Every Spartan has their role to play in the Halo universe, some more than others but they all come across as deadly and capable combatants. But one Spartan in particular, often overshadowed by S-117, has always peaked my interest; for while John may have the luck of the universe on his side, Fred, SPARTAN-104, has no such ally.
Little is known of John’s closest rival. But what we do know paints a picture of a more sociable character than our more familiar Master Chief. He takes to heart the impact of combat to those less fortunate, so when a fellow Spartan succumbs to his/her wounds the impact is palpable. Whereas John, the stoic and unflinching protagonist of the trilogy, expects every soldier to perform, giving their all in a seemingly one-sided conflict. There is a sense, sometimes, that John seems almost aloof to the hardship that any combatant has to endure, with one rare exception, Sam-034.
While I’m sure every Spartan-II does feel each and every loss, Fred is noticeably different. Though not the main character in the novel The Ghosts of Onyx, Fred does demonstrate several instances of being introverted and far more personable, but unfortunately we have little opportunity to take this any further as no fictional material currently exists beyond the destruction of Onyx that allows us to better understand Fred or the remaining members of Blue Team. But I like Fred for different reasons.
Unlike John who embodies the almost immortal image of the SPARTAN programme, Fred is vulnerable—a soldier simply doing what he can to sway the outcome of the war. His missions take on what I can only describe as a more realistic expectation of the Spartans in Halo. They are deployed on missions, they succeed or fail and then return to start anew, or as many have done previously, they die in the process. Fred is a Spartan that above all others I hope will survive. You gain a sense that he’s still developing, both as a character and as a soldier—he’s constantly learning. And I’m glad we had the opportunity to see him develop in The Ghosts of Onyx novel. He’s now the most senior serving SPARTAN-II, who happens to command a squad of both generations.
Fred is also an all-round achiever. He’s good at everything. His abilities place him level with John on all things military, but he lacks the luck that our familiar protagonist is blessed with. He was the second best sniper out of all the candidates and has a knack for delivering a plethora of knife-shaped pain and suffering. He’s also a capable squad leader, but unlike John, Fred feels the weight of responsibility on his shoulders. But I do hope to see them both together in future Halo releases, whether they be animated, drawn, written or graphical. I get a sense that while most Spartans work exceptionally well together, a combination of both Fred and John on any mission would be great to see and experience, first hand.
In a way, they are brother-like in their abilities, and their delivery and execution of a mission, perhaps even twin-like. I can imagine them sweeping through an enemy-filled level on some distant planet or ship in a future Halo game, smashing enemies aside with nauseating efficiency.
But if I’m totally honest, I’d just love to see Fred perform a double-knife assassination on some poor unsuspecting foe. “Oh yes, bring on the knives!”