Fall of Reach

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This article is about the battle. For the novel or comic book adaptation, see Halo: The Fall of Reach and Halo: Fall of Reach.

Previous:

Battle of Sigma Octanus IV

Concurrent:

Battle of Tribute

Next:

Battle of Installation 04

Fall of Reach
Fall of Reach 1.jpg

Conflict:

Human-Covenant War

Date:

July 25, 2552 - August 30, 2552[1][note 1]

  • Isolated skirmishes on July 23 and 24; final skirmish on September 7

Location:

Epsilon Eridani system, planet Reach

Outcome:

Major tactical Covenant victory

  • Reach glassed
  • Heavy casualties incurred on both sides

Minor strategic UNSC victory

Belligerents
Commanders
Strength
Casualties

Catastrophic

  • c. 700,000,000 military and civilian casualties
    • Over 130 ships
    • 20 orbital defense platforms
    • All refit and repair stations
    • Majority of ground forces
      • Unknown number of Spartan-IIs and at least seventeen SPARTAN-IIIs

Massive

  • Heavy terrestrial and exoatmospheric losses
  • Over 210 ships[3]
  • Majority of the Fleet of Valiant Prudence
 
"We knew this day would come. They have found our fortress among the stars. The Covenant are on Reach. They will burn this planet, kill millions, and when Reach falls—and fall it will—there will be nothing left to stand between them - and Earth."
Dr. Catherine Halsey[14]

The Fall of Reach,[15][16] also known as the Battle of Reach[17] and Reach Campaign[18], was one of the largest and bloodiest engagements in the Human-Covenant War. It was fought on and around the human colony world of Reach in the Epsilon Eridani system, between the United Nations Space Command and the Covenant from July 25 to August 30, 2552.[1]

Initial skirmishes began on July 23, 2552, when a small Covenant task force led by the CSO-class supercarrier Long Night of Solace covertly established a foothold on Reach. The Covenant began to solidify their hold and began searching for Forerunner relics as the UNSC counter-attacked, attempting to drive the Covenant off the surface before reinforcements arrived. Ultimately, the UNSC was unsuccessful, and substantial Covenant reinforcements under Thel 'Vadamee arrived in the system. After hard fighting, the Covenant breached the orbital defense grid and overran the UNSC's planetside forces. After overwhelming the defenders, the Covenant glassed the planet. Isolated skirmishes between UNSC remnants and the Covenant forces continued until their recovery by a small rescue party led by John-117.

Though the battle was a clear defeat for the UNSC, Noble Team preventing the Cortana fragment from falling into enemy hands subsequently led the Pillar of Autumn to Halo Installation 04, where they engaged the Covenant in a decisive battle. The experience gleaned on Installation 04, and the subsequent political schism within the Covenant, would be invaluable to the ultimate defeat of the Covenant.

Prelude[edit]

At some point before July 19, 2552, the Office of Naval Intelligence ran a series of calculations that predicted the future movement of the Covenant force sweeping throughout the galaxy. Based on these calculations, ONI determined that there was an 87% probability that the Epsilon Eridani system would be discovered by the Covenant within five months. Admiral Margaret Parangosky, the head of ONI, debated with Vice Admiral Michael Stanforth about using Reach as the stage for the planned Operation: RED FLAG; the pair considered that the presence of large-scale Forerunner artifacts on the planet would be a source of Covenant interest in the planet. The rest of the UNSC, however, was given no warning of the predicted attack.[19]

ONI's prediction came true less than a week after Admiral Parangosky sent her message. Following his victory against the humans in the Beta Eridani system, Supreme Commander Rho 'Barutamee of the Fleet of Valiant Prudence was able to secure a Luminary that informed him of Reach's location. 'Barutamee cared little of the humans in the Epsilon Eridani system, and did not know the significance of Reach to the UNSC.[20][21]

Pre-invasion[edit]

By July 23rd, the Fleet of Valiant Prudence consisting of SDV-class heavy corvettes, CCS-class battlecruisers, ORS-class heavy cruisers and a CSO-class supercarrier, Long Night of Solace, arrived at Reach following the Luminary retrieved at Beta Eridani. The Luminary marked the presence of the Forerunner Rate of Builders across the system.[21] After arriving at Reach, the fleet clandestinely deployed a large ground force to the Viery Territory. This invasion force was cloaked from UNSC sensors by sophisticated stealth pylons deployed around it. The Covenant also sent a small Sangheili Zealot strike team, of the Devoted Sentries, led by a Field Marshal to recover a Forerunner artifact from an excavation site near the Visegrád communications outpost.

"ONI thinks it might be the local Insurrection. Five months ago, they pulled a similar job on Harmony. Hit a relay to take out our eyes and ears, then stole two freighters from dry dock. That cannot happen here. Reach is too damn important. I want that relay back online, NOBLE One."
Colonel Urban Holland[22]

The strike force disabled the communications array at Visegrád, cutting off communications from the northern parts of Alföld to the larger communications hubs further south, leaving a large portion of Reach isolated from the rest of the UNSC.[23] This operation, however, went unnoticed by the UNSC and it was surmised by the Office of Naval Intelligence that the local insurrectionist organization, an ultra-radical cell of the People's Occupation,[24] was responsible for the loss of contact with the facility.[22]

In response, theArmy was deployed into Pálháza[23], with several fireteams including 3 Charlie sent to investigate the matter.[25] Contact with these fireteams was lost shortly thereafter.[22]

Winter Contingency[edit]

Main article: Battle of Visegrád
"Colonel, this is NOBLE One. There are no rebels. The Covenant are on Reach."
Carter-A259[26]

The day after the Visegrád Relay was disabled, Spartan NOBLE Team was sent to investigate the disturbance in lieu of the missing Army fireteams.[22] The group had been conducting anti-insurrection operations in the region, and were thus on-hand to assist.[25][27] Upon landing in Visegrád and scouting the surrounding countryside, NOBLE Team quickly discovered that insurrectionists were not responsible for the attack; a small Covenant advance force had found Reach and landed at Visegrád, with the intent of disabling Reach's communications with other UNSC colonies.[26] After wiping out the advance force, NOBLE Team proceeded to the relay station, where they were ambushed by a group of Sangheili Zealots, a team sent to hunt down vital data on a Forerunner artifact. WINTER CONTINGENCY was then declared on Reach.[28][29]

Following the declaration of the WINTER CONTINGENCY, several ONI field agents were given supplemental orders to secure or - if necessary - terminate UNSC astronavigation personnel to ensure their knowledge would not fall into the hands of the Covenant.[30]

The battle[edit]

Opening skirmishes[edit]

"WINTER CONTINGENCY has been declared, all units mobilized and ready."
— UNSC officer

Operating using cloaking technology and stealth tactics, the Covenant had created a fortified landing zone on Reach, with anti-air guns around the perimeter of their staging area in the Viery Territory where they had covertly inserted a large amount of forces, including several corvettes.[31]

Main article: First Battle of Sword Base
SPARTAN-B312 and Jorge-052 watch a Covenant corvette sinking after being neutralized by an orbital strike.

Two days after the skirmish at Visegrád, the Covenant attacked SWORD Base in an attempt to overrun the ONI facility and access the Forerunner structures there. However, these forces were repulsed after NOBLE Team reinforced the base and brought its M71 Anti-Aircraft Guns and communications back online. The Covenant corvette attacking it was forced to retreat and was destroyed by an orbital defense platform's Magnetic Accelerator Cannon.[32]

UNSC counterattack[edit]

Main articles: Battle at Szurdok Ridge and Order of battle (Viery, Reach)
"We are now under attack across the Viery territory, including orbital defenses. As per the WINTER CONTINGENCY, we are countering on every front."
Auntie Dot[33]
UNSC ground forces charge a Covenant formation in the Battle at Szurdok Ridge.

Over two weeks after the defense of SWORD Base, the UNSC sent reconnaissance teams into Covenant-controlled territory in preparation for a counterattack and to investigate the enemy positions and forces they would be facing.[31] With a Covenant staging ground on Reach, the UNSC Army, Marine Corps, and Navy launched a joint offensive in an attempt to defeat the Covenant forces before reinforcements could arrive.[33] The assault was spearheaded by the Army and NOBLE Team, who attacked Covenant anti-air weapons to make way for GA-TL1 Longswords and Paris-class heavy frigates to make bombing runs. The attack, though initially successful, was thwarted when a cloaked CSO-class supercarrier, Long Night of Solace, appeared over the area, attacking the UNSC frigates and reinforcing the Covenant troops.[33] Meanwhile, Covenant forces made another strike on SWORD Base, this time with much greater success. Around this time, sixty percent of the Fleet was recalled to Reach from existing deployments; these reinforcements were scheduled to arrive by August 15.[9]

While the battle began on the ground, Rho's forces in space began to enagage UNSC Naval forces across the system, engaging light battlegroups composed mainly of Paris-class heavy frigates and a Marathon-class heavy cruiser in space[21]. Following the declaration of WINTER CONTINGENCY on Reach, the personnel of Teller Station - a research laboratory working at Site 17 in the system's Oort cloud - prepared to evacuate after being ordered to condense their last dig into barely a fortnight. These activities awakened the senescent Forerunner systems there, alerting the Fleet of Valiant Prudence to the site. Rho deployed a "significant portion of his fleet"[34] there consisting of SDV-class corvettes and CCS-class battlecruisers, only to be engaged by more frigates and heavy cruisers deployed by UNSC admiral Michael Stanforth.[35] The Covenant forces were able to overrun the defences there, though the humans were able to successfully extract Site 17's artifact. The Covenant attempted to board the human flagship to retrieve it, though Stanforth intended to use the artifact to lure the Covenant into a trap near Reach itself.[34] The battle group was able to fight free of their pursuers, and Stanforth was able to vector in reinforcements to stop the pursuing Covenant squadrons.[36]

The battle begins[edit]

Main articles: Operation: UPPER CUT and Operation: LEFT JAB
Long Night of Solace being destroyed.
Air Control (COM): "They're everywhere!"
AI Auntie Dot (COM): "Slipspace rupture detected."
ATC 2 (COM): "Oh no, this can't be happening!"
Colonel Holland (COM): "Must be the whole damn Covenant fleet!"
AI Auntie Dot (COM): "Slipspace rupture detected."
— The UNSC panics in horror followed by screams on the communications channel as a massive combined Covenant fleet arrives[9]

The arrival of the supercarrier led to the UNSC concocting an audacious plan known as Operation: UPPER CUT, in which NOBLE Team were to use YSS-1000 Sabre starfighters and the corvette Ardent Prayer to deliver an improvised slipspace drive "bomb" to the supercarrier and destroy it. The team were deployed to fend off an attack at the Sabre research site at Farkas Lake, before deploying to refit station Anchor 9 in the fighters to prepare for the operation.[9] SPARTAN-B312, Jorge-052, and a team of Army pilots, with the aid of the frigate Savannah, boarded the Ardent Prayer and took control of it.[9][37]

By this time, Supreme Commander 'Barutamee now realised the threat of the human presence on the surface and the importance of the planet he was attacking. If this wasn't enough, the Ministry of Resolution had deployed a much larger fleet to the planet, and his artefact-hunting teams were still bogged down on the surface. If the commander wasn't able to produce something of value soon, he might be forced to retreat or face the wrath of the Hierarchs for his ineptitude. Stanforth had managed to spread his fleet thin, probing his defences from all sides. The UNSC fleet at large initiated a massive attack known as Operation: LEFT JAB to distract the supercarrier[38], allowing NOBLE Team's operation to go unnoticed following the jamming of their target corvette's communications.[9] With the Covenant fleet stretched thin, UNSC task forces were able to pounce on cut-off Covenant scout fleets.[39]

Noble Five then sacrificed himself to destroy Long Night of Solace. However, just as the supercarrier was destroyed, the Ministry of Resolution's massive fleet of warships exited slipspace in orbit over the planet.[9] The supercarrier's wreckage landed near New Alexandria, killing Barutamee in the process. Shipmaster Kantar 'Utaralee assumed command of what remained of the now-splintered Fleet of Valiant Prudence, leading them once again to recover the Site 17 artifact, now relocated to a station near Turul. In response to the second wave of Covenant, the UNSC was ordered to cease all activities and regroup at Rally Point Zulu to enact the Cole Protocol.[40]

Despite the mission's success, the destruction of the supercarrier was an inadvertent setback for Operation: RED FLAG. The Operation called for a "Class-Five" Covenant vessel such as a CAS-class assault carrier or a CSO-class supercarrier to be boarded by the SPARTAN-IIs. Colonel Holland informed Admiral Stanforth of the destruction of the supercarrier around August 27, several days following its destruction. The Admiral relayed his frustrations at the Special Warfare Group's "trigger happiness", as the operation would now need to find a new target vessel.[4]

Further engagements[edit]

Main article: Siege of New Alexandria
"Your report will have to wait, Lieutenant. The Covenant are jamming all comms to Command. Kat needs your help running a counter-op."
— Commander Carter-A259[41]

Over the next week, Covenant ground forces landed on the planet and Covenant ships began glassing targeted areas. A major siege lasting between August 18-23 broke out in the city of New Alexandria, with large numbers of civilian evacuation transports being shot down by Covenant air and ground forces.[10][41] Members of NOBLE Team assisted UNSC forces in clearing evacuation zones, succeeding in damaging a Covenant corvette in the process. Though the UNSCDF succeeded in clearing the city of Covenant troops, Covenant naval assets began to glass the city, and while retreating Kat-B320 of NOBLE Team was killed by sniper fire.[41] Elsewhere, the evacuation stations in Manassas and Esztergom were attacked and eventually stopped responding[42],

However, most of the planet's population, both civilian and military, (particularly those assigned to Operation: RED FLAG), were kept unaware of the invasion, as the Army repeatedly insisted they had the ground battle under control.[4][27] HIGHCOM withheld major counteroffensives on the far side of the planet in the hope that a Class-5 Covenant vessel, which was needed for the operation, would be drawn in and make itself vulnerable for capture. Millions perished as a result of this relative inaction.[4]

Due to his tendency to jump head-first into the action, Captain Jacob Keyes was left in the dark about the Covenant attack, as to ensure that he wouldn't engage before a target could make itself known.[4] At some point following August 27, the Captain was informed of the ongoing battle, though under strict orders to keep the UNSC Pillar of Autumn's crew in the dark. Keyes felt these blackout orders to be ineffective due to the ability to look out of the window to see the battle raging on the surface, and wished to tell the crew to ensure they knew that Reach would likely no longer exist when their mission was complete.[43] As the battle went on to August 30, the ship was stationed over Lábatlan, with the R. Abiad noticing an explosion over Eposz and William Lovell noticing strange electromagnetic readings coming from Turul. ONI used the downed Visegrad relay as an excuse to keep the Pillar of Autumn parked on the side of the planet not currently hit by the Covenant.[44]

As the situation on the ground deteriorated, NOBLE Team and a small force of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers were ordered to destroy the Covenant-occupied SWORD Base in a "torch-and-burn" operation known as Operation: WHITE GLOVE. Proceeding into the base, the team encountered Dr. Catherine Halsey, who enlisted their help in defending her laboratory amid the ruins of a Forerunner complex from advancing Covenant forces. Halsey ordered Noble Six, Carter, and Emile to transport a fragment of the AI Cortana to the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, while Jun-A266 escorted her to CASTLE Base elsewhere on Reach.[45]

Final space battle[edit]

Fermion Remote Sensing Outpost: "Gamma Station, this is Fermion RSO. Unconfirmed reports of an in-system slipspace rupture."
Reach Station Gamma: "Impossible. Check your source."
Fermion RSO: "There's no mistake. It's them."
— Conversation between Fermion and Gamma on the arrival of the Covenant armada[46]
Main article: Space battle over Reach

As August 30 dawned, the Pillar of Autumn began making its way out-system to begin RED FLAG[47] when a massive Covenant combined fleet — headed by Supreme Commander Thel 'Vadamee and his Fleet of Particular Justice[citation needed] — was detected exiting slipspace on the edge of the system.[48] The fleet was first detected in slipspace by remote scanning outpost Fermion, who initially mistook the tightly-knit formation as a large planetoid that had somehow entered slipspace. The station's commander, Chief Petty Officer McRobb, sent an emergency message to FLEETCOM and ordered self-destruct to prevent the station's data from falling into enemy hands.[46][49] This fleet had been drawn to the system following a tracking device placed on the UNSC Iroquois during the earlier Battle of Sigma Octanus IV with the intent of using it to find human colony worlds. When the Iroquois returned to Reach, the human presence - and its extent - was revealed to this new Covenant faction.[50]

A few minutes later, 315 Covenant ships exited slipspace at the edge of the Epsilon Eridani system.[3] Admiral Roland Freemont issued UNSC Alpha Priority Transmission 04592Z-83, ordering all ships in the Epsilon Eridani system to rendezvous at Reach in preparation for the coming assault. The Covenant moved in on the orbital defenses before the UNSC fleet fully consolidated. Fifty-three belated UNSC ships, including the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, ran a gauntlet of screening Covenant warships as they attempted to link up with the main fleet. At this time, only about a hundred UNSC ships were readily available to defend Reach.[3] Spartan John-117 recognised the battle as a potential opportunity to board a Covenant warship, and ordered the preparation of a Pelican dropship to potentially blast their way into a hull if needs be.[51] The Autumn was able to fend off the encroaching Seraphs with its point-defense guns, before managing to destroy a Covenant carrier. Meanwhile, a hundred ships were already gathered at Rally Point Zulu; destroyers, frigates, three cruisers, two carriers and three refit stations.[3]

The Epsilon Eridani Fleet engages the Covenant fleet in orbit over Reach.

The main Covenant force moved in on the orbital defenses. The initial salvo of plasma torpedoes was mostly absorbed by the sacrifice of three refit and repair stations, allowing the defenders to return fire. The orbital defense platforms and four nuclear mines combined to take down a full third of the Covenant fleet. The vaporized Titanium-A armor of the refit stations also served to block incoming plasma torpedoes. The UNSC force began to scatter, with fifty more ships falling to the trailing plasma torpedoes, while the MAC platforms were able to secure a further sixteen Covenant kills. The Covenant maneuvered for clear shots around the titanium dust cloud and moved in for the kill, with a further eighteen falling to the MAC guns, followed by yet another six. The final six were able to let loose a salvo of plasma rounds before their destruction, which were able to destroy five orbital guns. A previously unknown warship type, armed with a powerful energy projector, revealed itself and destroyed the UNSC Minotaur and four other ships before withdrawing temporarily.[3]

The rest of the Covenant fleet withdrew to regroup after deploying hundreds of dropships to the surface. The opening attack had shattered the UNSC defenders, taking almost a hundred ships out and leaving only twenty ships left. Despite their surprise retreat, Captain Keyes ordered scans of the planet, realising that the Covenant had instead deployed dropships to Reach's poles to begin invading the planet. The Super MACs and remaining fleet split into two groups - one for each pole -and fired upon the smallcraft, each MAC shot managing to destroy dozens of transports. Hundreds of dropships were able to get through and disgorged thousands of troops. The Fleet Command Headquarters was quickly attacked and destroyed by the renewed ground attack, while the Covenant fleet began another assault.[3]

Some ships made pinpoint slipspace jumps, putting them within the UNSC formation. This left them vulnerable for a short time but allowed them to strike the ODPs directly. Almost immediately following the departure of the SPARTANs aboard their Pelicans, a Covenant frigate jumped in behind the Pillar of Autumn, prompting the cruiser to turn around to face the ship. Two more frigates exited slipspace to flank the first, before the first was taken out by a Super MAC round. The Pillar of Autumn then engaged the starboard vessel, while the other was taken down by a second Super MAC. The two frigates were able to loose a salvo of plasma bolts, taking down a further two platforms and reducing the total number of MACs to thirteen. The remaining Archer missiles were used to take out a number of boarding craft heading to stop John-117 on Gamma Station.[52]

Meanwhile, the Covenant "sniper" vessel returned and destroyed the UNSC Herodotus and UNSC Musashi from beyond ODP range. The UNSC Pillar of Autumn engaged the warship, firing a salvo of missiles followed my MACs to impact at the same time and take down the vessel's shielding. The ship fired back, hitting the Autumn and causing severe damage. The Autumn launched a Shiva nuclear device timed to explode on impact, and began to back away, with the nuclear weapon detonating inside the warhip's now-recharged shielding and reverberating off the shields and disintegrating the vessel. The Pillar of Autumn withdrew to Beta Gabriel to slingshot back into the system while more Covenant ships exited slipspace. By this point, the orbital defense generators were being overrun.[52]

Following this engagement, the Pillar of Autumn managed to execute a Class-L flash-dock and land at the Asźod ship breaking yards, the last-remaining off-world extraction point, as it awaited the arrival of NOBLE Team.[53]

Attack on the orbital defense generators[edit]

A CCS-class battlecruiser initiates a pinpoint slipspace jump over Reach.
"There are thousands of them. Grunts, Jackals and their warrior Elites. They have tanks and fliers. Christ, they've breached the perimeter. Fall back! Fall back! If anyone can hear this: the Covenant is ground-side. Massing near the armory!"
— UNSC Marine[3]

On the final day of the battle for Reach, thousands of Covenant ground forces landed on Reach in an attempt to destroy the orbital defense generators, and were intercepted by Marine forces who were able to defend against the first few waves of Covenant forces while sustaining heavy casualties. While three SPARTANs (led by John-117) deployed to Gamma Station, the remaining supersoldiers were designated Red Team, and deployed to Orbital Defense Generator Facility A-331 to assist in the defense of the station. Their Pelican transport, Bravo 001, was escorted by several GA-TL1 Longsword strikecraft, with three of the four eventually peeling off to hold off some pursuing Seraphs.[54] The Pelican was advised by "Golden Arrow" to head for Mount Törött, though the now badly-damaged Pelican was unlikely to be able to make its way back to the shipyard where the Autumn was docked. Bravo 001 had to explain that the Pelican was carrying SPARTANs, which consequently changed Golden Arrow's tone.[55] The Pelican was eventually shot down, however, crash-landing in the Military Wilderness Training Preserve in the Highland Mountains.[7][17][56] The SPARTANs were forced to jump out of the doomed Pelican[54][7], resulting in the deaths of four Spartans (including Malcolm-059), and some others were wounded as well. Due to their familiarity with the terrain, the SPARTANs were able to put up a meaningful resistance against the Covenant.[7][17]

The Spartans defend the generators from a swarm of Covenant.

Near their crash site, the surviving Spartans discovered the shell-shocked remnants of Charlie Company's Gamma 1. Charlie Company had been assigned by Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb to recover prototype NOVA bombs from a base in the region. They were forced to help defend the orbital defense facilities on their way to their objective with Gamma 1 at Generator A-331. Unfortunately, as the Covenant neared the orbital defense generators, someone at HIGHCOM panicked and ordered Longswords to bomb everything within 500 meters, resulting in the destruction of the Covenant ground forces in that location, but also catastrophic friendly fire: Charlie Company was reduced to four men, and its leaders: Lieutenants Jake Chapman and Buckman were cut off from their subordinates.

The Spartans, after being briefed on the situation by Charlie Company, responded to a distress call from Whitcomb, who requested immediate evacuation. Frederic-104, commander of the Spartans, split the remains of Red Team into four groups: Team Alpha (Frederic-104, Kelly-087, and Joshua-029), which was tasked with eliminating an encampment of 10,000 Covenant and their hovering cruiser (without doing anything that could damage the orbital defense generators as the EMP from a nuclear weapon would render them inoperative and accomplish the Covenant's objective for them), Team Beta, tasked with defense of the orbital defense generators, Team Gamma (Li-008, Anton-044, and Grace-093), ordered to retrieve Whitcomb, and Team Delta (the Charlie Company Marines and six wounded Spartans which included William-043, Isaac-039, and Vinh-030), ordered to secure the Spartans' fallback point at CASTLE Base.

Team Alpha hijacked three Banshees and approached the Covenant encampment (they were ignored by the Grunt Zawaz, who assumed they were Elites on a secret mission) and used Fury Tactical Nuclear Weapons within the shields of the Covenant ship, destroying the encampment and negating the EMP effect that would have disabled the orbital defense generators. Joshua was killed in the process by mass light weapons salvos from the 10,000 Covenant ground forces encamped around the Cruiser. The remaining Spartans of Team Alpha then fell back to CASTLE Base, blasting their way through the remaining Covenant in the area with two commandeered Wraiths. Team Gamma accomplished its mission and fell back to Camp Independence with Whitcomb, where they survived the partial glassing of the planet.

Team Beta-Red were left to defend Generator A-331 alone, while Gamma 5 were holed up at Generator A-412. A-412 was attacked by two divisions of Covenant, who eventually managed to destroy the facility leaving only fourteen survivors. The remnants of Gamma 5 proceeded to mount up in two Warthogs and a radio van to rendezvous with Gamma 1.[57] Recon 43 provided scouting for Gamma 1, initially spotting three Ghosts and twenty-four infantry. They were warned not to engage, but did so anyway upon realising that the small Covenant force was merely the advance of a massive armour convoy.[58]

With a gargantuan ground force now closing on Facility A-331, Beta-Red Actual ordered Team Delta and the remnants of Charlie Company to leave once the Covenant was distracted. The team set up automated turrets, while thirty-two Wraith tanks and six-hundred infantry began to close in. Gamma 5 observed the action through the lens of a drone as the fight started. The SPARTANs of Beta-Red went "hand to hand" with the enemy lines, and Team Delta and Charlie Company departed the site.[59]

With Team Delta retreating alongside the remnants of Charlie Company, they contacted an operator with callsign "Iron Fist". Iron First informed the group that they were en route the extract Beta-Red, even as three Covenant cruisers dropped out of the sky and prepared to glass the area.[60] Team Beta was unable to stop the Covenant, who attacked in swarms of thousands. The orbital defense generators were compromised, and the Covenant, after eliminating the powerless, immobile ODPs in geosynchronous orbit around the planet, began the glassing of Reach. A member of Beta-Red was able to get off one last communication to Fred-104 that the generators were overrun.[61] Eventually, the destroyer UNSC Majestic was brought in by Alpha 20 and authorised to fire on the Covenant cruisers at Generator A-331, likely resulting in the deaths of Team Beta-Red.[62][63] The blast of the orbital strike was felt by Charlie Company, who had narrowly managed to escape the blast.[64] Team Delta fell back to CASTLE Base, but in the process lost the remaining Charlie Company marines and every Spartan save for Vinh, Isaac, and William. When the remnants of Team Alpha and Team Delta arrived at CASTLE Base, they found Catherine Halsey there.

The planet, having been steadily weakened during the invasion throughout the prior weeks, had fallen with relative ease to the might of the Covenant invaders.[48]

Mission to Gamma Station[edit]

The Covenant fleet bearing down on Reach.
Main article: Mission to Gamma Station

During the space battle, the AI Doppler, controller of Reach Station Gamma, was unable to destroy the vital information on board the UNSC Circumference, an ONI Prowler involved in Operation: HYPODERMIC. As the Covenant deployed troops to the station, Doppler reported this violation of the Cole Protocol to the Pillar of Autumn before self-destructing himself to keep from further violation. In response, Captain Jacob Keyes sent John-117, James-005, and Linda-058 to the station. They accomplished their task and destroyed the NAV database on board Reach Station Gamma, but at the cost of James and Linda. While on board, they rescued some Marines on board the station: Staff Sergeant Avery Junior Johnson and Privates Wallace Jenkins, Bisenti, and O'Brien. They were then evacuated by Pelican back to the Pillar of Autumn. Linda-058 was clinically dead, but there was still a chance of saving her, so she was placed in a cryo chamber. John-117 asked Lieutenant Hall to scan for James (who had been blown into space) but they were unable to find him.

Battle at Asźod[edit]

Main article: Battle of Asźod

With the battle for Reach now nearing its conclusion, the Pillar of Autumn set down at the Asźod ship breaking yards for repairs as well as to receive the fragment of Cortana that Halsey had tasked NOBLE Team with delivering to Keyes. Covenant forces soon descended on the shipyards and began landing troops. Although the docked Autumn managed to hold off the Covenant attackers, most of the facility and the surrounding area was occupied.

The remnants of NOBLE Team, consisting of Carter-A259, Emile-A239, and SPARTAN-B312, arrived on the outskirts of the facility. Carter sent Noble Six and Emile to deliver the package to Keyes. He then sacrificed himself to destroy a Scarab. Six and Emile fought their way to the shipyards, where they linked up with some surviving UNSC ground troops. Keyes then contacted the Spartans and ordered them to clear Landing Platform Delta so that he could pick up the package. Upon arriving at the platform, Emile took charge of a mass driver and used it to provide cover fire for the Autumn. Six, meanwhile, cleared the platform of Covenant troops.

The Pillar of Autumn escapes.

With the platform cleared, Captain Keyes arrived in a Pelican and personally took possession of the package from Noble Six. Just then a CCS-class battlecruiser appeared and started heading toward the Autumn. Keyes ordered Emile to take out the cruiser before it destroyed the Autumn. Emile, however, was attacked by a pair of Sangheili Zealots. The Spartan killed the Zealots but was also killed, leaving the mass driver cannon unmanned. With the cruiser closing in on the Autumn, Noble Six volunteered to stay behind to take charge of the gun.[53]

Keyes returned to the Autumn with the package and prepared the ship for take off. Meanwhile, Noble Six took control of the mass driver and destroyed several Phantoms and Banshees before the Covenant cruiser came within range. As the cruiser prepared to destroy the Autumn with its energy projector, Six fired directly into the ship's exposed glassing port. The resulting explosion crippled the cruiser.[53]

With the skies cleared of hostiles, the Autumn took off and escaped Reach.[53] Once in space, it made a slipspace jump to Installation 04 (secretly arranged by Cortana). A dozen Covenant ships pursued, while the remaining vessels stayed behind to finish glassing Reach. Back at the shipyards, the stranded Noble Six continued fighting against the Covenant invaders. Eventually, the lone Spartan was overwhelmed and killed by a swarm of Sangheili warriors.[65]

Aftermath[edit]

Reach after its glassing.
Debris of human spacecraft in orbit above the planet.
"We are not wasting a single UNSC ship to confirm what we have already seen a dozen times before: Reach is gone. Everything on it is blasted to bits, burned, glassed over, and vaporized. Everyone on Reach is dead. Dead. Dead. Dead."
Colonel James Ackerson[66]

The UNSC lost their second largest military-industrial complex, after the Sol System, and sustained crippling military losses at Reach, losing over a hundred ships, including irreplaceable vessels such as the UNSC Basra, UNSC Trafalgar, and the UNSC Musashi, not to mention the large numbers of civilian and military personnel killed by the invading Covenant forces.

At the same time, despite such a devastating defeat, the UNSC still fared better than in previous battles. Even against the militarily and technologically superior enemy, outnumbered 2:1, they still managed to inflict disproportionate losses to the Covenant, due largely to the twenty orbital defense platforms orbiting Reach. The ferocious defense was so effective that at least one Covenant ship outright fled the battle.

Following the battle, ONI created a memorial for fallen ONI personnel in the Fall of Reach.[67]

Epsilon Eridani[edit]

While Reach was the Covenant armada's main target, the other colonies in Epsilon Eridani would also come under attack. Tribute was besieged by Covenant forces for several months, ending only when the Great Schism caused the Jiralhanae and Sangheili to turn on each other, ignoring the human defenders. The small colony on Beta Gabriel was destroyed when Valorous Salvation deserted the Covenant fleet and fled there; ODSTs arrived shortly thereafter and killed all the Covenant deserters without incurring losses.

The Pillar of Autumn[edit]

The AI Cortana commandeered the fleeing UNSC Pillar of Autumn to the previously undiscovered fourth Forerunner Halo. While the Battle of Installation 04 was tangential to the main front, the containment of the initial Flood outbreak - and the experience gained - was just as critical to the survival of the UNSC.

Investigations and analysis of the battle[edit]

On September 4, 2552, the Office of Naval Intelligence began investigating Joseph Poteet and Alasdair Schicker, believing that they may have leaked classified information to the Covenant. Including the location of Reach.[27] At the same time, Lieutenant Wagner who escaped the battle reported to the UNSC Security Council at HIGHCOM Facility Bravo-6, Earth, detailing the glassing of the planet and the escape of the UNSC Pillar of Autumn.[68]

An inquiry was held by ONI Retrieval and Acquisitions on September 26, 2552 which culminated in the creation of a target profile of Thel 'Vadamee by Lieutenant Commander Jameson Locke.[69] This report included information on Thel's actions at the Fall of Reach.[70]

Just over a month after the battle on October 8, 2552, Admiral J. Garcia compiled 844 files into a report called "Prelimenary Reports of Action - Defense of Reach". It detailed fleet actions in the Reach Defense Coordination Zone. This report along with several others would be assembled into another file in 2554 for Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood.[71]

Artifacts and other recovered items[edit]

During and after the Fall of Reach, a number of artifacts were recovered. Prior to the completion of Operation: WHITE GLOVE, ONI recovered Dr. Halsey's personal journal.[72] As well, a flag that was originally used by SPARTANs during training sessions of Capture the Flag, was recovered and put on display at Outpost Discovery.[73]

Reach[edit]

Weeks after the battle, rumors started circulating on Earth that people were still alive on Reach.[74] A number of moa also survived in isolated areas as well.[75] Reach would return to a green state by 2589.[65] By 2610, the city of New Alexandria was resettled with a few new areas including Hősök tere, which held the Reach War Memorial.[76]

Earth and the Sol system[edit]

The loss of Reach was announced on Earth over PA systems.[77] The Office of Naval Intelligence knew of at least four Covenant battle groups centred around large assault carriers prowling the outer edges of UNSC-held space. The Navy believed that the location of Sol was compromised and began relocating heavy industry facilities and command centers out of the system in a long-planned exodus.[78] UNSC units were also posted in Earth's tether cities following the battle of Reach.[79] Some graffiti on Earth used the slogan "Remember Reach".[80]

Rescue operation[edit]

Main article: Raid on Reach

As the Covenant began glassing Reach, the surviving Spartans continued their fight. Team Gamma; a Red team splinter composed of Anton-044; Grace-093 and Li-008, had managed to survive and complete their mission to rescue Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb from HIGHCOM. Too late to reach CASTLE base, they hid in the mountains attacking Covenant units with the use of guerrilla tactics as opposed to a conventional assault. They programmed their MJOLNIR suits to transmit the "Oly Oly Oxen Free" secret code on E-Band radio, hoping that any surviving Spartans would discover it and help them.

Meanwhile underneath the ruins of CASTLE base, Dr. Halsey and five Spartans (Fred, Kelly, Will, Vinh, and Isaac) had spent five days combing the remains of a Forerunner structure and an additional five days trapped in a hallway inside the ruins by Covenant forces. They managed to retrieve a Forerunner crystal that the Covenant were seeking, but it emitted a burst of radiation which alerted the Covenant to their presence. Vinh and Isaac fell at the hands of overwhelming Covenant forces, and the others escaped by blowing the hallway down behind them.

After the survivors were recovered by Ascendant Justice, a Covenant Flagship captured by John-117 after the Battle of Installation 04, the ship drew a group of Covenant vessels out of the system in pursuit to Eridanus Secundus, leading to the destruction of the asteroid colony, and the destruction of the artifact and the recovery of only a small number of pieces by the Covenant. The Ascendant Justice also destroyed around sixteen Covenant warships during the escape in slipspace and at the rebel base.[81]

Engagements[edit]

The order of battle following the declaration of WINTER CONTINGENCY. The UNSC was required to engage the Covenant whereever they were.

Timeline[edit]

Main article: Timeline of the Fall of Reach

Officially, the Fall of Reach took place between July 25 and August 30, 2552.[1] However, UNSC forces actually engaged Covenant forces as early as July 24, with Noble Team's deployment to the Visegrad area.[26] UNSC fleet actions in the Reach Defense Coordination Zone also ceased several days after August 30, on September 5.[71]

Participants[edit]

Main article: Participants in the Fall of Reach

The Fall of Reach had some of the largest deployments of personnel and materiel in the Human-Covenant war. By August 30th, there were 315 Covenant ships and 152 UNSC ships at Reach.[3] Numerous SPARTANs of multiple generations, Marines, Army soldiers and Navy personnel also took part in the battle.

Several notable figures that participated include Dr. Catherine Halsey, Captain Jacob Keyes, John-117, Rho 'Barutamee, and Thel 'Vadam.

Trivia[edit]

Gallery[edit]

List of appearances[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ While the time stamps in Halo Reach use Reach's local time, the dates given are based on the UNSC military calendar. This is supported by the entries in Dr. Halsey's personal journal.
  2. ^ In Chapter 33, it is stated that 314 Covenant ships are in the system. Given the Pillar of Autumn moments earlier had destroyed one, this brings a total of 315
  3. ^ During the opening cutscene of the Halo 2 level Cairo Station, Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood states that the fleet that destroyed Reach was "fifty times" larger than the fifteen ship fleet attacking Earth; taken at face value, it would seem that Hood is speaking in hyperbole. The 2010 reissue of Halo: The Fall of Reach took this statement literally and changed the number of ships at Reach from around 300 to "over 750"; however, this change was made in only one instance, with all other statements regarding the fleet's size remaining consistent with prior versions of the novel. While the 2011 Definitive Edition removed this change, it is repeated in the comic book adaption, Halo: Fall of Reach - Invasion.

Sources[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Halo 3: ODST, Reference of Reach event
  2. ^ a b c Bungie.net: CAA Factbook on Reach's military power
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 33
  4. ^ a b c d e Data Drops, Drop #5
  5. ^ Official Halo Wars Community Site: Timeline (defunct, Archived)
  6. ^ Halo: First Strike (2010), Adjunct
  7. ^ a b c d Youtube: Defiant to the End
  8. ^ Halo: Combat Evolved Anniversary, Library - Pelican
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Halo: Reach, campaign level, Long Night of Solace
  10. ^ a b Halo: Reach, campaign level, Exodus
  11. ^ Halo: First Strike, p. 32
  12. ^ Halo: First Strike, Chapter 18, p. 167 -- "Two exceptions to this patrol pattern were a pair of light cruisers hovering over Menachite Mountain"
  13. ^ Halo Encyclopedia, p. 274
  14. ^ Halo: Reach: "A Spartan Will Rise" ViDoc
  15. ^ Halo Encyclopedia, p. 198
  16. ^ Waypoint: Halo Official Timeline
  17. ^ a b c Bungie.net: Defiant Map Pack
  18. ^ Halo 2, Conversations from the Universe - Grunt Conversation
  19. ^ Data Drops, Drop #4
  20. ^ Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario One: Flight!
  21. ^ a b c Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Two: Contact
  22. ^ a b c d Halo: Reach, campaign level, Noble Actual
  23. ^ a b Halo: Reach, Radio conversations - Overlook
  24. ^ Data Drop Drop #2
  25. ^ a b Remember Reach, Patrol
  26. ^ a b c Halo: Reach, campaign level Winter Contingency
  27. ^ a b c Halo: The Fall of Reach, Adjunct - Entry 19-021/024
  28. ^ EDGE Magazine, February 2010
  29. ^ GameInformer, February 2010
  30. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Adjunct, WINTER CONTINGENCY Declaration Supplemental Orders
  31. ^ a b Halo: Reach, campaign level, Nightfall
  32. ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level, ONI: Sword Base
  33. ^ a b c Halo: Reach, campaign level, Tip of the Spear
  34. ^ a b Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Four: Run!
  35. ^ Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Three: Evacuate
  36. ^ Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Five: Into the fire
  37. ^ Halo: Warfleet, p. 76-77
  38. ^ Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Six: Left Jab
  39. ^ Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Seven: Finishing Blow
  40. ^ Halo: Fleet Battles, Scenario Eight: Rally Point Zulu
  41. ^ a b c Halo: Reach, campaign level, New Alexandria
  42. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations - Beachhead
  43. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Adjunct - UNSC Transmission 34670J-17
  44. ^ Data Drops, Drop #6
  45. ^ Halo: Reach, campaign level, The Package
  46. ^ a b Halo: Reach announcement trailer
  47. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 30
  48. ^ a b The Halo Conflict
  49. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 31
  50. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 23
  51. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 32
  52. ^ a b Halo: The Fall of Reach, Chapter 36
  53. ^ a b c d Halo: Reach, campaign level, The Pillar of Autumn
  54. ^ a b Halo: First Strike, Chapter 1
  55. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Breakpoint
  56. ^ Halo: Reach, multiplayer level, Highlands
  57. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Powerhouse
  58. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Spire
  59. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Countdown
  60. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Boardwalk
  61. ^ Halo: First Strike, Chapter 4
  62. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Reflection
  63. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Long Night of Solace
  64. ^ Halo: Reach, Radio conversations, Boneyard
  65. ^ a b Halo: Reach, campaign level, Lone Wolf
  66. ^ Halo: First Strike, p. 104-105
  67. ^ Halo 3: ODST, campaign level, ONI Alpha Site
  68. ^ Halo: First Strike, p. 100-106
  69. ^ Halo 2: Anniversary, Terminal - ONI File: Target Profile
  70. ^ Halo 2: Anniversary, Terminal - ONI File: Particular Justice
  71. ^ a b Halo Legendary Crate, Data Drop #2
  72. ^ Halo: Reach Legendary Edition, Container manifest
  73. ^ Halo: Outpost Discovery - Hall of History, Capture the Flag
  74. ^ I love bees, Axon Clips, Chapter 8 - Rani: "My Old Kentucky Home"
  75. ^ Halo Waypoint: Canon Fodder - Have S'moa
  76. ^ Halo: Reach Legendary Edition, package contents letter
  77. ^ I love bees, Axon Clips, Chapter 5 - Rani: "The Wedding"
  78. ^ Bungie.net, Jason Jones Interviewed By You (Archive)
  79. ^ Halo: Evolutions - Essential Tales of the Halo Universe, "Palace Hotel", p. 367
  80. ^ Halo 3: ODST, campaign level, Mombasa Streets
  81. ^ Halo: First Strike, p. 339
  82. ^ Halo: The Fall of Reach, p. 283