did find that ideas were coming to me, no matter how much I ignored them, and I eventually began planning an even more massive comeback. I planned a few different enormous franchises featuring easily over a dozen novels and interconnecting stories across the whole Halo universe. Technically, none of these ideas quite came to fruition.
2017. I was yet again in a weird place. In 2014 I moved back to Missouri, and in 2016, we finally bought our own house, and I finished writing The Shadow Wars, my main series. I was again burned out, as I’d just written 3 novels back to back without a single break, and that was surprisingly hard. As December 2016 rolled around, I started getting obsessed with Slender Man for some reason, and finally decided, why not write Slender Man fan fiction? Then I realized I couldn’t make it work at all, and one day I was sitting there, and it hit me: Why not just do a crossover with Halo? Thus, Gathering Darkness was born. I wrote it over the course of about four months. I have to admit, I was fucking disappointed. Both in myself, because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted to, and also because of the reception. I’m sure it sounds snobbish and elitist and entitled, but it was like…what the fuck? I helped shape the Halo section, why didn’t anyone give a shit that I had come back? Try to look at it from my perspective. To go from dozens upon dozens of reviews and hundreds, over a thousand regular readers, to barely one review per chapter and maybe dozens of readers…it was a heavy blow. Still is, honestly. I still don’t know why anyone didn’t give a shit. I’ve only gotten better at writing and I still think that even though it didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted, it was still at least not too bad. Maybe no one gives a shit about Slender Man? I don’t know. Either way, that took the wind out of my sails and I ended up stepping away from Halo again.
2018. As time went on, I finally zeroed in on what I wanted to do: revive my original character, Alex Steele, and write the longest, biggest, most massive Halo story I had ever written in an attempt to roll every good idea I’ve ever had for Halo into a single epic-length story. And although I’ve got a metric fuckton of ideas, I kept running into a problem: time. I still need to write original stuff, and also other fan fictions require my attention. So basically nothing got done for Halo in 2018.
2019. Near the end of 2018, I finally realized that if I didn’t deliberately make time for it, I would never just magically find the time to write Halo fan fictions. So I decided to do just that, and dubbed 2019 the Year of Halo. And now you’re all caught up. If you’re still reading, then…wow. That’s impressive. I rambled on almost uselessly for a few pages there. Hopefully it was entertaining, or at least informative.
For a more detailed explanation of each facet of this universe, check out the pages.