- “Screw the UNSC.”— Eric Santiago
Eric Santiago was a UNSC Navy Pilot during the Human-Covenant war. He was a member of the Colonial Military Administration before it was disbanded, and his service to the UNSC was something he had taken out of necessity, not human patriotism. He fought for almost the entirety of the Human-Covenant War.
Eric Santiago was born on the UEG colony of Madrigal in the early 26th century. Some time in early 2524 Eric joined the Colonial Military. After getting out of boot camp, Eric was shipped to Harvest where he met Gage Yevgenny and Felicia Sanderson at the Utgard Space Port. The three quickly became friends. They participated in Operation: TREBUCHET on Eridanus II, doing small jobs, such as investigating possible rebel activity and riot control in Elysium city. After two months, they had made friends with Allison Stark, a Pelican pilot for the CMA, who often flew them to parties on weekends. One particular weekend, after flying a Hornet to a night club, an Insurrectionist bomb went off inside, killing Allison, sending Eric into a coma, and heavily injuring Gage and Felicia, who were pulled out of the rubble by ODSTs. Eric was sent to Reach for better medical care.
Five years later, in 2529 Eric awoke from his coma to find that humanity was now engaged in the Human-Covenant war, and Madrigal had become the fourth planet to be glassed by the Covenant the previous year. With no home to return to, Eric enlisted in the UNSC Navy as a pilot.
- Main article: Human-Covenant war
For the next eighteen years flew in and out of battles in a Pelican Dropship, and achieved an unspecified but substantial rank. At some point during that time Eric was reunited with Felicia, now a Colonel, aboard the UNSC Chares and the two resumed their friendship. Felicia and Gage had both become Orbital Drop Shock Troopers but the two had been separated and had not seen each other in over two decades.
Following the Battle of Skopje in 2547, Felicia returned to the Chares with Gage Yevgenny, whom she had run into during the battle on the surface. The three were delighted to be together again, and already were having talks of retirement. Gage quickly noticed a change in Eric. Since his coma he had become so much more bitter and resentful toward the UNSC. Eric also subscribed to the not uncommon ODST resentment of the Spartans, calling them "freaks."
Disobeying orders and deathEdit
- Main article: Battle of New Jerusalem
In September 2552, during the Covenant invasion of the colony of New Jerusalem,[note 1] Eric was involved in an operation to infiltrate a city under siege by the Covenant, who were looking for alien artifacts. Simultaneously, several former CMA members were performing a clandestine operation to extract a massive supply of gold from a bank, gold that they would take for themselves and retire on. However, after infiltrating the bank, the ODST team discovered a class of school children and their teacher hiding in the underground vault, hoping to survive the planet's inevitable glassing. Having already loaded two Pelicans full of gold, the ODSTs knew there was no room for the children. To deceive the civilians, the troopers claimed that the gold would be used in the UNSC's war effort. Gage, who had seen too many people killed by the Covenant, was in strong favor of postponing the mission to save them. The other ODSTs, who claimed the children were as good as dead, disagreed, causing an argument. Felicia stepped in, wanting to call in more Pelicans, but the other ODSTs had already raised their weapons at one another. In an instant, Gage was shot in the abdomen, three other squad members were dead, and Felicia was fatally wounded. Gage rushed to her side, but she died in his arms.
Gage, in shock, went outside to find Eric, who informed him that the UNSC were falling back. Gage knocked Eric out with his sidearm and called for more Pelicans, claiming they were under heavy fire. He then flew Eric's Pelican to the pickup point and collected the artifacts the Covenant were looking for, as well as a Shiva nuclear device, then flew away from the city. Gage believed that the Covenant forces would follow him in pursuit of the relics. As he was being pursued by Covenant Banshees, he was "accidentally" shot down by ODSTs who knew of his betrayal.
Gage violently crashed near the mountains outside the city. He knew he was dying, but held on until Covenant forces and the rogue ODSTs, Eric among them, descended on the crash site. Gage then detonated the Shiva, killing them all.
- ↑ It has been confirmed in a comment by Tobias Buckell here that the rookie in Dirt is the same character as The Rookie from Halo 3: ODST. Thus, the battle depicted in the story has to be the Battle of New Jerusalem, as it was the last battle in which The Rookie participated before the Battle of Earth.