Jonathan Watts was an Insurrectionist pilot, son of the famous UNSC turncoat Colonel Robert Watts. Born to Robert and his wife Jane in 2517 on Eridanus Secundus, Jonathan grew up completely loyal to the Insurrection, knowing no other life. While his father was abducted in a raid by Blue Team when he was eight, his family and friends told him he was merely helping the Insurrection elsewhere, until in 2531 the rebels intercepted an intelligence report confirming Watts had been executed. When he learned the truth, he demanded to know who was responsible and was shown surveillance footage of the SPARTANs. Soon after, he volunteered to train with the asteroid's rebels, becoming a talented D77 Pelican pilot. When the URF began a full-scale rebellion on Mamore in 2536, Jonathan was one of many trained rebels sent to support Mamore's militias and became known on both sides for his daring and skill as a pilot.
It was when SPARTAN-III Alpha Company was sent in that Watts' bird was shot down, and once it became clear the insurrection on Mamore was a lost cause, he returned to Secundus in 2537, where he was hailed as a hero for surviving the SPARTANs. Watts stayed there for seven years as an advisor and pilot for Jacob Jiles, a man whom he hated, seeing him as unfit to fill the same shoes that his father had. Eventually, he left Secundus by stealing the Iliad, the same vessel his father had stolen from the UNSC and the pride of Secundus' fleet, to more actively hurt the UNSC than Jiles had.
Still sworn to avenge his father's death, Watts intentionally provoked the UNSC enough to send Blue Team after him. Though he planned a trap for the SPARTANs, it was interrupted by the appearance of a Covenant vessel which boarded the Iliad with the intent of taking its NAV data. Forced to work with Blue Team against a common enemy, eventually Watts decided to go against his ideology, and sacrificed himself destroying the Iliad, taking its NAV data and the Covenant ship with it.
Early Life (2517-2536)
"Remember, the Spartans can't find kids who remember to turn out the lights!"
―Jane Watts to her son.
Jonathan Watts was born to Robert and Jane Watts on October 28th, 2517, several years after his father had orchestrated the Eridanus cell's exodus to Eridanus Secundus, a former mining asteroid converted into a livable habitat. Jonathan was born without any complications, living a normal childhood and socializing with other Insurrectionist children while learning to do his part in conserving resources for the nearly self-sufficient space colony. He idolized his father, as did many other rebels, his mother telling him stories of how he'd brought them all there and of the Spartans that would sneak around causing trouble. While he wasn't as fit or academically strong as other children, Jonathan devotedly studied his father's achievements as a rebel commander, and in this way absorbed great amounts of military knowledge.
On September 14th, 2525, when Jonathan was at the age of eight, his mother hurriedly took him out on a walk, going far from their apartment while Robert waited for the UNSC Special Forces team they'd detected to confront him. She explained that his father was going to be leaving for a long time on deployment, fighting with the Insurrection elsewhere. It confused him at first, but when he asked other adults about the location of his father, they told him the same and it was a secret exactly where, still hoping the Colonel might be released alive. Jonathan eventually accepted the explanation, having learned to trust those whom he lived with.
Although he continued to go about his life, Jonathan harbored increasing doubt that his father would have left so suddenly. His suspicions would be confirmed at the age of thirteen. General Howard Graves, one of the URF's three main leaders at the time, came in person to the asteroid to inform Robert's wife and child that one of his spies, Badia Campbell, had leaked intelligence reports confirming that Watts had indeed been executed by the Office of Naval Intelligence. Feeling betrayed and furious without an outlet to place the blame on, Jonathan pleaded with Graves to find out who was responsible. Together, they reviewed the surveillance footage from the raid when Robert had been abducted, and Graves concluded this was the same unit he'd been plotting to trap for months: Blue Team, Spartans like the ones in the stories they'd scared Jonathan with when he was a child.
Jonathan vowed to kill Blue Team for their part in his father's death, and volunteered to accompany Graves to Camp New Hope to set a trap for the Spartans. Graves declined, however, telling the boy to stay behind and one day become as great a leader as his father had been. Graves' trap would end in his death, but his words would have a lasting effect on Jonathan as more pressure came down on him to follow in their footsteps. Joining the URF officially, Jonathan began being training under the experienced rebels he'd known all his life to become a soldier himself. Watts took well to piloting, and was taught to operate the UNSC's D77-TC Pelican in zero-gravity, developing his innate talent as a pilot in Eridanus' asteroid belt.
Mamore Conflicts (2536-2537)
Deployment and Fighting
Camp Lexington, hidden from UNSC detection in the tunnels of a tungsten mine.
By the time he turned eighteen, Watts was more than ready to fly in combat. An opportunity came when the Insurrection began an open rebellion on the colony of Mamore, where the URF needed trained soldiers to augment the planet's inexperienced militias. While his mother didn't want him to go, Jacob Jiles was eager for it, seeing Jonathan's story as an opportunity to rally more people to the rebel cause. Granted the rank of First Lieutenant, Watts was put aboard an Insurrectionist freighter disguised as a civilian ship to Mamore, arriving on the planet's surface on August 4th, 2536, and was taken to the Insurrection's main base on the planet, Camp Lexington.
The Mamore Rebels had very little airpower, and even fewer trained pilots. The shortage Watts was continuously called upon to take part in missions, and helped train the pilot recruits when he wasn't. Fortunately, he was soon introduced to Brandon Foster, a rebel technician and mechanic who'd stolen plans to a new UNSC dropship design and was in the process of building a prototype. They got along well, and because he was the top pilot, Watts was assigned to fly the experimental D77H-TCIThunderclap. Once it had been completed and tested, Watts, with Foster acting as crew chief and copilot, made the advanced dropship a massive thorn in the UNSC's side. Outperforming the enemy D77-TCs, the Thunderclap could pull off hit-and-run attacks with near-impugnity, dropping off rebel commando teams, providing air support, and darting in for extraction while holding its own against UNSC aircraft. Later modifications to the ship expanded its role in combat to air strikes on ground convoys and aerial reconnaissance.
The unique gunship became recognized on both sides of the conflict, and though the UNSC declared Watts, Foster, and the Thunderclap high-profile targets, one Navy fighter pilot declared them “among the best fliers [he’d] ever seen” after failing to shoot them down in a Skyhawk air superiority fighter. Rebel propaganda featured them as heroes, depicting Jonathan as taking up his father's mantle as a leader of the Insurrection, although in truth the URF's leaders were wary of giving Watts any of their real power. Although he wasn't leading the Insurrection, Watts was glad to be stepping out of his father's shadow. However, the streak of success they'd had in recruitment prompted ONI to respond more harshly, sending Alpha Company in early 2537 put down the rebellion.
Alpha Company's Assault On Mamore
Soon after their insertion, SPARTAN-III commandos began bringing down Insurrectionist strongholds and depots across the planet in the span of days. Before their leaders even fully realized what was happening, Camp Lexington became a target. Team Wolf Pack led the infiltration, and had nearly completed setting explosives when they were discovered. Awoken by the ensuing gunfire and knowing the secret of Lexington's location was compromised, Watts and Foster scrambled their ship at once. Wolf Pack detonated some of their explosives, and the surviving rebels were forced to evacuate. Watts and Foster took off, but found themselves caught in the sights of UNSC regulars lying in wait on the surface. Watts refused to break and run, providing air cover to those fleeing on the ground. Their actions prevented many from potentially being killed or captured, but had to try and flee the area after Jane hit them with an RPG.
With their ship damaged, even Watts couldn't escape an AV-14 Hornet and was shot down, crashing into the nearby city of New Lexington. Foster was killed in the crash, but Watts was able to limp away from the site and evade the patrols sent to look for him. Hiding out in the city from SPARTANs and other UNSC troops for two weeks, Watts eventually made it back to the severely weakened URF. Their leaders on Mamore, who had much more to lose, were in favor of continuing their war against odds that would only get more people killed. Deciding the rebellion was lost, Watts snuck away one night, crossing behind UNSC lines to a spaceport, and stowed away aboard a freighter, hoping to somehow get back to Secundus.
Return to Eridanus Secundus
"Anyone can talk about what's right, but it's the common soldiers he disdains that make the right a reality! He's not fit to fight as one of them, let alone command them!"
―Jonathan privately expresses his feelings about Governor Jiles.
Watts was fortunately able to evade detection by the freighter's crew, although they noticed that food stores were being raided and blamed it on one another. Upon reaching a deep space station, he posed as a spacer and got himself hired aboard a freighter passing through Eridanus which he was sure his allies on Secundus would raid. Sure enough, when the DCSWalden Pond came out of slipspace in Eridanus to begin another jump, rebel pirates were waiting and seized the freighter. Although he was at first taken hostage, Watts explained who he was and was recognized by several old friends, and was taken back to Secundus while the rest of the crew were imprisoned until they chose to join the asteroid's civilian population.
Watts was painted a hero for taking on the Spartans and surviving the final, brutal defeat at Mamore. Though he was already the highest-ranking member of the URF there by virtue of experience and reputation, he was given an unnecessary promotion to Major by Governor Jacob Jiles and publicly made commander in chief of Secundus' fledgling navy. He hated lying to the other inhabitants of the asteroid that Mamore had been anything but a bloodbath, but he hated Jiles even more. The man had tried seducing his mother in his absence, and she had died of a sudden illness not long after rejecting him. Though he was a charismatic civilian leader who'd helped ensure the asteroid's survival even when Eridanus II was glassed by the Covenant, the man was narcissistic and made no effort to help the URF as his predecessors did, which brought the two into both professional and personal conflict.
Command of the Secundus Fleet (2537-2544)
Over the next seven years, Watts commanded one of the largest rebel navies in existence, made up of over a hundred armed civilian and small military ships. The pride among these was the Iliad, a Charon-class light frigate stolen from the UNSC by Jonathan's father when the rebels left Eridanus II in 2513, which became his flagship. His animosity with Jiles only continued to grow as the governor hoarded resources, refusing to lend their abundance of ships to other rebel groups and rationing supplies tightly. The last straw came when Watts was invited to a lavish party that Jiles threw for his inner circle, openly berating the governor before his guests. Watts left after a heated argument, and from then on only interacted with Jiles to give regular reports, sending them as text rather than present them in person or by video when he could.
Fed up with Jiles' greed and cowardice, Watts began laying plans to leave Secundus, and take the rebellion with him. He had modifications made to the Iliad to prepare it to operate on its own for extremely long durations, and slowly gathered like-minded rebels who wanted to more actively strike against the UNSC as his crew. Jiles, who typically ignored Secundus' military operations, never suspected a thing until Watts finally made his move. In 2545, after raiding a UNSC logistical supply ship, Watts loaded all of their supplies onto the Iliad and jumped away from Eridanus, with Jiles helpless to stop him.
Iliad and Death (2545-2550)
Raiding Supply Lines
While some of his crew had misgivings about leaving Secundus with its most important ship, Watts dispelled their fears by pointing out that Jiles would at least keep the friends and civilian families they'd left behind hidden and safe. In the meantime, they would do what the URF had become afraid to, openly opposing the Earth-centric UNSC.
They began staking out slipspace jump points and attacking Naval logistics vessels, which he convinced the crew would weaken the UNSC's war effort against the Covenant, but was also necessary to sustain the Iliad's operations. It was then that Watts announced a daring scheme: to kill Blue Team in retaliation for his father's death years ago. While he found it difficult to find back the same drive he'd once had for the task, he felt it was needed in order to keep up morale as they struggled to make do with stolen resources.
Learning from how General Graves had nearly succeeded in his attempt, Watts intended to trap the SPARTANs. His ship's attacks on supply vessels became more frequent and aggressive, which couldn't afford armed escorts because all of the UNSC's naval strength was needed to fight the Covenant. Instead, privateers were hired to destroy the ship, but their armed civilian ships were no match for the twice-stolen military vessel. With the supply situation costing humanity ground with the Covenant, FLEETCOM became desperate enough to start sending a few of their own ships after Watts. He was smart, however, and would outrun other frigates or larger ships, and outfight smaller, faster vessels, eventually forcing his enemies to take a different approach.
Trapping Blue Team
The Office of Naval Intelligence stepped in to take charge of the operation to neutralize Iliad, codenamed POLYPHEMUS. Using the prowlerUNSC Nightshade to track and approach the Iliad undetected, Blue Team deployed onto the rebel ship's hull and forcibly opened an airlock to get inside. Watts was expecting them and knew at once when the airlock was breached, but chose to let the SPARTANs move further inside before sounding the alarm, ambushing them in a location of his choosing where he could direct the fighting personally. The SPARTANs were far more adept than he expected, however, and killed many of his men. Just as Watts was backed into a corner, another alarm sounded, alerting everyone on board that a Covenant ship had arrived through slipspace. As the last of his fireteams were killed and Watts held captive, the Covenant attacked and boarded the ship, instead of destroying it.
Fred-104 questioned Watts whether the ship had navigation data which could potentially lead the Covenant to Earth, which having been stolen before the Cole Protocol was enacted, Watts answered affirmative. Before they could execute him, he explained that only he had the authority to override and wipe clean the Iliad's databanks, and struck a deal with the Spartans: evacuate his surviving crew, and Watts would help them destroy the NAV data. John-117 ordered his team to retreat back to the Nightshade with the rebels who'd surrendered, while he fought his way to the bridge with Watts. Fighting through several boarding parties, they learned upon reaching the bridge that the computer systems were offline.
Without time to repair them and ensure the NAV data was wiped clean, Watts volunteered to stay behind and manually begin the Iliad's self-destruct. Giving the UNSC soldiers a maximum of seven minutes to get clear of the blast, Jonathan initiated the sequence as Elites forced their way onto the bridge, sacrificing himself to destroy the Iliad, its NAV data, and the Covenant corvette that had docked with his crippled frigate. Despite that he was an Insurrectionist, Watts' bravery was reported by ONI Section 2 along with the success of Operation: POLYPHEMUS, aiming to bolster morale by showing that humanity could band together against the threat of a common enemy.
Personality and Traits
"Honor. Courage. Commitment. My father believed in these ideals. But he betrayed the men he served because they had forgotten."
Robert Watts taught his son to uphold the same values as those he'd learned in the Marine Corps. Though he'd turned his back on the organization for what it had done and continued to do, he still believed in the ideals it was founded upon. Jonathan remained dedicated to those principles throughout his life, at different times finding it hard or impossible to compromise with the URF's leadership when they found certain actions necessary to sustain the rebel cause. After seeing the damage Blue Team had wrought on Secundus' most critical docks and infrastructure, he found it difficult to justify bombing attacks on UNSC targets, especially when such indiscriminate weapons hurt the colonial civilians the Insurrection claimed to be fighting for.
Watts was very practical, and grew to have little patience for the talkative men he reported to, preferring a calmer, businesslike approach in formal situations. The same impatience occasionally showed itself on the battlefield, seeking the fastest way to end an engagement to limit the time spent going up against better-equipped and better-trained UNSC forces, which could have potentially led to fatal mistakes. He was very reserved interpersonally with subordinates until getting a read on them, after which he could become more sociable, as a friend and not just a commander.
In his childhood, Jonathan was very close to his father, and was all the more devastated by his capture and subsequent death because of the SPARTANs. He remained a figure of leadership that Jonathan was expected to live up to, and strove to be worthy of the man's legacy. While his anger dulled over the years, it still led him to making many of the choices that would shape and ultimately end his life.
As a fellow child of Insurrectionists, Watts soon made friends with his crewmate on the Thunderclap. Both were dedicated to freeing the colonies from Earth's rule, and where Watts helped him to get over his hesitation to be looked upon as a hero for people more experienced than he, Foster helped Watts to be more comfortable with life outside of a pilot's seat. Foster's death was particularly hard on him, and one of the reasons he decided to leave Mamore.
With regard to Jiles, Watts held nothing but hatred and disgust for the narcissistic man who'd seized power in Secundus. He was constantly shocked by the civilian governor's wastefulness of precious resources and saw him as too greedy to offer the help they could have given to struggling cells elsewhere. His spite eventually drove Watts to betrayal and leaving Secundus behind, taking its most valuable warship with him.
Skills And Abilities
Watts was extraordinarily well trained for an Insurrectionist, as the inhabitants of Secundus who instructed him had been former Marines under his father's command. As a pilot, his weapons training was rather basic, covering only a few MA-series rifles. He was, however, an expert shot with the M6C/SOCOM sidearm which had been passed down from his father's belongings, which he could easily carry within the limited space of his aircraft's cabin. He had limited knowledge of first aid, and was trained to some degree in Krav Maga, but it was ineffectual when he became cornered by Kelly-087.
His true strength was as a pilot. He seemed to know just what his craft's limits were and how to push them, dangerously overstepping boundaries to gain an unexpected edge. In the months he flew the Thunderbolt, he became intimately familiar with every aspect of how the Pelican handled and was able to use tricks that most military pilots would have considered airshow stunts to draw enemy aircraft into his sights or to escape theirs. Despite actually being a dropship pilot, he was considered a dogfighter by most of the people on Mamore. Upon being given command of the Iliad, he studied astrogation and naval warfare extensively, although he never needed any more training than his raiding required.
Watts on Eridanus Secundus, training for exoatmospheric bailout from a Pelican
Watts during the Mamore Conflicts
Watts in the Iliad's command center after returning to Secundus.