Second Ark Conflict
This article is about the battle in the post-war era. For other battles on Installation 00, see Battle of Installation 00 (disambiguation).
The Second Ark Conflict was a large battle fought between the isolated United Nations Space Command forces of the UNSC Spirit of Fire and the Covenant splinter group known as the Banished in 2559, about six years after the Human-Covenant War ended on the same ancient Forerunner installation known as the Ark. After mysteriously arriving at the Ark on March 28, 2559, the long-lost crew of the Spirit of Fire were awoken from cryosleep and soon came into hostile contact with the powerful mercenary organization. During the battle, the UNSC destroyed the Banished's flagship, the CAS-class assault carrier Enduring Conviction, and initiated the deployment sequence of one of the Ark's Halo rings, one of an array of massive ring-shaped superweapons capable of destroying all sentient life in the galaxy, intending to use it to send a distress beacon to human space.
On October 28, 2558, during the Created's subjugation of Earth, the portal to the immense, extra-galactic Forerunner installation known as Installation 00, or "the Ark," shut down. One month later, on November 25, a powerful Covenant splinter group, known as the Banished, arrived and raided the United Nations Space Command research outposts on the surface. While there, the Banished set up bases and salvage operations across the Ark establishing significant control.
Meanwhile, the UNSC Spirit of Fire spent almost twenty-eight years drifting through space after their slipsace drive was destroyed in the Battle of the Etran Harborage. A surviving Pod infector on board the ship started an outbreak, and a few crew members were infected. As the outbreak began to escalate, Smart AI Serina awoke Spartan-II Senior Chief Petty Officer Jerome-092 and the two of them quickly quelled the outbreak and sterilized the local Flood infestation. In the aftermath of the outbreak, 7-year-old Serina prepared herself for final dispensation, as per protocol. Many years later, the UNSC Spirit of Fire arrived mysteriously via slipspace portal at Installation 00 on March 28, 2559.
Less than an hour after the ship's arrival, the crew was automatically awoken from cryosleep by the vessel's deceased AI Serina, who had left a message for the ship's Captain, James Cutter, informing him of the status of the ship, the crew, and herself. After arriving at the Spirit of Fire's observation deck, Cutter was briefed on the situation by Professor Ellen Anders, who told him that the astronavigation system placed them outside the Milky Way. When Cutter discovered they had arrived via slipspace portal, Anders revealed to him that something on the surface of the Ark had opened the portal and pulled them in. Not a second later, Cutter was informed over comms that a message was being transmitted from the surface through a UNSC frequency, however, its encryption was too advanced for the crew's outdated decryption techniques. Instead of spending time decoding it, Cutter asked Anders for the source of the transmission and ordered Spartan Red Team to prepare a recon squad and find the source of the signal.
With recon forces having been sent in ahead, Red Team was dropped off in a Warthog on the Ark's south spire. Arriving at a hastily-created barrier, one of the soldiers of Recon One informed them that they had set charges and so Alice-130 fired on it with the Warthog's machine gun, detonating the charges and destroying the barrier. After destroying another barrier, Red Team eventually encountered a recon team who had been attacked. Pressing on, the Spartans arrived at a portal that had been discovered by the recon soldiers. While the Marines stayed behind to guard the portal, Red Team ventured through and were teleported nearby. After passing a couple more portals, the Spartans found themselves at the Henry Lamb research outpost.
Encounter with Atriox
Entering the desolate facility, the Spartans discovered a holotable which Jerome-092 proceeded to activate. Appearing in front of them was the orange hologram of a smart AI, who expressed her relief that Spartans had arrived. Ordered to identify herself, the AI told Jerome she was Isabel, and that she was in UNSC logistics for the Ark research outpost. After being asked where the survivors are and what the strength of the Covenant force there was, Isabel displayed confusion and told the Spartans they needed to escape. Unbeknownst to them, their war with the Covenant Empire had ended six years ago. Suddenly, they heard a loud thumping sound coming from further within the facility. After retrieving Isabel, Jerome signaled for them to move up into another section of the outpost.
Out of the darkness, a heavily armored Jiralhanae grabbed Alice by the neck and lifted her up before throwing her to the side. As the other two Spartans began firing on the massive Brute, he slammed his gravity mace into the ground, sending them into the air and allowing the Brute to strike Jerome, launching him to the side as well. Using his mace, the Jiralhanae pulled Douglas-042 in and slammed the supersoldier into the ground behind him. Alice ran back up from behind the Brute, firing her pistol at the same time, before being knocked to the side. Recovering, Douglas gripped his shotgun but was kicked away before he could use it. Armed with a combat knife, Jerome approached the Brute, dodged one of his strikes, and stabbed him before once again being struck away. Again, Alice fired her pistol at the alien but was deflected by the Brute's arm. Douglas picked up his shotgun again, but before he could fire it, the Jiralhanae knocked it out of his hand. Opting for his knife, Douglas managed to stab the Brute twice before having his shoulder crushed by the ursine's grip. As the Spartan screamed an agonizing cry and held his shoulder in pain, the Brute reactivated his gravity mace and, as Douglas started getting back up, struck him in the chest, launching him through the air and causing his helmet to come off. Removing the knife from his abdomen, the Jiralhanae picked up the helmet and crushed it, musing over the fact that his suspicion that Spartans were merely human was correct. As Alice and Jerome approached the severely wounded Douglas, Recon One reported that there were multiple hostiles approaching Red Team's location. With the pair deciding to leave, Alice began dragging Douglas, who soon fell unconscious. Exiting the research outpost, the pair were greeted by the sight of hundreds of warriors of various species surrounding them on the cliffs above. As Alice put Douglas in the Warthog and manned the gun, Jerome requested Archer missiles be launched on their position. As Jerome drove away from the facility, Alice fired at the pursuing Ghosts and the other ground forces teleporting around them. The Spartans soon reached a light bridge, which Alice proceeded to activate. With enemy ground forces approaching, Alice volunteered to hold off them off while Jerome and Douglas crossed the bridge and were picked up by a Pelican.
Getting up to speed
After returning to the Spirit of Fire, Jerome inserted Isabel's data chip into the bridge holotable and introduced her to Captain Cutter. The captain asked Isabel to report on what happened and what they're up against. Despite her apprehensiveness to talk, she told Cutter that the Brute the Spartans fought was called Atriox, the leader of the Banished, a Covenant splinter group who fought the empire simultaneously with humanity. Isabel exclaimed that if the entire Covenant couldn't contain him, then the Spirit of Fire didn't stand a chance and that they needed to escape far away as quickly as possible. However, Cutter told her that while they did only have one ship, it was all they may have left and that he refused to leave the galaxy at the mercy of Atriox. As he put the vessel in combat-ready mode, the bridge crew ran back to their stations ready to fight and Jerome left to get prepared.
Assault on the salvage operation
After conferring with Isabel on the best option for attacking the Banished chain of command, the AI told Cutter of Lieutenant Decimus, the overseer of a ship graveyard salvage operation near the Henry Lamb research outpost. Deciding that they should hit the Banished with a surprise attack and then establish a base of operations, Cutter deployed Strike One, a unit of eight Marines led by Jerome, to the installation's surface. After fighting through Banished forces, the strike team arrived at a Forerunner tower giving off a massive power signature, which they proceeded to secure on Anders' recommendation. Pressing on, the Marines and Jerome made their way through the ship graveyard left behind from the final battle of the war before reaching a Banished base. Managing to overrun the base, UNSC forces eliminated the Banished forces and destroyed the base before preparing to set up their own in its place.
After the Marines established the base, Isabel alerted them and Captain Cutter of a large energy build-up directly above. Despite being hit by the energy projector of the Enduring Conviction, the Banished's CAS-class assault carrier, the base sustained only non-critical damage, allowing Strike One to continue north in the direction of the rest of Decimus' salvage operation.
While fighting their way through several canyons of Banished forces, Strike One suffered a few more plasma bombardments before reaching a portal from which Decimus himself appeared. Managing to hold off the attacking Marines, Decimus proceeded to order a plasma bombardment on his own position while he was protected by an energy shield. As his reinforcements arrived, Decimus retreated back through the teleporter and ordered another strike, killing his own men as well as most of the UNSC forces. Realizing the Jiralhanae lieutenant must be trying to hide something, Cutter ordered the surviving members of Strike One to retrieve anything of value. Shortly after, Jerome found an encrypted piece of data which he promptly sent to Isabel. Expressing concern, Isabel stated the information points to the Ark's Cartographer and that she would explain what it is back on the Spirit of Fire.
Activating the elevator
On the ship, Isabel and Anders went over the data from Decimus' base and found a way into the Cartographer, a repository of information on the Ark's schematics and systems. Reporting to Cutter, Isabel explained the purpose of the Cartographer while Anders explained how to activate the elevator in order to gain access to it.
Sending a small, experienced unit of Marines led by Jerome, Cutter gave them orders to capture and access Forerunner Control Towers so that Anders could activate the Cartographer's elevator. Moving up from the beach, the unit found destroyed Banished mining equipment, suggesting a third party was involved in the battle. Moving further up, the Marines soon discovered what had done the destruction: the Ark's sentinels. Moving on, the Marines encountered the first Control Tower and eliminated the Banished forces protecting it. After doing the same with the rest of the Control Towers, Anders was able to gain access to the elevator and transport the Marines up to the Cartographer.
After escaping the research outpost, Alice began tracking an enemy convoy to one of their compounds. Discovering they had imprisoned some of the Spirit of Fire's Marines, the Spartan infiltrated the base and freed the prisoners. After arriving at another research outpost, Alice sent an encrypted message to Captain Cutter, who informed her that Pelicans were on the way but so were Banished forces. Managing to hold off the advancing units long enough for the Pelicans to arrive, Alice and a few of the Marines managed to get aboard and escape. Shortly afterward, Cutter ordered Alice to take command of the rescued Marines and perform hit-and-run operations against the Banished, while Isabel prepared a briefing package to get her back up to speed with the situation.
Infiltrating the Map Room
After reaching the Cartographer via the elevator, the UNSC forces discovered an energy shield was preventing them from accessing the central chamber and the Map Room. Moving up, Jerome and the Marines encountered a conduit and proceeded to fire on it in an attempt to take down the shield. Before they could, however, the Ark's self-preservation protocol sent sentinels to the location, forcing the Marines to retreat. Fortunately for the UNSC soldiers, Isabel and Anders' project, an EMP weapon, was ready to deploy. The EMP devices were launched down from the Spirit of Fire onto the sentinels, successfully neutralizing them and allowing Jerome and the Marines to disable the conduit. With the conduit disabled, the energy shield protecting the central chamber was deactivated and Anders proceeded in. Activating a Forerunner interface, Anders learned that the Marines would have to disable three more conduits in order for the Map Room's shield to go down. After repeating the process for the next three conduits, the energy shield finally dissipated, and after one more strike with the EMP missiles on the sentinels, Anders was able to access the Map Room. Accessing the Cartographer's data, Anders discovered that the Banished were using the Ark's network of thousands of portals to move around and reported her findings to Captain Cutter.
Crippling the portal network
Intending to cripple the Banished's portal network and strand most of their forces, Cutter deployed Jerome, a recovered Douglas, and the Marines near the network's control hub with orders to destroy it. As they advanced on the hub, the Marines destroyed portals along the way to prevent being overrun. After fighting through more Banished reinforcements, the Marines encountered a chasm which they crossed using a portal. Nearing the control hub, the UNSC forces neutralized the last of the Banished forces and destroyed the device, shutting down the portal network. Enraged, a heavily armored Decimus descended on them but was unable to prevail against the human forces. After reporting on the Brute's defeat, the unit was informed that the Spirit of Fire was under attack and that they had to return to the ship immediately.
Dealing with the carrier
While Alice fended off Banished troops on the surface, more and more of the Spirit of Fire's turrets were being destroyed by the Banished's relentless Banshee runs. Having found a way to create a portal away from the Ark, Anders proceeded to the bridge and informed Cutter and Isabel of her plan to deploy a preconstructed Halo ring maintained in the Ark's Foundry through slipspace. Cutter suggested that if it was deployed to replace the one the Master Chief destroyed, it would be near enough to Reach for the UNSC to pick up a distress beacon. However, their impending destruction by the Enduring Conviction meant that it would have to be dealt with first. Forming a plan, Isabel requested ground forces be split up in order to buy time.
Accessing a Forerunner particle cannon on the Ark's surface, the UNSC targeted the Enduring Conviction, immobilizing it and causing its shields to drain. The importance of the assault carrier prompted the Banished to assault the cannon with all available local forces, drawing troops away from the Banished base underneath the carrier where Jerome and Isabel were approaching the vessel's gravity lift.
As Jerome and Isabel, with support from a unit led by Alice, neared the platform, their Pelicans were shot down by Banished turrets guarding the lift. The Spartans managed to survive the crash and reunite with a unit of UNSC snipers. Needing a clear path to the grav lift, Jerome requested Alice take care of the anti-air turrets surrounding the grav-lift. Deciding to utilize the Kodiaks, Alice positioned the vehicles on the edge of the cliff near the platform and ordered them to fire on the Banished ordnance.
With the particle cannon finally having managed to break through the Enduring Conviction's shields, Jerome was notified that he was clear to board and all remaining UNSC personnel underneath the carrier were extracted immediately.
Arriving inside the carrier, Jerome made quick work of the Sangheili in the area before inserting Isabel into a nearby holotank. Accessing the vessel's firing systems, Isabel managed to fire its underside energy projector. As the plasma beam penetrated the surface of the Ark's salvage moon, the installation's sentinels, in a desperate attempt to stop the destruction, launched themselves at the weakest part of the carrier. As the sentinels cut away at the vessel, Jerome held off Jiralhanae reinforcements. With the sentinels having done enough destruction to the carrier, the energy projector shut down and the front section of the vessel began to separate. Retrieving Isabel from the holotank, Jerome, in a move seemingly inspired by John-117’s jump from orbit to atmosphere in 2552, proceeded to jump out of the newly-formed opening, dodging debris as he descended to the Ark's surface.
Stopping Banished reinforcements
With Anders having initiated the Halo ring's deployment sequence, the Spirit of Fire sent forces to the superweapon's surface in order to find the Control Room. However, using one of the Ark's access points, the Banished were able to instantaneously send troops to the ring, slowly overwhelming the UNSC forces there.
When a unit of Marines arrived at the access point's location, they found that the Banished vehicle barricade was too strong to push through. However, the UNSC forces soon managed to locate a Scarab under repair, whose focus cannon was strong enough to destroy the enemy blockade. With the Spirit of Fire having launched Archer missiles at the Banished troops surrounding the surviving Marines, Douglas and Alice were dropped off to reinforce their assault on the Scarab. After fighting through Banished forces preparing to transit to the ring, the unit approached the damaged Scarab and encountered its commander, Orda Val 'Saham, who they soon neutralized. With Douglas in control of the Scarab, he and the Marines were soon able to rid the area of Banished forces. Reaching the access point, Alice and Douglas received orders from Captain Cutter to proceed through the portal and destroy it behind them, then move on to assist with fighting the Banished forces on the ring in order to reach the Control Room.
Skirmish on Installation 09
After reuniting with Jerome on the Halo, Red Team led Marine forces to Alpha Base and defeated the Banished forces there. However, the Banished had already set up a shield sealing off the ring's Control Room, where Anders was to disable the firing systems and plant the comms beacon. Suddenly, a Retriever sentinel appeared, wreaking havoc on the UNSC forces before the Marines could send it into retreat. Realizing the sentinel could be used to their advantage, Anders told Red Team that if they could secure three Control Towers, she would be able to take control of the Retriever. Making their way to the towers, the Marines defeated the surrounding Banished forces and secured them, allowing Anders to take control of the massive sentinel. Using the machine's main weapon, Anders destroyed the shield generator in one blast, allowing her to access the Control Room. As the professor descended, the Spartans and Marines stayed behind to defend the structure.
While Anders worked on accessing the ring's firing systems, the Marines set up turret emplacements and defended against incoming Banished forces. With support from the Spirit of Fire and Marine reinforcements, the UNSC held back heavy Banished reinforcements long enough for Anders to access the weapons systems and plant the distress beacon. However, Anders reminded Cutter that the Banished still needed to be removed from the ring but that she found a way to speed that up. Telling Cutter to clear UNSC forces from the immediate area, Anders proceeded to manipulate the Halo's gravity anchors, creating an energy shield around the remaining Banished forces before ejecting the land they were standing on into space.
With the Banished forces on the ring dealt with, Red Team and the Marines evacuated to the Spirit of Fire immediately. However, Anders realized she didn't have enough time to reach them before the ring transitioned into slipspace. With Anders out of reach, Cutter got to work planning their next offensive against the remaining Banished forces, while Atriox prepared his army for their inevitable next battle.
The Spirit of Fire crew's attempt to deploy the new Halo to the Soell system was unsuccessful. The ring was forcibly pulled out of slipspace on its way by a Guardian, which Anders encountered upon returning to the surface.
A month after the departure of the Halo, the Spirit of Fire picked up a cloaked area. O'Sullivan, the Supervisor of the scout drones, informed the captain, and Sunray 1-1 along with India Company was deployed to the battlefield to discover what the Banished were up to. Reaching their destination, they found a Forerunner Despair-class fighter docked inside one of the Installation's hangars, and the Banished attempting to launch it to destroy Spirit of Fire. Colony made an attempt to stop them by deploying multiple Goliaths and a Hunter Captain, but their efforts were thwarted by Sunray 1-1.
Sometime during the battle Yapyap the Destroyer abandoned the Banished with forces under his command in favor of locating the fabled Golden Methane Hydrate Mines of Sabator. His Throne of Woe somehow enabled him to receive Unggoy reinforcements.
Awakening a nightmare
Two months after the departure of Installation 09, Atriox sent two Warlords, Voridus and Pavium to salvage starships near the ruins of High Charity and scout the dome surrounding it. During the salvaging operation, Voridus disabled the Sentinel defense network around High Charity having his forces fight against many sentinels and a few scattered UNSC forces. Some UNSC Marines and vehicles from the Spirit of Fire's crew fell to Flood infection and were assimilated. Piercing a hole through the shield surrounding High Charity with a Scarab, Voridus hoped to salvage equipment from the destroyed Covenant holy city. However, he and his forces inadvertently released the Flood that had managed to survive Installation 08's firing. Following several retreats, Pavium and his forces were able to hold off the Flood long enough for Voridus and his strike team to reactivate the Sentinel defense network. Using mega turrets and eventually a Retriever Sentinel, Pavium and Voridus were able to destroy a Proto-Gravemind near High Charity moments before it could turn into a Gravemind.
With the Sentinels reactivated and the Proto-Gravemind destroyed, the Flood were once again contained by the Sentinels and the Banished.
List of appearances