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|This article, Redmond Venter, written by Actene, was voted as the Best Third-Party Faction Character of 2014 in the Seventh Annual Halo Fanon Wikia Awards.|
|This article, Redmond Venter, was written by Actene. Please do not edit this fiction without the writer's permission.|
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- "First I fought the Covenant. We were losing the war, losing every planet we fought to defend, but they ordered me to fight and so I fought. It cost me the man I loved and my faith in Earth, but I fought. Then I changed my flag, fought to make Mamore free. We lost every battle there, too. By the end of it, the same colonists who called us down to the planet didn't want us there any more. But orders from above said to keep fighting, so I kept fighting, holding out in the mountains with less than three hundred fighters. It cost me my eye, my best friend, and whatever trace of a soul I had left. After that, what was left?"
- ―Redmond Venter
DATE OF BIRTH
February 9, 2529
|Political and Military Information|
The galaxy knew him as a man of many faces. To his enemies, he was a heartless traitor, a butcher, and a war criminal with no sense of honor. To his allies, he was a hero, a crusader against stagnation and corruption, a rallying figure for the forgotten and marginalized. To those few who considered themselves his friends, he was a complicated, solitary man, torn between his duty to higher causes and his own private convictions. But for all the accolades and vilification, the Insurrectionist leader Redmond Venter remained a solitary individual, his inner feelings hidden from all, including himself.
From humble beginnings as an urchin on Hound Unit, a covert UNSC black operations unit. After his friend and mentor was disgraced and stripped of his position, Venter assumed command and led the unit during its efforts to curb the activities of the rogue Project FREELANCER. After seeing himself and his comrades used and cast aside by the military, a disillusioned Venter defected to the after the end of the war. He fled to the rebel stronghold of where he and his childhood friend Gavin Dunn helped fan the flames of the secession movement sweeping across the disgruntled colony. During the UNSC's subsequent invasion, Venter proved himself a capable field commander as he led a resistance unit against the government forces. It was during Mamore's doomed struggle that Venter came into contact with the deserter Simon-G294. He became teacher and mentor for the young Spartan, though "Stray" would eventually become disillusioned by Venter's brutal methods and turn on him violently. The defeat on Mamore cost Venter much, and in the years following the failed secession he was reduced to leading small elements of Insurrectionist cells as they languished under the domination of the criminal empire known as the Syndicate. But Venter retained his ambition, and when kindled by the ideals of an old friend he set out to alter galactic history by any means necessary, even if it meant sacrificing what little he had left., Venter rose to prominence during the as a member of the
"i Just Want To Belong Somewhere"
- "Ugh, the Venter kid again? I thought we'd seen the last of that one. Just put him in the room he was in last time. Don't bother going over the meal schedule with him, he's been here enough times he should know the drill by now."
- ―Sindi Rush, administrator of New Alexandria Community Care Center
He didn’t know who his parents were or where he came from. No one cared to find out and certainly no one was interested in helping to take care of him. He knew his own name only because it was printed on his incomplete identification records. As a boy Redmond Venter’s earliest memories were of drifting from one care center to another, a rut in Reach’s social support system. Without any proper documentation to attribute his citizenship status, the young orphan was little more than annoyance to the various administrators forced to handle his welfare paperwork. With the personnel at the care centers irritated at simply having to clothe and feed him, much less educate him or find him a lasting home, “Red” Venter spent his early years isolated and alone, little more than baggage to be shuttled between housing facilities. Never in one place long enough to make lasting friends, he became a quiet boy who never spoke up and instead submitted to whatever his irritated caretakers told him to do. However, the solitary orphan did have one spark of rebellion: he took to stealing books from the care centers, reading them during the long days spent waiting to be processed into his next temporary home.
This mind-numbing cycle of endless transfers continued for years. The young Red endured it in silence, keeping himself to himself and occupying his time with absorbing books and the occasional pilfered ‘net broadcast. As far as Reach’s welfare system was concerned, Red had no future worth looking forward to; the boy himself found nothing in his dull, stagnant life to refute this sentiment. He had no aspirations other than to get through his next meal and get back to his quarters, where he could read in peace. But though he saw no way out of the welfare system, Red grew increasingly restless within the care centers. He developed a violent streak and began picking fights with the other children and then sneaking out of the center to wander the area until he was certain his infractions had been forgotten. One day, following a particularly nasty scrap with a girl who had stolen one of his books, Red slipped out of a care center inand set out to wander through the metropolis’s busy streets. He had not gotten far from the center before he stumbled into a group of older boys in one of the area’s wealthier residential districts. When the youths refused to leave him alone, Red lashed out at them. He was outnumbered in the ensuing scuffle and in order to break free from his attackers he bit one of the boys on the arm, drawing blood. The injured boy’s mother was attracted by the commotion and she immediately contacted the New Alexandria police. Red fled the scene and, knowing that his face had surely been recorded by local security cameras, feared returning to the care center. Instead he wandered further into New Alexandria. Before long, he was hopelessly lost and could not have returned to the center even if he had wanted to.
- "You've got spark, kid, spark and potential. That's a rare combination to find out here. Stick with me and I'll show you how to be all you can be."
- ―James Felson recruiting Red into the Filchers
After two cold, hungry days of wandering the city streets and back alleys, a bedraggled Red was discovered by a thief and con-artist named James Felson. Outcast children like Red were not an uncommon sight on the streets of New Alexandria, and Felson had organized a large group of urchins into his own private gang of thieves. Lured in by promises of food and shelter, Red quickly became a part of the gang, known to local residents by the colorful name of "Felson's Filchers." Felson saw great potential in his newest charge and took it upon himself to groom Red for a leadership position within the gang. Red, for his part, was simply grateful for the chance to belong to something bigger than himself. He had no qualms about thievery; the gang's clandestine activities proved to be more exciting and fulfilling than anything he had ever felt in the centers. Before long Red was a key member of the gang, venturing out with them for nearly every one of their "jobs." The Filchers' standard tactic was to stake out residential areas and target wealthy citizens. Felson, a skilled hacker, would disable electronic security measures before sending his charges in to canvass the houses for anything of value. Red and a handful of the older children—known as "Bigs" to New Alexandria's urchin population—acted as the crew's vanguard, entering the buildings first to make sure they were deserted before the younger children were allowed to descend on the house. When not out on jobs, Red and his fellow Bigs were charged with helping Felson administer the gang, relaying their boss's instructions to the younger children and maintaining order when he wasn't around. Red took to all of these tasks with enthusiasm, happy to finally have a purpose in life besides simply living from day to day. Felson was deeply impressed by his new charge and took it upon himself to personally tutor Red in the secrets of survival on the streets. The master thief was the first adult to ever pay the young orphan any heed, and Red looked up to Felson as both his boss and teacher.
- Redmond Venter: "Felson has it out for you two. Screw with us again and you'll lose more than just a meal."
- Judith Ives: "As if you could even get close to catching us, loser."
- Redmond Venter: "I said beat it. The other Bigs won't be so nice."
- — Red Venter drives Judith Ives away from a Filcher ration hoard.
The Filchers were not the only gang competing for food and job opportunities in the New Alexandria alleys. The ongoing Gavin Dunn, proved to be quite persistent at antagonizing the Filchers. The two of them had particularly irked Felson by turning down his offer to join the gang, and Red and his fellow Bigs were under standing orders to "beat the fucking daylights" out of them whenever possible. Although Red was loath to disobey his boss, he limited himself and the other Bigs to running Gavin and Judy out of the area. After the two young orphans, well-versed in New Alexandria's streets and alleys, outwitted the Bigs on multiple occasions, Red and the other Filchers elected to spare themselves further embarrassment by ignoring Gavin and Judy entirely.had brought Reach a new era of economic growth through endless defense contracts and employment opportunities. However, the war had also brought wave after wave of refugees fleeing the alien onslaught and with these newcomers came thousands of creditless vagrants and urchins. For Felson's Filchers, this meant that they needed to be on the lookout for any hint of competition. Felson, who was growing rich through the black market sale of his gang's "earnings," ensured that the right New Alexandria police officers were bribed into complacency. On the streets, it fell to Red and the other Bigs to recruit new members and scare off any who would not clear out or fall into line. Although Red—now adept at street fighting—saw nothing wrong with knocking sense into children his own age, he was not fond of administering beatings to younger orphans and he often settled for simply chasing urchins off when they crossed into Filcher territory. One pair of orphans in particular, Judith Ives and
- "I don't have time to waste on fucking failures. Get the hell out here. If this piece of shit ever shows his face on your turf again, boys and girls, you know what to do."
- ―James Felson kicks Red out of the Filchers
With the exploits of his gang of child thieves more successful than he had ever dreamed possible, Felson grew bolder in selecting neighborhoods for them to strike. His ambition growing, he targeted a wealthy penthouse and trusted his gang with an elaborate scheme to loot the building. As some of the younger gang members created a distraction, Red and more of the young thieves slipped inside after Felson remotely disabled the security. However, once inside they discovered that a family was still inside. The other Bigs overpowered and restrained the husband and wife, but Red made only a halfhearted effort to apprehend their young daughter and did not pursue when the girl ran off. Unfortunately, she went and alerted the building's security guards who in turn contacted the police. Felson and his gang barely escaped the scene, and several of the Filchers were apprehended in the ensuing police sweep. His grand scheme ruined and the future of his gang in jeopardy, a furious Felson blamed the fiasco on Red, who had loyally fessed up to the error that had led to the disaster. Branding him a failure, Felson drove a stunned Red out of the gang's hideout and instructed the other Bigs to make sure he never came back. Shocked and betrayed not only by Felson's rejection but by how easily the rest of the gang had turned on him, Red lingered in Filcher territory, frightened and unsure of where to go. A group of his former friends happened upon him and, as per Felson's orders, attacked him as they would any other trespasser. Outnumbered and hesitant to fight people he still thought of as family, Red was quickly overpowered by the other boys. He was only saved from a savage beating when two other vagrants came to his rescue: Gavin Dunn and Judith Ives, the two urchins the Bigs had never been able to catch.
- "You wanna get yourself killed, fine. Just make sure you do it so it helps get us ahead."
- ―Judith Ives
Still numbed by the loss of the Filchers, an injured Red allowed Gavin and Judy to take him back to their hideout. Shocked by the kindness the two urchins showed a beaten rival, Red thought it best to simply repay his debt and strike out on his own. Tormented by conflicting desires and obligations, he left the hideout and wandered the streets in a daze. Encountering a few of his old gangmates, he vented his frustrations by attacking them and stealing the food they had been scavenging. The resulting brawl did not mesh well with his previous injuries and he was forced to again seek shelter in the hideout. This pattern repeated itself several times, to the point that Judith began using Red's self-destructive forays as distractions for allowing her and Gavin to slip past Felson's gang to steal food and goods for themselves. Although Red wanted little to do with the two young thieves, he could not resist the urge to feel like part of a team and became more and more involved in his role as their new weapon in the daily fight for survival. The distance between them quickly shrank, and before long Red had become a part of Gavin and Judy's tiny family. Before long, the unlikely alliance encouraged a slew of children to abandon the Filchers and fall in with them. In their defiance of Felson Gavin, Judy, and Red had become heroes in the eyes of many urchins and the three of them soon found themselves heading a gang of their own.
Although Gavin balked at the idea of becoming more like the Filchers, Judy saw potential in organizing with other children. She relied on Red's experience with the Filcher's to help turn the motley crew of urchins into a team that could survive and withstand the competition. The group was soon dubbed "the Irregulars" by the local police force and Judy impressed Red with her innovative means of keeping the law away: rather than antagonize the police, Judy had the Irregulars work as informal scouts, selling out larger criminals in exchange for being left alone. Such tactics did not win the Irregulars many friends among the other street gangs and Red's talent for brawling was soon put to use in defense of his new family. Through Judy's leadership, Gavin's negotiation skills, and Red's work as a makeshift enforcer, the Irregulars began to make more and more of a name for themselves. Tasked with training other children in rudimentary street fighting, Red began picking up organizational skills from Judy's example. Working together more frequently, the Irregular leader and Felson's former protege grew closer; Red felt closer to these new friends then he had ever felt with the Filchers.
- Redmond Venter: "Another disaster. What a surprise."
- Gavin Dunn: "Yeah, yeah, just rub it in. If I'm so bad at these plans, how come you keep tagging along?"
- Redmond Venter: "It's always fun to see what kind of mess you cause. Besides, someone has to be around to watch your back."
- — Red Venter and Gavin Dunn after a messy heist.
Though Red was comfortable in his new role with the Irregulars, an insecure Gavin worried that his own relationship with Judy had been diluted by the arrival of Red and the other children. With Judy becoming more ambitious with the jobs she had the Irregulars take on, Gavin was determined to prove that he was just as useful to the gang. He convinced Red to accompany him on several thefts, and after the Filchers cornered and beat-up some of the younger Irregulars he spearheaded an uncharacteristically aggressive attack on the Filchers' territory. When the hasty raid saw the Irregulars surrounded by angry Filchers, Red fought them off using a broom handle as a polearm. Although the venture was a total disaster, it nonetheless resulted in a lasting friendship between Red and Gavin. The two Irregulars went on to try their hand at several more heists, each more daring than the last. Unfortunately, they finally bit off more than they could chew when they tried to rob the house of a wealthy RCS official. After Gavin tripped an alarm that locked down the entire district and summoned the police, Red stayed behind to fend off the authorities while the other children fled the scene. He bought enough time for his friends to escape, but was overpowered and taken into custody on multiple charges of theft, vagrancy, and resisting arrest.
Red was quickly booked at the local police station. Faced with the possibility of spending the rest of his youth in a juvenile detention facility, the street thief was surprised when another option was presented to him: rather than be incarcerated, he would instead be enrolled in a "military rehabilitation program." With theat its peak, the military was undertaking a myriad of initiatives to recruit and train more soldiers to fill in make up for the losses sustained during engagements with the . Caught between prison and military service, Red quickly took the military representative up on her offer. Less than twenty-four hours later he had been transferred off of Reach and taken to a training facility within a military installation on .
"Just Do As You're Told"
- "The kids with me, they were always fighting, always rebelling, always messing around. They thought we were in a living hell. But I never had that problem. It wasn't hard, the military life. Just do as your told, handle what they dish out, and everything will be fine. There was nothing hard about that."
- ―Redmond Venter, reflecting on his military education.
The military rehabilitation program Red had agreed to was an initiative that aimed to turn young delinquents into experienced military candidates. However, most of its "recruits" were undisciplined hooligans who had simply enrolled in order to escape prison terms. Discipline infractions were frequent and the program had a washout rate of over fifty percent. Red, however, adapted to the military lifestyle as easily as he had adapted to life with the Filchers and Irregulars. Though he was saddened by the loss of his friends on Reach, the training regimen gave his life purpose outside of just surviving and living day to day. He connected with few of the rowdy trainees and regained the withdrawn nature he had once possessed in the foster care system on Reach. He accepted the frequent group punishments without complaint, never making the mistake of confronting the military instructors as so many of his fellow trainees did. Before long, Red had come to realize that the training, physically intense as it was, was nowhere near as bad as aimlessly eking out a living on the streets, despised by all save for his fellow urchins. He cared little for the colonial politics that made some of his fellow recruits flaunt the military system as "Earth brainwashing"; within the military he had finally found a purpose away from thievery and gang violence. His easy integration into the program, coupled with the program's otherwise low success rate, made the former street thief something of a star pupil in the years following his arrest. Red graduated at the top of his classs, with top marks in leadership and hand to hand combat. Drilled with the necessity of joining the ranks of the UNSC military in order to fight the ongoing, Venter enlisted in the upon graduating from the program at the age of eighteen. The credentials from the years in the rehabilitation program allowed him to enter the service at the rank of Corporal. Furthermore, based on his high performance scores the cadre in charge of the program offered him the chance to immediately attempt selection for the , an opportunity usually afforded to combat veterans. Happy to continue advancing in the military hierarchy, Corporal Venter accepted the offer without hesitation.
- : "What's the matter, Corporal, got a tongue in that head of yours? You're the only one out here who ain't complaining."
- Corporal Redmond Venter: "This isn't so bad, Sergeant. I've had worse."
- ―Venter and one of his instructors during the former's training as an ODST
After passing through the selection process, Corporal Venter was immediately plunged into the grueling training meant to forge him and his fellow volunteers into ODSTs. No longer amongst sullen juvenile delinquents, the young corporal instead found himself surrounded by gruff, enthusiastic combat veterans, many of whom resented the presence of a younger rookie in their midst. Bearing their taunts and hazing as stoically as he had borne the abuse from the Filchers, Venter pushed through the training and impressed his instructors and fellow volunteers alike with his knack for Marine life. It was during this training that he struck up a friendship with Staff Sergeant Sanjay Rajeev, the NCO in charge of his training squad, as well as several of the other volunteers in his platoon. Having finally found friends comparable to the ones he had had back on Reach, Venter surged ahead with the training and upon graduating from the ODST course was promoted to the rank of Lance Corporal. He and the other volunteers who had made it through the training, including Staff Sergeant Rajeev, were transferred to theand immediately deployed to the front lines of the ongoing war with the Covenant. With the UNSC losing more lives and territory by the day, the ODSTs were desperately needed in the thick of the fighting.
"We're All That's Left"
- "This is a textbook drop. We go in, cut behind the Covenant, and catch them between the hammer and the anvil. You will be the tip of the spear that turns the tide on Teletha."
- ―Excerpt from General Anya Irving's briefing to the ODSTs dropped onto Teletha VI
Venter’s maiden combat deployment was to the Outer Colony world of Teletha VI. As thefought a losing battle with Covenant warships in orbit, he and his fellow ODSTs were dropped onto the planet’s rocky surface to catch the alien ground forces in a pincer attack between themselves and the Marines and Army divisions already engaged on the ground. Venter experienced the terror of combat for the first time during the perilous drop onto the planet’s surface, which cost the lives of several ODSTs before they even made contact with the Covenant. As the surviving ODSTs emerged from their , Sergeant Rajeev gathered Venter and the rest of their squad as they regrouped and prepared to begin the UNSC’s counter-offensive. But the Covenant army had anticipated the maneuver and diverted airborne units to hunt the scattered ODSTs. As the aliens assaulted the landing area, Venter and the rest of the squad could do little but seek cover and fight back as best they could. The UNSC’s strategy collapsed upon itself as the shattered ground forces were systematically cut to pieces. Over three-quarters of the ODSTs dropped onto Teletha VI were killed within the first hour of fighting.
Venter spent the next week frantically moving from one position to another alongside the rest of his squad. As the Covenant continued its relentless onslaught, he witnessed new levels of barbarism at the hands of the alien forces. Upon encountering a group of Arthur Onegin. Lieutenant Onegin took charge of the ODST remnants and led them to the his team had used to land on the planet. The young lieutenant impressed Venter with his skill on the battlefield; unbeknownst to him, Onegin had taken a similar interest in the tenacious Corporal Venter. Venter and two other survivors from his squad were extracted alongside Onegin's ONI team. Out of over two thousand ODSTs dropped onto Teletha VI, they were among less than a hundred survivors.devouring captured Marines, Sergeant Rajeev led the squad in a desperate attempt to save the prisoners. But the sergeant had miscalculated; the skirmish erupted into a full-scale firefight as more Covenant forces arrived and the ODSTs were quickly overwhelmed and Rajeev himself was killed trying to organize a retreat. Cut to the core by the loss of his friend, Venter nonetheless took command of the survivors and led them away from the fighting. Tired, wounded, and stricken by the carnage they had been through, the ODSTs were barely able to keep ahead of their pursuers. Teletha VI was yet another overwhelming defeat for the UNSC and Venter would have died along with the rest of the ground forces had he not chanced upon an team led by Lieutenant
- "I remember you from Teletha, sergeant, and again on Crete. You kept fighting when everyone around you was being slaughtered left and right. You didn't give up. You're a surivor, and we need fighters like you. My superiors have given me blanket approval to recruit anyone I want for my team, and I want you."
- ―Captain Arthur Onegin recruiting Venter for the Hound Unit
Following the retreat from Teletha, the other survivors from Venter's squad were diagnosed with severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and transferred from the front lines but the corporal himself showed no signs of mental instability. He internalized the trauma and loss from the battle and moved on, accepting the grief and nightmares as a given just as he had done with every other misfortune in his life. Promoted to the rank of Sergeant in the wake of the battle, he was transferred to a battalion tasked with clearing out an Insurrectionist stronghold on the planet Crete. Though the Marines had been told to expect light resistance, they found the rebels on Crete dug in and heavily armed. After the first wave of Marine regulars were nearly wiped out to a man, Venter was sent in alongside several hundred other ODSTs to clear the beachhead. In what would become one of the bloodiest engagements against the Insurrection during the Human-Covenant War, the ODST detachment was similarly cut to pieces. Cut off within the Insurrectionist stronghold, Venter and the surviving ODSTs fought on until they were rescued by a now-familiar face. Lieutenant Onegin and his special operations team inserted behind rebel lines and linked up with the ODSTs to finally take the fortress. Shocked by how fiercely the rebels had defended their position—and how many lives had been spent to defeat them—convinced Venter that humanity was fighting a war it had no hope of winning. Nearly a year after Crete, he was surprised to encounter Arthur Onegin again. The now-Captain Onegin had remembered the ODST he had met on Teletha and Crete, tracking him down in order to offer him a position within one of ONI's many pet special forces projects. Perplexed by the offer, Sergeant Venter nevertheless agreed to the transfer and found himself moved from the ranks of the ODSTs and into the strange world of Naval Intelligence. He joined Onegin and several other skilled operators to form a new black operations team with the callsign Echo Three-Seven, codenamed the "Hound Unit."
"This Is How We'll Win The War"
- Grace Hart: "Oh God, not another ODST. As if this outfit didn't have enough rampant machismo."
- Levi Groves: "At least he's not another ONI spook. All this cloak and dagger stuff hurts my head, throws off my aim."
- ―Members of the Hound Unit discuss Venter's addition to the burgeoning team.
The Hound Unit was quartered at an ONI special warfare facility on Reach and Venter returned to his homeworld for the first time since his arrest nearly a decade earlier. Arthur introduced him as the newest member of the small black operations team and the ODST was immediately thrown off-guard by the other operator's loose and laid back attitude toward military protocol. Drawn from all elements of the UNSC's war machine, the Hound Unit was intended to be a highly flexible, mobile force that could adapt and adjust itself to fit any mission Naval Intelligence needed them to carry out. Most of the Hounds relished the freedom from standard military protocol but Venter, comfortable with the far more regimented ODST command structure, immediately stood out from his fellow operatives. As the Hound Unit began preliminary training exercises the young sergeant worked alongside his new team members but failed to mesh comfortably with the other operatives. After over a month of intensive field exercises Venter was finally granted a week of leave. For the first time in years the lonely ODST's thoughts turned back toward Gavin, Judy, and the other Irregulars. He used his leave to travel to New Alexandria and investigate his old haunts in the hopes of reconnecting with his old friends. But he found no trace of the Irregulars and the local police had no records of any street gangs. Venter attempted to get in touch with Reginald Harding, his arresting officer, but Harding had retired years previously and left no records of where he had gone. Giving up on finding his old friends, a depressed Venter returned to the Hound Unit's barracks.
Noticing Venter's failure to meld with the group, Arthur took the sergeant under his wing and tasked him as the chief liaison between himself and the rest of the unit. The young ONI captain was something of a prodigy, highly skilled as both a team leader and a fighter in his own right. He and Venter shared an interest in close quarters combat, a skill critical to the Hounds' asymmetrical warfare role. As the unit prepared to depart Reach for its first deployment, Arthur and his second in command Valerie Sulzer involved all of the Hounds in developing a unique form of close quarters fighting that ventured beyond generally accepted UNSC training doctrines. Blending various martial arts and military combatives techniques, the Hounds developed a fighting style that would allow them to take on much larger and stronger opponents. Anticipating encounters with Covenant and warriors along with the need to subdue targets nonlethally, Arthur stressed this new way of fighting as the Hounds left Reach and headed for the embattled Outer Colonies.
- Arthur Onegin: "The Covenant underestimates us at every turn. No war machine can sustain losses like the ones we give them. It's our job to make their forces realize just how stupid their leadership really is. This is how we'll win the war."
- Redmond Venter: "This isn't winning, sir."
- ―Arthur Onegin and Redmond Venter during the fighting on Bounty.
The Hound Unit's test deployment saw them inserted onto the embattled world ofto assist in evacuating sensitive material and personnel from an ONI research facility. Integrated with the Marine engineers of the , Venter and most of the Hounds dug in and fought off waves of Covenant special forces under Valerie Sulzer's command while Arthur orchestrated the recovery effort. The Hounds' capable defense of the facility far outstripped any success Venter had seen during his time with the ODSTs and he gained a newfound respect for his fellow operators. But even with the Hound Unit's formidable skills the Covenant could only be slowed, not stopped. Venter and the others evacuated along with the rest of the UNSC strike force after the Hades Corps destroyed the facility. Immediately after the Algolis mission the Hound Unit was dispatched to , another falling colony. It was on Bounty that Venter experienced the harsher reality of ONI's tactics: ODSTs of the were ordered to launch a bloody assault on Covenant positions to cover the Hounds as they slipped behind enemy lines and destroyed several key alien resource depots. The mission crippled Covenant ground logistics and the Hounds spent the next two months carrying out similar operations. Nevertheless, despite their successes they could not save Bounty and were evacuated mere days before Covenant warships glassed the planet.
During a brief deployment to the embattled planetthe Hounds were dispatched to a civilian hangar in Elyon to destroy any ships with astrological logs that might reveal the locations of human colonies to the Covenant. While reconnoitering the site Valerie discovered evidence that the hangar was a hub for illegal smuggling. Arthur ordered the Hounds to clear the area of Covenant and arrest any smugglers they found. Venter led a team through one wing of the hangar, fighting through several teams of Covenant already assaulting the facility. With the Covenant temporarily driven off, the Hounds cornered a group of surviving smugglers. When the smugglers resisted arrest, Valerie shot one and kicked off a brief but deadly firefight. Venter pursued one young smuggler who fled the scene and was shocked to come face to face with a figure from his past: Gavin Dunn, the street urchin from his time in the Reach gangs.
Momentarily torn by orders to arrest to arrest his old friend, Venter instead opted to let Gavin flee the scene and reported back that the missing smuggler had been hauled off by the Jackals assaulting the hangar. The lie weighed on the loyal Venter's conscious, but he disliked how Valerie had handled the standoff with the other smugglers. The Hounds delivered the surviving criminals to ONI for interrogation and were promptly ordered to withdraw from the system. Meridian fell to the Covenant a week later and Venter could only hope Gavin had survived to escape the subsequent glassing.
Still smarting from the futile efforts on Bounty and Meridian, the Hounds were once again redeployed to another front against the Covenant on the jungle-strewn colony Halorale. Venter and his fellow commandos were once again tasked with carrying out a guerrilla war behind Covenant lines, but UNSC defenses crumbled within days of their arrival and the Hounds joined tens of thousands of soldiers and Marines retreating through the jungles. Starvation and heat sickness killed more troops than even the Covenant; separated from the other Hounds, Venter and Arthur marched along a retreat path littered with corpses. The horrific sight of sick and dying Marines taking their own lives in the jungle scarred even a veteran like Venter and when he too fell ill he gave himself up for dead. But Arthur ignored his entreaties to abandon him and stayed behind to nurse him back to health. The horrors experienced on Halorale haunted Venter for the rest of his life, but the devotion his commanding officer showed in keeping him alive moved him deeply and sparked an undying loyalty he had never previously felt for a commanding officer. In the aftermath of Halorale Venter was promoted and took his place as the Hound Unit's chief enlisted member as the team continued its bloody role in humanity's desperate struggle. He worked tirelessly to develop the unit, keenly aware of the toll the war was taking on his comrades—Arthur most of all.
"Survival at Any Cost"
In 2549 the Hound Unit was deployed to yet another losing battle, this time on the besieged colony Omelas. Unlike previous engagements, UNSC High Command did not even attempt to paint military action on Omelas as any sort of winnable battle. The Hound Unit's orders were simple: kill as many Covenant as possible while the colony evacuated. After the hellish battle on Halorale, Venter was relieved to finally be given achievable goals even as he realized the shift in strategy meant High Command was losing all hope of victory against the Covenant. He joined Captain Onegin and the other Hounds fighting the Covenant on Omelas's surface, working with Spartan Team Sigma to destroy an alien encampment close to the colony's chief city.
But as the planetary evacuation continued the "simple" mission turned sour. A sudden Covenant offensive caught the city defenses flatfooted and threatened to overrun the colony long before evacuation completed. To make matters worse ONI discovered that a university inside the city still contained servers with unwiped astronomical charts—a gross Cole Protocol violation that could see Earth and the Inner Colonies discovered and annihilated in a matter of months. The Hound Unit and Sigma Team immediately launched an emergency mission to retake the university campus and destroy the data but were beaten back several times by Sangheili special operations teams. Arthur ordered one final push, tasking Venter, most of the Hounds, and Sigma Team with distracting the Covenant while he and Valerie prepped what Venter assumed was an EMP device. With the device primed, the Hound Unit and Sigma Team retreated to a waiting ONI exfiltration craft.
- "We don't have time for a debate, Sergeant. Good soldiers follow orders. Detonate that warhead!"
- ―Captain Arthur Onegin orders the destruction of Omelas
Only when they reached the exfiltration zone did Venter and the rest of the team learn the truth: Arthur and Valerie had instead jury-rigged a nuclear warhead. The warhead would destroy the city and the disastrous servers—along with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and civilians still desperately evacuating. As the Covenant closed in, Arthur ordered Venter to detonate the warhead. For the first time in his military career the horrified NCO refused a direct order and nearly incited a mutiny to call off the bombing. Arthur overpowered him and swiftly triggered the device, accomplishing the mission and slaughtering millions.
The exfiltration craft barely escaped the nuclear detonation and—acting on orders directly from the UNSC Security Council—delivered the Hound Unit to Reach for debriefing and investigation. Arthur’s actions had averted catastrophe, but also exposed the UNSC to a vast wave of anti-Earth propaganda from Insurrectionists who portrayed the destruction of Omelas as a deliberate act of UNSC terrorism. Despite his horror at Arthur’s drastic action, Venter loyally defended his commander during the ensuing investigation. But despite Venter’s best intentions Arthur was condemned by UNSC investigators and relieved of command pending a general court martial. Only ONI’s intervention and Sigma Team’s testimony that the rest of the Hound Unit had been ignorant of their commander’s plan—and that Venter had actively tried to prevent the bombing—prevented the rest of the team from facing a similar fate.
Stricken by the loss of his friend and mentor, Venter was not surprised when he received a “temporary reassignment” courtesy of ONI. He expected to be transferred back to a frontline ODST unit but was instead sent to an Officer Candidate School on Reach. Though confused by the orders Venter quickly graduated from the course—shortened to mere weeks by the UNSC’s desperate need for officers with combat experience—and was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant. His graduation from the course was swiftly followed by a promotion to First Lieutenant as he was transferred to assume command of a familiar unit: Echo Three-Seven.
"Back Into The Fire"
- "Glad to have you back, Venter. I was worried they'd actually leave Sulzer in charge. Maybe now we can get back to the real war."
- ―Adam Palmer
As Venter learned from his old teammates the Hound Unit had continued to operate even after the catastrophe on Omelas. As Arthur’s executive officer Valerie Sulzer had briefly taken command of the unit before transferring to a secretive new position within ONI. Though puzzled that a junior officer such as himself would be placed in command of the Hounds, Venter set to work rebuilding the unit’s morale and combat effectiveness. Perhaps due to the taint of Omelas the unit was not sent back into battle against the Covenant. Instead the Hounds were redeployed to the Eridanus front, tasked with helping ONI stamp out a resurgent and emboldened Insurrection.
Though inexperienced with the finer points of commanding and organizing a unit, Venter excelled at bringing the Hounds back from the loss of their commander and executive officer. Now fighting on the frontlines of the UNSC's decades-long counter-insurgency war against the Insurrection, the Hound Unit transitioned from the conventional warfighting they'd practiced against the Covenant to asymmetrical warfare against human enemies. Venter's leadership was key to this transition as he rebuilt a team still recovering from the trauma of Omelas and the loss of their commander. Though Venter proved skilled at reorganizing the team he found himself deeply uncomfortable at the prospect of fighting a human enemy after such long battles against the pure existential threat of the Covenant.
- "This doesn't feel right. It's so much easier to kill the Covenant. I could care less if one of those vicious freaks has a family waiting back in whatever slime-pit they call a home. But humans... most of the 'terrorists' we kill are desperate street rats. That last shooter could have been me if I hadn't been arrested."
- ―Redmond Venter reflects on fighting the Insurrection
The Hound Unit’s counter-insurgency missions often saw them operating in plainclothes in rebel-occupied territory. Venter and the rest of this team were soon introduced to David Kahn, a member of an ONI black operations program with extensive contacts in the criminal underworld. Venter came to rely on both Kahn’s underworld connections and brutally efficient combat expertise and requested that agent be fully integrated into the Hound Unit. He encountered the next addition to his team quite by accident: while sheltering in a bar on he struck up a conversation with a young woman named Connie. Shortly after the meeting he received an anonymous tip that led the Hounds to several cells of local Insurrectionists. Connie approached him and revealed that she had provided the tip. Venter was unsure if the young woman was an ONI operative, double agent, or simply a UNSC sympathizer. Connie refused to elaborate when pressed and Venter, having taken a liking to her, let her keep her secrets.
But Venter’s world was about to become an ocean of secrets as he and his team were drawn into a vast web of ONI black operations and conspiracies. The Hound Unit’s mission was abruptly adjusted to focus on a string of illegal corporate activity across the Inner Colonies. According to the team’s ONI liaison, a privately contracted special weapons project was suspected of misusing government funds to enhance its own research. Venter and the Hounds were ordered to coordinate with a series of intelligence contacts across the colonies in preparation for a massive sting operation. As Venter hurried to assume leadership of an operation far beyond the scope of anything he had previously commanded, he was surprised to once again meet Connie—one of several moles within the organization he was targeting. Through Connie—or “Agent Connecticut” as she was known within Project FREELANCER—Venter was reunited with more familiar faces: his former commanders, Valerie Sulzer and Arthur Onegin.
From what Venter pieced together from his limited communication with Connie, Arthur, and Valerie, Project FREELANCER was an experimental supersoldier program that had far exceeded ONI’s operational parameters and effectively gone rogue. The three moles had all infiltrated the program itself as FREELANCER operatives and now joined the Hound Unit’s growing collection of contacts as it entrenched itself on colonies frequented by Freelancer agents. Connie continued to feed the Hounds intelligence on the program, often rendezvousing with Venter to transmit sensitive information during missions away from the Freelancer’s mobile base Mother of Invention. Though used to keeping intelligence contacts at arms length, fatigue from his mounting responsibilities left the generally guarded Venter more open to the emotions he usually tucked away in the back of his mind. He found himself looking forward to his meetings with Connie and before long they both realized that they were finding small excuses to meet with each other more frequently.
"We Were Never Supposed To Win"
- "Third Platoon just flatlined. No one called in any contact at all. Who the hell are these guys?"
- ―Grace Hart reports during the raid on Sigma Octanus IV
Following news of a Freelancer raid on a colonial outpost, Venter learned from Connie and Arthur that the rogue agents planned to launch a major operation on Sigma Octanus IV. The Hounds relocated to the planet and coordinated with the local defense forces to bolster security around the Freelancer's target: an ONI-contracted private research firm tasked with researching Covenant technology. Venter set up his command center in the firm's skyscraper headquarters but quickly realized just how ill-prepared a junior officer like himself was to coordinate operations over such a large area. He had little choice but to delegate leadership responsibilities to his fellow Hound operatives and the usually tight-knit squad found itself dispersed among several platoons of far less qualified militia forces.
Shortly after Connie confirmed the Freelancers’ intent to raid the city headquarters, Arthur extracted himself from his precarious position within the organization by faking his own death in deep space. Grateful for an opportunity to escape his operational duties, Venter personally led the rescue team and the Hounds were briefly reunited with their former leader. The reunion was short lived and ONI swiftly dispatched Arthur to scout out other potential Freelancer targets while Venter returned to Sigma Octanus IV to shore up defenses around the headquarters. But the Hounds and the defense forces were caught off-guard when the Freelancers unexpectedly launched their raid a week ahead of schedule. Connie’s warning came too late and Venter was still scrambling to mobilize his forces when Freelancer commandos tore through the city.
Venter did his best to direct the battle from his command center but could do little against the Freelancer’s onslaught. When the Hound unit finally cornered the Freelancer team, the Freelancer warship Mother of Invention—hidden in low orbit—fired a low-velocity MAC round that tore the skyscraper apart. Venter only barely escaped to an underground bunker as the building collapsed around him. Trapped by the rubble he was unable to join his forces as the Freelancers made their escape. In addition to the dozens of defense force soldiers killed or wounded and the damage to the city itself, nearly half the Hounds were maimed or wounded during the raid. Taking full responsibility for the fiasco, Venter fully expected to be relieved of command, if not demoted outright. Instead he and the Hounds were simply ordered to relocate their operations to an abandoned dockyard on Reach, licking their wounds while ONI scrambled to find a solution to the Freelancer crisis.
- Tom Spender: "You know, what with all the crazy stuff going around about you, you should really write a book or something. An autobiography. Set the record straight, tell it like it is."
- Redmond Venter: "Do I look like I've got time to write my memoirs? Besides, who wants to read a whole book full of me making excuses for myself? It'd be a boring story. There were some wars. I fought in them. I've always just been a page in someone else's history. All I ever wanted was a cause I could believe in. Leaders I could put my faith in. I never abandoned the cause, no matter what it cost me. Because it was never about just me. If nothing else, I've always done my duty. Right or wrong, I did my duty."
- ―Redmond Venter and Tom Spender shortly before the campaign on Talitsa
In the years following his death Venter became a figure of great contention among both military circles and the public imagination. As a UNSC officer-turned-rebel he fit the commonly held stereotype of an opportunist turncoat and was counted alongside such reviled figures as Robert Watts--by the same token, Insurrection propagandists portrayed him as a champion of conscience who defected after experiencing the true extent of the UNSC's crimes. His celebrity status among forces on both sides of the conflict meant that his presence on any given battlefield was rarely a secret. Thus he became both a morale-boosting folk hero for Insurrectionist soldiers and a recognizable villain for the UNSC's frontline troops. This also made him a convenient scapegoat for both Insurrectionist and UNSC officers alike: UNSC commanders would often use his involvement to excuse any defeat they suffered at rebel hands, while his detractors within the NCA's leadership blamed their defeats on Venter's reckless tactics. With so many radically divergent narratives surrounding his reputation, it is little wonder that Venter proved to be such an enigma. He was either a showboating incompetent, stumbling from defeat to defeat while buffered by an undeserved reputation, a cunning mastermind running circles around the UNSC while authoring the worst of the NCR's atrocities, or some combination of the two.
When removed from the divisive politics and morality surrounding the Insurrection conflicts, objective studies of Venter's career proved less contentious. Historians tend to agree on two points: that Venter was a truly gifted small-unit leader whose personal combat prowess inspired his troops to fight even in the face of insurmountable odds, and that he was wholly unsuited for the wider command roles he often found himself responsible for. These facts were keenly highlighted by two engagements, the first from the beginning of his rebel career and the second from its end: his guerilla activity on Mamore in 2554 and the disasterous occupation of Talitsa in 2558. On Mamore Venter led a small detachment in precision strikes against a numerically and materially superior foe, achieving victories removed from the broader scope of the planetary conflict. Conversly, on Talitsa he was responsible for the full scope of the NCR's occupation and was annihilated in short order by another superior force. The same precise, special operations style maneuvers that served him well on Mamore proved utterly innefective on a broader strategic scale.
The circumstances behind the extent of Venter's war crimes are similarly divergent. UNSC propaganda portrayed him as a bloodthirsty terrorist who routinely tortured and executed prisoners of war while brainwashing child soldiers to be callously sacrificed on the front line. Due to his vocal opposition to many NCA policies, particularly its relationship with the Syndicate, Venter had few friends among the higher echelons and was often made a scapegoat for various rebel atrocities. Venter's supporters--particularly soldiers who served under him--defended his actions on the battlefield, noting that the situations in which prisoners were executed always occurred during guerilla actions behind enemy lines in which case guarding and maintaining prisoners was simply not an option. They pointed out that similar practices were carried out by ODSTs, Spartans, and other UNSC special forces and that Venter had in fact learned the majority of his tactics during his time in the UNSC. Similarly, while none denied that Venter was prolific in his use of child soldiers they maintained that he rarely engaged them in suicide missions and that his philosophy of training children as special operatives was derived almost exclusively from his understanding of the UNSC's own Spartan program. Many surviving Insurrectionist veterans did take issue with his leadership during the Talitsa campaign, believing his dogged commitment to a lost cause resulted in an unnecessary loss of life. His infamous final "general attack" order at the battle's end--which amounted to little more than a large-scale suicide charge--was particularly controversial. Though he had given most of his forces the option to surrender at their own discretion prior to the attack, many believed he should have simply taken responsibility as commander and ordered all forces to lay down their arms once defeat became certain.
Due to the lack of widespread evidence surrounding his death, many competing rumors circulated regarding how Venter actually met his end. Many rebels attested that Venter was captured by ONI agents and summarily executed without trial, making him a martyr to the Insurrectionist cause. Others claimed he simply died during the final attack on Talitsa, while a few insisted he survived and continued to lead rebel operations in the far reaches of the frontier. Shortly after Venter's death a group of his surviving subordinates erected a small memorial to him on Mamore. The site became a popular pilgrimage site for Insurrectionists until it was desecrated by angry locals. The shrine was then moved to an undisclosed location, its whereabouts known only to a few of his surviving pupils. Due to his efforts in undermining the Syndicate and the Assembly, Venter's name was also quietly added to a memorial to the countless men and women who gave their lives during the Created Uprising.
Personality and Traits
- "Looking at him, everything he'd endured and everything he represented, I understood. This galaxy is hell. The strong eat the weak no matter what species they are, and the ones who refuse to fight are slaughtered just like all the others. We all do whatever we have to in order to win, and when the smoke clears the winners can justify everything they ever did when in reality they've accomplished nothing but the crime we call victory, paid for by the pain of the defeated. Our nature hasn't advanced a step beyond the Stone Age and men like Arthur who realize this simple fact must suffer far more than the rest of us."
- ―Redmond Venter speaking of Arthur Onegin, his former commanding officer
From his earliest days as a forgotten orphan within Reach's wellfare system, Redmond Venter yearned to be part of something larger than his own solitude. Much of his early life was spent seeking this out, first with Felson's Filchers, then with the Irregular gang, and again within the UNSC. Each time he believed he had found a lasting community, he saw it torn away from him by the workings of fate. This cycle came to a head with the decimation of the Hound Unit at the hands of Project FREELANCER. Embittered when the UNSC discarded his own unit and welcomed the Freelancers back into the fold, Venter defected to the Insurrection as a last resort, believing less in the movement's secessionist ideals than he did in his own desire for vindication against the government that had abandoned him and his comrades. However, the lasting influence of his friend and fellow Insurrectionist Gavin Dunn encouraged him to still seek out something akin to a family within the rebel cause. This urge drove him to attempt to adopt and train the child soldiers Stray and Emily on the battlefields of ; however, the burden of leadership against yet another insurmountable enemy drove Venter to ruthless lengths in order to continue the fight. Upon learning that Stray was a renegade , Venter focused his efforts on honing the young deserter's killing potential, without regard for the toll his methods were taking on Stray's mind. In the end, his need to carry on the fight led him to sacrifice Emily, which served to turn both Stray and Gavin against him. Betrayed by his protege and abandoned by his closest friend, Venter sank to even deeper levels of ruthlessness as he continued his service to the Insurrection.
A soldier at his core, Venter preferred taking the fight to the enemy directly rather than utilizing indirect politicking and scientific research. However, the demands of his position forced him to compromise his ideals time and time again until he was as much a project director for several criminally experimental programs as he was a field commander. Venter detested his role in programs such as Project Knight, but spearheaded them anyway because he believed them necessary to help further his cause. Although Mamore left him with little stomach to commit further atrocities in the name of the Insurrection, his loyalty to the ideals of Arthur Onegin gave him a cause worth sacrificing his very soul for. Few even had knowledge of his ties to Onegin, and so most of his enemies passed his ruthless tactics off as the actions of a terrorist warlord without a conscience. In the end, Venter cared little for the opinions of others as he strove to make his friend and mentor's dreams a reality.
- "The knife isn't an extension of your hand, it's an extension of your will. If the weapon's part of your body, your body may or may not move. But if it's part of your will, everything between your will and your weapon will move to achieve your ends. And that is far more effective for staying alive."
- ―Redmond Venter to Simon-G294.
As a former member of the UNSC High Command's premier black operations unit outside of the Spartans, Venter is an incredibly capable combatant. Having undergone training in dozens of combat-oriented schools and courses, he is a peak example of combat prowess in an unaugmented human. Though an accomplished marksman, Venter's true area of expertise is close quarters fighting. Despite his lack of augmentations, he has proven his lethality against stronger and faster opponents includingwarriors and even . During one of the UNSC's many attempts on his life, Venter reportedly killed an entire squad of with only a combat knife. He would pass his brutally effective method of fighting on to many of his pupils, particularly Simon-G294.
During the fighting on Mamore Venter proved himself to be a capable unit commander, guiding a poorly armed and equipped guerrilla force in a devastating campaign against superior UNSC forces. Upon assuming command of broader, galaxy-wide rebel activities, Venter began to rely more and more on advisers and sub-commanders to help him keep focus on the bigger picture. Although untrained as a naval officer, Venter has guided his flagship, the stolen destroyer Red Sea, through several engagements against both UNSC and Covenant forces.