Battle for the Truth and Reconciliation
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This article is about the larger battle to control the cruiser later on in the conflict. For the first raid conducted by John-117 to rescue Captain Keyes, see Raid on the Truth and Reconciliation.
During the ongoing campaign on Installation 04, the CCS-class battlecruiser Truth and Reconciliation became the focus of an ongoing battle between the forces of the Covenant defenders, the Flood and the United Nations Space Command. The majority of the battle focused on a protracted struggle between the Flood and the Covenant for control of the ship, though the arrival of an ODST force late in the battle ultimately saw the vessel's capture and destruction.
On September 19, 2552, the Truth and Reconciliation was one of the several CCS-class battlecruisers to take part in a space engagement over Installation 04. During the fighting, the Reconciliation was heavily damaged by UNSC Pillar of Autumn and forced to land to conduct maintenance and repairs, leading to the vessel being employed as a base of operations for Covenant ground forces on the ring. That evening, the ship was the subject of a raid conducted by a team led by John-117, using the simultaneous raid on the downed Autumn as a distraction.
The raid was very damaging to the Covenant on the ring, with the ship's commanding officer Lat 'Ravamee killed and the fact proven that humans could trick the Covenant's detection systems. In response, the perimeter surrounding the ship's gravity lift was fortified and teams began a compartment-by-compartment sweep of the ship to ensure no humans remained in hiding.
Later on in the conflict, a series of squabbles between the Fleet of Particular Justice's fleetmaster, Thel 'Vadamee and the assigned Minor Prophet, the Prophet of Stewardship, saw the former attempt to board the carrier Ascendant Justice - resulting in the Minor Prophet retreating groundside and establishing the still-grounded Truth and Reconciliation as his base of operations.
As the conflict on Alpha Halo bore on into its later stages, the fleet's command element issued a general order to evacuate the ring due to the ever-increasing growth of the Flood parasite. However, the parasite ultimately was able to attack the cruiser, ultimately managing to disable it before it could comply with the order. As a consequence, the Covenant deployed a strike team to begin the process of eradicating the infestation and readying the ship for lift-off. What followed was a long and bloody engagement, as Covenant forces fought to clear the ship's many compartments while the Flood continued to pour into the canyons surrounding the landing site.
Having successfully escaped the clutches of 343 Guilty Spark and temporarily disabled the ring's firing mechanisms, Cortana was able to use the internal fusion reactor in the armour of John-117 to teleport the Spartan to the Truth and Reconciliation. Having established the need to destroy the ring, the duo determined that the best outcome was to use Captain Jacob Keyes' CNI transponder to detonate the Pillar of Autumn's fusion drives; hopefully blowing up the ring in the process. However, the Captain had been regarded as MIA since his disappearance in the Flood facility outbreak - with the only clue to his location being his CNI interface's transmission being located at the Truth and Reconciliation.
The SPARTAN was ultimately able to fight through the ship's seemingly-endless waves of Flood and Covenant attackers to the bridge - where he discovered that he was too late to save Keyes. Instead, the Flood had begun amassing biomatter in the bridge to construct a Proto-Gravemind, with Keyes at its centre. With no other options left, John punched through Keyes' skull to recover his neural interface, before escaping to the hangars to steal a Banshee and escape to the crash site of the Pillar of Autumn.
While they attempted to rescue Keyes, Cortana was also able to link back up with the UNSC forces at Alpha Base and inform them of the current situation; the Truth and Reconciliation was spaceworthy and the ring was soon to be imminently destroyed. Consequently, Major Antonio Silva began to plan an operation to let his ODST battalion escape the ring, by capturing the Truth and Reconciliation for themselves. If all went well, either Cortana or Wellsley would be able to fly the cruiser, at which point they would return to Earth with an intact Covenant vessel full of data on the Covenant and the ringworld, Flood and Covenant prisoners and a myriad of technology samples to reverse engineer.
On September 22, seventy-six hours after the initial landing on the Installation, the operation commenced, despite warnings by Wellsley that the Flood's continued presence aboard the ship could well endanger all life on Earth. However, Silva rejected the AI's suggestion, due to the officer's own ego and hubris.
In total, the human force consisted of fifteen scavenged Banshees, 236 marines armed with close-quarters weaponry (the total surviving infantry complement under Alpha Base's command), 76 Naval personnel armed with scavenged Covenant plasma pistols and rifles and three D77-TC Pelican with which to transport them. The Naval personnel were lightly armed as to allow them to carry supplies, and a group of sixteen individuals were deemed to have critical skills essential enough to warrant two Marine bodyguards each.
By this time, the Covenant force had been depleted enough by their fight against the Flood that only around fifteen Banshees remained in the air to conduct combat air patrol operations for the Reconciliation, resulting in the craft being taken by surprise by the surprise attack launched from sunward by the fifteen human-piloted Banshees. Within a minute of fighting beginning, half of the Covenant Banshees were taken out of action, and the rest split off into individual dogfights. The attack was followed up by a rapid insertion via Pelican, with Lieutenant Peterson and his fellow pilots deploying a force of forty-five ODSTs led by Silva into the cruiser's shuttle bay to assault the ship's control room.
Simultaneously, a ground attack was launched by Melissa McKay on the gravity lift site, utilising an advantage of knowledge gathered from the previous raid on September 19. However, the ODSTs faced stubborn resistance, with the Covenant having thrice-fortified the ship compared to the defenses encountered two days prior. Rocket-equipped teams fired their rockets at the defending Elites and Hunters before throwing grenades into the mix - clearing the defending party in thirty-six seconds. This team was designated to assault the ship's engineering bay, allowing UNSC forces effective control of the ship for flight. Thanks to the lightning attack conducted by the ODSTs, the humans were able to take control of more than 80% of the ship and capture the Prophet of Stewardship in short order, sealing off the compartments with known enemy activity for dealing with later. Instead, Silva prioritised getting the ship online and operational, vowing the make sure the cruiser was off the ground before the ring was detonated. In response to his capture, the Prophet of Stewardship sent out an emergency rescue request to the Fleet of Particular Justice, though the request was ignored as the fleet began to move to safe cover behind the gas giant Threshold.
As pre-flight preparations were conducted and personnel loaded onto the ship, the occupying humans continued to be periodically attacked by Flood hidden in the ship's access pathways. This circumstance caused McKay and Wellsley to urge Silva again to keep the ship grounded until all Flood presence could be cleared, though the request was once again refused. Ultimately, this answer came in the form of a fiber-optic cable linking the bridge to engineering, required to keep the ship operating. Initially, the now-infected Wallace Jenkins had attempted to lunge for the cable to prevent the Flood outbreak from spreading further though failed due to his restraints, ultimately inspiring McKay to do the same. The officer proceeded to detonate a grenade on the cable, causing the control links from the bridge to the engines to be severed, resulting in the Truth and Reconciliation crashing onto the surface of Installation 04.
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