I wanted a name for my blog that hinted at some part of the Halo cannon that always stood out for me. When I thought about what that moment would be, I always came back to Halesy meeting John for the first time.
Dr. Halsey led him to the edge of the nearby sandpit and stopped.
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“I’m John,” he said. The boy held out his hand.
Dr. Halsey didn’t expect physical contact. The subject’s father must have taught him the ritual, or the
boy was highly imitative.
She shook his hand and was surprised by the strength in his miniscule grip. “It’s very nice to meet you.”
She knelt so she was at his level. “I wanted to ask you what you were doing?”
“Winning,” he said.
Dr. Halsey smiled. He was unafraid of her . . . and she doubted that he’d have any trouble pushing her
off the hill, either.
“You like games,” she said. “So do I.”
He sighed. “Yeah, but they made me play chess last week. That got boring. It’s too easy to win.” He
took a quick breath. “Or—can we play gravball? They don’t let me play gravball anymore, but maybe if
you tell them it’s okay?”
“I have a different game I want you to try,” she told him. “Look.” She reached into her purse and
brought out a metal disk. She turned it over and it gleamed in the sun. “People used coins like this for
currency a long time ago, when Earth was the only planet we lived on.”
His eyes fixed on the object. He reached for it.
Dr. Halsey moved it away, continuing to flip it between her thumb and index finger. “Each side is
different. Do you see? One has the face of a man with long hair. The other side has a bird, called an
eagle, and it’s holding—”
“Arrows,” John said.
“Yes. Good.” His eyesight must be exceptional to see such detail so far away. “We’ll use this coin in our
game. If you win you can keep it.”
John tore his gaze from the coin and looked at her again, squinted, then said, “Okay. I always win,
though. That’s why they won’t let me play gravball anymore.”
“I’m sure you do.”
“What’s the game?”
“It’s very simple. I toss the coin like this.” She flicked her wrist, snapped her thumb, and the coin arced,
spinning into the air, and landed in the sand. “Next time, though, before it lands, I want you to tell me if
it will fall with the face of the man showing or with the eagle holding the arrows.”
“I got it.” John tensed, bent his knees, and then his eyes seemed to lose their focus on her and the coin.
Dr. Halsey picked up the quarter. “Ready?”
John gave a slight nod.
She tossed it, making sure there was plenty of spin.
John’s eyes watched it with that strange distant gaze. He tracked it as it went up, and then down toward
the ground—his hand snapped out and snatched the quarter out of the air.
He held up his closed hand. “Eagle!” he shouted.
She tentatively reached for his hand and peeled open the tiny fist.
The quarter lay in his palm: the eagle shining in the orange sun.
Was it possible that he saw which side was up when he grabbed it . . . or more improbably, could have
picked which side he wanted? She hoped the Lieutenant had recorded that. She should have told him to
keep the data pad trained on her.
-The Fall of Reach by Eric Nylund
This to me has always been a defining moment in the Halo universe. The fate of the world rested on this coin toss. Had he turned up the head, he would not have been chosen as a Spartan, and the war with the covenant would have ended very differently. Halsey never knew if John was luck or skill that let him snatch the Eagle, but whatever it was, it stayed with him throughout his career. It also speaks to the character of John. Perhaps it was his sheer confidence and faith in his abilities that allowed him to defy the odds. Always believing in himself and never letting any adversity stand in the way of completing the mission.
In any case, whether it was luck or skill, it was a lucky eagle. Though, being kidnapped as a six year old, put through military boot camp, and subjected to borderline lethal augmentation doesn’t sound lucky. So let’s just say it was an auspicious eagle.