A Brief History Of The Halo Universe
20/06/2007 at 19:20
About 25 years before Halo 1.
Humanity has spread through part of the galaxy. Civil war isn't rife, but is causing problems including insurgent terrorists, rebel insurrections and piracy etc. Dr Halsey dreams up the Spartan II program; super soldiers that can perform surgical strikes against key enemy positions, taking out problems with a scalpel, not a broadsword. Contact with the colony world of Harvest is lost. A scout ship is sent to investigate. A single image of an unknown alien warship orbiting the planet is sent back to HQ, but then contact is lost. A battlegroup of 3 warships is sent out to investigate. They find that Harvest has been destroyed, its surface bombarded by so much weapons fire that it has turned to glass. Only 1 ship survives, and it limps home to tell the tale. The Covenant have been encountered, and declares war on humanity for reasons unknown, except that we're heretics, and an apparent affront to them. The declaration of war is made in English, not in any of the native tongues of the species of the Covenant.
"Your destruction is the will of the Gods... and we are their instrument"
For years humanity suffers defeat after defeat at the hands of the Covenant. Although the UNSC, humanities space fleet so to speak, is usually tactically more advanced and aware than their Covenant enemies, they're severely lacking the technological edge. Covenant ships are able to hold their own against numbers in excess of 3 to 1, and the Covenant have considerably more resources at their command. Several more colonies fall, each planet suffering the same fate as Harvest, orbital bombardment. Glassing. Admiral Cole is able to retake the colony of Harvest back, but only after outnumbering his enemy by more than 3 to 1, and even then he lost two thirds of his fleet. The Cole protocol is established; no ship can let a Covenant craft find Earth. Any encounter with the Covenant leads to a purge of the navigational database. Any ships being boarded must self destruct if capture is inevitable. Any ships must leave systems on randomised vectors to avoid Covenant pursuit. During a battle above the planet of Cote D'Azur a small Covenant tracking device is attached to the hull of the UNSC destroyer Iroquois, captained by Jacob Keyes. The Mjolnir project is put underway by Dr Halsey; designed to augment the already impressive Spartans even further.
The Spartan III program is also instigated, lead by a Spartan II who is effectively kidnapped by a department of Oni, the shadowy intelligence arm of the UNSC. The Spartan is Kurt; he's listed as MIA, and never seen again by anyone from the "normal" side of things until much later on. He's kidnapped to train the next generation of Spartans. These Spartans are designed to be cheaper, mass produced lemmings, designed to take out highly critical targets that are too well defended to have any hope of survival. They're trained from a very young age, pumped full of chemicals and minor augmentations, bred to be aggressive. Their armour is inferior to the armour of the Spartan II's, and they're no where near as fast, but it does come with permanent camouflage. They're combat ready by the age of 12. There have so far been 3 units. The first 2 died in combat, taking out high priority targets, the first a Covenant Shipyard, the second a Covenant refinery, making the fuel that powers their vessels.
Just before Halo 1.
The UNSC hatches a plot to send a group of Spartan II's to infiltrate a Covenant ship, capture it intact, find the homeworld and hold their leaders hostage. An absurd plan it may seem, but the Spartans have NEVER lost a battle. The Pillar of Autumn, captained by Captain Keyes, is to lead them into the fight. Just before the mission starts all ships are urgently recalled to the planet Reach. Reach is the primary ship yard of the UNSC, and is also the last bastion of human hope, before Earth. Reach falls after the biggest fight between the Covenant and UNSC, but Reach is not destroyed/glassed as per the normal routine of the Covenant. Instead they start excavating directly below where Reach HQ was. Cortana, on board the Autumn with the Chief, matches up some hieroglyphics found on some rocks on Reach, to some stars. She thinks it's a star chart. As the battle is lost all remaining human ships enter slipspace at a random vector, but Cortana jumps the Autumn to where she thinks these star charts are pointing. (Happily it is also a random vector as per the Cole Protocol) They arrive at Halo to find the Covenant already there.
After crash landing the Autumn on Halo, the human survivors go about a guerrilla series of scraps with the Covenant. The Covenant, in their efforts to unlock Halo's secrets, release the Flood, a highly intelligent and parasitic life form that consumes all life "of sufficient bio mass and cognitive ability". After rescuing Captain Keyes from the Covenant, the Chief is approached by a glowing blue orb calling itself 343 Guilty Spark. 343GS calls the Chief a "reclaimer", and states that his assistance is needed to stem the outbreak of Flood. He says several interesting things along the way (Least of which is "when you asked me last time if the choice was mine, would I do it?") but is otherwise quite insane. He doesn't state how Halo will end the Flood threat though. As the Chief is about to fire, Halo Cortana intervenes, explaining that Halo doesn't kill the Flood, it kills their food; humans, Covenant, "we're all equally edible". They also learn from 343GS that there're several Halos throughout the galaxy, and should one fire they will all fire, wiping the galaxy clean of all life capable of sustaining the Flood. They'll starve to death. Ultimately the Chief manages to destroy the Halo (Called Alpha Halo so far, but if I remember rightly it's actually installation 004) by setting off a fusion chain reaction in the engine core of the crippled Pillar of Autumn. Nothing survives, EXCEPT for 343GS, the Chief and Cortana. From the books: A small pelican craft with 4 people on also escaped before Halo was destroyed. On board was a Marine (who dies) a pilot (who dies) an operative of Oni (The Intelligence branch of UNSC, who again, dies) and Sergeant Johnson (Who survives. Hurrah)
After Halo 1, before Halo 2
With just a long swordfighter and pelican, the 5 humans have no way of getting home. They crash land on an unusual Covenant ship, and take over. It's unusual in that it has almost no fighting force on board, but is swarming with Engineers (They fix and repair shit). It was probably a surveying ship for the recently destroyed Halo. After a bit of wandering around they find a massive Covenant spacestation arming over 500 ships, 50% more than what took out planet Reach. And the Covenant have found Earth (They put a tracking device on a ship from Book 1.) the Chief and several other Spartans manage to set its power grid to back fire, taking almost everything out. The Spartans are rescued from what remains of Reach and the excavation site, along with a crystal that can bend time and space, and also stands out like a signal flare to the Covenant. The Covenant regard this as almost holy, as shown when over 1000+ Covenant troops all fire on a pair of Hunters who, impatiently, fire on the Spartans holding the crystal. The crystal is destroyed to stop the Covenant tracking them. Eventually every one gets home and it's drinks, promos, and slaps on the back all round. It should also be stated that the crystal had sufficient power to be able to bend time and space to the point where the Chief and his company complete events after the destruction of Halo, before they've actually arrived there. Date wise the massive Covenant station, Unyielding Hierophant, was destroyed on the 13th of September. The Pillar of Autumn did not arrive at Halo until the 19th of September, yet story wise the Unyielding Hierophant was destroyed after Halo. The whole "messing with time" seems to be restricted mainly to the books though.
It all starts off a bit pear shaped. First everyone is saying "whoo-ooh! Good job son!" And then the Covenant show up. But oddly, only 15 ships. (Over 300 took out Reach). The ships have also jumped just outside range of Earths considerable defences, and on board is Regret, one of the 3 ruling Prophets of the Covenant. Later on you find out that he asks for forgiveness from Truth and Mercy (the other 2 prophets) for jumping the gun. Turns out something of a coincidence is afoot here; Mercy was looking for a Forerunner artefact, not Earth. The two just happened to co-inside. Despite being stupidly outgunned, his small fleet punches a hole in Earth's defences by taking out 2 of 3 orbital defence stations in the defence grid ( Malta and Athens. You save Cairo) and proceeds to head to Earth, specifically New Mombassa. After breaking the siege there, you chase Regret through his slipspace jump onboard In Amber Clad, a small frigate captained by Miranda Keyes, daughter of deceased Jacob Keyes. New Mombassa is completely destroyed by the slipspace wake of the fleeing Covenant ship.
She finds herself above another Halo (Called Delta Halo) and the Covenant are already entrenched. She orbital drops the Chief and some ODSTs (Orbital Drop Shock Troopers; Kick arse Marines) onto Delta Halo to find out what the Covenant are up to. 'lo and behold, they're trying to fire it. They're convinced that by firing Halo they'll start the Great Journey that the Forerunners took (The Forerunners being the people who created the Halos) So, you've got to stop it. Things are considerably worse though; the Flood have already taken Penitent Tangent 2401 hostage (He's Delta Halo's equivalent of 343GS) and are in control, apart from the autonomous systems. Now they're after a ship to get off of Halo. They're "lead" by Gravemind. Lead is probably an inaccurate word, as they seem to be more hive mind than anything else.
Elsewhere: The Elite Commander who led the armada at Alpha Halo is brought before the council accused of gross failure. He is branded with the mark of shame, and is due to be executed. However, Truth makes him an Arbiter, a soldier given a suicide mission. His job is to capture or kill the leader of Elite Heretics. They're a small movement of Elites (And grunts) who're defying the Prophets. Why? Because they know the truth about Halo; 343GS found them and convinced them. The Arbiter defeats the Heretic Leader, and 343GS is captured by Tartarus, the leader of the Brutes.
The Brutes are a recent addition to the Covenant, and are just basically walking muscle. The Arbiter is then ordered to accompany Tartarus to Delta Halo to help him set off Halo, and start off the great journey. The Flood manage to capture In Amber Clad, and crash into High Charity, the Covenant Flagship (And possible homeworld). There, hop is to use the giant Covenant ship to escape their Halo prison. Due to the Elite's failure to protect the Prophets from the Flood, the Brutes take charge as their protectors, usurping the power the Elites have held for so long. Civil war erupts, with the Brutes, Drones, Prophets and Jackels on one side, and the Elites and Hunters on the other. Grunts seem to side with who ever shouts at them the loudest. The Elite ruling body, the Council, is murdered en masse. After the Chief kills Regret on Delta Halo, The Arbiter and the Chief are captured by Gravemind. They're "ordered" by him to stop Halo being fired. The Chief is sent to stop Truth, the Arbiter is sent to stop Tartarus.
Tartarus forces Miranda to place in the "index" (the key to firing Halo) into the systems, as only a "reclaimer" can physically do it. Halo is primed to fire. The Arbiter shows up and, along with Johnson, they kill Tartarus. Miranda retrieves the Index, and the firing sequence is stopped just in the nick of time. The Chief chases Truth to the centre of High Charity, where he discovers that they've been using a captured Forerunner ship to power the whole city. Mercy, about to flee with Truth, is attacked by the Flood and dies. The Chief gets onboard the Forerunner ship with Truth (obviously not side by side or anything) Cortana is left behind in the network of High Charity to stop the Flood. She's later interrogated by Gravemind.
Truth intends to go to the Ark; the entire Halo system was set into standby mode after the "cancellation" at Delta Halo. They can be remotely activated from the Ark. The forerunner ship exits slipspace right near earth. Coincidence?
The last steps of the Spartans
Dr Halsey and Kelly (Spartan II) flee to planet Onyx, the training grounds of the Spartan IIIs. The 3 remaining Spartans (Aside from the Chief) are ordered there to help out; they are Will, Fred and Linda. Dr Halsey (A bloody clever woman by all accounts) discovers that Onyx isn't natural; it's a planet made by the Forerunners. In Onyx is a stable slipspace rift to what can only be described as "another dimension". Inside of which appears to be a Dyson Sphere. The remaining troop of Spartan IIs and IIIs all get through, except for Kurt who stays behind to detonate two bombs to close the rift. The rift is closed, and most of the planet is destroyed. What is found is that there's literally trillions of Sentinels guarding the rift, working "underground" so to speak to protect this last bastion of hope from the Flood; as it's presumed that the Forerunners didn't in fact kill themselves when the Halos were last fired, but in fact escaped the blast.