Halo: Silent Storm
Halo: Silent Storm - A Master Chief Story is a print novel by Troy Denning, released on September 4, 2018. Silent Storm has narrative connections to Halo: Collateral Damage, a three-part comic book series from Dark Horse written by Alex Irvine, as part of the A Master Chief Story series. A sequel, Halo: Oblivion, was released on September 24, 2019.
The book begins in early 2526, only a few months after first contact at Harvest and the SPARTAN-IIs boarding of the Covenant vessel Unrelenting at Chi Ceti IV. The SPARTANs are now attached to UNSC Starry Night, a Razor-class prowler, as part of a mission to board and capture a Covenant frigate known as Radiant Arrow, in an effort to know more about the aliens' technology. The SPARTANs, consisting of Blue Team, Green Team and Gold Team, perform an spacewalk to board the frigate, entering the ship through the hatch in its hangar by following the flight path of several Banshees. The SPARTANs proceed to clear the bay, using M99 Stanchions and M41 SPNKRs to quickly eliminate the Covenant defenders. The group then begin to start clearing the ship of hostiles, with Blue Team heading for the bridge and Green Team heading for the ship's engineering section, with Gold acting as support. The plan goes awry when a flight officer aboard one of the prowlers supporting the operation accidentally broadcasts over general channels, alerting the Covenant to the operation and mobilising the defenders aboard the ship. When Blue Team arrives at the bridge, they dispatch of the crew before discovering that the shipmaster activated a dead-man's switch in his chair, leading to the ship's self-destruct being activated. The SPARTANs exfiltrate from the ship and are picked up by Starry Night.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Avery Johnson arrives on the UNSC Everest, flagship of Battle Group X-Ray and seat of Admiral Preston Cole. Having survived the initial Covenant attack on Harvest and even boarded a Covenant ship,Minor Transgression, Johnson is effectively the most experienced human in fighting the Covenant. Coupled with his experience as part of the ORION Project, Johnson is summoned to a meeting with Admirals Cole and Stanforth alongside Doctor Catherine Halsey where he is briefed on their intentions. With the UNSC Navy's ineffectiveness in direct space battles against the Covenant, other means must be sought at leveling the playing field. Following the successful prior boarding actions, the intent is to use the SPARTAN-IIs to board a number of Covenant craft and plant nuclear weapons aboard, destroying them before they can be a threat to human spacecraft. This operation is deemed Operation: SILENT STORM.
The Sergeant is introduced to the personnel involved in the planned operation; the SPARTAN-IIs, Captain Halima Ascot - leader of Task Force Yama, a prowler task force used for the mission and Colonel Marmon Crowther - leader of the ODST 21st Space Assault Battalion. The group formalize the plan, with Ascot in charge of the naval complement and Crowther in charge of the 400-strong ground troops, with the SPARTANs under Crowther's operational command. With his experience, Johnson is to advise the SPARTANs and help them in learning to work with standard UNSC enlisted personnel. With the Covenant war machine advancing toward Biko, the operation intends to let Cole's naval forces engage the Covenant with the prowlers inserting their troops while the aliens are distracted. If the prowlers get an opportunity first, they proceed with their plan and Cole's group engages the distracted aliens.
Meanwhile, a group of insurrectionists meet aboard the frigate Bellicose to discuss the emerging Covenant threat, with several groups represented. The meeting is led by Lyrenne Castilla and General Harper Garvin. The conference eventually agrees to stage a coup of Biko, intending to offer the planet to the Covenant in return for the Covenant sparing the world. Petora Zoyas of the Gao Liberation Force offers up intel about the SPARTANs and Operation: SILENT STORM, gathered from a turncoat contact inside the task force. As part of the insurrectionist ploy, they agree to alert the Covenant to the UNSC plan at Biko and, if succesful, continue to drip-feed the Covenant intelligence about the UNSC war effort and eventually, the location of Earth, in return for their continued survival. To stage this coup, the insurrectionist factions contribute forces to join the Biko Independence Army at a base established in an abandoned ice quarry on the Bikon moon of Seoba.
Task Force Yama unknowingly select this same location to stage their operation, leading to the task force attempting to land at the ice quarry. When they discover the rebel presence, the Task Force prepares to take the quarry. Against the SPARTANs' suggestions, Colonel Crowther assigns one SPARTAN to each ODST platoon to carry heavy weapons. The UNSC Ghost Star is taken out by return fire from concealed M41 Vulcan cannons, with many ODSTs killed during the initial drop. Another flight of prowlers take out an insurrectionist communication facility at the top of the quarry, prompting a convoy of Civet AFVs to begin transporting a group of engineers to fix the array. The prowlers begin to turn around and retreat, cancelling the deployment. Seeing the few soldiers who did manage to successfully land and are now taking fire, John-117 decides to take the initiative against orders and drops out of the drop bay, leading to the remaining forces joining him. With the botched landing, the troops begin taking heavy casualties but are able to eventually find cover. John forms a plan with Lieutenant Nelly Hamm and Captain Zelos Cuthier; the quarry is lined by a mass driver leading up to the surface, with bunkers lining all sides. The SPARTANs intend to climb the inside of the mass driver and prevent the insurrectionists from fixing the comms facility and leaking the secrecy of the operation, with the ODSTs launching a mock assault to distract the defenders.