Tartarus, despite being first introduced in Halo 2, made his first appearance in the Halo timeline in the novel Contact Harvest, as the second-in-command aboard the Brute-commanded Rapid Conversion. This ship and its crew were employed by the Covenant Ministry of Tranquility to investigate numerous glyphs received when scanning the planet Harvest. Tartarus was not only in the second-highest position on the ship, but also the nephew of the shipmaster, Maccabeus. He is described as having black hair, with specks of aging silver, and donning red armor when in battle. As in the games, Tartarus is known for having an aggressive demeanor, yet knowing when not to dispute orders. As the conflict against Harvest's human residents drags on, Tartarus becomes impatient with his uncle's strategy for handling the battle. He eventually issues a challenge against Maccabeus' authority. The two begin to fight, although Tartarus is able to steal Maccabeus' hammer and badly wound him. The engagement moves toward the ship's central lift chamber, which is now a deep shaft lined by ladders (as Elites removed much sophisticated hardware, even most weaponry, before relinquishing ships to Brute control). As Maccabeus hangs over the edge, the combatants exchange last words before Tartarus sends him to his death at the chasm's base. Afterward, Tartarus descends to the Maccabeus' body and takes his uncle's armor for himself, claiming both the rank of Chieftain and that of Shipmaster.
Later, when launching an attack on Harvest's orbital cargo elevator, Tartarus is nearly killed in a firefight with Harvest militia trainees. The Deacon (a Grunt religious official), distraught with the death of his close friend, turns on the Brutes and fires an overcharged blast from a plasma pistol at Tartarus, depleting his energy shields. While this brings Tartarus extremely close to death, he is able to crush the Deacon with his hammer and hurriedly retreat from the battle.
Tartarus is a Brute Chieftain during the events of Halo 2. Annoyed by the lack of respect shown toward his race, and always being overshadowed by the Elites, he partners with the Prophets to overthrow the Elites. After the Prophet of Regret is killed by the Master Chief, Tartarus uses this as a chance to wrest control from the Elites, securing Honor Guard positions for his Brutes, and throwing the Eltes out, although they are still members of the Covenant. However, after the Arbiter retrieves the Index from Delta Halo's Library, Tartarus and the Prophets initiate their coup. Tartarus takes the Index from the Arbiter, then casts the Arbiter down a pit in the center of the Library, where he is caught by Gravemind. At the same time, all across the Covenant city and fleet, the Brutes turn against and attack the Elites, on the Prophet's orders. While this conflict is going on, Tartarus takes Miranda Keyes and the Index to Delta Halo's control room. It is here that the Arbiter catches up with him, and reveals the truth about the Halo rings. Refusing to believe what he is being told, Tartarus activates the ring and draws his gravity hammer for combat. While the ring is charging, the Arbiter fights and eventually kills Tartarus with the help of other Elites and Sergeant Johnson. After his death, Miranda Keyes is able to safely retrieve the Index from Halo's control center, aborting the firing sequence of the installation.
- Rank: Chieftain of the Jiralhanae
- Species: Jiralhanae
- Height: 10ft
- Hair Color: White
- Eye Color: Orange
Tartarus utilizes the strongest and oldest of gravity hammers, the Fist of Rukt. The weapon itself holds a long lasting legacy, originally starting as a blunt stone hedged armament used by the ancient Jiralhanae, but later enhanced gravity technology was applied to the ceremonial weapon. The Fist of Rukt was passed down from Chieftain to Chieftain, as it was regarded as a holy and sacred object to the Brutes. It also possesses traits that traditional gravity hammers do not behold. As seen in Halo 2, Tartarus uses the powers of the Fist of Rukt to magnetically bring forth 343 Guilty Spark. The whereabouts of the Fist of Rukt remain unknown after the death of Tartarus.