Frederick King, also known as Agent One and Codename: UNO was a member of the ORION Project's Trident Team in the late 25th Century and an influential figure within the Office of Naval Intelligence for most of his adult life. King was a long-serving ONI agent, in addition to being the man behind the feared Project BRUTUS. Throughout the Human-Covenant War he worked on a number of clandestine operations, including the recruitment of orphaned children to become soldiers for the SPARTAN-III Program and the destruction of several independent human groups working outside of the UNSC's control.
While King never held a particularly high official rank within ONI and did not go for a position of leadership when he had the chance, he remained as a key figure in the intelligence world and was considered an indispensable asset due to his experience and position as head of BRUTUS. In spite of his advanced age, King would continue to directly oversee operations for years after the Human-Covenant War.
After a near-death experience in 2556, King would fall into a coma for almost two years, losing control of his organisation while he was kept safe in an ONI-run medical facility on Asphodel. He would awaken two years later, shortly before the start of a new war against the Created.
"When I was a child, I used to look towards the Earth the same way people would look up at the Moon, hundreds of years ago. It was beautiful, and I knew even then that it was worth protecting."
―King, commenting on his childhood.
Frederick King was born in the city of Crisium on Earth's moon, Luna. Both of his parents taught at the Luna OCS Academy and had served with the UNSC Navy before his birth. Naturally, he was expected to continue the family line of service and was brought up to perform to the highest standards possible. At school Frederick excelled in a number of subjects, though he had very few friends and was seen as rather aloof by many of his peers. Nonetheless, he remained at the top of his class until the age of fifteen, whereupon he left Luna for the first time to be taught at the prestigious Corbulo Academy of Military Science on Circinius IV. While Frederick had excelled in the mental side of his studies, he was physically rather unfit when he arrived and had a great deal of trouble with he training exercises they ran most days at the Academy. After a few months of struggling, he began to perform better in the training simulations and proved to be one of the best shots in his class. By his third year in 2489 King was placed in command of a group of first-year cadets and pushed them hard to succeed in every possible level. While his training methods were seen as slightly harsh even by his teachers, King's group emerged as the best in their year by the time he left Corbulo for good. He was then transferred to the UNSC Navy, where he and many other graduates of the Academy were given an officer's commission.
King's first deployment after leaving Corbulo was as an Ensign aboard the UNSC Las Vegas in 2489. He proved to be a valuable part of the crew and worked hard during his time there. After the theft of the UNSC Callisto in 2490, the Las Vegas was joined by two other ships were sent to find it. While initially hopeful about quickly recovering the stolen vessel, months went by without any sign of the ship and the battlegroup was relegated to moving through the fringes of UNSC-controlled space on what was considered a lost cause. King and many others aboard the Destroyer became frustrated due to this, the young Ensign privately believing that his considerable talents were being wasted on such a task. Following a lengthy correspondence with his parents in December, his influential mother arranged for his transfer to Earth for the start of a new military program.
After arriving on Earth, King was among the original sixty-five test subjects for the UNSC's first supersoldier project, known as ORION. Each candidate was fairly young and fit, though they came from various branches in the UNSC. The training they went through was incredibly fierce, some exercises being much harder than those undertaken by the famed Orbital Drop Shock Troopers in the past. A number of applicants washed out in the early stages of ORION's life, though King and many others endured the harsh training for nearly a year until more candidates were recruited for the project. During this time, he and the others underwent a series of chemical augmentations that increased their strength, speed and stamina to near-superhuman levels. Though he technically outranked a number of his peers within ORION, King's rank was stripped from him alongside all the others to level the playing field and promote cohesiveness within the unit.
Following the first few stages of training, the ORION recruits underwent a series of training missions to prepare for counter-terrorism operations in the outer colonies. King soon found his place as an expert in infiltration and assassination, and was responsible for many successes during this period. In 2495 he and a group of fellow ORION's signed up once more for an Officer Candidate School under the jurisdiction of the UNSC Marine Corps. Though he had some doubts at first, he excelled there and befriended Richard Mack and Daniel Black during this period. King emerged as a Second Lieutenant and was assigned to the newly formed Trident Team in early 2496 under the command of First Lieutenant Anton LaMarche.
In 2496, ORION's first proper engagement took place on Eridanus II as part of Operation: CHARLEMAGNE. Trident was among the first teams on the ground as the mission began, with the entire ORION contingent being deployed shortly after. King served as the team's pointman during CHARLEMAGNE; their skills and chemical augmentations made them an incredibly lethal fighting force that neutralised dozens of hostile soldiers during the course of the operation. CHARLEMAGNE proved to be a massive success against the mounting rebellion and turned the ORION's from just another ONI project to the UNSC's foremost Special Forces operators. Following the mission, Trident and the various other teams were scattered throughout the colonies on numerous engagements against terrorists, rebels and dissenters.
King served as Trident's third in command for several years following CHARLEMAGNE, and got on very well with his team. Like all the others, he looked up to their leader, Anton LaMarche, and followed his orders without question. King seemed to be the most emotionally detached member of the team, and rarely took part in the ethical debates that others like Ackton and Mack often brought up in regards to dealing with the Insurrection. After months of serving with Trident, he did open up somewhat and became much more friendly with the others, Gunnery Sergeant Marion Hollister in particular. This would eventually escalate into a romantic relationship, though the pair kept it secret due to his officer rank and her position as a Non-Commissioned Officer. This did not stop LaMarche from finding out, though he merely asked to make sure that it would not affect King's judgement on the battlefield in later missions.
Trident Team would participate in dozens of operations against Insurrectionist forces, most of which were officially classified by the UNSC. Operations such as BRIMSTONE, SWEEPER and HEART OF DARKNESS were never known outside the ranks of the ORION's themselves, largely due to their sensitive nature and the questionable morality involved while undertaking these operations. King himself was slightly disturbed by the excessive force allowed on these operations, something that teammate Steven Hawkins took advantage of as he tortured and killed a number of enemy prisoners while on operations.
In early 2499 Trident Team were dispatched alongside two other ORION groups to Troy, a notoriously crime-ridden colony world on the edge of colonised space. While there was little in the way of Insurrectionist activity to attract the UNSC's attention, the sheer wealth and power of the crime lords operating within the planet's sprawling cities had pushed the CMA-led government to the brink of collapse. Furthermore, reports of rampant human trafficking, drug trading and weapon dealing had been found across Troy, prompting a swift response from the UNSC before news leaked to the Inner Colony media, who were already highly critical of their rather harsh methods and supposed neglect of the Outer Colonies. After they arrived, Trident Team split up; King, Hawkins and Mack were joined my Teresa Morrison and Daniel Black in an operation to break up what was assumed to be a major smuggling ring in one of Troy's more populous cities that had been dubbed 'SPARTACUS'.
Under cover of night, the ORION's moved in on an inner city compound where over a hundred individuals were attending a 'pit fight' - a horrific bloodsport in which children were forced to fight to the death while bets were made. Sickened by this discovery, they eliminated the guards and made a full assault on the inner compound, gunning down those who resisted while the local police surrounded the local area. In their first night on Troy they were responsible for the arrest of over sixty people, with dozens of casualties and thousands of credits worth of illegal contraband being confiscated. Furthermore, a group of captive children, badly affected by their treatment, were freed from the fighting pit by King and the others. While at first they believed that the main source of crime on Troy had been taken out, evidence taken from a heavily-interrogated captive revealed that there was a massive black market operating out of an abandoned refinery in another city.
The following night, their team arrived at the location heavily armed and prepared to face a veritable army of criminals that had most likely been made aware of their presence on Troy by this point. However, in spite of their fears the ORION's were able to easily gain access to the refinery, killing nearly two dozen people. After confirming the presence of stolen weaponry, the team discovered the entrance to an underground complex beneath the main building. Against King's warnings Mack did not report it to command and led them into the tunnels while an ARGUS drone searched for explosive devices. Upon emerging in a vast underground chamber, the team came across a massive crowd of people watching another pit fight between two children. With barely a moment's hesitation they opened fire on the spectators, using grenade launchers and assault rifle fire to massacre all that stood in their way while dozens more attempted to flee the arena. Having seen first-hand the depravity of these people, King felt little remorse even as Hawkins butchered the wounded with his machete and others were blown to pieces as they tried to flee. However, when a group did surrender to the ORIONs, Mack simply gave the order to wipe them all out.
Though they carried out the order, even King felt that his superior had overstepped the line as their captives were executed by Hawkins and Morrison. Ignoring their protests, Mack then went into the arena himself and disarmed a young boy before ordering King and Black to free the others. They exited the refinery with a number of freed captives and nearly all of their ammunition spent. The massacre was immediately sealed off by ONI, who kept it a secret even from the local law enforcement. Following the mission, King watched as Lieutenant Black denounced Mack as a war criminal for his actions and began to question his own role in what had been a merciless slaughter; the blood was on his hands as much as it was on his comrades. While Mack and Morrison seemed to regret their actions, Black despising his superior for the order and Hawkins simply not caring about what they had done, King attempted to rationalise the killings as necessary in their line of work; the lives of over a hundred criminals meant nothing if it kept the UNSC could avoid more bad publicity. Operation: SPARTACUS affected Frederick King more than any other participant, even if he did not talk about it or reveal just how much it had left its mark on him.
In late 2499, following a successful operation on Biko, King and three other members of Trident were given several weeks of leave on Reach while the rest of the team took part in an operation on the far-off world of Heimdall. On November 3rd, however, King and his comrades were ambushed and taken into custody by groups ONI acquisition teams; the ORION managed to incapacitate three agents, who he had mistaken for Insurrectionists, before he was subdued. Waking up in a cell in ONI SWORD Base, he discovered that the rest of Trident Team had taken part in an armed takeover of the top-secret military base on Heimdall and had allowed a large group of rebels to enter the facility. Despite having no knowledge of this beforehand, King and the others were under suspicion of knowing of Captain LaMarche's intentions beforehand and faced lifelong imprisonment or execution were they to be found guilty. It was here that King first met Admiral Konrad Volkov and Commander Margaret Parangosky, who would be directly overseeing their mission.
After King, Redford, Ackton and Mack had been interrogated, the decision was made that the four men would clear their name by ending the revolt on Heimdall and eliminating the traitorous ORION's. After reviewing footage from the facility, it appeared that Marion Hollister had either been killed or imprisoned for not going along with LaMarche, Hawkins and Crowley. Upon learning this, King became much more withdrawn than usual as he mentally prepared himself to kill his former comrades and was much more at ease with carrying out his orders than the others were. On November 6th, the team made a drop from low orbit using parafoils and combat suits to survive the jump. As they approached the facility, known as the 'Ouroboros Station', the team came under heavy fire from anti-air emplacements, scattering them they moved in to land. During the descent, the rebels made use of a prototype EMP cannon to disable one of ONI's communication satellites, which also took out the electronics in their suits. Having lost track of his teammates, King attempted to land as close to the base as possible, though a near-miss from an AA gun perforated his parafoil and forced him to eject. While the deep snow around the base cushioned his fall somewhat, he was rendered unconscious as he crashed onto a nearby rooftop.
King was taken to the facility's brig and had his weapons and armour confiscated, waking up hours later with no injuries. Shortly after, LaMarche, Crowley, Hawkins, and the Insurrectionist leader, Oleg Lombardi entered his cell in an attempt to have King cooperate with them in apprehending the remaining members of Trident without incident. Naturally, he refused and was badly beaten by Crowley with a stun rod as his captors left. Unable to escape and taunted with the uncertain fate of Marion Hollister, King could only sit and wait for the opportunity to strike back. During his period of incarceration he was contacted by Commander Parangosky via their backup communicators, which had been hardened against possible EMP attack. She informed him that his team mates were working to retake the facility without him, but would be informed of his survival. It was not until some time later that the facility's AI released him, whereupon he came across Hollister and Richard Mack subduing the nearby guards. After a brief reunion, he and Hollister went off to intercept Hawkins, who intended to take Harold Redford hostage to make the ORION team surrender.
En-route to the medical wing where Redford lay unconscious, King and Hollister encountered Hawkins within a prototype suit of powered armour, codenamed HAUBERK. Though fairly crude, the suit allowed for for greater strength and mobility, and he used a large chunk of Titanium-A battleplate for protection in battle. Their traitorous teammate pursued the pair into a set of nearby offices, where King fought a losing battle against the suit. Eventually he was cornered and would have died had it not been for Hollister severing the suit's power cord. Having lost his advantage, Hawkins managed to briefly overpower King and fled through the facility, striking Hollister as he ran. Seeing her injured, King gave chase and was able to badly wound the man with his assault rifle. Following an increasingly bloody trail towards the Ouroboros Station's medical wing, the pair found Hawkins taking a newly-awakened Redford hostage. Luckily, their comrade feigned sluggishness long enough for his captor to let his guard down, allowing him to easily escape and for King to land a fatal blow to Hawkins' chest.
Still furious at Hawkins, King demanded to know why the dying man had betrayed the UNSC, and was even angrier upon being told by him that he hadn't defected for political reasons and merely enjoyed fighting. As such, he shot Hawkins in the head, ending the life of a man he saw as a waste of talent. Contacting Parangosky, they reported Hawkins' death and received news that John Ackton has arrived at the station after blowing up the front gate with a brick of C-12. While they had planned to move to the command room and assist Mack in confronting LaMarche and the station's rogue AI Alexander, King and the others were attacked by a group of surviving rebels by the vehicle bay and were pinned down for a short period until Ackton arrived to reinforce them, carrying Crowley's comatose body. Though King suggested they kill the traitor and leave him, the others insisted that he stand trial for his actions. Moments later, they were contacted once more by a worried Parangosky as alarms sounded throughout the base and given orders to leave immediately due to several nuclear devices being armed. The group quickly loaded themselves onto an M831 Warthog and left the base as quickly as possible, heading down the snowy mountain in an attempt to escape the blast radius.
Several miles away from the facility they were picked up by the same Condor that had inserted them at the start of the mission and Parangosky herself, who briefly told them that she had been forced to incapacitate an increasingly unhinged Admiral Volkov before they took off in search of Mack and the facility's only surviving scientist, Doctor Calvin Roe. With minutes to spare, they found them and the corpse of Anton LaMarche in a snowfield on the other side of the nearby mountains, by an escape tunnel. The Ouroboros Station was completely destroyed in the explosion as they departed Heimdall, their mission complete. Though his part in the conflict's resolution was fairly minor compared to that of Richard Mack, King privately received the Legion of Honor for his valour and had some time off towards the end of the year, during which he reflected on his current life within the UNSC. Partially blaming himself for not seeing LaMarche's betrayal sooner, he vowed to remain constantly vigilant for any signs of dissent towards the UNSC or UEG and wished to prevent future defection.
Following the Heimdall Incident and the dawn of the 26th Century, Trident Team's more heroic exploits had been revealed to the media by ONI's Section II in an attempt to raise support for the UNSC's actions in the developing Outer Colonies. While Mack and Ackton continued their service in the Marine Corps under ORION's jurisdiction and both Hollister and Redford retired, King was offered a place within ONI by Admiral Konrad Volkov. He accepted, and was given the naval rank of Lieutenant Commander before being set to work under the recently-promoted Captain Margaret Parangosky. The two worked well together, and orchestrated a number of covert operations until 2504 when Parangosky integrated the almost defunct Department of Colonial Security into ONI and began to build up a significant powerbase within Naval Intelligence.
Seeing Parangosky's slow rise to power, King came to her in early 2505 with the initial proposals for Project BRUTUS. Due to the rising tide of Insurrection and dissent among the colonies due to various reasons, even ONI's field agents and spies were finding it hard to root out potential threats to colonial security in time. As such, BRUTUS would scatter agents across multiple colony worlds, recruiting potential applicants at a fairly young age rather than choosing from a pre-existing force of either Intelligence or Military assets. Once planted, BRUTUS agents would spy on the general populace and target those who wished to incite rebellion against the UEG before alerting their commanders and discreetly murdering figures of authority; cutting off the head of any potential uprising before it even began. Though she had her initial misgivings about BRUTUS, Parangosky trusted King enough to give his project the go-ahead, placing its agents under the DCS officially. King then recruited a dozen agents, numbering each of them according to seniority with himself as 'Agent One'.
For the next few years, this small cadre of assassins and infiltrators eliminated dozens of potential threats within UEG space, mostly disguising their actions as simple accidents or leaving criminal scapegoats for the local authorities to blame. King himself rarely participated in such operations, and spent most of his time travelling between BRUTUS' headquarters on Luna and a mental hospital on the planet Harpa, where his old team mate and lover Marion Hollister had ended up after a severe mental breakdown as a side effect of her ORION augmentations years before. Though initially unstable and very violent, King's presence calmed Marion with regular visits to the facility and by 2509 she was given a clean bill of health and allowed to leave. With Parangosky's permission, King set up a BRUTUS command post on Harpa shortly before he got married. Though Marion had greatly recovered in the past few years, the psychological damage rendered her unfit to return to active duty and she settled down into civilian life while King continued to direct the slowly-growing BRUTUS group, which he wished to keep at a manageable fifteen members for the time being.
In 2511, Marion gave birth to their first son, Kane. Both were overjoyed at this, though King's constant work kept him away from his wife and child for lengthy periods. Marion did not seem to mind much as she busied herself with looking after the baby. Shortly after Kane's birth, ONI agents visited King and informed him that due to their status as ORION augmentees they would have to subject Kane to a series of injections to ensure that he had no growth defects or other issues passed down from his parents. This was done secretly and without Marion's knowledge, as King knew how much she mistrusted ONI and would not allow them near their child if she knew. By 2513, the issue of Insurrection had finally been matched in the Colonies by a massive wave of crime, spread by the arrival of a new designed drug called 'Rocket'. Initial analysis proved that it had been derived from the augmentation drugs some terrorist groups used to fight UNSC forces, giving it heavy links to the elusive United Rebel Front.
As his BRUTUS agents could not afford risking their cover to bust every Rocket manufacturer in the Outer Colonies, King was placed in charge of the newly-dubbed Operation: MASQUERADE, an attempt to strike at the main source of the drug. To do this, he recruited a special team made for infiltration and covert operations, consisting of his former comrade Harold Redford, Henry McNair, Abd-al-Qadir ibn Asad, Vivian Harris, Samantha Jones, Markus Jensun and Leonard, an AI. King personally visited and ensured that each member of this team remained loyal to their mission, but otherwise allowed the group to go about their business in the Outer Colonies for some time until Redford activated a beacon that brought both King and a large special forces team in to clear out the remaining criminals and their contacts in the Insurrection. The mission was a resounding success, though the team did take losses and one member in particular had to spend over a month aboard the UNSC Hopeful to recover from his injuries. Following MASQUERADE, King discreetly oversaw the construction of Lion's Claw, a Private Military Company that would specialise in security operations throughout the colonies and was willing to carry out actions that the UNSC could not do. While he allowed the group to run under the command of Abd-al-Quadir ibn Asad, ONI kept a close eye on the mercenaries as they destroyed rebel stronghold after stronghold with brutal efficiency in the following years. Though MASQUERADE was a success, King's forceful manner of recruitment and implied threats more or less ended his friendship with Harold Redford; the two parted on bad terms after King implied he would try to recruit Harold's son into ONI within a few years, which prompted a violent outburst in Redford.
SIGMA and SPARTAN-III
"Our son has more potential than either of us, Marion! He and the other children will grow up to save mankind from itself, something ORION could never have accomplished on its own. You have to understand that it's all for the greater good here; to think otherwise would be selfish, no better than those bastards we're fighting!"
―King attempting to justify his actions in 2517
Following the widespread vaccination program conducted across the Outer Colonies by the CAA in 2516, King was made aware of the existence of a secret project, codenamed SPARTAN-II. He found the idea of a successor project to ORION interesting in spite of the huge ethical issues, particularly regarding the abduction of children, dangerous augmentation procedures and use of flash cloning as proposed by Doctor Catherine Halsey, the project's creator. In early 2517 King came into possession of the list of 150 potential candidates for the program, which to his surprise contained his own young son, Kane. However, the fairly limited budget at the time for SPARTAN-II meant that only half the subjects could be recruited, including King's child. As he could not publicly put forward Kane into the program on Reach, he visited Doctor Calvin Roe, a famed scientist on Earth whose works in engineering and robotics had been repeatedly overshadowed by the younger Halsey's own work. While there, he revealed the plans for SPARTAN-II to Roe knowing full well of his dislike for Halsey, and then suggested that he speak to Parangosky in private regarding plans for an extension of SPARTAN-II, codenamed Project SIGMA.
Using their friendship with Parangosky and her adversarial nature towards Halsey, Roe and King were able to attain permission and funding from ONI to conduct Project SIGMA in secret, on Earth. Using data taken from the SPARTAN-II training on Earth, they could conduct their own experiments on a much smaller target group of twenty children, which included the young Kane, now known as SPARTAN-098. Furthermore, Parangosky was pleased to hear that their first choice for a trainer was none other than Richard Mack Senior, a close friend of hers. Shortly after the main SPARTAN-II candidates were abducted, King had his own BRUTUS agents orchestrate the kidnapping and replacement of the SIGMA children, replacing them with flash clones that would quickly die. King personally drugged and abducted his own son before placing him on a transport towards Earth, ensuring that he could stay with Marion on Harpa to deal with what came next. As Kane's flash clone began to grow weaker over the following weeks, Marion realised that something was incredibly wrong with her son and eventually confronted her husband, realising that he had done something to Kane. King tried to explain to Marion how their son would grow into the perfect soldier that neither of them ever were, truly believing that they would save mankind from civil war and destruction given enough time. He saw it as his duty to offer his only child into service, continuing to do his part for Earth and the UEG.
Marion's reaction to this news was to viciously attack King, breaking his arm and slashing him across the face with a knife in a brief but intense fight before fleeing as he pulled a gun on her. Disturbed by the noise, Kane's flash clone then entered the room and was pleased to see his 'father'. After a brief conversation with the cloned child, King shot him dead with his handgun, seeing it as a kinder death than simply allowing the flash clone to deteriorate and die over the next few weeks before calling for an ONI cleanup crew to dispose of the corpse. Enraged at his wife's disappearance, King immediately gave the order for BRUTUS to find and kill her as he recovered. After nearly two months with no trace of Marion, he eventually cancelled the assassination order and returned to his work. Without a family to worry him, Frederick King soon made a great deal of progress personally overseeing his agent's work in the Outer Colonies for a number of years. He never once enquired about the state of Kane's training on Earth, feeling that it would be for the best if he was never even aware of his existence. By 2525, he felt that BRUTUS would possibly face shutdown in the face of SPARTAN-II's impending activation. Though it was an incredibly effective force in preventing Insurrectionist uprisings, its field agents numbered at less than twenty, with several dozen support agents working behind the scenes. However, the arrival of the Covenant and the Battle of Chi Ceti in late 2525 ensured that the freshly-trained SPARTAN-II's would be diverted to engage this new alien threat, prompting more funding for BRUTUS to deploy more agents as news of the war spread through the Outer Colonies and people began to panic.
Not long after plans for BRUTUS' expansion arrived, King received the news that his old friend Harold Redford had been killed after re-enlisting in the military to fight on Harvest. Shortly after, he attended a memorial service for the man on Earth, where he met his son Alexander, a doctor. Deciding to make good use of Harold's child, King approached Alexander and spoke to him at length about his history with his father, before eventually offering him the chance to become a BRUTUS agent. Still grieving and eager to take action in his father's name, Alexander Redford signed up and became 'Agent Nineteen'. Over the next few years King oversaw the training of many new BRUTUS agents, expanding to forty active members by 2529. It was this year that King's imprisoned squadmate Tobias Crowley was finally released from prison after a thirty-year sentence and began a solitary life on Reach. Not willing to forget how Crowley had tortured him and Marion during the Heimdall Incident, he dispatched Agents 32 and 38 to eliminate Crowley. To King, this was not a punishment, but a kindness; putting down an old, broken man who should have died decades ago. Though their target was killed, 38 perished in the attack, giving King some modicum of respect for his former friend for going out fighting.
In 2531, King's BRUTUS agents were recalled by ONI on the direct orders of Admiral Parangosky, who revealed to him that Colonel James Ackerson had proposed a new supersoldier initiative, named SPARTAN-III. Though he had barely interacted with Ackerson, King knew of his shady reputation and shared his pragmatism when it came to fighting the war. The prospect of entire companies of augmented child soldiers for suicide missions was to King a much harder moral problem when compared to the dangerous but long-lasting SPARTAN-II Program, but he conceded that such actions had to be taken if humanity and the UNSC were to survive the war. For over a month, King personally travelled round with a cadre of BRUTUS agents under the guise of a Major in the Marine Corps to orphanages across what remained of the Outer Colonies and recruited children who truly wanted revenge on the Covenant for the deaths of their parents and countless others in their genocidal campaigns. To him, it was their choice to join SPARTAN-III that made them worthy of the program, though he would often encourage the children with assurances that they would become heroes, fighting the 'monsters' and saving mankind. Following the recruitment process, he had them sent off to Onyx to be trained for several years.
"Captain King, were it not for your own remarkable service history and the excellent results your organisation produces, the Admiralty Board would likely have you shot for your actions. Your utter disregard for the safety of our operatives and selfish priorities very nearly endangered both the Inner Colonies and Earth itself in spite of the mission's success. None of our hands are clean in ONI, Captain, but you seem to be under the delusion that you are something you're not: a hero."
―Rear Admiral Ned Rich, speaking during King's hearing following RISING DRAGON.
As the Human-Covenant War wore on, BRUTUS proved itself time and time again as King's agents put down uprisings and quelled riots as millions of refugees flooded into the Inner Colonies away from the Covenant's relentless advance. King spent a great deal of his time on the move aboard his Prowler, the Heavens Asunder. From there he and his command staff oversaw BRUTUS' operations across multiple systems and were able to keep track of . It was during this period that he first began to consider a successor among his finest agents. By this point, three stood out: Agent 19, Agent 20 and Agent 32. As his most accomplished field agents, King kept a close eye on them and often give the three the hardest assignments to fulfil. However, he had little time to meet any of his agents personally as many were constantly away, and time spent grooming one candidate to become the head of BRUTUS would take them out of action for far too long for his liking. As such, King simply elected to wait until the end of the war before making his decision.
While many of his agents underwent regular psychological evaluations between missions, King began to notice signs of clear fatigue in several deployed in the field. Due to the stress of maintaining a low profile and adopting a completely different persona between missions, four agents went AWOL within the space of a year. Due to the need to keep BRUTUS a complete secret from the general public, he dispatched over a dozen operatives to track down the missing agents and bring them back to the fold. One had committed suicide, while two others refused to return and had to be killed by his agents. The fourth, Agent 20, had managed to elude BRUTUS for over a year until he was spotted on the colony world of Illios. Annoyed that one of his best agents had apparently left the organisation to start a family, King dispatched Agent 19 to bring him in - alive or dead. While some part of him wanted 20 to resist and die for betraying BRUTUS, he was pleasantly surprised when Redford's mission was a complete success and welcomed his old comrade back into the fold, though he no longer considered 20 to be fit for any type of command role within BRUTUS in the future.
With Admiral Parangosky's permission, BRUTUS underwent a series of expansions by 2541 that gave the organisation a massive boost in funding and forty-five new field agents to deploy across the remaining colonies. With reports of the Insurrection attempting to stir up trouble and raid supply bases in the previously near-untouchable Inner Colonies, the men and women under King's command continued their operations in secret. To King and several others within ONI, BRUTUS' harsh actions truly helped to keep the UEG in control of their remaining colony worlds while the UNSC continued to fight a losing battle against the Covenant. King was personally impressed with reports of the SPARTAN-II's and III's in the field, as in spite of the latter's usage for suicide missions the supersoldiers had proven to be the UNSC's most effective weapon in the field and had struck fear into the hearts of Covenant troops across multiple battlefields. King did briefly attempt to secure the chemical augmentations used in Project CHRYSANTHEMUM for use on his own BRUTUS operatives, but was unsuccessful in his endeavour.
In 2546, King received a desperate transmission from one of his field agents operating on the fairly isolated colony world of Kroedis II. While the agent had been undercover investigating a terrorist cell that had been dealing in stolen Covenant weaponry, the group had apparently discovered a number of artefacts neither human nor Covenant in origin. While King had been aware that ruins of a long-extinct alien civilisation had been discovered and heavily classified by ONI in the past, this message seemed to infer that his agent had discovered a true game-changer; something with the potential to end the Human-Covenant War once and for all. As such, he immediately initiated Operation: RISING DRAGON and mobilised all the forces under his command to secure the artefact before it fell into Insurrectionist - or worse, Covenant hands. Though most high-level BRUTUS agents could not be redeployed in time, he managed to secure a small group of his finest men and women to act as his direct subordinates for this operation.
The withdrawal of a number of undercover agents and quick redeployment of over a hundred members of ONI Security to Kroedis II did not go unnoticed by others within the organisation, though King had already left Earth in the Heavens Asunder by the time any of his superiors tried to contact him. Though the colony world was home to over fifteen million people, a great deal of it was still unexplored, allowing a number of illegal organisations to set up small outposts on the frontier. Tracking down their missing agent's emergency beacon, King's men discovered one such base high in a mountainous region, apparently unguarded. They were able to quickly land troops and move in, only to find the entire base empty. After a 24-hour search of the facility was carried out, King himself landed to supervise the operation himself. His troops had discovered the entrance to what appeared to be a facility of unknown origin built into the mountain, though initial samples suggested that it had been buried over the millennia and only recently re-discovered. Furthermore, security logs from those living at the base showed signs of battle against what appeared to be machines of an unknown origin before every single person was forcibly taken into the now-closed structure. Surmising that the rebels had been excavating a massive subterranean structure before they were attacked, King began to oversee efforts to re-open the sealed doors and uncover what lay below.
After spending three days in an encampment attempting various methods of entry that would not risk collapsing the caverns around them, one of King's men was able to unlock the sealed door simply by pressing his bare hand against it. Wary of how these ancient aliens seemed to react to human DNA, he dispatched a platoon of soldiers to search the area while he attempted to make contact with one of the colony world's cities for support. When there was no response, he attempted to contact an orbiting Destroyer to no avail. It was shortly after this that news arrived that a sizeable Covenant fleet had arrived in-system and were attacking Kroedis II, and much to King's dismay a number of enemy dropships were picked up heading towards the mountains where the alien construct lay. Attempting to remain hidden, King's forces withdrew into the mountains and descended deeper into the structure, where his forces had uncovered a vast facility built for an unknown purpose. As they proceeded, King's forces discovered the still-living remnants of the Insurrectionist outpost, kept comatose within tubes that lined the facility's walls. The machines which had taken them seemed dormant, however, and did not bother them.
Soon after, a large Covenant force arrived and ran into a number of traps set on King's orders. After hours of throwing cannon fodder at their defences they finally breached the main structure, enraged to find humans on what they saw as holy ground. Though heavily outnumbered, the ONI forces used their superior positions and the Covenant's unwillingness to damage the structure to their advantage, making them fight for every inch of ground and using demolition charges to bring down parts of the roof on their foe. As time wore on, however, the group began to take heavy casualties and had to secure alien weaponry as ammunition ran dry. King himself joined the fray and was responsible for fending off a large wave of Sangheili attackers that attempted to flank their main group. Eventually, he and the survivors had been forced into a large chamber with only a single entrance and no means of escape. Alongside Alexander Redford, King attempted to lead one final push against their enemy. Though they were partially successful, they ran into a number of Hunters and were pushed into the room housing the alien machines. In desperation, King attempted to access a control panel. Surprisingly, it responded to his touch and the machines activated, immediately attacking human and Covenant troops alike.
In the confusion that followed, King led the surviving members of his expedition forward as the Covenant turned their attention to the machines. Escaping into the main chamber and avoiding open conflict, they managed to flee into the outer tunnels through a side passage. There, they discovered dozens of dead Covenant soldiers and a single, black-armoured soldier: a SPARTAN-II. Though the survivors were overjoyed to see the supersoldier, King knew that the presence of a Spartan meant that ONI cared enough to ensure that he made it out alive - for better or for worse. They followed the Spartan out through the tunnels and back into the camp, where a number of Pelican dropships had launched a surprise attack on the Covenant landing site and taken out their transports. King boarded the Heavens Asunder with the others and took off, heading for orbit where a UNSC Destroyer awaited them. During the trip, the Spartan identified herself as Elena-071 and informed King that she was under strict orders to take him before an ONI council back on Earth. Realising that he was almost certainly in trouble for his rash actions, King accepted what was to come and once the other survivors had been dropped off, travelled alone with Elena for his trial.
In spite of his actions, the Spartan got along well with King. They both shared a pragmatic attitude and an intense loyalty towards the UNSC; King noticed that she seemed more like an ONI agent herself than just a regular Spartan. They spoke for a time regarding Project SIGMA; in spite of Elena's insistence on it being classified information, King revealed that he knew almost everything about the project and its progenitors. Upon their arrival at HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-Six in Sydney, Australia, King left his personal Prowler in Elena's hands for future missions, stating that there was a good chance he wouldn't need it after his meeting with the council. As expected, he was handcuffed and brought into a meeting room to explain his actions. Though those judging him were deliberately kept in the shadows, he soon identified them as Admiral Margaret Parangosky, Admiral Ned Rich, Colonel James Ackerson, Rear Admiral Aaron Gibson, and to his great surprise, Brigadier General Richard Mack Senior. With the exception of Mack, all involved were high-ranking members of ONI, wielding enough power and influence to destroy both his career and end his life if necessary. After a short introduction, King was asked to retell the events of Operation: RISING DRAGON from his perspective.
Once he had made his account, the council relayed a list of charges brought against him. This included insubordination, theft of military resources and unauthorised personnel deployment, among other things. King denied these allegations, stating that although he had acted rashly, any delay on his part would have meant the loss of alien artefacts with the potential to tip the balance of power in a war that mankind was clearly losing. However, he could not verify his claims as no such item could be found before the Covenant arrived. He was then told that as more enemy forces attacked the site, it was completely obliterated with a HAVOK tactical nuke to deny further access as Kroedis II had swiftly fallen under alien assault. By the time of King's trial, the colony world had already been glassed. As neither the Covenant or UNSC could claim the facility, RISING DRAGON was considered a failure. Furthermore, King's blatant disregard for proper protocol during the mission could have endangered other colonies or Earth itself had Elena-071 not arrived when she had, and in spite of King's repeated proclamations that he initiated the operation for the greater good, Admiral Rich dismissed him as little more than an aged glory hound looking to become a hero. Many personnel had been lost on the fruitless expedition; their deaths all King's fault. Though he remained mostly silent during the barrage of insults and accusations, King believed that the losses were merely collateral damage and that had he not initiated RISING DRAGON, the potential risk from the Covenant holding whatever secrets lay within the site was too great to ignore.
After a number of hours, those gathered on the council eventually decided on King's fate. Both Parangosky and Mack cited his excellent service record and dedication as outweighing his mistakes, while Ackerson agreed with King's assessment that leaving the site in Covenant hands would not be an acceptable outcome. Gibson, well aware of how indispensable King had made himself as the head of BRUTUS, suggested a minor punishment; any lesser agent would have certainly faced imprisonment for a failure like this. Rich was the hardest to convince, and after some deliberation with others on the council agreed that King would never rise above his current rank of Captain, nor would he hold any office within ONI outside of BRUTUS. With that, he was free to go. RISING DRAGON was in King's eyes, his biggest failure, though the comments from Rich and the council bothered him the most. While his mistakes had been punished, he felt personally offended by the way his loyalty had been brought into question when he had personally risked his own life on a mission. Out of spite, he had several of his agents spy on Admiral Rich for some time following the incident, hoping to catch his primary accuser for some misdemeanour.
A few months after his trial, the Battle of New Llanelli occurred. Though he rarely paid great attention to news of the UNSC's defeats, King discovered that his old friend John Ackton had perished while fighting the Covenant, leaving only he and Richard Mack Senior as Trident Team's active members; Marion had not been seen in decades and was presumed dead by ONI. It was at Ackton's funeral several weeks after the battle that he first encountered Richard Mack Junior, the son of his former commanding officer. Mack Junior, then a Gunnery Sergeant within the ODST unit Whiskey-04, was a lot more sociable than his father and conversed with King for some time and appeared to have similar ideals to the venerable ONI agent. After some time, Mack Junior informed King that he had worked with the SPARTAN-II's of Sigma Team on multiple occasions, unaware that one of the group was King's own son. While he hadn't seen Kane in person since the day he'd handed his six year old child to the SIGMA project, he felt somewhat proud that the children of Trident Team were fighting alongside each other. The two spoke for some time on matters of colonial self-rule and the UNSC's place in the galaxy before departing. Feeling as though he had found a kindred spirit of sorts, King had Whiskey-04 marked for tracking by BRUTUS and wished to ensure that his old comrade's son survived the war, seemingly hopeless though it was.
As the war dragged on and colony after colony slowly fell to the Covenant, King found his operatives in more danger from the Covenant than the human rebel groups they were sent to infiltrate. A number of agents died in surprise alien attacks alongside millions of civilians, and it soon became clear that with their foe's unrelenting advance, BRUTUS' usefulness was waning. As such, he withdrew as many agents as he could towards the Inner Colonies and the Sol System itself while privately planning ways to survive should Covenant attack on Earth take place. For King, the preservation of the UEG and UNSC was paramount, and so worked with several others within ONI on Operation: LIFEBOAT, a secretive plan to escape Earth aboard several Phoenix-class colony ships with as many important documents and personnel as possible to ensure mankind's continued survival should its homeworld be lost. LIFEBOAT was kept a secret from much of the top brass and even the UNSC Security Council, and was run through several private contractors over the course of three years. Colonel James Ackerson was also made aware of the project, though King was unsure of the man's trustworthiness as news of his vocal outbursts against the SPARTAN-II Program reached him.
In early 2552, news reached King about the Battle of Harpa and the death of Richard Mack Senior. Having lost one of his oldest friends along with two SPARTAN-II's in the bloody engagement, King's faith in the UNSC's ability to win the war was severely shaken. In spite of his absolute loyalty to their cause, King began to divert more of his resources toward LIFEBOAT, including various things meant to preserve mankind's history should the Covenant ever reach Earth. After Mack's funeral he attempted to talk to Mack Junior into coming to Earth to help with the project, but the grieving ODST refused and insisted that his place was on the frontlines. By August and the beginning of the Fall of Reach, King was all but certain that there was no way to win the war through conventional methods. His last transmission from the planet was a communique sent from Doctor Calvin Roe; a hurried, tearful recording of the man's immense guilt over SIGMA and other numerous projects over the years. Days later it was confirmed that he was among the millions of casualties that had been inflicted during the battle, and though King dismissed Roe's recording as the final thoughts of a broken man unable to see how his crimes had benefited the many, he neglected to delete it and kept a hard copy as a reminder of another fallen friend.
Battle of Earth
When the Covenant attacked Earth in October of 2552, King had recalled as many BRUTUS agents as possible to PILLAR Base, a top-secret military base and storage facility built deep beneath Mount Everest. There they worked for some time to roll out every possible weapon to defend the planet, including both prototype weapons and outdated technology kept in storage. While some of his agents believed that LIFEBOAT was a selfish plan designed to save only a few hundred thousand, King believed that as a mission of last resort, such actions would be necessary. With the colony ships situated in a Brazilian shipyard across the planet, he personally took a force there to defend them as evacuees poured in from nearby cities. While the largest concentration of Covenant vessels landed in Kenya, multiple ships swept across the other continents, laying waste to large swathes of land via plasma bombardment. King took advantage of the disarray in UNSC communications to divert local Marine forces to his location and led a successful defence of the shipyards, eliminating a large infantry force in the process.
From the bridge of one of the Phoenix-class ships, King and his agents plotted their escape vector away from Earth. As Covenant vessels still fought battles across the Sol system and alien battlecruisers patrolled the planet's skies, he did not want to risk a launch until it was that or die. This was mostly due to them awaiting a window of opportunity to depart, and - while King would not publicly admit it - partly due to some small sense of hope as news of Spartan activity drifted in over the long-range COM. After several days of indecisiveness, King finally gave the order to launch as a CCS-Class Battlecruiser was spotted moving towards their location. Intending to outrun the vessel, King did not anticipate a wave of enemy dropships that hit the now-undefended spaceport, crippling the engines of one of the three vessels before boarding his. The defenders fought valiantly as they attempted to leave Earth's atmosphere, only to be hit a number of times by plasma torpedo fire. Evading a second volley from the battlecruiser, the crew were forced to make a crash landing in the Pacific Ocean.
King fully expected to die aboard the near-useless ship as the battlecruiser approached, only to see it ripped apart from the inside by a series of massive explosions. Moments later, he was contacted by Alex-A121, Martin-A136 and Louie-A199, the last surviving SIGMA SPARTAN-III's. Much to his surprise, he recalled Martin as one of the children he had personally recruited for the program many years before and thanked the Spartans for their timely rescue. They explained that the battlecruiser's relentless pursuit of King's ship had given them time to board it in a captured Phantom and leave a HAVOK nuke inside its hangar, slipping away in minutes before they were ever detected. Though a number of refugees on board had died, many survived and were airlifted by a wave of transport ships while King and his BRUTUS agents joined the Spartans as they headed towards HIGHCOM's Bravo Six facility, where most of the remaining UNSC brass had gathered.
Though LIFEBOAT had utterly failed, the devastation across Earth meant that none among the depleted Security Council even asked King about the operation; his presence as a venerable figure among the intelligence community made him an invaluable asset in coordinating whatever resistance remained on Earth as the battle continued to drag on. Following the sudden truce with the Sangheili and the return of SPARTAN-117 in November, the remaining UNSC leaders were able to consolidate their forces while they awaited news from the military force dispatched to the Ark. While helpless against the threat of Halo, King could at least concentrate on assisting in the distribution of his own agents among the civilian populace in a number of countries to prevent dissent within the newly-established refugee camps. By late December, the victorious UNSC and Sangheili force returned with news that the Covenant, which had brought untold death and destruction over the last few decades, was finally defeated. While hostilities were not officially ceased until March of 2553, news quickly spread that the war had ended. While overjoyed like everyone else, King's thoughts immediately returned to his job of suppressing Insurrection. Shortly after the ceasefire, he put in a request for eighty new BRUTUS field agents that was quickly granted by Admiral Parangosky, who shared his paranoia over the possibility of rebels attempting to take advantage of the war's end to stir up trouble once more.
Siege of Yawada
With humanity getting back on its feet, BRUTUS proved to be more valuable than ever in the first few years after the Human-Covenant War. Eager to put the failure of LIFEBOAT behind him, King had his new agents covertly join the first recolonisation ships to depart the Sol System in search of planets to reclaim. The sudden prominence of Venezia as a haven for criminals and rebels made it a prime target for his agency, though the close-knit militia group there proved difficult to infiltrate. Deeming Venezia too corrupt to be taken down with the simple elimination of certain personnel, he ordered his agents to simply maintain their cover until the time was right to justify a full-scale invasion.
By 2554, King had acquired a refitted Prowler, the UNSC Nightingale, to act as BRUTUS' mobile command center. Shortly after his vessel arrived near the Outer Colony world of Yawada in August, the planet came under attack by a ragtag fleet of Covenant vessels led by the Sangheili Fleet Master Uron 'Nar Ontomee, who had refused to give up his title and was among many warlords who believed they would reunite the Covenant. Unable to make the jump to Slipspace without being detected, King was able to make an emergency transmission that attracted UNSC reinforcements to the system. Laying HORNET nuclear mines as traps for enemy vessels, the Nightingale managed to land on Yawada's moon and remained in position as a Battlegroup of twenty-one ships arrived to combat the Covenant force. Watching from the Prowler's bridge, King witnessed the subsequent battle as Ontomee's fleet was pushed back towards the colony world. After losing several ships to Hornet mines, the Covenant vessels landed on Yawada and took refuge within the colony's cities, intending to slaughter hundreds of thousands of civilians if the UNSC did not allow them to leave in peace.
King was soon contacted by Captain John Hawkins, who led the Battlegroup aboard his flagship, the UNSC Maya. While he had intended to discreetly leave the system and return to Earth, Hawkins requested his Prowler's assistance in identifying Covenant landing zones in Yawada so they could make accurate ODST deployments before the situation worsened. King complied due to Hawkins' superior rank and moved the Nightingale into orbit, using the ship's enhanced systems to provide real-time imagery of enemy troops within Yawada's capital city. While he awaited a response from the Captain, King looked into the man's service history and discovered that he was the nephew of his old squadmate Steven Hawkins, whom King had killed personally over fifty years ago. Marking this down as potential leverage against the man in the future, he witnessed the deployment of over six hundred Orbital Drop Shock Troopers - the largest group assembled since the Human-Covenant War - and remained on-station to provide tactical support.
Though King usually left the running of his ship to his XO, he had not personally taken charge in such a deployment for many years and helped in the direction of friendly troops for several hours. It became clear that the Sangheili Fleet Master had not expected such heavy resistance and attempted to load as many captured human civilians aboard his DDS-Class Carrier. While it could not expect to fight past the entire UNSC Fleet, it was too close to the capital to risk using MAC rounds for fear of catastrophic civilian casualties. However, the ground operation was a widespread success as a platoon of troopers were able to board Ontomee's flagship and even engage the Sangheili leader in battle. Faced with defeat, the Fleet Master attempted to detonate several antimatter charges that would not only destroy the ship but wipe out the entire city.
Out of curiosity, King checked up on the status of the troopers aboard the carrier via their IFF tags, and was shocked when he realised that the one leading the assault was none other than First Lieutenant Richard Mack Junior. Realising that the troopers would likely be unable to disarm the antimatter charges before it was too late, He personally contacted the Captains of several nearby vessels and demanded a pinpoint strike with MAC rounds and Archer missiles that while not powerful enough to cripple or destroy the Carrier, would punch a hole in its armour big enough for King to land his personal security force and provide assistance to the troopers. He then momentarily removed the Nightingale's own Smart AI and gave it to one of his agents, who would make use of it to quickly defuse each charge.
Despite the sheer recklessness of King's plan and the fact that it was done without notifying Captain Hawkins, it paid off as his men were able to swoop in at the last moment and save the ODST's. Mack had killed Fleet Master Ontomee himself and was with the survivors of his unit when King arrived to personally greet him. Mack was surprised to see the venerable ONI agent, who after congratulating him for his work attempted to convince him to return with him to the Nightingale while his comrades continued operations against the Covenant on Yawada. Mack Junior vehemently refused and became angry at King when he suggested that his father would have not gone further than his current mission parameters. Though he was defying a superior officer and King went as far as threatening Mack for deciding to remain with his men, the two ended up parting without further incident.
While Captain Hawkins was furious that King had authorised a direct attack on Ontomee's Carrier, he could not deny that his actions had won the battle for them. The ship was eventually piloted back into orbit at the warlord's remaining forces fled or surrendered and after its stock of antimatter charges were confiscated it was handed over to Felo 'Ranak, a representative of the Sangheili alliance, shortly after. Though overjoyed that his tactics had paid off, King was troubled by the way Mack Junior seemed to resent him for - as King saw it - a rare act of kindness on the battlefield. Eventually deciding to simply let his old friend's son get on with his life, King did arrange for the man to be awarded the Colonial Cross shortly after the battle for killing Ontomee and after a private conversation with Admiral Paragosky, had him reassigned to a prestigious ODST unit that took on dangerous mission at the behest of ONI itself. Three months after the Siege of Yawada, the now-Rear Admiral John Hawkins managed to corner King following a meeting in HIGHCOM's Bravo-6 facility on Earth and threatened to have him removed from his position if he ever crossed him again.
Recalling a similar threat from Ned Rich years before, King snapped and revealed that he knew all about how the Captain was ostracised due to his uncle's actions, and that he had personally shot Steven Hawkins dead in 2499. Remarking to a shocked John that his uncle had been justly executed a traitor and implicitly stating that he would suffer the same fate if he tried to interfere with BRUTUS, King then complimented him on climbing to such a lofty rank but implored him to understand that when dealing with ONI, power mattered much more than official status. Following the meeting, he sent the previously-classified service record of the long-dead Steven Hawkins to the Rear Admiral as both a present and a warning.
Fall of Avalon
"You think you can just run away and start over, after all you've done? Actions have consequences, and this is your retribution."
―King's transmission to the fledgling colony
In September of 2556, King discovered the existence of an independent settlement on the abandoned colony world of Emerald Cove named Avalon. While people trying to re-settle worlds without the UEG's knowledge weren't unheard of, most of Avalon had been constructed with stolen or illegally-purchased prefabricated buildings and run by a group of former Insurrectionists, notably a woman named Amanda Wade. Her involvement in the NOVA Incident of 2555 had her marked for immediate termination, prompting King to begin putting together a task force to completely wipe out the rebel-run base. Mindful of his previous mistake with RISING DRAGON years before, he ensured that his forces were completely authorised through the proper channels while setting up his own infiltrator to destroy Avalon from within. Instead of a BRUTUS agent, however, he had Spartan Layla-B101 discreetly transferred and disguised as a civilian to be allowed into the tightly-controlled settlement.
At the same time, he had agents Alexander Redford and Kyle White chasing down a rogue agent named Anatoly Kustentov, who had since become an arms dealer. Surprisingly, his men ran into Wade as they captured him, discovering that Wade was also trying to track down the elusive terrorist known as Magnus. While his task force was prepared to strike at Avalon, a sudden visit from a Department of Recolonisation and Exploration vessel to the planet threw a wrench into his plans. The mission lead, Iris Touré, intended to deliver a speech to the UEG's Senate on colonial self-rule with Avalon as an example of self-sufficient settlements. As this went directly against King's own views on all worlds being UEG-governed, he swiftly had Kyle White arrange for both Touré and her crew's deaths in a bombing on Earth, killing all involved and blaming the attack on the soon to be dead Kustentov to garner more support against the Insurrection. Shortly after, he received word that Wade and the majority of Avalon's combat-capable personnel had left for Sargasso to attack Magnus, and had his Spartan infiltrator shut down the area's anti-air defences while a force of heavily-armed ONI soldiers wiped out everyone on the ground. At the same time, he had White and Redford accompany a fleet to pursue Wade and wipe out both her and Magnus' forces in a single attack.
Seeing this as a great triumph, King journeyed to Emerald Cove aboard a Stalwart-class Light Frigate, the UNSC Iberia. Viewing the conflict from above, he watched as his troopers swiftly overwhelmed most of the colony over the course of several hours, and despite the momentary return of Wade's personal vessel, those in Avalon were either captured or executed by his men. After ordering for her pursuit, he received news that Kyle White had been killed on Sargasso, eliminating the only other man he considered his replacement in favour of Alexander Redford. The following day, King came across a familiar name while going through files on his prisoners: Marion Hollister. Shocked at the sudden reappearance of his ex-wife after so many years, he immediately departed for the planet to tour the internment camp. While there, he coerced a Jiralhanae criminal named Saernus to work for ONI, and personally executed a defiant rebel for refusing the same offer before having Marion brought to his transport.
King dismissed his guards after boarding the ship, and conversed with Marion for the first time in nearly four decades. While initially unresponsive, she remained just as furious at King as she had been and questioned him on the whereabouts of their son. While somewhat remorseful, he maintained that everything he had done was for the greater good and promised Marion a comfortable - if restrictive - life on Earth, as he had no desire to kill her. As he had her led away, Marion deliberately attacked one of King's guards to cause a commotion and in the confusion was able to snatch away a grenade, which she tossed into the transport ship's engine room. The resulting explosion downed King's ship instantly, crashing into the planet's oceans in a fiery blaze. While rescue crews quickly arrived from the Iberia, all aboard but King had been killed.
BRUTUS' commanding officer had sustained severe cuts and burns, and lost his right leg in the crash. While his life was saved by surgeons aboard the nearby frigate, he fell into a coma, leaving Alexander Redford to take his place in charge of the organisation. King's comatose body was taken to a private medical facility on Asphodel, where he would slowly heal from his injuries. While King remained in his coma, Alexander Redford would personally fund his treatment, ensuring that the elderly agent was well-cared for. Eventually, he would privately contact Kane with information about his father's identity and whereabouts. The SPARTAN-II would visit King several times in 2557 and 2558, and was among those to be contacted immediately if he were to awaken.
King would finally emerge from his coma in October of 2558. Though he was under constant care and supervision, he remained extremely weak and could barely move for several days after waking up. Though he repeatedly demanded to be given a means of contacting Naval Intelligence, King was confined to his room while the doctor in charge of his treatment contacted Alexander Redford. After nearly two weeks he was able to converse with his old protege over a long-distance COM network, learning the current state of affairs for the UEG and of Marion's death in the shuttle crash. While he outwardly dismissed her as just another terrorist to Redford, King was heartbroken over her demise, having genuinely believed that they had a chance of starting again after so many years. To his shock and horror, Redford also informed King that he had contacted his son with details of his hospitalisation and allowed him to visit him in the medical facility while he slept.
Outraged at this, he attempted to threaten Redford, only to be informed that he was no longer head of BRUTUS and that his son would be visiting him again soon. Though he still justified his actions in giving up his son to Project SIGMA as a necessary evil, King found the prospect of meeting 'Kane-098' in the flesh to be a terrifying one. When Kane finally did arrive on October 28th, the medical facility came under attack as an alien construct appeared in the skies over Asphodel, marking the beginning of a new war.
Skills and Abilities
"The best kind of battle is one where the outcome is decided before it begins."
―King commenting on one of his infiltration missions.
As a member of the ORION Project, King was a talented soldier who excelled in most roles on the battlefield. He was a particularly skilled infiltrator and worked as a professional assassin for the Office of Naval Intelligence for many years, favouring long-distance kills with high-powered sniper rifles over open engagements. His combat skills allowed him to survive many engagements, both against human Insurrectionists and Covenant forces over the years. Even at an advanced age he remained incredibly fit and healthy, and could take on opponents much younger than him at close quarters. His aged appearance in later life would cause many to make the mistake of underestimating King's strength and speed, which was helped in part due to his ORION augmentations. It was not until his mid-eighties that his age finally forced him to withdraw from the field almost entirely.
In addition to his physical abilities, King was noted for being highly intelligent, even among his peers in ORION. He possessed great knowledge of computing and possessed a theoretical interest in the coding and creation of 'dumb' artificial intelligences, though this was rarely put to use. Furthermore, King was known for his powers of persuasion and manipulation, which made him a prime candidate to help in the recruitment of BRUTUS agents and children for the SPARTAN-III Program. Though he often stretched the truth or outright lied to those he spoke to, King's charisma was a major factor in convincing others to side with him on multiple occasions. This also proved useful in allowing him to maintain his position for so many decades, pacifying or impressing his superiors if and when they questioned his work.
"Fred's got no conscience or remorse. He believes in his own righteousness above all else."
Seen by many as ruthlessly pragmatic and incredibly intelligent, King's very professional nature towards his work in ONI was matched only by the dedication to defending humanity. Due to his position as head of BRUTUS, he was greatly feared even by his peers and would often make his opinions heard in spite of his rank. King always considered himself something of a patriot, believing that the UEG, defended by both ONI and the UNSC, was the only way to ensure the survival of mankind in an increasingly hostile galaxy; views that were taken more seriously with the discovery of the Covenant. As such, he held nothing but disdain for Insurrectionists and sought to eliminate them with maximum efficiency where possible. Unlike some with pro-UEG beliefs, King did greatly value the Outer Colonies and was an advocate of sending manpower to assist in their continued stability and protection. King was directly responsible for the evacuation of several colonies via orders to his BRUTUS agents when word of possible Covenant invasion arrived, saving many lives wherever he could.
However, a major fault in King's personality was his unshakeable belief in the United Earth Government's rule over the outer Colonies and the role of both the UNSC and ONI in defending it. His loyalty to such a system bordered on fanaticism as he dedicated his life to preserving it, making him undertake many morally questionable actions without a second thought. As such, he saw compromise with dissidents and rebels as weakness and would only engage in diplomacy with the intent of later crushing his foes. Also, King truly believed that he was keeping humanity together through his actions, and saw no problem in sacrificing a few to save the many. This mentality led to him giving his own child to Project SIGMA with the belief that it was his duty to safeguard mankind without thinking about the massive emotional trauma it would inflict on his wife, Marion. Though he genuinely loved her, King initially saw her as selfish for leaving him behind, and it was only a twinge of regret that made him call off the BRUTUS assassins that were chasing her down. Without his family, he became much colder and more ruthless in his actions, cutting himself off almost completely from any vices and dedicating his life entirely to running BRUTUS and keeping the colonies safe.
Much of King's lifelong belief in holding the colonies together came not from his upbringing or education but from his experiences as part of Trident Team under the ORION Project. Though his sense of professionalism made him appear stoic and unfazed by the world around him, his participation in a number of illegal actions that some would consider atrocities forced him to mentally rationalise his actions as being for the greater good. This warped view led to his willingness to encourage acts of violence and oppression in later life; killing a few people to save a thousand was well worth the cost so long as it helped to better the UEG's position and strengthen mankind as a whole, at least from his point of view.
Behind the Scenes
King's status as a villain in the Sigmaverse was something of an accident. After the author used him to fill several roles across the years, involving him both as a SPARTAN-III recruiter and the father of one of his SPARTAN-II's in addition to covert operations within ONI, he realised how morally bankrupt such a man would be and made him into a much more sinister character than originally intended.