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First Battle of Reach: Misc

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"INCOMING CONTACT, UNKNOWN CLASSIFICATION!"
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Previous:

Battle of Sigma Octanus IV

Concurrent:

Battle of Tribute

Next:

Battle of Installation 04, Raid of Reach

Battle of Reach
Conflict:

Human-Covenant War

Date:

August 30, 2552 - September 23, 2552 (UNSC forces scattered)

Place:

Epsilon Eridani System, planet Reach

Outcome:

Pyrrhic but Decisive Covenant victory

  • Reach glassed
  • Heavy casualties on both sides
  • Pillar of Autumn escapes to Halo
Belligerents

United Nations Space Command

Covenant

Commanders
Strength

Unknown number of Grunts, Engineers, Elites, Hunters, Jackals, and Skirmishers

Casualties
  • Over 130 ships
    • 1 super carrier
  • 20 Super MAC Cannons
  • 3 refit and repair stations
  • majority of ground force
  • Civilian :
    • Unknown, but probably most of the population due to the planet being glassed.
  • Heavy ground losses
  • Heavy losses in space and on the ground
    • Over two-thirds of the Fleet of Particular Justice
  [Source]
"That's it. We've lost. Reach is going to fall."
Kelly-087[4]

The Battle of Reach was the largest engagement in the Human-Covenant War. It was fought between the UNSC Defense Force and the Covenant in August of 2552.

Contents

Background

Despite suffering a severe defeat at the Battle of Sigma Octanus IV, the Covenant managed to place a tracking device on the UNSC Iroquois and use it to find Human colony worlds. When the Iroquois returned to Reach the Human presence, and its extent, was disclosed and later revealed to the Covenant fleet. Ironically, the location of Reach was already known to the Covenant; a previously recovered Forerunner artifact indicated Reach held another artifact.

Battle

Prelude

Before the eventual invasion, Noble Team was sent to investigate a disturbance in a communications array that kept Reach connected to the rest of the UNSC. Sabotage by Insurrectionists was suspected. As Noble Team arrived to the station, insurrectionists were nowhere to be found. Instead, they were soon ambushed by an advance Covenant invasion force.[5][6]

Opening Skirmishes

"Gamma Station, this is Fermion RSO. Unconfirmed reports of an in system Slipspace rupture."
—Fermion Remote Sensing Outpost
"Impossible. Check your source."
—Reach Station Gamma

The approaching Covenant fleet was first detected in slipspace by Remote Scanning Outpost Fermion. The station's commander, Chief Petty Officer McRobb, sent an emergency message to FLEETCOM and ordered self-destruct to prevent the station's data from falling into enemy hands. A few minutes later 314 Covenant ships exited slipspace at the outskirts of the Epsilon Eridani System. Admiral Roland Freemont issued file/bravo-tango-beta-five, ordering all ships in Reach system as well as those in the Jericho and Tantalus systems, to rendezvous at Reach in preparation for the coming assault. The Covenant moved in on the orbital defenses before the UNSC fleet fully consolidated. 52 late arriving UNSC ships, including the UNSC Pillar of Autumn, ran a gauntlet of screening Covenant warships as they attempted to link up with the main fleet. At the beginning of the battle, only about a hundred UNSC ships were readily available to defend Reach.

Space Battle

"Winter Contingency has been declared, all units are mobilized and ready."
—UNSC Officer

The main Covenant force moved in on the orbital defenses. The initial salvo of plasma torpedoes was mostly absorbed by three sacrificial refit and repair stations, allowing the defenders to return fire. The Orbital Defense Platforms and a nuclear minefield combined to take down a full third of the Covenant fleet, about a hundred ships, were destroyed in the first human salvo. However, the next Covenant salvo significantly damaged the UNSC fleet and moved in for the kill. They destroyed numerous Super MAC platforms in suicide attacks, further crippling the UNSC orbital perimeter, before retreating out of range. A previously unknown warship type, the Covenant Supercruiser, carrying a new weapon, the energy projector, revealed itself destroying the UNSC Minotaur before withdrawing temporarily. The attacking fleet regrouped after deploying hundreds of dropships to the surface.

A destroyed UNSC Frigate above Reach.

As the surviving dropships disgorged thousands of troops, the Covenant fleet began another attack. Some ships made pinpoint slipspace jumps putting them within the UNSC formation. This left them vulnerable for a short time but allowed them to strike the ODPs directly. The Supercruiser returned and destroyed the UNSC Herodotus and UNSC Musashi from beyond ODP range. The UNSC Pillar of Autumn engaged and destroyed the Supercruiser.

Ground Battle

Noble Team being deployed into battle.
"There are thousands of them. Grunts, Jackals and their warrior Elites. They have tanks and fliers. Christ, they've breached the perimeter. Fall back! Fall back! If anyone can hear this: the Covenant is ground-side. Massing near the armory!"
—UNSC Marine[7]

Thousands of Covenant landed on Reach in an attempt to destroy the Orbital Defense Generators, and were intercepted by Marine forces who were able to defend against the first few waves of Covenant forces while sustaining heavy casualties. The remaining SPARTAN-IIs who were not assigned to Reach Station Gamma were sent to Orbital Defense Generator Facility A-331 to assist in the defense of the station. Unfortunately, their Pelican, Bravo 001, escorted was shot down, resulting in the deaths of four Spartans (including Malcolm-059), and some others were wounded as well. Near their crash site, the surviving Spartans discovered the shell-shocked remnants of Charlie Company.

Charlie Company had been assigned by Vice Admiral Danforth Whitcomb to find the prototype NOVA Bombs. They were forced to help defend the Orbital Defense Facilities on their way to their objective. Unfortunately, as the Covenant neared the Orbital Defense Generators, someone at HIGHCOM panicked and ordered Longswords to bomb everything within 500 meters, resulting in the destruction of the Covenant, but also catastrophic friendly fire: Charlie Company was reduced to four men, and its leaders: Lieutenants Jake Chapman and Buckman were killed.

The Spartans, after being briefed on the situation by Charlie Company, responded to a distress call from Whitcomb, who requested immediate evacuation. Frederic-104, commander of the Spartans, split the remains of Red Team into four groups: Team Alpha (Frederic-104, Kelly-087, and Joshua-029), which was tasked with eliminating an encampment of 10,000 Covenant and their hovering cruiser (without doing anything that could damage the Orbital Defense Generators), Team Beta, tasked with defense of the Orbital Defense Generators, Team Gamma (Li-008, Anton-044, and Grace-093), ordered to retrieve Whitcomb, and Team Delta (the Charlie Company marines and six wounded Spartans which included William-043, Isaac-039, and Vinh-030), ordered to secure the Spartans' fallback point at CASTLE Base.

Team Alpha hijacked three Banshees and approached the Covenant encampment (they were ignored by the Grunt Zawaz, who assumed they were Elites on a secret mission) and used Fury Tactical Nuclear Weapons within the shields of the Covenant ship, destroying the encampment and negating the EMP effect that would have disabled the Orbital Defense Generators. Joshua was killed in the process by mass light weapons salvos from the 10,000 Covenant ground forces encamped around the Cruiser. The remaining Spartans of Team Alpha then fell back to CASTLE Base, blasting their way through the remaining Covenant in the area with two commandeered Wraiths. Team Gamma accomplished its mission and fell back to Camp Independence with Whitcomb, where they survived the partial glassing of the planet. Team Delta fell back to CASTLE Base, but in the process lost the remaining Charlie Company marines and every Spartan save for Vinh, Isaac, and William. When the remnants of Team Alpha and Team Delta arrived at CASTLE Base, they found Catherine Halsey there.

Unfortunately, Team Beta was unable to stop the Covenant, who attacked in swarms of thousands. The Orbital Defense Generators were compromised, and the Covenant (after eliminating the powerless, immobile ODPs in geosynchronous orbit around the planet) began the glassing of Reach. Meanwhile, after receiving a replacement for a lost team member, Noble Team was deployed into combat.

Mission to Reach Station Gamma

A CCS-class Battlecruiser initiates a pinpoint Slipspace jump over Reach.

During the space battle, the AI Doppler, controller of Reach Station Gamma, was unable to destroy the vital information onboard the UNSC Circumference, an ONI prowler involved in Operation: HYPODERMIC. As the Covenant deployed troops to the station, Doppler reported this violation of the Cole Protocol to the Pillar of Autumn before self-destructing himself to keep from further violation. In response, Captain Jacob Keyes sent John-117, Spartan-James, and Linda-058 to the station. They accomplished their task and destroyed the NAV database onboard Reach Station Gamma, but at the cost of James and Linda. While onboard, they rescued some marines onboard the station: Sergeant Major Avery Junior Johnson and Privates Wallace Jenkins, Bisenti, and O'Brien. They then were evacuated by Pelican back to the Pillar of Autumn. Linda-058 was clinically dead, but there was a chance of saving her, so she was placed in a cryo-chamber. John-117 asked Lieutenant Hall to scan for James (who was blown into space) and after they were unable to find him, the Pillar of Autumn made a slipspace jump to Installation 04 pursued by a dozen Covenant ships, while the remaining vessels glassed Reach.

Aftermath

The Covenant fleet bearing down on Reach.
Reach being glassed by the Covenant.

The UNSC lost their second largest military-industrial complex, after the Sol System, and sustained crippling military losses at Reach, losing over a hundred ships, including irreplaceable Cruisers and Supercarriers such as the UNSC Basra, UNSC Trafalgar, and the UNSC Musashi, not to mention the large numbers of civilian and military personnel killed by the invading Covenant forces. With the Epsilon Eridani System in Covenant hands, there were no further major stop points before Sol. Some estimates put total defeat as a matter of weeks. The Office of Naval Intelligence believed that the location of Sol was compromised and began relocating heavy industry facilities and command centers out of the system.[8]

At the same time, despite such a devastating defeat the UNSC still fared better than in previous battles. Even against the numerically and technologically superior Fleet of Particular Justice, outnumbered 2:1, they still managed to inflict disproportionate losses to the Covenant, due largely to the twenty Orbital Defense Platforms orbiting Reach. The AI Cortana commandeered the fleeing UNSC Pillar of Autumn to the previously undiscovered fourth Forerunner Halo. While the Battle of Installation 04 was tangential to the main front, the containment of the initial Flood outbreak, and the experience gained, was just as critical to the survival of the UNSC. In addition, a Forerunner artifact, a crystal, was discovered and recovered by UNSC forces, drawing a number out of the system in pursuit to Eridanus Secundus, leading to the glassing of the colony, and the destruction of the artifact and the recovery of a small number of pieces by the Covenant.[9]

Timeline

August 30, 2552:

  • 0447 Hours: The Remote Scanning Outpost Fermion detects incoming Covenant vessels. An emergency message is relayed to FLEETCOM. The Outpost then self-destructs per the Cole Protocol due to an unsecured science library and nearby Covenant forces.
  • 0500 Hours: A fleet of 314[10] Covenant vessels exits slipspace on the edge of the system.
  • 0545 Hours: The Covenant vessels begin a frontal assault. As the Covenant and Human fleets engage above Reach, it seems to be a stalemate, as Covenant ships take out UNSC ships, while the UNSC ships and MAC cannons take out an equal number. The first salvo by the UNSC vessels destroys a third of the remaining Covenant fleet. A previously unknown Covenant warship, called a Supercruiser by Captain Keyes, arrives and destroys several UNSC ships while outside human weapons range.
  • 0558 Hours: Station Gamma Dockmaster AI Doppler is unable to implement the Cole Protocol on the UNSC Circumference, an ONI prowler docked at Reach Station Gamma, due to measures taken to maintain the secrecy of Operation: HYPODERMIC. Doppler sends priority message to FLEETCOM concerning this violation. Covenant intrusion software detects this oversight, and the Covenant deploys troops to seize the NAV database aboard the Circumference.
  • 0620 Hours: The Covenant fleet retreats from the system after deploying dropships. The UNSC fleet fires on the ships, destroying many. Hundreds of dropships land on Reach.
  • 0621 Hours: The boarding craft are landed and the armory is overrun and the Covenant fleet returns to the system. The Covenant split their 150+ remaining ships. One fleet attacks the UNSC ships, while another takes out the MAC cannons and send in troops to land on Reach. The UNSC try to split their 50+ remaining forces to engage the Covenant, but there are too many platforms to cover and too many casualties. The Supercruiser continues to destroy UNSC ships, allowing the other ships to attack the MAC cannons.
  • 0631 Hours: Red Team is shot down. They have no choice but to jump from the crashing Pelican and make a "hard landing" on the ground. Results in 4 dead and 6 seriously injured.
  • 0647 Hours: The Pillar of Autumn, pursued by a dozen Covenant vessels, retreats from the system, arriving at Installation 04.
  • 0720 Hours: The Covenant destroys ODG Facility A-331 by aerial bombardment (glassing), though some Spartans escape. The surviving MAC guns are now offline and are quickly destroyed by plasma torpedoes. Remaining UNSC vessels have no choice but to retreat. The Covenant warships are split into two groups: 5 ship teams that hunt down the surviving UNSC vessels and a group of ships that align themselves in formation and begin to glass Reach.

UNSC Forces

Space Assets

Carriers
Cruisers
Destroyers
Frigates
Prowlers
Other/Unknown Type

Personnel

Navy

Marines

Trivia

  • During the Battle of Earth, Terrence Hood estimated the size of the Covenant fleet at Reach as 750 ships[12], not 314. However, it is possible that he was using hyperbole to express how much smaller this fleet was when compared to the one that destroyed Reach.
  • The Battle of Reach was one of the final events in the Human-Covenant War that ultimately gave the Covenant an almost insurmountable advantage over the few remaining UNSC forces that were now being recalled to the last Human stronghold, Earth.
  • The Battle of Reach is what caused almost all the events in the Halo games. If the Autumn hadn't arrived at Installation 04 with John-117 aboard, the Covenant could have found, captured, and forced a human to activate it, which would have ended life in the galaxy, or at least life in the range of that Installation or allowed the Flood to capture Covenant ships and take over the galaxy.
  • In the Halo 2 mission The Heretic, when the cinematic showing the Battle of Reach shows the Pillar of Autumn fleeing, it incorrectly depicts the ship as a Marathon-class Cruiser when the Pillar of Autumn is actually a Halcyon-class Cruiser, likely because Bungie only modeled a Marathon-class for Halo 2.
  • The game Halo: Reach is based on this battle. It is set for release in 2010.
  • It appears that FLEETCOM had a plan in the event that Reach was attacked by the Covenant known as "Winter Contingency", based on the Halo: Reach - Announcement Trailer.[13]
  • In Halo 3: ODST, on a wall in the level Mombasa Streets, "Remember Reach" is written, suggesting that the people of Earth thought that Earth will fall as Reach did. It could also be a sort of rallying cry to the people of Earth, much like the battle cry "Remember the Alamo."

Sources

  1. Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 240
  2. Halo: Ghosts of Onyx, page 173
  3. http://www.bungie.net/projects/reach/article.aspx?ucc=intel
  4. Halo: First Strike page 32
  5. EDGE Magazine, February 2010
  6. GameInformer, February 2010
  7. Halo: The Fall of Reach page 300
  8. Jason Jones Interviewed By You, Bungie.net, 2001 December 18
  9. Halo: First Strike
  10. Halo: The Fall of Reach, page 296
  11. Halo: The Fall of Reach pg.289
  12. Halo 2, Cairo Station (Level)
  13. trailer

This article uses material from the "Battle of Reach" article on the Halo wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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