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|Political and military information|
Commander Richard Lash is a UNSC Naval officer who served from the mid-2540s until the end of the Human-Covenant War. He became the commander of the Sahara-class prowler Dusk after Captain Iglesias was wounded in action shortly before the Battle of Earth in 2552. Lash and his crew were among the first humans to witness the outbreak of the Great Schism among the Covenant.
Lash's father was a welder on the Cradle and was killed when it was destroyed during the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV on July 17, 2552. Lash knew his father wanted an opportunity to be a hero during the war, and was glad in a sense that he got the chance to. For eighteen months prior to the Battle of Earth, Lash and the crew of the Dusk had seen constant action, including the fall of four human colonies and the deaths of billions of people, and were all heavily fatigued as a result.
Battle of Earth and the Great Schism
Shortly before the Battle of Earth, Captain Iglesias was injured and undergoing radiation treatment Earthside. As a result, Lash had to take command of the Dusk. When the Covenant Fleet of Sacred Consecration arrived in the Sol system on October 20, 2552, the Dusk was caught between crew rotations, and Lash was forced to take the ship into combat with a crew of only forty-three, as opposed to the normal ninety.
During the early stages of the battle, the unprepared Fleet of Sacred Consecration was engaged by the UNSC Home Fleet. While most of the fleet would be destroyed in the orbital battle, the High Prophet of Regret, on board the assault carrier Solemn Penance managed to make it to to Earth's surface, deploying troops into the city of Mombasa, Kenya. As UNSC ground forces pushed the Covenant troops back toward the assault carrier's landing zone, the Hierarch opted to perform a slipspace jump while still in the planet's atmosphere. With no time for heavier ships to intercept the fleeing Covenant vessel, Commander Miranda Keyes of the UNSC In Amber Clad pursued the Solemn Penance into slipspace. The Dusk, along with fellow corvette UNSC Coral Sea and frigates UNSC Paris and UNSC Redoubtable were the only four UNSC ships near enough to follow the Solemn Penance and In Amber Clad into slipspace. During the chase, the other three ships quickly outran the Dusk, with the prowler losing contact with them.
As the ship prepared to leave slipspace, Lash ordered his executive officer Lieutenant Commander Julian Waters to jettison the Dusk's arsenal of Hornet mines, due to the fact that the Čerenkov radiation given off by the mines would give away their presence despite the prowler's stealth systems. Lash then ordered his crew to make ready to take the ship out of slipspace with its stealth systems fully engaged. The ship arrived in the Coelest system at 1440 hours on November 3, 2552, and immediately detected the presence of the Covenant mobile capital High Charity and it's massive defense fleet near Installation 05. Lash, after shaking off the massive shock of seeing so many Covenant vessels in close proximity, ordered navigations officer Lieutenant Bethany Durruno to move the ship dead slow into a nearby asteroid field. Waters reported that there was no trace of the In Amber Clad or any of the other three UNSC ships, before detecting weapons discharges from the Covenant ships that curiously wasn't aimed at the Dusk. While hiding within the shadow zone of the gas giant's moon Opusculus, Commander Lash and his bridge crew witnessed the splintering of the Second Fleet of Homogeneous Clarity, as the Great Schism erupted within the Covenant. After recording footage of the orbital battle near the Halo ring for some time, Lash ordered the crew to make ready to jump to slipspace.
The UNSC Dusk made the slipspace jump back to Earth in record time, arriving in mere hours having followed in the slipspace wake of the Forerunner Dreadnought which had left High Charity for Earth. While unaware of the reason behind the slipspace wake, Lash reported it to Fleet Admiral Terrence Hood, who ordered Lash to use the information from the report to follow in the wake of the Covenant destroyer Bloodied Spirit, which had been captured by Spartan Blue Team, until they reached remote station Tripoli, where they would rendezvous with Admiral Carl Patterson's Battle Group Omicron and accompany the task force to Onyx, to assist Blue Team in obtaining technologies to turn the tide of the war. Lash had been forced to leave Earth without having a chance to resupply the Dusk's armaments or fill out their full crew roster as they had only a brief window to catch the rapidly-dissipating wake of the Bloodied Spirit.
- Main article: Onyx Conflict
The Dusk arrived in the Zeta Doradus system at 2040 hours on November 3, 2552. Lash had orders to gather tactical data for Patterson's battle group, a task of which he had fifteen minutes to accomplish before rendezvousing with the battle group. As the Dusk approached Onyx, her radar systems detected the presence of a pair of Covenant destroyers in high planetary orbit. When Waters suggested attempting communication with the hope of one of the vessels being the Spartan-captured Bloodied Spirit, Lash reaffirmed that their orders were only to observe and gather data. The 'Dusk' detected debris in orbit, of which showed signs of combat, but was of inadequate volume to account for even one Covenant vessel. Lash ordered Durruno to cut the Dusk's engines and told Waters to enable the prowler's stealth systems while they drifted in a tight orbit of the planet. He ordered his sensor station officer Lieutenant Joe Yang to scan for any traces of nuclear detonations, as well as planetary energy sources, of which she answered in the negative for both requests. As their allocated time for the scouting mission ran down, Lash realised that Lieutenant Commander Waters, having lost his family on Harvest at the beginning of the war, was eager to close in and engage the Covenant vessels which was a suicidal action for the prowler crew. As a result, Lash firmly told him that they would follow Admiral Patterson's orders to the letter, and would leave after the fifteen minutes. While Lash was suspicious of the low number of Covenant ships, he nonetheless withdrew to rendezvous with Battle Group Omicron.
As Battle Group Omicron arrived at Onyx, Lash ordered the Dusk to move away from the rest of Patterson's ships and into an elliptical orbit of the dark side of the planet, with the intention to complete their scan of Onyx. Lash had requested that he take the prowler on a second recon mission before Omicron's arrival, and was dismayed with Admiral Patterson's brash plan to simply charge the Covenant ships without a greater strategic picture. Lash and his crew watched as the battlegroup clashed with the two Covenant destroyers, one of the vessels destroyed by a trio of nuclear detonations and the other damaged and forced to flee, but not before firing a salvo of plasma charges at Patterson's flagship UNSC Stalingrad. They watched the destroyer Glasgow Kiss intercept the charges, sacrificing itself for the Stalingrad. Lash was concerned by the Covenant vessel's apparent retreat, as Covenant ships generally fought to the death when overwhelmed. He ordered his chief enginner Lieutenant Commander Xaing Cho to power up the Dusk's engines, despite this making them visible to other ships. As the Dusk approached the dark side of Onyx, Lieutenant Yang detected a hot spot that resolved into a fleet of twenty Covenant vessels - elements of the Second Fleet of Homogeneous Clarity - accelerating through the planet's atmosphere on an intercept course with Battle Group Omicron. Lash immediately ordered his bridge crew to cut their engine speed and re-enable their stealth protocols. Lash partially wished that the Covenant ships had noticed them, if only to buy Omicron some time. He watched as the human and Covenant vessels clashed above Onyx; Omicron losing almost half of their number and the destroyer Iwo Jima self-destructing and destroying a pair of enemy vessels. While the Covenant were disoriented, Patterson's battle group retreated, arcing around Onyx. Immediately afterward, Lash witnessed the arrival of thousands of Onyx Sentinels. The tiny drones engaged the Covenant fleet, nullifying their weaponry by capturing their plasma rounds with energy shields before destroying a trio of Covenant destroyers. A pair of Covenant ships remained behind to engage while the rest of the fleet escaped from Onyx's gravity well, sacrificing themselves. Lash pondered the origins of the Sentinels, wondering if they were a new species or a type of weapon used by the Spartans on the surface. He ordered Lieutenant Durruno to watch for escape pods while he took the Dusk to Lagrange-Three. A transmission on the UNSC's emergency broadcast channel from the artificial intelligence Endless Summer. Knowing that Admiral Patterson's fleet were too far away to receive the message and unwilling to jeopardise their stealth with potential enemies in close proximity, Lash ordered the deployment of a BLACK WIDOW communications satellite and sent a single beam transmission notifying the AI that they were listening. 
Later, Commander Lash oversaw Lieutenant Commander Cho as he had the Dusk lay a field of HORNET mines in the space over Onyx, the mines having been transferred from the damaged UNSC destroyer Brasidas. Admiral Patterson intended to use the remaining vessels of his battlegroup to lure the Covenant fleet into the minefield, which Lash realised was their only option as the Covenant still outnumbered then four to one. While Lash was inwardly shaken by the dangerous nature of their task, he retained his composure, ensuring the Dusk remained stealthed as it laid the minefield. Despite his entire bridge crew needing sleep, including himself, Lash knew he had to keep them all in play as he had no replacement officers. As the Dusk observed the distant Covenant fleet, Lash ordered Yang to monitor the UNSC COM bands as the Spartans on the surface might radio for evac. Lash continued to watch as Battle Group Omicron re-engaged the Covenant fleet, firing several MAC rounds that led the alien vessels into a pursuit as Admiral Patterson had hoped. As the UNSC battlegroup took cover behind the moon, the Covenant fleet split, moving to opposite sides of the moon, hoping to catch Omicron in a fatal crossfire. However, they failed to see the battlegroup moving away from the moon and soon entered the killzone of the alpha and beta minefields. Lash ordered his crew to arm the mines and detonated them when the Covenant fleet was within range. The HORNET mines successfully destroyed all but four of the Covenant ships. At that moment, Patterson's battlegroup attacked, their MAC rounds and Archer missiles quickly destroying two of the weakened enemy vessels. As Battle Group Omicron approached the final pair of Covenant ships, Lash wondered if future historians would look upon the battle as the turning point of the Human-Covenant War; where the enemy had been defeated and vital technologies were discovered and used to bring about an end to the long, disastrous conflict. When he realised that the two Covenant ships were going to attempt a slingshot orbit that would bring then into contact with the Dusk, Lash ordered Lieutenant Durruno to orient the Dusk so that it presented the minimum possible aspect to the alien ships as they approached. He ordered them to stay dark as the Covenant destroyers completed their slingshot orbit and passed the Dusk, so close that Lash felt the sensation of quantum fluctuations from the vessel's repulsor engines. Just as battlegroup Omicron took up a firing position on the surviving Covenant ships, Yang detected a sudden energy spike originating from neither the UNSC or Covenant ships. Lash, along with his bridge crew, watched in horror as an armada of thirty-two Covenant vessels emerged from slipspace; surviving ships of the Combined Fleet of Righteous Purpose. Taking position between the two Covenant ships and the UNSC battlegroup, the newly-arrived fleet proceeded to massacre Omicron, slaughtering the UNSC vessels in a short, one-sided battle. With his hope for a victory completely crushed, Lash had the Dusk continue to stay dark, floating lifelessly in space as the Covenant armada approached. Lash and his crew were forced to inch meter-by-meter towards Onyx's moon, passing throught the debris field of the destoyed battlegroup, the harrowing experience of passing the corpses of the thousands of crewmen considered by Lash to have been the bravest in the UNSC Navy having a profound effect on the Commander and his crew. Eventually reaching the far side of the moon undetected, the Dusk took cover within the shadow of a crater on the moon's surface and Cho deployed three BLACK WIDOW satellites to monitor the Covenant fleet.
A short time later, the Dusk detected the energy signatures from a pair of FENRIS nuclear warheads, detonated manually by Kurt-051 to deny Covenant ground forces access to Onyx's internal Dyson sphere, followed by larger energy signatures, which unbeknownst to Commander Lash and his crew was the beginning of the planet Onyx's disintegration into its trillions of component Sentinels. Hoping that these new energy signatures would distract the nearby Covenant fleet and allow them to escape, Lash ordered Cho to ready the Dusk's slipspace capacitors. At first assuming that the Covenant were glassing the planet, the truth became apparent as the entire surface of Onyx shattered, revealing to the crew of the Dusk that the planet was artificial and composed entirely of Sentinels. As the Sentinels proceeded to vaporize the entirety of the nearby Covenant fleet and with the loss of their BLACK WIDOW satellites, Lash ordered his crew to take the Dusk into slipspace immediately.
Lash owned an ancient spring-and-gear wristwatch, which he received from his father upon his graduation from OCS. He always kept it wound tight for luck, as his father had advised.
List of appearances
- Halo: Ghosts of Onyx (First appearance)