Skirmish of the Planet of Blue and Red
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The Skirmish of the Planet of Blue and Red was a military engagement during the San'Shyuum-Sangheili War. It occurred in 860 BCE by the human calendar, and in the 1st Age of Conflict by the Covenant one. While strategically insignificant during the war itself, the skirmish had lasting effects on the Covenant in the ages that followed.
The Planet of Blue and Red was a world colonized by the Sangheili and filled with artifacts left behind by the Forerunners. These artifacts were treasured by the San'Shyuum, who sought to claim them to reverse-engineer their technology. Two camps were made and designated Site One and Site Two, where San'Shyuum scientists descended from the Forerunner Dreadnought to study the artifacts. The Sangheili viewed tampering with the relics as desecration, so they prepared to attack the camps and drive the San'Shyuum off the planet. By the time of the skirmish, the artifact at Site One, the Holy Dome, had been under excavation for some time, while the artifact at Site Two, a Forerunner transmitter, had been reclaimed by the Sangheili.
The High Lord of Sacred Relics, Mken 'Scre'ah'ben, had descended to the surface with his Steward to oversee the work at Site One. Mken took care to have the base prepared for attack, including Sentinel Aggressors on patrol, security Eyes scanning the area, and drop pods arranged for a quick escape back to orbit. While inspecting the base himself, Mken noticed enemy plasma cannons a distance away and a Sangheili Field Commander giving orders to warriors, who an Eye identified as Ussa 'Xellus. Mken considered ordering the Sentinels to assassinate him, but reneged the order in hopes that the Elite could be captured and turned into a liaison for the San'Shyuum instead. Mken also noticed bunkers around Site Two which led to tunnels the Sangheili could retreat to, but thought of them only as a defensive measure.
Shortly thereafter, the Eye reported that an army, comprised of 200 Sangheili and their armored vehicles, was approaching Site One's defenses. Mken ordered the Sentinels to defend, but not too effectively, in hopes that the Sangheili could be lured into a better firing position. The Sangheili's infantry split into three columns, one of which went up the ridge, another which accompanied it. Four Sentinels attacked this force, and in accordance with Mken's orders fired sporadically and slowly fell back.
The third column, which was led by Ussa 'Xellus, appeared to stay behind and head elsewhere. Mken's Eye tracked them to a ravine leading to Site One, in a flanking maneuver while the San'Shyuum forces fought the first two columns. Just as Mken thought to counteract the flank, energy blasts suddenly burst up from the ground, killing Mken's Steward. The Sangheili had sent another force into the tunnels beneath Site One, to take the San'Shyuum by surprise. Mken and the others promptly fled to their drop pods, retreating to space and to the Dreadnought. The Sangheili were uncertain that the San'Shyuum would dare bomb the site from orbit, as it would risk damaging the artifacts, but Ussa 'Xellus considered the strength of its Forerunner metal and determined the San'Shyuum might take that risk. He ordered all his warriors to retreat to the tunnels before the Dreadnought would commence orbital bombardment.
Mken arrived at an orbital shuttle and demanded an airstrike from the Dreadnought. The energy beam was modulated in hopes of preserving Forerunner artifacts in its blast radius, and Site One was subsequently fired on upon. Seven Sangheili were identified being incinerated by the beam. Site Two was then fired upon, but the Sangheili had already retreated, and the blast did not appear to strike anybody. Mken questioned Site One's head researcher Kucknoi and found that under Site One were tunnels that led to a subterranean chamber, which the San'Shyuum scientists had just discovered before the attack. Mken deduced that the Sangheili, including Ussa 'Xellus must have retreated to there to avoid the bombardment. He ordered Sentinels to be sent down the tunnels to flush out anyone hiding in them, but suspected that the counterattack would not matter as Ussa and his forces would already have fled.
Aftermath and legacy
In the context of the San'Shyuum-Sangheili War, the battle was strategically insignificant, as neither side achieved their goals. The San'Shyuum failed to secure the Forerunner relics at either site, and the Sangheili only briefly managed to turn the tide before being forced to retreat to their tunnels. At most, the battle served as yet another in a long line of demonstrations of the Sangheili's military superiority on the ground and the San'Shyuum's military superiority from space, which canceled each other out to send the war into a perpetual stalemate.
However, the Skirmish did have eventual effects on the rest of history. High Lord Mken correctly identified that Ussa 'Xellus could become an important leader to the Sangheili, and his refraining from eliminating the kaidon allowed Ussa to survive the rest of the war. Ten years later, Ussa led his clan to secede from the Covenant, taking control of a Forerunner shield world and laid the foundation for an entire new Sangheili culture in the following millennia. As for Mken, his military experience from the skirmish remained on his service record, and was used against him by the Prophet of Excellent Redolence in order to send him on a mission to Janjur Qom in hopes of secretly assassinating him. The skirmish was used again as an excuse to send Mken to command the Covenant fleet to attack the Refuge, with the explanation that Mken had to atone for letting Ussa escape long ago. The Prophet's familiarity with 'Xellus led to the two attempting to negotiate a truce, and then the formation of the Broken Circle after Mken held off his forces from destroying the Refuge.
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