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Oly Oly Oxen Free is a seven-beat tone used as an "all-clear" code by the SPARTAN-IIs. Spartans would either just whistle the tone or would whistle it and shout "Oly Oly Oxen Free" after. The proper counter-response was, "Oly Oly Oxen Free, All out in the free, We're all free."
Oly Oly Oxen Free was a secret amongst the SPARTAN-IIs. They, and a select few outsiders knew it. Those outsiders were close to the SPARTAN-II's "family"; such as Dr. Catherine Halsey, Cortana, and Sergeant Johnson. Thus, the signal was extremely important to each Spartan; they would rather die than give up the significance of the tone, which could potentially be used to betray or endanger their teammates. They learned this tune/code from their AI instructor, Déjà, while they were training on Reach.
The term Oly Oly Oxen Free was used on numerous occasions throughout Halo. Some of the times it was used are as follows:
- After the Spartan Team had beaten Tango Company and John-117 had checked to make sure their evacuation point was all clear.
- After the Fall of Reach, Anton-044 used it as an S.O.S. signal over the E-Band.
- In order to allow the SPARTAN-IIs to enter CASTLE Base, Kelly-087 used it to let Dr. Halsey know it was them.
- During Operation: FIRST STRIKE, Linda-058 used it to let John know where she was so he could find her and pick her up.
- At the end of Operation: FIRST STRIKE, Sergeant Johnson used it to let Blue team know that the UNSC Gettysburg was holding station behind a nearby moon.
- When the rest of Blue Team, minus John-117 arrives on Onyx, Kelly whispers "Olly Olly Oxen Free" (probably a misprint as it is spelled with only one L), over the COM.
- When Dr. Halsey takes Kelly-087 on the Beatrice with her.
- Cortana uses this tone to signal Blue Team to several consoles on Genesis.
- Dana Awbrey alludes to this phrase by titling a blog post "Oly Oly Axon Free."
- Oly Oly Oxen Free was originally used to tell players in a game of hide and seek that the game was over and they could come out of hiding.
- Oly Oly Oxen Free has 7 syllables, which is a 7 reference.
- In the book Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, Oly Oly Oxen Free is incorrectly spelled "Olly Olly Oxen Free."
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 Halo: First Strike Page 166
- ↑ Halo: First Strike page 56
- ↑ Halo: First Strike, page 118: "Or maybe you're just not saying anything they want to hear," Kelly said. She whistled a six-note singsong tune.
- ↑ Halo: First Strike Page 322
- ↑ Halo: First Strike, Page 326
- ↑ Halo: Ghosts of Onyx Page 236
- ↑ Halo 5: Guardians - Level: Reunion
- ↑ Halo 3