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Plot Synopsis[edit

The prologue takes place on the planet Jericho VII on February 12, 2535, and introduces the Spartans
and their purpose. As the seemingly unstoppable Covenant war machine moves into place
to glass Jericho VII, Spartan Red and Blue teams are sent to prevent the destruction of the planet. The
Spartans manage to kill a thousand Grunts and even destroy a Covenant air strike with fougasses.
However, soon the situation in space deteriorates, and the Spartans are forced to retreat before the
surface of Jericho VII is glassed.

Section I: Reveille[edit]
The story itself begins with Dr. Catherine Halsey and Lieutenant, Junior Grade Jacob Keyes on board
the Han, a UNSC diplomatic shuttle. Traveling to the colony world Eridanus II, their mission is to identify a
potential candidate, John, for Halsey's SPARTAN-II program. Dr. Halsey finds John in
a school playground in Elysium City, where she determines his suitability for the program. Using a coin,
she tests John's reflexes by flipping the coin in the air and having him identify the side it will land on. John
catches it and correctly identifies the side: the eagle. During this time, Halsey gives John the coin, which
is later taken from him.

Section II: Boot[edit]
The plot then goes on to show in detail the brutal indoctrination and training regime that John and his
fellow Spartans are put through. Chief Petty Officer Mendez trains the Spartan-IIs, showing them the
many necessary virtues of a soldier (e.g. courage, teamwork, skill, etc.) while AI Déjàteaches them history,
mathematics, and physics. After a daring training mission in the wilds of Reach, where the young
Spartans regroup and escape with pieces of a map that they all put together and steal a dropship back
to base, where John-117 is made squad leader of the remaining Spartans. When the Spartans are
fourteen, they undergo intense biological enhancements, such as effectively increasing their strength by
three times, drastically decreasing reaction times, making their bones practically indestructible, increasing
blood flow to the eyes so that they can almost see in the dark, and other various improvements. However,
of the 75 Spartans, less than half emerge still fit for combat; the rest washed out (died during the
operations) or were horribly injured by the augmentation progress. While recovering on the Atlas, John
gets into a fight with a group of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers, killing two of them easily. The speedy arrival
of Chief Mendez leads John to suspect that the incident may have been arranged.
After returning to Reach, the Spartans quickly prove that the augmentations have surpassed all
expectations, and their cohesion in battle is amazing. The Spartans are then issued orders to
capture Colonel Robert Watts, an Insurrectionist leader in the Eridanus asteroid belt. John leads a small
team consisting of Samuel-034, Linda-058, Kelly-087, and Frederic-104, which manages to infiltrate the
Insurrectionists' asteroid base and capture Watts. John is wounded during this mission and is
subsequently awarded a Purple Heart.
On February 3, 2525, first contact is made with an alliance of alien races that refers to itself as
the Covenant. A single Covenant warship exterminates the entire surface population of the Outer
Colony Harvest. Three UNSC warships, the destroyer Heracles and the frigates Arabia and theVostok,
are sent to investigate this incident, initiate first engagement protocols, and attempted contact, engage
the Covenant ship in battle, and are subsequently routed. Only the Heracles manages to return to Reach,
having been badly damaged. By December of the same year, the UNSC has mobilized a massive

the Marine force is slaughtered save a small group of survivors. Halsey takes the Spartans toChi Ceti IV to begin Project: MJOLNIR. Vice Admiral Cole establishes the emergency order commonly known as the Cole Protocol: if any Covenant forces are present. a birdlike race later dubbed Jackals. Despite significant tactical brilliance on the part of human commanders. John comes up with the idea to go EVA and board the Covenant vessel and destroy it using HAVOK nuclear weapons on the Pelican. Fred. Sam. One by one. so Spartan Blue. They have a rock which is being scanned. or any major population center. Heading to the Damascus Testing Facility. the superior technology possessed by the Covenant gives the latter a crucial advantage in the war. Halsey introduces the Spartans to the MJOLNIR power armor. and are able to make their way to a reactor. the contents of the scan transmitted to a stealth ship discovered and destroyed by Captain Keyes. with orders to reclaim the Harvest colony and stop the Covenant advance. Red. In the city. John and Kelly are able to escape as the Covenant ship is destroyed. In 2552. the Spartans graduation occurs earlier than anticipated. His actions result in the destruction of a Covenant destroyer and two frigates as well as the routing of a DDS-class carrier with a daring maneuver dubbed the "Keyes Loop". On the ground. acquire . Due to the shortage of effective officers. They fight their way past the crew. Halsey gave him years earlier. which enhances the Spartans' already significant strength and speed even more. and if capture is imminent. they find the Covenant has occupied a museum and discover a new race called Engineers. must either be destroyed or removed. by 2536. While returning to the Commonwealth. the Outer Colonies fall to the onslaught and. Kelly. but at a high cost: two-thirds of his ships are destroyed. virtually all have been destroyed. is attacked by a Covenant ship. he foresees a Covenant attack on Sigma Octanus IV thanks to a paper by Spartan Fhajad-084. Blue Team — John. the commanding officer must order a self-destruct. Keyes and the Iroquoisremain in the Sigma Octanus system to partake in the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV. giving John some advice before and returning the coin Dr. but Sam's armor is penetrated and he is forced to stay behind or die from upon exposure to vacuum. and James-005 — enter the museum and discover two massive aliens — Hunters. Only three Spartans — John. they must not execute a slipspace jump in the direction of Earth. selective purges of databases on all ship-based and planetary data networks are to be activated. The on-board ship artificial intelligence construct. Dr. When human forces are forced into retreat. While Green and Red Teams escort a group of civilian survivors to the landing zone. and Green Teams are sent to destroy a Covenant occupation force in the city of Côte d'Azur with a nuclear bomb. To protect the location of Earth. Upon arriving in the system. If such a jump is not possible. This unprecedented victory against a Covenant force earns him a promotion to Captain and helps him to become recognized by the entire UNSC. normally imperative to navigation and tactical decisions. The Commonwealth engages the Covenant ship and is able to drive it off. The Spartans are able neutralize the Hunters. Jacob Keyes is promoted to Commander and assumes command of the UNSC Iroquois. the frigate carrying the Spartans.fleet under the command of famed war hero Vice Admiral Preston Cole. even if this forces them to jump without the necessary navigational calculations (a "blind jump"). Section III: Sigma Octanus[edit] Admiral Cole's fleet manages a victory at Harvest. In response to the emergence of the Covenant. while Chief Mendez leaves to train the next class of Spartans. Dr. but with significant damage. the Commonwealth. and Kelly — manage to board the ship.

while the rest of the Spartans are sent down under Fred to the planet to defend the MACs' power generators. John takes Linda-058 and James-005 to deal with the Circumference. In a move of desperation. Scans of the rock produce a set of alien symbols that do not match any Covenant dialect. Reach's fleet. with about a hundred ships and twenty orbital defense platforms on hand. Every available Spartan-II boards a specially outfitted Halcyon-class cruiser known as the Pillar of Autumn. Cortana arranges for a substantial amount of the Colonel's private funds to be sent to a brothel and forges a request to be reassigned to front line duty. which is under the command of Captain Jacob Keyes. Halsey's main rival for NAVSPECWEP funding. The Pillar of Autumn moves out towards the edges of the system to make a slipspace jump to begin the mission. John and Linda proceed to the Circumference. is still docked at a station orbiting the planet of Reach just before its fall and has not initiated the Cole Protocol. The humans fall back to the Autumn. With Cortana's aid. With John's help. Among the Covenant attack force are the Elites. Cortana. Captain Keyes orders the Pillar of Autumn back towards Reach. Linda is clinically dead because of the extensive wounds she receives. but Linda is shot by five separate plasma blasts. James' thruster pack is hit by a Needler shard and explodes. many of humanity's Inner Colonies have been destroyed by the Covenant. and move towards the NAV data. Halsey's cloned brain. an AI. He is debriefed by an ONI committee. inadvertently disclosing the location of the planet to the Covenant via a homing beacon attached to the Iroquois. pick his way through a minefield. John is introduced to Cortana during a live-fire mission to test their capabilities working together. a prowler. the Marines are successful. To aid the Spartans in this mission. and then use the Prophet as a bargaining chip to negotiate a truce. but the Master Chief convinces him to allow the Spartans to continue their mission by finding a damaged Covenant ship to capture and take to Covenant space. These were authorized by Colonel James Ackerson. where they detonate the bomb and eliminate the Covenant presence. the leaders of the Covenant military. to which the Circumference is docked. including Jenkins and Bisenti. In a move of revenge. Here he meets John-117 once again. Dr. is created from Dr. all of which are using live rounds. but is placed in a cryotube in the hope that she can be resuscitated. but takes massive losses. Halsey concludes that the artifact is from a separate race from the Covenant. also fighting to wipe the data. where they find Sergeant Johnson and his Marines. John manages to overpower a full squad ofOrbital Drop Shock Troopers.the rock. The Covenant return and land troops on Reach with the objective of destroying the generators for the Super MACs. Keyes later returns to Reach. Section V: Reach[edit] Autumn's mission is interrupted when a massive fleet of 315 Covenant ships enters the Epsilon Eridani system. At the same time. the only things which are stopping the Covenant. and even evade an air strike from a SkyHawk fighter. engages the Covenant fleet. the UNSC realizes that the Circumference. destroy automated chain guns. . sending James flying uncontrollably into space. However. one of the aliens' religious leaders. ONI Section 3 orders the execution of a secret plan to capture a Covenant ship using the Spartans. Dr. and escape to the landing zone. the Super MAC platforms manage to repulse the initial Covenant assault. John's team crash-land their Pelican on Gamma Station. The ship would be taken to the Covenant home world in order to capture aProphet. and they perform spectacularly. Section IV: MJOLNIR[edit] By 2552. However.

who soon begin glassing the planet. though not completely at random. The Spartans who John sent to the surface are presumed by the Autumn crew to be overrun and all slaughtered. except for the Pillar of Autumn. . The NAV coordinates lead the Pillar of Autumn to what the Covenant had been searching for: Halo. as Cortana plots an exit vector in compliance with the Cole Protocol. The remaining UNSC ships are all destroyed. asking Cortana to identify the object.The surface of Reach is also overrun. A comment by the Master Chief leads Cortana to reinterpret the alien symbols from the artifact as star charts. an extremely sacred artifact to the Covenant. Without the generators. The book ends with Captain Keyes looking through view screens at the ring. the Super MACs fall silent and are destroyed by the Covenant.