From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
Cairo Station is the third campaign level of Halo 2, taking place in Earth's orbit on the eponymous Cairo Station. The Master Chief and UNSC Marines fight against boarding Covenant troops, culminating in a battle over an Elite-guarded bomb intended to destroy the station. This is the first level in Halo 2 in which enemies are encountered.
Johnson and the Master Chief walk to the end of the room, as the Bridge's blast doors open up.
The view changes to High Charity, where Tartarus and two of his Jiralhanae walk Thel 'Vadamee down a walkway leading to an oval-shaped ledge that sports a pair of pincer-like columns. The Anodyne Spirit can be seen in the distance. Sangheili Honor Guardsmen are stationed on either side of the walkway. Covenant Unggoy, Kig-yar and Mgalekgolo have also gathered along the path and begin to heckle 'Vadamee.
They reach the ledge, which overlooks the city. Across the chasm are multiple stadium rows, all filled with roaring Covenant aliens. 'Vadamee stands on a seal between the two curved columns. The Jiralhanae fix his arms onto floating cuffs.
The entire crowd cheers as energy beams hit 'Vadamee on either side, and he shakes with pain. (In the Anniversary, the floating cuffs charge up and unleash bolts of electricity across his body.)
The view changes back to the Cairo's bridge, dozens of Naval officers cheer as Master Chief and Sergeant Johnson approach Lord Hood at the end.
Master Chief and Johnson salute to Lord Hood.
An officer whispers in Lord Hood's ear.
Cortana's avatar appears on a nearby holotank.
Hood looks back to the Chief and Johnson.
Lord Hood turns away.
Cortana looks up at the Chief and Johnson.
Johnson and the Chief respond simultaneously.
The Master Chief and Johnson look at each other.
Lord Hood picks up a Colonial Cross medal from a red-clothed case containing two other Colonial Cross medals.
Hood pins the medal on Johnson's uniform.
The view changes back to High Charity, on Tartarus' face.
The Covenant crowd cheers once more. Tartarus barks an order, and his two Jiralhanae underlings grab onto 'Vadamee's now charred armor and pull.
The view once again changes back to Cairo Station, as a young woman joins the Chief and Johnson.
Hood hands her the Colonial Cross medal. Miranda holds back tears as she accepts the medal.
The view changes back to High Charity again, where a blackened Sangheili Combat helmet falls to the floor, and the naked 'Vadamee hangs limply from his restraints. A glowing brand rises from the floor in front of him, and Tartarus grabs it and strides forward.
Thel 'Vadamee raises his head weakly. Tartarus gives him a fierce look, and presses the brand against the Sangheili's chest with glee, printing the Mark of Shame in it. The tortured Sangheili warrior fights the pain but gives in and screams.
The view once more changes to Cairo Station, where alarms start to sound.
Images of Covenant ships appear on a large screen.
The screen shows UNSC ships approaching the Covenant fleet.
Cortana's avatar disappears. Hood turns back to the tactical screen.
An officer faces Lord Hood.
The view shifts back to the screen.
Johnson and the Master Chief leave the bridge, as Lord Hood turns back to his command station. Through the bay windows looking up to the MAC cannon, the fleet turns to engage the Covenant attackers. Longsword fighters hurtle overhead trailed by Marathon-class heavy cruisers.
The Master Chief arms himself and joins Johnson and a squad of Marines. Miranda Keyes and several Navy officers leave on a tram.
The Chief, Johnson, and the Marines enter Recreation R-01.
Outside, a Covenant Boarding Craft latches onto the hull, causing the station to shake. Weapons fire is soon heard from outside the doorway.
The Marines take up position around a sealed bulkhead. Johnson sets up a stationary gun turret. A bright light and crackling noise, like a welding torch, comes from the center of the door, and is soon followed by an explosion. The door is blasted open and Unggoy rush in, followed by their Sangheili commanders. Soon after, two more Sangheili, both dual-wielding plasma pistols, jump down from the balcony above the breach. With the Master Chief's help, the UNSC defenders eliminate the attackers.
Home Field Advantage
If the player stalls:
If the player stalls some more:
The Master Chief and the marines go outside. After eliminating another lance of Covenant, the Chief heads off to find the boarding craft while the marines stay behind to guard the entrance to the Recreation room.
Throughout the battle, the station's defense coordinator continues giving orders over the loudspeaker.
The Chief heads up a flight of stairs and enters Security R-01. He mans a portable machine gun and assists the Marines below in Commons R-01. He then heads downstairs and engages more Covenant in the Commons.
A loud clang is heard as a boarding craft attaches to Cairo station.
After securing the Commons, the Chief goes up another flight of stairs, and steps out onto a catwalk overlooking Hangar A-01, where one of the Covenant boarding craft is docked. The Chief and the Marines engage the Covenant intruders below, including Sangheili Ultras on higher difficulties.
Once the Master Chief finishes killing all the Covenant boarders in the first hangar bay, Covenant boarding craft are seen through the windows rapidly leaving Malta Station.
Malta Station suddenly explodes in a huge ball of fire, the barrel of its MAC gun breaking loose and tumbling away.
The hangar bay doors explode and another lance of Covenant attack. The Chief kills them, then exits the hangar.
The station shakes violently as another boarding craft attaches itself to Cairo.
If the Chief stalls:
If the Chief continues to stall:
If the Chief further stalls:
The Chief and the surviving marines head to Hangar A-02 where they find another squad of marines under fire from several Unggoy-manned plasma turrets mounted on the catwalk above. Another boarding craft is docked here.
Once the Master Chief finishes killing all the intruders in the second hangar bay (including a Sangheili Zealot on legendary difficulty) Covenant boarding craft are again seen through the windows retreating, only this time, from Athens Station.
The Athens explodes violently, just like the Malta. The resulting shockwave rocks Cairo Station.
If the Chief decides to stall for awhile, Cortana will remind him of the urgency of the situation with some of the following lines:
The Chief takes a route under the hangar bay through MAC Storage, and encounters another lance of Covenant. As he nears the opposite side of the corridor, two Stealth Sangheili emerge. The Chief kills them.
While the Chief is fighting his way to the bomb, the Cairo Defense Coordinator starts issuing evacuation orders.
As the Chief returns to the armory, he finds the Master Gunnery Sergeant firing a shotgun at a pair of Sangheili. Exactly what he says to them differs depending on what the difficulty level is set to.
The Master Gunnery Sergeant is hit by bolts of plasma and dies. The Chief proceeds upstairs and eliminates his Sangheili killers.
The Chief exits the Armory and enters Commons B-01, which has been completely overrun by the Covenant. The alien forces have set up multiple plasma turrets which cover the room and assorted Covenant infantry lurk in the corridors.
The station shakes again, as another Boarding Craft is attached.
The Chief fights his way through the Commons, moves up a flight of stairs, and enters Security B-01, where he dispatches another lance of Covenant.
The Chief exits Security B-01 and enters the Tram station where Commander Keyes, Sergeant Johnson, and a couple Navy officers are engaged in a firefight just outside a docking umbilical leading to the In Amber Clad.
Once they clear the area of Covenant:
A second lance of Covenant appears from another umbilical at the end of the corridor. After the Chief and his allies kill the intruders, the Chief enters the umbilical.
If the player stalls:
Authorized Personnel Only
The Chief exits the station through an airlock and fights several Sangheili Rangers in the vacuum of space.
The Master Chief re-enters Cairo Station through Portside Shipping, where he is met by Marines near a cargo container. There is a loud buzzing sound and a swarm of Yanme'e appear. The Chief and the Marines eliminate the swarm.
The station's MAC gun begins firing at the Covenant fleet.
A loading platform full of Covenant troops rises from below. The Chief kills them all and rides the platform down to an airlock. He gets off the platform and enters the airlock. The internal door closes behind him and the external door leading outside opens up.
The Master Chief watches through the open airlock as a massive Covenant Assault Carrier accelerates right past the Cairo and towards Earth, making the entire station shake.
After crossing the MAC's recoil arm in vacuum and killing several more Sangheili Rangers - including one manning a plasma turret, the Chief re-enters the station through another airlock.
Return to Sender
The Chief takes an elevator down to the fire control center.
The Chief arrives at fire control, where a sizable group of Sangheili (one of whom is dual wielding a plasma rifle and Needler) and Unggoy are guarding the bomb. The station shakes again. Outside the window, the Chief can see the second carrier bypassing the Cairo, following the first carrier down to Earth.
Once the Chief clears the room of the Covenant guarding the bomb:
Cortana's holographic avatar appears on a pedestal near the bomb.
The Master Chief touches the pedestal, and Cortana downloads directly into his armor. He steps over to the bomb, and touches the flashing red activation pad at its center. It blinks and turns blue. The threat is neutralized.
The view goes back to Cairo's bridge, showing Lord Hood alone. (In the Anniversary, there is another officer with him.)
The view changes back to the bay, where the Chief is waiting with one hand on the bomb.
The view returns to Cairo's bridge.
Hood pauses to think, and then agrees.
In the bay, the Chief grabs the bomb by two of its pointy protrusions and drags it across the floor, causing sparks to erupt as it scrapes across the metal plating. He drags it into an elevator, and ascends.
The elevator reaches an empty Longsword launch bay, and the Chief steps out, watching through the huge bay door. A Seraph fighter flies by, pursued by two Longswords (Original version only). The UNSC fleet streams down toward Earth, chasing the Covenant ships. The Master Chief then steps up to the door's release handle, which drops down above him.
The Master Chief pulls down the handle and the bay doors cycle open, the bay decompressing rapidly. Debris lifts off the floor and hurtles into space, and the bomb slowly begins to slide toward the doors, scratching sparks across the floor. The Chief grabs hold of it as it passes, and is pulled out into space.
In free-fall, the Chief descends in the general direction of northern Africa. The first carrier is miles below him, too far to reach. The second carrier passes right below his position, and opens up with an energy projector, narrowly missing him. A cruiser rockets below him and takes an Energy projector round right through its spine, explosions lighting all over its hull (In the Anniversary, the cruiser is hit by the same energy projector beam that narrowly misses the Chief). The Master Chief plummets past it, watching as its engines fail and try to relight themselves.
A pair of Longsword fighters dive past him, and make a strafing run on the carrier. They open fire on the carrier, and make a staccato beat of fire along the back of the carrier, allowing the Chief to slip through the narrow hole the blasts have created.
The carrier's center is a huge, open chamber, a massive fusion core casting white light across its inner surface. The carrier has taken a lot of abuse; the far side of the chamber is torn open, showing the Earth outside. The Master Chief crawls up the bomb, presses its activation panel, and spins around. His legs flex, and he vaults off the bomb, aiming for the split in the carrier's armor.
He plummets from the carrier, straight for Earth, as behind him minor blue explosions flicker up and down the alien warship. A pause, and the entire ship detonates in a huge plasma conflagration.
As the Chief falls towards Africa, the In Amber Clad passes beneath him, matching trajectories.
Inside the In Amber Clad's bridge, Johnson and Keyes watch a tactical display. A thud resounds throughout the ship, and Johnson and Keyes look up.
Johnson looks at Keyes and grins.
In Amber Clad banks hard and dives towards the Earth's atmosphere, and a massive, gray city along the East African coast comes into view.
The level was known in development simply as "spacestation". While the station is static in the game, it was originally going to be mobile and move itself around constantly to align its main gun on targets. The player was also supposed to be able to take control of the station's MAC gun.
Originally, Bungie had planned a level after Cairo Station, in which the Master Chief would land on a Covenant ship, break in, and destroy it from the inside out. This was shown in the Halo 2 Announcement Trailer, when the Chief jumped out of the airlock without the bomb. However, because of deadlines, the level was cut from the final game.
Halo 2: Anniversary
For the Anniversary remake of the level, it was originally planned to have Cairo's position over Earth adjusted. The Return to Sender cutscene for example was to take place over Eastern and Central Europe as opposed to Northern Africa and the Mediterranean in the final version.
Halo 2: Anniversary