Battle for Zeta Halo
From Halopedia, the Halo wiki
The Battle for Zeta Halo was a large multi-faction battle that took place starting on December 12, 2559, prominently between the United Nations Space Command and the Banished on the Forerunner Halo Installation 07, otherwise known as "Zeta Halo", and continues as of around mid-2560. The earlier stages of battle ultimately led to the fall of Cortana and her Created while simultaneously severely damaging Installation 07, making the conflict the final overarching battle of the larger Created conflict and the last stand of the Created, although remaining lingering affiliates continued to exist as of 2560.
Following the firing of the Halo Array at the end of the Forerunner-Flood war, a mysterious advanced sentient species known as the Xalanyn, which was not indexed by the Forerunner ecumene prior to the firing of the Halo Array, inexplicably survived the Great Purification. The Xalanyn were discovered alive by the Forerunners, much to the latter's confusion, and the matter was brought before the Forerunner Council.
The Council arranged a parley between delegates from the two species, with Installation 07 taken into range of the Xalanyn homeworld. In 97,368 BCE, the Forerunners passed judgment of the Xalanyn at the Silent Auditorium on the ring, and decided to imprison the Xalanyn on Installation 07, with some members subjugated for study at the Auditorium. The Grand Edict charged Installation 07's monitor, 117649 Despondent Pyre, with guarding the Xalanyn's prison with the Auditorium, and assigned Offensive Bias to the ring to aid in this.
In 2559, the Jiralhanae Atriox, the leader of a group of mercenary raiders known as the Banished, discovered the existence of the Xalanyn. Seeking to uncover this secret hidden by the Forerunners, Atriox prepared his Banished forces to travel to Installation 07.
In October 2558, when the Created conflict began with the rogue AI Cortana subjugating major planets and governments across the galaxy with her Guardians, the UNSC Armed Forces were broken with the UNSC Infinity forced into hiding. Cortana ushered in a new era with her Created as rulers, enforcing martial law across their territory. The Infinity conducted operations against the Created in limited capacity.
Cortana made a general broadcast, inviting numerous species and factions to submit themselves to the guardianship of the Created, but threatened those who would resist her leadership with violence. During his preparations for the journey to Installation 07, Atriox was personally confronted by Cortana. The Jiralhanae declared his independence from Cortana, and thus, opposition against the Created. In a show of force for Atriox's defiance, Cortana commanded her Guardians to destroy the Jiralhanae homeworld Doisac while communicating with Atriox. Seeking to access the ring's secrets and exact revenge against Cortana, Atriox led his Banished forces to Installation 07, where the Created leader resided.
Doctor Catherine Halsey devised a plan to stop Cortana. She created an artificial intelligence known as "The Weapon", created from a cloned brain of herself. The copy would lock Cortana down, preventing her from controlling her vast Guardian and Promethean forces and isolating her in her current location, Installation 07. A plan was formed, with the initial intent to send Blue Team to the surface to retrieve Cortana, though this was later revised to be just John-117 and The Weapon, accompanied by the ship's Spartan and ODST complement. Halsey had plans for Frederic-104, Kelly-087, and Linda-058, but they were reassigned by Captain Thomas Lasky to another mission unknown to Halsey, much to her chagrin. John-117 was to travel to the surface of the ring and deploy the Weapon to lock down Cortana, then return her to the Infinity for deletion.
On December 12, 2559, UNSC Infinity and her escort fleet, composed of six Mulsanne-class light frigates, arrived at Installation 07 operating at limited capacity following the Created uprising. Upon arrival, the weakened UNSC fleet was ambushed by four Banished dreadnoughts. The Banished had arrived at the ring earlier, and begun fortifying the ring's surface to neutralize Cortana.
Warmaster Atriox personally led Banished raiding parties aboard the Infinity, all the while sending occupation forces to the Ring's surface by the hundreds. Despite the UNSC repelling the boarders, the Infinity's main engine were taken offline within minutes after the initial attack, and Captain Lasky ordered the deployment of the Weapon to proceed with the mission to lock down Cortana. Under the overwhelming assault, Lasky ordered all hands aboard the Infinity to abandon ship.
John-117 ordered Fireteam Taurus to escort Lasky to a dropship while he held off the boarders at the hangar bay. However, despite his efforts, the hangar bay would eventually be lost to the Banished. As one dreadnought rammed the dorsal hull of the Infinity, causing massive structural damage, Atriox fought John-117 in the hangar bay and defeated the Spartan. The limp Spartan was thrown from the the hangar bay and into space.
After Lasky’s lifeboat was away, Spartan Hudson Griffin of Fireteam Taurus ordered the evacuation of the remaining Spartan-IVs. Spartan-IVs, marines, and crew fled onboard drop pods, Pelicans, and lifeboats to the surface of Installation 07, many being shot down seconds after exiting the vessel. Some were escorted by members of Fireteam Windfall onboard fighters.
In the region south of Silent Auditorium, the Banished set up three anti-air Gorespike cannons, which fired at numerous UNSC aircrafts landing at the area. This region became the most active battleground in the first 48 hours of the conflict. Recognizing the threat posed by the cannons, Spartan Hudson led Fireteam Taurus and made landfall in this region, where they fought through Banished patrols, with sniper support from Spartan Nina Kovan, to disable the three cannons. They succeed in disabling two cannons before a cataclysmic event on the ring - an explosion at the Silent Auditorium - disabled the third cannon.
In the end, the outcome of the space battle saw at least two Mulsanne-class frigates, including the UNSC Mortal Reverie, crashing on the fragmented section of the ring. The second frigate crashed between the three Gorespike cannons. Although the status of the UNSC Infinity is unknown aside from having suffered heavy damage from Banished vessels, she may have broke apart and crash landed on the ring.[Note 1]
Explosion on the Ring and Cortana's destruction
As UNSC forces scattered over the ring and fought against the Banished forces, Atriox confronted Cortana at the Silent Auditorium, claiming he had killed John-117 and Cortana's Created empire was over, leaving the latter devastated by the news of John-117's apparent death. Having consolidated her presence and core processes at the Silent Auditorium and seemingly locked down by the Weapon deployed from UNSC Infinity, Cortana could not retaliate. Atriox presented her with the terms of her surrender, intending to take control of the ring and access the secrets locked within the Silent Auditorium. In an attempt to prevent Atriox from accessing Silent Auditorium or possibly activating the ring, Cortana initiated a local self-dstruction sequence at the Auditorium, killing herself, fracturing the ring's surface, and leaving the installation inoperable. Her efforts were proven to be temporary, as the ring soon begun its self-repair process, though it would take months to complete. Although he survived the explosion, Atriox was left severely scarred, and was also presumed dead by both the UNSC and the Banished. Cortana, in hopes of John-117's survival, predicted he would stop the Banished from accessing the Silent Auditorium and prevented the Weapon's deletion protocol so she could assist him, leaving the Weapon in the ring's subterranean structure for retrieval. At some point during the Installation 07 conflict, at least one Guardian Custode was present over Installation 07 and subsequently crashed on the ring by 2560.
During the destruction event, Cortana also initiated an emergency translcation protocol, intending to disorient the Banished and stall their efforts. Installation 07, along with the debris from the space battle, was transported away from the the Ephsu system to an unknown location. The explosion also affected the ground battle between the UNSC and the Banished. The ring's fragmentation scattered UNSC ground forces, but disabled the third Gorespike cannon, allowing more UNSC aircrafts to land on the ring.
The UNSC scatters
Despite the explosion, the Banished occupied the ring, with some UNSC forces gathering on one of the fragments. The Banished committed a large force at the eastern fragmented sections of the ring. On one of the fragments to the west, a large group of survivors led by Spartan Hudson Griffin established a base of operations in the wreckage of the Mulsanne-class frigate UNSC Mortal Reverie, discovered by Spartan Vedrana Makovich. Under the leadership of Spartan Griffin, the UNSC forces at the Reverie conducted guerilla ops against the Banished forces. First Lieutenant Floyd conducted multiple field surveys and reconnaissance missions on nearby Banished outposts, reporting his findings to Spartans Griffin, Bertold Vettel, and Bonita Stone, while also attempting to contact other UNSC forces. The UNSC also set up multiple Forward Operating Bases in the regions on the fragmented section of the ring.
On January 20, 2560, Kovan conducted a recon sweep deep inside Banished-occupied territory. She observed that Banished forces were only unified under Escharum, with internal competition among its members. She reported her findings to Griffin, and suggested that an attempt on Banished War Chief Escharum's life may fragment the Banished leadership. Griffin decided their best course of action was to assassinate the War Chief. A four-Spartan team, the members of which were decided by drawing straws, was to infiltrate Banished territory and assassinate Escharum, while other Spartans remained at the Reverie to defend the base. In the end, on January 23, 2560, Spartan Griffin led Spartans Panago, Malik, and Sarkar on an assassination mission on Escharum. Griffin left Bertold Vettel in charge of the UNSC forces at the Reverie. However, Escharum anticipated Griffin's actions. His forces ambushed the Spartan team, killing the other three and leaving Griffin badly wounded. Escharum taunted Griffin, letting him know that he'd sent most of his forces to assault the Reverie. Griffin managed to send an encrypted message to warn Reverie before Escharum captured and handed him over to Chak 'Lok for torture. Under the combined leadership of Vettel and the counsel of Makovich, the UNSC forces at the Reverie braced for the Banished's attack.
On January 31, 2560, Chieftain Tremonius and Captain Arthoc led a massive Banished force from Riven Gate in an assault against the Reverie. Under an overwhelming assault, the UNSC forces retreated from the crash site on February 2. Following the battle, the crash site surrounding the ship was converted into a Banished outpost. As a reward for Tremonius' victory, Escharum had the outpost named after Tremonius, who would be promoted to the rank of Warlord.
The surviving UNSC personnel were forced to conduct mostly defensive tactics over the next few months, losing their last Forward Operating Base by March 3. Meanwhile, the Banished began setting up more infrastructure on the ring. They built sensory arrays at the Horn of Abolition and hijacked a Forerunner resonance amplifier to boost their relays, thus always staying one step ahead of the UNSC forces. They also established Annex Ridge, where they conducted research on the ring's artifacts. Escharum ordered his Banished forces to capture UNSC survivors, who would be processed at Redoubt of Sundering before being taken to Chak 'Lok's Tower for interrogation under torture and duress, and then finally to Escharum's base, House of Reckoning. The UNSC forces were unable to stage any major offensives due to the loss of an organized leadership, but what Spartans remained enacted the Rubicon Protocol: doing all they could to prevent the Banished from taking control of the ring and protect Earth. In one particular incident, Spartans M. Jaide and Rosado managed to hijack a Barukaza Workshop siege-hauler carrying artifacts from Annex Ridge.
With little UNSC resistance, the Banished shifted their attention to excavations, salvaging UNSC hardware to aid their excavation efforts, while meeting resistance from the ring's self-repair process. By April 23, the Banished has found numerous cylixes buried in the ring. Tremonius found one such cylix, which contained the Xalanyn known as "the Harbinger". Under the supervision of Escharum, the Banished forced a human prisoner, Lucas Browning, to interface with the Harbinger's cylix, releasing her from stasis.
After her release, the Harbinger told Escharum of the Reformation, which would expedite the ring's self-repair process by creating materials for repairs. The process would return the ring to an operational status for Escharum, who hopes to achieve Atriox's goal of controlling the ring and claim the ring as their new home. However, unbeknownst to Escharum, the Harbinger seeks to rebuild the Silent Auditorium, which was destroyed when Cortana detonated the ring, and locate her fellow Xalanyn. Despite Escharum being distrustful towards the Harbinger, the two formed an uneasy alliance, bolstering the Banished forces with the Harbinger's Skimmers.
The Harbinger aided in the excavation efforts, personally inspecting excavation sites and modifying the Banished's mining equipment to cut through Forerunner alloys. Furthermore, upon the discovery of the Conservatory, where the monitor of the installation, 117649 Despondent Pyre, resided, they prioritized on excavating the facility. The Harbinger aimed to acquire the monitor's encephalon, which would allow her to initiate the Reformation. Having observed the excavation site, Spartans Makovich and Theodore Sorel correctly deduced that Escharum was searching for the Monitor. Over the next three weeks , the two stalled the Banished's excavation efforts by sabotaging the excavation machinery and disrupting supply lines. Despite their sabotage efforts, the Banished completed the excavation by May 15. Makovich and Sorel followed the Banished into the underground facility, but they were ambushed and killed by members of the Hand of Atriox. However, the Harbinger and the Banished would not find 117649 Despondent Pyre inside the Conservatory until the Master Chief's return.
The Master Chief returns
On circa May 28, civilian engineer Fernando Esparza, onboard the Pelican Echo 216 he had stolen from Infinity six months prior, found John-117 drifting in space around Installation 07. The Spartan's armor had activated survival mode to keep the Spartan alive. After bringing him aboard and reactivating the armor via a power transfer, John-117 was awakened. Echo 216 was quickly discovered by the Banished dreadnought Ghost of Gbraakon, which activated its stasis beam to pull the Pelican onboard. John-117 left the Pelican and boarded the Gbraakon, destroying the ship to prevent the Pelican from being captured. Escharum was made aware of the Spartan's survival, and reacted with excitement.
After the destruction of the Gbraakon, John-117 was contacted by the Weapon, who had been stranded in the ring for the last six months. Esparza, piloting Echo 216, took the Spartan to a subterranean structure at the fragmented section of the ring, where the Spartan retrieved the Weapon. While returning to Outpost Tremonius at the surface, John-117 encountered and defeated Warlord Tremonius, thus returning the wreckage of Reverie to UNSC control.
Escharum ordered Chak 'Lok to lure the Master Chief to the Tower using Griffin's distress signal. At the Weapon's advice, John-117 pursued the signal to the Tower, where he confronted and killed 'Lok. Despite being freed from the torture device, Griffin succumbed to his wounds, but told John-117 of the Conservatory. John-117 and the Weapon then traveled to the excavation site, where the Spartan defeated Bassus, and entered the Conservatory. Inside the Conservatory, they watched 117649 Despondent Pyre being captured by Skimmers. Pyre was tortured and interrogated by the Harbinger, who retrieved the monitor's encephalon. With Pyre seemingly destroyed, submonitor Adjutant Resolution was activated. The Harbinger left for the surface, with John-117 in pursuit. At the entrance of the Conservatory, John-117 confronted the Harbinger, but was unable to prevent her from activating the Reformation using Pyre's encephalon. 43 Reformation Spires, including one Command Spire, began appearing at various locations on the ring, awaiting an initiation sequence. The Harbinger escaped, with the Spartan heading to the Reformation Spire that materialized outside the Conservatory.
Preventing the Reformation
John-117 fought through Banished defenses, including a pair of Mgalekgolo, at the base of the Reformation Spire, and entered the structure. Inside, the Spartan and the Weapon met Adjutant Resolution, who told them of the Spire's purpose: to rebuild the ring. John-117 ordered the Weapon to shut down the Reformation Spire to prevent the ring from being made operable. Adjutant Resolution attempted to intervene, leading to a short battle at Spire's observation platform, with John-117 defeating the submonitor in its armored chassis. The Weapon took the Spire offline, and they escaped the collapsing tower onboard Echo 216, with the Command Spire as their next objective.
However, while en route to the Command Spire, Echo 216 crash landed at the job the region south of the Silent Auditorium, having sustained damage from anti-air fire from the three Gorespike cannons, which had been reactivated. John-117 proceeded to the three cannons, eliminating the Banished defenses and destroying each cannon with the help of the Weapon. Escharum ordered the deployment of Hand of Atriox, with Tovarus and Hyperius attempting an intercept on John-117. They failed to deter the Spartan's progress, being killed by John-117. The Harbinger, anticipating the Chief's intent to shut down the Reformation, had Escharum set up defenses at the Command Spire, while she modified the data sequence for accessing the Spire. Intending to challenge the Master Chief in a duel, Escharum ordered Jega 'Rdomnai to capture the Spartan.
With the Harbinger modifying the sequence, John-117 and the Weapon arrived at the Command Spire to find its entrance under lockdown. They fought through Banished defenses to access four Forerunner beacons nearby, where the Weapon reconstructed a pure version of the sequence to access the Spire. The Harbinger, having realized that there is something guiding the Master Chief, scanned the Weapon and confirmed her existence while the Weapon was accessing the data strands beneath the Forerunner beacons. John-117 and the Weapon returned to the Command Spire, first passing through the Nexus located at the base of the Spire. The Banished troops inside, despite being reinforced by Sentinel Aggressors that were in support of initiating the Reformation, failed to fend off the Spartan, and John-117 uploaded the Weapon into the Nexus to activate the gravity lift to access the Spire. While the Weapon was in the system, the Harbinger hijacked the Weapon's routines, which, when paired with Despondent Pyre's encephalon, would correctly initialize the Reformation. However, the Weapon infiltrated the systems and retrieved Pyre's encephalon, that would allow her to halt the Reformation. John-117 and the Weapon entered the Command Spire, where they defeated the Banished and Sentinel defenses, including Adjutant Resolution, then shut down the Reformation. However, the Silent Auditorium was already partially rebuilt, and Escharum asked the Harbinger if that would be sufficient to carry out her plans, but she was unsure.
Test of legends
When Fernando Esparza flew Echo 216 towards the crumbling Command Spire to pick up John-117, Jega 'Rdomnai revealed himself in the cockpit, having boarded the Pelican at some point. The Sangheili took Esparza hostage, using the pilot as a bait to lure John-117 into a confrontation with Escharum. To escape the crumbling Spire, John-117 entered a portal activated by the Weapon. They were transported to the Repository, where they fought through Banished troops and Sentinels to the surface, and, from there, they stormed the House of Reckoning, destroying the Banished defenses along the way. Inside, Escharum had John-117 fight through multiple waves of Banished troops in two arenas constructed from UNSC ordnance and buildings. John-117 fought Jega 'Rdomnai in a duel, emerging victorious and finally confronting Escharum at the chamber where Esparza was held. Escharum protected himself with a shielding system which redirected gunfire to the gravity wells holding Esparza. The Weapon helped John-117 locate and destroy the relay transmitters supporting the shielding system, allowing the Spartan to breach the shields and take down Escharum. In his final moments, Escharum assured John-117 that his death will only inspire further conflict. However, after Escharum's death, Atriox would make his survival known, giving the Banished a newfound resolve and confidence to fight for the control of the ring. With Esparza rescued, the trio recovered Echo 216 and Esparza flew John-117 to the Silent Auditorium to stop the Harbinger.
Although the Banished set up defenses at the Silent Auditorium to protect the Harbinger, John-117 breached the main chamber with the help of Adjutant Resolution. The Spartan fought through the Banished forces defending the Harbinger, and the Harbinger herself as she interfaced with the transmitters in the main chamber to locate members of her species, the Endless. Despite the Weapon's attempt to intervene with the transmission, and John-117 defeating the Harbinger in battle, the Harbinger claimed her people have been found, and that they would be unleashed. The Auditorium began to collapse, but a portal suddenly appeared, allowing the two to escape. On the other side of the portal, they found themselves having traveled three days into the future. They were extracted by Echo 216, and taken to Outpost Tremonius with the intention of finishing the fight.
The battle continues
In the following days John-117, with the assistance of both Esparza and the Weapon, carried out anti-Banished operations and UNSC rescue missions. He managed to destroy eight Banished outposts, recapture eleven more FOBs, rescue twenty-five Marine squads and kill fourteen high-ranking members of the Banished plus the leader of a Gasgira patrol group known as Skimmer Alpha. Meanwhile Atriox, having survived the destruction of the Auditorium, discovered the whereabouts of the Endless and, after one hundred thousand years of imprisonment, finally released them. Atriox's sudden return gave to the Banished a newfound resolve and confidence.
December 12, 2559
December 13, 2559
December 15, 2559
January 20, 2560
January 23, 2560
January 30, 2560
January 31, 2560
February 2, 2560
March 3, 2560
April 23, 2560
April 24, 2560
April 26, 2560
April 29, 2560
May 15, 2560
May 26, 2560
Circa May 28, 2560
Around 6 months after the Battle over Installation 07 on December 12–13, 2559
Around 3 days after the Harbinger's demise and the subsquent collapse of the Silent Auditorium
List of appearances