Halo Fiction: Next Level – The Del Rio Predicament

In the 13 or so years of Halo’s existence, the teams behind the franchise have crafted one of the most complex and deep story universes in video game history. Unfortunately, as with the development of any story universe, resources to fully realise the unlimited aspects of the Halo universe are limited, and so limit the number of stories that can and will be told. To fans like myself, this is a sad and unfortunate reality, as there are so many stories and additions to the fiction that will never see the light of day.

This new series will explore the stories likely never to be told, the dilemmas that will never be explored in detail and various other fun & interesting in-depth Halo concepts.

This first post will be exploring the unfortunate fate of Andrew Del Rio, once captain of the greatest ship built by humanity to date.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, Andrew Del Rio is better known to the Halo universe as Halo 4’s captain of the UNSC Infinity, disliked by many fans for his actions on Requiem. During the finalisation of Infinity’s construction Del Rio was selected from a very small group of candidates, FLEETCOM’s “easy choice” for the ship’s captain, having over 30 years of military experience with the UNSC. The events of Halo 4, however, presented the unfortunate captain with a scenario that should only appear in an officer’s worst nightmares.

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Del Rio was granted the highest of honors when he was given command of such a ship, but it is also to be remembered that he also took on responsibility for its protection and that of its crew. Del Rio was an easy pick for the captain’s seat not only for his years of experience, but his reputation for bringing ships back home in one piece. This, however, was to be his curse, as the events on Requiem would force him to make a choice that had massive probability of disaster regardless of which choice he made.

When Infinity and the Forward Unto Dawn both made it to Shield World Requiem in 2557, they discovered not just another tier of Forerunner installations, but a whole new threat altogether – the Didact, a seasoned Forerunner warrior veteran harboring a grudge against humanity. Once human forces had enabled UNSC Infinity to leave Requiem, Del Rio was faced with having to choose between the UNSC’s two greatest assets – the greatest ship they ever produced or the greatest soldier they ever produced.

Knowing the danger posed by the Didact, the Master Chief implored Del Rio to remain on Requiem and take the fight to the Didact; however, Del Rio is a man who follows protocol to the letter, and owes his career to that principle. Protocol in a first contact scenario dictates that Infinity should return to Earth and file a threat assessment with FLEETCOM above all other priorities. Despite John’s insubordination, Del Rio chose to follow protocol, in essence abandoning one valued asset for another – protecting the ship and it’s crew from further damage in a direct assault against an unknown enemy. This course of action led to FLEETCOM’s decision to relieve Del Rio of his command of Infinity, but would the decision or outcome have been any different or better if he had chosen to remain on Requiem with John?

Had he stayed, there would have essentially been two outcomes. The first would be the utter destruction of Infinity at the hands of the Covenant and Promethean forces, the second being a successful attack resulting in the death or capture of the Didact and the eventual destruction of all enemy forces present.

If we step into his shoes, the choice becomes very difficult. Whilst a lot of us in our self-assured mindsets quite happily say that we would have stayed and fought, given our history and allegiance to the Chief, it’s not that simple. From the perspective of a senior officer, the view becomes very blurred. Staying and fighting carries a very high risk of total failure, given that this is a brand new and unknown threat, the maximum battle capability of which is also unknown. Granted, Infinity packs a lot of firepower, but they would have been taking the fight to a potentially much more battle-capable enemy, on their home turf, with seemingly endless advantages including anti-air defenses, a near-limitless stockpile of infantry and more.

Even had humanity prevailed, and somehow successfully eliminated or captured all enemy forces, the damage to Infinity would have been catastrophic, with a likely high death toll. Had they managed all this and then made it back to Earth, the damage done could have been viewed in the same way as Del Rio’s actual situation was viewed. His judgement would have either resulted in many deaths and damage to their prized ship, or it would have resulted in many deaths in New Phoenix. Regardless of the logic used in making the decision, I’m confident (having looked at the clear lack of assessment made by FLEETCOM of the scenario) that either scenario’s heroics would have been overshadowed by the negative outcomes and Del Rio would have been used as a scapegoat.

In reality, Del Rio made the better decision. Following protocol not only backs him up officially, following all orders to the letter, but it maximized probability of positive outcome. Having explored how very minuscule the probability of success would have been in a scenario where Infinity remained with Master Chief, it’s easy to see that Del Rio’s actions maximized chances of success. Master Chief has already proven his capability in dealing with large threats, so whilst Del Rio is getting Infinity to safety and warning Earth of potential attack (an attack which had a high chance of happening even if Infinity had stayed to fight, given probability of failure on Requiem), Chief can be slowing the Didact’s progress, as he did. As for being penalized for abandoning Chief on Requiem, officially Chief absolved Del Rio from all blame (should he have been killed or lost again after being abandoned) when he disobeyed orders from a senior officer and in effect “deserted” the UNSC. From the point of insubordination, Chief was no longer Del Rio’s official responsibility.

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His actions effectively prepared Earth for attack, in the event that Chief was unable to stop the Didact, whilst ensuring the safety of Infinity – the alternative, had he stayed on Requiem, would have almost certainly resulted in the destruction of Infinity, the deaths of it’s crew and possibly even Chief, and likely an even more severe attack on Earth.

So, having been stripped of his highest honor for making an impossible decision and arriving at the safest possible choice, it is unknown what happened to Del Rio afterward. Does he retire? Being captain of the UNSC’s greatest ship must come with a rather nice pay rate/pension, and being nearly 60 years old, it won’t be long before he retires from active service anyway. Does he desert the UNSC out of embarrassment and frustration, and align himself with one of the growing insurrectionist regimes cropping up again in the Outer Colonies following the end of the Human-Covenant War? Having been in command of such a vessel, he would have possessed highly valuable information to anyone wanting to infiltrate or attack the ship. Does ONI remove this risk and have him *ahem* silenced? Does he narrowly escape this “silencing”, then join the Outer Colonies out of vengeful motives, with ONI effectively creating yet another threat to itself like Halsey and other characters explored in wider fiction? The possibilities are endless…

It’s easy to see how such an idea could form something like a novella, following the events of Halo 4 from Del Rio’s perspective, what happened when he reached Earth, the hearings he would have had after the event and finally his actions/fate after his demotion.

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tl;dr:

  • There’s more to Del Rio’s decision in Halo 4 than we would like to believe
  • He could have jeopardised Infinity, it’s crew, and Earth’s safety to assist Chief, or risk losing Chief and save Infinity whilst warning Earth of the new threat
  • Chief was not Del Rio’s responsibility from the moment he ignored orders and “deserted” the UNSC
  • Del Rio would have been punished and likely demoted regardless of what he did, because he either risks losing the UNSC’s best soldier, or it’s best ship
  • His choice was an impossible one to come out on top of
  • Thank Spartan/Aiden for the tl;dr if you don’t like long posts but love Halo fiction 😛

We hope you enjoyed this in-depth look at one of many possible stories in the Halo universe – now it’s your turn! Tell us what your take on Del Rio’s predicament is, what you thought of the structure of this article, and we’d love for you to have a go yourself! What Halo topics do you think deserve to be explored more than they have been? Explore one yourself and post it in the replies for us all to enjoy!