Fall of High Charity
The fall of High Charity was a large battle for the control of the Covenant capital world High Charity among the Covenant, the Sangheili and those loyal to them, limited UNSC forces, and later, the Flood. The battle marked several significant events, including the start of the Great Schism, SPARTAN John-117's pursuit of the Prophet of Truth to Earth, and the Flood invasion and infestation of High Charity.
The fracturing of the Covenant
With the Jiralhanae, who directly competed with the Sangheili, slowly gaining the favor of the San'Shyuum Hierarchs, it was only a matter of time before the latter were overthrown and open warfare began between the two parties. Recent failures of the Sangheili leading up to the battle, including the loss of Installation 04 and the assassination of the Prophet of Regret by the UNSC, damaged the reputation of the Sangheili and further empowered and emboldened the Jiralhanae. These events spurred the Changing of the Guard, giving the Jiralhanae the duty of protecting the Prophets - an honor traditionally held by the Sangheili, further damaging their reputation and position within the Covenant.
Battle of Installation 05
The Prophet of Regret's wayward mission to Earth brought High Charity, John-117 and the UNSC In Amber Clad to Installation 05. The subsequent assassination of Regret by John-117 on November 2, 2552, shocked the entire Covenant ruling structure. The Sangheili-controlled fleet's attempt to kill John-117 from orbit had failed and instead threw him into the clutches of the Gravemind, located deep underneath the Library of Installation 05. With the Gravemind already plotting its way off of the Halo, this would set the tables for the invasion by both the Flood and the "Demon".
It would be Tartarus, however, who put the final pieces of the puzzle into place—some of them inadvertently. After the Arbiter successfully acquired Installation 05's activation index from the Library, Tartarus, on the order of the Hierarchs, attempted to execute him by firing a burst from his Fist of Rukt at the Arbiter and knocking him into the depths of the Library—and into the Gravemind's lair. Tartarus then took the Index and Commander Miranda Keyes and Sergeant Major Avery Johnson as prisoners back to High Charity where the Hierarchs waited.
With the index in the hands of the Covenant, and as ignorant as they might be to the true purpose of the Halos, they were fully intent on firing them - an act that would prove fatal to the Gravemind should it occur. As such, the Gravemind knew that it must not be activated, and for that it brought John-117 and the Arbiter together. After persuading the Arbiter of Halo's true power, it sent John-117 to High Charity and the Arbiter to the local installation's Control Room - the two most likely places for the Index to be. It then prepared to bring the other part of its plan into action - the invasion of High Charity.
By the time John-117 arrived at High Charity, the High Charity defense fleet was in chaos. Sangheili and Jiralhanae-controlled ships engaged one another among the vast number of ships protecting the city. Unrest had begun within the city, with numerous Unggoy and Kig-Yar rioters attempting to access the Council Chamber while being held back by Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen. Within the Council Chamber, Truth, with Mercy next to him, was giving a speech to the Covenant acknowledging the release of the Flood and announcing Tartarus' successful acquisition of the "sacred icon". As Truth's speech drew to a close, John-117 was teleported into the room by the Gravemind, appearing right beside the Unggoy who was filming the speech. He acquired the Unggoy's Needler and aimed it at the Hierarchs, but the Honor Guardsmen protected the Prophets in order for them to escape.
John-117 soon eliminated the Honor Guardsmen in the room. Tartarus publicly announced to the city that the "demon" had infiltrated the Council Chamber, and promptly sealed the exits. Multiple lances of Unggoy and Jiralhanae soon entered in an attempt to kill the intruder but the Spartan prevailed. After clearing out the Covenant in the chamber, John-117 inserted Cortana into High Charity's security systems so she could open the doors to the room. She then opted to remain in the system as she felt it would provide her the greatest opportunity to aid him. With the Index clearly in the possession of the Prophet of Truth, the Spartan chased after the fleeing Prophet. He fought his way out onto the balcony formerly used to torture Thel 'Vadamee, engaging many Covenant troops and defenses including plasma cannons and a Jiralhanae Captain. Cortana used her access to High Charity's systems to reverse a gravity lift on the balcony which allowed the Spartan to travel to a lower level of the tower. As the Master Chief traversed a series of corridors, Cortana informed him that there were Marine transponders somewhere below his position. After clearing out a two-tiered room of a pack of Jiralhanae, Cortana activated another gravity lift. The Spartan was carried downwards into a large prison area. After a prolonged battle that saw the Master Chief defeating waves of Covenant entering from various doors, the Spartan was successful in rescuing five Marines who joined him in his hunt for the Prophet. The Covenant refused to give up the prison without a fight, however; more troops, including Unggoy Heavies with plasma cannons, descended from the gravity lift the Chief used to enter the prison. The UNSC force was successful in repelling the attack, and left the prison.
The Great Schism begins
Soon after the Marines were rescued by the Master Chief, the Prophet of Truth declared that the Jiralhanae were now in charge of all Covenant fleets. The Jiralhanae within High Charity, under the secret order of Truth, instigate a citywide attack on the Sangheili, and the conflict that was already occurring within the defence fleet spread into High Charity itself. The Kig-Yar and Yanme'e remained loyal to the Jiralhanae-led Covenant while the majority of the Mgalekgolo remained loyal to the Sangheili. The Unggoy were present on both sides, as they generally remained loyal to whoever was commanding them. The Jiralhanae focused on attacking Sangheili in the towers of the city, then spread out to the lower levels. Meanwhile, the fighting above and around the city continued, with the Jiralhanae and San'Shyuum Prelates initially winning the battle against the Sangheili.
John-117 and the rescued Marines made their way through corridors full of battling members of different species as the Covenant fragmented around them. Many former Sangheili Honor Guardsmen reacquired the armor that they lost during the Changing of the Guard, fighting against the Covenant and the Prophets that they once protected. Swarms of Yanme'e flitted through the corridors, providing aerial support for the Jiralhanae as they led Kig-Yar against the Sangheili. The human force sometimes opted to watch as the two sides fought rather than becoming directly involved. As the Master Chief and his Marines entered the first Valley of Tears, they witnessed brutal up-close fighting between Jiralhanae and Sangheili soldiers, while a lone Mgalekgolo attempted to fend off surrounding Jiralhanae and Kig-Yar Snipers. Above these combatants, aerial conflict between Sangheili Rangers and Yanme'e raged. Taking advantage of the in-fighting Covenant, the UNSC team was able to traverse through the environment module. As they made their way into one of the city's Hanging Gardens, the crack of a slipspace rupture filled the air as the UNSC In Amber Clad emerged, passing over the humans and crashing into a tower ahead of their position, although it would be a while until the humans knew the truth around the frigate's arrival.
Fighting through dueling Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen and Special Operations Sangheili in the Hanging Gardens, the Spartan and his Marines entered the Mid Tower, where more fighting between aerial Covenant units was taking place. Even as the Prophet of Truth delivered reassuring announcements through the city's loudspeakers, the Jiralhanae within the city began to make headway against the Sangheili, forcing them out of the second Hanging Garden and back towards the Mausoleum of the Arbiter. John-117 arrived in the garden just in time to see several Jiralhanae slaughtering a group of panicking Unggoy. The Sangheili-led Covenant made a firm stand against the Jiralhanae in the second Valley of Tears, deploying a unit of Special Operations Unggoy and Sangheili into the area. The bridge leading into the Mausoleum saw some of the most intense fighting, as the Sangheili, along with Mgalekgolo and heavy weapon-wielding Unggoy battled to deny the Jiralhanae entrance to the Mausoleum. Despite their efforts, a group of Jiralhanae managed to make it through and fighting spread to the central chamber of the Mausoleum itself. A massive battle between the Jiralhanae, a number of Ultras and another Mgalekgolo pair occurred around the sarcophagus that once housed the armor of the Arbiter. Despite the odds, the Master Chief succeeded in eliminating all Covenant between him and the Prophet of Truth, although all of his accompanying Marines died in the process.
Invasion of the Flood
Even as John-117 closed in on the Prophet of Truth, the truth about the In Amber Clad soon made itself known; the UNSC frigate had become infested by the Flood while over Installation 05's Quarantine Zone. With the ship having deployed most of its forces onto the surface of the ring to aid in the push through the Quarantine Zone, the Flood easily overwhelmed the under-strength ship and the Gravemind himself used the ship to deliver himself onto High Charity. Swarms of Pod infectors seeped out of rents in the frigate's hull while the ship's remaining Pelicans were used to deploy Flood forms across the city. As the Flood threat became apparent, the ships crewed by San'Shyuum Prelates began to depart from the ongoing naval battle around High Charity to descend to High Charity's lower stalks in order to rescue the San 'Shyuum from the city.
Shortly after the battle in the Mausoleum, Truth made it to his escape Phantom on the Far Tower and handed the Index over to Tartarus to commence the "Great Journey". Tartarus prepared to take the Index along with 343 Guilty Spark and UNSC prisoners Commander Keyes and Sergeant Major Johnson to Installation 05 to activate the Halo. Before they could leave, however, Pod infectors attacked them. Tartarus and Jiralhanae Honor Guardsmen tried to defend the Prophets of Truth and Mercy, but one of the Pod infectors got through their screen and landed on Mercy. When Tartarus tried to remove the infector, Truth ordered him to let the Prophet die so Truth himself could be the sole Hierarch ruling the Covenant.
John-117 arrived just in time to see the three Phantoms depart from the Far Tower, two of them departing High Charity for Installation 05 while the third, Truth's, headed into the city. It didn't take him long to find the place where the Prophet of Mercy lay, struggling with the Pod infector and nearing death. In his interrogation of the Prophet, he learned that the Prophet of Truth was intending to make his way to Earth. The Chief then killed the Pod infector, killing the frail Prophet in the process. Cortana determined that Truth was heading towards the Forerunner Dreadnought which stood in the middle of the city. Cortana stated that she could detonate In Amber Clad's reactors if it was needed to destroy the Halo installation. Cortana determined that she could not trust the fail-safe detonation of In Amber Clad to any copy of herself and so she had to remain behind. As the Chief prepared to move, a Flood-controlled Pelican crashed nearby, spilling Flood combat forms onto the Far Tower. As John-117 moved back into the Mausoleum tower, Cortana informed the Spartan that there was a conduit connecting to the Dreadnought nearby. While John-117 fought his way through the city which was by this point rapidly falling to the Flood and was beginning the process of becoming a Flood hive, Cortana was forced to contend with a fragment of the ancient Forerunner Ancilla Mendicant Bias to delay the launch of the Dreadnought. John-117 barely made to the Dreadnought in time through the conduit. Before he left, the Chief promised to come back for Cortana.
Since the Forerunner Dreadnought served as the power source to High Charity, most of the lighting shut down as a result of the Dreadnought leaving the city's power grid, worsening the catastrophe. In pitch black darkness, the Flood spread virulently through the High Charity, attacking and infecting the warring Jiralhanae and Sangheili. As Flood forms swarmed the Tower Districts, the Covenant forces led by the Jiralhanae were overrun after the Sangheili were wiped out. After the Tower Districts fell, the Flood moved on to the city's many other levels, quickly overwhelming the remaining populace despite fierce resistance. The large body count from the battle only fueled the Flood's progress and they soon spread all over the city, including the docks where countless ships were trying to evacuate from the doomed city. The air soon became saturated with Flood spores and blisters began to grow throughout the station. Mere hours after the Flood arrived, High Charity had completely fallen. It didn't take long for Flood-infested ships to start launching from High Charity, intending to spread the infection to the warring ships in the airspace around the city. At least one Sangheili, Voro 'Mantakree, managed to negotiate a temporary truce between the Jiralhanae and Sangheili ships in order to focus their efforts on preventing the Flood from escaping. This truce was short-lived, as the Jiralhanae began to target Sangheili ships again before all of the Flood had been wiped out. At some point during the battle, the assault carrier Shadow of Intent glassed part of High Charity in an attempt to combat the Flood aboard it.
Eventually the Sangheili ships were successful in defeating the Jiralhanae, many of whom retreated to follow Truth's Dreadnought to Earth. The Sangheili subsequently set up a naval blockade around High Charity and Installation 05, with the aim of preventing the Flood from leaving the Coelest system. Despite their efforts, at least one Flood-infested cruiser managed to escape, and it was pursued by the Fleet of Retribution to Earth.
Tartarus eventually arrived at Installation 05's Control Room with Miranda Keyes and 343 Guilty Spark, and began the firing sequence for Installation 05. However, the Chieftain was confronted by the Arbiter and Sergeant Johnson. The Arbiter attempted to convince Tartarus about the true purpose of the Halo Array but the Jiralhanae refused to listen, forcing Thel, Sergeant Johnson and a group of Sangheili to engage him while the firing sequence initiated. Tartarus was eventually slain and the firing sequence was aborted by Miranda Keyes, putting all remaining Halo installations into standby mode, readying them for a final activation from Installation 00.
Five days after departing from High Charity, the Forerunner Dreadnought arrived in the Sol system, along with the remaining Jiralhanae-held ships from the battle around High Charity. As the Dreadnought approached Earth John-117, who had stowed away as it left High Charity, informed Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood of his presence aboard the ship. At some point during the Dreadnought's journey, the Spartan attempted to assassinate Truth, but he was unable to do so and is forced to leave the Forerunner Dreadnought as it entered Earth's atmosphere, landing in the jungles of Tanzania, Africa.
The Flood gained full control of High Charity and the Gravemind took up residence in the fortress, turning the city into a massive Flood hive. Cortana, who was stranded in High Charity's computer systems, was questioned by the Gravemind who interrogated and tortured her. This drove her to the point of rampancy, but she managed to send a message to Earth and hold onto an important secret. Although the Forerunner Dreadnought decoupled from the city, the Flood managed to transport the High Charity to Installation 00 via slipspace during the Battle of the Citadel by using the city's backup reactors. The city crashed on to the surface, spreading Flood infection and adding chaos to the final battle of the Human-Covenant War. After Truth's death, John-117 returned to the city to rescue Cortana, destroying the city by overloading its reactors, which caused it to go critical and detonate.
Many years after the destruction of High Charity, rumors about the fate of the holy city, and the possible survival of the Flood within the wreckage were dismissed by Voridus and other members of the Banished as old Covenant propaganda while making their way towards the ruins of the city to search for salvage to aid in their ongoing conflict against the forces of the UNSC Spirit of Fire on the Ark. Unfortunately for the Banished, the threat soon proved real, with surviving Flood from High Charity's wreckage pouring out after the Banished breached a section of the containment shield with a Scarab. After a brief struggle, Voridus and Pavium were able to destroy a proto-Gravemind moments away from it becoming a Gravemind and the installation's Sentinels soon arrived, once again quarantining any remaining Flood inside High Charity's remains.
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