Battle of Biko
The Battle of Biko was a short engagement between the United Nations Space Command and the Covenant Fleet of Inexorable Obedience in 2526 during the Human-Covenant War at the human Outer Colony of Biko. It occurred concurrently with Operation: SILENT STORM.
As their human colonies fell, the UNSC decided to launch Operation: SILENT STORM to counterattack the Covenant and buy humanity some time to develop countermeasures against Covenant technology. At the same time, Insurrectionists desired to forge an alliance with the Covenant and to protect Biko. To this end, they plotted to overthrow Biko's government while making a deal with the Covenant for the Covenant to help them take control of the planet. Their planned meeting on Seoba happened to take place at the same time as Task Force Yama was performing training exercises, leading to Operation: ICE DANCE which ended the Insurrectionist plot on Seoba, though the Insurrectionists managed to escape with the help of Lieutenant Commander Hector Nyeto during the Battle of Seoba. As part of his original message to the Covenant, General Harper Garvin warned that the Spartans were responsible for the destruction of the Unrelenting and the Radiant Arrow, causing the Covenant to realize that the most likely explanation was a boarding action and with Garvin's warning that the Spartans planned to do the same to the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience, plan to prevent against such a thing happening again.
On March 26, 2526, the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience arrived at Biko. Directly before their assault on Biko, the Covenant transmitted a message to the human colonists on its surface that stated "Your world will burn until its surface is but glass".
Taking heed of the warning given by General Harper Garvin, the Covenant fleet kept their fighter screen in close to prevent the Spartans from boarding their ships and destroying them from the inside. Biko's small space navy, mostly about fifty patrol frigates designed to disable smuggling ships, gathered on the dark side of the planet and attacked the Covenant force. Watching the battle from the Point Blank-class stealth cruiser UNSC Vanishing Point, Fred-104, Kelly-087, Linda-058 and John-117 were confused by the choice in tactics as the Covenant fleet accelerated towards the human fleet rather than trying to send their fighters to break up the human formation before it could swarm the capital ships. The Covenant fighters kept a tight but brittle defensive shell around the capital ships that even a couple of frigates could break. While the move could blow through the human defense, they would lose more than a few ships doing it despite mainly having Covenant cruisers and CAS-class assault carriers that could take a half-dozen salvos without their shields even flickering.
As the Spartans realized that the Covenant likely knew about the planned boarding action and were protecting against it, the two sides began exchanging fire with the capital ships continuing to cocoon themselves in a screen of their fighters. As the two fleets tore into each other, evacuation ships began to launch from Biko and the Covenant fleet made no move to intercept, possibly because they could only evacuate a small percentage of Biko's population. Even as the two fleets engaged in close combat, the Covenant struggled to keep their fighter screen in place, continuing to worry about potential boarders.
As the battle continued to rage, First Blade Tel 'Szatulai met with the Insurrectionists on the Banta-class transport Emmeline where Commandant Erland Booth attempted to threaten him into calling off the attack with a HAVOK tactical nuclear weapon. 'Szatulai killed Booth instead and the Insurrectionists attempted to negotiate with him for the Covenant's help in taking Biko, offering the HAVOK and the plans to the Spartans' armor. 'Szatulai decided to pretend to agree, in reality using the rebels to gain more intelligence upon the Spartans in order to be able to destroy them.
After five days of battle, the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience defeated Biko's defenders, but lost five cruisers in the process. In addition, Biko's defenders destroyed the planet's orbital shipbuilding stations that Fleetmaster Nizat 'Kvarosee had hoped to take control of for his own fleet's usage. With Biko's defenses gone, the Covenant turned to glassing the planet. During this battle, Task Force Yama also lost six Prowlers and the Black Daggers suffered heavy losses as well.[note 1]
During the battle, part of Task Force Yama split off to destroy the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience's logistics fleet at Etalan. As a result of the successful destruction of most of the logistics fleet, the Covenant fleet was left low on carrier gas for their plasma without the ability to resupply, leaving the fleet vulnerable. To counter this, Fleetmaster Nizat 'Kvarosee called forth a new logistics fleet from the planet Zhoist while continuing the glassing to keep up the appearance that the fleet was unhindered. However, Nizat summoning the second logistics fleet along with the kelguid recovered from the wreckage of the Intrusion-class corvette Worthy Silence allowed Doctor Catherine Halsey to determine the location of Zhoist for Task Force Yama to attack. Realizing this, First Blade Tel 'Szatulai successfully urged Nizat to take the Fleet of Inexorable Obedience to Zhoist to help defend the planet.
After the battle over the planet, the debris field of human vessels was pushed over Biko's northern pole by the Covenant to allow their fleet to proceed glassing the planet unobstructed. Following the Human-Covenant War, a fetcher, Oliver Birch visited the debris field over Biko, to retrieve a "saddle box" slipspace engine from the UNSC Dresden, one of the Marathon-class heavy cruisers that had participated in the engagement years prior.
After the battle, the AI collective known as the Assembly conducted an analysis of the Covenant's capability to glass a planet. While they concluded that the aliens could not possess firepower to literally melt the entirety of a planet's surface based on the firepower their warships demonstrated in space engagements, they believed that introducing the term "glassing" to common parlance would more effectively stress the severity of the Covenant threat. The planet was later reterraformed by the Unified Earth Government by 2558.
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